They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of Senjuushi, Soukou Musume Senki, Geisters: Fractions of the Earth, and more!
English: The Thousand Noble Musketeers
MAL Score: 4.90
Despair War is a battle between ancient guns and contemporary guns. Due to a nuclear war, the world was destroyed. Under the full governance of a world empire, people are living with their freedom taken. Despite the forbidden rule of owning any weapons, there is a resistance that secretly fights against the world empire. They own ancient guns left as art and fight using these. Then, the Kijuushi appear as the souls of the ancient guns. Proud and magnificent, the “Absolute Royal” are the only ones that can give hope to this world. The story depicts the everyday life of the Kijuushi. Laughter, despair, happiness, confusion, pain; they would still pursue their own absolute loyalty to fight. What do they fight for? What should they protect?
(Source: MAL News)
The anime does follow the game’s story. Due to a nuclear war, the world was destroyed. Under a new emperor and his empire, all possessions of weapons have been banned. The player, as the master, was given the ability to manifest musketeers from antique muskets previously left in a museum as art pieces and joins The Resistance to rebel. I like that each episode focused on all the guns from different eras, but I can agree that what happened in each episode did disappoint me because there wasn’t a lot to show. I appreciate that the creators tried to give all the guns equal amounts of screen time (discounting Snider for some reason), and it was nice to see what kind of issues all the musketeers had to deal with, though most of the episodes weren’t very detailed. Each plot was quite simple: take down the empire.
I feel like I have to address how Zettai Koki/Absolute Nobleness works because I know it confused a lot of people. Like in many battle games, there’s a special all-out attack that your group can use. In the game, your boys can build up their Absolute Nobleness rose counter and then rain down bullets on the enemies once they use their Soul Weapon (the all-out attack). So again, if you haven’t played the game, this Supreme Nobility thing might have you confused, but remember that this anime is for the game’s fans who already understand everything. I get it if people argue that those who have not played the game should be able to understand everything too, and I agree, but you have to take into consideration that this game is only 6 months old so LINE and MARVELOUS didn’t think that they could please anyone but the game’s fans at the moment. We’re not as big as TouRabu, and we don’t have to be, but like TouRabu, the creators just wanted to satisfy their fans and get the word out that this series exists.
Also, this series’ world is clearly a DYSTOPIA. It is not supposed to resemble real-life wars, nor supposed to mimic real life in any way.
The art was a disgrace. The game looks fantastic, but the art seemed to be drawn by a child. I understand that the series is still fairly new since the game only came out in March 2018 and they might not have a lot of a budget to deal with, but come on. I only kept watching because I wanted to see the finale and because I’m so obsessed with the game. And I’m speaking honestly when I say that if I wasn’t a fangirl of the game, I would’ve dropped this anime. I appreciated how they took the time to make sure all the fight scenes looked a bit better, but in casual scenes, it was cringy to view. The animation doesn’t correspond with the sound sometimes, like when Kentucky bit into the gunpowder packet. Don’t watch Senjyushi if you are expecting amazing art, except for when the Musketeers are in battle and the backgrounds. The backgrounds look amazing.
The character songs sounded nice when the characters used their all-out attacks and Zettai Koki. I don’t really think the sound was all that bad in the anime, it was just the art that didn’t keep up with it. The voice acting’s on point with the characters, the sound effects are fine, I don’t really have a lot to say about the sound since it seems fine to me. But then again this is coming from me, someone who’s already familiar with the sounds since I’ve been playing the game for half a year now.
To me, all the characters were represented well. They had the same personality as they showed in the game and many of their lines were used too, which added a nice touch. The only downside I will say is that Snider is not included, which is very odd because Kunitomo and Sakai were in the anime before they were even released in the game, so Snider not appearing is odd. Also, I wish they could’ve shown more of the modern guns because so far there are 10 modern guns and only 3 were shown. Though the creator did mention that he only implemented F, Belga, and Eins because they fit more with the story, and I can respect that. Overall, what I loved the most was that they captured the Musketeers’ dedication to Master perfectly. That makes the fans feel very happy and loved.
As I already came into this anime series with a bias, I looked forward to every episode. Though the episodes were lacking in their own ways, I still wanted to see which characters would show up and what they were going to do, so I can understand them better; unlike just seeing them in the game, I could watch them actually move around and interact, and that just made me happy. For me personally, I just tried to ignore the art as much as possible (though it was really difficult sometimes), and enjoy what was given to me.
For what it is, I think it’s a fair adaptation. Let’s be honest now, there’s not one good game-anime adaptation out there, and Senjyushi’s is certainly not a very good one. But for what I got, I can’t say that I was entirely disappointed as I did get to see some cool scenes here and there, and Master, who represents all the players, was given some screentime which made me happier than when I watched TouRabu Hanamaru and Aruji doesn’t show up at all.
If you’re thinking about getting into this series, I STRONGLY recommend playing the game first and then coming back to view the anime if you so wish to. The game is better than the anime, period.
I personally DO NOT care for the otome, female fanservice said genre, because I’m a guy, and I do watch otome shows from time to time, and some end up being good (like Spring 2018’s Nil Admirari no Tenbin). Senjuushi however, breaks EVERY anime-focused denomination to the point of being unwatchable (this is highly debatable). If you have subconsciously invested yourself in this series from Day 1, be prepared for a rude awakening.
The story goes as of an illustration of the all-men cast (popular VAs arise: KajiKaji, Tomoaki Maeno, Shouta Aoi to name a few) of anthropomorphic military guns, both ancient and contemporary. Their sole role to fight against the Empire for reasons I cannot fathom why, and their charm comes from the power of “Supreme Nobility” (you can think of it as their max power-bar gauge) to fight and defend their lives for their one and only Master (whom they do not know, and that he created them).
A game source? Oh, how great…it’s paltry, so barebones that I could sleep or watch another anime in that exact same period. It’s noticeable, but not catchy nor impressive, sorry, not even eye-catching enough.
Just as is with a similar certain anime this season with the SAME niche target audience (and yes, I’m looking at you, Yume Oukoku to Nemureru 100-nin no Ouji-sama), you can take everything I have said there and apply it here, only far more worse. TL;DR though, a thousand? Ha! I really went to count the “thousand” crew and there’s only 32 of them! Not to mention that EVERYONE’s background isn’t covered at full length, so what you see is what you get: the only explanation for their names. How great and uncaptivating.
The art and animation is laughably the series Achilles Heel, and I’ll try to summarize in one-word letters: Disgusting; Un-conceptive; Un-original, In-organic; Crude; Hell and Fire and such. Check out the un-amazing animations of people just getting shot and falling down unnaturally! And that’s coming from TMS Entertainment who brought us the amazing Megalo Box that perfectly recaptures the 90s feel last season! This goes to show us that even industry veterans can do a whole lot of shit that just displeases us the viewers, like come on! You know you’re gonna fail, so why not stop there and then?
The music matches the perfect synchronicity of the awful series. Don’t get me wrong, the male VAs actually did a good job here, it’s just too bad that their VA skills are wasted in this God-forsaken of a barrel land. The OST is surprise, surprise, decent.
It pains me to say this, or I really thank God that nobody is talking about this anime, because I can screw this to oblivion for all it does, with the capable and talented production staff that just doesn’t give many F’s about this show, because this is by far the best of the best travesty the anime world has ever seen, and I HIGHLY recommend that you AVOID or stay away from this show AT ALL COSTS!
Final verdict: -100/10 (Worse than pathetic)
I gotta say its actually really nice. I watched this because of ikemen characters and one of my favourite seiyuu was voiced here.
The story is really good. The characters are very ikemen but there are few traps (male as a female), which I hate. The most disappointing part is the art. The characters & backgrounds are really beautiful but the animation is so horrible. It distracts me overtime which cause me to lose enjoyment in the later episodes.
Overall is nice. It makes me wanna play the game. I still don’t understand why everyone said this anime is bad. If you’re looking for ikemen characters or a fan of these seiyuus, give this a try.
42: Soukou Musume Senki
English: LBX Girls
MAL Score: 5.75
Riko Morisawa, a young girl from Tokorozawa, goes on a trip to Tokyo with her friend Mana. While they roam around the shops of Ikebukuro, Riko spots a billboard about an event related to the Little Battlers eXperience (LBX) line of toys. Mana urges Riko to purchase one, and although initially declining, Riko soon avails a few LBX kits for her father.
Upon opening one of the boxes labeled “LBX Assassin,” a temporal rift manifests itself and transports Riko into the sky of an alternate Japan. While she falls at terminal velocity, an exosuit based on the LBX Assassin materializes around her, saving her from the descent. However, on the ground, she encounters the Mimesis, lethal metallic creatures that invade world after world. As she flees away from these monsters, Riko is rescued by four other LBX-equipped girls. After learning about Riko’s predicament, the group decides to recruit her into their combat unit—”Soukou Musume.”
Soukou Musume Senki narrates how the unit endures the trials and tribulations they face, developing unbreakable bonds along the way.
If you’re not good with technobabble or Japanese geography/history, you will have difficulty grasping a lot of the dialogue.
If you’re a Danball Senki fan, this show is a neat little footnote, but is by no means required viewing.
If you love the power of friendship and are looking for a light snack, this may be your thing.
Quite bluntly, I’m not sure if Soukou Musume Senki has a target audience. But at the very least, I expected to hate it and was instead pleasantly surprised with how it developed. Admittedly, it does start out mediocre. It builds its world and characters slowly. Once you’re familiarized with them, though, suddenly everything begins to make sense. The style of writing is comparable to Gundam Build Divers, which also had its series composition done by Mutou Yasuyuki. The main cast interactions and banter feel incredibly organic. The girls aren’t just the same boring anime stereotypes, and they make a believable friend group when all put together.
Soukou Musume Senki is a short but sweet series with a happy ending for everyone. Enjoy it on its own merits.
Clearing up some misconceptions:
-This is not a fanservice anime. It has all the elements you would expect from one, but strangely enough, it’s not sexualized. Even the bath scenes are rather tame.
-This is not a toy commercial. No physical merchandise was released during the show’s run. If anything, they’re making money off blu-ray sales and the mobile game.
-Comparisons to that one barely-animated CG anime this season are unwarranted. Pretty much everything uses CG these days, y’all have no idea what you’re talking about.
Its now the last episode, episode 12 and its good! Their mission now is the operation ASO, would just be to protect the machine and delay the enemy from getting towards there.. good thing the old geezer was able to get there and provide support as fast as he could possibly can, cuz the machine that would seal the dimensial faults couldnt much take the toll, even with nate installed.. in the end, riko used her attack function, self destruct, and managed to destroy the collossal nemesis and other enemies around her.. well, it might not seem like it, but i can relate to the theory or science behind how riko and the others got to that dimension.. but that is a theory for another day.. anyways, i rate the anime a 4.5 out of 5, 4.5 for both story and art.. 🙂
3-4 years worth of anime adaptations and games ranging from the PSP and the 3DS, all released from 2011-2015, and believe me, only less than a thousand for a minority have ever heard of LBX before, much less played the games (which were just some of the most mediocre ones to have ever released when compared to the game libararies of each system). Pretty much just a franchise that only Japan loved…that is until when one of the large benefactors (DMM) decided to create a spin-off of the LBX franchise, and this is where we landed with the anime adaptation. Ah yes, more milking of the franchise that has largely stayed stagnant since 2015 and another mobage to help capitalize on the advertisement marketing. Not gonna lie, hammer those in Japan who funded this train-wreck, I just have no sympathy for BS plots like these.
But what about LBX Girls, you ask? In a nutshell, think of Gibiate, from the post-apocalyptical alternate setting to the actual “transported” Isekai itself of the main (girls) characters, jsut added with that “magical girl” charm. There, I’ve said it, it’s totally one and the same, only that this is marketed towards mature otakus, not kids. Hell, I’d say that even if this show was marketed towards kids, their thinking would be pretty much similar to the average modern-day otaku. Needless to say that as indicative of the score that is given, the enjoyment value that you’re gonna get out of this is bull-crap as well.
I genuinely pity the work of Seiyuus who have to help voice characters from shows like these that’re basically range from downright horrible to at best decent, and in a stacked season where you can see the ripple effects of 3DCGI strewn all across the many shows (see Ex-Arm), it’s just despotic that what Japan thinks is good for the anime industry to pump out this many shows, the West will naturally deem it the same, and you’re definitely gonna find one of the many exploited examples here of badly-rendered CGI of times past, present and future.
With the red flags ranging from oookie-cutter insert characters, bull-crap turd-filled fan-fiction garbage, to “the end of the world as we know it” to go and enjoy life while neglecting the mission at hand with an AI vehicle, yeah. If you’re gonna make a story plot that’s this easy, predictable and contrived, might as well don’t green-light the show at all in the first place. Don’t try to justify the means of “business as usual” by asking the studio (which is known for god-awful CGI, at least it’s leaps better than Ex-Arm) and waste those man-hours doing something that is just that: business as usual. With the direction under a director who’s known for creating some of the worst shows in history (School Days, Conception etc., damn Date A Live is also under him?), you’re 100% safe that any show he touches turns into rusty grains of dust.
The only part I’ve liked is the OST (the OP and ED songs in regard), and that is a small, tinny fraction of a plus as compared to how much BS everything else was, that’s a single par compared to numerous bogeys, trying to salvage the good that’s weighed with so much bad.
Just help me do a favour: Avoid this show like the plague it is. Pass it up.
41: Geisters: Fractions of the Earth
English: Geisters: Fractions of the Earth
Japanese: ガイスターズ FRACTIONS OF THE EARTH
MAL Score: 5.79
At the end of the 21st century, a meteorite collision plunged Earth into apocalypse, and the remnants of humanity went in two different directions to survive. The aristocratic Dobias headed into space, while the earthy Shioru went underground. Centuries later, they returned to Earth’s surface and are now fighting for control of the planet—that is, when they’re not busy fending off a new species of predators known simply as Creatures. Amidst this conflict, an elite team of five soldiers known as Geisters protects humanity from the Creatures and from each other. Although part of the Dobias, the Geisters have recently accepted a soldier of Shioru descent onto the team, and her take-charge personality leaves the other members unsure about her loyalty and usefulness to the group. With Dobias and Shioru tensions heating up on the political floor, Creatures running rampant, and a dangerous new weapon being developed in secret, the Geisters must maintain peace among themselves and the rest of society.
(Source: Anime Crash)
ONE: Some of the worst attempts at blending cell animation and cgi graphics I’ve seen in quite some time. The cell animation on it’s own is passable but not great. The computer generated monsters and various vehicles look fairly good. The problem comes when the two styles of animation interact. It kind of feels like a really cheap sci-fi show that’s painfully obvious they’re using a green screen. The actors and monsters just don’t look like they’re really interacting with each other.
Two: The English dubbing left a lot to be desired. Poor writing for the dialogue overall. The Japanese dialogue was really not much better.
Three: The plot is unimaginative and tired. A meteor decimating planet earth maybe a realistic future but it’s been done to death already.
This series does boast a lot of political agenda and character history similar to Gundum Wing but felt extremely rushed and non coherent. On that note it may appeal to fans of that series but all in all I’d say pass this one by seriously, ive seen quite alot of similar anime series like silent mobios, blue gender, and gundam, but this is nothing like those.
No wonder season 2 is nearly impossible to find subbed online and let alone even the licensed version was dropped to poorly rated reviews.
MAL Score: 5.81
The story takes place during a conflict between the Krakozhia Dukedom and the Grania Republic. In the midst of the fighting, a savior appears to the Krakozhia Dukedom, and it is a high school student named Yano Souhei. Two female soldiers, First Lieutenant Ruto and Second Lieutenant Haruka, appear in tanks to intrude on Souhei’s everyday life, followed by the enemy soldier Shachirofu, all of whom use firearms without hesitation at his house.
It consists of basically non-stop slapstick humour, over-the-top violence, sexual innuendos and military references. It’s not really the kind of show that will make you laugh uncontrollably, but it does consistently manage to put a smile on your face when watching it.
Moreover since every episode is only about 3 minutes long, it’s not like you will be losing out on much time for watching it so I reckon you might as well just give it a shot. It’s a pretty reliable way to cheer up yourself if nothing else.
If you happen to have a few minutes to kill just short of enough time for a full anime episode, give Military a shot.
Each episode comprises of a scene of the characters interacting with each other in over the top ways using different forms of World War 1 to modern to made up weaponry. However at the end of each episode they’d give a nice informational clip of a description of the actual military technology that the characters used.
People I’d recommend Military to: warfare fanatics and people with short spasm of free time.
Story: For a pair of loli(like) characters to be sent to defend the child of a suppose Salesmen turned War Hero there’s really nothing else to say about the Story. Simple and To the Point.
Art: For a miniseries the textures and art style flow with this anime. I really like the dramatic look of expressions and detail put into something that last no more then 3 minutes long. (says allot for the people that drag out some series with garbage tier Art
Sound: The sounding was never ear-rape and the matching of the art and character make the series itself hilariously fluent.
Characters: Oh the Characters of this miniseries are all unique in their own way. While appealing to the loli lover out there it also meets up with the military person or someone that’s into a quick hilarious time with military stuff and situation
Enjoyment: I personally enjoyed this series. It’s not as long as 08th MS Team(Military Gundam Anime with 12 Episodes) but it does get me chuckling at parts and laughing in others.
Overall: I’d recommend this to anyone that’s into having quick laughs while at the same time having military like situations happen in your own neighborhood as well as in your own home. And let’s not forget loli’s with guns.
39: Submarine Super 99
Japanese: サブマリン スーパー９９
MAL Score: 6.20
Dr. Oki , the genius scientist who designed a new type of submarine is missing. His son, Susumu, smells an evil scheme of unknown group. He knows everything of his father’s submarine called “Super 99” – equipment, weapons, functions and capacity. Susumu thinks that to find his father is to reveal the secret organization, Helmet Party, and stop their conspiracy. With the help of his friends and Marine Corps, he sets out to an underwater quest, not knowing how dangerous his endeavour is…
So… Let’s see.. This show effectively released at the turn of the millenium, right after a superstar title of similar combination of genres(Gundam Seed) just ended. To make it worse, Gundam Seed was not the only title outshining it at its airing, there was also Ghost in Shell: SAC, Texhnolyze, Uchuu no Stellvia, all of which has a heck of a lot more attention than this title at the prime of its time to shine.
Graphically, this show’s technical aspects are very good for a year 2003 title. The backgrounds and tech are decently well drawn/gradiented. The show very unfortunately has an very outdated art character artstyle (more or less the same style as from the 1970s) that heavily contrasts it with other titles of its time, all of which have moved onto more modern character design styles.
Even soundwise, it has the problem of sounding very outdated for most of the show. From sound effects to OST, it would not be hard to mistake the show as something that is much older. It’s only saving grace is an OK ending song that doesn’t sound half as outdated as the rest of the show.
Story and cast-wise, the show actually had the potential to be okay, but flops mainly due to the way it chooses to tell its story. Derogatorily, this show can be described as a show written by a fan of the actual Gundam franchise who came up with the visuals of the characters first, made a plot to surround them with second and then forgot to develop either the characters or make the plot more fleshed out.
The set up is extremely simple with a decently pronounced shout-out to your typical Gundam set up: A kid as the MC, a Sayla expy and the main crew in colorful (pastel) military garments commandeering a prototype ship. Even the enemy, who are effectively Sea Zeon instead of a Space version has their ship crews wear plain colors like the majority of the Zeons/ZAFT and they’re also chasing said prototype ship. The only thing missing is an actual Gundam prototype and a Char clone.
First, while I don’t typically deduct points for lack of originality, this one pushes it heavily enough it’s worth deducting a point from for the insanely obvious attempt to cash off of Gundam’s popularity. A Gundam entry has the excuse of paying respects to its roots, a non-Gundam title has no such legacy to pay respects to.
Second, the show never really establishes why the MC is involved with the plot. Whereas the main contemporary show that dwarfed this one’s popularity bothered to explain this point and go so far as to make it part of their MC’s development, this show just throws him in as a relative of some actually important figures and that’s it. Problem is, a military employee’s son doesn’t necessarily enlist and even if he does, he would be offered very little entitlement to classified information based on a blood relation.
Third, there is a certain out of place childishness to this show. For example, the villains are retarded. Why give back a gun to your prisoner even if you assume someone else will hold onto the ammo? I was laughing as I watched and laughed harder when the obvious consequences occurred.
Lastly, a prominent issue is the cast. While, yes you can visually remember the main crew and a few of the villains, there is nothing to define them as characters and the show has so many characters for its episode count that even the main guy falls flat.
In conclusion, this show is probably not worth your time if you are looking for a good watch unless you really want a Gundam-esque show and you’ve already seen all the other ones that are good.
Art:5 – Sound: 3 – Story: 6 – Characterization: 1
38: Azur Lane
MAL Score: 6.28
When the “Sirens,” an alien force with an arsenal far surpassing the limits of current technology, suddenly appeared, a divided humanity stood in complete solidarity for the first time. Four countries—Eagle Union, Royal Navy, Sakura Empire, and Iron Blood—formed Azur Lane, paving the way for the improvement of modern warfare, which led to an initial victory against the common threat. However, this tenuous union was threatened by opposing ideals, dividing the alliance into two. Sakura Empire and Iron Blood broke away and formed the Red Axis, and humanity became fragmented once again.
As a seasoned and experienced fighter, the “Grey Ghost” Enterprise shoulders Azur Lane’s hope for ending the war. But behind her stoic persona hides a frail girl, afraid of the ocean. Even so, she continues to fight as she believes that it’s the only purpose for her existence. Meanwhile, Javelin, Laffey, and Unicorn—three ships from the union—stumble upon Ayanami, a spy from the Red Axis. Strange as it may seem, they try to befriend her, but as enemies, their efforts are for naught. Still, they persevere in hopes of succeeding one day.
Amidst the neverending conflict within humankind, the keys that could unite a fragmented race might exist: a soldier coming to terms with her mysterious personality and camaraderie between those with different ideals.
– Mediocre story featuring a generic plot, awful pacing, an OOC lead (Enterprise), forced yuribait, and an inconsistent setting. If the writers’ goal was to sum up the in-game story so far, they failed spectacularly. No in-game events are mentioned or animated, and what context is presented is vague and never expanded upon. Enterprise is reduced to a one-note ration addict without common sense who can only be saved not by her sister (Hornet) or her dedicated repair ship (Vestal), but by Belfast because yuribait. One of the major factions in-game (Ironblood) is sidelined with their starter ship only getting ~3 minutes of screentime, and the minor factions are nowhere to be found. Episodes sporadically hop from serious moments to lighthearted ones as if the writers couldn’t agree on the atmosphere they wanted to present. There are several more issues I can give (e.g. that one episode where it took ~12 minutes of ships slowly approaching each other before they actually started fighting, Akagi being stuck with the idiot ball for several episodes) but you get the idea.
– Inconsistent animation; compare the first and second halves of Episode 8 and you’ll see what I mean. There’s a reason Bibury had to delay the last two episodes by three months just to make them serviceable. Speaking of which…
– Terrible ‘fight scenes’ with no sense of choreography or intensity. Zooming around on planes and dodging bombs is not a fight scene, it’s a snooze fest. Some fights were better than others (Enterprise vs Zuikaku), but for the most part they were laughable.
– Forgettable soundtrack outside of the OP/ED outside of one or two tracks.
– Dub was hilariously bad; the German accents were way too thick.
Now this adaptation wasn’t garbage at everything, and it’s true that viewers had low expectations going in since since Bibury is a freelance studio that normally does in-between animation instead of entire adaptations. However, the only redeemable things about this adaptation (e.g. most character portrayals including voice acting) are done just as well if not better by the game, the manga adaptations of the game, and even Azur Lane Crosswave (regardless of its controversial gameplay). It’s disappointing, and I feel bad for both Manjuu and Yostar because they’ve put their heart and soul into the IP for years, but now they have to deal with the bad reputation of an adaptation that was clearly doomed from Day 1.
If you have not played Azur Lane, please give it a shot. I can guarantee you that the game is much better than this adaptation on all fronts, and that Manjuu & Yostar treat it with plenty of love and care. As for this adaptation…well, at least the Blu-rays remedy some of the animation errors.
March 2021 Edit: Yostar Pictures’s adaptation of Azur Lane (Bisoku Zenshin) just finished airing and is far better than this adaptation was, so be sure to give it a look if you were hoping for something else. I’ve also edited this review for concision.
But as an anime original viewer, Azur Lane presented itself to me as a fan disservice of naval storytelling. The plot deals with nations fighting against the mysterious alien force known as the “Sirens”. Azur Lane is a military alliance established to counter the threat that consist of the Eagle Union, Sakura Empire, Royal Navy, and Ironblood. However, these nations develop ideal clashes that breeds internal problems within the alliance. Let me tell you this right now and that is, you should not expect much character development for the oversaturated cast of characters. Besides a few of the more prominent characters such as Enterprise, Akagi, Unicorn, Javelin, Belfast, and Kaga, there’s far too many to count or worth investing time into. It’s a flaw of the anime with viewers being easily lost within its sea of characters and even the plot. Azur Lane seems to be the type of anime that’s aimed for an audience already familiar with the franchise.
That being said, the anime isn’t completely unwatchable. Naval warfare takes shape with a war drama story that isn’t difficult to understand. The main question is how much you feel attached to the story it tells us. The main plot deals with how each nation operates by using its arsenal and military units in the conflict against the Sirens. When it doesn’t engage in war, we do have the so called “breather episodes” to give the characters time to relax. The first half of the series even had a particular beach episode to give time off for the ship girls. Other times, it brings together characters from different nations and their ideals. One of the most prominent character is Enterprise, an ace renowned for her skills and her experience. Throughout the anime, she faces her own personal demons including dealing with the incident of her sister, Yorktown. While the anime doesn’t pull the trigger on most of the cast, Yorktown does become a victim of warfare and in respect, Enterprise feels responsible. In a sensible topic, war can be a life altering experience. Azur Lane seeks to promote character assassination on occasions despite the highly fictional content.
As I mentioned before, Azur Lane seems like type of anime targeted to fans who are already familiar with the franchise. There’s far too many cast and as result, many of the characters gets demoted to background extras or even omitted. A primary example is the limited focus on Ironblood and its members. The anime attempts to remedy this by having groups of characters appearing but it doesn’t really leave a good taste. On the other hand, it’s easy to see that some character relationships to be intimate than others. No, this is not a shoujo-ai. But sometimes, you do get a ship tease between characters such as Akagi and Kaga. Unfortunately, the relationships in this anime is eye catchy at best but filled with utter nonsense. Watching Azur Lane made me feel like a kid who got a flashy new toy but gets bored the very next day. Characters such as Unicorn serves as mascots that brings little value to the storytelling. If you’re seeking for a concrete plot, seriously look elsewhere. This isn’t an anime that will make you quote lines from what it’s selling.
On the technical elements, Azur Lane became a victim of for its visual quality and animation. There’s obvious problems with the production values when the producers decided to delay the series’ final two episodes by 3 months. While character designs doesn’t suffer from CGI, some of them looks inconsistent in background scenes. Most of the time, the characters looks scripted on set and the battle chereography seems like it’s a live slideshow. There’s no easy way to say it but Azur Lane takes a big fall on its animation front.
Ah, Azur Lane. Somehow, I got the impression the producers wanted to throw all this together to get the audience’s favor into the game. Honestly, the plot is so poorly written that you may have to look up a wiki to understand the full gest. Without playing the game, this show won’t be much of an enjoyable experience. It’s not even an eye pleaser with the atrocious animation. You will certainly not come out of this show remembering a memorable quote or two. And it’s a shame really. It’s 2020 and we haven’t received a decent anime about ship girls in ages.
Based on the gacha game of the same name (that was insanely popular at the time), Azur Lane features anthropomorphic World War 2 waifu ships that we have the joy of the love-hate relationships between its insanely big cast of allies and enemies to develop their growth overtime as we please and experience some of the very best mobile games have to offer. And of course, the anime adaptation was a sure-fire thing back when it got massively popular back in 2017. But what we got instead was a production so haphazard, it’s like the production staff at Bibury Animation Studios knew what they were doing under the tutelage of the studio’s owner and director Tensho (Grisaia, Rewrite series) and on Jin Haganeya (Guilty Crown, Demonbane) being series composer (at the recommendation of publisher Shanghai Yostar’s president Li Hengda, with Demonbane being one of his favourite shows), even all of that went to naught with this show.
Starting with the story, it’s your standard run-of-the-mill “heroes vs. villains” cliche archetype with the impending “ideals vs. realism”-sake type of story with the central huge cast of characters. Of course, they’re already known by which group they belong to (if you played the mobile game). This setting isn’t bad, but it’s one that has been done a thousand times over and over again to the point of boredom. If you’d refer back to my earlier “name-notables” with Jin Haganeya, he’s a pretty mediocre writer, with Guilty Crown being the easiest victim to blame for (since Despite the recommendation for him to be writing the storyboard for this show, I found it to be pretty much nonsensical, or at worse times non-existent even with a decent storyline, other than the waifu ships which have garnered lots of love the way before the anime started, and those same feelings are endorsed here.
Character-wise, what’s there not to love about the character cast? From Azur Lane’s seasoned leader “Grey Ghost” Enterprise with her assistant Belfast, Eagle Union’s loli warships Javelin, Laffey and Unicorn to former comrade-turned-spy Red Axis’s Ayanami and Sakura Empire’s Akagi, they’re pretty much the standard bogfare and the core foundation of the series to date, and I am happy to say that they absolutely have no faults (well, except how they’re utilized in the story).
The elephant in the room has got to be Tensho’s Bibury Animation Studios, who came out of the deal with doing second-rate in-between animation, and then split out to produce the Grisaia: Phantom Trigger movie to decent results. And now, with this show being it’s very first TV series, the same feelings that can be said on the Grisaia movie sadly shares the same with Azur Lane here. Don’t get me wrong, the visuals are all done nicely…for the first few episodes. And then they just seemingly went with the flow of sacrificing quality for quantity when it comes to the bombastic action scenes (that are supposed to be as good as the game itself, mind you) of which Azur Lane (the game) is no stranger to such good animation and lets the gamers feel fulfilled (after tanking hours of gameplay). Even the CGI scenes which were meant to be flashy, ended up as wack and we’re all left wondering if that was actually incorporated at the very last minute or the lack of skill to make even such scenes stand out. Needless to say, all of that didn’t translate well to the anime despite the popularity over in Japan when it was first launched there to successful results.
Another wacky area is always with the music. Other than a forgetful OP (of which May’n is producing decent to mediocre songs nowadays) and the nice ED by Kano, I honestly don’t remember any good tunes, even after the 3-months gap due to production issues. Other than that, it’s only the fanservice that gets us feeling good that is the best part of this show.
When all is said and done, what happened with Azur Lane: The Animation, it’s all the same as selling merchandise: this show is meant to be a cash-cow adding onto the popularity of the series in its many mediums. The same with the subgenre with shows like Girls und Panzer, Kantai Collection, they have their own niches and I can’t complain about that. Stick with the games and forbade on the anime, your experience will vary on the better side than to side with the show, which is a +1 to the many mediocre game adaptations of recent years. This show HAD the potential to be good (and us the audience are honestly in for it), and it was horrendously wasted to trash.
37: Rikujou Bouei-tai Mao-chan
English: Ground Defense Force! Mao-chan
MAL Score: 6.32
Mao Onigawara is a happy 8-year-old grade-schooler and the granddaughter of Chief of Staff of Ground Defense Force. Equipped with her cloverleaf-shaped badge which enables her to transform (but gives her no special power whatsoever), Mao and her best friends (granddaughters of Chief of Staff of Air and Marine Defense Force, respectively) will defend Japan against the invasion from “cute aliens,” who are way too cute to be dealt with by regular armed forces.
I’ve bumped into this anime accidentally and, as convinced lolicon mahou shoujo fan, couldn’t miss the opportunity to watch it. The first episode – well, just appreciate it yourself – seemed to be a gemstone of highest quality! That would be astonishing full-fledged trash magic girls anime as I thought. Clumsiness, stupidity, nonsense, moe and the nasty graphics – all of the things we starve to see were present, not to mention the overwhelmingly careless final of that very first episode that drowned me into laughter for minutes.
But, the whole series were mostly not the same thing as the opening ep one. Oh no, just carry on your download! Other episodes only lacked the trash component, becoming more sane than one could presume, but that one detail doesn’t matter at all – the whole anime is definitely great! Those keen on the genre would surely “get hands on” pleasure watching Ground Defence Mao.
Let’s contionue on with compulsory part.
The conception is fresh and entertaining, antagonists being surprisingly cute aliens, bullying whom would make bad impression on society. Mahou shoujo setting is beyond any criticism.
Well, I’m not being honest, or am I? The artwork would make you drool a lake and there is nothing more to say.
Surprisingly, sounds are well-arranged. This goes for OP/ED themes, voices and that piano background, constantly playing in course of the series thus making them more consistent.
Do I even need to comment?
I bet you will enjoy the series just in same way as the chief evil cute alien enjoyed peeping into the protagonists’ everyday “service”. Being serious, this anime is unambiguously trash and I have just warned you.
Multiply ten by five and divide by five – here we go. You being the lolicon fan? Watch it! The episodes are kind, heart-warming, cute and filfulled with love, just as we hope for our life to be.
Japan has been invaded by cute aliens whose aims is still shrouded in mystery. It is immediately needed to stop their invading because they sometimes hurt people, though they look harmless. But their cute appearances which is rather like stuffed animals has made the situations difficult to deal with. If the government would use the regular power of the military forces to defeat them down, people would be deeply sorry for the aliens and surely get angry over the government’s actions. Therefore, the united defence force consisted of the three 8 years old cute girls is set up to protect the peace of Japan from the cute aliens. – Quite reasonable, I guess.
Only for Kids?
I said it’s ‘basically’ for kids, because it sure is childish as you can see by the cover of this anime, but also adults those who don’t want a show to be much serious will likely enjoy it too. The plot and characters of the anime is designed by Ken Akamatsu, a Japanese popular manga artist who has made alot of romantic-comedy including Love Hina. (Mao-chan is all comedic-comedy, though) So, Mao-chan may look childish at the first impression, but you will find it isn’t that childish and it’s actually fun than you have expected. The plot of each episode is quite unpredictable in a funny way, and the characters are really unique and charming.
Have Some Ecchi?
Although his works occasionally have ecchi fan-services, please don’t expect this particular anime to have any sexual moments or much attractiveness of the characters more than just cuteness. It’s mainly for kids after all. However, I have to say, the boss character of the villains…has got a really questionable form.
What the– Are you trying to ask me who is my best waifu in this anime? How…DARE YOU! They are only 8-year-old. Who in the world wants one of them to be their waifu? WTH are you?? Well, if you really want to know, Silvia-chan would be my waifu. She is cute of course, but quite a bit quirky too unlike the other two girls. Mao-chan behaves in a honest, heroic way, Misora-chan behaves in a polite, girlish way, and Silvia-chan though, she behaves in an eccentric way. For example, she often says a strange or a clever things for her age; she once tried to eat a cute alien; she can take out tangerines from everywhere. It’s very clear that she is the one who has made the show more interesting and unpredictable.
If you are looking for short comedies with cute characters, and if you are interested in hearing English/Japanese, maybe Mao-chan is a good choice for you, even if you are a full-grown. Let’s yuru-yuru defence together!
36: Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka
English: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka
MAL Score: 6.33
Three years ago, a bloodthirsty race of interdimensional beings known as the Disas appeared and destroyed everything they could reach on Earth. With regular weapons rendered useless, humanity’s only hope of survival relied on humans who became magical girls after forming an alliance with the Spirit Realm, who had followed the Disas to Earth. After a violent conflict, the squad of magical girls emerge victorious, with the survivors now known as the “Magical Five.”
Following the war with the Disas, the Magical Five disbands. Kurumi Mugen, Mia Cyrus, Tamara Volkova, and Lau Peipei independently continue their own military services, while their leader, Asuka Ootorii, retires and becomes a high school student. However, Asuka’s peace is short-lived, as it seems there were survivors on the enemy’s side as well. As magic must be fought with magic, Asuka is dragged back into combat as an even worse battle looms on the horizon.
Do not be misled by the words “Mahou Shoujo” in the title, this is a military/sci-fi drama about an anti-terrorist unit, it is far more in line with Ghost in the Shell/Metal Gear rather than with any actual mahou shoujo series. In fact, Metal Gear is an almost complete thematic match for this show – gut-wrenching military drama plus “twenty minutes into the future and the world has gone to hell” sci-fi plus wacky tongue-in-cheek comedy.
As a military drama it touches on the themes of child soldiers (that is, magical girls), terrorism, PTSD of soldiers and civilians (one of the best and most accurate portrayals of PTSD in fiction, btw), the effect of a global war on the world order (the classical Mahou Shoujo battle with monsters was won by the MC several years before the series even begins), political fuckery between the competing military branches, battlefield camaraderie and so on – all the genre staples. The writing is competent, dealing with the brought up themes in a mature and nuanced way.
Naturally, given the genre and the height of its proverbial brow, this is an appropriately dark show. And by “appropriately”, I mean that if you hear someone calling a show like this “edgy” or “gratuitous” – those people are clueless. Like I said, this is a military drama about war and terrorism – if a story like this isn’t dark, then it’s toothless and fails to achieve its purpose. Try calling something like Saving Private Ryan “edgy” and you will be laughed at, yet the same shit flies with anime for reasons that are not the topic of this review (*cough*, only children watch chinese cartoons, *cough*). Anyway, don’t watch this if you can’t handle torn-off limbs, just don’t delude yourself into thinking one’s sensibility has anything to do with the objective merits of the work of fiction.
That’s not to say this series is completely dramatic. There is plenty of unadulterated brainless B-movie fun that would make for a totally inappropriate tonal clash if it was any less self-aware. Again, Metal Gear is the most apt comparison.
The big highlight of the series – it’s an absolute treat to any modern military buff, a hard sci-fi fan, or just anyone who likes authors doing their research. The show rightfully brags about having a dedicated military advisor, and it also sciences the shit out of anything magical. Magic animal mascot – a synthetic life-form with true AI. Magic shield – it’s actually a magic explosive reactive armor. Magic truth serum – a magically altered barbiturate cocktail. Magic memory wipe – a full-on complex neurosurgery that needs the use of a (magic) tomograph. It feeds both the sci-fi and over-the-top fun aspects of the series, because there is just something magical about watching a mahou shoujo overcharging an assault rifle bullet with energy to a point where it becomes a bunker-buster.
Returning back to the “Magical Girl” part of the title – the series’ genre can be accurately described as post-dark mahou shoujo – by the same merit as post-cyberpunk subgenre of sci-fi. Meaning, “dark magical girls deconstructions” are old news, it’s time to deconstruct or subvert their tropes already:
Of course the MC has PTSD just like any self-respecting child soldier should. And yet it never stops her from getting in the fucking robot, because she doesn’t fail to understand a very obvious idea that she is a hero who literally saved the world and should be proud of herself.
Of course mahou shoujos are gay for each other – nothing breeds emotional bonds like the battlefield – and then they drift apart because they don’t actually have much in common in the civilian life.
Kyubey lookalikes are a multi-faceted society with good and bad factions/individuals no different from humanity. They don’t harbour some universe-spanning conspiracy, they just want to profit via trading or smuggling.
Special mention for the visual style that seamlessly merges military and mahou shoujo aesthetics, especially in the design of magical girls’ costumes.
It’s not all roses, though, the anime suffers a lot from poor production values. Action scenes are slideshows (somewhat alleviated by their tactical nature, but still looking bad). Important scenes from the source material are cut or changed. In turn, anime original parts of the story are inferior and harm the narrative. There is an adequate story arc, but the plotline still kinda leads to “go read the manga”.
9/10 for a could’ve-been-a-masterpiece undermined by a subpar adaptation.
For starters, there’s a clear reason why the show airs late at night on the MBS block. Like the manga, this adaptation actually keeps the censoring to a minimal. Here’s an early warning: be prepared for body horror in the form of limbs being blown off, emotional torture, and brutal deaths. I’m not joking. Mahou Shoujo Toushusen Asuka isn’t even a bit afraid of showing how dark and dangerous its world can be. Speaking of which, let’s look at the world setting. It takes place 3 years before the mainstream timeline in Japan. According to history, the world was invaded by monsters known as Netherbeasts. A group of magical girls rose up to stop them from annihilating humanity. A girl named Asuka is the leader of this group (known as the Magical Five) as we look at her story.
From my first impressions, I actually got hooked by some dark and edgy entertainment. Make no mistake, I believe the creator is fully aware of the series’ style of violence so they are not timid to show it. The first few episodes contains a flashback that opens up the storytelling while introducing the main cast. We meet characters such as Asuka, Kurumi, and among others that we’ll learn more about later. Titular character Asuka gives off a peculiar charisma for being a badass on the frontline but more of a regular normal human being while not fighting. It’s made clear in the beginning as she tries to live a normal life until a faithful event pits her into fighting again. We also see her trauma in the past that resulted in PTSD and to this day, she hasn’t forgotten. But deep down, Asuka is a kind person who is selfless and isn’t afraid to take risks to fight the good fight.
Joining her is Kurumi Mugen, a combat nurse and close friend. I should say right off the bat that it’s obvious she has feelings for Asuka. It actually becomes more and more obvious especially in later episodes with even some rather disturbing moments. But don’t mistake this for a shoujo-ai. The bigger picture is that she is part of the Magical Five and serves as an important support in battle. The remaining members includes Tamara, Lau, and Mia. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t dedicate more time for them as compared to either Asuka or Kurumi. We only get to see their actions rather than development. However, the show also makes it known that illegal magical girls exists. Outside of the Magical Five, these illegal magical girls play an antagonistic role. Characters such as Abigail brings in the brutality and darker side of the magical girl genre. She displays psychopathic behavior and even uses scissors to terrorize a hostage for her personal amusement. Be ready for limbs chopped off and even a magical form of waterboarding. Sounds edgy yet?
Yet from what I’ve seen in this show, there are still some bright moments in their dark world. For example, Asuka’s friends (Nozomi and Sayako) at school brings in joy and an experience at normal life for her. The show also takes breather time on occasions such as with school activities and even a beach episode. But never forget, there’s no peace in the world of Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka.
For its worth, I wish this show had a better budget. Most of the fights all feel the same without strong production or animation quality. It lacks style too without demonstrating any source of uniqueness. I will say that while the violence captures a mature mood, it sometimes relies way too much on it. How many times are going to see blood being spilled until it’s satisfying? On the other hand, I do appreciate the variety of creative weapons that are featured. Asuka’s signature karambit is a set of weapons I don’t see often. A combat nurse like Kurumi also brings in expertise along with Mia, Lau Pei-Pei, and Tamara. These characters shows their transcendence beyond common logic. Furthermore, I should say this show is known for some uncharacteristic designs such as the oversized creatures. Most of them give an otherworldly appearance that I find hard to ignore. And the theme songs on most parts are worthy enough for this mature magical girl adaptation.
“Should I watch Mahou Shoujo Toushusen Asuka”? Or rather, the better question would be…”Do I enjoy anime with dark and edgy magical girl content with troubled characters?” The bottom line is, you should judge this anime exactly for what it is but realize that it’s nothing really that special. It’s one of those shows anyone with a livid imagination can write or come up with. There has been a reemergence of dark magical girl anime in recent years. We may be seeing more of these in the future so who knows, maybe the next one will set a higher standard.
Sit back, relax and DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY NOW SOLDIER!!! As I present to you the anime review for Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Let begin.
There was a war, a great war. Mysterious, magical beings known as Disas invaded Earth with the intention of wiping humanity out. However, with the help of Spirit Realm who also oppose the Disas, help create the Magical Girls that managed to oppose the Disas and save humanity. Then they go their separate ways. Three years later, one of the girls, Asuka, decides to live like a normal girl and go about her days in high school and abandon the fighting. However, mysterious, random events involving the Disas forces her back into fighting and defeat the Disas once again along with the rest of “The Magical Five” in order to protect humanity once again.
So there you go, a pretty standard plot. We get told of this big threat; who defeated them; the big threat returns; the girls must defeat them again. But it ain’t that simple. Because you see, the show likes to show the horrors of war and how terrorism affects the lives of everyone who is involved. It likes to address some pretty mature stuff and what this anime shows is true. These things do happen. So it is good to see this anime take these thoughts and rolls with it and not make it over the top with it. Although I do think the more goofy, fun side of the magical girl genre that it presents here clashes with the show’s darker themes and military aspects of this show. Making it some kind of mashup between the two that really doesn’t work honestly. It’s hard to argue when one scene tries to be on the cute side, whereas another scene is so focused on torture that it makes you forget that these are from the same show. And this show REALLY does like to go vigorously into these torture scenes with torture tactics like injections and waterboarding. Didn’t turn me away but will probably turn some people away.
Another thing I want to knock down the story for is that the pacing is rather slow. It shouldn’t take 4-5 episodes of a twelve episode series to complete the prologue of how Asuka gets back into fighting. It tries to distract people with its fight scenes and flashy colours to hide the pacing issues but I saw through that and I can knock it down a peg. While it wasn’t awful and bored me to tears, it was noticeable at times that the show was taking its damn time to get where it wanted to go.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” – Michael Corleone, The Godfather: Part 3.
That line couldn’t be more relateable to describe Asuka. Simply put, she doesn’t want to fight again but has no choice as she one of the only few people that can do it. She refuses at first because when you fight in a war, people you care about will most likely die and most of them do. So to avoid seeing more people die in front of their eyes, she refuses. But then realising that people will have a bigger chance to die if she is not there fighting, she agrees. You can understand her decision to do this because she wants to prevent more people from dying by getting involved with her. But my problem is that the show doesn’t do that good of a job of making Asuka have her past really affect her. While the show does show scenes and Asuka does react to people dying or people who have died, you would think that it would have a bigger affect on her psyche but it doesn’t happen. They’re like spur of the moment scenes that remind the viewer of what Asuka has been trhough and not really being fully effective to damage her mind.
The rest of the cast is rather bland and are just meh. So much so that I can’t remember most of their names on the top of my head. Even the two high school girls that gives a motive for Asuka to fight again are rather uninteresting as they fall into stereotypes with one being a hyped up tomboy and the other being a timid bookworm. They are a nice reminder of what Asuka is fighting for but only if you care about them. In my case, I don’t really care about them and they are kind of just there near the end of the show.
The only other character that was interesting was Kurumi Mugen, a fellow magical girl. Her backstory is rather depressing since she was treated like trash throughout her school life, only for Asuka to swoop in and give her the confidence she needs. But it is clear that she has a rather unstable mind. She has the kind of damaged psyche that I wished Asuka had. It is much clearer that she has been mentally damaged from what she has seen and how she has been treated. Asuka being her saviour from a life of cruelty causes her to develop Yandere-like qualities and gets a kick out of torturing people. Seeing these things shows how damaged Kurumi and that’s good because these things should have some affect on her and it clearly shows throughout the show. Now you could say that’s the show trying to make the characters more edgy and you would be right. For me though, I see it as appropriate due to the circumstances.
This show looked good to begin with and then just kind of flopped. The show constantly uses cheap ways to animate a fight scene like cutaways and and moving camera shots with still images. It gets worse when we get shots of people firing guns as they just stand still with no sense of recoil from firing the guns. Instead, it uses flashy colours to distract the viewer. In fact, this show does love to use a lot of flashy colours in its animation, but really, it is more of a distraction than a core part of its animation. Character designs and art design is fine though, although I do think it tends to lean towards the fan service side a little bit. Some the characters designs as well tend on to lean on the big, kawaii eyes which feels off IMO.
The show is really heavy on the techno music but honestly, it just doesn’t stand out at all. It just blends into one another and is really forgettable. The only soundtrack that stood out for me was the shows main battle music, which is arguably alright as it is the only one that stands out with how it uses the sounds to get you hyped. Of course, its hard to hear the music when explosions, clashing of weapons, swipes and gunfire drown out the music to make it difficult to listen to.
The opening as well is alright. It just highlights Asuka’s conflict of fighting or not to fight and continues the use of techno as well in its music. It is the only other piece of music that stands out but didn’t really get me excited to watch the next episode. The ending however is a big skip as it just didn’t interest me at all, it bored me and I lost interest after watching it the first couple of times for being a pretty standard ending sequence.
Magical Girl Spe-Ops Asuka just exists as another attempt in making a more mature magical girl anime. The main problem with this show that it just doesn’t excel in anything. It does everything either meh or bad so I am left with an “eh” impression of it. This show isn’t horrible as it has some moments. Not a lot, but some. But I will just chalk this down as another anime I took an interest in and left me with an “eh” impression. Again, this show just exists in its own way to incorporate magical girls as elite, military agents to stop terrorism. It ain’t offensive or just terrible, but it will be one of those anime I will forget in the near future. So you can pretty much skip this one.
Also one last thing, since the magical girls are nicknamed “The Magical Five,” why did we get only four of the girls? Seriously, where is the Chinese girl that appears in the opening and ending of the show. Anyone? no? ok.
My Personal Enjoyment: 4.5/10
Overall score: 4.2/10 Recommendation: Don’t Bother
35: Cluster Edge
Japanese: CLUSTER EDGE（クラスターエッジ）
MAL Score: 6.34
Cluster Edge Academy isn’t just any school; it’s THE school, where the offspring of the elite come together to prepare for their roles running a world where artificial soldiers and religious sects are major factors in the battle for total control. Which may be part of why new transfer student Agate Fluorite doesn’t quite seem to fit in. It’s not just that Agate’s enthusiastic attitude stands out among the somber, brooding balance of the student body. There’s something about him that demands notice, even from jaded honors students like Beryl Jasper, and from the moment of arrival he’s been at the center of a series of mysteries that not even Agate understands. Because Agate’s not just another student, he’s part of a something so momentous, and dangerous, that the world that built Cluster Edge may not survive its passing.
(Source: Sentai Filmworks)
Cluster Edge is a pretty good anime if you are into shows like Gundam Wing and/or any other type of action oriented, bishonen anime. Contrary to popular belief, this show is NOT shounen-ai regardless of the fact that all of the central figures in this series are male. It does seem to go a little overboard with the flashbacks but that’s just the narrative style of this series plus it really doesn’t interfere with the overall pace of the show. The art is pretty bad in some places but it actually gets better—or maybe you just forget about it—as the show moves along.
Cluster Edge, visually speaking, at times has the look of an older anime. Sometimes 5 years….sometimes 10 years older, like it’s an anime from the mid 90’s. Now if you take a good look at some of the characters, you can see it’s a newer, more recent series…..but the other half of the characters, especially the side characters, they look ‘flat’. They don’t have that polished cell-art look and the background/scenery is equally flat looking.
The motion isn’t too bad. I’d say it’s on par with most 90’s anime, meaning, you will see the odd or stiff movement every once in a while and also those fight scenes comprised of a couple still frames with the with the sliding lights FX in the background. But even with the oldish looking art and animation, I still loved it because the objects being represented were all new and fresh or what I should say is that it re-invents what is known and old…into something new and fresh.
This anime is one of those ‘hybrid’ animes…..I call them Hybrid animes because they like to take vintage objects, namely machinery like cars, planes, boats, etc and then hybridize them with futuristic mecha. There are quite a few of them out there, Last Exile is probably the most famous for this hybridization technique though.
If you thought the art looked dated, wait till you get an earful of the music!! SUPER old school synthesizers from the 80’s I tell ya! The only difference is that now you have the luxury of digital sound technology so you don’t get any of that pesky static laden noise of a phonograph needle moving across the vinyl disk during audio playback.
The 1st OP theme song, Fly High, is of the POP/Rock variety, it’s not too bad sounding and it actually fits the overall theme of the series. A couple of episodes further in, they added sound FX of glass breaking and bullets to go with the visuals of the OP credits….it also made the song sound better too.
Same can be said for the 1st ED theme song which was more or less on the same line as the musical score for Weiss Kreuz with it’s boy-band flavor.
You’ll get an even more super caffeinated,sped up boy-band flavored music for the 2nd OP song ‘Keep on Dreaming’ and then for your 2nd ED there’s a somewhat average sounding ballad [male vocal].
The BGM used for this series I’m pretty sure was basically recycled or revamped Gundam Wing background music. I also watched this show in Japanese so I really had no issues with the voice actors, I think they all did a great job, no one sounded to old to be a teenager…well except for maybe Beryl, he sounded kind of too old to be only 15.
The best thing this series has got going for it has got to be the actual story. Now, I will admit that I was first interested in this show because it was presented to me as a shounen-ai piece….and some people even still say it’s shounen-ai or “shounen-ai lite”. I really don’t know what the heck is that supposed to mean and frankly I think a lot of people are letting their fantasies get the better of them cuz this isn’t shounen-ai….not even shounen-ai lite. Just because an anime features an all boys school or a predominantly male cast [even if they are all bishies] doesn’t automatically equate to shounen-ai…sorry but even without the shounen-ai element to the story it is still it’s best selling point for this series.
The actual theme or plot that Cluster Edge offers is nothing new really: young boys flying around in big machines shooting things and blowing them up + you got some magic powers thrown in the mix…all pretty much standard issue within the mecha-fantasy shonen construct. The real enjoyment comes from their particular brand of the storytelling, which to me was artistic and innovative. Many might disagree with that point and just say that the story moved too slowly or that it was over-burdened with way too many flashbacks and that may be true but I enjoyed it nonetheless because while I like might like a good anime with a lot of fast paced action, I also whole-heartedly enjoy an anime that offers little or maybe just one action then switches focus on to everyone’s subsequent RE-action.
That’s how Cluster Edge is narrated, it gave you a bit of action and then focused on everybody’s reaction and how the felt, like how the death of one affects the life of others…but it didn’t just focus only on that one morbid concept. It touched on broader, more philosophically poignant themes such as the casualties of war and the importance of life, also how technological advancement can yield dual consequences and finally, human suffrage and equal rights [eventhough it’s for a bunch of clones].
The way the characters look or I should say rather that its their physical appearance and design that is one of the more fundamental criterion I’ll use to evaluate a show and decide whether I’ll watch it or not. It’s been said by other reviews, both here as well as on other forums that just one look at these characters and you’ll most definitely recognize some Gundam Wing characters in there. Now some people automatically go *BLEECH!* to there mere suggestion of Gundam Wing much less the idea of an newer anime series that’s more or less kind of a throwback to the former series. But I don’t really care! I LOVE IT!!! I am a sucker for a good bishonen anime series.
I especially love Agate’s physical appearance with his dark hair and dark eyes…very few animes give their lead characters black hair w/black or dark brown eyes. I love the expressions on his face especially his mischievous yet at the same time still good natured smile. With Fon, it should be pretty obvious that his character parallels that of Quatre Winner from GW with that cluelessly sweet and empathetic do-gooder personality of his. I also loved Chrome and his renegade crew of automated soldiers–I thought the triplets were funny. The character I disliked the most was probably the teacher Hema-sensei….for an adult he was pretty wussy and indecisive, the most redeemable quality about him was that at least he knows it. He’d often say how much stronger and more driven Chance and Vesuvia were compared to him. He really was a wuss.
The main thing that bothers me about the characters’ design has got to be the way the artist tapers in the boys’ waistlines….it’s too small and that makes the hips too much like females’ hips. It’s one thing to have long hair or a girlish face but it’s another thing to have that long hair + a girlish face + girlie body…. it’s too much! When the draw boys overy girly like that, there’s nothing to say—animation wise—that it’s NOT a female we’re looking at and that the [male] voice actor wasn’t just ‘mis-casted’ to play the role. Actually their whole body frame was too small, then the whole small waist/wide hip thing…it became even more apparent whenever the boys wore their school blazers buttoned up. I’m not saying boys can’t have small frames, Vegeta from DBZ was small framed…but he was built like a man, and even all the bishonen pilots of Gundam Wing, though each were small in stature, were all built like boys.
Worth it or NOT?
This show doesn’t really have any collectible value and while it was a pretty captivating story while I was watching it….it’s not something I would watch again because I know the ending already. Plus there weren’t too many funny or memorable moments prompting me to rewatch it and lastly, I’ve already had all the key scenes engrained in my memory due to all the flashback scenes and re-cap episodes so that even if I were to watch this show again it would feel more like I’m watching it for the 8th time instead of only the second time around.
The plot covers a lot of very hard hitting topics in today’s society. War, discrimination, human cloning(basically.. except they made them with superhuman and supernatural powers). They mix in comedy very well while keeping the seriousness intact. My favorite are the triplet artificial warriors. Their actions are brilliant, like when they tied the flowers back to the broken stem after they got told it was a waste to pick them if they were just going to smell them.
The only thing that gets me down with this anime and many other animes that involve organizations is that I can’t believe humans could be so cruel. For some reason I’d like to think even evil corporations would have good guys in them as well but I guess that is too childish. 😛
I’d recommend this anime to anyone. It is one of the best overall animes I’ve seen recently.
I already hate filler episodes that are not mainly for comedy, like the fillers in Bleach that went on forever, which was nearly completely unmanageable, if just to see the familiar character’s faces, one holds on. However,
Moving on, I watch slow paced anime’s like josei, and realistic ones too but this was none of the above it was just a blur of words, and female faced guys.
Also, i am quite a fan of pretty boys (bishounen), and close relationships between male characters, even to the level of Nabari No Ou. However, this was just nasty. There was absolutely nothing thrilling or interesting about the relationships you find amongst the characters.
As for the drawing, i felt the artist did a poor job cause i found myself thinking now and then ‘that one looks like a chick’ for almost every character. The only character that did not quite look female was probably Hema, who was so melancholic and white board a character, i almost shed tears from the sheer nothingness of it all.
The music was nothing special, and the setting was okay. Although i was interested in the planes at first, i still found it to be a bore by the second episode.
not to be a total hater or sore thumb, i ll give the writers and animators a thumb up for putting effort at all, and thinking up the totally great idea of artificial soldiers, and their role in war, which can be juxtaposed to all the strange topics rising up in our society today.
Have not reviewed in a long time. hope it wasn’t all that brash. .. 😉
34: World Witches Hasshin Shimasu!
MAL Score: 6.37
Countries all over the world formed an alliance to counter the emerging enemy of mankind “Neuroi,” whom only girls with special powers could counter. However, the Neuroi never appeared. Instead of fighting, the witches spend their days idly. This time following not only unit 501, but also unit 502 known as “Brave Witches!” The 2nd volume of the comical daily drama of the witches who do not fight Neuroi begins!
(Source: MAL News)
Overall I felt, this took what worked in the SW Take Off and made it better. The comedy between the characters helped move this show along, and it has multiple references to other World Witches media. Lots of other Easter Eggs are sprinkled throughout the show as well. Its very easy to pick up and watch, especially if you are a World Witches fan.
While the art and animation wasn’t the highest quality, the style can occasionally bring out some of the humor in this show. The OP
and ED’s were animated better than expected. The story wasn’t the best, but I didn’t expect it to be, as the show focuses more on the humorous side’s and stereotypes of the Witches. Otherwise than those two things, WW Take Off is great.
If you are a fan of the series or like military moe, this is a solid, quick anime to enjoy. The comedy is great between characters, and its a great addition to a decade+ series.
P.S. For the love of god, give us more Brave Witches already
But a lack of directional choices and various other reasons has sunk its popularity to ashes. A lot of fellow pantsu-lovers have moved on to the not necessarily better harem isekai trash, but I’m still here. I never move on, still waiting digilently. God granted my wishes, Brave Witches and Road to Berlin has come, but it’s lacking something, seems like Strike Witches will never be the same. I need to see their lovely pantsu and luckily World Witches has saved me, 2021 is not such a bad year after all.
So as you can see, World Witches is a short 12 episodes about our lovely witches when they didn’t have to fight the Neuroi. Lazy writing from the director but I don’t blame him since World Witches is really fun. They maintained all the qualities of why I love Strike Witches and Brave Witches so much.
Just like the hilarious Isekai Quartet, the interactions between the 501st and 502st witches are absolutely witty and priceless. Since it’s short, the story runs with a fast pace so you will never get bored and just keep binging the next ep until the ends. I hope they released another season of this heart-warming stuffs.
Overall, fan will be rejoice under this latest addition to the franchise. I do hope they will do a season when both the 501st and 502st fight together, would be so epic.
After finishing on a high with Return to Berlin the people that organise this show give us this. Was it needed? No. Was it good? Not really. Was it extremely sub-par animation purely to make money? Yes, absolutely.
At least with Strike Witches: 501 Butai Hasshin Shimasu! which is arguably the direct season link to this show that the first one was good. It felt like you were tripping out heavily watching that show. This one just doesn’t give me that at all. The story is just so bland and could have been Okay with just cute girls do cute things.
The animation is so below par. Especially when you compare to the season this is linked to. You go from a trippy experience with a story to this disaster. It is watchable don’t get me wrong.
The soundtrack has some fan favourites along with the mellow song often played.
Character development is minimal. You really shouldn’t watch this without seeing everything else to understand who everyone really is.
The show, in the end, is a solid 4/10. It was an Okay show that really could have been better but just fails to meet the expectation. It is watchable though. I will say episode 8 was pretty hilarious.
33: Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e
English: To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts
MAL Score: 6.39
With the initiation of the Patrian civil war came the creation of half-beast, half-human soldiers—a development of the outnumbered Northerners in a desperate attempt to counter the overwhelming Southern forces. Able to quickly dominate battlefields and achieve victory with ease, the soldiers’ godlike abilities earned them the name “Incarnates.” However, as the war raged on, the Incarnates encountered a problem involving the beasts inside them that they were unable to rectify by ordinary means.
Once the war was over, mysteries and accounts of the Incarnates submitting to the misfortune of their war days surfaced. Aware of the horrors they faced during the war, Special Sergeant Major and former captain of the Incarnates Hank Henriette becomes a Beast Hunter—those who take the lives of Incarnates who have succumbed to the issues they experienced on the battlefields.
After witnessing her father, a former Incarnate soldier, meet his end at the hands of one such Beast Hunter, Nancy Schaal Bancroft resolves to hunt the man who took her father’s life. However, Nancy’s eye-opening encounter with the Beast Hunter influences her to instead seek the reason behind her father’s death and the Incarnates’ problematic existence in society.
The practice of using a background story episode as its opener isn’t too uncommon these days. It’s what we get from the very first episode as we meet the Incarnates, soldiers with the ability to transform into supernatural beasts. They are essentially living weapons of war. It didn’t long for the show to unravel the war drama that adapts the overall story tone into an unsettling conflict. To be frank though, I find the opening episode to be a clever way of hooking the audience. It managed to captivate me into the premise. After all, the idea of humans becoming Incarnates sparks curiosity on how much they can change. Soldiers who became these monsters also have to deal with the aftermath of this war and the way humanity judges them. This story follows the plot of a young girl named Nancy Schaal Bancroft who becomes a Incarnate hunter after a certain tragedy.
Before coming to understand the full concept of the show, you should realize the brainchild behind this franchise. Mangaka Maybe has been known to mix a variety of genres into their work. However, most often, he tends to add elements of fantasy or drama as in the case of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia and Tales of the Wedding Rings. This show takes the tone into a more serious direction as you see the consequences of war and how it affects humanity. Everything so far seems like the anime has a degree of storytelling potential until you understand the main cast. Can we just talk about how unbalanced the characters are?
First, we got Hank, the Beast-Human hunter. Being a gloomy man with a vengeance, he has no time for foolishness and is hard to approach. The first episode establishes his hate for Cain, the main antagonist of the series. In fact, Cain is the catalyst of Hank’s character change and he seeks revenge as an avenger. The idea of revenge is a major source of motivation for at least two main characters. Schaal also holds a similar goal in her mind although the story makes her into a much weaker character compared to Hank. I can’t fandom how annoying she gets as the story progresses with each episode. The more I watch Schaal, the more I see her as a damsel in distress. She even has hard time making important choices in life and often seems to need someone to lend her a hand. The relationship dynamics between her and Hank is a strange one as even when they understand each other more, the two feels very distant between each other. With how their relationship develops, let’s just say that it’s hardly emotional. The ‘monster of the week’ format puts the duo into compromising positions but it’s usually Hank doing the dirty work. Even with an elephant gun in her hands, she seems very useless on the battlefield. For instance, she gets captured by an Incarnate and almost ends up being dead if it wasn’t for Hank. In later episodes, the show seeks to make us feel sympathetic for her because of the circumstances about her father. But honestly, I don’t buy it. In a time of despair and tragedy, she’s not the only one suffering inside. Unfortunately, you’ll hardly need a tissue when watching this anime because the storytelling’s emotional elements lacks impact. And at the end of the day, it’s easy to point fingers at how weak Schaal is as a character.
That brings to another question, what about the rest of the cast? To be honest, most of them feels like filler characters with little to zero development. One of the more noticeable cast is Liza who serves as a sort of mentor and big sister to Schaal. The other noticeable character is Elaine Bluelake, who ends up being dead before the main story timeline begins. It’s what sets the main conflict between Hank and Cain. So if you’re actually expecting some sort of meaningful character study, prepare for disappointment. The reality is that a majority of Incarnates in the show suffer from psychological problems. They struggle between the balance of their humanity and monstrous side. Unfortunately, most of these Incarnates are used as plot devices and amplifying the themes of the show. It also tries to evoke a form of emotion but hardly succeed. Ask yourself how many of these Incarnates you can remember by heart when the show is over. For me, that’s almost zero. Oh for God’s sake, why does Cain make me want to turn the TV off every time I see his face?
Studio MAPPA managed to animate the show to fit the time era of the mid-19th century. It’s actually refreshing to see an anime in this timeline for its aesthetics. Even character uniforms in the show is distinctive while the Incarnates are crafted with grotesque elements. It evokes a sense of fear once you realize the threat they pose to humanity. On the other hand, the character emotive performances is a letdown. Some character expressions often looks forced such as Schaal during her emotional outbursts. Hank always has a stoic face that borderlines on emotionless. It’s what drags down their character chemistry and ultimately makes the pair unremarkable. But if you’re in this show for its graphic violence, fan service, and dark fantasy action, that may leave some more favorable impressions. Maybe’s cheeky humor writing is also noticable sometimes in the right and wrong ways.
With just 12 episodes, it won’t take long to get through the journey. However, this journey is not built on a masterful storytelling plot or creative cast. Instead, it ends up being a madhouse of generic clichés. I hate using that word but it’s how this anime played its cards. Should you watch this anime anyway? That’s up for you to decide in the end. I’m not your dad. But with everything this series showed us, this isn’t one to brag about to your friends.
From the beginning, To the Abandoned Sacred beasts throws us into a war between the North and the South, with the South dominating the war for the most part until the North delved their hands into something they should never have: transforming humans into all-powerful beasts of destruction and war. The humans who’d been the victims of this were made to believe that they were special, revered by their army but on the inside, the entire populace was terrified of them. However, such beasts were only going to be useful until the end of the war. As soon as that ended, the army always wanted to get rid of these creatures who, in their view, threatened their existence. That’s pretty much the premise of the story. Not bad. Unoriginal, but the execution was fairly well handled at the start.
Now, that’s where the problems begin. There comes a time when you get bored of the same script every episode over and over again. Find an Incarnate, hear about how they’ve been ravaging stuff around the area, talk to them, and then at the end of the episode, eliminate them. That’s the formula that was followed throughout the season. The repetitive nature of the plot had me rolling my eyes from boredom at times.
We’ve got two main protagonists: Hank Henriette and Schaal Bancroft.
Hank Henriette, the charismatic leader of these Sacred beasts or incarnates, as they’ve been called, is a pretty straight-forward character to understand. Being betrayed by your best friend, who also kills your lover is an easy way to make yourself hate someone, isn’t it? He’s about the only incarnate who’s neither lost his humanity completely nor wants to eradicate humanity for what they’ve put all of the Incarnates through. The threat posed by these mindless beasts who were once his comrades in arms is understood by Hank, hence he takes the mantle of eliminating them before they cause any further damage to society upon himself. And we follow his encounters with his fellow incarnates. Hank rarely showed emotions, keeping himself focused on his goal for the most part.
The second protagonist is the daughter of one of the Incarnates. Loved by her adopted siblings, her father as well as the village, Schaal is an exuberant spirit full of positivity until he sees what’s happened to her father, who’s body had changed into a dragon permanently. Even so, she never hesitates to treat him as the same father she once knew. When one day Hank arrives and kills his father, she goes into rage and vows to track down his killer. As she meets and gets to know Hank though, she decides to accompany him and see for herself the reason for which her father had to be killed. As time passes, she begins to sympathize with Hank. Watching their interactions and relationship develop is one of the better points in the show.
Talking about the animation, I was extremely disappointed. I was expecting a lot better from MAPPA, who’d done such amazing work in the past. Far too many of the battle scenes, which are supposed to be the best animated panels, are crappily done for the most part. The character designs are better but nothing to write home about. The soundtrack is meh, the voice acting okay. I guess they really had a low budget because there was one soundtrack they kept repeating over and over again in tense situations.
The animation or the sound aren’t the factors that brought down the show for me though. The culmination of what Hank and Schaal did throughout the season didn’t have much of a payoff. The first few episodes were interesting, then the loop begins, ending on the same note. This may work for comedy, but doesn’t for action fantasy. The story had potential to develop into an intriguing story that shows the grey side of human nature. But alas, it never took off after the first episode.
To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts, which I will be calling ‘Sacred Beasts’ for the sake of brevity, is much like a young aspiring student, bursting with ideas yet lacking a proper way of expressing them. This student also suffers from the faults of poor time management and a shoddy work ethic, treading through obstacles that hinder the reach of his or her full potential. Sacred Beasts can be thought of as a big project of said student with such great ideas presented, but a far cry from a professional effort, and one that mainly exists as a stepping stone for something greater in the future. If we put aside such a liberating outlook, this show is really an unfortunate result of what should have been much more. Enticing concepts are held within a product that lacks confidence in itself, with none of its concepts being properly fleshed out.
With its first episode, Sacred Beasts starts off with a bang, kicking off with the beloved Incarnates unleashing their might on their helpless adversaries, with a majestic and opulent soundtrack to applaud and accentuate their heroic endeavors. In terms of presentation, the first episode is a success in many ways. So much so, in fact, that you’ll likely manage to look past the numerous writing issues. Consistent storytelling is something that Sacred Beasts struggles with constantly, but it’s Mappa themselves who managed to compile so many of these problems into their own anime-exclusive introduction. The writing in this episode is so shot full of holes that it’s a shining example of why you should proofread your own draft well before your deadline.
It begins with a horde of soldiers, equipped with nothing more than a rifle, charging towards a gigantic stone wall that is the enemy base. Behind them is a squad of cannoneers firing at the wall seconds after. In real life, no squad in their right mind would even think of doing this, as it’s a fast ticket to a mass suicide of your pawns. If this episode cared at all about logical consistency, the least it would do is have the cannons fire first, and have the soldiers charge once a breach is made. Even then, breaching a major fortification in the Civil War would realistically take days with siege artillery and engineers, none of which are seen here. This scene was obviously a gateway to introducing the Incarnates, presenting the enemy base as a powerful force with normal soldiers being wiped away in its territory, contrast to the Incarnates who come to annihilate it like nothing. But there’s not much comparison to make with soldiers stupidly throwing their life away with no apparent plan.
The arrival of the Incarnates itself also begs the question of why they were never shot at despite being well into the territory of the base. This scene veers into the level of B-movie writing where any and all logic is disregarded to make something look cool. Plot armor this horribly blatant only degrades the weight that this sequence holds, and is not worth the epic arrival of these heroes trekking along the battlefield like it’s become a stage auditorium.
As if this isn’t enough, a third major issue presents itself in a scene where Abi, the Hydra Incarnate, talks to Elaine about his apprehension that he might be losing control of himself; foreshadowing his own role as the first apparent case of an Incarnate going berserk. So what lets this incident follow through? Abi says “just kidding” to Elaine, and thus this suspicion is left unattended. No researcher in her right mind would ignore a potential disaster like this, especially not the one and only researcher on these lethal experiments.
And this is within the first eight minutes, showing little or no concern with a logical setup and throwing us headfirst into the second act. This first episode excels in generating hype and selling the experience, but with the demand of a robust suspension of disbelief. These issues would be egregious in any story, and perhaps wouldn’t matter so much in a series with such an emphasis on spectacle. Yet it’s beyond this point where Sacred Beasts’ true ambitions are made clear.
Ostensibly, the story of Sacred Beasts mainly exists as a scaffolding for epic battles between the Incarnates. But Sacred Beasts wants to hold the honor of being more than this by posing as a character drama, enacting the monumental tragedy of bestial war heroes meeting their end at the hands of those who fear they have lost their humanity. This story-driven approach is something Sacred Beasts is confident in pushing mindless spectacle aside for, and to its credit, its narrative concepts could have really elevated the series to its aspired heights. For this reason it’s a shame to see these manifested in what’s ultimately a safe product; one that’s too simplistic and short-sighted with its storytelling to really leave an effect.
As we follow Hank Henriette and Nancy Schaal, their difference in characterization is clear: Schaal connects easily with others and surmises the supposedly soulless Incarnates to have some humanity. Hank on the other hand passively endures Schaal’s protests as he carries out what he believes to be the only solution with the Incarnates: death. This is the basis of their interplay, and Sacred Beasts sadly doesn’t make the most out of their chemistry. Most of their interactions are interchangeable from the outset to the turning point in episode 6. Hank and Liza locate their target, Schaal protests through conjecture, Liza intervenes in Hank’s defense, Hank reaches his destination, and the Incarnate is inevitably slain. A repetitive structure can work so long as the main leads are engaging enough to uphold it, and these characters sadly aren’t, as the story is far more focused on delivering that one emotional gut-punch with its Incarnate-of-the-week setup.
That said, these characters aren’t completely static, as there’s a significant point where Hank and Schaal get somewhat more comfortable with each other. It’s comforting to see Schaal act kinder to Hank than before by sewing his clothes and making good company with him, and Hank being friendlier with her and opening his nearly impenetrable shell. After two episodes of working together, this is the kind of development they needed, and it’s a valuable moment for this reason. However, valuable as it is, it’s a shame that the dialogue is just as flat as ever, written more like a description of these characters and their histories than a genuine human exchange.
Bland dialogue is something that Sacred Beasts is plagued with. A majority of exchanges between characters are woefully lacking in personality and wit, divulging information in such an inorganic manner that makes the events all the more distant. With how much time is spent on military negotiations, plans of action, and other things in place of spectacle, the least they could do is provide some engaging dialogue to spice up the experience. Instead it’s just a case of enduring our way through tedium to the next predetermined outcome, hoping that something meaningful will come of it in the end.
That ‘something’ is obviously the emotional or cathartic finality of an Incarnate. We insert into this story as Hank, who already has a strong attachment to the comrades he dispatches, but as viewers we have little reason to care. While Hank’s company with these people during the war comes to a tragic close, we don’t experience that company ourselves outside of a brief flashback. This is a major factor in why Hank’s turmoil feels so distant, and is also perhaps the biggest missed opportunity in Mappa’s anime-exclusive introduction.
It’s made all the worse when Sacred Beasts tries to compensate by dramatizing the Incarnates’ plight to a groan-inducing level. For a show that wears moral ambiguity on its sleeve, it’s quite hellbent on telling us how to feel, with the worst offender being the death of Daniel Price. If this scene only relied on the Robin Hood-esque motive and the mourning of his loved ones, that would be enough to sell the ordeal as morally ambiguous and heartbreaking, especially to an outsider like Schaal. The melodrama and shoehorned flashback intended to tug harder at the viewers’ heartstrings is doomed to backfire with a character having less than 3 minutes of screentime before death.
However, I’d be lying if I said I felt no connection to these Incarnates, although it’s hardly an emotional one; it’s more of a fascination. For instance, Theodore’s fear of death had manifested into the making of an entire fortress, and what’s interesting is that this is what he was taught by Hank. There’s also the revelation where Theo’s incoming death happens to wash away his fear at last, something that’s true to the character and separates him from other Incarnates. Additionally, the Behemoth’s want to see the ocean with Hank trying to lead him there is a pretty great end twist, with a merciful lack of hamfisted drama. And thirdly, Trice’s belief that she’ll never be human again is one many of us can connect with. Sacred Beasts is at its best when it draws on this aspect rather than nearly drowning itself in its liking for melodramatic sob-story deaths. It’s fortunate that every once in a while it comes up for a breath, notably with Topher the Gargoyle in episode 5. Sacred Beasts is determined to make each major Incarnate engaging, and to an extent, it was successful. It’s just a shame that formulaic plots and flat dialogue weigh their respective episodes down. These resolutions certainly shine on their own, with Behemoth’s arc being my personal favorite, but that hardly salvages the episodes that hinge so much on those conclusions to be worthwhile.
Distant characters is hardly the only major problem with the story, however. There’s a frustrating pattern with the writing in which it neglects to found a logical setup for the events that follow, which makes it harder to take the the events seriously. Much of this is apparent in the first episode alone, but the problems only begin there. The Incarnates perhaps wouldn’t be running amok to begin with if the military thought for a minute about how lethal they are. A competent authority would have these living weapons confined or at least under strict supervision to ensure that what could go wrong doesn’t go wrong. Additionally, it’s quite uncharacteristic of Hank to let someone as defenseless as Schaal to come with him into Theodore’s trap-filled fortress. Considering his goals and his position, you’d think the last thing Hank would be fine with is to put an innocent life at risk. Sure, he asks Schaal if she’s sure about coming with him, to which Schaal promises that she won’t cause him trouble. But that shouldn’t be enough to sway anyone with a sense of responsibility, let alone someone as sentimental as Hank.
To be fair, there are moments where Sacred Beasts avoids these drawbacks. Episode 2 for example handles the villagers’ suspicions of William Bancroft rather competently. William is suspected to have killed livestock, yet the villagers acknowledge that they don’t have tangible evidence. Because of this, they take the safe measures of putting a cowbell on William and taking the children to a distant location. On one hand I applaud this scene for having characters behave realistically in this situation, yet on the other I lament that villagers are sadly more sensible than those in the military.
In fact, plenty of these other moments show how just a simple fix could make all the difference. Certain plot points disregard how stringent the military should be with their assets, and once you bring those moments to light, it can bring forth many ideas that probably seem obvious in retrospect. In episode 4, for example, Schaal makes her way to a confined Behemoth to converse with him, but we never see her actually getting permission to do so, when logically those in charge would be selective in who is allowed to get in close proximity to a large untamed beast. We don’t see the military having any issue whatsoever with letting Schaal, a civilian, walk up to a monster that the people were fearful of to the point of strapping down in place. For all we know she could’ve gotten permission off-camera, but it’s not a good practice of any writer to have viewers assume something improbable to fill plot holes themselves.
This particular oversight would have an easy fix. Just show a scene of Schaal getting permission to come close to the beast with a solid reason for them to let her in, and suspension of disbelief would largely remain in tact. A good step further would be having someone assist Schaal during her visit and perhaps even a prolonged exchange of the guards being convinced by Schaal or each other to let her pass.
Better yet, instead of seeing her get permission, we could have a scene where Schaal sneaks out at night, stealthily making her way past guards to get to her business with Behemoth. This would not only be a simple fix, but also one that could provide a tense and engaging situation where Schaal steps out from the back seat and acts without the help of Hank or Liza. It’s the perfect scenario where someone as inexperienced as Schaal could take action. There are plenty of ways to iron out these kinds of issues in your draft. You just have to get a little creative.
For some people, this sort of creativity would have really uplifted the 7th episode with the zombified William Bancroft, or Nidhogg. It’s a common opinion that simply bringing him back to life is an incredibly cheap way to develop Schaal. To an extent I agree with this, but it’s not something I’m personally bothered with. An “asspull” it might be, but we’re given an explanation on why this particular Incarnate has revived. Honestly, in a world where myths are made real through science, I’m willing to accept much of anything related to it, however outlandish as it may be. There are very few rules shared by each and every Incarnate, as they’re all unique in some way. So learning that William has some sort of regenerative ability isn’t going to weigh down the experience for me. Perhaps from a writing standpoint, it can be seen as lazy, and there are likely much better ways to enact Schaal’s change of heart in a similar manner, but it serves its purpose well enough to where I can let it slide.
However, in that same episode is something much, much harder for me to let slide, and that is Liza casually handing to Schaal the Godkiller bullets, ammunition that is very rare and isn’t supplied to the regular soldiers battling Nidhogg. This is something that myths-made-real cannot excuse. It’s clearly done by the writer to give Schaal the chance to face her father, yet Liza has no reason to value Schaal’s growth over her own duties as a lieutenant, and the preservation of these bullets. It’s yet another case of the writer’s hand being all too visible, taking contrived or illogical routes to construct a scaffolding of plot points rather than a fully realized narrative.
The resolution of this episode leads into one of the smallest yet significant changes I would make to Sacred Beasts that takes place right after Schaal kills her resurrected father for good. We’re to believe that this event will go on to affect Schaal’s character in the future, but as it is, she acts too similarly to her previous self to truly signify a change. She behaves as merrily as ever and shows practically no signs of distress after seeing her father die by her own hands. There’s more to character development than just the events they go through; a change in personality should be there to show that Schaal is not the same person she was two episodes ago. She can act perpetually glum over past events while still upholding her proactive attitude. This emotional state could be temporarily alleviated with her meeting Trice, making this anime-exclusive subplot all the more impactful, where she befriends the type of monster she had pledged to exterminate. These are elements that go a long way to improve viewer investment; depicting these characters as living, evolving people rather than vessels made to spout themes and exposition. It’s sad to see such potential in characters who, while not dimensionless, don’t have much more humanity to them than the brainless beasts the Incarnates are feared to have become.
Some might think these complaints to be petty, but Sacred Beasts’ emphasis on story is what makes these flaws so damaging. If Sacred Beasts was primarily about spectacle like that of Attack on Titan, Pacific Rim, or John Wick, I’d be more lenient on these sorts of drawbacks. But considering what Sacred Beasts chose to uphold itself as, it should be held at a higher standard in regards to its plot, and especially its characters.
It’s all the more unfortunate when even the spectacle loses its value as the animation quality drops considerably with each episode, to a level that’s pathetic even for what’s expected of a usual 12-episode anime at its midway point. In-between frames are seemingly forgotten about and inconsistent models are shockingly abundant. After the glamorous first episode, this is a huge slap in the face, and hardly excusable with 11 animation directors.
Apart from the awe-inspiring presentation from the first episode, the cinematography of Sacred Beasts is also quite lacking overall. There’s nothing truly unappealing or jarring, but nothing that really shows a passion beyond just pasting the content onto the big screen and calling it a day.
Liza herself is a sore spot on the tone with her character design alone, made worse with frequent jokes about her sex appeal, even in mildly tense situations. When a negotiation occurs between characters focused on warfare, tactics, or emotional hangovers, chances are that Liza will be there to shatter the tone with her massive knockers, doing things like teasing Schaal or flirting with Claude. It’s moments like these where the hand of Sacred Beasts’ male illustrator really shows, and invites wonder of how the Sacred Beasts’ female writer could ever be content with scenes like these muddling the tone.
Thankfully the visual quality gains better footing right around Hank’s confrontation with Roy, taking place at an arc that I consider one of the more fulfilling parts of the narrative. The showcase of Hank becoming softer and more sentimental while Schaal has grown tougher is a satisfying progression, bringing them on closer terms. This is certainly a highlight, but it’s a shame yet again that the show hasn’t done much to bring us close to their struggles.
Throughout all its attempts to make me weep for the fallen Incarnates, To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts made me feel most sorrowful for its wasted opportunities. With every chance to do something great, it instead takes the easy way out. As the novelty wears off, the numerous flaws make themselves more and more clear. With all this considered, it certainly serves as a passable viewing experience, but it’s a tragedy all the same.
32: Tactical Roar
MAL Score: 6.43
In the near future the world’s climate shifted creating in the Western Pacific a perpetual super cyclone: the Grand Roar that altered the earth, flooding most countries. Shipping and navigation became important to nations and following the appearance of ocean pirates, necessisated companies to hire escort cruisers to safeguard their investments. Hyousuke Nagimiya is a system engineer that was comissioned to upgrade the Pascal Magi manned by an entire crew of women with its captain, Misaki Nanaha. Together the crew strives to prove themselves to their detractors that they are no mere ‘Alice Brand’. Yet as they go about their mission a larger global conspiracy seems to be working behind the scenes to take advantage of this new world order.
The story takes place around an all female company that work for a civilian company called "Haru-Nico," consisting of ex-navy and civilians. They are hired by other companies to provide an escort/protection servrice. Being an all female group they are the black sheep of the civilian and military navy’s, often dubbed as Alice Group. From the first battle you can easily tell theat the girls try too hard to show that they’re not pushovers, by disobeying orders and fighting to the end. This type of recklessness creates tensions with the comany and the Federal Navy. So not only do they have to stop pirates they have to watch their back as well.
Art 5/10 Sound 7/10
When the fighing happens, action sure gets pretty intence. Its very flashy and smooth considering most of the fighting is done with CG. They even go far as name their war technology based on real life history references like vasser, olvier, etc. With the detail in commands and "war speak" it reminded me like watching a star trek episode (good or bad thing is your decision). The detail in the fight language futher enhances the ‘realism’ to their wareffort. My only gripe with the fighting is that they glorify the homing missle a little too much (if you watch the show you’ll know what i mean). But as futuristic warfare goes, its pretty damn good IMO.
The characters are pretty much your run of the mill kawaii anime girls all from the big busty horny chick (Clio or Mitori), to the small timd and shy loli (Miharu), and even a pair of excentric yet innocent twins (Mashu and Manashu). Time off from fighting is nothing but pure fanservice all the way through to the next battle. Doing things like haing out on the beach, setting up parties, performing at trade shows, they’re all fanservice (theres even a side joke about this in EP7). they even spend 3-5 seconds of "closeup pan&scan" action ALOT. Theres also afew taboo moments as well. On top of that, shoujo-ai runs rampant throughout the show. Mostly shown by the show’s antagonists.
The two girls (the names escape me ATM) are sisters. Trying to make a name for themselves in the pirate community, they are the best at what they do. The only catch for these girls is that they prform all their attacs in a room together…while pleasuring each other at the same time. It doesnt go hardcore but it leaves little to the imagination. But they should be given an award for best multi-taskers in a wartime enviroment. Anyways theres may or maynot also be a ‘thing’ with the main characters. This show manages to put anything and everything ecchi into this show (you’ve been warned).
If youre into all those fanservice/ecchi/taboo situations, by all means pick this show up. But if your into the very technical style warfare (like Star Trek or any other similar show) this will keep you interested in the hows and whys of the battles. They even make things like hacking into mainframes interesting. Anythign that can do that gets a good rating from me. But the downside is the off action story and drama. Not really interesting but then again how can you do that when you try to cover all the points of ecchiness?
31: Senyoku no Sigrdrifa
English: Warlords of Sigrdrifa
MAL Score: 6.44
When humanity is driven to the brink of despair by an alien threat called Pillars, a self-proclaimed god named Odin appears and bestows upon the people the power of “Valkyries”—battle maidens who pilot vintage aircraft called Hero Wings.
Claudia “Schwertleite” Bruford is the ace of the European Valkyrie Wing. When Japan’s S-class Valkyrie passes away in battle, Claudia is relocated to Japan as a replacement. However, with a dark record of being the sole survivor in every mission that results in being nicknamed “Grim Reaper,” she suspects she already knows why she was chosen.
Prepared to be shunned yet again, she arrives at the Tateyama Valkyrie Wing. Little does she know, her new comrades are a bunch of oddballs who have zero intention of accepting her dreadful nickname!
Yet another “hyped” show that somehow really missed its mark of appeal, combining an existential crisis with an identity crisis. If you are wondering what the next big thing from Re:Zero author Tappei Nagatsuki’s writing calibre would be like of his liking for “men-loving strong girls”, I’m sorry to say that we’ve been bamboozled by his promises, and overall, it’s just as expected of a zany “military action” historical aircraft show that had the potential, but eventually becoming a showcase of mediocrity.
I’m gonna be truthfully honest here: when this show started its promotional articles way back in March, the production staff is something that caught my eye: the GOAT Re:Zero novelist Tappei Nagatsuki, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid creator-cum-illustrator Takuya Fujima, and High School Fleet series composer Takaaki Suzuki. 3 highly recognized veterans in the anime industry, all collaborating together to create an original anime that would be later coined as this show (the name’s a tongue-twister, so I’ll keep it to Sigururi) of pilot girls, gods and mythologies abound. I’ll mention this first: If there’s anything of reasoning to recommend watching this show, just watch both the start (double-length Episode 1) and the end (Episodes 11 & 12), that’s all you really need to know. Otherwise, it’s a roller-coaster harbinger of events inserted just for convenience and meant to show off a CGDCT premise in an otherwise unsuitable genre setting to exemplify that “men-loving strong girls” clause even further. Don’t get me wrong though, I do love aviation-based CGDCT when done right (e.g. Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai), but in this show (and as-is with Girly Air Force), I’d feel its unnecessarily used. A LOT.
The premise goes like this: In a world of gods and Norse mythologies (Greek ones at that), there exists the relationship between Odin and humanity to fight back against mysterious enemy beings called “Pillars”, through strong pilot girls called “Valkyries”, and their ancient aircrafts are pilot-specific, one-of-a-kind magical-enhanced weapons touted to take them down at whatever cost. Sadly, as much as the “historical” aspect is concerned, yes, these young Valkyries pilot World War-utilized fictional planes, and that’s about as “historical” as it can go. So yeah, not the best representation and is only really used just for show. On top of that, it doesn’t get as much better than the overarching story of a CGDCT, because of sweet moments and fanservice, but also incorporating the “dark death flags” as popularized by Tappei Nagatsuki himself. In a flash, by having a linear plot direction of “girls dogfighting enemies, enemies get killed (hooray), back to SoL, bring any dark/mythological vibes to create tension” of a highly predictable and dramatized viewpoint, that I feel was consistently missed approaches of going airborne and not sticking very well (would undershoot/overshot at times).
The characters themselves are a mixed bag of treating traits, that if I have multiple airsickness bags at the ready, I would puke at times. Let’s start with the Valkyrie girls:
– Claudia “Claudy” Bruford, piloting a Gloster Gladiator, both experienced and a solitary-confined German Valkyrie. Alas, most of her missions vary to both successes and failures, with the recognition as the “Valkyrie of Salvation” while simultaneously self-referred to as the “Grim Reaper” being the only surviving pilot out of all Pillar battles. Being dispatched to Tateyama Base with the same depraving soul, all is not it seems, and there she learns to accept the camaraderie of “friendship” and have confidence in herself, with the other Tateyama Valkyrie girls in toll:
– Miyako Muguruma, piloting a Nakajima Ki-44 and simultaneously playing the role akin to the Teletubbies’ “Baby Sun” of Tateyama Base (weird reference, but yes). In all circumstances, she’s the happy-go-lucky character that can do no wrong…and that’s about it.
– Azuzu Komagome, piloting a Heinkel He 100, and also the wackiest technician-cum-strategist of the entire airbase. She’s as close to being a lazy-bum character. but don’t let her undressed looks fool you, she can really deliver in the airborne fights against the Pillars. Just don’t take her seriously, that’s all.
– Sonoka Watarai, piloting a Macchi M.C.72, a kind-hearted, reserved girl on the ground, and a hasty pilot in the air. She can be the easiest character of relation, due to the emotional backbone that makes her human (but feels contrived as a whole). See, her relationship with another fellow veteran Valkyrie, Yayoi Amatsuka (piloting a Grumman F7F Tigercat) is of “significant consideration” to Nagatsuki’s “dark, death flags” signature, creating the “burden story” to add life into an otherwise cardboard cut-out character personality.
– Need I mention the Valkyrie’s “Master” plot-boy Norse god Odin? He’s just an angsty little boy really, playing out the Ragnarok “reckoning” stratagem to his liking and creating divisive tensions, especially with “his daughter” Claudia, always tampering on her reasons of living. If anything, just consider him the antagonist, why this show decided to attempt a modus operandi (go-around) of his character is beyond me.
At least what I can give this show props is for visuals and animation, and no surprise, A-1 Pictures always deliver with high-quality production that you can’t go wrong with. The visuals are really good for what they are (along with the cutesy CGDCT elements), but since this is an aviation show, the animation has to be the top-up “aviation fuel” for long-lasting quality, and another pretty good job at keeping the consistency of military aircraft dogfights. Even the Pillars look hugely menacing, which is to say that some CGI is used, but not to the point of overbearing-ness. What can I say, if you’ve watched plenty of shows done by A-1 Pictures, you know what to expect of an A+ grade production.
Music-wise, I don’t know about you, but it sounds to me like they tried to imitate the nostalgia of Re:Zero’s OST of happy, bright beginnings and sad, dark endings. And though not quite the same feelings overall, I feel the same energy that this OST has while taking references of the former. The OP/ED pairing is really good, and how HIGH (refer to the OP’s song title!) can we go with that? A melancholic Sayonara for the ED though.
Welp, talk about “suffering” in the most tame way possible. We may have no idea whose idea is it to create an all-too-familiar setting (either the combinations of the 3 veteran creators or debut director Hirotaka Tokuda) that only gets as generic as time passes, but for an original show, I’m sorry to say that this would have worked better on paper, rather than creating a “unique” show. Regardless though, a decent attempt that you rarely see in the anime industry nowadays, and for that I’d give a “You CAN DO Better” stamp of approval at best.
The 80/20 Pareto principle holds steadfast to this show:
If you’re here for the CGDCT, that’s fine for once, because 80% of the time you’ll be enjoying girls and men doing comedic gags and jokes that will warrant chuckles at best, but it’d definitely put a smile on your face.
If you’re here for the military aviation action (like me), this is not the show for you. It may have exceeded just over 20% of the show for intense action, and though there’s quite a number of these, the feeling of being overly stretched to pad the episodic runtime just enough will leave you “satisfied”.
It’s hard for me to recommend this (if this is your first experience with Tappei Nagatsuki’s works), but I’d have to hand to you the choice to either take this with a pinch of salt, or enjoy for what it is in its discordant setting.
Let me preface this by clarifying what I meant by “let down”. In no way do I think Sigururi was “bad” or not an enjoyable experience. I absolutely loved it. It was one of my most anticipated watches each week. When I say I feel let down, I’m referring to the fact that the show never really reached the heights you’d expect given the staff behind it. There’s obviously Tappei-sensei, but you’ve also got Violet Evergarden’s showrunner involved too. Considering the heavy weight talent behind this, I expected the show’s story to be a lot stronger.
I felt like the twist of the main villain actually being the villain was quite predictable from the jump. I felt like his motivations were pretty “meh” and I felt that the pacing in general in the show was a bit off down the stretch. I’m all for cute moments and festival episodes, but when you only have 12 episodes and are saving an entire final battle and resolution for the last episode, you probably didn’t plan properly. I think a lot of us Tappei fans were also expecting the show to get quite dark. It never did, which was ok for me in the end because I wanted these girls to be happy.
Despite my issues with the writing and the pacing, I found the girls to be great and really enjoyed their individual quirks and personalities. I think Sono, Azu and Claudy’s arcs were handled really well in the short time that the show had. Seeing their relationship develop and them grow into a family was awesome and in my opinion, is the best part of the series. I came out of this show with several new waifus.
A-1 did a pretty good job with the animation in the show. As you’d expect with an airplane fighting series, there is a lot of CGI. For the most part I think it’s pretty good, but there are a few sketchy moments here and there. I think the aerial combat is pretty impressively choreographed throughout the show and in particular, the final few fights are amazing.
Despite my let downs with the writing of the show, I did really enjoy Sigururi and am easy to please. I’ve also been reading the prequel/spin off LN’s as of late, so I have a bit of additional context to the story to overlook some holes in the anime’s writing. Sigururi gets 8 planes out of 10 from me.
Oh boy, A anime that was anticipated by some to be one of the greatest of its time by having two of some of the greatest directors.One from Re:Zero and the other from Girls Und Panzer, What could go wrong? Apparently, everything can. Just as Murphy’s law says “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Surely things went wrong in all sorts of places with this anime. I will first begin this review by talking about the characters as I feel they are the main reason this show went downhill for me.
The characters in a show are one of the most important parts as they are what decides how interesting the show is. In Warlords of Sigrdrifa, the character development is one of the weakest I have seen in any show. It’s almost non-existent. Most of the actions made by our four main heroes are unnecessary to any plot development or anything in general. Their appearance doesn’t help as well because of how bland the designs for their outfits are. The pink-haired girl is a literary copy from Sword art online (I thought I was watching SAO for most of the time by how there were some scenes with Thor and this pink-haired girl looked like Sao characters.) The white hair girl doesn’t have anything special as well. (I forgot the 3 main girls’ mains because of how irrelevant they were.) The black-haired girl is like the go-to girl for the guys and the main character Claudia is the most garbage main character. The rest of the characters from the mechanics to the assist pilots and the control tower are also useless to the story. The command tower is where you would think plans on how to defeat the enemy are made but instead the main heroes somehow figure out a plan in the middle of the fight. Passing on to my next issue with this show, the sound and look of the other parts.
The sound and animation are both mediocre. The opening and ending are forgettable, They don’t have anything shown that is interesting nor is the music catchy. The rest of the animation is basic for A1-Pictures not much to elaborate on other than it is what they know best. The OST between fights and dialogue scenes is also horrible, They are boring and not exciting enough to get the viewer hyped up or intrigued by it.
Talking about fight scenes I decided to dedicate a whole section to this as it’s laughable at how pathetic they were dealt with. Most of the fights are quick 3-second fire action-based. Very Anticlimactic to how they should be. Keep in mind this is an ACTION anime. All the fights had quick endings to them because of how somehow there’s this one weakness that the main heroes find out to defeat the enemies after doing some quick analyzing. Very disappointing how easy and boring the fights were.
For this segment, I will talk about some things that just annoyed me while watching as I don’t want to put a whole section for each one. The first thing I noticed that got annoying real quick is the fan service. All women in this show are sexualized in some unnecessary way. Many of the camera shots had me questioning why they would decide to include this in the show. Like JUST WHY? They were unnecessary and I could go about my day without needing to see some 14-year-old looking girl be in panties and bra. This also brings up the part about how all the women are the same and young-looking compared to the guys who are way older looking and have more defining faces. A huge no-no. The second thing that caught my eye was Thor. The whole enemy of the show. Honestly, I didn’t pay attention to the story as after a few seconds my mind would just forget I was watching the show because of how plain and unoriginal he was. He was also dealt with in just a mere second by the same logic used by the main girls. The third thing is the story. The storyline is what lost me the most, I didn’t understand how in one episode things were all alert and stuff but then in the next episode the girls decide to host a summer festival. Like what? In the middle of the “biggest” fight, they are going to do a festival episode?. The last thing to mention is the clearest one as well. In what reasoning does someone choose an old WW2 airplane over a futuristic fighter jet? Yeah, I don’t understand that either.
In conclusion, This is the biggest time-waster of a show I have seen to date. From having a forgettable storyline and characters to being anti-climatic in what it’s supposed to be about. Warlords of Sigrdrifa is a sure let down for me. It just showed me how low of a story a show needs for someone to greenlit it. If you would like to watch a show about some girls who fight a god and end up winning by the most stupid ways while having a lot of filler in between that has fanservice, this is the show to go.
30: Strike Witches: 501 Butai Hasshin Shimasu!
English: Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!
Japanese: ストライクウィッチーズ 501部隊発進しますっ！
MAL Score: 6.54
Yoshika Miyafuji joins the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, a defense unit specializing in taking down alien beings known as the Neuroi. However, in days of no invasion, she and the members of the unit are taking down day to day tasks like cooking and laundry.
(Source: MAL News)
Despite having a pretty low score, this anime surprised me a lot and I’ll explain why. Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin Shimasu is one of these comedy spin-off, a parody of Strike Witches. The force of this type of comedy is that the viewers already are used to the original characters and know their traits.
The anime use what we expect in order to make fun of every character in a certain way by exaggerating each characters and their interactions, and creating absurd situation.
But sometime this sort of comedy can suffer from multiple problems that this anime avoid very successfully:
– The jokes can be overused very quickly and thus become boring. Fortunately, Strike Witches’ universe has a lot of variety and the characters are deep enough, the show doesn’t lack in content for its length.
– It shouldn’t be the only comedy used because it can become very predictable, and in this regard, this anime found an unexpected way to make me and my friend laugh: The art style is far from being a flaw and rather a very efficient comic thrust. I couldn’t think of a better art style for this anime and I’m very proud of this choice, it is very refreshing.
Strike Witches 501 Butai Hassin Shimasu is for me, a perfect example of a parody done right, and I’d watch more anytime soon. As a fan of Strike Witches, I did have a great time and I recommend it to anyone who like the original.
(On a last note, I’m not used to rate each aspect of an anime separately so I’ll rate a default 8 on every aspect)
Clocking in at a total of 12 episodes, each with a length of about 12 to 13 minutes, each episode has something fun to see. There really is nothing about this anime that I can spoil to you, as really this is just the whole idea of “cute girls doing cute things”. You get the main cast, same one from the original anime back in 2008, and the same location, aka their “base of operations”, aka home. Each episode has something fun and engaging, watching your most favorite characters getting hurt, doing stupid stuff, getting in trouble, you name it!
The artwork is something special. Seeing the artwork, you know, straight up, its low budget, but for some reason, and somehow, the low budget makes it better. The lack of movements and facial expressions are simply replaced with static images of themselves, and walking animations are just simply the entire character sprite moving up and down in a way fashion. Even though there seems to be a sort of laziness to it, they add that anyways, because somehow, it makes you smile or even laugh.
The characters don’t really need much of a description here, as it is the same cast as of the 2008 series. If you have never seen any Strike Witches media, excluding Brave Witches, you can still watch this and it could still make you smile, but there really isn’t much in terms of development. This was made for returning fans of the franchise, and for that, they don’t really need to delve deep into the lore. Trust me, watch the other anime first, then hop into this. I know this is a spin-off, but it won’t feel right if you just hop in with no knowledge of the World Witches Series.
I enjoyed this well enough to the point of completing. Each episode is fun and engaging, and it’s really great to see some of your most favorite characters pop in out of nowhere, do something stupid, only to get beat up off-screen by Barkhorn, and have a Warner Bros.-esque bump on the head, only to have them talk about the main lead in the background, with only text instead of speaking/dialogue.
Overall, give this a watch if you are a good fan of the series. If you want a story, this isn’t for you. There are some ecchi bits here and there, but unlike the original series, there’s no nudity or constant panty shots.
Well, what this lacks in animation quality it makes up for in comedy.
This seems to be a recover of season 2 but all the downtime with no attacks which made it refreshing and enjoyable as a comedy stand alone. It does redo somethings differently but ultimately it is the same more or less.
The art is odd here since the OP uses a really over the top exaggerated style of art last seen in shows like Nichijou or the comic book store in Lucky Star. It is really good but also crazy to look at which is probably best that the show went for a more comedic simplicity for the most part of it.
Sound is funny and the same as ever.
Characters develop in as much as you see the crazier side of peoples lifestyles. It is pretty funny the interactions. The inclusion of the super cute personality of Michiko at the end of each episode was really nice too.
What this one lacks in art it makes up for in comedy and it really doesn’t matter as it is so funny.
29: Akai Koudan Zillion
MAL Score: 6.58
The story takes place on the planet Maris in the year 2387. Around this time, the Nozas started to genocidally kill all humans in order to lay eggs and reproduce on the planet. Three mysterious guns dubbed the “Zillion Weapon System” appear and three teens (JJ, Champ, and Apple) are chosen to wield them as the White Knights in order to fight back against the Nozas.
This Anime is your typical 80’s sc-ifi filled with campy pervert humor decent and unique alien characters and a good soundtrack. I’m unsure if this show was made to support the Sega game of the same title, or if the game was made in response to the shows popularity at the time. But Sega’s influence can been seen all over the show including OPA OPA.
If you remember what a Sega Master system is and you want to feel nostalgic for the 80’s this show is for you! If your looking for a complex story instead of a action shoot em up then move along because you won’t enjoy this show.
28: Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen
English: Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World
MAL Score: 6.58
A force known as Astral power permeates throughout the world, wielded by astral mages. Fearing its destructive power, the “Empire” persecutes those who show their abilities. The tormented mages then founded the Nebulis Sovereignty to flee from their oppressors. Since then, the two nations have been in bitter conflict, the war still going strong for more than a century.
After committing the great crime of freeing an imprisoned witch, the talented knight Iska is sentenced to prison. A year later, the Empire leadership suddenly decides to set him free, with the condition that he hunts down a fearsome mage known as the “Ice Calamity Witch.” Hoping to end the war, Iska agrees. Coincidentally, the Ice Calamity Witch herself, Aliceliese “Alice” Lou Nebulis XI, also wishes for peace and is willing to do everything she can to bring down the Empire.
As Iska and Alice both yearn for a crusade that will turn the world into one without struggle, woe, or pain, the strings of fate tie them ever closer together, creating a bond that goes beyond something fabricated by mere coincidence.
Our Last Crusade or The Rise of a New World tells the story of a young man named Iska, caught in between a conflict involving the Heavenly Empire and the Nebulis Sovereignty. To put it simply, they are two sides with different ideologies and even utilizes different tactics as part of its culture. The Heavenly Empire relies on its advanced technology while the Nebulis Sovereignty utilizes its magic users. It’s a conflict of science vs magic, a common trend in military fiction. What makes this anime mediocrity relies the ultimate execution of the show’s ideas.
I remember the first time when the trailers and promotional material debuted. It became obvious why the anime is designed with such a way to pit two important characters together. Iska and Alicelise (Alice) represents the opposite spectrum of an ongoing war. Peace is a far cry from being achieved although it appears that both characters desires the war to end. Fate designates their encounter and from the first episode, the two unlikely characters builds a peculiar relationship throughout the rest of the show.
It would appear based on narratives and plot elements that the war has been lasting for a very long time. In the present timeline, the show sell itself as a military fantasy story. The nations have their factions, politics, and ongoing plans to achieve their goals. Iska is the powerful swordsman with near unrivaled skills from the Heavenly Empire. Meanwhile, there’s Alice, the Ice Calamity Witch with powerful ice magic at her disposal, serving the Nebulis Sovereignty. After their first encounter, we see the two continuously bumping into each other. This later turns their relationship into a complicated angle due to their conflicting ideals and alliances. However, this show does little to actually build their relationship. There’s a lack of character development as the two personalities are too contrasting to be compatible. Furthermore, it’s hard to get invested into either character when their roles are so blend. Both Iska and Alice has an honorable personality but can be deadly on the battlefield. It appears throughout the show, neither of their personality really change except when interacting between each other. Even then, it’s poorly executed especially from Alice’s point of view. In later episodes, she shows more vulnerable sides of herself that melts some of her Ice Queen persona. Meanwhile, Iska follows his moral code like a good little soldier although he isn’t afraid to take risks when needed. This includes taking on fights on the fly or trying to outsmart a battle maid like Rin, Alice’s personal bodyguard.
Are you hopeful for a memorable supporting cast? If so, I got some depressing news to deliver. The supporting cast is made up of some of the most generic and poorly written characters I’ve seen this year. Rin, Nene, Mismis, and Jhin are a few examples that absolutely lacks any sort of decent characterization or development. To be honest, if you remove most of these characters, you wouldn’t feel too much impact from the anime’s storytelling altogether. It’s mostly rely on Iska and Alice to carry this anime on their back but unfortunately, they couldn’t live up to the expectations. The antagonists are even more forgettable such as Salinger, who is introduced with little buildup. In fact, it’s hard for me to say there’s any important antagonists besides the show being an enemy of itself. Yes, this anime’s weakness is itself, being that it’s so poorly designed that it’s nearly damn unwatchable.
Perhaps the only saving grace is the artistic visuals. I’m not going to lie, Alice can be an eye candy to look at with her beautiful red dress, graceful blonde hair, and alluring eyes. Iska on the other hand looks like your average Kirito-clone you can find in any light novel. The world setting opens up some chances for redemption but overall still remains lackluster with the war being the main emphasis.
No, this isn’t a solid show or even close. It can’t hold itself together when the plot is so lackluster with a poorly constructed main cast. I wonder when the anime adaptation was announced, it was an attempt to get the audience to drop money for the light novels. Keeping my fingers crossed, I hoped to be proven wrong but after these dreadful 12 episodes, my hope was lost. This anime is a lost cause and has no redemption.
I’m sure that almost everyone knows what Romeo and Juliet is. It’s one of the most recognizable and popular works of literature known to mankind. As what people would already know, it’s about a boy named Romeo and a girl named Juliet whose families are in conflict with each other, and after their deaths, the Montague and Capulet families stopped their feud. That premise is basically what happens in Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen. We have two factions: the Empire and the Nebulis Sovereignty. The Empire and the Nebulis Sovereignty have been at war for more than a century. In those factions, we have our protagonist for each side. For the Empire, we have the swordsman Iska who looks like Kazuto Kirigaya, and for the Sovereignty, we have the ice princess Aliceliese “Alice” Lou Nebulis IX. Both of our protagonists desire to end this pointless war, meeting each other by fate, and as time passes by, their relationship seems to develop. Similar to Romeo and Juliet? Of course, but it has magic. A total rip-off? Debatable. Boring? Absolutely not.
You see, I have been dreaming about this kind of premise for a while now. One might call it cliched, and I’m not going to deny that. I have been looking for the kind of anime: rivals and enemies becoming acquaintances and possibly budding into romance. As the story gets developed, we have the power of coincidences that seem to link Iska and Alice together wherever they may go. Cheesy? Maybe. Interesting? Absolutely. I noticed that the story development is kind of slow, with the series picking up about halfway where we finally see things happen. Of course, I understand this. After all, ending a war does not happen overnight. I think that the story is on the right track and is developing itself properly, but it’s still not enough, considering that there are still many things that need to be answered. Twelve episodes are too few to give a satisfactory conclusion. Nevertheless, I still want to see more.
The first thing that I noticed immediately after watching the first episode is that the characters seem to have their eyes drawn with a similar fashion to a Geass from Code Geass, although it’s black. I don’t mind the similarity, in fact, I actually like it. I kept thinking, what would happen if someone actually used a Geass there and controlled someone’s mind? I actually wouldn’t mind if Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen actually ripped off that concept, although I would probably be worried if it gets used too often.
Eyes aside, the magic used by astral mages, especially the ice magic (got it?) by Alice was as beautiful as she is. The freezing chill that permeates the screen made me feel cold, although I think that only happened to me. One more, by Alice’s maid Rin, and her earth magic was also spot-on. The action scenes weren’t something to be scoffed at either, the animation was pretty fluid. If I am allowed to be more selfish, I would want more of the series’ magical display.
When we’re talking about Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen’s music, especially its opening and ending themes, I really remember that beat that gave me a very good first impression about the anime, especially Kaori Ishihara’s “Against.” which was the OP (although I kind of admit I missed this when I was playing animemusicquiz once). Moreover, Sora Amamiya’s performance of the ending song “Koori no Torikago” was spectacular as well, especially that refrain that really hits you in the chest on how relatable the lyrics are to the theme of the show.
Itsuka oozora he hanatsu sono hi made (Until the day I let it go to the sky)
kanarazu tadoritsuku hi made (Until the day that it surely arrives)
tsuyoku arou dakara dou ka (Please be strong)
anata mo akiramezu ni ite (Don’t give up)
That song really hits the spot. And of course, until our protagonists really do achieve their goal of world peace, they should remain strong and never give up. And yes, I also missed this once in AMQ. Am I a fake fan now?
Maybe one point that you can take to remember the characters is that the anime is similar to Romeo and Juliet. Personally, however, I do not like thinking that way. Iska and Alice are great characters especially that the plot of the power of coincidences revolve around them. One goes here, and they meet the other. I will never get tired of a premise like that. Their character development is lacking, yes, and I cannot deny that, because there are still more things to explore about their relationship and like what I have said earlier, I am looking forward to seeing their characters develop more… if we actually get to.
In Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen, I have two notable favorite characters. First would be Alice’s maid, Rin. Her personality is so uptight like what you see in many anime, but that’s exactly why I like her. A pulchritudinous maid who wants to abide by the rules that she gets so pragmatic when it comes to violations… I mean, who doesn’t want that? Pardon that deep word, if you please, something like “beautiful” couldn’t possibly describe Rin. Second would be Sisbell Lou Nebulis IX, Alice’s sister. Her being the underdog in what could possibly be a love triangle is something that makes me want to root for her. I’m on team Sisbell on this one.
Like what I have been saying earlier, I hope that my enjoyment is already palpable. Yes, I truly enjoyed the show, while at times I was frustrated because I was wanting to say something like “why don’t Iska’s friends already know that he and Alice are acquaintances? Like please, let them all be allies already! I want to see the combined forces of Alice and Iska as they bring about world peace!” I get more frustrated as I continue to realize that things do not happen that fast. Because of this, I still enjoyed Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen.
In conclusion to this review, overall, the anime has a cliched premise but it still managed to make me interested. Not just any kind of interest, however. I want to know more. I want to know what happens between the Empire and the Sovereignty as their war continues. I want to know whether Iska and Alice’s last crusade will change the world. I want to know if the main enemy would just be the two warring nations. I want to see more of Rin and Sisbell. I want to see more of the anime’s characters. I want to see a second season for Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen.
It was one hundred years ago, when the great witch Nebulis turned The Empire into nothing but a sea of flames. The Empire, a militaristic nation and The Country of Witches, The Nebulis Royal Household Agency: the two countries that have been trapped in a never-ending war. Long ago, deep underground the planet, an imperial research unit discovered a type of energy never seen before and that energy was star spirits. The special attribute of star spirits is that they live in humans; people who have drawn in a star spirit, have a bright birthmark appear on their body. And because of that, they can wield supernatural power, which other people refer to as magic. Of course, the empire started to fear people that hosted star spirits and began to discriminate against them. The oppressed got tired of it and one day started a revolt and so the Great War began. The witch forces, never strong enough, however, among them, there was the great witch Nebulis, host to the greatest star spirit of them all. She burned the empire in the flames of death. After that, those who were loved by the power of star spirits, decided to start their own country. But this was not the end of the war…
Basically, the story is about the two factions. An empire starts to discriminate against its people only because of the fact that they gain power and thus are different from those who do not have this supernatural power. Either it is the love of humans to discriminate against those who are different, or just a simple fear that those with power might one day dethrone the government, call it however you want. The oppressed get tired of the fact that their own government looks down on them and now they do not actually see anything bad in discriminating against those who have no magic. What a coincidence! In this world, there are two people: Iska, the young swordsman who is among the Empire’s greatest warriors, and the ice witch, who is considered one of the strongest witches. The two are both tired of the never-ending war, but they cannot work together, because of the fact that they are from the opposing factions. However, only together will they be able to put an end to this war.
This reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, but with many changes. The anime tries to be entertaining, even giving the characters some development, however, it is still hardly enough for this anime to be anywhere good. Unfortunately, with time, you understand that Aliceliese Lou Nebulis IX and Iska, the two protagonists, hardly have anything unique about them. And the story suffers way too many flaws, because of the fact that they skip a number of details from the source material.
All in all, I do admit that this anime has a VERY interesting story. However, it is simply pathetic how neglected the story of this anime is. To fail that miserably, I do not know. Long story short, the show hardly has anything unique to offer you. Will I recommend this show to anyone? It depends. If you want to see something amazing, this is not the show for you. If you are looking for something average, this might be the anime you want to see. I, unfortunately, was hoping to see a much better story than that.
27: E’s Otherwise
English: E’s Otherwise
MAL Score: 6.63
Kai, who has powers different from the rest, together with his sickly sister Hikaru was protected by an organization called ASHURUM. Scouted by Eiji, Kai was delegated to the ASHURUM special force AESES and undergo intensive training. Whenever he was free, Kai visited Hikaru at the hospital belongs to the organization, but Hikaru’s condition never improved. So, one year later, with amazing growth from the intensive training, Kai decides to escape from the organization.
E’s Otherwise is most definitely one of the many thousands of animes that’s just out there to be…..out there. I’ve started calling these types of shows “fast food” animes. Animes churned out by these big production companies out more for capital gain with no regard for product integrity. E’s Otherwise is a series that really makes no sense and you’ll almost, right from the get-go, need to modify your outlook [….and lower your expectations] on this show or you’ll switch it off. If you are going to watch this show, you can’t take it too seriously….even when the show itself is asking you to take it seriously, you can’t and shouldn’t cuz you’d be better off not doing so.
The art style was the standard type of art seen in most animes. A lot of bright colors were used, which is always nice. I like animes with bright, cheery colors! So you’ll see a lot of fantastic colors as well as all the special lighting/glowing effects that they use to illustrate each of the characters’ special powers. Their movements were also pretty good, tho nothing really too outstanding except for maybe during the fight scenes especially when it came to the hand-to-hand combat scenes.
Both OP and ED songs are pretty good for being little more than prefab POP confections, as they say, tho I’d have to say I do like the OP theme song a bit more. It has a very nice techno-dance beat that you might not realize unless you have a good surround sound system or you’re listening to the song thru some decent headphones, like I did. I watched the show in English which might not have been a good idea since a lot of animes loose a lot of their original meanings and integrity with the translations, maybe that’s what happened to this show. But for what it’s worth I think the English actors did a decent job and I’ve always been a fan of Hilary Haag, she can do no wrong in my eyes.
The story…..hmmmmm! Honestly, the story is a bit of a mess, I mean some parts of it WAS OK but huge parts of it was not OK….and I don’t mean ‘kinda’ bad but ‘LOTSA’ bad!!! It was just so corny with all this unfounded and seemingly unnecessary angst. It really detracted from the show…so much so that I thought filler eps. were way much more fun and entertaining than the main plot of the show. Because if you paid too much attention to the main storyline, you’d get a headache and definitely hate the show…there were just too many problems with it. Mainly in the fact that it seemed so totally disingenuous, for example, this one [semi-main] character dies pretty early on in the series and no one seemed to care too much about it, they just all forgot about her pretty darn quick if you ask me….and then, we’ve got Kai who just ups and decides to live with Yuki and Asuka all but forgetting about his sickly, invalid sister who’s laid up in the hospital for a good chunk of the series.
So like I said, there’ll come these instances that the show demands all these intense emotions from you [the viewer] and it totally fails, miserably I might add, because it was too bloody flip and was emotionally glib from the outset. Not to mention, without spoilers, the ending is pretty much a train wreck so I whole-heartedly recommend enjoying the show more for it’s filler content and not take this anime too seriously and there are plenty of funny moments/episodes that were just laugh-out-loud funny. If you do want to watch a more meaningful show with the similar [albeit thinly veiled] message of “freaks are people too” then you are better off watching the X-Men movies.
The way the characters looked was what caught my attention about this show in the first place….I thought Kai looked very much like Kira Yamato from Gundam Seed so following that train of thought, I assumed this show might have been created by the same people. Tho upon closer inspection, it’s pretty evident they weren’t… but even if they aren’t created by the same people they both have a lot of things in common, namely, they both have that certain passive/aggressive tendency or that um, whatchamacallit, Berserker Complex.
Anywho besides Kai, I think a lot of the characters have a certain physical appeal about them even if that’s all they have going for them [meaning, a lot of the characters lack depth, they just look cute!] My favorite character for sure is Sheri, she’s just too sarcastically funny the way she just whips out these one-liners is comic genius, now whether or not the creators intended for her to be that witty is another story.
On the other hand, the character I found most annoying was that kid, Raphael, because to me he tried too hard to be cute and he played the sympathy card way too soon after we are introduced to him….[tho I suspect this in large part due to the poor adaptation from the manga] but by and large, just looking at this character hearing his sob story, and you see what I mean by the show being emotionally ‘demanding’ or trying to emotionally manipulate the viewer for no apparent reason but to just elicit sympathy. I also think that, the one gigantic eye of Raphael’s is just too huge, singular and creepy, it takes up about 50% the length of his face! They did a horrible job with the character design on that kid that’s for sure!
Worth it or NOT?
OK so, it’s my opinion that this show isn’t all that great and succeeds much more as a comedy than it does as a drama mainly because all the dramatic elements in this show are extremely bad and a whole lot cheesier than a bag of Cheetos due to the apparently sub-par adaptation from the original manga version. So it’s either hit or miss. That’s not to say it’s a bad show all in all, there were a lot of funny moments and likable characters. Worth watching once….twice if your anime resources are scarce and you need that fix, but it’s hardly a collectible item tho.
Kai Kudo is a powerful psychic. People would describe him as an Esper or E, though he doesn’t seem to know it. Following his sister Hikaru who is gravely ill to an organization called Ashurum that promises to make her well, Kai is recruited by Eiji into another branch of Ashurum called Aeses where he undergoes exstensive military and psychic training.
A year later, on his second mission out to stop the guerilla army in Gald City from using psychics, Kai and another Aeses student, Shenron Belvedere, fight each other and Kai ends up hurt. He washes up ashore outside Gald City and is rescued by Aska and her brother Yuki.
Once awake, Kai decides to view Ashurum from the outside to see what is really going on.
E’s Otherwise is really good. It follows Kai’s life as he discovers who he is, and how strong he can be psychic-wise. There are side plots that offer intrigue but that is focused on Kai as well. It’s a series I highly recommend you watch if you are interested in characters that can use their minds to levitate things, that can appear and disappear at will, if you do like this stuff, you won’t be disappointed.
E’s Otherwise is a below average anime.
In the near future, following a war, corporations have come into control of the world. Ashurum is one such coorporation, specializing in handling a new class of psychics that have arisen. Feared by the general population, they have a home at Ashurum, where they develop their abilities and work for Ashurum in helping other psychics or dealing with those who’ve become a threat.
The story revolves around one such psychics named Kai Kudou, who lived in Ashurum all his life with his sister who is sick. He joins AESES, the operation branch of Ashurum in gratitude for helping his sister. In doing so he comes to discover the real world, where humans hate psychics and doesn’t understand why members of AESES are so ruthless to people until catastrophe strikes. Kai gets separated from AESES and is saved by Asuka Tokugawa. The real adventure begins from there.
Now on to my review. First the story I’d give a 3/10, I’m not sure where they were trying to go with it. Were they trying to do something between the X-Men and the anime Scryed, it just didn’t work. The characters I’d give 1/10, the were uninteresting cardboard cut outs I didn’t care about. The animation was 8/10, I thought it looked good. Finally the music is a 8/10, it sounded good for this type of anime. Overall I’d give it a 5/10, good to look at and listen to the music, but skip the rest.
26: Tide-Line Blue
Japanese: タイドライン ブルー
MAL Score: 6.64
The catastrophe, “Hammer of Eden,” resulted in the loss of six billion lives and the flooding of 90% of the land. The New United Nations were formed to pursue peace on the ruined lands 14 years later. Keel is a boy living in a town called Yabitsu, an area which prospered due to the energy from the nuclear generator brought by the catastrophe. His next kin, Aoi, is the secretary general of the New United Nations. She views the catastrophe as an opportunity to create a new world in which nations can help one another overcome differences in races and religions. However, her efforts to realise that vision fail because of the unwillingness of the nations to change. Gould, a military officer, feels that the only way to make an order is through the military. Using Ulysses, a nuclear submarine, along with his crew, including Keel’s brother Tean, Gould carries out a coup to declare war against the New United Nations in his attack on Yabitsu.
This story’s plotline is a very sturdy, but boring. After the “Hammer of Eden” hit in this anime’s world the world became flooded. The world seems at peace until the Ulyses begins to strike the small island that Isla and Keel, the main characters, live in. The thing about this anime is that it’s just a military drama. It’s just too boring. Nothing ever really happens and when it does it’s at the very end of the episode. The whole “world is split up into alliances” bit is just so odd that I couldn’t even tell where they were. Some times it was India, sometimes it was Japan. Honestly, the whole storyline tries to be deep when in reality it isn’t anything big. There are some gags that just aren’t funny, but I did crack up at the idea of Keel being a father figure for Isla’s baby when he is so immature himself.
Let’s get to the art. Keel looks like a big Ed (FMA) rip-off. Everything from the pony tail to the hair color. Boy, do the captains look familiar. Picture every asshole in anime as the captains. It seems like all the characters’ designs in this anime were ripped off from another series. Honestly, this REALLY turned me off. The submarines are well designed and that’s where this anime truly shines. I was about to fall asleep during that last few episodes but this REALLY woke me up. It was like seeing CGI for the very first time.
The characters are nothing special. Aside from a few gags, none of the characters stood out. Teen was so faux-stoic that it was hillarious. It was obvious he was covering for something from the very beginning. Keel is so hot headedly stereotypical that the jokes WERE funny. Isla was a bit of a fresh air. Despite being the mother figure attitude the fact that she was a pregnant anime character seemed oh so novel to me.
Golly, this anime’s dubbing couldn’t have been more disturbing even if they tried. I normally defend dubs, but gosh Keel sounds so gay. I mean literally he sounds like a flamer, no offense. Isla is…who played Isla? All the other characters are flat line. The audio is 2.0 but it sounds worse. The BGM isn’t really that bad. It goes well during the sad moments and well during the happy moments.
This anime is all over the place. I seriously can’t place one single grade on it.
– Nice BGM.
– Amazing submarine visuals.
– Boring storyline.
– Unfunny gags.
This anime gets 6 “Boooshhhh!!” out of 10.
The story is nothing great, its rather quite simple but its ingenious in its simplicity.
Simple but touching, not complex but still intriguing because of this it flows very naturaly and at a high pace which just draws you in.
I dont have much so say about this, its average, I think the characters movement and motions seem more fluent and detailed then usual otherwise its good but not great.
Just amazing, I almost never noticed the music while watching the series the music just flowed naturaly with everything else, enhancing the enjoyment considerably. Looking back at the series now its almost always a good piece of background music being played.
Here is where it starts getting interesting, there’s a bunch of characters in this series offcourse and at a first glanze everyone seems like a run of the mill character.
We’ve got the typical rash and hot-headed shounen main character, the lost twin brother, the first-aggresive, later-loving girl with the perfect love triangel buildup and the perfect "sensei" to always be there and guide everyone.
However none of these characters will fit into the molds that you think they will, the characters of this series will always come out of nowhere and surprise you with their depth.
I enjoyed this series tremendously, I just got sucked into its pace and after that it was over in one seemingly very short night.
Something I haven’t mentioned yet that really made this series great is its humour, yeah thats right, you cant see the genre "comedy" associated with this series anywhere can you?
But its in there, its not very frequent at all but when its coming its coming to squeeze the shit out of your stomach muscles believe me XD Those rare short moments really brightened this series up considerably and earned it the overall 8.
This series has decent drama but bad action however what wins me over is the "feel" of the show. How I just cant wait for whats coming up next, its not that i really care about whats going to happen its just that once your stuck in its mood you just feel that whatever is going to happen you know its going to be one heck of a ride.
So the world we know is underwater, a massive globe spanning current has manifested (think an aquatic ether stream), a very small team of astronauts are stuck in orbit trying to map out the oceans for those who survived, and our complete yutz of a main protagonist is suddenly protecting a VERY pregnant girl on a state of the art submarine.
That’s alot to cram into 12 episodes, and I’ve seen more prolific shows faceplant in the attempt. Palette is clean and bright, story is semi cookie cutter but with it’s blend of icing and sprinkles, characters are entertaining but can’t say overall relatable or memorable. I enjoyed it back when I watched it but haven’t gone out of my way to replay it since. I do have some other submarine anime, might revisit for a marathon. If you can find it out there, give it a look. Decent light viewing.
25: Stratos 4
Japanese: ストラトス フォー
MAL Score: 6.66
The Earth has developed a defense system against large meteorites that are on a collision course with it. This protection system is made up of the Comet Blasters based in several space stations as the 1st line of defense, using nuclear warheads launched by spaceships. The 2nd line of defense consists of the Meteor Sweepers launching from ground airbases using hypersonic planes with special missiles to deal with the resulting debris from the blasts. Mikaze is a troubled girl that is a trainee pilot for a Meteor Sweeper team that dreams of becoming a prestigious Comet Blaster pilot. Stratos 4 revolves around Mikaze’s and her teammates’ challenges to become real pilots, while the Earth faces the threats that come from space.
(Source: ANN, edited by Falre)
24: Viper’s Creed
English: Viper’s Creed
Japanese: ヴァイパーズ クリード
MAL Score: 6.73
The story revolves around the members of a private military company (PMC), and the uneasy tension between them and the regular military after a war that caused massive environmental destruction.
The story is pretty simple. Air and sea travel has been made impossible by a large-scale war. Cities have been isolated and contractors called Blademen have been hired by a foreign business to safeguard the city from bug mechs. A terrorist group with really nonsensical ideas called Hound is also causing problems and the Viper team finds itself in the middle of a conspiracy. The story does some things well. The setup is pretty interesting and, when you find out the nature of the conspiracy, a lot of the seemingly nonsensical elements do end up making some sense. But the story still has a couple major issues. Instead of developing their characters naturally in the narrative they have several episodes that barely connect to the main story in which they inundate you with backstory. Because that’s much better than learning about a character naturally. The story is also pretty minimal, when they do get to the main plot what you actually get is a lot of action sequences with short bursts of story. The ending is also a load of crap, but I can’t go into details about why without spoilers.
Let’s move into the characters. To Viper’s Creed’s credit, they do try to develop the six major characters and it works, they are three-dimensional characters. The major problem is with the supporting cast, which is composed largely of one-dimensional characters and the antagonists who barely get any motivation. Another problem is that some of the major characters are just unsympathetic. The main example of this being Haruki who goes beyond naive and into the realm of being a complete moron. The worst part is that his complete idiocy is barely questioned.
Let’s talk about the art for a moment. The machines in this look really good. The action scenes are really intense and well done. That being said, they do some bizarre things with faces and the backgrounds are pretty lazy most of the time.
The voice acting is good. Toyoguchi Megumi, Kuroda Takaya, Minagawa Junko and several others do well in their roles. The one real exception is Akiyama Nana who gives a rather uninspired and flat performance. I haven’t heard her in anything else so I couldn’t tell you whether this was the direction, inexperience or just a lack of ability at expressing emotions. I’m not even going to bother speculating on it. Then there’s the music, a lot of it just doesn’t work with the series. It’s just too soft and serene for the action-packed content.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s no yuri in this.
My final rating for Viper’s Creed is a 6/10. It does have some major issues, but it also has some great characters and great action scenes. If you can handle the story issues and the more minor issues then it is a decent watch.
Story: 10–a good story, especially for so few episodes. Yes, the general storyline is a classic one, but it’s a storyline that works, which is why it’s been used so many times.
Art: 8–at the beginning I remember thinking that the art could have used a few more frames to smooth out some of the movements, but overall it’s animated in the usual style for the newer anime, and the action scenes are done really well. They knew how to create tension with the visuals as well as the storyline and sound effects by zooming in on something and omitting the focus. Really keeps you watching.
Sound: 9–consistently throughout the series, I was amazed at the background music. It set the tone perfectly for each scene without making the view actually notice it until the director wanted the viewer to notice. Also, the ending song is my newest favorite (will be listening on repeat for another month). Sound effects were good overall, though most are the usual mech anime sounds (hydraulics, gunshots, metal, etc.).
Character: 10–Great character development. They structure the story so that you really invest in the characters, even though the anime is so short. Very realistic characters, flaws and all. At times you want to hate them, at times you want to just hug them ’til they suffocate. (o.O moe?)
Enjoyment: 9–absolutely loved (almost) every minute of the anime. I usually go for happy anime (Shugo Chara anyone?), and too much strife mid-series can permanently turn me off of a series. Great beginning, great end, it’s the middle you have to watch out for. So, I docked one point, but still, it’s a 9/10.
Story:…nothing special or outstanding but it was edible ….not very full of cliche-es but like i said nothing special.For 12 episodes i think u can resist cause it’s worth a shot.A few turn-of-events but nothing special..although i liked the end..u will understand why…i gave it a 6..for fair
Art:Outstanding and first-class..that’s this series strong point..although there were some scenes that were repeated cause the designers were lazy to recreate them….but it is very good and it gets a 10
Sound: pretty decent..nothing special but still pretty good..gets a 7
Character: Well…12 episodes don’t really help character development so i didn’t really get to get close to the characters..but still it was pretty fair.My fave character was Haruki..nop..IS Haruki….and of course that is mainly because Jun Fukuyama does his voice..:X..but i kinda liked the shounen too gets a 6 for fair
Enjoyment: Well..i expected a little more..but..i guess it was ok..8 for enjoyment
Overall: 8…i wanted to give a 7 but i am a sucker for great art and animation with action scenes so i gave it an 8 instead…it’s worth a shot..try it out.
23: Brave Witches
English: Brave Witches
Japanese: 第502統合戦闘航空団 ブレイブウィッチーズ
MAL Score: 6.79
As humanity’s war with the Neuroi—a mysterious, hostile alien race possessing weapons of unparalleled power—continues being fought across Europe and Africa, a new fighter squadron is formed. The 502nd Joint Fighter Wing, also known as the Brave Witches, operates on the eastern front, scouring the icy vastness of Orussia in search of alien invaders.
However, one of the Brave Witches’ members suffers severe injuries on her way to the squadron’s headquarters, rendering her unable to participate in any operations. As a result, her sister, Hikari Karibuchi, volunteers to take her place. Though not possessing any special abilities or significant magical powers, she is determined to live up to the expectations of her new comrades and prove herself worthy of the name of a Witch.
The main story of Brave witches follows the adventures of of Hikari Karibuchi a young witch that lives on the island nation of Sasebo as she joins the 502nd Joint fighter squadron in Orussia as they fight in the war against the Neuroi. Just as it is in fighting the war a crucial point of the story also deals with Hikari’s establishments of friendships with the members of the squadron and her quest to get strong as well.
As stated the story of the anime takes place within an alternate earth and in this case largely takes place within the country of Orussia which is the alternate alter ego of Russia. Being an international effort other nearby countries that existed in that time period also contributes personal to the squadron.
Hikari voiced by veteran seiyuu Ai Kakuma of Asterisk wars and Rokka of the six flowers fame is one of the main characters of the show. A young witch that lives in the country of Sasebo thats part of the island of Fusu thats also the alternate version of Japan. Hikari is the younger sister of Takami Karabuchi a veteran witch and a rather famous one that is known for her accomplishments in the war against the Neuroi. Hikari’s relationship with her sister Takami is one of the central points of the story and a well executed one at that. Personality wise Hikari is brave, determined and kind with perhaps her determination being her most prominent trait. Hikari’s skills as a witch is not as powerful as her sister and indeed not much use to the squadron that she joined due to her low magic but instead of feeling dejected she consistently trains herself with endurance runs that take place in any weather. It is especially comical seeing Hikari do her runs in just her uniforms and bloomers when the areas around her are frozen solid. Hikari’s determination to get stronger both to be of use to her friends in the squadron and to make her sister proud is an enduring trait of hers and seeing her manage to beat every trial that was stopping her really is nice to see. It was also nice to see that her quest to get strong has also allowed her to bond with and make friends with her squad mates who had low opinions of her at the beginning and eventually join them as a full member. Hikai i felt was a pretty good character that showed that with determination and perseverance one can clear any hardship and trial thats stands in your way.
Takami played by new seiyuu Rie Suegara is one of the main characters of the show. The older sister of Hikari Takami is a veteran witch and a veteran of the Neuroi war that is well known for her accomplishments in many battles of the war. Due to her abilities she was reassigned to the Orussia front to take part in a major operation there at the start of the anime that turned out to be anything but. Takami is confident, friendly and professional person that has little ego in the way and gets on well with people. Takami’s relationship with her sister is an interesting one in that she cares deeply for Hikari but at the same time she is very protective of her knowing the limits of her magic and tries to protect her by not having her on the field at all. This does clash against the wishes of both Hikari and her squad mates and form one of the sub arcs of the last part of the anime. This aspect of her personality is actually quite understandable as having seen the ravages of war anyone would try and prevent their friends and family from entering it and taking the risks that are inherent on the field.
Despite being a new seiyuu i felt that Rie Suegara did a great job portraying Takami.
Naoe Kanno that is better known by her family name Kanno is one of the main characters of the show and is voiced by veteran seiyuu Rie Murakawa of log horizon fame. An aggressive and somewhat arrogant witch that is also a bit of a tsundere Kanno is a part of the 502nd joint fighter squadron and is one of Hikari’s squad mates. Kanno and Hikari had a rather cold start to their friendship as Kanno had expected Hikari’s sister who Kanno admires to be the one that would join them only to see Hikari instead. As a result their relationship was a bit rocky at first and true to her tsundere personality it wasn’t until Hikari started to prove herself to her and the others that Kanno herself started to warm to her. Despite that Kanno still acts like a typical Tsundere well after that fact despite being one of Hikari’s eventual best friends.
Nika better known as Nippa to Hikari and co is one of the main characters of the show and is voiced by veteran seiyuu Natsumi Takamori of Orange fame. A witch from the country of Suomus Nippa is a carefree, honest and fun loving witch that also has a big heart and often tries to stop arguments from breaking out between Hikari and Kanno. Nippa is part of the break witches group a group of witches that consistently trashes their engine units accidentally while engaged in their duties with Nippa being the worst offender of this group. Nippa was one of the first members of the squadron to befriend and bond with Hikari as both share similar circumstances with both being posted to a place where they know no one. This shared bonding i felt was interesting and quite natural given the circumstances. Nippa cares a great deal about Hikari and is one of her closest friends and allies in the squadron.
Edytha Roffman known as Roffman sensei to Hikari and sensei to the others is one of the main characters of the show and is voiced by veteran seiyuu Hiromi Igarashi of high school fleet fame. A veteran witch from Karlsland which is the alter ego of Germany in this alternate earth Edytha is a calm, methodical and logical person that acts as the second in command to the squadron and specializing in tactics and instruction. Within the story Edytha was one of the members that did not place must faith in Hikari which is the reason why she decided to train her in the first place. Despite appearing to be somewhat unforgiving towards her students Edytha has a strong sense of responsibility and would like to see Hikari succeed under her care. Edytha actually has a strong personal reason for being strict that i thought was interesting and seeing Hikari struggle in her training actually reminded her of that. Edytha like the others eventually saw the good in Hikari’s skills and become one of her strongest allies and friends in the squadron. I thought that Edytha was a pretty good character and that her seiyuu Hiromi Igarashi did a great job portraying her. Seeing Edytha actually be moved by Hikari’s determination was a nice thing to see.
Aleksandra known as Sasha to her friends is one of the main characters of the show and is voiced by veteran seiyuu Yumi Hara of Log Horizon fame. A veteran witch and a captain within the Orussia air force Sasha is generally in charge of combat operations in the absence of Rall. As a captain Sasha is a capable commander and strategist and additionally serves as the squadrons mechanic as her ability as a witch is related to maintenance of equipment. A professional, by the book and somewhat up tight person Sasha tries to remain detached during operations and only look at missions from a objective point of view that can clash with the likes of Hikari. Ironically that her story arc had her revisiting her hometown that she has not been too for some time and revisiting buried memories that she never knew she had. One of her most prominent traits is perhaps her uniform in that she is the only one that wears a skirt that really stands her out among the cast. A running gag within the series is her arguments with Nippa over her breaking of her units which i found to be pretty funny.
Waltrud is one of the main characters of the show and is voiced by new seiyuu Kayo Ishida. A veteran witch of the Karlsland air force like Edytha Waltrud is a mature, funny and professional person that never less can be easily distracted and also be quite reckless in battle. She is part of the Break witches along with Kanno and Nippa. However despite appearing laid back and humorous Waltrud can get serious when she see’s her friends in danger and when she does gets serious she’s a far different person to her usual joking self. A recurring theme of Waltruds is her horrible cooking skills and her womanizing ways and indeed Edytha is always the one that keeps her in line.
Shinohara Sadako is one of the main characters of the show and is voiced by new seiyuu Marin Mizutani. Like Hikari and Takami Shinohara comes from the country of Fusu and is one of the flight leads of the squadron specializing in recon duty due to her special abilities of magic eyesight. Additionally Shinohara also serves as the squadrons cook being an accomplished chef of her own right. Seeing Shinohara manage to make the characters happy with her food alone is hearwarming to see. Personality wise Shinohara is more like a mother in that she is caring, motherly and compassionate towards other while at the same time caring of others as well. The story arc that allowed Hikari to befriend both Shinohara and Georgette was a great one that i quite liked due to its simplicity. For a new seiyuu i thought that Marin Mizutani did a great job portraying Shinohara.
Georgette portrayed by veteran seiyuu Haruka Terui of Haito gensou no grimgar fame is the combat medic of the squadron and one of the main characters of the show. A witch from Gallia which is the alter ego of France in this alternate earth. Within the squadron Georgette serves as both the combat medic charged with keeping the squad members operational and also the resident cleaner as well. Despite being a healer she also actively takes part in combat with the rest of the squadron and has some skill in defensive maneuvers. Personality wise Georgette is a rather shy and meek girl thats also very quiet as well. Georgette doesn’t deal well with strangers which is the reason why she avoided Hikari in the first place. However as a result of the arc that she shared with Shinohara Georgette eventually become good friends with Hikari. Georgette is one of my favorite characters of the show in that she’s a rather gentle character thats at the same time kind and caring towards other while not being a total klutz lol.
Haruka Terui i felt did a pretty good job portraying her.
Arts and animation
Art for the series i felt was pretty good with the character designs being especially detailed and impressive. The environments shown was also detailed and well colored. The designs of the flying units that the girls use as well as the guns that they fired i felt were pretty well designed and animated. The combat scenes within the anime i felt were well designed and animated and some of them were very impressive.
Music for the series was pretty good especially the opening and ending themes.
Voice acting as a whole was pretty good and i felt that the series had a well rounded and talented cast. The series had a number of new seiyuus whose role in this anime was their first main roles and i felt that these which in this case included Kayo Ishida, Rie Suegara and Marin Mizutani did a great job in portraying their characters here. It also helps that the series also featured a number of veteran seiyuu’s like Yumi Hara who voiced Sasha and Ai Kakuma and Haruka Terui who played the characters of Hikari and Georgette respectively that were able to help them and support them.
In conclusion i felt that Brave witches was a great anime in that it had a great story that emphasized on duty and friendship and a great setting that allowed witches of different countries to come together to face a common threat together. The series had some great characters that were all unique in their own right and a great cast of seiyuu’s to portray. The arts and animation i thought was pretty good and the combat scenes got better and more detailed as the series went on. In the end i really enjoyed the story and while i haven’t seen the strike witches anime that Brave witches sits between i might give that a ago as i liked the concept of girls armed with magic fight against alien invaders.
When I saw Strike Witches I had a big problem with the main character. It feels that Yoshika it’s introduce as a complete developed character for the first chapters…
With Hikari I hadn’t that problem, when you saw her in the first scenes you could understand perfectly that she’s trying to reach someone, this someone is her own sister, Takami. Here we have the perfect point to start the plot.
We have a reason to follow Hikari’s path. As I said with Yoshika I don’t have this feeling until the end of the first season and all the second season.
The story. It has the same background, Witches fighting an alien race called Neuroi. But as I wrote in the previous paragraph, the plot it’s about Hikari trying to reach her big sister, because surpass it’s her goal.
Speaking about the art of the anime, Silver Link has its own type of Drawing and it’s beautiful. In Brave Witches the color, is well defined and invites to continue watching the anime.
About the sound… well it’s good, the think that you will remember it’s the opening, the ost it’s not a think that I would remember.
About Characters, the episodes are focused in introduce us the Witches that form the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing and give they more importance than the Striker Witches 501. I mean, in Brave Witches you will see how Hikari relates to her companion in the 502. In Strike Witches I remember that until the second season we didn’t know what power had each one.
I really enjoy with this anime. The best it’s that this anime doesn’t have an excessive amount of fanservice.
Overall, I think that if you watch Strike Witcher and you didn’t like it you should see Brave Witches.
after finishing watching brave witches and had recently finished watching strike witches (season 1 and 2 with movie) it seems this series was more like a cash in on the franchise, first off why introduce a new main character if you are just going to copy the likeness of the previous one, if you have seen the strike witches the movie you know that the main character can still fight soo why not just keep the chars we had?. i swear at first i really couldnt tell the diference if it wasnt for a lame segment where hikari sees a news paper about unit 501 and how they won their battle, the side chars are not nearly as close as beeing memorable as the previous chars, i think they realized this so the had some cameos in some of the episodes. if the hole world witches deal is true i hope they dont wait time making new chars, i would say maybe less chars so you can put more time on to the plot and not char development. other than that animation and sound efects where good.
22: Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai
English: The Magnificent Kotobuki
MAL Score: 6.86
In a barren frontier where people trade goods with each other in order to help each other survive. The Kotobuki Squadron are bodyguards for hire, led by a strict but beautiful squadron leader, an unreliable commanding officer, and a true artisan of a crew chief. Alongside pilots who don’t lack for personality, they take to the air in dogfights, letting the engine noise of their Hayabusa fighters ring out in the skies.
Yet again, we have another CGDCT (“Cute Girls Doing Cute Things”) anime, this time in the reigns of the old 20th Century times when most people are air/sky pirates and doing their own stuff. Everything that we all wanted that encapsulates about being an air pirate, from airship bases to dogfights, it’s all here. What more could you ask for this being a sci-fi action-adventure flick of inspirations from real like and even video game adaptations polishing the looks of this anime? Simply an underrated gem and it’s good.
Going into The Magnificent Kotobuki, this show tells the stories and adventures of the main Kotobuki squadron of girls (Kylie, Reona, Zara, Kate, Chika and Emma) who are bodyguards for hire, for mercenaries that require some extensive help in all forms and sizes. Along with their airship Hagoromo housing their useless captain (Saneatsu) and one hell of a commanding lady (Madame Loulou), they’re ready to set off into the uncertain skies.
The first thing I’ll require you to turn your senses off to, is the storytelling: it’s a very non-linear approach, and that storytelling is based off the endless amount of adventures of the Kotobuki girls in their slick Hayabusa planes that are airworthy of all dogfights in the skies. For one, we get a lot of emphasis on the main girls: Kylie, a pancake-loving girl, once mastering with her mentor Ol’ Sab on flying, and she is an excellent pilot with skills keen to the most dedicated. Emma the short, chibi-esque girl, aside from being Kylie’s childhood friend, she seems to be the one who holds grudges, but alongside her, another great pilot on the observational side. Reona, the leader/captain of the Kotobuki squadron, the pilot with the most “girl power” with a lot of experiences clocked under her belt. Aside from being the most sensible pilot, she is one that gets to the bottom of the truth and executes her mission without fail. YOU GO GIRLS, girl power!
And, that’s basically it for the characters. Oh sorry I almost forgot, the antagonist Isao, once an ace pilot who saved Reona’s life. However, in his pragmatic business, whoever views his clown-tricking abilities are those that might look like an insensible joke from a typical person at first, but when he gets serious, he knows how to manipulate people. What an ass.
The VERY startling point is the art and animation. From the same studio who did the disgusting demeanor that is the Berserk sequel (of sorts), GEMBA (with collaborations from WAO World) took an approach that is very unheard of: Mashing both 2D and 3D, and adding in lots of CGI into the mix. What resulted was a very jarring experience to even watch an episode through and not suffer hallucinations. Thank God this isn’t another Hand Shakers though.
In my opinion, it was a risk trying to incorporate both 2D support animation (from WAO World) and 3D (main cast of) characters (from GEMBA), but when used and utilized right, it could be something else. One thing I’ve really liked though is the dogfights, in particular the endless amount of planes’ camera motions pertaining to the pilots that the animators wanted to emphasize. It’s kinda like the modern A380 with its tail camera perching for passengers to be wowed. Not the greatest of greats, but not bad too.
OST is also decent. In fact, I had a lot of vibes from Crimson Skies (the video game) as the dogfights’ music plays throughout the series, it is damn reminiscent of it and largely captures my attention for the good and great amount of dogfights this series has to keep the action pumping between the frenemies. ZAQ’s OP is great, an atmospheric throwback to old 1930s style with its aesthetics and music, and the decent ED by the Kotobuki squad to end their missions on a good note.
But then again, my recommendation of this show can only be purged on the minority of fans who like or love the old times of sci-fi sky pirates with its full-on action-adventure modes. Wonky animation aside, this isn’t a bad show, it’s just that while there’s nothing really going for it, at the back of your minds, it will be like: “Just stick till the end of the episode.” And that is where the show’s magic happens and take hold of you, to go in deep and further.
To me, it is enjoyable, but how about you? Give this one a try, forgo all expectations, and you might like it.
For a story about aviation, I was fully prepared to be cast into a world where aircrafts is much more than just what they are. The first few episodes immediately dives into a world where we witness the technology and importance of aviation. Technology related to aeronautical practices is a common sight. This came to me as no surprise considering the anime advertised itself with many of its promotional material in such ways. What did catch me off guard and I regret to say is that the show could have been so much more.
Anime that takes on aviation as a major theme is also becoming a more popular trend in recent years. It hasn’t taken off quite yet like isekai but from this Winter season alone, we had at least two titles: Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai and Girly Air Force. However, let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai has confidence to be its own show. As an original anime, it doesn’t have to rely on manga material to be faithful or as a continuation from some prequel series. Anime like this isn’t afraid to take risks although it didn’t capitalize on its concepts. Let me just say that the first episodes themselves accomplished little more than becoming a flight simulator. Indeed, I can’t say this enough but when you have a full squad of badass girls as pilots, you know this is going to take off as a sky fueled action show. It doesn’t take long to realize how skilled the main characters are when the first episode shows their abilities to take down hordes of enemy aircrafts. War veteran Zara is the most prominent to notice for her battle experience. However, don’t count out the rest of her squad. Characters like Chika, Kate, Kylie, and Emma are not to be underestimated when they are in their cockpits. Even a little girl like Chika can be described as “dynamite come in little packages”. Throughout the series, they participate in many dogfights that first came as exciting but soon became very predictable. Let’s face it, this anime sells the Kotobuki squad as the aces in the sky. Their feats are easily noticeable for their complex aerial maneuvers. Some episodes even consists of its squad members chasing down their foes in what seems like near impossible scenarios. But if you guessed it, they make it look easy. Now I don’t want to designate the characters as “overpowered” as they certainly do find themselves struggling on occasions. Still, it’s not very fun when the whole show make others look bad after each episode. I’m not going to lie, after watching a good portion of this series convinced me that the Kotobuki squadron is like an end boss video game; only that the they are badass girls.
Overlooking the characters, I think perhaps the show holds some value when it comes to its mysterious world and technology. In fact, the aircrafts themselves makes me wonder how much potential it really has. A weapon is only powerful as its user is what I would think. While the aircrafts aren’t very high standard, they are capable of making dogfights look realistic. The pilots ride the sky and gives a feel of being right there with them in their cockpit. When an aircraft is shot and melts down, it gives the impression of life or death. Being able to depict a war-like feeling almost every episode actually makes the show exciting at times. The downside is that the whole idea can get repetitive fast. Trust me, once you’ve seen one dogfight, it feels like you’ve seen them all.
One of the more interesing aspects of the show is its economic system. This includes how mercenaries are hired such as the Kotobuki squad. Furthermore, there’s monopoly that can’t be overlooked in such an unstable world. I think for what’s worth, the anime manages to makes its world a breeding ground for conflicts. The Kotobuki squad not only have to deal with enemies in the sky but also corruption among corporations. It adds fuel to the already desolate world that makes surviving all the more difficult. Luckily for the Kotobuki members, they don’t have much trouble living their lives but you can just imagine for some of the poorer folks. The World War like atmosphere often puts less fortunate people in jeopardy when they don’t have the resources to fend for themselves. It’s a sad and grim reality.
Making an anime featuring aviation isn’t easy nor is animating aerial dogfights on a consistent basis. The strange combination of 2D and 3D art style can take a bit of time to get used to. In fact, the character models looks like something from a video game in its alpha stage. It reminds me a bit of Apreggio of Blue Steel at times only without the high level technology. When in its 2D form, character designs are pretty normal on most terms although fan service is evident on occasions. Madame Lulu, Zara, and Naomi are a few examples as the show try to make them busty. But on most occasions, the show sells its animation in the sky where the real action takes place. The dynamic quality of the framework and fluid movements (when ignoring the 3D models) makes the action look convincing. It’s just that when you see it so many times, it loses its relevance.
Honestly, this show feels like a flight simulator. The story isn’t very well written despite the immense amount of potential. Characters lack development as the show focuses way too much into the action. It almost feels like playing a video game at times like Battlefield or something when every episode just bites into the action and consumes it without stopping. My impression of the whole show didn’t change at all from the first episode to the end. There’s just so much potential in this anime that eventually became a showcase of mediocrity.
Story- fair 6: The story relies on a daily plot that were simply random.
Art- Very Good 8: The graphic and 3D images where awesome. Btw there is a one time Zara fanservice and that is all you’re gonna get.
Sound- Good 7: I have nothing to say about the characters voice , btw the score is for the sound effect of the machine guns that we hear around here.
Character- Good 7: Well girl power is all over the place in this anime, and as we see with the Kotobuki Corp, Chicka, Reona, Kyrie, Zara, and Kate each represent a certain bad ass that what a man has that them girls can also have as well.
Enjoyment- Very Good 8: Forget the story just enjoy the dog fight, cu’z is what this anime is about.
Overall- Very Good 8: It is as what my rating says, so should this have a manga version????? Well, it’s a good anime, but making it a manga, no way Jose, it’s best to leave it as an anime.
21: Strike Witches
English: Strike Witches
MAL Score: 6.98
In the year 1939, humanity was on the verge of destruction. Equipped with weapons of devastating power, a mysterious alien race, known as the Neuroi, began an invasion of the Earth, ravaging the planet, obliterating countries, and vanquishing human armies. To counter this seemingly unstoppable force, the world’s powers united. A new device was produced, called the Striker Unit, capable of facing Neuroi technology. Girls equipped with the Striker Unit became known as the Witches, forming humanity’s last line of defense. They began their fight against the Neuroi, utilizing their now-enhanced magical abilities, flaunting destructive weapons no human could manage.
Fast forward to 1944—Yoshika Miyafuji is a young teenage girl who eventually decides to join the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, known as the “Strike Witches.” With no formal training however, can Miyafuji learn to cooperate with her fellow Strike Witches? And if so, can she save humanity from the Neuroi onslaught?
Please don’t say it is bad just because you find girls in panties horrifying. I admit it is lousy for the director to claim that girls in panties = fashion in the Strike Witches’ world, but that alone is no reason to give a bad rating to an anime (if you do, I am sorry, you don’t know how to rate at all). Strike Witches is MUCH deeper than one may expect to find from a fanservice-oriented series.
–Updated on February 12, 2009–
The Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs has recently openly endorsed Strike Witches as an example of cultural excellence.
The world of Strike Witches is pretty much parallel to our world up to 1939 (before World War II). At that time, mysterious beings known as Neuroi invaded Europe. Thus rather than the real WWII, this resulted in a war between Human VS Neuroi. The story revolves around a group of girls with special magical powers that allow them to equip the “Striker Units” to combat the Neuroi. The story proceeds nicely with these magical girls fighting Neuroi, but sadly the ending seem to be a bit “wishy-washy”.
The art and animation quality is great for the most part. The battle scenes, in particular, are extremely well made. In short, we see a nice blending effects from the battle animation with the regular drama scenes. All episodes seem to have highly consistent animation and of course, the DVD includes polished artwork and fanservice.
The OP and ED are both good although not particularly outstanding and there’s a good chance you’ll forget about them after a few days. However, the melody of the songs suit the theme of the anime quite nicely. In addition, the battle themes and the Japanese version of Lili Marlene (a famous German love song that was popular during World War II) all contributed nicely to the series and are valuable assets to the show.
The production group did a nice job at introducing the main/supporting characters and then slowly further develop them. Actually, the character introductions might explain why the story started out slowly (after all there are 11 girls to talk about). If there is one thing I find the characters disappointing it is that some of the witches’ specialty were not revealed until the end (most were never mentioned).
Though I didn’t like to see girls showing off their panties the way they are done in this anime, but putting that aside, the show itself (from story to art to sound to character) is very well planned out and the fact that they include references to the real WWII is just that much more interesting to watch. (*edit* The ending was really surprising, hope you’ll enjoy the show just as much as I did)
As others have said, Strike Witches is automatically going to appeal to a certain group of people, and you probably already know who you are. Basically SW is the battle of Britain with Loli witches riding mechanical brooms fighting mysterious aliens and carrying huge guns… without pants. Yes I don’t understand the last part either. If you love cute girls in their panties and LOTS of highly detailed shots of those girls in said panties, this is definitely your show! Also judging from the amount of bath scenes there is surely to be a lot of boobs for those who watch the DVD release.
Not that any of the above really offends me, because it doesn’t. But I hate to see the story suffer because of excessive fan service, and in Strike Witches case it does. In a 12 episode series there is very little time to develop the characters and storyline, and SW wastes at least 2 full episodes catering to fan service. One episode is devoted entirely to the girls walking around without their panties on and stealing each others.
The story which started with a lot of promise really loses steam as it winds down. So much is left unexplained and the motives of the Neuroi are never explained. A very significant plot hole remains unexplained in the final story arc and it just felt like a downer when you don’t get a very satisfying conclusion.
You might think because of the above comments that I hated this show, but I really didn’t. The show does do a number of things right. First the animation is really good. The girls are really cute and I fell in love with all of them. The show does manage to develop all their personalities pretty well. There is a lot of action too, the air battles with the Neuroi are pretty fun. The OP and EN songs are pretty good but aren’t really anything special.
In the end the show was fun to watch but I am left feeling a bit let down. It just didn’t live up to the potential it had early on. Some people are going to like this show a lot though. If you’re looking for some mindless fun for several hours with the bonus of pantsu then you should check this show out.
Strike Witches is about young girls fighting faceless enemies in an alternate WWII era. Inexplicably, they sprout animal ears and tails when they use magic and pants don’t seem to exist anymore. As you can probably guess, this isn’t a show heavy in plot. What makes it relatively enjoyable is that the plot (and use that word very loosely) is often negated in favor of servicey hijinks and yuri subtext. Well, at least the show knows it’s audience.
This 1940s farce is headed by a gaggle of 16-year-old girls who look half that age, but somehow have boobs. The girls’ personalities are relegated to such archetypes as tsundere, big-boobed klutz, brat, etc. etc. They’re somewhat redeemed by being reverse-gender caricatures of famous WWII leaders. Go figure.
The art, though GONZO, is relatively subdued. It’s aesthetically pleasing outside of the Neuroi and flows smoothly. Best of all, there’s no CG glut commonly associated with anime of this studio.
The soundtrack is just a hair’s breadth above mediocre, and the OP and ED are patchwork themes in music and lyrics. Hardly inspiring.
If you like cute girls showing their panties, then I don’t see why you’d turn this down. But don’t expect anything even remotely serious from Strike Witches. It’s a 100% guilty pleasure.
Overall, Strike Witches gets a 6 out of 10.
20: Azur Lane: Bisoku Zenshin!
Japanese: アズールレーン びそくぜんしんっ!
MAL Score: 7.06
In a seemingly peaceful time without looming threats of Sirens or war, shipgirls from different nations live together in harmony. Some girls, such as the destroyers Ayanami, Javelin, Laffey, and Z23, attend school. Others immerse themselves into various other activities, including sports, foraging, training, going to formal parties, or even vying for the commander’s attention! But one thing is for certain: the girls will continue to deepen their friendship in the pleasant port of Azur Lane!
The first adaptation of Azur Lane was a disaster. Poor pacing, inconsistent animation quality, bad writing reducing a major faction (Ironblood) to a minor role…gacha adaptations aren’t known for their quality, but that didn’t stop Azur Lane from sinking in the Sea of Disappoinments. So, what does Bisoku Zenshin do to avoid the same fate?
Fluff. Loads upon loads of fluff.
Where the first adaptation struggled to find a balance between action and comedy, Bisoku Zenshin doubles down on lightheartedness. Each episode follows Starter Squad on their adventures around home port, encountering other shipgirls along the way while partaking in wholesome activities. Sleepovers, amusement parks, chocolate making, open-aired baths…there is no identity crisis to be found here, Bisoku Zenshin knows it’s Slice of Life and delivers in full. Now, does this mean that punchlines will have you laughing into next week? Probably not, but the formulaic routine is enough to keep viewers entertained without throwing them for a loop.
The production quality of Bisoku Zenshin is an interesting conundrum. Animated by the newly formed Yostar Pictures alongside CANDY BOX, Bisoku Zenshin’s animation quality can best be described as less impressive, but far more consistent than its predecessor. Warm colors, cute facial expressions, lewd close-ups…it’s about what you would expect from a Slice of Life, but a few shots (best seen through character stiches) offer a glimpse into what a more refined production pipeline could create once YP gains more experience. As it is, Bisoku Zenshin doesn’t do much to impress visually (especially with only an 8 1/2 minute runtime, 6 1/2 minutes if you exclude the ED), but avoiding the issues of its predecessor by starting from scratch and setting the bar low is a reassuring sign for the future. It’s even in the name: Bisoku Zenshin, “Slow Ahead”!
The characters of Azur Lane are its bread and butter. Where Bisoku Zenshin triumphs here is in broadly characterizing a larger amount of shipgirls than its predecssor while treating Ironblood as it is: A major faction. To put this into perspective, Niimi / Z23 was only given ~3 minutes of screentime in the original adaptation, whereas here she’s a main character. Frankly, it boggles my mind how the first adaptation failed at proper faction representation (it didn’t even include cameos from minor factions; Bisoku Zenshin does) so to see proper representation now is a relief. As for the broad characterization, it’s just that: Broad. Think of it like being introduced to some potential waifu candidates every episode, except that you actually get an idea for their personality instead of being stuck with a brooding, OOC Enterprise for 12 episodes. The character diversity each episode brings is refreshing, and it’s unlikely you’ll go through the entire cour without finding at least one shipgirl you like.
What else? Sound quality is nothing special (some cute tracks here and there; OP and ED are nothing special), voice acting is authentic (same VAs as the game), storyboards use the manga as a base and splice chapters / add new content without an issue…that’s about it. Bisoku Zenshin doesn’t stray from the pack; its key goal is fanservice above all else. Does that mean it’s bad? Far from it, especially when compared to its dumpster fire of a predecessor. It’s simply a decent, niche title that will satisfy Azur Lane’s playerbase and pull in an anime-only or two with its wholesome moments and diverse cast. What matters is that Bisoku Zenshin knows this, and that’s all it needs to stand out from the original adaptation.
When the previous main part of Azur Lane came out in late 2019, the hype was really big. After all, Azur Lane is a very successful mobile game, I mean who doesn’t want to collect all the different waifus. But the disillusionment came quickly. From the entire animation to a break of several months in between, this anime has suffered a lot of criticism. With “Bisoku Zenshin!” the studio “CANDY BOX” is trying to do everything better and they certainly succeeded in their very first main work!
The plot in “Bisoku Zenshin!” is quickly told. It’s a typical slice of life anime with a nice amount of fanservice. We experience the exciting and happy everyday life of our main characters Z23, Javelin, Laffey and Ayanami. Whether just going to a festival together or have a barbecue, there are always great moments where they can simply enjoy the day with their friends. It can be noted that they really enjoy their “time off from fighting”. After all, our girls deserve a break too!
The personalities of the characters should already be known to many viewers, here we experience their typical characteristics again. We have a Z23 that worries a little more than the others and also takes care of her friends. Javelin who is always happy, cheerful and energetic. Our sleepy Laffey is an important part as well and Anayami who sometimes checks things a little slower and gives a cloud-cuckoo-land vibe off at times. All those can be seen here and that’s how we like them. They’re natural and cute in their own way.
The animation is certainly the point that gives us the most pleasure. The quality has increased significantly compared to the previous part. The colorful everyday life of our girls is sweetened even more with maid or bunny costumes. Even the classic “onsen scenes” are shown to us as well. A successful service for us fans!
The OP “Longing for!” and also the theme music “Mahiruiro Siesta” are very happy songs that you can simply enjoy. It’s not as action-packed as the previously known “graphite / diamond”. The soundtracks are just very relaxing to listen to. The background noises and also the voices or characters are on point.
“Azur Lane: Bisoku Zenshin!” is a perfect after-work anime. With its episode length of just 9 minutes, it is also significantly shorter than the standard time of 23-24 minutes. It’s an anime to relax and enjoy. There’s no such thing as a plot that requires a lot of thought, just watch your waifu ships and enjoy the fan service! All in all, that’s the Azur Lane we want!
Let’s be honest here: it’s a gacha game where you gather shipfus and is known for having a lot of fanservice. There is some story, but it’s more like something interesting (or not) on side for most players. Slow Ahead manga, and now anime, focus on those “important” parts, which is SoL, comedy and fanservice.
Natural consequence of being a fanservice (in broader meaning, not just sexual) for players of already fanservice focused game, on top of being a short adaptation of 4-koma manga, is that it doesn’t explain anything about the world or characters. This anime is aimed at people who already know shipgirls. While I’d love it to bring more players to the game, I can’t really recommend starting with it if you had no contact with the Azur Lane universe before.
With that out of the way, what can I say about this title? For one, it’s actually good. Jokes are funny for the most part and fanservice – be it sexual or just game references – is right on spot. While it could get way more ecchi, I’m ok with the level we got served here.
I’m obviously biased, but characters are the strongest point here, as you’d expect from this kind of anime. Their design, voice acting and quirks are all good and also represent their game counterparts properly.
Art, and especially sound, aren’t anything special. Just simple and cute.
In the end, Azur Lane: Bisoku Zenshin is one of those titles that are there simply for promotion, without even trying to seem like a standalone anime. After all it is an adaptation of an official, free 4-koma manga that’s promotional/fanservice material in itself.
19: Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino
English: Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino
Japanese: ガンスリンガー ガール -IL TEATRINO-
MAL Score: 7.15
When the Social Welfare Agency investigates the disappearance of an operative, their inquiry leads them right into the lair of their rival, the Five Republics. The assassin Triela infiltrates the hostile organization, but her search is cut short when she finds herself staring down the barrel of a gun…
Story – (Great)
Basically the main story arc this time around is having the girls try to crack down on a radical terrorist organization. The story is simple enough to cause enough action, drama, and straight up melancholy sadness. Yu Aida does such a good job on the story that theres a high chance of having the viewer actually feeling sorry for some of the bad guys.
Art – (Fair)
The art is the obvious difference between the first season and second season. It’s almost feels as if a different team was hired to do the art production, and you’re 100% right. In all honesty its not the production companies fault that the quality is different. But its painfully obvious that they don’t have that 1,000,000Yen per episode backing them. The Art, for the most part does its job not wonderfully, but pretty well. They still manage to hand paint a few landscape pictures of Italy and all its landmarks, they still draw the girls as cute as hell, its all just a little less detailed and polished as before. And you won’t see any more brands (other than the guns and a Vespa) floating around. You can also tell money is a big factor in the first few episodes when you can see certain cost cutting techniques like "shaking" a still photo, or slow motion punches. But if you endure to the end you’ll manage to see the most exciting episode in the GSG series.
Sound – Fair
Sound is another thing that is a mixed bag. All the action and other sound effects fit this show perfectly fine, but the SAME music plays over and over and over again. Once in a while a new song will appear but they go back to the same 3 songs throughout the whole series. But thankfully its not too intrusive, but its noticeable. That was my only issue with the sound. Everything else was just fine.
Characters – (Very Good)
Now the characters are just as lovable as before, but it does seem like they emit a little more emotion this time around. I can buy that since they are older and (for the most part) learn things. They do look a little different but that just takes getting used to. We do learn a little more of each of the girls and even get introduced to a new character. I was spoiled with falling in love with the dubbed version of the first season, so I never got a chance to pay attention to the seiyu’s from there. But they seem to make the voices fit fine. Moe, tsundere, playful, and smart they all fit just fine in my opinion.
Enjoyment – (Good)
Overall its just like working at a big call center in America, everything is fine and smooth for the first year, and then you find out that they have to take massive cuts or send your job to India. It’s the same job but, just with less money and quality. If you can keep an open mind, you can see they do their best to follow Yu Aida’s dream. I sure hope they make Volume 6 (of the manga) into an OVA.
On that note, I found the story was more powerful, if less subtle, in this second season, and the same could be said for the characters. This season seemed to focus a bit more on Triela (which I didn’t mind, as she was my favourite character) and her personality.
What sold me the most about this series was the amount of depth they went into with Pinocchio. They spend a lot of time developing his character and his past, not to build him up as a villain, but as a person. This is what sets this show apart from the rest. Its a good part of what made great series like Monster and LotGH great, the attention to detail. Having even side characters feel like people, not just props to decorate the background or monsters to be slain.
I recommend this series for anyone who enjoys thoughtful storylines with a bit of action.
This series has a different view of story than the first. The first one was, mostly, stand alone episodes about the girls going on missions. This one has a proper story. The focus is primarily on the girls facing a small cell from a large terrorist group. The missions that the girls embark on are all connected to this small cell and three particularly skilled operatives. There are a few consequences to the change. The first is that they can build up tension a lot more effectively than the first series allowed. Another is that they have proper antagonists in this rather than just random terrorists. This enables them to explore the moral ambiguity more effectively since you acually learn what the terrorists are after and their motivations. This isn’t to say that there aren’t still problems. Flashbacks get over-used in Il Teatrino. That isn’t to say that they aren’t effective. Most of them are very good for developing the characters. The problem is that they appear in virtually every episode and take up long segments. Which is really distracting and detracts from the main storyline a bit.
The characters continue to be very well done, in fact, this season is an improvement in that regard since the antagonists get fleshed out as characters as well. The girls still have plenty of complexity, good interactions and the back stories get more fleshed out for some of them. Claes continues to be the most adorable killing machine ever. The girls having implied or stated crushes on their handlers continues to be the worst aspect. It’s understandable since they are pretty young and these are the only men they spend a lot of time with, but it still gets grating and you’d think a familial bond would be more likely to develop. Although that is arguably the case for some of them. The crush element still takes up far too much focus.
The art continues to be very well done, although not as strong in this series. The character designs are pretty much identical, and the same attention to detail went into rendering the various objects used and in the background. The problem lies in the flashbacks. Apparently, they didn’t trust the viewers to figure out which moments were flashbacks without some indication, so they made them really grainy and gray. They also use a very strange effect during the final action sequence. An effect which doesn’t contribute anything except to make the whole affair confusing to follow and kind of hard to look at. That aside, the action sequences are really good.
The voice acting is still really good, with the same exception. There are still a lot of Italian names that the actors consistently mispronounce. I’m not sure if they just didn’t bother with pronunciation guides or they decided that the correct pronunciations were too hard. Hearing Mizuno Risa sing Scarborough Fair is still amazing. One thing that is noticeable is that the actors changed between series. On the positive side, the acting team is roughly as good. The music is a bit better in this series. It was effective and well done in the first one, but this one has several moments that stand out musically while the first didn’t.
The yuri factor is a 3/10. This series has a few more scenes that read as homo-erotic than the first, but it still doesn’t have many.
My final rating for Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino is a 9/10. It’s a worthy successor to the first, and roughly equal in quality. There are some factors that don’t work as well, but there are others that are improved upon. I would certainly give this one a watch if you’re a fan of the first.
Next week, I’ll be looking at Sekirei.
18: Pumpkin Scissors
Japanese: パンプキン シザーズ
MAL Score: 7.17
Three years ago, the long war between the Royal Empire and the Republic of Frost came to an end. With both nations a long way from recovery, a passionate young woman named Alice L. Malvin leads the Pumpkin Scissors, a unit of the imperial army specializing in war relief.
During a mission to assist a village occupied by renegade soldiers, Alice meets Randal Oland, a scarred former soldier with a sordid past and kind heart. Encouraged by the efforts of the Pumpkin Scissors, he joins the team on their mission. During the assault, however, Randal enters a trance-like state prompted by a mysterious blue lantern. As a result, he acquires monstrous strength and decimates the enemy forces.
Despite having witnessed Randal’s disturbing transformation, Alice invites him to join her squandrant, confident that his gentle nature will prevail and make him a perfect fit for the Pumpkin Scissors.
Studio Gonzo have this amazing effect; I suspect they have some kind of quota system in effect. For each really good thing they put out, there seem to be a bunch of things about which you end up thinking "if only they’d just done that differently, that could’ve been so much better…". Every excellent series like Bokurano that they put out is outnumbered by flawed or downright shoddy fare like Strike Witches, Full Metal Panic and Chrno Crusade – and most often, the problem with Gonzo series is the story. Pumpkin Scissors is, sadly, not among the excellent exceptions, but part of the quota-filling compensation.
One thing that’s hard to fault Gonzo on, by and large, is their art; true to form, Pumpkin Scissors is pretty good looking generally, with its well-realised and highly atmospheric post-war setting. Animation, while not exceptional, is uniformly fluid throughout, and high in production values. Its fictional war-ravaged state very much resembles post-WWII Europe in temporal setting, appearance and level of technology, and visually, it is credible and detailed. Having a small military unit as its main cast, there’s lots of military paraphernalia around too, and mechanical design and animation is very good, appropriate to the period and highly credible. Military uniforms are also well designed and seem believable, while the ornate clothing of various nobles also seems fairly well designed, if sometimes a little risque for the women considering the setting and the series’ audience (possibly; more on this later). Character design absolutely screams Gonzo; that’s not necessarily bad, but in this case only the male lead, Cpl. Randal Oland, really stands out as memorable, visually, and that’s mostly due to his resemblance to Frankenstein’s monster.
Otherwise, characters are perfectly serviceable but by and large nothing amazing or charismatic – and that goes for both appearance and actual characterisation. The central cast are Lt. Alice Malvin, a manically enthusiastic, verbosely idealistic and stupendously irritating noblewoman who serves as Pumpkin Scissors’ officer in the field, Hunks, the terminally laid-back old guy who is her boss, the rest of the unit comprising Oreldo, a serial ladies man, Lili and Mercury, a mascot-type girl and messenger dog pairing, and Martis, a quiet, nothing sort of guy with no notable qualities other than wearing glasses without a bridge. Add the hulking yet timid and pacifistic newcomer Cpl. Oland as a main protagonist and that’s Imperial Army, State Section 3, Pumpkin Scissors Division. Except! Oland has this Special blue lantern, which is Special because it’s a relic from his Mysterious Past, and when he turns it on, he becomes nigh on invincible. Sound like a familiar idea? Certainly it does, just like all the characters, who are, frankly, a bunch of one-dimensional stereotypes who seem worn after barely an episode and barely develop across the whole series’ run.
Now, with a theme and setting like this, even bearing such characters in mind, you might expect some fairly serious, complicated, grown-up sorts of stories. You might also expect that, with 24 episodes to play with, some kind of overarching plot might develop. And you would be right – in a way. However, here, the curse of Gonzo falls on Pumpkin Scissors hardest. I am forced to wonder if, at some stage in development, the powers that be suddenly decided to dramatically decrease the age-range at which this series was aimed; out goes the violence, out goes the complexity, out goes any scope for grittiness or ambiguity in keeping with the setting, and instead, in come the stereotypes, the boundless, unceasing optimism and the chirpy ending theme. For all its laudable efforts to tell serious, grown-up stories and ask serious, grown-up questions, the series cannot help but be heavy-handedly moralistic, predictable and universally pedestrian and preachy in tone and approach. Despite being armed soldiers, and contrary to what Lt. Malvin’s incessant shortsword-waving might suggest, it’s extremely rare that any of our heroes actually hurts anyone, let alone kills them, however hard their opponent is trying to kill them; not even when seven foot Darth Maul-style swords enter the picture is anyone actually harmed. It somehow always falls on Oland and the Specialness his lantern grants him to simply soak up the damage long enough for the bad man to be arrested by everyone else, the end. Worse, every time anything like an ethical question arises, it’s always dealt with in starkly black and white terms that completely conflict with the setting; if ever there was a setting in which the morality of almost every action is shrouded in uncertainty and ambiguity, this is it. The Pumpkin Scissors unit, however, always does the right thing, and can always tell what the right thing to do is, and never, for example, has Malvin’s unyielding idealism cause something dreadful to happen. It’s spineless storytelling, the kind common in substandard things designed for kids, and the series suffers from it.
Most calamitous of all is the pacing. Episodes plod, by and large, with lots of unnecessary exposition and little by way of progression. Generally, most stories take only one or two episodes to conclude, with the effect that each fiendish, cut-and-dried plot by the evil noble to defraud the commoners out of what they rightfully deserve, essentially the thrust of all these mini-arcs, becomes the Monster Of The Week (or fortnight). It takes a long time for the main plot to develop into any more than a vague concept hanging around in the background, and development from then on is glacially slow – too slow, in fact, for it to actually come remotely close to a resolution by the end of the series. And what an end – never have I seen such an artificially stretched batch of episodes. Events that should take two episodes at best in fact take six; what occurs covers half, maybe three quarters of an hour of real time, stretches to over two hours in practice, and in the end, gives nobody any answers or resolutions anyway. No, the series carefully creates links between almost every incident Pumpkin Scissors have hitherto been involved in, weaves in an enigmatic antagonist that works behind the scenes to orchestrate these incidents – and ends. Worst of all, it does so twice; as well as not actually providing any end to the actual plot, it creates a huge anticlimax by slowly, piece by piece, revealing the truth behind Oland’s Mysterious Past, then doing virtually nothing significant with it.
Even the music is disappointing. You could have all sorts of evocative, classy music in here – some classical or classical-based pieces, maybe, or some soulful folktune-based stuff. However, most of the background music is brassy and march-like or otherwise military themed, and adopts a peculiarly stiff, simplistic flavour of waltz for scenes dealing with the nobility. The opening theme is brash and not much cop, and the ending theme is completely inappropriate in its hyper, overhappy energy and nonsense lyrics.
So yes, this is one of Gonzo’s lamentable also-rans. It’s not impossible to enjoy, provided you expect little of it, but I’d find it very hard to want to watch any of it again. The fact of the matter is, you just can’t help but think of Pumpkin Scissors as something that might have been so much better, if only… If only they’d decided whether this was for kids or for adults… If only they’d finished the storyline… If only the relentless optimism didn’t grate so much against the setting… If only it had left some room for ethical ambiguity… If only it had somehow managed to dig up some characters with charisma and some motivations that worked in more than one dimension… If only it didn’t wait until the tenth episode before it explained its amazingly contrived and silly name… If only…
The story takes place in a parallel earth that looks like Europe in the 20s and 30s. A cease fire has ended between Royal Empire and the Republic of Frost. Three years later the Empire is still plagued by problems from the war, soldiers becoming mercanieries, starvation, and disease. To help solve the problems the Empire sets up Imperial Army Section III nicknamed Pumpkin Scissors. Led by 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin and a special forces soldier Randel Oland set out to change the empire.
Almost everything about this anime was great. The story wasn’t original, but had a good twist to the usual stuff. The characters were interesting. The animation was done by Gonzo, and was great. The music was ok. Now you’re asking why if I thought it was great, why did I just give it 7. That’s because it’s story was to broad and ended to soon. It was a 24 episode anime, but the story could have covered 48 episodes. The story was really open ended even for anime, the characters had some developments, but should have gone deeper. I am really hopping there will be another season.
17: Rewrite 2nd Season
English: Rewrite: Moon and Terra
Japanese: Rewrite 2ndシーズン
MAL Score: 7.22
The second season of the Rewrite series which adapts Moon and Terra routes.
This series starts where the first one left off and continues to follow Kotarou after the events at the end of the first season. The second season is, by far, much better than the first, but you need to watch the first to get the context of the second. The first slightly gave off a “harem” vibe to it, but it actually wasn’t one. I can totally see why people wouldn’t like it. However, the second focuses more on the relationship between Kotarou, Kagari, and an entirely new set of mains other than those two. I won’t spoil any of the new details, but the series follows a much older kotarou and also gets pretty realistic and dark. Also, I laughed pretty damn hard when it suddenly became “James Bond” the anime. The ending was pretty touching, but it felt super rushed.
(Summary at the end)
Rewrite S2 is an anime that takes you on a journey with Kotarou. The story follows Kotarou as he makes some hard “main protagonist” decisions, grows closer to Kagari, and lives a new life after the world ends in season one. Some of the most important and enjoyable aspects of the season were his relationship with Kagari in an world with only the two of them, the philosophical discussion of existence, and his compassion towards various children with sad circumstances. The story actually draws you in if you can empathize with his back story. In this season, he’s loner and outcast who has the power to control his blood and he slays random small monsters as a kid while calling himself a “hero” or something similar. He eventually makes the hard decision to leave home and set out on a journey to become stronger and faces many tragedies in various war zones, which causes him to mature into James Bond triple solo agent of sorts (watch the anime to see what I mean by that).
The story itself was actually great, but a different studio probably could have presented it better. I think the pacing was kind of weird and some things could have been examined further. It occasionally felt like they were rushing through some scenes.
Additionally, I’m often told that the visual novel is much better, and I believe the people who told me that. However, having not played the game, I feel that this series is definitely not a “bad” anime. It’s been awhile since an anime has taken me on a journey with a main protagonist as he makes decisions that could have an impact on the entire world’s future. The story itself was great and well thought out, but the presentation could have been much better.
The art is both good AND bad at the same time. The background art and effects are pretty high quality, but the 3DCG monsters did not blend at all. The action was “meh”. Sometimes the animation felt really awkward, but there were also certain scenes that felt magical and eye-catching to me. Other times it felt like a low budget studio’s anime. Mixed feelings about the art. Same as season one.
The OST in this series is great and there are quite a few that I could listen to outside of this anime. The opening theme fit, but it wasn’t anything too special. However, the ending theme was actually relatively stunning. It reminded me of a music video that tells a story.
I also enjoyed Kotarou’s voice because it sounded pleasing to the ears and almost poetic. The characters were all voiced pretty well in general, and all of the background noises/sounds fit as well.
The characters weren’t particularly unique. The characters all seemed pretty archetypal, except for Kagari, who was my favorite from this series. I would actually say that the characters in the series received a really large amount of development. From season one to season two, you could really get a sense of the personalities of the characters as they slowly introduced the new characters.
While the characters themselves were’t especially unique, the amount of development that they received helped create a truly unique experience in this anime. I think the character development was spectacular and is one of this series’ more defining traits; especially the development of Kotarou. The amount of development in this series allowed me to bump the character section from a six to a seven.
I thought this series was actually really enjoyable, so I was pretty shocked to see that so many people didn’t enjoy the series as much as I had. There really aren’t any other stories out there like this and if the 3DCG blended better, this could’ve been something even more interesting.
This series was definitely something worth watching. I don’t regret watching it at all. We see Kotarou in a new setting, in a different age group, growing closer to Kagari, and becoming James Bond. He’s mainly a lone wolf in this season and the story is unlike any anime that I’ve watched before.
Would I recommend this to you:
Well, it’s really not for everybody but if you saw season one, you might as well see it through to the end. Otherwise, I think this appeals mostly to sci-fi, harem, romance, shounen lovers. It also has a small amount of philosophical concepts in it, if that’s your kinky turn on.
Story: To summarize, Rewrite follows the story of Tennouji Koutarou and his quest to save the earth by aiding the Key, named Kagari, in her quest to understand humanity and save the world from its attempt at restarting itself. While doing this, Koutarou must fight the two factions known as Guardian and Gaia from ‘saving humanity’, which their methods entail destroying the Key and destroying the world respectively.
Rewrite is a very dense visual novel. Featuring 9 different routes, each of which hold a fraction of the overall story, it’s no wonder where the problems of the series lie when trying to adapt roughly 100 hours of gameplay and textboxes in a grand total of 24 episodes over the course of two seasons. Focusing exclusively on the last two routes of the game, Moon and Terra, this season of Rewrite fixes a large portion of the problems the first season had, but also has similar pitfalls and wavers in quality in different ways.
As far as content goes, Key’s doing what Key does best, and that’s romantic visual novels that have a story pertaining to one individual learning about the world/themselves, usually with magic involved, while providing an overarching lesson to the player for them to think about once they’re done with the game. Contrary to the first season, Moon/Terra feel a lot more concise and focused because it didn’t have to do the background work that its predecessor had to fulfill. The entire runtime focuses solely on Koutarou and his growth on what he’s trying to do in order to save the world, and while it does get a little messy at times, is something that’s much better written than anything it was before. The plot gets a lot more serious, a lot of the pieces start falling into place better, and it’s just overall a better story. That however doesn’t say very much because being better in context to its previous season isn’t a very high mark to surpass.
The biggest problem that stands out to me for Moon and Terra at the beginning is context and continuity. The anime thrusts the viewer in an unfamiliar scene and setting that, when continuing on from season 1, doesn’t really click right away. Indeed, the series is beginning a new route, and thus a new story, but from the perspective of someone who hasn’t played the visual novel and is going into the new season blind, this break in continuity hurts more than helps.
Another thing that doesn’t help is pacing. Dense content, small time frame, pacing issues ensue. A lot of what this season is about is both personal and public conflict from either Koutarou or the rivaling factions. But due to how much conflict they need to show in order to get to the end properly, a lot of it feels meaningless. A character you learn/get to know about may be introduced in one episode then offed the next. There may be a dramatic showdown between two characters that have history with one another that ends in a flash before moving onto the next scene. The lack of proper pacing doesn’t give the viewer time to let a person’s death or a tragic event sink in, and that creates a lot less value in whatever trials may ensue. This problem plagues the whole show, and is even more so shown in the end of the series once again where it’s clear that they were trying to show end by making scene after scene go by at a snap’s notice.
Overall, Rewrite’s story is another case of an adaptation that bit off more than it could chew. The sheer amount of content that needed to be told in such a small time frame muddled the story’s philosophies about humanity and our place in this world and cut away a large majority of the story without much return. I really saw the potential for redemption in this second season, but there honestly isn’t much I can say when it’s clear that what was shown was only a fraction of the whole story.
+ Interesting story/philosophies
– Hard break from the end of S1
– Some of the worst pacing I’ve seen (even by 8bit standards)
– Still difficult to understand for those who haven’t played the visual novel
Characters: Characters take a dramatic shift in Moon/Terra. They take such a dramatic shift that it makes my job a lot easier since because everyone but the MC is a side character.
Tennouji Koutarou. The player character. The MC. The arbiter of the world who has lived through 9 different routes. Koutarou’s character is the defining trait of Moon/Terra. Rather than focusing on the individual girls and largely the conflict between Guardian and Gaia, Koutarou takes up almost all of the series’s runtime due to the sole fact that the entire series is told through internal monologue. We understand a lot more about Koutarou’s thoughts and understand his actions a little more by hearing how he thinks, and this dramatic change in how the series writes itself in turn makes his struggle and his motivation a lot more personal and in-depth. However, he still suffers the same pitfalls as the story. Due to his character being so dense, the pacing made him feel incomplete, as a large portion of his decisions at the end of the series could come up to question. He’s better, but there’s still something missing. And the explanation as to why his powers work they way they do still aren’t explained. Koutarou has definitely improved, but he’s still far from being the complete character that he should be.
The rest of the cast, yes, the literal rest of the characters are all side characters that serve as wrenches to Koutarou’s plans, characters who help influence Koutarou, or those who’ve watched the previous season will become familiar with. As far as they’re concerned, they only help to move the story along. They’re no longer a part of the main cast and have no real weight in the situation aside from being the puppeteers who help dictate what Koutarou will do in any given situation. They help shape the story, and that’s a role they do very well. Beyond that however leaves a lot to be desired.
+/- Koutarou is a lot better of a character (though not as good as he probably should be.)
+/- Side cast isn’t impactful character-wise, but impactful story-wise
Art: 8bit comes again and mimics the Key style very well. Using the same style that they did in the first season, Rewrite comes back with a mix of Key’s normal style with a touch of CGI in order to make those monsters feel like they seriously don’t belong in this series.
Art looks like Key’s, CGI is still kinda jarring to look at, animation for the fight scenes are semi-fluid, and the quality is standard fare. Nothing really spectacular, but nothing that looks terrible either.
+/- Decent art
– Stop using CGI. It looks awful.
Sound: While Key works usually have great, memorable OSTs to coincide with their works, Rewrite doesn’t really have the same feel. Admittedly the tracks aren’t pushovers, and Terra’s OP in particular has the sense of urgency that coincides with Koutarou’s journey to try and fulfill his duty. They’re just not anything that I would regard as a memorable track that I could listen to on repeat.
Personal Enjoyment: I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to read or know about the source material before watching an adaptation. An adaptation should be able to stand on its own merits, and should instead be another medium that you can watch the story through. As someone who went into Rewrite’s adaptation blind, I can safely say that I have no idea what the fuck is going on. I had to do my own research of the story in order to get any handle as to what in god’s name I was watching, and doing that entails that the adaptation didn’t adapt the source material correctly, and in my eyes, is considered as a failed adaptation.
Did I like this anime?
I didn’t like it. While I admit the content was good and Key’s adaptations are things that I’m a fan of, its piss poor pacing ruined any form of enjoyment that I may have had from this anime.
What didn’t I like about it?
Pacing. Damn you pacing! Aside from that, I’m not really a big fan of Gaia’s ultimate plan because it really doesn’t make any sense. Saving the world by offing humanity, and there are many, MANY people who are ok with that concept/idea. That doesn’t really make sense to me.
Would I recommend this anime?
Honestly, I can’t see myself recommending this to people, even if they’ve played the visual novel. The pacing screws up a lot of its content that I honestly feel like the show could use more than a few passes on how the story should be executed. It may be a joke that Rewrite needs a rewrite, but there are so many problems with it that it honestly could really use one.
The story revolves around Kotarou as he learns how to utilize his rewrite power more effectively while also working with the Key, Kagari, to try and prevent the world from being destroyed. He does this while being apart of both Guardian and Gaia throughout the episodes. I should mention that the battles at the end were kind of a let down. The ending (spoiler) still has the world being destroyed like season 1, but the final battles are not as good; almost all of the action is cut out and all but one or two fights don’t even show Kotarou dealing the final blow.
The art is about the same as the first season, maybe a little better. I like the backgrounds and I didn’t find any major design flaws besides the fact that most of the monsters still seem to be animated using 3d cgi.
The sound is still good within the show as well, but it’s not really memorable.
The only characters that get more development here are Kotarou, Kagari, and Kotori. Every other character from the main crowd in season 1 is only shown like 2-3 times at max for minor things. They are first shown through flashbacks and later just as young kids.
I enjoyed this season though, despite the flaws. I think the ending fight wasn’t as good/well done, the sound and art didn’t improve much, but every other aspect seemed better. I don’t think the show averages out to be more than a 7/10 still, even though a few of the areas improved. There’s still some things that could’ve been added and if they were it would’ve been an 8/10 for me, like actually showing the final blow being dealt in one of the final fights in episode 11 (you’ll know what fight I mean if you watch the episode), since there was enough build up for it and it just fell flat. I’d say give it a shot despite its shortcoming, but don’t expect it be any more than just good.
16: God Eater
English: God Eater
Japanese: GOD EATER
MAL Score: 7.25
The year is 2071. Humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction following the emergence of man-eating monsters called “Aragami” that boast an immunity to conventional weaponry. They ravaged the land, consuming almost everything in their path and leaving nothing in their wake. To combat them, an organization named Fenrir was formed as a last-ditch effort to save humanity through the use of “God Eaters”—special humans infused with Oracle cells, allowing them to wield the God Arc, the only known weapon capable of killing an Aragami. One such God Eater is Lenka Utsugi, a New-Type whose God Arc takes the form of both blade and gun.
Now, as one of Fenrir’s greatest weapons, Lenka must master his God Arc if he is to fulfill his desire of wiping out the Aragami once and for all. The monsters continue to be born en masse while the remnants of humanity struggle to survive the night. Only God Eaters stand between the Aragami and complete and total annihilation of the human race.
Story (5/10) – The story honestly wasn’t that special. It isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, just your standard monster apocalypse type fair. It didn’t fail particularly at anything, but didn’t do anything exceptional either; it just served as a familiar spring board for the viewer to get into the action. I did really appreciate all the flashback scenes and explanations how how this all came about and the description of the monsters (Aragami?). It is something this show actually did really well that many other apocalypse shows either ignore or stumble on inelegantly. It almost makes me want to bump up the story score… almost. There is one minor quibble I have in the 2nd last episode about Alisa, but the action pulls you along quickly enough that I could ignore it and continue to enjoy the show.
Art (10/10) – Hoooooooolllyyyyy shit… is quite frankly the only way I can truly express how ridiculously beautiful the art and animation is for God Eater. Outside of a few hiccups that are fixed in the blu-rays, the visuals are just absolutely stunning, as is to be expected from Studio Ufotable. The lighting, the particle/water effects, the characters, the monsters, just absolutely top notch work. This is the kind of stuff you expect to see out of a movie budget. Everything was fluid and distinct, even in busy light-show scenes, and the animation really managed to bring things to life. It made horrifying scenes all the more horrifying and pleasant scenes absolutely delightful.
Sound (10/10) – Another stand-out category for this show. The OP is great and gets you super pumped, the ED is fantastic closure, and the insert songs in this show were just on a whole other level. “Human After All” might be one of my favourite all time insert songs, and I look forward to the OST release with great enthusiasm. The Foley in this show was also pretty top notch as well, with just fantastic sound effects permeating every scene without overbearing the voice work, which itself was also exceptional. Really, really top notch sound work. An absolute joy to listen to.
Characters (6/10) – Most of the characters, like the story, are kind of your standard archetypes. You have the strong-silent Soma, the impulsive and heroic Lenka, the psychologically traumatized girl that tries to hide her emotions, etc. Part of the problem this show had is that a lot of the character development came in the latter half of the show, with one notable exception. So you spent a good 1/2 of the show just thinking everyone is a stoic champion cut-out. By the time all the character complexity came up, you were nearly at the climax already. If it wasn’t for this fact, I could have easily given it a higher score, as the characters themselves are quite interesting. That being said, there are a couple stand out character moments in the show. I won’t spoil them here as they are important to the story, but they are moments where the character development is leagues above what you’d expect from it, moments that earnestly brought tears to my eyes, so that raises the score a bit.
Enjoyment (9/10) – This is a hard one because early on (the first 3-4 episodes) the show wasn’t very engaging. It was just kind of laying the world-building ground work and introducing a large cast. Once it hit episodes 4/5 though, it really took off at a frantic pace that didn’t stop right up until the end. Thankfully the gamble paid off and the latter 2/3 of the show became very, very enjoyable for me. Despite all the archetypal characters and standard storyline, the direction was solid enough that it was still very fun to watch, and obviously the top tier animation/music helped prop it up a little bit as well. Nonetheless, it was a quite fun bombastic action series with the occasional fantastic character scene. I also have to give credit to the show for going darker and grittier and punishing characters for their mistakes. Yeah, there was still plot armour, but the characters still suffered when they fucked up, and they suffered badly (I wish I could bold/italicize “badly” here, some of it it was frankly horrifying). It really gave a lot more weight to their actions and made such a standard apocalyptic story more easy to suspend disbelief for and pull you in.
Overall score: 8/10
God Eater is a really interesting show. It face a lot of hurdles throughout its run from the production delays attempting a whole new and beautiful animation style. This probably lost a lot of viewers and quite frankly hurt the show rather badly due to the fact that some of its best work was presented in the remaining 4 episodes a full season after the original run began. It also has some problems with its story/characters. It is an adaptation of a game with a self-insert protagonist you play with zero background story, so expecting miracles from the story and characters isn’t going to serve you well. Honestly though, they did a fairly good job coming up with a proper background story for Lenka, one with meaning behind it. It is worth a watch, if for nothing else other than the breathtaking animation and spine-tingling music. The characters eventually do become interesting by the end, and it really lifts the show out of how mediocre it could have been and breathes life into the story. If you want a super deep story and unique, multifaceted characters, God Eater wont be your thing, but if you just want a dark and gritty action show romp with best-in-industry aesthetics and the occasional heartfelt moment, then God Eater will be right up your alley. If you do give it a shot, I really suggest sticking around until at least episode 5 before deciding on whether or not to keep going.
At this point in time, I think most people have blissfully forgotten about God Eater, so I’m going to dig this rotting corpse up out of its shallow grave and run it over with a dumptruck again.
You tell me what’s worse: a ripoff of an classic, or a ripoff of an extremely successful ripoff of an old classic?
I’ll tell you what’s worst still: a terrible ripoff of a ripoff of an old classic that shamelessly TRIES to be something new, but sticks to the conventions of its hack fraud origins, to its own failure.
That’s what we call God Eater.
Seriously, this show is so bad that they halted it halfway through its run due to internal issues and poor reception- the rest aired more than 6 months later to a quiet death. I doubt anyone watched it then, either. Maybe besides me.
Artwork and Animation: 7
I think most people (myself included) started this show because of interest in the company that produced it: ufotable. They’re pretty well synonymous with “maximal animation budget”, but Fate this is not.
I do have to hand it to them for being different though. The art style looks like oil on canvas, then on top of very stylized and crisp backgrounds. Kind of like David Production’s Jojo, but less comic book-like. A lot of people were expecting a Fate UBW level/ultrarealism looking, and were disappointed, but I was impressed with their choice to do something different.
However… this is the only strength of the show.
Sound and Voice Acting: 1
These cast members should be straight ashamed of themselves. Talk about phoning it in… this is a Central Park Media level BAD performance. Ultra generic angsty teen yelling and the absolute most bored sounding adults permeate this trash. In fact, it would have been better as a silent series, because then I wouldn’t feel like my ear drums were being put into a wood chipper. Either that, or just play the Benny Hill Theme throughout the entire show, to accentuate how stupid it is.
Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can tell you that God Eater is copying Attack On Titan. If I tell you “humanity lives inside a city with very tall walls, and are constantly under attack by monsters. They’re defended by a group of people who aren’t equipped to fight this massive threat. They suffer loss after loss, a lot of people die, and it seems hopeless, until a hero with new powers emerges and is able to fight back.”
What do you immediately think of?
Now that the show is actually complete- here’s what happens:
Nothing. It’s nothing a but a mindless action vomit featuring overpowered, but conveniently weak at inopportune moments characters falling into the same traps every single episode. The “story” just serves as an excuse to put tits and teen angst on display with comically superpowered characters.This is undiluted, brainless schlock and nothing more.
Standard issue whiny, angst ridden, shonen protag and oversexualized Female companion who suffers mental breakdowns for half the show and turns into a sniveling pile of useless crap, and should have just died, but alas, twas not to be.
The supporting cast is a ragtag group of apathetic losers. One super cool dude who smokes in every scene, because he has to show you how little he cares by smoking all the time, as everyone knows smoker characters are apathetic edgemasters. One is a “dark mysterious edgy past” character, and the other is total yawner of a woman, not even interesting enough for me to make a description of how boring she is.
Enjoyment and Overall: 3
Since I gave the story a -10, the actual score is 0.6. Scoring it as low as possible with a 1 gives me a rating of 3.
This show was actively offensive on many levels. The one scene I can clearly recall from the show, as I’ve scrubbed the rest of them from my memory, went like this:
Protag and useless blubbering female go running around in circles trying to evade the monsters after they lose their weapons, since the chick decided to break down in the middle of a fight and refuse to keep living (should have left her to get eaten, tbh.). They are shown in a montage literally running up and down hills and around buildings, with this ultra dramatic music in the background. It was the most cringeworthy thing I have seen in a long time, and the only reason why anything about this show was memorable, just for how bad this was.
I would encourage everyone who knows what I’m talking about to go back and mute the episode at that point, then play the Benny Hill theme on top of it and tell me it doesn’t match up perfectly.
For those who’d argue about my claim of Attack on Titan coming first:
It’s debatable which actually came first, God Eater Burst, the video game on which this anime was based, or Attack on Titan, as both came out at around the same time. AOT premiered in September of 2009, and God Eater Burst appeared in February of 2010. Naturally, games have development periods of generally at least a year, but novels and series have to have time to be written as well.
But, we’re going to call this anime a rip, because AOT came out 3 years ago, and this is 2016, Bob Saget!
As always, come rage at me, or leave nice comments. I don’t care.
Based on a video game, God Eater strikes to me as a peculiar series that really needed to hook the audience. The type of hook should be something that would keep the audience at the edge of their seat. But what does it really accomplish? A rather messy start that doesn’t exactly leave strong impressions. In essence, God Eater (based on the game, God Eater Burst) is more about the action and less about constructive storytelling on most parts.
Consisting of 13 episodes, the series seemingly has promise in the beginning. Despite not being very original in its premise, it still has a way to be unique. In the beginning, we have Utsugi Lenka, a man who is part of the Fenrir, a group dedicated to fighting the Aragami. Among his group, there are also others with reasons to fight beyond just survival. Furthermore, the show makes it clear that in order to fight against Aragami, they would need special weapons. As such, God Arcs are created that are made from the cells of the Aragami. They are weapons, each unique in design and powers, to fight against them. Basically, this sets the story in motion with the war between humans and Aragami.
Now, God Eater’s characters are somewhat diverse. We got guys like Lindow who has leadership skills, Alisha with her repulsive yet secluded nature, the brains of the team like Sakuya, or powerhouse fighter Souma Schickal. Whatever the case, the main characters are all banded together with a common purpose – to destroy the Aragami. What some people may not realize is why they are fighting until the story unravels more about more about their past. And to be quite honest, it’s not really that special to look at. Or rather, it’s tragic with cases like Lenka and Alisha. So much so, the show often highlights their emotions on the battlefield when confronted with Aragami. Does this type of storytelling really work? In some ways yes, but other ways feels less welcoming. It also gives a very Attack on Titanish feel if you make a parallel comparison. But God Eater isn’t Attack on Titan. It’s more about surviving because the Aragami has already destroyed much of the world.
I have not played the original game before but the story to me feels flat. Yes, it does have some nice buildup but the pacing itself feels strange. The Aragami are also too one dimensional as antagonists with lack of characterization. The main characters and their relationships are hardly worth noteworthy either. Lenka is the type of guy that seems to do what he wants even if it puts himself or others at risk. The first few episodes establishes this when he nearly gets himself killed. Throughout the show, Lenka forges some relationships with others but most of them seems to go nowhere. His relationship with Alisha seems rocky while on a professional level, Sakuya and Lindow seems to see him more like a rookie. His relationship with others does improve a bit later though. In the meantime, the series also makes it clear that there’s no room for lighthearted episodes. It’s filled with utter despair and as such, expect more of emotional drama more than anything else. Romance isn’t something that will ever bloom either considering circumstances in their world. Instead, it feels like the main cast are more like an awkward family that slowly and slowly feels a connection with one another.
Despite the generic storytelling, God Eater does a decent job to make sure crucial plot holes are filled. These include the essence of the Aragami, the experimental plans from behind the scenes, or character pasts that shapes who they are in the present. Furthermore, the show has some pretty neat action combined with a stellar soundtrack. It makes the show feel credible when we see how they fight the Aragami in this apocalyptic world, a place that seems to be almost extinct of life. The world fiction in God Eater may also not feel very intriguing but it stays true to the premise, being that it’s desolate and easily gives the feel of a moody story.
The technical art style of God Eater is very ufotable-like with their style. Most of the character designs and Aragami are crafted with CGI animation. In addition, the action is fused with a lot of violence to illustrate the dark horrors of their world. However, I do have to say that it’s easy to get used to. Furthermore, the God Arcs has a distinctive look that makes them look diverse. In essence, artwork for God Eater has an intense feel to it.
Soundtrack is even more intense once you get attached to the style of this God Eater adaptation. Theme song performances has a variety of style that blends between moody, charismatic, and intensified by the action. Furthermore, I think the character voice mannerism deserves some praise especially with how they adapt with such a tragic world. In retrospect, characters shows the desire of their fighting spirit through their voice mannerism in the face of danger. Or at times, there’s also fear that is expressed by the talent of the voices.
God Eater is really a hit or miss show. It starts off with the tragic feeling of a dark story, transits into the fight for survival, and then littered with emotions. The show capitalizes on creating a tragic feel by background storytelling and some characterization. But for all it’s worth, the show itself feels more like a game rather than anime. The action, while stellar, is mere popcorn entertainment. Furthermore, the series constructs its story with weird pacing. So in retrospect, take the show as a grain of salt for what it is. Because in the end, God Eater isn’t that special.
15: Strike Witches 2
English: Strike Witches 2
Japanese: ストライクウィッチーズ 2
MAL Score: 7.31
Six months have passed since the victorious Battle of Britannia and the reclamation of Gallia from Neuroi invaders. Yoshika Miyafuji, member of the famed 501st Joint Fighter Wing, has come back home to Fuso and graduated from middle school.
However, her fight is far from over. She receives a letter supposedly sent by her long-deceased father, containing blueprints of a state-of-the-art Striker Unit he had been working on before his death. The Unit, designed specifically for Yoshika, might be capable of harnessing her extraordinary magical powers.
Meanwhile, a new threat in Europe is rising. A Neuroi nest of an unprecedented size and might has appeared over Venezia, wiping out local Witch forces and instantly swallowing the northern part of the country. To make matters worse, a newly spotted humanoid type of Neuroi is attempting to come into contact with humans.
Yoshika, incapable of abandoning her friends on the front lines, must once again venture to the war-torn continent.
Much like the original, Strike Witches 2 features a plot you could have written out on a cocktail napkin. The fight against the Neuroi continues, this time moving on to Romagna, which is the real world analog of Italy. The girls of the 501st Fighter wing are reformed to battle the Neuroi presence. Happily, especially early in the series the action is really ramped up. But what is likely to disappoint is the lack of any development of the enemy. None of the important events of the first series were carried over and the Neuroi returned to being a faceless and unthinking enemy. I was also disappointed that nothing new was explained about the disappearance of Miyafugi’s father. The series does climax with an epic battle, culminating with the use of a special magical attack that is pretty much the only reoccurring plot element over the course of the show.
Despite the lack of any substantive plot however, the series does shine over each episode. Instead of a story, the episodes focus on building the characters of our various heroines. New witches are brought into the fold, the most interesting being Barkhorn’s countryman and rival Mariselle. The episodes range from being the usual comedic silliness to light drama and quite a bit more yuri undertones than in the previous series. As expected the ecchi content is extremely high, so if that annoys you then this really isn’t your show. Much like the first season, the forthcoming DVDs will be featuring a bounty of boobs and booty, unblocked by the TV versions convenient sunbeams and steam clouds. Though as pervy as it is, for me it seemed much less exploitive and in your face as it did previously. So those who might be on the fence might be relieved to know that the series doesn’t revolve around seeing some underage girls panties, you just happened to see them a lot.
As with the original, SW2 features its unique mix of World War 2 history with all of the magic and witchcraft. Fans of military history will be delighted to see the attention to detail paid to the designs of all the various nations’ naval ships and right down to the aviation correlations with the witches Striker Units and the weapons they carry into battle. I am by no means an authority but I can tell the amount of research and attention to detail the production staff went to in order to have each of the girls use nation specific weaponry and unit names.
Because of the weakness of the main story, what really carries the series is its wonderful cast. While the cast is quite large and it’s really impossible to do justice to all of the girls, SW2 does a pretty good job at trying. Obviously you will get far more out of this series if you already have the familiarity with them that comes with seeing the first season. For the most part each girl or pairing gets their own episode to build on their characters. I found some characters that I didn’t particularly care for previously, such as Perrine, were much more fun and likable this time around. Though others like Lucchini remained annoying. As I mentioned earlier, more time was spent developing some yuri relationships between several of the characters. Though it’s nothing particularly significant, fans of that sort of thing are sure to be pleased.
Visually the art and animation is quite stunning. For me other than the pure fun I had watching it this was the best element of series. The girls are extremely cute and appealing and since we see so much of them in their birthday suits they are also realistically proportioned. The series combat scenes are exciting and chalk full of a combination of conventional battle and magical effects. The detail of the various backgrounds which feature many famous Italian landmarks and the countryside. Everything from the naval and military forces down to the ammo clips on the weapons has a very authentic feel to them.
The music really sets the tone for each episode. The upbeat OP performed by Youko Ishida pumped me up for the fun that proceeded after. The ED theme is similarly enthusiastic and changes up week by week as it is performed by different members of the cast. The background music also enhances the series many battle scenes. The seiyuu cast is strong and full of many of the industry’s top talents.
I loved this series enormously and I am going to be very sad to see it go away. Despite all the things about this show that should make every ounce of my feminist being burst into flames, Strike Witches was just really fun. Everything it lacks in substance (and clothing) is more than made up in sheer entertainment value. Turn off your brain and smile a little and I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Much like the prequel the plot is really weak, we start off with the Strike Witches reforming after they disbanded at the end of the original series and through-out a number of the episodes nothing really develops, the Strike Witches would usually go on a little adventure and then go and defeat the Neuroi of the week. However just because an anime series doesn’t have a strong plot doesn’t mean it’s bad, in fact it is quite the contrary. There are a number of great series out there with a weak or non-existing plot and this is one of them.
Every episode the Strike Witches would have it’s own story which usually revolved around 1 or 2 certain characters. Every episode contained a different mood, it was always fun to watch and as bonus had some pantie shots (and a lot of ecchi too). There was a little bit yuri too (which I personally liked).
The characters, were amazing and more than made up for the weak plot. Since every episode would develop a different character (or different characters) you really feel for each of them. This entire series is carried by the lovable cast who are each very unique.
The art and animation was done really well. The battle scenes looked smooth and really detailed, the background was nicer this time around too. I really don’t have much to say about this part other than AIC did a really good job.
The sound is pretty nice too with a catchy tune and a different character singing the ending song every week. The voice actors were good too, the voices fit each of their characters quite well.
In the end Strike Witches 2 was one of my favorites if not favorite series of the season. It’s really sad that this series has come to an end but for the 100th anime series I’ve completed, I’m glad it was the memorable and very enjoyable Strike Witches 2. Thanks for reading.
Just to get us back in the groove, we are re-introduced as the war with the Neuroi takes a twist for the worse. Kicking off, we get straight to reassembling the team that led the fight starting with our friend to all living creatures protagonist and her mentor figure. But this is where the story lapses back to its slice of life mode and parallels the first season in how the story is presented. Its not saying that its bad, but the excitement built up is washed away, only to be replaced by the excitement you get for indulging in such a guilty pleasure. Thankfully, the series kicks back in to high gear once the pleasantries disperse. Its a great ride with a conclusive ending and there isn’t much more satisfying than that.
Fanservice and the blatant lighting effects involved aside, the art is well done. Given that in-flight witches are sometimes rendered in 3-D, we are treated to more dogfights, and more action with little decrease in quality but say hello to uncanny valley. At least this time, there aren’t any more plastic landscapes. Equipment is still as detailed as ever while the landscape looks as picturesque as could be, especially Rome (and I’ve been to Rome).
The sound holds up especially well, with the sound effects matching up well to the equipment used. However, it is once again, the soundtrack that does the score justice. It goes well with the scenes despite being a bit more prominent and adds to the series. In fact, there was this one track which serves as a prelude to an epic battle that should really have been named “Play this song and you will kick arse” and that serves as a triumphant example of what a soundtrack should do (in my opinion).
It is still more or less the same cast of characters so I was relieved when they were able to draw out more characterisation, how very little of it was left. Passable, and at least the side characters get some of their own little moments as well.
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Strike Witches, guilty pleasure that it is, especially the Roman Holiday episode. Even if the plot is an excuse to see girls with a lack of pants fight aerial battles over the scenic Adriatic Sea, I find it hard to dislike. If you liked the first season, the second gives you more. And for those pining at the formal dissolution of the 501st, fear not, I suspect the 504th will pick up the sword and continue the fight.
14: Hisone to Maso-tan
English: Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan
MAL Score: 7.33
Seeking to find purpose in her life, Hisone Amakasu enlists in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and is stationed at Gifu Airbase. During a visit to a part of the base she did not know existed, she stumbles upon the JASDF’s largest secret: the Organic Transformed Flyer (OTF), a dragon that has the ability to camouflage itself as an aircraft. After being swallowed up and spit out by the OTF, her commanding officers inform her that this encounter means that she has been chosen to be the next in a long line of Dragon Pilots.
Together with her fellow pilot cadets and “Maso-tan,” her own OTF, Hisone must overcome her insecurities in order to discover her true potential as a Dragon Pilot and unravel the secrets behind the OTFs.
Yes, I think it’s pretty obvious that this anime tries to be a character driven show. The military setting is a personal favorite of mine because the setup allows for a cast of characters of various importance and personality to interact in a way that might not seem natural in any other story. Maybe it’s the way the military is almost like a workplace, with its rigidness countered by the personalities of the cast that makes it so endearing to me. Bonding over alcohol, hard work, silly antics, and drama these are all things I can expect from a good military/unit/team-based anime. And, let me be clear, we do get some downtime. However, it is only included as part of the bigger picture, and never seems to exist for its own sake.
This lack of organic interaction mixes poorly with characters who feel inadequate. We never get to know these people, and it’s weird because it isn’t as if the cast is so huge that they ran out of run-time to try and expose us to them. Amakasu’s personality gimmick can barely sustain itself throughout the series, and we end up with another character having to remind us that it was something that defined her. And maybe it is the reliance on these gimmicks, which masquerade as depth, that makes the characters so hollow. I will give credit to the staff in that they clearly engineered each female character to be immediately ‘relatable’ in an obvious way. They’re not written in the way most anime fans are used to seeing female gimmick characters, so it makes sense that it would trick people. But these ladies are still pretty boring, it’s only that a female audience might actually like them (and as far as I can tell they do). But, gimmick personalities can be incredibly endearing if written well, and it is very possible for characters like these to have a strong, static personality that can be rewarding to witness. Sadly, the interactions and their personalities don’t really make for anything interesting aside from the faux realism that they emphasize.
In this way, truly great characters are often written with simple personalities, but alongside this there is always an underlying capacity for them to reveal real human emotion, which should be apparent even when they express themselves in the most pedestrian way. A 2D caricature with a soul, now that is what a good anime character should feel like, especially when they’re drawn so expressively and cartoonish, as in this anime. However the characters we get are written only to mimic humans in both personality and emotion, in the most basic and superficial way, which is why the expression always seems hollow. For, how can anyone expect to be moved by the words of a character who has no soul? They are caricatures who make caricature of emotion and expression.
And, it isn’t as if the ritual/mythological element to the story was focused on in any great detail that a character focus would need to be sacrificed. If anything, the anime did a pretty good job of not expositing too much about the mysterious and existentially important ritual, keeping it understandably mysterious. However, it never feels mystical. Perhaps because the anime treats it as more of a natural disaster, like an earthquake or typhoon, which makes sense for the story.
So, what does the anime actually focus on then if not some semi-serious story element or the characters? I couldn’t tell you. Having watched this weekly, I’m drawing a blank. However, the general movement of the story is a military slice of life to contrived romance drama that all of a sudden becomes super important to the plot (because we all really want to see Aquarion EVOL again, right?) to the ritual that unravels the previous point.
Despite all of my complaining I wouldn’t say the anime is egregiously or offensively bad, it’s just tasteless. This makes the designs; characters and art style (which I do like) to feel like such a waste. A waste of setting and design. I should also be up front about my bias as well though. I didn’t like the dragons. Now, I knew there was going to be dragons going into this, but this ended up being deviantart:the animation, with dragon vore being the method of piloting, with vomit as the icing on the cake. Maybe this is why I liked Hoshino so much in the beginning, if she got her way this anime might have been about fighter pilots instead. And speaking of Hoshino and her romance, it was quite funny seeing the weekly reaction from the peanut galley: people clearly would rather get angry than use their heads. All in all I couldn’t recommend this. However, it is clear that at the surface level a lot of anime fans seem to be happy. For me, this is just a very bland anime that doesn’t really leave too many lasting impressions or say anything interesting. And even with the great art and visual design, it was still aesthetically uninspired.
Now with that said Hello Everyone this is Shawn aka KurataLordStage and welcome to my review of Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan.
The story follows a rookie named Hisone Amakasu who is part of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, where she is situated at the Gifu air base. She decided to join the force to distance herself from people as, her whole life, she had found it difficult to interact with others due to her candid style of speaking and oftentimes hurtful words, despite that not being her intention. Hisone’s decision leads to her life being changed when the concealed “OTF” – Organic Transformed Flyer, or dragon – inside the base chooses her to be his pilot, leading her to discover her destined role as a dragon pilot during their ascension in the skies together. According to legend, dragons are thought to possess a key to unlocking the future of the world.
Despite this being the anime version of one of my favourite animated movies How To Train A Aragon I thought the story to be pretty good for the most part
Right on the bat Dragon Pilot Hisone and Masotan does something that not a lot of anime like to do and that is actually start with a bang. Most series including anime originals feel comfortable taking it slow because they either want adapt the source material carefully as possible to avoid filler or slowly introducing its characters and setting. Dragon Pilot Hisone and Masotan doesn’t go any of this as it’s immediacy gets straight to the point by introducing its characters and setting in a way that is magical and interesting. By the end of the third episode, I got hooked.
The character drama in this show is brilliant and well executed. Unlike Darling in the Franxx where the character drama was nothing but contrived bullshit the drama actually matters to the overall narrative where we see characters going thought mini character arcs and development.
The show is well paced for the most part that keeps the audience interested with the shows events. Not only that the show does a great job of tacking themes and topics such as trust, loneliness, friendship, commutation, love etc. Plus the way the character developed with theses themes are great.
The only issues that I have with this show is that it show is quite predictable as having too much foreshadowing and at times meh writing but don’t you worry they are not as that the other character drama show Darling in the Franxx.
Besides thoeses minor issues I thought the story was pretty good for the most part.
The characters in Dragon Pilot Hisone and Masotan are all fantastic they own ways.
Every single character in the show is likeable, relatable well written for the most part and they are all fun to watch from start to finish. Like with A place Future than the universe the show does a great job with character interactions where the anime how different and unique the characters just based from they character expressions from the aggressive Nao, the soft and subdued Liliko to the straightforward and innocent Hisone. Some people may find some of theses chararater annoying in the beginning but least they redeem themselves as they all go through chararter which is more than about any character from the Thireenth Planation from Darling in the Franxx where they don’t even any character development for shit.
Overall the characters in Dragon Pilot Hisone and Masotan are all great and well thought out.
Gorgeous is honestly the best way to describe the visuals Dragon Pilot Hisone and Mastoan.
Studio Bones really did a wonderful job with the overall presentation from its great use contrasting heavy strokes on the character designs, the warm soft colour palette to the overall great shot composition and camerawork.
The animation is fantastic. While it may not be in the same level as some other Studio Bones works My Hero Academia or Blood Blockade Battlefront the actually is still great enough to be one of the best looking of 2018 with it’s smooth movement, and well animated fights.
The soundtrack is amazing.
Instead of having a generic music score that you have seen before from many anime this year the show’s mostly uses classical orchestral song pieces to give the show more life and atmosphere. There are however a couple of moe light-hearted tracks in this show but I thought it fitted well the show tone.
The opening theme Soujo wa Ano Sora wo Wataru by Riko Fukumoto is fantastic opening theme that perfectly captures to tone and setting of the show. Plus the visuals for the opening was fantastic and well animated.
The ending theme Le temps de la rentrée by D Pai is by far the most catchiest and ending theme of the year. I really adore that song with a passion.
The voice acting is top notice. Every single Seiyuu did a fantastic job with the roles that they were given and it really made the anime more alive.
Sadly this show hasn’t got an English Dub but I hope Netflix will dub it sometime soon.
Dragon Pilot Hisone and Mastoan is a wonderful anime that I really adored. It may not be as masterful as Hina Festival which was my favourite anime of the season it was still a great show that deserves to be loved.
The story while mainly character driven was pretty. The character is all great and enjoyable the visuals are fantastic and the soundtrack is brilliant.
The show may not be for everyone but if you want to a watch a great character drama that is filled with charm I would strongly recommend Dragon Pilot Hisone and Masotan.
Final Score 8/10
Hisone to Maso-tan, or, Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan as the gringos say may get a bit personal for me, but it wouldn’t be a genuine review otherwise. I consume anime like candy. It’s not so much for the sport of it, or for the sake of investing time in my hobby, or for a…primal need for self-flagellation. To me, watching anime has become my niche, obviously not to an unhealthy degree, although you could potentially say that subjecting yourself to 30+ seasonal anime in an average season with a strict no-drop policy is anything but healthy. It’s a fascination really, when something special comes out, no other entertainment medium can give you that high of a truly great anime. That’s what I got out of Hisomaso, a series that checked nearly every mark on my rubric for what could potentially be one of the best shows I’ve seen in years.
Bones has been batting 500 since its inception as an animation studio. Paired with Shinji Higuchi and Hiroshi Kobayashi’s very unique visual direction, and Bones may have just struck what could be one of their most visually interesting and ambitious projects to date. Obviously since the average viewer has been tempered by standard character models, washed-out color-palettes, and layers upon layers of polish, the cartoony nature of this series may alienate some. However, I found almost every visual and technical aspect of this series to be incredibly refreshing when paired up against some of its peers.
Not to suggest that Hisomaso has an average score, but it’s perhaps the most unassuming component of this series’ technical aspects. The soundtrack has a few standouts, namely the more emotional pieces, but overall I’d say that it did a fine job of conveying the absolute serenity of piloting a dragon and the loopy militaristic percussiveness of the daily JSDF grind. The opening sequence is serene and muted, but nothing that I’d go out of my way to listen to on its own. The cover of France Gall’s “Le Temps de la Rentree” was groovy as hell and paired nicely with hilariously dorky dancing from the main cast, this ending theme has become a fast personal favorite of mine. As far as voice performance goes, I think Misaki Kuno is the star (in a literal sense as well) and provides a sheepish yet infinitely personable portrayal as Hisone. No English dub as of yet, for you dub purists.
Technicals aside, this show has no shortage of personable and deceptively interesting characters. When Hisone Amakasu is first introduced, my expectations were for the most part subverted when at first glance she appeared to be yet another milquetoast protagonist dealing with your run of the mill young-adult ennui. But quickly, that switch flipped when she proved to be an exceptionally cheeky and likable dork who was not afraid to run her mouth in situations that would typically leave her in hot water. The emotional centerpiece of this series is derived from Hisone’s relationship with the titular Masotan, which indeed paid off in the end. However, I was shocked at the thematic scope that this series experimented with, namely the concept of militaristic dedication. On the whole, Hisomaso is actually prone to surprising tonal shifts which might throw some viewers off-guard with just how cartoony of an impression it might seem at first glance. But it pays off with some pretty effective and earned character drama. This wouldn’t nearly be as possible if the cast wasn’t so damn great.
Obviously I can go into the personal journeys of the rest of the pilots however in my opinion that should simply be left to experience with a viewing rather than some bum on the internet spoiling great character development. All of the cast members, even the seemingly innocuous ones who mostly inhabit more understated roles shared such excellent comedic chemistry with each other. On top of this, there is no shortage of hilariously cartoony visual gags to break tension.
One of the only real grievances I’ve seen directed at this series is that it derives too many concepts and ideas from other sources. Shinji Higuchi for instance, who has previously worked on friggin Eva of all things and was clearly inspired by certain aesthetics and storylines. Does Hisomaso borrow concepts and ideas from other sources? Sure, and I could sit here and divulge those sources, but none of that really has any bearing on this show’s quality. Hisomaso is incredibly comfortable in it’s own skin and is stellar in its execution, which is what I look for most in shows that borrow things from other sources. Look at My Hero Academia for crying out loud, it’s incredibly derivative but fresh in its execution on top of being one of the most popular anime to come out in years.
To me, Hisomaso was a beautiful balance of visuals, comedy, drama, and unfiltered vibrance. It is a series that for years to come I will defend with my life as both a personal favorite and one of the best anime to come out of the 2010’s. It’s shows like these that remind me why I come back to this site nearly every day to check those little marks on my watchlist. I loved this series, plain and simple, no fancy words required, and I recommend it to everyone.
13: Strike Witches: Road to Berlin
Japanese: 第501統合戦闘航空団 ストライクウィッチーズ ROAD to BERLIN
MAL Score: 7.33
Preparations for a new offensive against the Neuroi—a mysterious race of alien invaders—are well underway. The objective is securing Berlin, the capital city of the Empire of Karlsland, which is necessary for wiping out the Neuroi threat from Europe. However, as the enemy is capable of adapting to the battlefield on a daily basis, the allied forces and the current state of Striker technology might not be enough to achieve a victory.
Meanwhile, Yoshika Miyafuji, a Witch from Fuso, continues her medical studies in Lausanne. Having recovered from a recent incident that deprived her of magical power, she is eager to assist in the war effort. The call to arms soon arrives and the scattered witches of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing must be gathered once again for a final push against the enemy.
Road to Berlin is exactly what you’d want and expect from a Strike Witches sequel, and apart from Shizuka’s existence, it delivers on every front. The animation noticeably received a huge bump even before the BDs are out. The action scenes and 3D models look as good as, if not better than their movie counterparts, and the girls look fantastic in HD. Traditionally episodes 1,2,11,and 12 are the weakest episodes since they’re the only plot-focused episodes with Miyafuji as the center, and here they still are the weakest episodes, but even then they’re still vastly improved compared to their S1 and S2 counterparts. Thankfully gone is the formulaic “Miyafuji takes a boat ride to Europe that lasts two episodes while the Navy is useless, and the girls take down the Neuroi-fused superweapon of the season that was previously thought to be a good idea”. At the very least, now, the military (in the mainline series) is finally shown to be at least somewhat competent, taking down some Neuroi or another with some degree of success, even if they still need MiyafuJesus to save their asses in the end. Yoshika’s Jesus Complex is still there, and while Shizuka does receive some form of character development that makes her less bitchy, that just means she becomes even more useless than she was in the movie. I can’t believe we traded in Mio for this…
Thankfully the rest of the girls fare much better, especially in their spotlight episodes. As mentioned earlier the Karlsland girls (especially Trude) steal the spotlight in this, but my favourite episode, as usual, is the Shirley/Lucchini bonding episode. Sanya/Eila’s episode is fine if not as strong as before, Perriene’s episode was surprisingly good, and Lynne’s focus in Episode 7 is fantastic, even if she is shafted otherwise. Shizuka is useless and I dearly miss Mio’s laughter.
Again, we receive little to no new information on the Neuroi, seeing as more information about them or allusions to a peace with them would mean the end of the series, and Lord knows the Production committee doesn’t want to lose their golden goose. The timeline even progressed to 1946 with large swarths of the world still Neuroi-infested. Still, more Strike Witches means more Hasshin Shimasu so I ain’t complaining much. The series is always better with the episodic SoL comedy stuff than it is with the action and Neuroi stuff.
RtB is a great sequel that’s everything you’d want but unfortunately doesn’t do that much to truly innovate or stand out on its own. It has some real great memorable moments and is great entertainment, but one wishes that they’ll do more plotwise with later seasons/spinoffs.
The animation work is alright and we’ve already gotten used to heavy use of 3D graphics, never done particularly well, in the series, which some may find off-putting otherwise. I have a personal pet peeve about how much gradient colouring there is, as it just makes everything kind of blend together instead of standing out. But this is just a matter of opinion really. The story tone of the season is on point compared to past works; the kind of things that happen are like the things that happen in previous seasons. The characters are also pretty much like they have been previously. Voice talent brings in a good performance. Music is good, maybe a little short of previous seasons and movies that had really banging soundtracks, though sound design otherwise is extremely uninspired. If you told me they never once used a sound effect that didn’t come in a stock library, I’d believe it.
Then the tyrannosaurus in the room: The script. I’ll be very frank. It is boring. Nothing emotionally impactful really happens. Not only do they use plot points and story structures that the series has used before, they also reuse those things within the season. Repeatedly. In addition, it is very thick on lore, which was weak before but was so sparingly used that it didn’t really matter. Baddies be and WW2-fighter-aces-become-magical-girls fight the baddies. A good Strike Witches entry is perhaps 20% canon lore driven material and 80% mostly lighthearted character drama, fanservice, slice of life, comedy, period observation. This season has the numbers flipped the other way around. You only get a couple of episodes of the of the kind of things that I want from the series and the rest is bland and repetitive. You even get a persistent gray filter over the screen to make sure you aren’t enjoying yourself too much. Oh, and the OP and ED themes are just… really quiet for some reason. Maybe everything would have just nicely come together after all if the the opening theme really rocked your socks off at maximum volume and got you pumped for an exciting adventure. Instead it’s mixed in at a polite indoor speaking voice level. Like an itch that you just can’t scratch no matter how much you try. Argh.
As an independent work, as much as I would want it to be otherwise, Road to Berlin does not stand. The words that come to mind are generic and childish. But as a continuation to previous work, since you are already attached to the characters, it’s O.K.
Sanya remains our queen with Eila accompanying but Shizuka has made a strong entrance into the best girl league. That being a show where all girls are best girls essentially.
Although not as good as the other parts of this series in a whole it is still an excellent addition to the franchise with an ending that was exactly what you wanted and more.
As a continuation of the story, we already know this just takes off where others have left and pushes forward with the conflict. People who are new to this and haven’t seen anything else I know question such things as the guns with near-limitless ammunition but then don’t question that they have planes on their legs or how Sanya is one of very few witches with bottoms on as such. Don’t take the show so seriously since it has more fan service than anything else.
The art is more polished than before and does randomly although oddly change into a CGI format at times with the girls although that stops a bit as it goes on. The girls, as usual, have great fanservice about them which suits them completely.
The OP is still a banger with an ED to boot. Generally, sounds are nicely done and SFX is used but again as the most show could just have a bit more oomph at times.
Characters develop a fair amount in the regard most are already established. You get a few stories in the show that support such things. You also get what this show does which I think is superb is the way they can change characters out by them getting too old to be a strong witch anymore. Meaning if a new season after this was to come they would have a few replacement witches to keep it fresh.
The show does do one thing that annoys me. Although whether Strike Witches or Brave Witches you always have the weak character who is strong. Yoshika who is well established as an amazing but unstable witch seems to have this thing about having multiple segments through the history purely about her losing control of magic which has got a bit old now. As seen with episode 3 she is the issue and later in episode 10, she is still an issue. One thing I wonder is I know the Shinden is secret and powerful but it suits Yoshika as the only person who can use it properly yet she barely has it.
In the end, the show is very enjoyable and although not as good as before it is a delight to see it. It finishes in a way that can stop the show but also let you know there is room to continue. The finale was spectacular.
English: Sabagebu! -Survival Game Club!-
MAL Score: 7.36
Draw your weapons and take aim, because Sabagebu! is coming at you!
Momoka Sonokawa was just minding her own business on the train one day when she encountered a pervert. Before she could do anything about it, a girl named Miou appears, brandishing two pistols and and scaring him off, only to be arrested herself a few minutes later for possessing firearms.
Later Momoka sees this same girl at her school and follows her to a run down building. It turns out Miou is the president of the school’s Survival Game Club, and it doesn’t take long for Miou to capture Momoka and force her into joining them.
Over the course of the series, Momoka and her new “friends” will take part in multiple battles against enemies from other schools, a rival from the same school who wants to see the club shut down and even each other (on multiple occasions). With friends and classmates like these, will Momoka even make it to graduation?
– Watch out Witchcraft Works, because I think you’ve got competition for the best “hidden gem” of the year. And considering how fucking insane you turned out to be, that’s saying more than America’s word that West Africa will be ebola-free within the next five years.
What the advertisements for this show failed to get across to me is that Sabagebu is a black comedy, a genre that’s kind of rare in anime and even rarer in shoujo. Sure you have plenty of 90s-era John Hughes slapstick knockoffs getting produced every season, but in terms of comedies where the humor deliberately comes from the characters being assholes (on purpose) in the vein of “the only good sitcom airing right now” It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia? With no attempts at being heartfelt, and whenever it does, it pulls the rug from under you? I don’t think even Milky Holmes at its peak was this cruel.
And whilst the other characters contribute their fair share to the proceedings, the main reason this show works is because of the main character: Momoka. Why? Because she’s just so impossible a character to sympathize with to the point that she becomes extremely interesting. While not exactly on the level of great British assholes like Blackadder or Bernard from Black Books, I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Momoka is quite frankly the biggest asshole you’ll ever see in any other anime this year, and quite possibly the last few. Nothing about her is kind. She’s not someone you’d ever want to be with in reality. If this was a romantic drama, she’d be that character that single-handedly ruins the series with forced conflict and a deal with the devil.
– Thankfully, Sabagebu is a skit-based comedic series that actually has a “reset button” license. Oh, one of the girls caused a helicopter to crash and killed two pilots in the process, sending them to meet the devil? Eh, nobody cares about those extras, so let’s not turn her over to the police and just publicly humiliate her for the fact that she couldn’t flush a toilet.
Once Momoka’s behavior grounded me into the series, all the writers had to do was create short scenarios that exploited her, as well as the rest of the cast, for comedy and creativity. There’s quite a few gags that don’t really work (the fat stuff, the stalkers on the mountain, the school president thing that went on twice as long as it should have), but each episode always had one that was really great and it’s paced quick enough so that you don’t stare at a skit for too long trying to extract a laugh from your dirty ugly mouth.
– The punchlines get a little predictable as time goes on because it’s pretty obvious before too long that someone’s going to suffer by the time a skit ends. But it’s done cleverly enough, again similar to Sunny, that it never really grows stale.
– And even if the jokes don’t satisfy you, at least you can’t deny that Sabagebu has great action chops. I haven’t actually seen Aldnoah Zero’s fight choreography despite the praise for it, but I’d be surprised to hear that it was of much higher quality than this show’s “old people riding jeeps whilst shooting at youngsters” action.
– This ain’t like the shitty “punch one spot multiple times and use stills for dramatic effect” stuff that Akame ga Kill seems to think qualifies for action. It isn’t unstylized powerpoint like Tokyo ESP. It’s not the utterly incompetent “couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn” crap that Jormungand indulged in. No, this is hands-down expert gun stuff that isn’t quite as good as Black Lagoon, but is worthy enough to stand in its shadow. And that’s better than most gun action we get in Hollywood these days (fuck you shaky cam!).
There’s not really much more I can say about Sabagebu considering it’s a plotless comedy that never takes itself seriously. I do urge people to give it a shot if what I said appeals to you, because I don’t think it deserved the low amount of attention it received whilst airing. Just be aware that the first episode is a little rocky and the second is when it starts to find its footing. If you’re not hooked by the third – you monster – then the rest probably won’t appeal to you. I definitely don’t consider it the best anime of the year (Space Dandy, Tiger and Bunny: The Rising, maybe Terror in Resonance but I need to see how it ends first). Has a few too many “mehs” for me to really rank it too high, let alone consider it my favorite “cute girl” anime.
– That said, barring some explosion of quality next season, it’s definitely going into my top ten anime for this year.
Do you enjoy an anime where girls battle out with guns? Well, there have been a lot of anime that fit that category such as C3 and Strike Witches. I know I’ve seen a few, and this anime is one.
There’s nothing much to say about Sabagebu honestly. It revolves a hig-school club called the ‘Survival Games Club’ and we look into the crazy shenanigans these high-schoolers are put up into. Momoka, the character focus of the group, transferred to this high school and is forced into the club by its president, Miou. From there, she leads her own not-so-ordinary life.
Now, what’s good about this anime is the hilarious comedy. It never failed to make me laugh every episode. From the characters to the main story, it just brightens your day. The anime takes in many forms of comedy, whether dramatic or just plain stupid. Sometimes it just became Nichijou, but with a bit more understanding.
‘This is all in the girls’ imaginations. You can’t die in a real survival game, so don’t worry!’
I must really give props to the narrator. You probably never seen a lot of narrators in anime, so this kind is not wasted. He is definitely an awesome person whom I will never stop laughing at.
The characters are sweet and have nice personalities which has some similar tropes for a typical comedy anime. Momoka has a two-sided personality, Miou is rich and loved, Maya is a beauty who always die first out of the rest, Urara being a masochist always wanting to be near Momoka, and Kayo is a cosplay fanatic who doesn’t talk much.
But I feel that there is some character development in Momoka, as she has a liking into the club and make many memories with it.
There are other supporting characters whom I find are always very funny in their own ways. Some of them reappear in different episodes and they love to create chaos or just fun to the club, or Momoka.
In the end, the characters are a funny bunch in their own aspects.
I’m not quite fond with the art in this anime. The character designs are quite stale, with weird hairstyles and body shapes, despite some of the characters have weird body shapes for the sake of comedy. The scenery is a bit bland and nothing interesting to see. The gun battles can be fun and exciting to look at, but the damage done seems a bit boring.
But still, facial expressions are amusing. I quite like the designs of the guns the characters have. The opening and ending visuals are nice with a taste of action and comedy.
The opening song, sung by Momoka’s VA, Ayaka, has a great energy feel along with the beautiful vocals. The ending song, sung by the cast, has taken a more funny approach with the lyrics, along with nice dancing music. Honestly, I can’t stop grooving at the ending song.
The background music varies a lot. Sometimes, in special occasions, they may play an interesting theme that matches. Otherwise, it has nice relaxing music that sounds like it come out from a typical slice of life anime. Nothing wrong, really, but it is good to listen. The voice acting is great, with a lot giving emphasis to their thoughts and feelings for comedy sake. There are some recognisable voice actresses in the anime.
No one should take Sabagebu seriously. It is definitely worth the laughs from the viewers like me. I enjoyed this anime very much and it brightens my day a lot.
Certainly, I would never see girls running around a battlefield wielding guns ever again, unless a season two arrives.
What I can fault it for are things like its music. One thing that drove me insane with this show was its extremely small soundtrack. All the songs are fun enough, but it is honest to goodness something akin to only two or three songs that just keep getting played over and over again, multiple times an episode. I’m sure plenty of anime do this (especially comedies), but never has it been so blatantly obvious to me.
The cast and voice acting are top notch however. Even the strange perverted otaku Lemon ends up being a ton of fun and always a pleasure to have around. The protagonist is definitely unique among your typical ones too and her cruel nature becomes the butt of most of the game’s gags. Every now and then the show would remember the airsoft theme, but it feels odd how rarely utilized it actually is. From the getgo it tells you not to take it seriously, but even for comedic effect the shootings can be somewhat rare. That being said, what this show does best is shake things up. The circumstances and setting for each episode vary so greatly that you sometimes can question if the writer was changed constantly. It’s a lot of fun too since it will refer to things like Predator, Alien, Chuck Norris, Arnold, and Otaku culture. It’s a mix of a lot of different things so some episodes will feel familiar while others will be completely out there.
And despite the cast being so strong, I felt that most of them got no real time to shine, especially the cosplay fanatic and the model. I certainly never got tired of the show and always enjoyed every episode, but I wouldn’t really say it’s something I’m going to miss now that it’s over. It’s just your solid seasonal comedy. There’s generally one every season. Nothing wrong with that either. I recommend everyone follow a show like this over the weeks as it can always bring a smile to your face even during rough times.
11: Yomigaeru Sora: Rescue Wings
Japanese: よみがえる空 -Rescue Wings-
MAL Score: 7.41
Kazuhiro Uchida is transferred to a rescue centre located in a small town while training to become a fighter pilot. Initially, Kazuhiro thinks negatively about his new occupation, due to the difficult missions and the harsh discipline he receives from his seniors. However, over the course of his training, he begins to accept the job for what it is and becomes a true member of the rescue force.
It focuses on a young man, Uchida Kazuhiro, who failed to become a fighter pilot, and is assigned to a rescue squadron to fly helicopters… which he strongly dislikes the idea of. Without spoiling it, it’s pretty simple to say his character develops significantly over the course of the story. It’s well paced, very realistic (set in modern, current day totally real world, no sci-fi elements) and some episodes are truly moving. Very well written dialogue and events. This is pretty much a pure drama, and that may not appeal to everybody, but there is a degree of action, romance and even some comedy that may keep in some who usually avoid drama.
Art wise, it’s also superb. Fitting character design, beautiful background art, and the flight scenes are excellent. Some CG is used, but it never feels out of place or inappropriate. It does a great job of capturing the action, and in some events (a rescue in a blizzard on a mountain, for example) shows how poor visibility can be in such situations. It really can make you feel like you’re there in the action at times.
Sound, well the voices were all excellent, while Miyazaki Issei is pretty much an unknown name, he played Kazuhiro very well. The other major characters, and even the victims in rescue cases were all very well suited and nothing felt out of place. The music was subtle, and never overpowering unlike some series where it can ‘get in the way’ but it really did help with the impact of some scenes.
Character wise, I believe this is one of the best character development series of all time, especially so for being so short. From being a snotty little transfer not liking his assigned job, Kazuhiro grows significantly over the course of the story. If there were a down side to this story, though, it would be his sadly undeveloped relationship with his girlfriend Megumi, beautifully voiced by Noto Mamiko. She had her own problems over the course of the series, which was a whole sub-plot, and IMO could have used a bit more development, but it wasn’t distracting enough to warrant a score less than 10 (maybe a 9.5 at worst).
Overall, it’s an incredibly enjoyable series. It’s very easy to sit and watch all in one go, being so short, you can easily burn through it all without noticing the time because of it being so well paced and enthralling. Also if you get the releases by Froth-Bite, they’re chaptered, so you can effortlessly skip the OP/ED to burn through them all quickly. Though, the OP and ED are decent and may be worth listening to, if you’re in to that… ^^;
Really though, give this series a shot. It’s still unlicensed as of the writing of this review, so should be easy to find for download around the vastness of the internet. Do yourself a favour; it’ll be the best two Gb you can spend on a single series.
The first episode alone sets up the majority of the conflicts. We see Kazuhiro’s dissatisfaction with being assigned to a helicopter rescue squad in a tiny, unremarkable city instead of the jet fighter pilot force he dreamed of joining as a young boy. We see his somewhat strained, long distance relationship with his big city girlfriend, Megumi. We see his confrontation with the helicopter unit’s Major Hongo, who notices his lack of commitment to the rescue squad at a glance and chews him out for it immediately. Along with his various personal issues and his rather apathetic personality at first glance, Kazuhiro doesn’t come off as the most endearing character at first, but the show makes a point to show his personal growth as he deals with the daily catastrophes that come naturally to his job, and his newfound appreciation for human life. Thematically, it’s not the most original work, but nevertheless, it’s satisfying to see Kazuhiro’s outlook on life change throughout the story. While the show’s main focus is on Kazuhiro, it also does a good job of establishing a number of memorable side characters. Yomigaeru Sora manages to establish a cast of distinct personalities, all with their own internal conflicts. One of the best things about the series is the way it shows how the JSDF members’ work affects their personal lives.
The show puts a majority of its focus on the rescue operations. The rescue operations are edge-of-your-seat tense and can take many a twist and turn without coming off as incidental or contrived; the show does an excellent job at conveying the unpredictability and of a natural disaster and the powerlessness humanity holds over such an impersonal, destructive entity.. The show works on a personal level by not only showing the struggles of the victims but also how the JSDF members must deal with unforeseen hardships, make necessary compromises and face the everpresent possibility of failure, which rears its ugly head in this series quite often. Much of the drama comes from the JSDF members’ struggles in the face of life-of-death decisions and their struggle between idealism and pragmatism; save everyone, or save who you can. When the scale leans towards the latter, the repercussions are felt and the impact can be quite touching.
While the rescue missions may be Yomigaeru Sora -Rescue Wings-‘s centerpiece at a visceral level, the majority of the show is actually taken up by dialogue. Fortunately, Yomigaeru Sora -Rescue Wings- has a smart and nuanced script, with lines that flow naturally and plenty of amusing banter between the cast that serve to make them more endearing and human. Still, viewers who prefer their anime more action-heavy might want to skip this one, as it’s a show that moves at a rather luxurious pace and the rescue operations really only serve as vehicles for character growth.
When it comes to art and animation, the best thing I can say about Rescue Wings is that both are unobtrusive. While this may sound derisive, it is actually meant as a compliment. Any visual gimmicks would be distracting and unnecessary for a show like this, and as mentioned before, this show makes a point to avoid typical anime cliches, so don’t expect any super deformed characters here or blue hair or any of that nature. The show does a good job of making the characters look realistically Asian while giving them distinguishing physical traits which make it easy to tell them apart, without having to resort to color coding or exaggerated features. The show also makes use of CG for the helicopters and airplanes, which are actually used quite well and are lovingly detailed and animated. In fact, I suspect military otaku would get a kick of this show just for the realistic depiction of modern Japanese aircraft. If there’s one complaint I can launch at the overall presentation, it’s the somewhat overly sentimental orchestral score, but that’s a minor nitpick at most.
While lacking the originality to be a truly remarkable series, Rescue Wings is one of the better offerings in this medium for viewers who want a pure drama without the excessive melodrama or childish silliness that usually plagues this genre. If you do watch this show, expect to be both thrilled and touched.
This anime is about the operations of the JSDF air rescue force. Our protagonist, Kazuhiro Uchida wanted to be a fighter pilot (a pretty common childhood dream, isn’t it?). But he couldn’t make it and had to settle for a helicopter pilot in the rescue force. He joined there unhappily at first, but soon his impression about his job duties changes bit by bit. He experiences first hand on the extremely hard decision making about human lives in the balance and grows as a responsible human being.
The artwork, sound, and animation are all done well enough to do justice to the amazing story. CG has been used to create the air-crafts, but the quality is very good.
This anime is a nice example of how good a slice of life anime can be. So go ahead and give this relatively short anime a try.
MAL Score: 7.44
In the peaceful theocracy of Simulicram, everyone is born female. At age 17, each maiden undergoes a special ceremony where she chooses her sex. However, only Pairs of maiden priestesses can synchronize with the ancient flying ships known as Simoun needed to defend Simulicram. These Pairs refrain from undergoing the ceremony as long as they wish to keep piloting their Simoun.
Aer is recruited to be a Simoun pilot after a terrifying attack by an enemy nation decimates the squadron known as Chor Tempest. To earn her wings she needs to find her way into the heart of Neviril, Regina of Chor Tempest. But Neviril’s heart still belongs to her previous Pair, lost in the battle when she attempted a forbidden Simoun maneuver.
(Source: Media Blasters)
It’s rare to come across an anime series that’s as well executed as Simoun. In addition to its beautiful animation and incredible use of music, Simoun has a deep plot line that draws from many different themes and invokes a lot of emotions. The story takes place in a war-torn world where the main characters are young maidens tasked with flying Simoun, mecha-like flying machines with devastating attacks called "Ri Maajon" that can destroy the enemy. The twelve girls who come together in this war effort to fly the Simoun make up a unit called "Chor Tempest".
By watching the struggles and triumphs of these maidens, we’re able to touch upon the main theme of Simoun: love. Not all of the love explored in Simoun is romantic love, though a large part of it is. The rest is a friendship based love that is just as prominent as the former type. As young as these girls are (most of them are under seventeen), they’ve already realized the importance of protecting the people closest to them. But no matter how strongly they feel about someone, nothing is promised, nothing is for certain, and nothing is eternal. It’s a truth that all these girls seem to realize, and it’s because of that reason that they form such close bonds in an attempt to protect each other. Much of the show focuses on these relationships between the Simoun pilots, ones in which the girls try to figure out how to protect and save each other, and how sacrifices must be made in order to achieve their goals.
The other major theme revolves around growing up and becoming adults. In the world of Simoun, everyone is born a female and chooses to permanently become a man or woman at seventeen by entering The Spring. This is a rite of passage that everyone must go through in order to become an adult. However, with war efforts in full swing, the Simoun pilots are allowed to delay their decisions since Simoun can only be flown by those who haven’t entered The Spring yet. None of the main characters are eager to make their decision, and flying the Simoun becomes as much about protecting themselves from this choice as it is about protecting each other.
Over the course of the 26 episodes, you’ll see a staggering amount of character and relationship development. From forgotten childhood friendships, conflictive sisters, and experienced piloting pairs (two girls are required to fly a Simoun), to overprotective friends, an unlikely pairing of pilots, and troublesome new recruits, everyone gets their chance at growth and development. Each character and relationship is handled so well in this anime that every new twist, no matter how painful or happy, will evoke a fresh burst of emotions from the audience. This makes the show very satisfying to watch as it’s so easy to relate to the characters and their lives. And by the last episode of Simoun, you’re treated to an incredibly gratifying ending that ties up nearly all loose ends and will make watching the whole series worthwhile.
However, as with anything that’s as rewarding as Simoun is, watching this anime requires a bit of effort from the audience. The one major flaw with Simoun is that the story is fairly complex. Starting with the first episode and lasting until roughly the third episode, you’ll find yourself swimming in a pool of brand new terms, characters, and politics so large that you’re literally going to have to muddle your way through the series for a bit until everything becomes familiar and starts to make sense. (You might also need that time to get used to the fact that all male characters are voiced by women…) However, once this happens, you’ll be thankful that you didn’t run away after episode 1. By the time you reach episode 4, or episode 5 at the *very* latest, the plot and character development will take off in such a way that you’ll want to go through the final 20+ episodes in a straight 8 hour marathon. And really, a marathon is the best way to watch a series this good.
There’s not much more that can be said without ruining some aspect of the story, so go watch Simoun if this review interested you in any way. Just be sure to watch until at least episode 5 before deciding to drop this series. You’ll be glad that you did.
And a woefully under-appreciated title it was.
The original fan-sub group that picked it up usually handles shoujo-ai titles; and the “key-turn” ritual for starting up the Simoun, the flying machines made it look like just another excuse for very pretty backgrounds and girls getting friendly together. But it turned out more complicated than that, and was left to languish in favour of more accessible highschool-romance titles, until picked up by the most dedicated and special-purpose group of fansubbers whose product I have followed.
Simoun-Fans, an essentially ad hoc grouping, put together the most polished translations and sub-titling (including credits for the seiyuu against the characters during the OP, rather than the usual self-congratulation; that was left for a brief screen at the very start, before the TV footage). Of course, the polish came at a price — episode 26 wasn’t subbed until a year after the first episode aired.
OK, the story, and why you should watch this title…
On a world that is not ours — two suns in the sky, for one thing — a transcendent civilisation rose and vanished. In its wake, the remaining people could unearth the helical motors, the snail-shell parts of both the Simoun and other powered devices (trains,flying boats). But only the Holy Land of Simulacrum has harnessed them, and the casual flight it offers. Other lands have more steam-punk technology, and seek the secret of the simoun. So war breaks out…
In that world, all children are born as girls, and in Simulacrum choose to be man or woman at coming of age in their late teens. All the parts — even the men, are voiced by women; and, of course, young men are hard to tell from young women — the adulthood change is not instantaneous, as shown in the character of Wapourif, the chief mechanic to the simoun.
While lesser flying craft can be piloted by anyone, the simoun needs to be driven by two girls; and these pilots are drawn from the ranks of the priestesses of Tempus-Spatium. While two priestesses at the helm they can produce magical effects by drawing glyphs in the air called Ri-Maajon, as part of religious ceremonial aerobatics. And as priestesses, they are allowed to defer a while the choice to become adult.
So, a group of priestesses become, overnight, the necessary front line of the Simulacran fighting forces. Few can handle the mismatch between their vocation and their new orders — and when the new overwhelming forces of Argentum actually bring down a choir of simoun, many depart into adulthood. Only the latecomer, Aaeru, even refers to what they do in military terms, rather than liturgical ones.
So, it’s a war-story; but it’s character driven drama, of love, sacrifice, choices, and growing up (or not, as the case may be).
After 25 episodes of brilliance, I was anticipating the finale with some trepidation — too many series drop the ball at the end. This, however concluded with an understated and open ending which was as satisfying as could be, knowing that this story had at last come to its ending.
To explain (and there will be spoilers throughout this review, just so you know): we have this premise – that everyone is born female and can choose to become male at 17 – which is so outlandish that it’s completely impossible to take seriously, but well realised enough to be a genuinely hook all by itself. Then we have the cast, who are a grab-bag of stock archetypes, and a plot which is also awfully familiar. And we have the characterisation, including the art, which by being almost aggressively shoujo seems entirely at odds with the action-ish setting, and the script and voice acting, which practically redefine “wet” in most cases. And the production design, a highly camp take on art deco which resembles the result of a collision between Last Exile and Escaflowne, particularly the made-of-spare-parts Simouns themselves. We have, in short, a show entirely built around an idea and a formula.
A Simoun is an aircraft of sorts. Its purpose is primarily religious, to draw geometric patterns in the sky which form complex prayers to the god Tempus Spatium, and it is piloted by two priestesses who have not yet made The Choice. Perhaps coincidentally, these prayers, called Ri Maajons, also act as a weapon; in fact they form the only real weapon the theocracy of Simulacrum has against invaders (apart from the army, who for unknown reasons are largely ineffectual). The invasion is due to other countries craving for the drive systems Simouns use, while they are forced to rely on polluting alternatives that poison their land and air. The practical upshot: naive, pampered, sanctimonious and hormonal young priestesses are the primary defenders of their country against devious and desperate, yet not entirely unjustified enemies, and experience the general destruction of their innocence as their friends, relationships, worldviews and lifestyles are placed under gigantic stress.
Basically, while the thing is wrapped in sci-fantasy window dressing it’s a story of spoiled, obsequiously devout snobby teenagers getting what’s coming to them, which in this case is a rude awakening. I couldn’t help cackling with glee as one or other of the ensemble cast first sets themselves up and then gets knocked down a peg. This is where the audience sadism comes in; the story cannot truthfully be called one that easily permits suspension of disbelief, so since I can’t quite take it seriously, I nonetheless rather enjoyed a lot of the series precisely because of the carnival of ghastly people suffering for my amusement.
But while this does have a fair amount of mileage due to the large cast composed of people whose suffering is highly amusing, it’s far from enough to carry the series – and nor should it be. Once I came to terms with my newly-awakened sadistic side, I tried to take the story more seriously, but ran into trouble. For a start, this is supposed to be a war, and while there are odd interludes of capture by blood-vomiting enemy saboteurs among the snide carping about who’s allowed to hang out in the ballroom, the whole thing tends to happen at this weirdly unworldly remove from the devastating war that appears to be happening. The use of religion, whether it’s supposed to be or not, is a perfect cypher for the problems that hardcore religious attitudes create in reality; yes, people are dying in their thousands, but what about our rightful priveliges as members of the clergy? It’s as if people out there on the front line didn’t realise that prayers and love of god are much more important than their continued existence!! On numerous occasions, I started to get cross about the fact that people were being totally irrational, but then I realised that this series’ depiction of religion correctly conveys that it is the most widespread form of irrational behaviour known anywhere. This is something which Studio Deen do deserve credit for, not least in that Japan is by and large not a devout country in any sense, and imparting to people raised in an atheist environment the sheer irrationality of religions in general is not easy.
Among the 12-strong main cast there are just three people I actually like, one whose pleasing “I’m not sure what’s going on but let’s do our damnedest to have fun with it” attitude exists because she’s voiced by Mizuki Nana, and another who’s interesting mostly because she appears to have wandered in from a role as manipulative femme fatale with a slight S&M twist in an H-game (not least because she’s called Dominura; you can also see the S&M in the fact that among all the completely non-uniform variations of skimpy pseudo-lingerie that purport to be uniforms, hers is the only one to incorporate fishnet stockings). The other likeable character, thankfully, is one of the main protagonists, Aaeru, because she’s the only person on the whole ship with real drive, who actually seems to have any idea what she is doing, what she wants and when to stop tutting and gasping and wringing her hands in ecclesiastical angst and take action; the fact she’s not bothered in the slightest about religion and just wants to fly helps hugely here. The remainder of the ensemble cast are similarly familiar character archetypes, but less pleasing: several are neither objectionable, nor particularly appealing, but specially aggravating characters include a gossipy airhead called Floe, the sergeant-like Paraietta who is bossy, curt, indecisive and basically totally rubbish, and the sisters Kaimu and Alti, who are singularly annoying because of their insistence on not getting on with each other for totally absurd reasons.
These are however secondary annoyances beside the other main protagonist, Neviril. Being unnaturally talented at Simoun flying and thus particularly holy, everyone instantly forgives her inability to cope with stress, or in other words, her extended bouts of sulking. Adored by all, she is blessed with a life normally free from insight into anything
(allowing her poorly-written comrades to provide it to her, and simultaneously to viewers) and avoids the curse of complex sentences or outward displays of emotion that might make people think she’s normal; nonetheless, she manages to come to some highly generic and familiar conclusions about
being true to her own feelings and so on and so forth. A poker-faced, monosyllabic protagonist almost never works, and this is no exception. However, while I generally found her bothersome, there’s a certain amusement to be gained from how unrealistic a character she really is, for example a perfect moment of unintended comedy about halfway in, when Aaeru mentions the death of her former pair in characteristically down-to-earth terms, prompting a lollercaust of gasps, horror-stricken looks and emotional overload.
Her look is part of it. Character design varies massively across the series, with other primary heroine Aaeru for some reason resembling a manic Kyoto Animation character, to me at least, Floe looking like a castoff from Sailor Moon, many others looking like off-the-peg Gonzo characters. Against all this, Neviril seems inappropriately ultra-shoujo in style, her perpetually waving pink hair, pink lipstick and unusually round eyes putting me in mind of Nana (note: I’ve nothing against Nana, it’s just a very distinct style that, to me, clashes in this context with the others around it). Moreover, relative to others, her undemonstrative demeanor is seemingly at odds with her supposedly emotional temperament – the above-mentioned unintended comedy moment is partly as funny as it is because by this point it’s by far the largest display of emotion she has exhibited for something like a dozen episodes, and it just shows up how little she seems to actually emote most of the time. This lack of theme is beneficial in that it makes the whole cast easily recognisable, but it does nothing to make the series as a whole look coherent. This is also severely hampered by the inconsistency of the art; I suspect an in-betweener had some out of date reference materials, as in once instance the entire cast gain enormous noses for an entire half an episode, and in certain shots thereafter. This is the worst problem, but not the only one; at times the animation gets very cheap and undetailed as well.
A thing or two must be said regarding Simouns themselves, which sound like TIE fighters and move with the total disregard for G-forces that only CG can actualise. They are desperately silly things; imagine a cross between Escaflowne, an Mi-24 gunship and a flying snail, complete with incongruous gold ornamentation, twin bubble cockpits, chin cannons and silvery trail. Then there’s the fact that they are variable geometry craft without reference to actual geometry at all, which is to say the pieces stay together and rearrange themselves without actually being connected together in the first place. And those chin cannons? They get used about once ever; I suspect they’re a leftover from an earlier design stage where the concept still retained some plausibility. The silvery trail is the only true weapon, and it seems to work by producing blue light that makes enemies spontaneously explode. Oh, and they seem to be powered by kisses.
Music is a mixed bag. The opening theme is by Ishikawa Chiaki, and as such is predictably excellent; the ending is too anodyne and mediocre for me to have watched enough of it to catch who sung it. This excellent/mediocre disparity continues through the BGM, some of which approaches excellence while other parts reach annoying territory. Also predictably, there’s no real consistency, flavour or theme to the music, mixing electronic pieces, orchestral pieces and things of many other stripes in a way that seems to want to be Kajiura Yuki and clearly isn’t managing to be.
The central gender-choosing premise is, as I say, a major hook into watching; but it’s mostly wasted, with the series becoming a sort of soup of mixed sexualities. There’s a theme of putting off choice running through the series, as the protagonists are basically allowed to indefinitely postpone the normal gender choice if they’ll continue flying a Simoun – but have to make the choice if they want to quit. Obviously, the gender choice is a half-allegorical single focus for all the changes in sexuality/loss of innocence/responsibility that adulthood represents. Credit is due for adhering to and emphasising the idea that, in serious relationships, people are naturally attracted to characters rather than to gender per se; however, on one level, all it really does is introduce an air of sexual ambiguity, making it an exercise in tame, vague sexually suggestive behaviour. It all appears aimed at the tastes of young adolescents who find themselves turned on by women kissing women, something that just doesn’t match the seriousness with which the series takes this theme of taking choices seriously. On another level, it does tend to suggest that the gender a person finds attractive is your own free choice. Conversely, all of the gay people I know have never seen their sexuality as a matter of choice, any more than I can say I chose to be straight – they see themselves as having been born gay. I mean, I dare say some might disagree with this, but the point is, Simoun seems fairly invested in painting sexuality as a subjective choice, which seems a bit out of order to me.
To cap it all, there’s plenty of unblemished femininity on display, with none of the dozen protagonists appearing at all masculine, even though some profess to have already decided to become male, but nowhere is there a masculine male to be seen – no facial hair, no muscles. All the young males around look highly effeminate, ‘bishie’ and Ouran-ish, and even the older male characters, who one might expect would be more traditionally masculine, possess some feminine characteristics, a delicate ear-stud or a flick of ornamental hair. Most of the voice actors for male characters seem to my ear to be female, too. Nonetheless, whatever the cause, the effect is of depicting a world in which there’s actually only one gender, female, and various degrees of distance from it, the furthest people from female being termed male, without wholly qualifying by what I understand male to mean. It all seems like a careful and deliberat design decision, rather than simply the programme’s style, as if there’s a standing instruction to make all males slightly feminine, but having never ‘got’ shoujo, I can’t tell if this is trying to make a point about men and women, or whether it’s simply the design ethos of a heavily shoujo-minded art director.
The purpose of messing about with the significance of gender in Simoun remains, at least to me, unclear. Thought-provoking though it is, it does not end up explaining itself. Simply having all these priestesses face leaving the priesthood and becoming ordinary women, some gay and others not, if they give up flying Simouns, would surely work just as well. When you just ignore that side of Simoun, though, you start to see a funny thing (spoilers coming, so skip this paragraph if you wish); there’s a war over resources, it escalates and the former superpower becomes the underdog when faced with military might, and then there’s a highly unfair peace treaty, wherein the Simoun pilots are forcibly demob’d and the country demilitarised. What the gender-choosing thing is actually for, aside of acting as a fairly superficial gimmick, is to disguise the fact that the plot is an allegory of Japan’s history, 1930-1945, as written by the ultra-nationalists who are once again on the up in Japan today. Japan, they’d contend, was the major power in East Asia in 1930, but an alliance of China and the US managed through a mix of sheer numbers and military superiority to turn the tables on Japan and force the country to accept a peace treaty that disbanded the Japanese military and demilitarised the country. While there are many inevitable differences, not least because of the difference between settings, the similarities are striking.
And therein, perhaps, lies the meaning of Aaeru and Neviril’s superficially baffling disappearance in the last episode, and all the rhetoric about another world actually being the same one in a different time; they are the embodiment of Japan’s fighting spirit, a mixture of Aaeru’s plucky determination and Neviril’s sacred inviolability, shifted through time to where they are needed – presumably, by this rhetoric, in the future. When you take this reading on board, and add in the highly defined and divergant masculine and feminine images and ideals that exist in Japan, one final possible interpretation of the whole gender choice mechanic is that it symbolises the emasculation of Japan, and that people must choose whether to become male and fight for their country or stay female and remain passive non-actors. Perhaps this is how the approaching war at the end of the series should be interpreted. I recall starting to watch Code Geass and being turned off by that series’ overt nationalism, a trait that always rings alarm bells for me. This, however, seems like it could be construed as covert nationalism, which to me is a more out-and-out disturbing trend.
But enough politics; Simoun is supposed to be entertainment primarily, and for me, it succeeds in that aim to a limited degree – but not in the ways it originally intended to. It’s serious moments are frequently hilarious, and its sense of importance is out of proportion to support its ideas with storytelling skills, but like many things that genuinely are so bad they’re good, it tries earnestly. And there’s the whole viewer sadism angle, which will doubtless appeal to many. I’m glad I watched it, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed; the expectations I’d formed by the halfway mark were not really satisfied at the end, and the faux-enigmatic ending was neither satisfying nor suitable. I’m not fond of using genre to create expectations, but really, a series that starts out as a story about combat pilots and makes a big deal of aerial sequences surely NEEDS an aerial battle as a finale, rather than four episodes from the actual end. As for the characters, at least none of my favourites ended up annoying me overmuch; the muted tone of the end and the eventual fates of the characters, including their shared lack of certainty about anything, also bothered me. One thing I can definitely say in Simoun’s favour is that if, like me, you’re given to compulsive analysis of whatever you end up watching, this series will certainly give you plenty to get your teeth into and chew over.
9: Toshokan Sensou
English: Library Wars
MAL Score: 7.46
Toshokan Sensou tells the story of Kasahara Iku, the first woman to join the Library Task Force. In the near future in Japan, the Media Enhancement Law has been forced upon the population censoring all books and media. To counter this, the Library Defense Force was created. To protect themselves against the Media Enhancement Law Commission, all major libraries are fully equipped with a military Task Force, who take it upon themselves to protect the books and freedom of media of the people.
This anime follows Iku and her fellow soldiers as they protect various special books and artifacts from the oppression of the Media Enhancement Law Commission. A love story, war story, and comedy all rolled into one.
The anime is based on a series of four light novels by Arikawa Hiro (entitled Toshokan Sensou, Nairan, Kiki, and Kakumei respectively), which were published from 2006 to 2007. The novels were later serialized in two mangas. The first manga was made by Yumi Kiiro, and published in Lala magazine from September 2007. The second was made by Furudori Yayoi, and was published Dengeki Daioh magazine from November 2007. The twelve episode anime was made by Production IG, and released in April 2008 on Fuji TV’s Noitamina (which is animation written backwards) timeslot.
The basic plot for the novels is based on the "Statement of Intellectual Freedom in Libraries" that went into effect in Japan in 1954. The story is set 30 years after Japan passed the Media Enhancement Act in 1989, a law which effectively gave control of all published material to the government. The law was passed in an effort to censor any media that could be deemed as hazardous to Japanese society, but 30 years later blanket censorships, book burnings, and a culture of fear and exclusion have become the norm for society, as Media Enforcement troops are everywhere.
Because of this, and because of a tragedy that occured 20 years prior to the beginning of the story, the libraries now have their own defense forces, and the main character, Kasahara Iku, joins the Kanto Library Defense Force as she was saved by a member of the that team some years back. The show follows her struggle to become a good librarian and a good member of the defense team.
The art style is very much hit and miss. Although the characters are nicely designed Production IG have adopted a style that has quite noticeable black borders around characters and objects. This give the show a far more "cartoony" feel than it should possibly have, especially during the dramatic moments. This "cartoony" feel can be off putting to some people, whilst others may be oblivious to it.
The backgrounds and settings are well designed, but overall they aren’t anything special. The animation itself is usually quite smooth and flowing, although there are some glaring faults (the scene in episode 11 with a van crashing through a barrier made from two buses and receiving no damage is a prime example).
The sound is okay overall. The OP is nice, if unmemorable, as is the ED. The VA’s are quite good overall. Inoue Marina plays the role of Iku very well, and her voice suits the design of the character. The same goes for the rest of the VA’s with their resepctive characters. The sound effects are pretty good throughout the show. Most of these are used in the more dramatic or action filled moments to good effect.
The characters weren’t bad on the whole. Iku is a nice enough lead on the whole, although I found it a little off putting that she is a stereotypical "jock" (i.e. all muscle and no brain). She is determined and caring, but coupled with that is a short temper, reckless behaviour, a dislike of serious study and classrooms, and a endency to overreact. This can make her character confusing as it’s sometimes unclear how the show is trying to develop her.
The other characters (Doujo Atsushi, Shibasaki Asako, Tezuka Hikaru, etc), receive very little development throughout the course of the show, especially given the fact that the show is about Iku. This makes the show unbalanced as, although we are clear about what drives Iku, we are rarely shown any of the other chaacters’ motivations.
Here’s the reason why I said this show is a bit odd. It never seems to settle on being one thing as it has drama, action, suspense, comedy, and even romance all mixed into it. he unfortunate thing though, is that it never quite pulls of the comedy, the romance is a little on the limp side, the drama is sometimes hammed up, and the suspense is normally easy to work out. Couple this with the cartoon style art and the show is difficult to take seriously.
However, the show is enjoyable on the whole, especially if you don’t treat it as a serious anime. It’s effectively a coming of age story and as such it actually works on quite a few levels.
Toshokan Sensou isn’t a bad show on the whole. Yes, there are some obvious failings in the show, but it is still rather enjoyable in a no-brain kind of way. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wants a serious show, or to anyone who wants a comedy. Although the basic premise is a serious one, the show works better as a straightforward action anime, and as such it’s not a bad way to waste half an hour (hence my overall score of 7).
If you’re going to watch the show then don’t have any expectations of high drama, challenging concepts, or any kind of socio-political message. It doesn’t require any introspection or deep philosophical ponderings, and the best advice is to watch it in the same way you’d watch Die Hard, Rush Hour, or any other action movie.
Most people don’t really mention this but I also consider this a full romance. The relationship between the main characters develops more naturally over time. They are not sappy or fake but there was a lovely tenderness and protectiveness towards one another that was great and heartfelt. And in this anime you definitely get a somewhat satisfying ending vs. most animes that leave things very open ended. I am hoping hoping for a second season because my only complaint would be that this anime was way to short.
The storyline is smart with strong sociological undertones. The advantage is you can choose to really ignore the important issues if you want to you. You can enjoy the action, comedy and romance alone or you can also appreciate the underlying message and concept. Either way, I don’t believe it will diminish your enjoyment of the show.
So overall witty and lovable characters, great story, nice artwork.. this is now one of my top fav. animes of all time.
I failed. I fell in love with this anime.
It deals with a war very unlike Western wars, and with laws very unlike Western laws. In the real world war is incredibly lawless and ugly, and law enforcement is terrible. But this anime deals with an extremely civilized war with very strict rules of engagement, very limited weapons, and scrupulous regard for human life, so it’s not like watching documentary footage of real wars. The war is also in effect a limited civil war, so it’s not like any war story I can recall ever having seen before.
This anime is short but extremely complete. The visuals are gorgeous. The character development, plot, and pacing are very well-balanced. It packs a huge amount of energy into a very concentrated package.
Obscure trivia note:The main character of Mahou Shoujo Tai Arusu was played by Kojima Sachiko, but for whatever reason, I keep thinking that she sounds exactly like Inoue Marina playing the main character of Toshokan Sensou.
8: Senjou no Valkyria
English: Valkyria Chronicles
MAL Score: 7.60
In its expansion west to gain resources, the Europan Imperial Alliance invades the neutral Principality of Gallia, seeking to take control of its vast Ragnite deposits. Their strategic advantage, technological superiority, and military might make opposition nonexistent, so they steamroll through the border of the sleepy principality with ease.
As Imperial forces run through his quiet hometown, Welkin Gunther and his younger sister Isara jump into action, banding with the leader of the local militia to push the occupational forces out of the village. Quickly retreating to the Gallian capital, they are organized into a unit with the remnants of the militia, tasked with assisting in repelling the Imperial presence from the country.
Though unfamiliar with war, the newly formed Squad Seven must defend their country from annexation. But as the battle rages on through the streets of Gallia, ancient secrets will bring the team closer than they’d ever anticipated.
At first glance, this anime probably doesn’t look like anything special. Originally based on a tactical role-playing game of the same name for the PS3, this anime might look like a couple of things. At first glance, it might just look like a military anime that wants to chock itself full of violence and gunplay. However, this is a serious, serious misconception. Let’s get to the review and see why, shall we?
Story: The story that encompasses Valkyria Chronicles is as follows. It takes place in the year 1935, in an alternate history where two opposing military factions, the Empire and the Federation, wage war against one another on the continent of Europa. It’s an alternate WWII inspired-setting, and one of the things that surprised me the most about this anime was a lack of giant robots. Instead, their roles are taken by all manner of tanks, artillery pieces, and other standard military fare, all a-la-Advance Wars. This, I felt, made the anime stronger, as they got by without using a concept used in so many other animes. Continuing with the story, it kicks off in a small town called Bruhl in the neurtal territory of Gallia, where a young girl on town watch, Alicia Melchiott, happens to cross paths with the son of a Gallian General, whose name is Welken Gunther. After this fateful meeting, the two are cast into the military life, where they battle for their lives and lives of their comrades, all while trying to stay relatively sane. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of romance in this anime, and it is some of the best I’ve seen. In general, the plot is pretty amazing in my opinion, and from what I can tell, it follow the game pretty well.
Art: I believe that the art was good, though it could have been done just a little better. I wasn’t a big fan of the use of 3D effects in this anime, though I admit it was probably necessary for some parts. Nevertheless, the character designs are awesome, and remain very close to their game counterparts.
Music: A seriously amazing aspect of the series, in my opinion. Both the OP and ED of the first half were awesome, and the second half, while not as on par, was also good in terms of the musical content. All songs in the anime are definitely iPod worthy, and they easily fit the dramatic mood of the anime.
Characters: Definitely one of my favorite parts of the entire series. All the characters make up a pretty diverse cast. Welken and Alicia remain to be my favorites, mostly for their personalities and mannerisms when around one another. Even still, the other members of the cast didn’t end up just being placeholders. I would warn all who watch this though. Being a dramatic anime, I would expect some important character death. Even still, it doesn’t detract from the series at all, and instead strengthens it greatly.
Enjoyment: Seriously, I believe this anime was extremely enjoyable, to the degree where I couldn’t stop watching for a day straight. It definitely, definitely deserves a spot on your DVD shelf, or on your hard drive.
There’s not much else to say about Valkyria Chronicles. In short, I believe it to be one of the most under-appreciated anime around. In my book, I believe it deserves a perfect 10/10, as it was I believe to be a shining example of what SHOULD be done in an anime series. In all honesty, this anime is highly, highly recommended, and a definite example of a diamond in the rough that should be dug up just a little more often.
I looked for this anime a while ago but I could never find it, either because it hadn’t been released or I simply didn’t look hard enough. The fact that it has been adapted from a game shouldn’t bother the ones who have played the game because it’s a pretty faithful adaptation. The emphasis has simply shifted slightly, from the more war-oriented action game to a more character-driven story.
Story – 9
Yeah like I said the story and its basics are carried over from the game. If you know the game, you’ll know how this ends up. If you haven’t played the game, think of WWII, with the Imperials representing Germany (Does anybody else notice how disturbingly Aryan they all are? Gregor and Maximillian in particular), the Federation representing the Allies and France, the poor country representing Gallia, caught between the two. Unlike Hitler who seemed to start World War 2 just because he could, the Imperials decide to start a war over the mineral Ragnite, the lifeblood of that world. The story follows the exploits of Lieutenant Welkin Gunther and his Merry Men, Women and a Winged Pig, as they fight to protect the homeland from the Imperials. Expect plenty of action and drama, comedy and the the odd love triangle.
Art – 10
Definitely can’t decide if it’s a step up or a step down from the game. However it’s still quite beautiful to watch, because it almost literally is art. You can see where the pencil strokes have fallen. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes but I like it.
Sound – 9
Both Intro and End themes are charming enough and the recycling of the game’s soundtrack will be a pleasant addition for the gamers who watch this and even if you haven’t played the game, you’ll learn soon enough what each piece of music foretells.
Characters – 8
The characters are plain awesome, from the romanticist Faldio, to Marina the Lone Wolf, to Selvaria the busty general of the Imps. Not all of them are prominent but they all feel unique, unlike your generic run-of-the-mill anime crowds.
Why do I only give them an 8? I miss their English voicings. I know, I know but Welkin’s “SQUAD 7! MOVE OUT!” and Largo’s battle cry of “ARGH VEGETABLES!” became almost iconic to me and my friends, so it’s disappointing I don’t get to hear them in the anime.
Enjoyment – 10
Oh yes! To see the epic war for Gallia’s survival without having to suffer through annoyances such as ridiculously agile enemy soldiers and my Edelweiss exploding for no apparent reason satisfied me to no end.
Overall – 10
This is the first 10 I’ve given to an anime. Maybe I’m slightly biased, I don’t know (I probably am), but I genuinely can’t ever remember enjoying a cross-media adaptation of something more. If you’re a fan of the game WATCH THIS! It gives more insight into Squad 7 and it may or may not enhance your gaming experience. If you haven’t played the game WATCH THIS! It’s an enjoyable romp with a band of weirdo’s and a tank that could probably do the donut.
Valkyria Chronicles is not only one of my favorite games for PS3, but one of my favorite games of all time! So how does this anime live up to its video game inspiration? Well…it certainly isn’t bad, but it also could have been a lot better. Give me just a few paragraphs and I will try to explain my thoughts.
As you are well aware, unless you have been living under a rock, there is a genre of fiction called “alternate history”. Alternate history is basically imagining a separate timeline if one or 2 major events went differently. It is widely used across all forms of media from novels to anime to video games. A common sub-genre of alternate history is fantasy alternate history in which magic and different laws of physics exist, so we have to imagine how that would impact the events of history and shape the world. Both Fullmetal Alchemist and Code Geass are within this sub-genre, with FMA taking place in an alternate Nazi Germany and Code Geass also taking place in an alternate WW2 with Japan fighting against the Britannian (American) invaders. Valkyria Chronicles at first just looks like yet another WW2 fantasy alternate history, but it actually does many things quite differently and still feels rather unique.
The next 3 paragraphs are talking about the game Valkyria Chronicles on which this anime was based. If you are already a fan of the game and only wish to read about the anime adaptation, you can just skip these paragraphs and start reading at the Story Section.
Firstly, the alternate technology is powered by a fuel source called “ragnite”, which has its own constraints and drawbacks. These realistic technological limitations prevent limitless asspulls, so it doesn’t get as absolutely ridiculous as some other examples of alternate tech… like the original alternate WW2 story, “The Man in the High Castle” by Philip K Dick. A novel where by 1950 the Nazis have completely terraformed and colonized Venus and by 1960 have colonized every planet in the Solar System! It is fortunate for us Americans and our national pride that the SS Sturmbannführer, Wernher von Braun never saw a copy of High Castle. He would have died laughing and we would have lost the moon race as a result! Thanks a lot Philip K Dick!
Secondly, the writers of the game really did some history research and managed to fit a bunch of obscure and interesting WW2 facts into the game’s story. Here are just a few examples. Remember the absurdly giant tank during the last battle that used naval artillery and was like a battleship on treads? That was based on real blueprints for a German tank called the Landkreuzer P-1000 that ThyssenKrupp pitched to Hitler, who actually greenlit the project! The project was cancelled though in 1943 because the Nazi architect and weapons designer Albert Speer realized that it would be insanely vulnerable to aerial bombardment and suffer the same fate as other absurdly large “wunderwaffen” like the Schwerer Gustav Railway Cannon (which also appears in the game). In the world of Valkyria Chronicles, airpower doesn’t exist so the plan went ahead. The Valkyria in the game’s story are an extremely powerful, ancient race of warriors that came from a now sunken island in the farthest north. Their mystical powers are the result of a special energy that only their race can use, but it is believed they lost their abilities by intermixing with the physically weaker southern races. This backstory was actually taken from the insane beliefs of Nazi occultism espoused by Heinrich Himmler. On a less fun and far more tragic note, The genocidal campaign carried out by the Eastern Europan Empire to exterminate the “Darcsen” race actually follows sequence of the Holocaust fairly accurately with massive propaganda first, then forced labor camps and ghettos, then extermination squads that closely follow and collaborate with the invading Imperial Army to exterminate any Darcsen villages in newly conquered areas, and finally fully operational death camps. Interestingly, in America our experience learning about Nazi genocide consists of reading “Night”, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, “Number the Stars”, and maybe watching “Schindler’s List”. Our school history textbooks only focus on the Western Front, so most Americans believe that the Holocaust was the murder of 6 million Western European Jews who almost entirely died in extermination camps. In reality only 60% of the victims ever saw a camp, with 30% killed by death squads and ghettos making up the remaining 10% of deaths. However, these paramilitary “einsatzgruppen” only operated on the Eastern Front where 5.5 million of the 6 million Jewish deaths occurred, so they have been erased from America’s popular history and collective memory. If you actually visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC or talk to history scholars you will learn about them of course, but in American movies, Television, books, comics, games, you will almost never hear a word about them. Yet in this somewhat obscure JRPG they actually get this detail right! As I said earlier, these are just a few examples.
Lastly, Valkyria Chronicles avoids 2 common mistakes that are often made by lesser quality historical fiction. Valkyria Chronicles always remembers to show war principally as suffering, death, and loss. Many civilians and at least 1 of your main characters will die no matter which actions you choose in the game, or how skilled you become at it. By portraying war as fundamentally inglorious by its very nature, it manages to avoid the jingoistic bullshit that convinces a new generation that war is about an awesome display of patriotism and manliness. War is not something to embrace and look forward to! Valkyria Chronicles also has a diverse cast of characters displaying the good and bad on all sides. Real war is never a simple matter of good vs. evil with an army of noble elves vs. bloodthirsty orcs. In terms of nation, your side has plenty of bastards on it, and the East Europan Empire is given some sympathetic characters. In terms of ethnicity, the main villains are ethnic Germans, but so are many of the heroes including the main hero. Basically, it is a very good game and one I would highly recommend playing, even if you aren’t really into strategy RPGs.
Valkyria Chronicles takes place as previously mentioned in an alternate timeline during a period that roughly corresponds to our timeline’s World War 2.The main story of Valkyria Chronicles is that war has broken out between 2 massive factions over control of a vital mineral resource called “ragnite”. The East Europan Empire decides to invade the small, neutral country of Gallia for its resources and because they believe it wouldn’t really be able to fight back. However, Gallia is home to an extremely brilliant tactical commander named Welkin Gunther, whose father was a revered tank commander from the First Europan War. Welkin’s father was also close friends with a Darcsen engineer that built him a revolutionary new tank model called the Edelweiss. After the famous tank engineer was killed in a car accident, the Gunther family adopted his young daughter Isara, who clearly inherited her father’s brilliance for engineering and revolutionary designs. Welkin teams up with his adopted sister Isara along with a local town watch member in order to escape his hometown with the Edelweiss. Since he brought his own tank and was the son of a national hero, Welkin is given command of a small squadron that soon becomes the absolute bane of the Empire’s existence.
The first half of the anime very closely followed the game’s story, but later a number of really head-scratching changes are made. Every time the anime changed a plot point from the game, they came up with something that wasn’t as good. Why bother changing something if you are just going to make it worse, especially when you have all the time and resources on your side?! The game was complete, so they weren’t forced to go their own route. Basically they changed some things for absolutely no reason and ended up making it worse. The anime also decided to censor itself and really tone down the brutality, which badly undercut important elements of the presentation and themes that the game had. The racial ideology of the Empire and their hatred for the “sub-human” Darcsen race is extremely downplayed in the anime. For example, the labor camp that squad 7 tries to liberate is in far more humane condition in the anime and the Empire only fires artillery at the camp when squad 7 refuses to halt an attack after several warnings. In the game, the Darcsen in the labor camp are herded into a building and set on fire regardless of Squad 7’s actions because the Empire absolutely refused to risk the possibility that Squad 7 succeeds in freeing the Darcsen prisoners. The mobile killing squads (einsatzgruppen) that in the game collaborated with the Imperial Army to exterminate Darcsen villages were completely left out of the anime. No explicit mention of genocide is ever even made in the anime! What is most puzzling of all is that the game was only rated T, so it wasn’t as if the anime needed to make changes to avoid a high rating and release to a wider audience. Basically, the anime self-censored in a way that damaged the product for reasons that don’t even make financial sense! Maybe the marketing team for the anime thought that Neo-Nazis would be the core demographic and they needed to avoid offending them?!
The main character is Welkin Gunther, who is an extremely gifted battle strategist, but detests war and actually just wants to be a teacher. He continues to command only to protect the live’s of his squad. He is extremely quirky and socially awkward, but has a very high standard of morality and leadership. Basically just picture Yang Wenli from Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It’s the same damn character! There is also the shy and brilliant engineer Isara and the fiery love interest Alicia, who has many “tsundere” traits but isn’t constantly punching Welkin for perceived perversion and isn’t extremely obnoxious…unlike most tsundere characters. In the game, Squad 7 has 56 characters that are each given at least 3 paragraphs of backstory, a dozen unique lines of dialogue, and the game actually contains some interesting minor characters. The anime had 26 full episodes and a LOT more time to flesh out the characters, so that’s what they did right? WRONG! The anime actually scraps the vast majority of Squad 7 and decides to focus solely on the main few characters, however it doesn’t even do that well! It would have been at least acceptable if the main 7 characters were given more interesting development and better dialogue, but that doesn’t happen either. In most adaptations like Game of Thrones, there are characters that were more developed and better in the source material (Asha) and characters that were better in the adaptation (Rob Stark). In Valkyria Chronicles, I can’t think of a single character that was better in the anime, despite the massive advantage in time and resources that the anime had over the game. They really fucked up here! There is just no getting around that fact!
The music in the anime is almost entirely music from the game. Why is this a problem? If this was an adaptation of a Final Fantasy game with an amazing soundtrack, it would be perfectly acceptable to use symphonic adaptations of the game’s OST. However, Valkyria Chronicles was NOT a very high quality soundtrack. Although video game soundtracks have come a long way from a 30 second repeating loop being acceptable, an entirely different standard exists for TV shows and movies. What was at least an acceptable soundtrack for an early, sleeper hit PS3 game is a very lackluster soundtrack for a fairly large budget anime. This anime had the money, so why not get better music? You changed the plot and characters for no reason and made them worse, so why bother keeping the 1 thing that could have easily been improved??! Anime director – “Nope, we must keep completely faithful to the original game soundtrack! People love that soundtrack so much that they would never forgive us if we changed it!”
The art is good. If I had to say 1 nice thing about this anime and figure out what the hell happened to all the budget, the answer is the art and animation.
Is Valkyria Chronicles ultimately a bad anime? No. It still has plenty of positive elements and although it is a very watered down adaptation it still manages to be average or slightly better than average compared with the quality of other anime of its year. What frustrates me so much about this anime is that it was a large budget adaptation of an absolutely phenomenal game and SHOULD have been amazing! Instead it was just…meh. So does it fail as an adaptation relative to expectations and budget? You bet your ass it does! I was divided on whether to give it a 6 or a 5 out of 10, but I ultimately went with a very generous 6.
7: Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
English: Now and Then, Here and There
MAL Score: 7.64
Shuuzou “Shuu” Matsutani lives his ordinary life in peace. He has friends, a crush, and a passion for kendo. Dejected after losing to his kendo rival, Shuu climbs a smokestack to watch the sunset where he finds Lala-Ru, a quiet, blue-haired girl wearing a strange pendant. Shuu attempts to befriend her, despite her uninterested, bland responses.
However, his hopes are crushed when a woman, accompanied by two serpentine machines, appear out of thin air with one goal in mind: capture Lala-Ru. Shuu, bull-headed as he is, tries to save his new friend from her kidnappers and is transported to a desert world, unlike anything he has ever seen before. Yet, despite the circumstances, Shuu only thinks of saving Lala-Ru, until he is thoroughly beaten up by some soldiers. As he soon finds out, Lala-Ru can manipulate water and her pendant is the source from which she is able to bring forth the liquid, a scarce commodity in his new environment. But now, the pendant is lost, and Shuu is the prime suspect.
Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku is the haunting story of a dystopian world, and of Shuu, who has to endure torture, hunger, and the horrors of war in order to save the lonely girl he found sitting atop a smokestack.
The hero of this story, Shu, is actually not so much a hero as he is just another victim of an ugly world gone wrong, and one who himself is nearly broken a number of times. What makes him stand out is his stubborn refusal to succumb to the hopelessness and terror of it all, even while everyone around him has been beaten down to the point where they commit terrible acts out of overwhelming fear and a desire to survive—in some cases a distant yet precious hope that if they can make it through, they’ll one day be set free from this hell that holds them captive.
The setting is an alternate world that Shu finds himself pulled into, a bleak dystopian wasteland of endless, bone-dry desert; the atmosphere is stifling and oppressive, a nihilistic Future Boy Conan where skies are not blue, but blood-red, and there isn’t a drop of water to be found. Enter Lala-Ru, a girl who, like Lana of the aforementioned classic, holds a power that can save the world from its ruin—a power that has fallen into the wrong hands. This is very much like a story Hayao Miyazaki might come up with were he feeling suicidally depressed. Lala-Ru, unlike Lana, would sooner let the squabbling humans wither up and die than exert herself to aid them.
It’s easy to understand how Shu must feel, having stumbled into this world gone mad, but while I become more and more depressed and anxious as characters descend further and further into misery and anguish with each episode, Shu never loses his resolve. Even after being beaten and starved and nearly killed a number of times, he retains his determination to protect those in need of help, and to try to reassure them that as grim as things seem, everything will be okay.
It’s tough to believe him, in the face of so much kidnapping, murder, and rape, all at the behest of Lord Hamdo, the completely insane fruitcake dictator of Hellywood and desperate captor of Lala-Ru. Other characters will accuse Shu of lying, and you’ll wonder if there really is any escape from the utterly dismal state of this nightmarish world. But you’ll also find that there are fragments of hope, and in some sense one may ultimately find illumination in all this darkness and despair.
Now and Then, Here and There has a look and feel that suggests it was a project made on a tight budget, yet with a lot of feeling behind it—especially evident in the wistful ending theme. You won’t find yourself impressed with flashy modern animation, but the overall production is sufficient to convey the bleak atmosphere effectively.
The makers of this anime clearly wanted to say something, and they’ve gone about doing so in the most dire, soul-draining way they could muster. It’s up to you if you can weather the journey, but I guarantee you’ll come out on the other end a bit wiser for it.
So this anime starts out like so many others do. A typicial shounen-anime like boy lead nicknamed Shu, who is living is daily life normally in Japan circa 1999, who’s a little slow but good hearted finds a mysterious girl on top of some smoke stacks at the edge of town. He tries to talk to her, and ask her how she got to the top of the other smoke stack, when all of a sudden these futuristic machines get teleported there, and the people controling them want to capture this girl (named Lala-Ru). Bust just like in any typicial shounen-anime our hero tries to save her, a bit a little stupidely, but he tries. He ends up being teleported to the strange world (possibly the future of earth) along with these strange military people, and Lala-Ru. The place he gets transported to is called “Hellywood” , and he gets separated from Lala-Ru, and accidentally get’s her pendant. But this is were the similarities with all other anime series pretty much stops. After this point this anime evolves into something much, much more. It’s a dark seinen series, about how war effects people, and can destory the lives of everyone. It’s also grounded in reality, even though most of the events take place in this “distant world”, it’s very realistic and feels as though most of this could happen right now (and to be fair, it was inspired by horrble events that happened in Africa over ten years ago). This anime is brutally honest, it doesn’t sugar coat anything, nor does it glorify war or violence. It’s a slap to the face to the DBZ’s and Naruto’s as well as many American war movies and novels of our current era. It also has a very powerful and blunt statement. But it’s much, much more then that too. The story is emotional, engaging, and one of the best overall stories I’ve ever seen. The only “problem” I can find with the story is it isn’t very “deep”, it’s a pretty straightforward, simple story, not very layered, but it wasn’t going for deep in that sense anyway. It does have a message, and a point to it all, and it’s a very good story. I can’t mark it down for that small problem so 10/10.
It’s a little dated, but it’s still very beautiful. For whatever reason the powers that be decided to give this anime a more “simple” look to it. When compared to other anime from around or before it’s time (Revolutionary Girl Utena, To Heart, Cowboy Bebop) it’s not as detailed. This does not make it ugly, far from it. Still it’s not the best animation and art ever, even given it’s time. Cowboy Bebop truly shows what could be done with technology of the time, and a extremely large budget. This anime has no use of CGI or other computer techniques that newer anime series use. It’s not as flashy as Cowboy Bebop (1998), and no where near as nice looking as say Black Lagoon (2006), a newer anime for example. The character designs are simple but effective, and the background art is very beautiful. The sunset in episode one is something to really enjoy, feel free to pause and just look at how nice it is. It’s clear this anime was not made with a very large budget, but it still is very nice looking at times, esecially backgrounds. Don’t let the dated animation turn you off this show, because it is an amazing series. This anime proves you don’t need flashy animation, and gimmicks to make a great anime, all that’s needed is a good story, and some talented people involved.
The music in this series is quite amazing. From it’s very nice opening theme to it’s background music everything is great! The ending theme is one of my favorites from any anime, because not only is it a great song, but it helps to calm the audience down after seeing some brutal and disturbing stuff. This anime has some of the best use of music I’ve ever seen.
The dub for this anime was recorded at Taj Studios Inc (NYC), for Central Park Media. The group of actors from New York City have proven themselves to be a talented bunch, but sadly many of the producations are still very poor. I think they get a bad rap due to the many poor 4Kid’s dubs these guys have been in though. They are great actors, and they have have good directors and writers that work for the dubbing studios in NYC too. Luckily this is one of the best dubs I’ve ever heard, and definitely my favorite dub from a studio in/near New York City. The first episode starts off a little iffy, strong but with some awkard lines here and there (no pun intended) but afterwards it’s really a top level dub. This anime needed a good dub, and CPM reconized that and allowed extra time for the dubbing to take place. Actors got to watch the entire show once or twice through before even starting on this anime. Special attention was given to this dub, and it clearly shows. With well known actors/actresses like Lisa Ortiz, Dan Green, Crispin Freeman, and Rachael Lillis giving great performances (that we’ve come to expect from them), but the one who steals this anime is Jack Taylor. He plays the horrible and insane ruler of Hellywood, King Hamdo, and he nails it! Jack Taylor is incredibly frightening and convincing! You would NOT want to deal with King Hamdo! If Jack Taylor’s performance was not as strong as it is, the entire show might have buckled under the weight of that. The man should get an award for what he did in this show. He makes you hate Hamdo, with an undieing passion! Another relatively unknown, Dana Halsted, plays his assistant Lady Abelia, and she quickly gets used to her role. She gives out another great performance. Everyone in this anime knows their roles, and can really act. Only problem with the dub is the confusion on how to say the name “Nabuka”. That and some may say a few of the children sound a little too old. I however did not think so at all. Both are forgivable seeing how amazing this dub is. The dub script stays pretty close to the subtitle track, as many CPM titles tend to do. This is one to show to the sub-only fans!
(I checked out the sub and it seemed fine to me)
This is not an anime you will “enjoy” as a form of entertainment. This is not an action show, this is not a comedy, this is some serious stuff! This is an anime that will be hard to re-watch because it is very depressing, very dark, and very distrubing. But this is an anime you will be very happy you watched. This is an anime that truly uses the medium to it’s full advantage, much in the same way Grave of the Fireflies did. I can’t imagine watching this as a live action movie, or reading it as a book. Anime is the perfect medium for this story. It may be a little too dark and depressing for some, but if you have the strength to finish it, you will look back at it and say “that was amazing”.
Very well directed and written story. The animation may be a little dated and simple but it’s still very nice and it works, and the music is stunning. The dub is one of the best from NYC, and it’s one to test on those subtitle only type people, but the subtitle track is perfectly alright as well. Both are very good. This anime is very dark, disturibing, depressing, visualy graphic at times, but it’s still one of the best stories ever told. Brutal, but brutally honest and realistic. Highly recommended esecially to those who like Grave of the Fireflies , fans of Mohiro Kitoh’s mangas, or fans of Akitaro Daichi (who want to see him do something darker). Actually if you are a human being (and even if your not, lol) I suggest this to you, as long as you can deal with it. It’s really 16+ due to the subject matter,violence, implied rape, visually graphic scenes, and overall dark tune. Much of the violence is aimed at innocent children, and it makes it much worse. A very mature series, but a true masterpeice.
I don’t really like the “Lord of the Ring” books all that much. One of the main reasons for this is that there are points in the books when it felt like it’s trying to be a fairy tale adventure for kids (the Tom Bombadil part especially), and then the next moment, it gets all serious again, trying to be an adult’s fantasy novel. As a result I was confused over what frame of mind I should be reading it in.
Unfortunately, “Now and Then, Here and There” suffers from the same problem. My initial impression was that it’s meant to be an anime aimed for younger viewers, due to the simplistic character design style which gave it an almost Studio Ghibli kind of look. In episode 2 or 3 the anime starts showing its true colours, portraying the kind of disturbing violence and cruelty that makes it obvious that it isn’t meant for kids. And yet, and yet… the kid’s style animation is still there, glaring out at me from my screen, sending contradicting signals into my brain and confusing the hell out of me. The early sudden change of settings in the opening episode definitely didn’t help me get to grips with this anime either.
“Now and Then, Here and There” seems to be made with a specific purpose in mind, with a specific set of morals they wanted to tell through the anime, and it does succeed at times through some really hard hitting moments that may have caused many other viewers to forget its flaws. However, I found myself unable to look past its flaws and enjoy the show – its attempt to get its message across is just too amateurish because its story and characters often don’t hold water.
The primary example here is King Hamdo. No doubt other viewers have already pointed out that history has shown how such an insane dictator can exist, and most likely pointed to dictators such as Hitler as evidence. But, in reality, there are always complications that give rise to such situations whilst in contrast, “Now and Then, Here and There” gives you a retarded version that just shouts at you: “the leader is mad… just like it can be in real life!!” You can only get away with this kind of simplification of “Mad King ruler” if you’re spoonfeeding a fairy tale to children, for whom the content of this anime obviously isn’t suitable for. I haven’t studied other dictators in history lessons, but I can tell you a thing or two about Hitler that I learnt back in school all those many years ago (bear in mind that even this is a watered down version for kids, and the reality would have been even more complicated). Yes, Hitler may have been crazy, but there was far more to him than that. He had amazing leadership ability, and was one of the finest orators of the 20th century. He wove a magic spell over the German population, raising morale, restoring German pride and giving them new hope when the nation was suffering in the wake of an economic collapse in combination to the backlash of losing World War I. And what’s more, he delivered. Germany was on its knees when he came to power, and not only did he led them to recovery, he led them back up pecking order into a position to challenge the most powerful nations in the world at the time. Although in retrospect, it seems unthinkable someone like him could have got hold of power, when you take a closer look at the details, it does make you see how it could have happened.
Now lets take a look at King Hamdo. He’s obviously mad. Um… that’s it. Oh yea and he’s incompetent and is totally devoid of charisma. Wait! Why is he in power again?? Sure his fortress made his army practically invincible, but that isn’t exactly because of his competency. A muppet could sit there and produce much the same result, so what’s stopping people from overthrowing him? It seems infeasible that he could stay in power like that, especially considering that, from the way his subjects seem to feel about him, it doesn’t appear to be the kind of monarchy where people see the King as some kind god’s chosen – it feels closer to a dictatorship that’s evolved from a military organisation. How can someone as useless and mad as King Hamdo keep his grip on his position in this kind of environment when he can’t even keep his hold on his own sanity (or even give the impression that he is anything other than mad)?
Then we have Hamdo’s second in command Abelia, who isn’t really a bad person at all. I can’t understand why she hasn’t taken power over from Hamdo, especially in this military environment that requires discipline and cool headed decision making. As King Hamdo is clearly in no condition to rule, you’d think someone like Abelia would just confine him somewhere, take care of him, and stop him from hurting everyone including himself. But instead she chooses to just stand around taking abuse and having her conscience knocked about on a daily basis. But of course, if she takes a course of action that actually made sense, then there would be no half-built platform for the anime to launch its intended messages from etc -_- I waited and waited to see why Abelia was so obedient to Hamdo, but still couldn’t find the answer by the end, and can only conclude that it hasn’t been thought through properly.
Instead of showing some of the realistic dilemmas of war like, say, “Gundam Seed”, “Now and Then, Here and There” opts to go for the simplified, one sided “fighting is bad, full stop” version, and ends up tripping over it’s own messages. By painting in such a saintly light one of the characters Sis who, without providing an alternative solution, is against any sort of action against Hamdo, and also painting all those who wants to take action against Hamdo as being hot headed youths, the anime is clearly endorsing her pacifist view. But at the same time, it unwittingly showed the fact that doing nothing is probably is why things have become so bad in the first place. Hamdo’s own sustained grip on power is due to the unwillingness of his subordinates to overthrow him. How many lives are lost because of this kind passiveness? I’m not annoyed about which particular side of the argument that “Now and Then, Here and There” has chosen, but I’m annoyed that it has chosen to present it in such a black and white, overly simplified manner, and I’m also annoyed that it doesn’t make a particularly good argument for its case – it’s a bit someone like preaching against violence of any kind, including fighting back, while a crazy guy is running around unrestrained in the background mowing people down with a chainsaw.
Unlike “Lord of the Rings”, the fantasy world in “Now and Then, Here and There” is severely lacking in details. We are thrown straight into this chaotic world, and at no point in the anime do we get to hear an explanation for how it got into this mess. I want to know how it happened, and I want to know about all the strange technology this world possesses. Why are they so desperately short of water when they have all this technology to go to other worlds? Can’t they just appear near a massive lake in one of these other worlds and collect water?! You can argue that this isn’t the point of the anime, but because of the omission of such information, it’s not really easy to get a good grasp of the situation or to sympathise with the unwillingness of the characters to do the right thing. For example, if more background information is provided, then I *may* be able to understand why King Hamdo holds so much power over his subjects, for example. Throughout the series, I couldn’t help but constantly questioning many aspects of “Now and Then, Here and There”, and when this happen it’s almost impossible to really enjoy the show.
“Now and Then, Here and There” is by no means a bad anime, though. At the end of the day, King Hamdo doesn’t get that much screen time – he’s just someone who annoyed me immensely with his mere existence. The main character also quite annoying with his incredulously happy-go-lucky attitude – is he from some alien race that are incapable of feeling pessimistic or something? But those aside, there are some fairly interesting characters that I would have liked to have seen more of, but their potential are not fully explored for the most part. Some of the emotions generated by the series feel very real and touching (something that’s well reflected in the slow, contemplative ending theme), and the portrayal of issues such as rape is very gritty – much more convincing than some shallow attempts made by other shows such as “Elfen Lied”. But at the end of the day, its childishly simplistic view of dark, complex issues just doesn’t work. It’s a bit like reading a twisted version of a fairy tale like Snow White where an extra bit of storyline got inserted, in which she gets raped by one of the seven dwarves or something, and has to deal with the mental trauma that results from it – it’s just feels all wrong and out of place! I guess you could say that “Now and then, here and there” does kind of live up to its title though – it doesn’t seem to quite know what it’s doing, so ends up being a bit here and a bit there, and ultimately neither completely here nor there. I was really expecting something so critically acclaimed to be better constructed!
6: Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin
English: Alderamin on the Sky
Japanese: ねじ巻き精霊戦記 天鏡のアルデラミン
MAL Score: 7.69
Ikta Solork is a carefree young man who only wants two things in life: a woman on his arm and a place to nap. Unfortunately, his peaceful life is destroyed when war breaks out between the Katjvarna Empire and the neighboring Republic of Kioka. Ikta and his childhood friend, Yatorishino Igsem, join the army as military officers, where they meet the infantryman Matthew Tetojirichi, the sniper Torway Remion, and the medic Haroma Becker on a boat heading for the military exam site.
However, after a rogue storm sinks their vessel, the five of them end up in enemy territory near a military outpost. There, they discover that the heir to the Katjvarnan throne, Princess Chamille Kitora Katjvanmaninik, has been taken hostage. The five are able to rescue her, and as a reward, each one of them is granted the title of Imperial Knight—one of the highest honors a soldier can receive. It seems that Ikta will have to put his dream of tranquility on hold, as he must now become the hero he never wanted to be.
The anime is essentially composed of a few sections, which each section tidying up neatly, while still being open to the next section. This allows the anime to flow nicely, though unfortunately, also leaves the series with a somewhat open ending; though the arc is tidies up, the viewer is left knowing that much is to follow along with foreshadowing, and it just isn’t covered. Granted, anime based off of light novels serve not just to gather and entertain viewers, but to serve as an advertisement of sorts for the novel series, so this is to be expected.
As for the specifics, while the whole premise isn’t made entirely clear, enough information is given to where the viewer won’t dwell on the lack of information; also keep in mind, it’s common for lots of details to miss making it from the novel series to the anime, so for minimal omission to seem apparent is pretty good on the anime’s part. The setting seems to be perhaps a fantasy enlightenment period, with the main contrast being the female military uniforms, which have leggings and school skirts (since how could any anime girl not wear a pleated skirt as part of her main outfit?). Though the fantasy element is light, involving only the use of spirits (which some scenes may have you wondering whether they are fantasy or more sci-fi), the implementation of the spirits in the series adds to the fantasy feel.
What can I say? It’s not terrific, nor experimental, but it’s clear and crisp. Nothing to wow over, but nothing to complain over either.
The voices suited the characters well I feel. The opening and closing also fit the series. The series does a good job overall with using music in scenes, though there were a couple times where it bordered annoying for me.
While the main characters fall into stereotypes, they were portrayed well, to where they helped the story. A few of the characters remained rather static, while a few of the others grew over the course of the anime, which fit into the character types. The series also does a good job in reminding us that the characters are in a war.
This series had a mix of my favorite genre, favorites character types, and was based of a novel series so I started watching it expecting to highly enjoy it; thankfully, for me at least, it met my expectations.
Overall, I give this series a 9. I can see someone who’s into “typical” shounen anime finding this series slow and boring, so if fast-paced action is what you’re looking for, this series may not be for you. While this is a fantasy military anime, this is of a totally different strain than, say, the Gundam series. If you enjoy seeing what happens behind the action in war scenes, with action scenes involving character’s planning counter-actions as much as actual action, this series is one you’ll likely enjoy. If a semi-open ending is something that will bug you, you’ll have to personally decide whether it’s worth watching; if you enjoy this series, by the end you’ll be wishing the light novels were being published by Yen Press. Hope this helped!
The plot isn’t original, but that isn’t always a bad thing. Alderamin is mainly focused on the war between two neighboring empires Katjvarna and the Republic of Kioka, and the struggles of Ikta and his comrades fighting in the war. Besides the ongoing warfare between the two countries, there are also tension within the empire and other battles with various clans. The usage of strategies are pretty good and the battles are meaningful. Unfortunately, early on, Alderamin suffers from a slow start, taking around three episodes to really get going and not really explaining too much during that time. However, after a couple of episodes, Alderamin quickly grew on me. The first real battle scene they showed brought a lot of promise, and it brought a much needed darker tone to the story. One thing I would’ve liked explained earlier though, was this little things called spirits who help fight in battle. They are there, but aren’t exposed enough until late in the show. To be really honest, I feel like the show could’ve done just fine without these little creatures.
These problems could’ve been fixed had there been more episodes. I always feel like 13 episodes or 1 cour isn’t enough for many, especially action/war based anime to really accomplish their full potential in terms of storytelling, characters, and the overall depth. Most of the times, the story will be rushed, and in Alderamin’s case, since it started of very slow, the anime suffered from pacing and development issues.
The animation is the standout point of the series for me. Although a bit inconsistent in pacing at times, Madhouse still impressed me in the end. The efforts they put in each episode in terms of the action is refreshing to see. In an anime like this, awesome battles need to make you feel excitement and hyped, and madhouse delivers just that. The battles are brutal and bloody. The character designs are pretty good and the animation as a whole was crisp.
The op and ed are great, but a part of me wishes that the soundtracks were more memorable. It is good for what it is; doesn’t feel out of place or anything, but it could have been better and more impactful. The voice acting is pretty good for each characters and personalities. We could’ve used a little bit more emotion in their voice though.
One of my favorite aspects of the series is definitely the MC, Ikta Solork. He isn’t like all those generic, hardworking MCs like other series. In fact he is lazy and doesn’t hide his love for women. However, beneath that layer, you really get to know that he is very intelligent and caring for his comrades. He isn’t afraid to take risks in battles and forming strategies. He manages to somehow be badass while having a lazy personality. Although he isn’t the greatest character, he is a breath of fresh air from the overdone MC cliches. In a way he could be compared to Itami from the Gate series. Both are lazy and aren’t exactly that “hero” type but their other personality shines in battles.
Although the other main cast is on the generic side, one other character that deserves a mention is the main heroine Yatori. Although she herself could be classified as a generic female MC of any battle anime, it is her relationship with Ikta that makes her likable. Although she is the stronger fighter, you can tell that she still looks up to Ikta’s talents and believes in him during when others might doubt his strategies. She isn’t annoying nor thinks she is supreme to the MC in any way, which was refreshing to see at times.
Besides the two MCs, the other characters, besides Chamille are a bit underdeveloped. The unfortunate thing about this is that normally, if the characters were entertaining enough, I wouldn’t have minded if the development happened later on in the series, but for Alderamin, the other characters aren’t just interesting enough. One thing I did like is that the main cast all had a purpose for fighting in the war, whereas in many other anime, the purpose can be buried away without explanation. Also they are actually helpful. However, they certainly could’ve been written a bit better.
Overall, Alderamin on the Sky is an good show, but nothing outstanding. It starts slow but once the pace picks up, it becomes an entertaining show for what it is. The plot could have been better, the characters could have certainly be explored more, and it indeed stayed on the generic side of things at times, but the intense battle scenes and the fun personality of the MC kept me wanting for more. With the story not yet being finished, we are left with an open ending. Alderamin on the Sky is definitely a worthwhile show to pick up.
This anime was actually quite the surprise where it was presented at first as a typical battle harem anime, but instead brought us an anime about tactical warfare and two rather unique main characters.
The plot of Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin is more focused on it’s war themes as well as their religious elements that enforces the war themes and puts them in conjunction with it’s interesting characters.
Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin’s chaarcter like Ikta Solork voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto and Yatorishino Igsem voiced by Risa Taneda are some very interesting characters, Ikta is forced to be in the army after an incident where he wanted to have a more relaxing life and commonly disobeys the the higher ups (or be smarter than them in general), he is by all accounts a genius tactician but wants to use the easiest or the most peaceful way to resolve things…sure he’s a womanizer typical of the battle harem anime, but this really isn’t a battle harem anime. As for Yatorishino, she is more or less the main heroine of this anime and is the “OP class character”, but she develops as to why she has her deadpanned and loyal behavior to both the Empire and Ikta. As for the other cast members like Chamille Kitora Katjvanmaninik voiced by Inori Minase, the third princess of the Katjvarna Empire, Haroma Becker voiced by Haruka Chisuga a medic, Torway Remion voiced by Ryousuke Kanemoto a sniper and Matthew Tetojirichi voiced by Junji Majima the second lieutenant in the main cast group although some do get their small character arcs like Torway and Chamille, the plot tends to focus more on Ikta and Yatorishino as well as it’s more serious war storyline than anything else. But for LA’s favourite character in the anime it easily goes to the badass Yatorishino…because she’s a BADASS, not to mention her relationship with Ikta is a rather unique one from “typical battle harem fair”. Which brings up a good point, as much as Yatorishino is LA’s favourite character and an utter badass, it’s Ikta that steals the show with his genius level intellect and tactical cunning on the battlefield.
Really the “typical harem fair” isn’t a bad thing as it hardly IS a battle harem, instead it’s more of a tactical warfare anime and brings up it’s themes of war as a template, quite easily it tells us about how “tradition” although makes the foundation can’t withhold without the passing of time as such Ikta is showing us that things need to change for the “tradition” to stay and “evolve”, tradition being in place of the Empire’s military regime and it’s evolution in Ikta and his strategies and evolution in military power and really even the themes of this anime can hold the anime on it’s own as it is profound in how they execute it. On a grander scale, it also shows the corruption of the “side” Ikta is in and how he with his different outlook and genius intellect on the battlefield can change the tide of the WHOLE Empire and raze the corruption with his beliefs of protecting those closest to him and NOT for “winning” the praise of the corrupt Empire he’s serving under forceful pretenses.
As later down to line, the plot changes to two “genius commanders” going at it a la L and Light just under a warfare setting and really it really exposes how Ikta is on the OTHER side of the “great battles that whittle down or outright decimate the opposition”, it also once again develops Ikta by going into detail what kind of mental gymnastics he’s trying to think up trying to both protect his army and defeat the opposing warring army (by the way it’s these kinds of tactical warfare LA really gets invested in). On the supporting side it also shows that Yatrisino will always have Ikta’s back even in DEATH really cementing this dynamic of commander and soldier. Because of this kind of focus on Ikta and Yatorishino as well as the “other genius-equal to Ikta”, the focus really kicks Torway, Matthew and Haroma into minor character status and are really turned into pawns for Ikta in the process. The least developed character all round actually goes to Chamille the Princess as she is essentially in the sidelines as Ikta and his army is trying to defend against this new warring army.
The plot twists really comes in once Ikta has an equal fighting against him from the later storyline and just seeing the “game of chess” these two play and how they outwit each other makes the “warfare plot twists” all the more intriguing. Outside from that storyline, it is expected Ikta to survive along with his group and yes for the most part he does, but when other minor characters get into the mix and Ikta WANTS to protect them, that is where the plot twist deaths comes in and some are really unpredictable at times which again hones in in Ikta’s belief to protect everyone but even if he has the intellect to do so but doesn’t have the power to also comes in. Because of this, Ikta really is a fleshed out character from his beliefs to his intellect to his focus on the plot itself.
In terms of animation, the animation done by Madhouse, well it’s expected of Madhouse to put this much detail in everything and they succeeded once again, from the tactical battles, to the medieval-ish anachronistic weaponry to the polished character designs make the animation look very nice to watch and as for the battles, well some of the best battles and gorn goes to Yatorishino’s battles, but the more widespread out tactical warfare has it’s animation moments as well.
In terms of voice acting, well across the board, the voice acting was amazing, though LA’s favourite voice actor HAS to go to Risa Taneda as Yatorishino, her “himedere” vocals were always great to hear. Not much to talk with voice acting section other than it was amazing and expected LA was gonna go for Risa Taneda.
Ohh boy the ending…guess Madhouse has ANOTHER sequel LA wants outta shows they made and Nejimaki is no exception. Yes the ending left at a really great point in the story and focuses in Princess Chamille and Ikta about the Empire itself and because of what Chamille wants Ikta to do and “complicated” notion of doing such a thing has gotten LA intriguing and wanting more which was why yes, it left in a “read the manga” ending. Before that the previous “arc” between Ikta and Jean (the other genius commander) was left though anti-climactically, once again the tactics Ikta used was GREAT in making the climax of the battle of attrition Ikta and Jean went through all the more worth it no matter how anti-climactic it was.
Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin by all means has it’s problems and strengths as typical for any kind of media but for LA, Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin shined when talking about the tactical warfare element as well as Ikta and Yatorishino’s relationship as well as in the animation, it’s flaws came in that the supporting cast members were nothing but that and some people might see that Ikta as the source of the problem as he is your “win all OP protagonist under the “genius” character”. But with this LA can say that Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin has been more of a hidden gem of Summer 2016, seeing a fictional land give realistic terms of warfare and it’s implications it has before and after the battle has been done and the dynamic between Ikta, Chamille and Yatorishino shows it in the form of the Empire’s corruption, ideals and hierarchy.
5: Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri
Japanese: GATE（ゲート）自衛隊 彼の地にて、斯く戦えり
MAL Score: 7.71
Off-duty Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) officer and otaku, Youji Itami, is on his way to attend a doujin convention in Ginza, Tokyo when a mysterious portal in the shape of a large gate suddenly appears. From this gate, supernatural creatures and warriors clad in medieval armor emerge, charging through the city, killing and destroying everything in their path. With swift actions, Youji saves as many lives as he can while the rest of the JSDF direct their efforts towards stopping the invasion.
Three months after the attack, Youji has been tasked with leading a special recon team, as part of a JSDF task force, that will be sent to the world beyond the gate—now being referred to as the “Special Region.” They must travel into this unknown world in order to learn more about what they are dealing with and attempt to befriend the locals in hopes of creating peaceful ties with the ruling empire. But if they fail, they face the consequence of participating in a devastating war that will engulf both sides of the gate.
Gate: jieitai kanochi nite kaku tatakaeri, also known as Gate, starts the show with a unique performance and leaves the viewers speechless while trying to grasp the situation. On the surface, this series doesn’t sound like it would make a good series. Sum up with the main lead, Youji Itami, who’s already aged 33 years old. Perhaps this is one of the most courageous steps I’ve ever seen. It’s nothing personal, but the anime industry has always had teenagers as the main characters for a reason. Gate, on the other hand, put a mature and adult man as their main lead, which is rather impressive and daring. As they risk losing their current viewers, Gate manages to show that it can outdo the whole situation. I must commend this series because the producers have been doing a good job of developing the characters in the series well, along with communicating a larger theme about humanity in general.
Gate: jieitai kanochi nite kaku tatakaeri will be one of the most popular anime soon enough, and definitely for a good reason. The series starts its pace rather slowly at first but is very effective and refreshing for a better outcome.
The technical aspects of the show are really good. Though Gate never loses its character focus, the idea of spending a lot of time exploring political, economics, philosophical and a wide variety of subjects in the fantasy world can be very boring. But Gate manages to show how it is important for us to understand the motivations of characters. As well, it is necessary to understand the series better. In terms, the series tries its best to describe the best path for humanity in this fictional world. It has its merits and its flaws, but above all, it is not simple. This issue is rather complex to be discussed or used in an anime series, and yet Gate does a nice job of playing out the controversial themes.
Despite what I’ve said, the realistic way the Gate tries to show sometimes can be frustrating with its lack of deeper themes. The plot is quite smart, but also a little more complex than it seems. Still, the developments in the series just make you want to dive deeper and deeper into the series. The interaction between all the characters is well managed to make the show feel alive.
The art and animation of this series are very nice indeed. The Gate background has been designed with the best effort, vivid colors, and lines to stylize the characters in a way. The art has been nicely drawn with a little bit of a different style to make it more realistic. Either way, both the art and animation are incredible, created for the Gate series. The high-end action is carefully placed and top-notch. The value of the background is valued by the Gate series.
The soundtrack is quite cool, with the outstanding Op and Eds, capturing the viewer’s eye within the series. This is a stunning aspect. Not to mention the sound effects. Added to the previous two, this takes the series to a new stage of fantasy and admiration.
In a sense, Gate appears to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. I’m not particularly boasting about this series. Because Gate is an excellent and enraging work that doesn’t lose its main theme focus, the characters never lose their character development as well. While, on the other hand, Gate also focused on several high-class issues and problems that have plagued this world for a long time. This is a brilliant piece of surreal fantasy fiction that works on nearly every level. If you are against the idea of political or philosophical exploration, just pay it no mind, but it will be a great loss and affect your view of the series. Honestly, I can’t complain about this series at all. On a pure level, this show is truly impressive.
Why, you ask? Because Japan needs more technology and minerals and such because nationalism says so. Oh, and some humanitarian reasons, but those aren’t as important.
The plot kicks off when out of nowhere a gate appears and from it come a bunch of orcs and medieval troops that indiscriminately kill civilians, wreck the place and interrupt the otaku event the protagonist was planning to visit. As so it happens, the protagonist is not only an otaku but also a member of the SDF (Japanese military), and once the initial attack has been dealt with, he joins the force sent through the gate.
This fantasy land is declared a part of Japan, named the Special Region, because why not? (Nice name, by the way; that’s what I’d call a fantasy land too if I ever occupied one.) The Japanese constitution forbids (at the moment, anyway) deploying the SDF abroad, but I guess that’s one way around it: just annex territory arbitrarily and suddenly it’s all Japanese soil. Some fighting ensues, but no worries: their enemies are so outgunned they might as well be throwing rocks at them. Aside from the technology gap, these feudal lords also come from the Zapp Brannigan school of tactics with plans like:
1. Suicidal charge,
2. Suicidal charge, and
3. Suicidal charge under the cover of night (worth a shot, I guess?)
Actually, that was kind of the idea behind the original invasion into Japan: go to an unknown land without any intel or recon and slaughter everything for fun and profit. …Yeah.
Soon enough our merry band can venture further into this land while talking about their waifus and singing magical girl theme songs, eager to meet the local catgirls. In the process they recruit mages, elves and goth lolis. The writers thought the SDF wasn’t overpowered enough, so the goth loli happens to be an invincible demigod priestess who effortlessly crushes everything in her path. The tone of the show is what you might expect, with slaughter and fanservice taking turns. What is a hot bath scene without people’s arms flying off afterwards?
There is also a cultural clash going on, which is used for dialogue like:
“I had no idea our world had [insert everyday thing here].”
“Princess, this is another world!”
Repeat it a few times and you have comedy gold.
Some of the cultural misunderstandings actually make sense, such as the different interests of a feudal society and a modern country, the treatment of prisoners or the idea of throwing a half-naked woman at the protagonist to earn his favor. Actually, the last one just might have worked if he hadn’t been distracted by all the animal girl maids already. And who can blame him for being distracted? Barely dressed girls keep throwing themselves at him out of coincidence or because he’s just that awesome.
If it isn’t obvious by now, the operation beyond the Gate is a one-country effort. Sharing resources with others? Don’t be ridiculous. The US, Russia and China (the rest of the world doesn’t exist) don’t deserve their slice of the cake. Especially America. “A sky with no civilian or US planes in it is a dream come true” for Japanese fighters.
Of course, this is all run by the SDF. Civilian personnel? Media presence? Dream on. All we need is the SDF. Who else would defend Japanese interests? The Japanese government is corrupt and easily swayed. The parliament is a bunch of idiots who want to mess with the SDF’s business for no reason. How dare they ask questions about civilian casualties under a media blackout? Eventually there is an entire town for the locals, with shops and everything. Would now be a time to bring in civilians? No, that could get in the way of the runaway militarism we have going on. To maintain order, some of the locals are actually given armbands with “Military Police” on them.
The visuals include machine guns, missiles, tanks, artillery, copters and fighters, which is nice. Sadly most of the soundtrack is not Wagner, which is a shame because that would be poetic justice.
By the way, it is never explained how the Gate was built. Did the Empire build it (which I kind of doubt) or just find it? Are there more of them? If you are after fantasy tech, shouldn’t this be near the top of your list? Think about it: you could discover a Stargate network and explore even more worlds for even more glorious nationalism! But nope, never mentioned.
Now let’s all take a moment and salute the Japanese flag flying in the distance.
Gate – Jieitai Kare no Chi nite Kaku Tatakaeri (Gate – Thus the JSDF Fought There) or simply known as GATE is a television series that adapts the light novel of the same name. It was originally serialized online on a novel website called “Arcadia” but later got published as a book in 2010. The series also has a manga that is based on the story with the same main characters. Speaking of which, Itami is the main male protagonist of the show and it’s easy for us to get familiarized with him. Despite being a soldier, he’s actually quite more like an otaku with his fascination for fantasy. This lands him in a position where he happily investigates the fantasy world beyond the GATE. Little does he know that is more than what he can bite off.
The show itself adapts many elements that blurs between lines of fiction and reality. The fiction part obviously comes with the fantasy creatures like elves, dragons, and even a demi-god. JSDF (Japan Self-Defense Forces) has more of the reality role. Their military is equipped with high level technology and hence were able to fight against the fantasy world in the beginning. There was even an infamous event known as the “Ginza Incident” when monsters appeared in the Ginza, a real world location and made a memorable massacre. Of course, JSDF responded fiercely and showed that humanity is a doorknob to absolutely nobody. By establishing such a premise, it’s no wonder that the show has a lot of potential. Think about it really, when you have a war that is more than just about imperialism, it shows how much it can evolve. Throughout the story of GATE, we see much of that with cultural, political, and military themes.
GATE’s characters are highly diverse not just because of personalities but by races. No, I’m not just talking about nationalities but also non-humans. The main core consists of three girls – Tuka Luna Mareau (a 165 year old elf), Lelei La Rellena (a 15 year old human from the fantasy world), and Rory Mercury (a demi-goddess who is apparently over 900 years old). These characters have different personalities but also creates fascination as they enter the real world. What we witness throughout the story is how they adapt with real world concepts such as modern life technology and politics. Additionally, a plus side about the show is that the human characters are fairly mature. Itami is an older male (as opposed to the high school teenagers you’d commonly see these days) and has a strong interest in otaku. His military experience also gives him an edge when negotiating with certain parties and we see a lot of what he is capable of throughout the story. His relationship with co-workers from the Third Recon unit also gives us a firm idea of his personality – a casual guy who is kind at heart and easily able to make friends with others.
From the fantasy world, there are also other regions that establishes the clever creativity of this how. For instance, there’s the special region that is composed of an empire with a diverse cast of characters. Pina, the princess of that empire, hopes to establish peace with Japan. There are obvious reasons for this but the show also affirms her personality as a proud princess who is caring towards her people. Furthermore, the show has a strong emphasis of its world fiction. Landscapes and towns are built with resourceful elements of fantasy to make the other world look legitimate. Similarly, there’s a creatures that show their menacing presence while establishing dominance in their world.
An interesting idea about the show also comes from the political affairs of the story. In the second half of GATE, we get politics as there’s some strong indication that not everyone is in favor of the “special region” idea. So in essence, the show plays its part with conflicting affairs that argues about political principles. The show also has some sense of nationalism although is vaguely portrayed and restrained to Japan, as other countries are pursuing their own interest. To say the least, GATE knows its principles and invests time to show ideologies from various parties.
On a more military aspect, I think the show is also aware of its modern technological capabilities. The military reveals a strong degree of realism with its arsenal of weapons throughout the show. We have aircraft such as the Kawasaki OH-1, AH-1 Cobra, and other artillery that makes its presence well known. Soldiers (known to some in the fantasy world as “Green Men”) also demonstrate their degree of professionalism and ethnics. While the series isn’t entirely built about military, it certainly has an appeal to this side. I will also say that GATE’s author did a fairly decent job at demonstrating the firepower and capabilities of the JSDF’s military. The battles have cinematic sequences and is well animated on most parts especially during mid-season.
While the show has lighthearted comedy from all sorts of angles, it also should be realized that its intentions isn’t a parody. Sure, the series makes a bit of fun at otaku culture such as Itami’s knowledge or the character designs of the main girls. However, there’s legitimacy with the war. The first episode easily establishes that JSDF is serious about their counterattack. Furthermore, Itami knows the stakes of war as lives are lost. Unfortunately, it doesn’t capture all the violence and more mature content of the original story. Certain contents are omitted from TV that are deemed controversial and violent. Fan service is also shortened although still exists in a few forms such as with Rory’s teasing and the bath scenes. However, the adaptation does expand on certain parts of the story, especially with events from the manga.
Impressively, A-1 Pictures actually manages to capture the art style of the story. Their work can be a bit of hit or miss in terms of fantasy shows but I do give them some praise for adapting GATE. The character designs of characters from both the real world and fantasy world evokes interest. Military technology looks and feels real with their modern looks. Japan also has a good degree of realism with its modern cities and technology. From the fantasy world, the main female characters are distinctive with their design ranging from Rory’s goth dress to Pina’s medieval style battle gear. And like I mentioned before, the world fiction of GATE stands out as a fantastic feature with what is shown. To further enhance the experience, we get epic battles that almost always reveal the potential of certain characters and weapons.
Soundtrack is powerful but not the type of mind-blowing you may expect. The OP and ED theme song has a catchy tone to it with a modest style of storytelling. What makes GATE perhaps more noticeable is the dialogues that are spoken with sharp tones. And by sharp, I mean the type that clearly defines what kind of characters’ personalities are capable of. Rory’s sarcastic and curious voice is perhaps one of the most noticeable while Pina’s voice shows a sense of her patriotism. On most parts, the OST works well enough to match the intense atmosphere of the action and lighthearted moments.
When it comes down to it, GATE is a show that opens a gate with wealth of interests. There’s the certain “it” factor that makes this show stand out with both sides of the world. It blurs between the lines of fiction and reality with what it has to offer. And to be quite honest, GATE does it quite well on most parts with its creativity. This show is definitely not one that matches anyone’s tastes though. Certain audiences such as those interested in political or military affairs may find this more enjoyable than others. For action junkies, GATE can appeal to that side as well although it’s not a main investment of the story. When it comes to characters, there’s a colorful range of them and by the end of the season, there’s likely one or more that you may like to find out more. The first season is set as 12 episodes but many of the ideas and concepts opens up potentially for more.
4: Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season
Japanese: GATE（ゲート）自衛隊 彼の地にて、斯く戦えり 第2クール
MAL Score: 7.74
Several months have passed since the infamous Ginza Incident, with tensions between the Empire and JSDF escalating in the vast and mysterious “Special Region” over peace negotiations. The greed and curiosity of the global powers have also begun to grow, as reports about the technological limitations of the magical realm’s archaic civilizations come to light.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Youji Itami and his merry band of female admirers struggle to navigate the complex political intrigue that plagues the Empire’s court. Despite her best efforts, Princess Pi?a Co Lada faces difficulties attempting to convince her father that the JSDF has no intention of conquering their kingdom. Pressured from both sides of the Gate, Itami must consider even more drastic measures to fulfill his mission.
…Anyway, season 2 picks up where the last one left off. Beyond the titular gate is a fantasy land with elves, dragons, catgirls and whatnot. The place has been annexed by Japan and with much creativity and sensitivity named the Special Region. Now the virtuous Japanese Self-Defence Force (SDF) proceeds to help the local population against tyranny and oppression. And they carry it out honorably despite being hindered by incompetent politicians, propaganda-spewing journalists, and other countries such as the US who like to mess with Japan’s business.
What? The Japanese constitution forbids using the SDF abroad? Don’t be silly. If you annex the place, it counts as part of Japan, duh. Or maybe since the gate is inside Japan, they decided all its contents are too. If they have a team of lawyers, I’d like to hire them too.
Plus they loot, err I mean procure, whatever natural resources there are in the area. That’s right; Japan strikes oil. Get rekt, Middle East. The local lords had no idea oil is even valuable when they signed the mining deal. Suckers.
As you might expect, the SDF wrecks the natives with ease. Again. Which is not really surprising because the local royalty and feudal lords have not learned much in the ways of warfare or diplomacy. Actually, forget the guns; they can’t even match the SDF in a fistfight. And when the SDF isn’t overpowered enough, the otaku protagonist’s harem of mages and demigod lolis swoops in and wins in a few seconds. There is also a CGI dragon that is thankfully at least a bit more challenging, and that is probably the reason why it exists in the plot to begin with.
Also, the best cure for psychological trauma is apparently revenge, best achieved by having a traumatized person operate a bazooka. What could possibly go wrong?
The timing of the comedy and drama is brilliant, with random fanservice right next to slavery and war crimes (not committed by the SDF, don’t worry). Just the way I like it. Romance is also handled with subtlety: near the end we even get a montage of all the latest crack pairings.
So if you are looking for lots of fanservice, explosions and nationalistic right-wing sentiment, this is the anime for you. Season 3 hype?
Returning for a second season, GATE focuses on two major arcs. A few things first though. The series has already build a lot with the first season as we were introduced to Itami Youji, a lieutenant from the Ground Self-Defense Force. Also known for his otaku characteristics, Itami’s encounter on the other side of the world (beyond the GATE as I’d like to call it) leads to extraordinary discoveries. Elves, mages, dragons, and even demi-gods. These are just a few of the otherworldly that Itami encounters. Of course, between the two worlds, there’s also a lot of conflict.
The conflict continues into GATE Season 2. The first few episodes also sets up for quite a bit of events for the reminder course of the story. Characters such as Zorzal El Caesar (first prince of the Empire) and Tyuule (ruler of the warrior bunnies) are just a few that causes controversy. The emperor of the Empire also seems to be planning for big things while Pina still tries to maintain a state of peace between the two worlds. Then, there’s also characters like Sherry Tyueli, a young girl who has a surprisingly crafty mind. GATE Season 2 introduces a variety of characters to instill the purpose of role diversity. It also goes to show that characters of any age, gender, or race can potentially influence a great deal in the story.
Of course, Itami is still the main guy along with the three girls that we fondly adores from the first season. Furthermore, Itami’s relationship in particular with Tuka seems to have grown much deeper in one of the later episodes. Lelei development as a mage is also evident as we witness her skills against even an almighty dragon during the Red Dragon Arc. And who can forget about Rory? The ever so cunning demi-god also develops a special connection with Itami as she gets involved with an old rival. In essence, every main girl shines in their way while Itami still plays the role of being the leader of the squad. In the meantime, there’s a lot of political tension building up that really makes the second season darker than it seems.
These include attempted assassinations, human slavery, and a plot to overthrow the empire within its own forces. If you remember Pina, she also becomes entrenched with controversial affairs that takes unexpected dark turns. It goes to say that GATE still maintains what it tries to do – developing story episode by episode while feeding a lot of its ideas towards a climax. It works out quite well once we realize the purpose of its intent. And while it’s at it, GATE isn’t afraid to show death and make it into a reality. War exists – both in the fantasy and real world with GATE still developing on that throughout the season. Also, don’t forget that the show has a lot of military themes and we can easily see how Japan adapts its propaganda fueled by its technological arsenal. Also, it’s noticeable that GATE continuously maintain a high level of world building. It’s easily recognized and has always been one of the show’s stronger points.
Unlike the first season, the sequel has less comedy and much more on plot emphasis. By the third or fourth episode, I think it’s easy to adapt with the style as the show has already introduced enough concepts. But like most adaptations, the show does omit some material although nothing too crucial. Some of the more controversial content like sexual slavery and abuse is subtly hinted at while there’s less gore. In addition, pacing becomes somewhat rushed in a few episodes. With the story that introduces new characters, it’s not always easy to like them. Zorzal is likely to become one of the most hated characters for his cruel actions. In addition, some of the content such as sex may be uncomfortable to sink into your mind.
The art style of GATE generally remains the same. As I mentioned before, the world building is one of the strongest aspects of the show and we get a good amount of quality of the fantasy world. From powerful looking dragons to artistically decorated structures, the show knows where to go for when it comes to fantasy content. This also extends to character designs that really shows their distinctive appearances. From bunny warriors to apostles, you can expect a lot of unique ways the show does to make characters look different. Similar to the first season, there’s also some realistic content like with Japan’s military. From impressive fighter jets to heavy duty mortars, the show demonstrates what military is really capable of. Supplementing its impressive technical features, the soundtrack of season 2 retains its style that fans are used to. The OP song has a familiar tune while the majority of the action choreography is nicely performed with its stellar OST. Character voice mannerism is also noticeable with Zorzal’s egoistic nature, Tyueli’s manipulative personality, or Noriko’s innocence.
Well, I can’t say that season 2 of GATE is miles better than what the first season offered. However, what it does have is concrete storytelling that builds more and more. It makes viewers anticipate what’s to happen next while skillfully adapt with some of its controversial content. I am a bit disappointed that it does omit certain content though. (read the LN and manga for more details) And to add on to the fire, GATE still has characters that can make people pull their hairs out. That aside, GATE Season 2 maintains a nice balance of storytelling and characters. With less comedy and more serious business picking up, it’s a show that just keeps on giving.
^^ is honestly a fitting title for this show.
Why? ‘Cuz there’s more JSDF propaganda in this season. However, that doesn’t mean I love this .
Also, when I say JSDF propaganda, I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s Japan’s show so they can do whatever the hell they want with it. People who criticize this show for having “too much JSDF Propaganda” are a bunch of hypocrites anyways because I can bet you, they’re the same people who watches American films that contains a ton of “F*ck Yea! America!”.
(There will be some SPOILERS in my review)
Ever since first season of GATE wrapped up, I became a big fan of this show and despite the issues that the first season had, I still ended up loving it.
When they decided to split the show into 2 cour, I patiently waited for the 2nd Season every single day for 2-3 months before it aired. I was like one of those fanboys screaming like a girl…I was just so excited. Now that the series has finished airing, is it better than the first season and did my hype die down? You’ll find out soon enough.
The 2nd Season of GATE continues right from where the 1st Season left off and is picked up from there. The show is separated into two arcs and adapts the “Fire Dragon” arc and the “Douran” arc. Let’s focus on my most anticipated “Fire Dragon” arc.
I was really hyped for this arc ever since they teased it during the last season. Mostly because I wanted to see how Itami, his harem and his platoon will handle the Fire Dragon. However, the 2nd Season didn’t really start off with the “Fire Dragon” arc just yet. It starts off with the Japanese Senators and the JSDF holding a peace talks with the Empire. This part of the show was a bit slow but also appreciated because it shows us how the JSDF aren’t just there to cause mayhem and destruction. They’re also there to help out the mysterious world’s citizens. Their first step was to try and improve the lives of the civilians by setting up a Healthcare System. After the setup, this is where the actual arc begins.
Ahh, the “Fire Dragon” arc..So what did I think about this arc? For the most part, I enjoyed it but I don’t think it was great. In the previous season, Tuka’s father died and we all knew that except her. When a certain someone decided to open Tuka’s eyes and forced her to face the reality, she entered into a horrible state of PTSD. This is actually the first time this show made me feel sympathetic for someone else. Let alone, a female character who I thought was just some member of Itami’s harem and nothing more. He then decided to do the unthinkable so she doesn’t have to face the reality which is a horrible way of dealing with someone’s PTSD. I gotta give props to Itami though for being a badass but sooner or later, people need to face the reality so I’m going to have to side with Yao on this one. I think he kind of did the right thing. Here’s the part that I don’t like. I didn’t really like the way they handled Itami’s past to try and relate to Tuka losing her father. Appearantly, something similar happened to Itami’s parents and that’s the whole reason why Itami helped Tuka kill the Fire Dragon. It felt like it was shoehorned in and it was done really poorly. Itami’s backstory wasn’t properly explored, it wasn’t expanded and they only spent a short amount of time on it which made his backstory seem like an asspull. The arc got a nice payoff though so I can sort-of let it slide. How the arc ended is what I always wanted to see from this show and I got it. The JASDF (Japanese Air Self Defence Force) raining down democracy and freedom and the JGSDF (Japanese Ground Self Defence Force) going there and showing us what happens if you mess with the JSDF
The next arc is the “Douran” arc. I was actually surprised that they adapted this arc. I mean, when they advertised the second season, they only showed the Fire Dragon arc on the trailers so I thought it the entire season was just the FD arc. Anyways, this arc focuses on two events. The first event is Itami accompanying Lelei to a town that looks so futuristic but it’s not. To be more specific, it’s an Academy City that trains mages. The second event is a coup inside the Empire in an attempt to destroy the peace between the Empire and Japan. Honestly, this arc is slightly better than the first arc because a lot more things happened here than the Fire Dragon arc and also a lot of politics are involved in this arc, which plays a huge role in everything that’s been going on so far. For example, we get to see why the JSDF wasn’t deployed earlier to save the Japanese Senators and why they didn’t liberate the Empire sooner.
I talked about the pacing issues in my first season’s review and I want to talk about the pacing issues in this review again. Just like the first season, this season’s first arc was rushed and the 2nd half was still somewhat rushed but not by much. They shouldn’t have rushed the 1st half because that’s the whole reason why I didn’t like the Fire Dragon arc that much, despite its nice payoff at the end. Instead of rushing the arc, they should have spend more time on Tuka’s PTSD and Itami’s backstory which would have made a huge impact at the end of the FD arc if those 2 aspects weren’t so rushed through. I have no issues with the 2nd half’s pacing because it was mostly politics and Itami’s journey to a mage town and what he and the girls did in that town.
I’m sure you noticed this when you watched the first episode but Gate Season 2’s atmosphere is a lot darker than the previous season. I actually never expected this show to touch on subjects like Rape, Abuse, and etc. They’re obviously censored but they’re still somewhat disturbing as shit.
So my first issue with this season was the pacing and now, to the second issue that I have with this season. The side characters DON’T getting enough screentime and by side characters, I mean the soldiers in Itami’s platoon. I really liked their character interactions and their personalities from the first season but in this season, their screentime was gutted in half in favour of developing Tuka and Lelei’s character…which wouldn’t have been a big issue if the main characters’ development weren’t so rushed either. The final issue that I have is with the ending. It was cheesy as hell and it made it look like an ad saying “Join the JSDF and you’ll get a waifu for your war efforts”. I have no problem with JSDF Propaganda but that scene was really cringey as f*ck.
The 2nd Season’s art and visuals looks exactly the same as the first season and no surprise there, as the show was originally intended to be 24 episodes. So because of that, my rating for this section will be the same. I don’t know if this is just me though but the background looks a bit weird. Remember when you used to colour those colouring books and no matter how hard you colour, there’s always a few remaining white small dots? That’s what the background looked like which made it seem like A-1 Pictures’ budget was running dry or they ran out of time.
Just like the Animation, every soundtrack was re-used from the first season. Although, I don’t have any complaints with the soundtrack since they weren’t bad to begin with. In fact, I preferred they kept the soundtrack because they’re goddamn amazing and it gives me goosebumps all the time. Especially that soundtrack that plays when the JSDF shows up and gives those Empire bastards and the Fire Dragons a sweet taste of democracy and freedom that we all take for granted. Now the OP and ED theme song(s)
The OP theme song is “GATE II: Sekai wo Koete “ by the Akeboshi Rockets. Ok, I gotta give the Akeboshi Rockets some credit for changing how their latest song plays out. There’s still the usual drumbeats at the beginning but at least it didn’t sound the same as HOTD’s first 5 sec of the OP. Overall, I liked this song and I thought it was good but I want to talk about the OP Animation. 90% of the scenes were re-used scenes from the first season, 5% were ripped off from the opening of one of their shows called “The Asterisk War”, and the last 5% are a bunch of character’s face shots. Talk about being lazy…
The ED theme song is “Itsu Datte Communication” by Lelei, Tuka and Rory. I really love Gate’s 2nd ED theme song. It sounds so much better than that funky 1st ED theme song. It’s not like I hated the 1st ED theme song. In fact, I loved it but I prefer the 2nd ED. I just love it when the main heroines of a show sings the ED of a show. Hell, I wouldn’t mind if they form an idol group. Now, in terms of the ED Animation. Hands down, their best ED Animation yet. In the 1st ED, it’s just a simple Humvee riding through a tunnel with glowing lights. In here, the ED Animation is simple, yet hilarious. Call it a propaganda shots or whatever the hell you want but I really don’t care what you think.
In the previous season, a new character was introduced almost at the end of the first season. All we knew about her is that she ventured out in search of the “Green People” (She was talking about the JSDF) in order to ask them for help killing the Fire Dragon. In here, we get to know more about her personality during the Fire Dragon arc like how she’s an asshole and how she doesn’t have sympathy towards another person’s feeling. It seems like she does but the way she’s handling it makes her look like a bitchy, selfish, insensitive person by telling Tuka the whole truth about the fate of his father. This, however, makes Itami look like a badass by pretending to be Tuka’s father. Even though he “puts his hobby over work any day”, he did his duty as a JSDF soldier to help out Tuka. Itami felt empathy towards Tuka because he knows what it feels like to lose a parent. Like I said earlier though, Itami’s backstory about his parents seems like an asspull and for that reason, Itami’s empathy towards Tuka didn’t leave that much of an impact for me….Just a little bit, actually xD
While Tuka got much of a spotlight in the Fire Dragon arc, the show also focused on Lelei during the “Douran” arc. We learned that Lelei has a sister who fails at everything in every conceivable way. Though, I kinda understand now why Lelei’s teacher (from S1, Ep. 3) would rather “mount a curvy woman like her”. She has the hots but she’s one of those typical dumb blondes.
I still enjoyed the 2nd Season of Gate but compared to the first season, not by much. Just like the previous season though, I did enjoy the military aspect of the show because military in anime are portrayed as an incompetent unit who can’t stand for themselves whereas in Gate, it’s vice versa. I’m also a big military enthusiast so I have a bit of bias towards this show.
“Gate: And So the Special Defence Force Fought There – Season 2” is an enjoyable-but flawed sequel that finally concludes the story of Gate. I am aware that the Light Novel still has some stories to be told like “The Civil War” arc but I’m satisfied with how the anime version ended. I’m also happy that they finally explained how the “Gate” works which I thought would never happen. If you watched the 1st Season of Gate and you enjoyed it then I can still recommend that you watch this season. Don’t expect it to be better than the first season though.
+Show’s atmosphere is darker than the previous season
+Good story, despite some flaws
+A-1 Pictures kept the amazing soundtrack
+Tuka and Lelei’s much-needed character development
+Just like the last season, portrayal of JSDF and their weaponry/military vehicles are almost realistic.
+They finally explained how the “Gate” works
-Itami’s backstory seemed like an asspull
-Side characters didn’t get enough screentime
3: Youjo Senki
English: Saga of Tanya the Evil
MAL Score: 7.98
Tanya Degurechaff is a young soldier infamous for predatorial-like ruthlessness and an uncanny, tactical aptitude, earning her the nickname of the “Devil of the Rhine.” Underneath her innocuous appearance, however, lies the soul of a man who challenged Being X, the self-proclaimed God, to a battle of wits—which resulted in him being reincarnated as a little girl into a world of magical warfare. Hellbent on defiance, Tanya resolves to ascend the ranks of her country’s military as it slowly plunges into world war, with only Being X proving to be the strongest obstacle in recreating the peaceful life she once knew. But her perceptive actions and combat initiative have an unintended side effect: propelling the mighty Empire into becoming one of the most powerful nations in mankind’s history.
It’s not very often that an anime comes out that has its main protagonist be the villain and does it so well. Overlord is a popular show that explores this idea and Youjo Senki would be a highly recommended for those who enjoy certain aspects of it. It follows Tanya Degurechaff, a Japanese salaryman reincarnated into a female child soldier, in a reality where magic coexists alongside an alternate timeline of World War One. The twist is that she fights for Germanian Empire and behaves far differently than a stereotypical heroine.
Youjo Senki is defined by the main female lead of Tanya as she ascends the ranks of the Imperial Army though bloodshed and maneuvering within its bureaucracy. What makes her character and story so interesting is that she provides a fascinating case study on villainy. Far from the cliche ambitions of world domination, fame or riches, her ultimate objective is to live out a comfortable life by following the rules to an dogmatic degree and being competent. It is a mundane goal, but it does ground her character in becoming relatable.
Being a sociopathic salaryman in her former life, Tanya runs afoul of God due to her lack of empathy and atheism, which then causes her to be reborn into a grim world in order to unlock her faith in a higher power. The crux of the series is for Tanya to physically survive the ever expanding conflict that will become the First World War in this alternate timeline challenge for Tanya become twofold as she is to survive in this new world while not succumbing to the spiritual whims of God’s conversion efforts.
However, Tanya does have access to quite a bit of power in the form of retaining full knowledge of her previous life, extremely high magical potential, ruthless work ethic and state of the art equipment. Despite ending up in the body of a ten year old blonde girl, there is very little pandering to when it comes to her loli physicality, and those who underestimate her quickly find themselves outclassed and outmaneuvered. Tanya is completely ruthless and brutal when it comes to waging warfare as her tactics are to swiftly end the fight with clever tactics and overwhelming firepower. Off the battlefield and with the knowledge of World War One, she can sweet talk her way to the command staff with groundbreaking military doctrine and instill a sense of reverence in her troops.
Indeed, the greatest downfall to her is the incompatibility of her final goals, ideology and actions within the military environment resulting in the various schemes that she cooks up to ensure a comfortable position ends up with the opposite effect. Her adherence to rules, regulations and orders does not offer any alternate route in spite of Tanya’s being the villain in her own story. While the civilian business world can be far more accommodating to the desires of talented individuals, the military values competency by rewarding those specific individuals like Tanya, with greater responsibility. There was no way that the Imperial Army was letting a brilliant tactician and ace mage with unmatched strength or leadership ability, be sidelined in the greatest war to end all war. As smart and cunning as Tanya is, for her to not realize that simple face seems like an oversight to me.
The other characters of the show don’t even come close to holding a candle to the flamethrower that is Tanya, but that doesn’t mean that they are poorly designed or constructed. Her subordinate, Viktoriya Serebryakova, a female conscripted into the German Empire Army, acts as the foil to Tanya’s cold efficiency and utilitarian worldview. With nationalistic ideals, a strong sense of duty, concerns about her comrades and a belief in a higher power, she is far more akin to your standard anime female heroine. It is this juxtaposition of their attitudes that makes their interactions so peculiar as Viktoriya is slowly smitten by her superior officer.
Finally, there is Being X himself, a singular god-like entity as opposed to the myriad of deities in the source material. Studio Nut took liberties with the light novel and made him a far more sinister character by setting up Tanya in situations where she has no choice but to praise his name in exchange for the usage of the very powerful Type-95 magical orb. Appearing through proxies at certains encounter, his involvement in the plot goes to the point of altering the source material and cumlnate in an explosive climax which gives Tanya a real challenge and face to fight against.
From the limited information available, Youjo Senki is the first main animation production from Studio Nut, a newfound company is made up of former Studio Madhouse employees. There is obviously some talent behind this anime production as the action sequences looks quite good and convey a sense of ferociousness as Tanya effortlessly butchers her way through any and all enemies standing between her and a peaceful life. The backgrounds also looks great with the landscape and skybox being highly detailed while having this drab color palette that fits Youjo Senki’s interpretation of World War One’s bleak tone. My only real complaint is the use of some rather dodgy CGI that clashes against the 2D’s frame rate and fidelity. Others may take up issue with the the character design differences between the source material and the anime as Tanya and Viktoriya looks leagues apart when compared to their Soujo-like appearance in the manga and light novel. Personally, I think that sociopathic nature of Tanya and the wide-eyed look of the optimistic and duty-bound Viktoriya meshes well with their respective trollish and dopey animated appearances.
Youjo Senki is a textbook case on exactly how anime adaptions should done by having the strong source material as its base, and layering it with amazing animations, an epic soundtrack and a fitting bleak tone. The World War One setting is worth the admission alone as portrayal of the various weapons and military doctrine is spot on. Tanya, being one of the most understandable psychopathic loli that anime has to offer, only adds to its uniqueness and enjoyment.
An essential problem here is that the whole premise feels pointless. Some dude dies and God doesn’t like him so he turns him into a badass loli mage. Because that’s a punishment now. Why is it important that this girl used to be a man when we know basically nothing about her previous life? This reincarnation seems to give her knowledge that battle-hardened generals envy, but there’s no reason why some salaryman who’s read a few wikipedia articles would be a genius at military strategy. And did he have to be some fedora tipper’s wet dream? Libertarian, atheist……I guarantee this man dabbles in bestiality just based on this combination, and this makes him a really unsympathetic character. Couldn’t we have had an anime where a loli becomes Hitler, without this whole thing where it’s actually some reincarnated old dude? That sounds like a much more interesting character. As it is, they keep telling us she’s a monster or evil every episode, but she’s mostly just dull, which is why they have to keep telling us…..we would have never guessed if we were left to our own devices.
In any case, I care more about the actual plot than this weird backstory. Or I would, if the AU was not so vague and dull. One alternate option would have been to create a whole new universe, with only slight similarities to our own, but that would have required world building and work. Another would have been to have it take place in a universe more similar to our own, but the points at which the anime departs from history often seem to be more out of ignorance than creativity, suggesting that this choice was never really an option. As such, we’re stuck in this uncanny middle ground where the viewer knows next to nothing about the setting, despite how similar it is to his own world’s history. The lack of clarification on points of departure is jarring and it destroys immersion.
The ‘Characters’ section must be put at 1/10, to represent that there is only one character. (And she’s not that good!) I can’t say I remember anyone else’s name, or anything about them. It seems as if the creators genuinely did not put any effort into creating unique, compelling, or creative characters. I don’t care about any of these people, or what happens to them. And every time I start to feel invested in Tanya I’m reminded she’s actually just some weird old dude, and the whole orphan backstory means nothing. Most character interactions are very shallow, and we don’t know anyone’s motivations other than the absolute basics. Where are the meaningful character interactions? Where is the development? It’s ridiculous and shallow.
The ED was probably the best part of every episode. Not only because it meant the episode was over, but because it was actually not too bad. No complaints there.
Overall, I thought most of this anime’s potential was squandered. It wasn’t an atrocity but I wouldn’t recommend it, nor do I plan to watch the next season. There wasn’t really enough tension or depth to keep me going and it became difficult to watch towards the end.
Overall: Let’s just call it a 4 or something
This anime, compressed into one long ass sentence: “An intelligent, asshole, soldier loli is actually a reincarnated, sociopathic, atheist, former salaryman, who occasionally gets forced by a stalker, god-like entity to pray to it in order for him-now-her to survive in a world-war setting and wreck his/her war enemies… with a magic gun.”
Youjo Senki was a pretty interesting show. It successfully presents an uncommon perspective in anime, where the main character is borderline villainous. I personally found it very entertaining and would recommend it to you.
TL;DR at the end
Tanya Degurachaff (the main character) starts off in our universe as an atheist, sociopathic, efficiency-valuing salaryman with many personality disorders and complexes. Some normal everyday shit happens at work, but the guy that he just cold-heartedly fired at work that day overreacts and murders Tanya by pushing him onto the train tracks. A god-like entity claims to be God, has a philosophical discussion with him before he dies, Tanya names it “Being X” since he’s a non-believer, and then he gets told that he this will be his last reincarnation cycle (basically because he’s a sociopathic atheist). He consequently gets sent to be reborn in a different, more war-torn world that contains magic and is reminiscent of the early 1900s in our world.
He-now-she is reborn as a girl and we become increasingly aware that she remembers her previous life as she reaches the age of nine. Now that she’s a fully fledged nine-year-old, she chooses to join the military and rises through the military ranks in order to obtain enough achievements to live comfortably in the safety of the city. However, “Being X” maliciously interferes at very critical points in Tanya’s life, and so she often ends up continuously fighting in life-threatening magical gun battles. The reason why being “Being X” interferes is basically in order to try to convert her evil, sociopathic, loli ass into a devout believer. However, instead of choosing to believe in God, Tanya angrily continues to reject the existence of God through ominous displays of smug insanity.
The story follows him-now-her as she rises through the army ranks and becomes an overpowered, super strict, crazy, monster-like commanding officer. The story also gives some interesting perspective on the human nature of war, and the geopolitical strategy that goes into it
– Will he-now-she ever get his-now-her happy ending?
– Who or what is “Being X?”
– How does Tanya, a sociopath, act in a military environment?
~Find out more by watching the show!~
The pacing was great; nothing felt like it was too slow or too fast, but some watchers were initially thrown off because the first episode since it started in the middle of a war scene. The purpose of it was to build interest in the series by showing that there was going to be tons of action, but they consequently chose to present Tanya’s backstory in the second episode.
The story itself is very unique, but it feels like the show is missing something to me. I think that it may be because there is no ambitious “goal(s)” that the main protagonist has, other than just defying “Being X” and trying to live comfortably in life. The story was also very interesting, having enough character development for all of the essential characters. Overall, I feel the story is worth an 8/10. I ranked it down mainly because it’s nearly void of profound or meaningful qualities, and also because the show wasn’t exactly “complex” or relatable in any way (except for perhaps the intelligence of the main character). I thought that the story was “very interesting”, but never once called it “great”.
Really, the only interesting characters in this anime were Tanya, Being X, and some random ass enemy-dad from the suburbs. However, to be honest, Tanya was really all this anime needed anyways. Tanya is interesting because she’s an excellent strategist that prioritizes logic and efficiency as a soldier, which allows her to often make more effective decisions than even the highest commanding strategy officers. She’s also pretty overpowered and crazy, so she wrecks her enemies while having some of the craziest facial expressions that I’ve seen.
Additionally, Tanya’s thoughts and actions somewhat remind me of the main protagonists from Saiki Kusuo no Psi nan (10/10 best comedy) and Jinrui wa Shimashita (8/10 hidden gem). In these anime, the main character’s words/actions and internal commentary are often hilariously in opposition to each other, as they reluctantly conform to others’ expectations to achieve some sort of objective or conceal their true nature. This mainly presents itself when she must show respect for her superior officers, often becoming extremely enraged internally when things don’t go her way.
They only briefly built the personalities of the other characters that surround Tanya throughout the anime. The highest ranking officers showed up pretty often and got a decent amount of development, as did Tanya’s main assistant Viktoriya Ivanovna. Viktoriya Avnovna is a very kind and tender woman, who is unexpectedly dedicated to her job as a soldier. She’s supposed to be a main character, but I don’t recall getting any of her background story. It must’ve either been very insignificant or they may have just never told her story.
The background art is objectively amazing— actually, they are some of the best backgrounds that I have ever seen in the anime genre. Additionally, the animation and action are great, the dramatic angles are top quality, the facial expressions are very expressive, special effects are good enough, all 3DCG objects blend perfectly and are barely detectable— overall the art is quite great in general. However, they REALLY fucked up the female characters’ head designs from the manga. In fact, it’s so different, that I am literally at a loss for words.
The female characters look almost unrecognizably different when compared to their manga counterparts. Tanya and Viktoriya Ivanovna (actually, the women in general) were supposed to look like very beautiful characters/people. In the manga, she looked similar to how a beautiful shoujo anime’s main character would look (the ED art is the manga art, in case you were wondering). Comparing the two… left me at a loss for words because in the anime they looked like some weird ass toddlers with weird-looking eyes.
The men look perfectly fine. This slightly ticked me off because they spent all of this time and money drawing these hella top quality backgrounds, but they deliberately chose to fuck up both Tanya’s and Viktoriya Ivanovna’s character designs. The new design makes them both appear less attractive and more scary and evil in Tanya’s case, which may have been what the art director was going for. I don’t like it, but I wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t check out the manga. Everything else is absolutely fantastic, so I feel compelled to give this category a 9/10.
Both the opening and ending were pretty unique, fun, intense, and catchy songs 9/10. The opening is an intense dark-sounding j-rock piece, while the ending is a bit more emotional, but still intense. Unfortunately, I feel that the background OSTs were pretty lackluster in general, but the main battle OST was pretty good. I think that they should have had a composer create a heavier, more fluid sounding main melody for the battles in order to convey the heaviness of fighting and taking a life, but it sounded pretty good and definitely got the job done. The remaining themes were relatively average instrumental background music.
I feel that Tanya’s voice sounded a bit off. It definitely fit her evil personality and was pretty intimidating, but I think it would sound better if she had a more softer voice that maintains the same level of intensity. Her voice didn’t really seem to fit the character from the manga, in my opinion. It definitely fits the character from the anime, however. To be quite frank, Yuuki Aoi is an amazing VA and always does a spectacular job in her VA roles, so I’m guessing it was somebody else’s “artistic” interference that caused all of these changes. All of the other characters were voiced pretty well.
All things considered, I feel that this was a very enjoyable series. This was the series that I looked forward to watching the most during the winter 2017 season. This anime’s title picture is what drew me in, but I mainly stayed for the asshole, intelligent, soldier loli, who is actually a reincarnated, sociopathic, atheist, former salaryman. I actually really enjoyed his-now-her personality; it essentially MADE this show. This show would not be anywhere near as interesting without Tanya. Without her, it would probably look something like a shittier version of “Alderamin in the Sky (8/10)”.
What to Take away: 8/10
The story is very good, I enjoyed it and you probably will too (8/10). It was paced quite well; nothing feeling too slow or too fast. Tanya was really the only character that received development, but she’s really all that the series needed anyways (7/10). The art is absolutely great, having some of the best background art that I’ve seen in the anime genre, but they screwed up the female characters’ beauty from the manga in order to make them look scarier (9/10). The OP and ED were great, but the background OSTs would’ve been better if they sounded heavier to suit the war vibe, like something Sawano Hiroyuki would compose(7/10). Tanya’s voice was great, but she occasionally sounded relatively squeaky. I would definitely recommend this anime to you personally.
Should you watch it?
If you like:
– unique plots,
– intelligent/calculating main characters,
– war anime, military anime, magic anime,
– intense action scenes,
– strategy-based plots,
– great background art,
– and/or evil lolis *hears sirens in the distance*
Then this anime is definitely for you. Otherwise, you probably shouldn’t watch it.
I hope this helps you make your decision on whether or not to watch this anime~
2: Fullmetal Alchemist
English: Fullmetal Alchemist
MAL Score: 8.13
Edward Elric, a young, brilliant alchemist, has lost much in his twelve-year life: when he and his brother Alphonse try to resurrect their dead mother through the forbidden act of human transmutation, Edward loses his brother as well as two of his limbs. With his supreme alchemy skills, Edward binds Alphonse’s soul to a large suit of armor.
A year later, Edward, now promoted to the fullmetal alchemist of the state, embarks on a journey with his younger brother to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone. The fabled mythical object is rumored to be capable of amplifying an alchemist’s abilities by leaps and bounds, thus allowing them to override the fundamental law of alchemy: to gain something, an alchemist must sacrifice something of equal value. Edward hopes to draw into the military’s resources to find the fabled stone and restore his and Alphonse’s bodies to normal. However, the Elric brothers soon discover that there is more to the legendary stone than meets the eye, as they are led to the epicenter of a far darker battle than they could have ever imagined.
Isn’t it strange then, that such a well known human trait can so easily be mistaken for something else entirely?
Or is it simply a case of people not seeing what they don’t want to see, especially if there something new and shiny to watch?
Many anime fans are currently raving about the new series of Full Metal Alchemist, especially as it is an almost direct adaptation of the manga, however in the light of all this new found glory, the original adaptation has become the topic of much debate and controversy, especially by those who once praised the show for being something … a little different.
Now unlike many, the fact that the original adaptation didn’t follow the manga for much of its run was something that I wasn’t overly concerned about, and there’s a very good reason for this too. One of the issues I had with the manga, and in turn Brotherhood, was the fact that the tale is far more “shounen” than the original adaptation, and this difference in not only plot and story content, but overall perspective as well, is noticeable in a number of areas.
As far as pacing, plot, and depth of story goes, Full Metal Alchemist does lose out somewhat to Brotherhood, however this is partly due to the fact that Arakawa Hiromu had far more time to produce a story that worked, whereas the writers for the original adaptation only had part of Arakawa’s work to play with, and had to make up the rest.
Normally this would be the cause for a number of issues, not the least of which is continuity, however Full Metal Alchemist never really suffered from those except where the numerous, and unnecessary, comedy moments were included. That said, what the writers achieved was actually quite remarkable, as they produced a tale that is very clearly about one thing only – obsession – and in that respect, they actually managed to score quite a major coup over Arakawa’s tale.
Some of you may be a tad confused by where this is all going, but fear not, it will become clearer as we get into more detail. Let’s talk more about the actually show itself for a moment though.
In terms of looks, the original adaptation managed to transpose the characters fairly well, and while they didn’t really require any bouts of creativity in general, there were a few new faces as, at the time, the manga hadn’t actually introduced all the players. As for the various locations in which the characters find themselves, the first adaptation generally followed the path laid down by the manga, however there were also some surprisingly original and inventive additions to the various locales, many of which are unique to this particular adaptation.
Strangely enough though, the quality of the animation is almost the same as that of Brotherhood, and given the large degree of crossover in both adaptations, this is actually surprising as usually one version is greatly superior to the other. That said, the new series does have the advantage of seven years of improvements in animation, so one would be forgiven for thinking the margin between the two would be bigger.
Where sound and music are concerned, one might expect more pronounced differences between the two adaptations, however this is not the case. The selection of music for the first adaptation is actually very good throughout the series, and also gave rise to one of the catchiest opening themes in shounen anime – “Ready Steady Go” by L’Arc-en-Ciel. The aural effects are well chosen and choreographed, and while there are many occasions that feature frenetic clashes and lots of noise, care has generally been taken to modulate this to a level that won’t unnerve the viewer (admittedly there are some minor overwhelming moments, but they’re not really worth going into any detail as they don’t really affect the story in any way).
As for the acting, granted there are some different seiyuu between the two adaptations, but the series’ big guns are in force in both. That said, while there is some acting continuity between the two, the actual quality is a little better in Brotherhood, however this may be due to an increased familiarity with the characters, and also because Brotherhood is far more a straight forward shounen tale than the original adaptation- something which actually shows in the acting.
And now to the most interesting bit – the characters.
Unlike both the manga and Brotherhood, the original anime adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist featured some surprising and unique characters, not the least of which is Edward Elric himself.
But before we get into that though, let’s talk Homunculi.
One of the most overlooked aspects of the original series was the nomenclature given to the homunculi, and although their names and purpose have been “clarified” by the manga and Brotherhood, the writers for the original adaptation didn’t have this knowledge, so they actually made them work in a completely different way. The whole deal with the Seven Sins is very different in the first anime, as the writers used the homunculus to highlight the aspect of obsession throughout the series. This is why the first anime adaptation had them being “born” in a particular manner, rather than the more trite reasoning given in the manga and Brotherhood much later.
The homunculi are effectively born from the obsession of humans, a theme which is also present in Arakawa’s version of the story, even though it has been downplayed a lot.
So what does this have to do with the characters? Well, rather a lot actually. Throughout the whole series, there are very few characters who don’t show any of the visible signs that one would normally associate with obsessive behaviour, and this is because they’re cleverly hidden for the most part. From Maes Hughes’ constant babble about his daughter, to Winry’s love of automail. From Izumi Curtis’ longing for her baby, to Dante’s desire for immortality (incidentally, one has to wonder why that particular character was called Dante).
And right at the top of the list is Edward Elric.
In essence, his obsession with being better than his father is what starts the whole chain of events, which then turns to his obsession with the Philosopher’s Stone, and so on. The surprising thing though, is that Ed never actually lets go of his desires in the same manner that others who attempted human transmutation did, and there is actually proof of this too. One look at the manner of Alphonse Elric’s return to his body, as well as the nature of that return, will highlight just how very different this show is to Arakwa’s version, and how different the mentality is come the end.
And if you want more clarification on this, then feel free to ask.
The characters are actually pretty well developed throughout the series, and it’s a testament to the writer’s and seiyuu’s abilities that they turned out as well as they did. That’s not to say there aren’t any problems, however the flaws with the characters stem mainly from a difference in goals and perspective rather than any real lack of talent.
In all honesty, it’s difficult to decide which version is actually better as the differences in plot, theme and character development make this version and Arakawa’s two very different tales. That said, there will be those who fall on one side or the other, some preferring the darker nature of the first adaptation while others like the more direct approach of the manga and Brotherhood. Personally, I found both versions to be very good, especially as the route that Arakawa’s tale takes bears almost no resemblance to this one. While there are some broad similarities between the two in terms of locale, characters and basic plot, in actuality these are only skin deep, as the original adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist deviates quite a lot from the typical shounen sensibilities come the end of the series. The obsessive theme of the first adaptation is a far cry from what one is given in the manga and Brotherhood.
Regardless of which version one prefers though, the simple fact is that we, as anime fans, have been given two great takes on the story, and we should count ourselves lucky to have such a wealth as all too often we must suffer through mediocrity and crap just find some entertainment.
It just a shame that so many people feel the need to side with one version or the other …
Now I’m sure most of you already know the story. The Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse attempt to bring back their mother and as a consequence for going against the law of equivalent exchange, Ed loses his right arm and left leg. And Alphonse loses his entire body to only have his soul become bonded to a suit of armor. With the help of their childhood friend Winery, she constructs an automail leg and arm for Ed. Soon, they learn about this special artifact known as the Philosophers stone, it has the ability to defy the laws of alchemy and perform the taboo known as human transmutation. Eventually they come to the conclusion that their best bet in hopes of finding the stone would be to join the military. Although, Ed is the only one who joins because he insisted on doing so. And so they embark on their journey. Along the way, the brothers encounter corrupt government officials, homunculi, chimeras and more.
As far as the story goes, it’s fantastic. Especially considering the fact that this anime is a shonen. FMA has a far more intricate and complex plot then shonens like One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto or Bleach. Thematically, it delves into area’s that you wouldn’t expect a show of its kind to do. What’s a life worth? An arm? A leg? An entire body? Can human’s play the role of god ? Should we even be allowed to play the role of god in the first place? Can we disrupt the flow of nature? So yeah, Fullmetal Alchemist is smarter then your average shonen!
Also, the setting of the anime takes place in a fictionalized version of early 20th century Europe during the industrial revolution. The majority of the show takes place in Amestris. A key part of the plot that I almost forgot to mention involves the neighboring nation of Ishval. Long ago, after the tragic incident of when an Amestrian officer shot an Ishvalan child in cold blood, a chaotic war erupted between the two nations. In the midst of the war, state alchemists were brought in to exterminate the Ishvalans through horrific acts of genocide. This is where the revenge driven Ishvalan named Scar comes in.
Speaking of characters, character wise, FMA is just as good. From Roy Mustang, to Riza Hawkeye, to the Elric brothers. All are given considerable amounts of depth. Take for example, the Elric brothers. Ed feels as if he got off easy because he still has his body and is burdened by this. Alphonse is constantly questioning his humanity, existence and whether or not he was a human to begin with ( his memory was erased when Ed bonded his soul to a suit of armor). And I just barely scratched the surface.
When it comes to the production values, yet again, this anime doesn’t disappoint. The animation is very crisp and fluid. It never lets up, character designs are good and remain consistent until the very end. The OST is also worth mentioning here. Michiru Oshima did a very good job. One track that stood out in particular was “Brothers.” Simply put, it was a beautifully done string instrumental over some harmonious Russian vocals. In regards to the opening and ending themes, they’re solid. Opening 4 was my personal favorite. Lastly, the voice acting. I’ll tell you right here and now that it is mandatory that you watch the dub instead of the sub. Why? Because, hands down without a doubt, Fullmetal Alchemist has one of the best dubs you’ll ever here in anime. It’s definitely one of Funimation’s best efforts. All the performances were fantastic from Vic Mignogna, to Aaron Dismuke, to Dameon Clarke, to Colleen Clinkenbeard.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of flaws here and there that prevent Fullmetal Alchemist from achieving perfection. Most notably the first 15 episode, these episodes were unevenly paced and it really didn’t get interesting until Scar showed up. Episodes 4, 5, 10-12 were completely unnecessary and felt very fillerish (I’m not sure but I think they were actually fillers, but don’t quote me on that).
Now of course, I can’t write a review without addressing the ending because it’s one of the reasons why anime fans have such a polarized reaction for this show. I personally liked the ending, it was very bitter sweet. It wasn’t like every other ending for a shonen where everything works out in the end and all the characters hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Plus there are no beach episodes (Jesus Christ, I f**kin hate those g**damn beach episodes in anime). Well, time to wrap this review up, all in all, FMA is an amazing anime. I highly recommend it to anime fans and non-anime fans alike.
I’m typing this review, and i wonder to myself, “Why am i doing this? What can i say about a show that’s been talked about to death?”, and you know what, i don’t exactly have a clear answer. Fullmetal Alchemist premiered a decade ago and is still to this day, one of the most beloved and well known anime of our recent generation. It’s so well known that talking about it almost seems redundant as about 90% of anime fans have already seen it, and if they haven’t seen it then they at least have heard of it, know the premise, and might even know some of the more shocking twists in it. But over the past few years, more and more people have begun to disregard it all thanks to a little thing called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, to the point where i’ve heard Brotherhood fans say to people on several occasions that they shouldn’t watch the original series and just go watch Brotherhood, which i answer to with a big, “Huh?”. But this isn’t about Brotherhood, i’ll cover that elephant in the room if i ever choose to do a review of it. No this is about the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, and why if you haven’t already seen it, then you should check out as soon as possible.
As i said it’s almost pointless to sum up the plot that everybody already knows but, formulaic procedure wins. The story is about the two Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who try to use a blend of science and magic called alchemy to bring their mother back from the dead. Things go terribly wrong however, and in the process Edward loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse loses his entire body, being forced to fuse his soul with a body of armor to survive. They soon join the country’s militia, the state alchemist division to be precise, in order to search for a item of great power called the philosopher’s stone, in order to revive their bodies back to their original forms. The idea of two brothers setting off on a journey is already a concept that could fill an entire show, but then there’s also the story of the them joining the military and how their more childish outlook and views clash with the military’s actions, which is also enough to fill an entire show. But then there’s also the military itself and it’s mission to reform the country, and also the soldiers that wish to change the military to better the country, and then there’s the evil forces that the Elric brothers encounter with their own mission and backstory, and so on and so forth. Fullmetal Alchemist has enough plot lines to fill up 10 different anime, which could easily just make for a cluttered mess of ruined potential, but the story in Fullmetal Alchemist is a well written, perfectly paced, and air tight. But even so this seems like a lot for just a battle shounen, but you can’t really call it just a battle shounen as it seems like the show has just about every genre you can think of all in one. There’s action, adventure, comedy, drama, supernatural, super power, military, romance, mystery, thriller, horror, shock jock, fantasy, and sci fi, all in one. Once again, having so much in one show could easily be the death of it, but all of these genres are performed well and at just the right moments, even having them clash at times just to prove a point. And if that wasn’t enough, this show completes every plot point and every character saga, and still has room for filler. To some the concept of adding filler is a bad thing, but in this case i find being able to have filler more of a compliment than anything. If you haven’t gotten what’s good about the story of FMA from this, let me sum it up for you. Fullmetal Alchemist is an emotional, action packed, well written saga and above all, is fucking big, displaying a vast world of different cultures, inventions and religions that just sucks you in from the very beginning.
Fullmetal Alchemist was made by studio BONES and is probably the show most responsible for the seemingly endless pockets of money that the studio had for many years. But this was an early work, so it’s not exactly perfect. The show didn’t have all that much of a budget to work with, and there were times when it showed, inconsistent character designs, jagged edges, and one or two episodes in particular that looked fairly cheap. But the show is still overall a good looking show. What impressed me most was probably the shading in it and how perfectly it was used to represent different emotions and foreshadowing. The character facial designs also helped this, done well enough at times that two characters could just share a scene together, with zero dialogue, and in just one stare, convey all the emotions they need to get across. Of course this is a battle series, and you can tell that this is where a good chunk of the budget was spent, with fluid animation and splendid choreographing that kept your eyes firmly glued to the screen. Fullmetal Alchemist is a good looking show with some dents here and there, but the moments of brilliance shine right though.
The soundtrack is comprised completely of orchestral pieces, all of which compliment their scenes quite well. It’s in the background, always noticeable but never overpowering, a perfect accompaniment to the show. But, to tell the truth, nothing on the OST really sticks out on it’s own and it’s not really a soundtrack that you listen to on it’s own. A good soundtrack nonetheless but nothing spectacular. If i was only judging the sound based off the soundtrack then i’d probably only give it a 7 or 8 out of 10, but there’s one more important thing to talk about. The dub. This was an early Funimation show, but i’m guessing that they knew ahead of time how big the show would be, because they really brought their A game for it. Talking about Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric is almost as redundant as telling people about the plot to FMA, he’s great as the role, and it’s the number one reason why he has so many fangirls. Plus this was also the show that launched Travis Willingham’s career for his performance as Roy Mustang, which is well deserved. And i’d be remiss to not mention Christopher Sabbat’s performance as Major Alex Louise Armstrong who just does the role complete justice as though IT WAS A PERFORMANCE HANDED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY FOR GENERATIONS. There are plenty of other big names like Johnny Yong Bosch and Luci Christanson playing ver small roles which are always nice to hear. But the thing that really impressed me about the dub is that they had actual kids playing the kids including a 12 year old Aaron Dismuke doing a bang up job in his first performance as Alphonse Elric. It’s definitely a show worth checking out dubbed.
A story as big as Fullmetal Alchemist need a big cast, and not only is this cast supplied, but their also just as well written as the story itself. First off we have out two main characters Edward and Alphonse Elric. Edward is the prodigy of the two, the genius who often makes the decisions of what the two of them will do, which can proof to be disastrous at times, considering that with great intelligence and curiosity comes an overwhelming temptation to the dark side. He’s the one who decided to resurrect their mother, he’s the one who decides to join the military, and he’s the one who constantly has to struggle with doing the right thing and doing the things that most benefit them. But he’s still just a kid, and with so comes a certain naiveté towards things. He’s quick to learn from his mistakes and often feels guilt for what his actions have causes, and is driven with a strong determination to set things right, making him the ideal protagonist. Alphonse on the other hand is the philosopher, usually being the moral compass of the two and keeping his older brother grounded to the right side. Between the two brothers, he loses the most, but instead of being angry and bitter about it, is often friendly and optimistic and hates to see people suffer for his sake, giving him great guilt as well for what his brother has to go through for his sake. These are of course, only the two main characters, and Fullmetal Alchemist has nearly 40 supporting and recurring character, meaning characters that show up for more than two episodes and have a role in the overall plot. And you know what, each and every one of them is left unresolved. Like the story, the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are memorable, well written, and big. But the most important thing that these characters do in the series, is acknowledge and represent the importance of family bonds, from the relationship between the Elric brothers, to the relationship between the military soldiers, and event he weird relationship between the Homunculi of the series that form their own little family in a way. From the arrogant but gentle hearted Colonel Roy Mustang, to the incredibly manly glittering Major Alex Louise Armstrong, to the Homunculi that oppose the Elric brothers, all of the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are fleshed out and memorable.
Enjoyment and Overall (10/10)
In case you haven’t been able to tell, i love Fullmetal Alchemist, very few series have made me love them this much. I’m not really sure what i can say about this series that i haven’t already said. It’s an epic tale of love, determination, and passion that every one should check out. We never needed a movie, the series ended fine on it’s own, and just because Brotherhood now exists, doesn’t mean we should disregard this series, personal tastes aside. Fullmetal Alchemist is a series that is completely on par with the original manga and proof that a series doesn’t need fidelity to succeed. I’ll leave off with this quote, which is technically from Brotherhood but screw it, it works.
“There’s no such thing as a painless lesson. They just don’t exist. Sacrifices are necessary. You can’t gain anything without losing something first. Although, if you can endure that pain and walk away from it, you will find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. Yes…a heart that’s Fullmetal.”
1: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
English: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Japanese: 鋼の錬金術師 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST
MAL Score: 9.16
After a horrific alchemy experiment goes wrong in the Elric household, brothers Edward and Alphonse are left in a catastrophic new reality. Ignoring the alchemical principle banning human transmutation, the boys attempted to bring their recently deceased mother back to life. Instead, they suffered brutal personal loss: Alphonse’s body disintegrated while Edward lost a leg and then sacrificed an arm to keep Alphonse’s soul in the physical realm by binding it to a hulking suit of armor.
The brothers are rescued by their neighbor Pinako Rockbell and her granddaughter Winry. Known as a bio-mechanical engineering prodigy, Winry creates prosthetic limbs for Edward by utilizing “automail,” a tough, versatile metal used in robots and combat armor. After years of training, the Elric brothers set off on a quest to restore their bodies by locating the Philosopher’s Stone—a powerful gem that allows an alchemist to defy the traditional laws of Equivalent Exchange.
As Edward becomes an infamous alchemist and gains the nickname “Fullmetal,” the boys’ journey embroils them in a growing conspiracy that threatens the fate of the world.
I admit that as I’ve seen the original and read the manga, the pacing of Brotherhood seems to start off being VERY fast (I finally got used to the pacing after watching the first fifteen eps or so). Events that took up half a volume of the manga and had spread though a few episodes of the original anime were now shown in just a single episode. However, after trying to look at it from the perspective of someone who’s new to FMA (not comparing it to the manga nor the original), I believe that the pacing works and it manages to tell an intriguing story effectively with little confusion. The plot is full of clever ideas and unpredictable twists that link various parts of the story together. By the final episode, all loose ends are neatly tied up and what’s left is a hugely satisfying epilogue.
The animation in FMA Brotherhood is crisp and very well done (although it does sometimes dip a bit in quality). Compared to the original FMA it’s a bit simpler but that’s just because the original set a very high standard to follow. The facial emotions of the characters are also perfectly presented. The action scenes are brilliant and VERY well animated, with a variety of alchemy techniques and other talents being displayed nearly every episode. The various battles are consistently exciting to watch, but somehow get even better towards the end of the series.
The voice acting is of an excellent and consistent quality, and I think that pretty much all the characters have voice actors which suit their personalities. The majority of the openings/endings are a pleasure to watch due to fantastic animated sequences and theme songs. The background music which play during the episodes usually fit very well with the situation, although some tracks seem to be overused a little at first. This becomes less of a problem as the series progresses, with plenty of new music being introduced to support the story as it reaches the finale.
Moving on to the characters (best thing about this series), the original FMA focussed mainly on Ed and Al and on their struggles to regain their bodies, whereas Brotherhood also explores other characters to great detail at the same time. The majority of the spotlight is still on the two brothers, but it highlights their interactions with new characters which were not present in the original anime. New characters include a group of people from Xing (a neighbouring country), another person from the Armstrong family (who I think has become one of the coolest members of the supporting cast), and a new main antagonist. For me, the Xingese characters in particular (Ling Yao and Mei Chang among others) provide a new dimension to the FMA world, by showing us a different culture to the militaristic one we’re familiar with. I think the new antagonist is an improvement on the original FMA, as this person has a much stronger and clever link to the Elric brothers’ father. Returning characters from the original FMA, such as Mustang and Scar, are much more awesome and developed due to the fact that Brotherhood is 100% faithful to the manga. Plus, Winry Rockbell now has a much more active role in the story. I can say for sure that this anime has one of the best main/supporting casts I’ve ever seen, and you’d probably find it difficult to label any of the recurring characters (whether they are good or evil) as being either boring or unnecessary in terms of the storyline.
One of the many good things about this series is that there has been absolutely no filler at all (yes, I’m thinking of Naruto, Inuyasha, etc), which prevents the story from losing momentum. All the episodes are concise and every scene is important as part of the huge plot. The dialogue fully explains everything and is straight to the point. As multiple characters are explored there are lots of side stories, but these are all perfectly intertwined with the main story of the Elric brothers and more often than not directly influence their journey too. Like most anime series, there are things from the manga which have been left out, but these are usually just restricted to comedy moments. There has been one episode which shows a lot of flashbacks of events so far, but that’s forgiven as it shows the most epic moments of the series, and also provided us with some history on the father of the Elric brothers.
FMA Brotherhood will be sorely missed now that it’s finished. It is excellent in every aspect and has very little, if anything, that can be called a flaw (maybe rushed character development at first due to the fast pacing, but this quickly subsides). Each episode feels like it’s too short, a testimony to how much it draws you in to the story and characters. There are moments which leave you smiling, laughing, sad and simply amazed. Try this anime, it’s recommended for absolutely everyone, to newcomers and to those familiar with Fullmetal Alchemist.
I’m not a huge fan of the MAL categorical rating system, as I’ve mentioned in some of my previous reviews. I oftentimes outright ignore it. However, looking at the categories right now, I feel as though this is one instance where I can use it to talk about everything I want to so I’m going to use it.
The FMA:B plot and world-building are some of its strongest aspects. The world that it creates is an immersive, full-feeling thing with many animate pieces that move even when you aren’t looking at them. It’s an extremely creative world as well, adopting its own set of universal laws including alchemy through equivalent exchange, mind-body duality and its own interpretation of a higher power, and it sticks by these laws. Never once does the story contradict its own rules, instead using them in creative ways to build off of each other. The plot is also one of the most engaging parts of the show, unveiling itself at just the right pace to keep you interested whilst still keeping a few major cards to play at the very end. The pieces fall into place in a way that is satisfying because it simultaneously mind-blowing and obvious, and that’s one of the marks of strong storytelling.
While the FMA:B story is certainly one of the best I’ve seen, I find that I have to withhold my 10 score here on the grounds that its incredible direction and creativity are marred by some detrimental weaknesses. First of all, the exposition is handled extremely poorly. The first and third episodes feel like they’re from some shitty cartoon network show, the show blatantly ignores the show-don’t-tell rule in the entirety of its first chunk (with characters spelling out exactly what is happening and why it’s happening) and its tendency to repeat important plot points over and over again quite frankly feels insulting to me as the audience as though the show is assuming I’m not able to pay attention or figure things out for myself and need to have the fact that Ed and Al committed the sin of human transmutation and lost their bodies told to me at least twenty-five times in the first two hours of show. Secondly, there’s a period of time which I would probably refer to as the third fourth of the show (episodes 40-53ish) in which the show drags incredibly, adopting a typical battle-shonen approach of having characters engage in multiple-episode long one-on-one or two-on-one battles, giving them plenty of time to pose and stand off and monologue at each other. This isn’t how fighting or war works, and these contrived battles really take away a lot of the climactic atmosphere. Finally, the show’s ending is not nearly as satisfying as I wish it had been. The final few episodes are for the most part brilliant, but once the show plays all its cards and it’s resolution time, it wraps itself up with cliches and in-your-face themes.
The art is absolutely astounding 80% of the time and absolutely horrid 20% of the time. Thus the 8 score. The action is all stunning, the openings gorgeous, the backgrounds consistent and unique, building a sense of a real lived-in world. The character designs are sometimes a little bland, but for the most part they are memorable and the homunculi look brilliant so I don’t have any real complaints there.
What I have a problem with is the obnoxious number of times that the show goes “anime” – reducing its characters to shittily-drawn caricatures and its animation to blocky, looped motion. Usually this is used during the shows attempts at humor, which I’ll talk about later, but most of the time it was just extremely cringe-inducing and distracting, ruining the sense of continuity and immersion in this world. The show obviously wants you to take it seriously (it sure loves its drama) and when Al is portrayed as a big grey mound with a squiggle for a mouth it makes this difficult. There’s a difference between having your character goof around and having the show itself goof around. It almost feels like a laugh-track, telling the audience “this is the funny part!”
For the most part, however, the art is gorgeous. When it counts, it shines, and that’s really what matters.
Undeniably the strongest aspect of the show. I have no complaints whatsoever. The soundtrack is never distracting but always effective, the voice-actors (especially for Bradley and Al) absolutely nailed it and the openings and endings… dear lord. It’s been said before, but the openings and endings to FMA:B are some of the very best ever made, both in sound and visuals. They tell small stories of their own. They set the tone for the episode and for their section of the show as a whole. I especially loved ‘Golden Time Lover’ and ‘Chemistry’, but I have to give special mention to SID’s ‘Rain’. As far as I’m concerned, that opening could have been the end of the show. It single-handedly established a sense of finality, a long-endured struggle of these characters and their causes. Everyone is portrayed as exhausted, weak and full of both despair and determination: protagonist and antagonist alike, fighting under the rain. Not for glory, not for honor, but just for the one thing they care most for. Personally, it made me extremely hyped for the final stretch of the show. It wasn’t quite what we got, but at least we got some of it.
I believe that there is an intense connection between a show’s opening and the audience’s willingness to appreciate it. It is very likely that the intensity of many fanbases is in part due to the ability that openings such as these have to maintain feelings in regards to the show, oftentimes perhaps even distorting or altering memories of the show itself into what the opening would have you believe the show was like rather than what it was actually like. Obvious examples that jump to mind are Sword Art Online’s “Courage” and Guilty Crown’s “My Dearest”. Remember how those shows were absolutely nothing like that? No?? IT’S TOO LATE FOR YOU
But I digress.
I would definitely call out the show’s characters on being the weakest link and the most undeserving of the praise that the show receives. For starters, the writing is often clunky and awkward, but that’s not the main issue. It’s because most of them are not really characters: they’re plot devices with one or two distinguishing traits tacked on. They’re entirely predictable, not because they feel like real people but because they do the same things over and over again. Al talks about what he’ll do when he gets his body back. Ed talks about how they’ll find a way and how they will atone for their mistakes and etc. It’s not that it’s melodrama: it’s the fact that it’s the SAME melodrama over and over again. It wasn’t until sometime past episode 30 that Ed stopped sounding perpetually like a broken record and started to feel as though he were actually developing, but even then he was really just defined by his arc and not by any amount of complexity.
And that’s the pitfall that so many of these characters fall into. If your character’s only real traits beyond their development for the sake of the show are “hates being called short” and “hates milk” they’re really more of a tool with some googly eyes stuck on to them. Other characters are even worse: Armstrong is manly. His sister is more manly. Mustang wants to be Fuhrer and avenge Hughes (he’s even got this great relationship with Hawkeye that could have been seriously compelling if they ever had any real conversations about anything besides “we must overthrow the government” and “Hughes!” over and over again). Winry likes Ed and automail. Ling wants to be emperor. Now, FMA:B is a complex, busy show. I could understand if it didn’t have the time to make these characters anything more than chess pieces for its grand and elaborate plot, giving them a few distinguishing traits because that’s really all it can manage without dragging itself out immensely. But it DOES have the time: it has all the time it spends having Ed yell about being called short. It has all the time it spends having Armstrong pull of his shirt and yell about being manly. It has all the time it spends having Ed and Al talk about getting their goddamn bodies back over and fucking over again as though I would somehow manage to forget it. Ling passing out from lack of food. May fawning comically over Ed. Mustang is antisocial LOL. The same gags, over and over again, barely even rehashed in any original way. Not only do they become painful to watch, they devour all of the development that this shallow cast of characters could have had to make me actually invested in them. They’re far too static, with most of them having a single change or revelation over the course of the show’s 64 episodes in order to indicate that they have grown as a person. But a good character has so much more than that: what kind of music do these people listen to? Why? Who are their role models? Why? What books do they like? What are their favorite places to eat? What do they appreciate in the people they’re close to?? What are their personal histories…
Oh wait, sorry! I didn’t mean to ask that last one! Please, I take it back! NOOOOOOO…
Yeah so I forgot to mention something. Screw all that stuff about making these characters possess complex personalities, FMA:B has a better way to define them.
Everyone who’s remotely relevant has a traumatic backstory. It’s a harsh world, sure. I get that. Here’s the issue: people are introduced and then defined through their trauma. Now this isn’t Angel Beats bad, where horrible things happen to perfectly innocent people for no reason. Most of the tragedy is partially a result of the decisions of the characters involved, and their resulting struggle is a combination of having to cope with the consequences and with themselves and their mistakes. However, this cannot be used as a SUBSTITUTE for character development. A supplement, sure, but I still remember in episode four when Ed and Al meet a state alchemist who literally introduces himself with something along the lines of “my wife left me because we were too poor” before he even tells them his goddamn NAME. Here, come on in! Take a seat! Would you like some sorrow pie or tragic backstory cake? We have plenty! Ed and Al’s dad left, then their mom died, then they f*cking ripped their bodies apart. Winry’s parents were murdered in cold blood. Mustang had to kill lots of people. Armstrong had to kill lots of people. Everyone had to kill lots of people. Scar watched everyone he loved get killed, and then had to kill lots of people. These are always the first things we find out about people, and then for the rest of the show they are defined almost exclusively by them. If anyone is overly happy and wholesome, it means something horrid is going to happen to them. It’s basic emotional manipulation. Look at this adorable little girl and her dog! Dead. Look at this smiling, picturesque family! Husband dead. Dead. Everyone innocuously happy has to die or lose someone close to them. The more broken and internally conflicted you are, the safer you are. There’s no need to pile more grief on Scar, so he’s relatively safe.
Yes, the characters suffer from repeatable and preventable problems. They exist mainly to function as morals-in-a-bottle with gags tacked on to them. They’re difficult to relate to, because all we know about them is whatever themes they embody and one or two dumb jokes. Ikuhara writes characters more personable than this, and his stories don’t make sense on PURPOSE. I did give the characters a 6 though, and there are reasons for that.
First off, despite their lack of humanization the characters complete their tasks of being walking themes with relative effectiveness. This isn’t anywhere near Log Horizon S1 bad. These characters are here for a reason, they represent something, and they represent those things well. Sure, they could have easily been better, but they fulfill their purpose and for that alone they are not failures. I will also give special mention to Scar, who, while still actively defined by his trauma was executed far more impressively than the other characters. This is probably in part because the show actually viewed him as morally ambiguous as opposed to just making the character FEEL morally ambiguous when there was really no doubt that the show wanted you to think this was a ‘good guy’ (*cough* Mustang)
Second off, there are some exceptions to the rule. Most of my complaints thusfar have been leveled at the shows protagonists. They are the ones that suffer from dismal repetition and blatant violation of show-don’t-tell. Where the show does excel is with its antagonists. There are seven homunculi in the show, incarnations of the seven deadly sins, and they so utterly clobber their “good-guy” counterparts in terms of being engaging, personable subtle characters that it isn’t even funny. Their intensive backstories are never shoved in your face, their apparent contradictions are given plenty of time to be uncovered by the viewer, and the deliciously ironic conclusions to their arcs are done tactfully. Many times I found myself actively routing for them because they were just so much more interesting and well-executed. I would happily watch an “Adventures of the Homunculus” spinoff cataloging the several hundred years most of them lived before the start of the series.
I was constantly gripped by the plot. I actively looked forward to the openings and endings. The art was oftentimes orgasmic. The homunculi made me want to start looking for ingredients to make a philosopher’s stone with. However, I was constantly frustrated by the show’s apparent lack of respect for its viewers and by its absolutely abysmal humor. I’ve already said it, but I don’t know if I’ve driven home just how infuriating it is to have exposition repeated to you over and f*cking over again and how cringe-inducing it is when somebody violates the show-don’t-tell rule at extremely tense and crucial moments. It actively snapped me out of the experience whenever Ed and Al had a conversation about getting their bodies back after the 5th time it happened, and when God literally spelled out for Ed that he had discovered the meaning of life I facepalmed hard. That’s not how you do themes, man. That just comes off as preachy. That’s something the show suffered constantly from: it felt incredibly preachy. It’s character’s speeches about the answers they had found to their struggles felt much more pointed at the audience than at anyone in the show they were talking to, and that bothered the ever-loving crap out of me. And have I mentioned the humor? For every joke the show has that lands, it tries about five others that fall on their face. As I’ve already mentioned, they’re repetitive and used as a substitute for meaningful character interactions and development. It seems as thought the show is trying to use them as a counterbalance for its immense amount of melodrama, but instead they end up just ripping apart the tone and stagnating the story. Despite these gripes, I did overall enjoy the experience and felt that the positives did inevitably outweigh the negatives so I will happily give it a 7 for enjoyment.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is not a masterpiece. It’s a very respectable, unique, inspired and creative show and it’s definitely a classic. I would happily recommend this to most people. However, don’t go in with irrational expectations. It’s enjoyable, it’s engaging, it will definitely give you plenty to think about, but in my personal opinion it gets a little too much praise and a little too much hype. I probably would have enjoyed it more myself if I hadn’t heard nothing but angelic worship for it before going into it. I formally apologize to any huge fans of the show that I may have offended: it’s not by any means a bad show! I don’t give out 7s all that lightly, believe me. This is merely an argument against FMA:B being the be-all-end-all of anime. Thanks for reading if you made it through that wall of text, and have a nice day!
One of the issues at hand seems to be ownership as producers, writers and directors all seem to want the work to be reflective of their style and perception, and in order to stamp their mark on a show they will makes numerous unnecessary changes or additions. Admittedly there are times when the adaptation supersedes the original work, but more often than not the result is at best a decent anime, and at worst utter twaddle.
And then there’s the other side of the coin, where the anime adaptation sticks to the storyline set out in the original work. Normally one would expect these to be superior works, but in a strange irony this is not always the case. The problem with these types of adaptations is that the original work may not have been very good, or even have a suitable narrative, to begin with, and turning them into anime only seems to exacerbate their inherent flaws.
Fortunately, the Full Metal Alchemist franchise manages to steer clear almost all of these pitfalls. The problem is, there are no other anime that have so evenly split the viewing public’s opinion between the two versions of the series. Unlike the 2003 adaptation, Brotherhood is a faithful representation of Arakawa Hiromu’s hit manga, and while many fans of the franchise laud it as the best thing since sliced bread, there are a number who consider the original anime version to be the superior tale.
But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Many people will already be familiar with the particulars of the story, and in a very real sense the common perception is well formed. Unfortunately, one of the problems with liking something too much is that one becomes blinded to its flaws, and while Brotherhood has very few noticeable ones where the narrative is concerned, this also serves to make them stand out.
The story is told in a very straight forward, no nonsense manner that is kind of refreshing given the penchant for filler episodes. The issue though, is that the content of the tale is much lighter in tone, much more typically “shounen” in its essence, than that of the first adaptation. One of the reasons for this is because the undercurrent of obsession amongst the main characters peters out towards the end of the story – a stark contrast to the ending in the first adaptation. Instead, these obsessive behaviours are effectively “de-humanised” by pushing them on to the non human characters.
There is a very clear sense that the plot is geared towards a more typical shounen standpoint and mentality, and while the whole still works very well as a story, one does have to wonder if the writers for the first adaptation didn’t steal a march on Arakawa. It’s possible that she had to change her idea of how the tale should develop because the first anime version took a much darker path than most other shounen franchises.
That said, the ending allows for a degree of catharsis that was missing from the first adaptation, and although there are some broad similarities between the two versions at times, in truth they are as different as chalk and cheese. As an added bonus this series is far less dependent on random comedic moments, and the difference this makes to the flow of the plot is palpable when the two versions are directly compared.
One big advantage that Brotherhood has is that the seven year gap has allowed for improvements in various aspects of production, and it shows in a number of areas. The animation is more fluid than before, although admittedly the difference isn’t really obvious at first and only really appears during large scale action set pieces. The character designs will be very familiar to any fan, but are subtly sharper and more defined than in the previous series.
Interestingly enough, one of the biggest plus points for Brotherhood is actually its wealth of interesting characters.
As one would expect, a number of the characters from the first adaptation appear in Brotherhood, but there are also several who are notable for their absence as they do no appear in the manga. Instead, a horde of new characters appear throughout the course of the series, many of whom have their own goals, ideals and personalities. Indeed the biggest difference between the two versions is the sheer number of people who all seem to have some impact on the story.
For much of the series Edward and Alphonse Elric behave in a manner that many who have watched the first adaptation will find familiar, and one of the nice things about this is that familiarity is used to very subtly develop the pair into very different characters. The change in their personas happens very gradually, but by the end of Brotherhood one can see just how much growth the pair has undergone.
Strangely enough, the most interesting additions to the series are actually Yao Ling and Olivier Mira Armstrong (Alex Louis Armstrong’s older sister – but without all the muscle flexing), two of the supporting roles. Yao Ling presents a strange dichotomy for the series to tackle, and while he doesn’t develop as much as he possibly could have, this is offset by the moral and ethical dilemmas inherent in his situation towards the end of the series. On the other Olivier Armstrong possesses some of the strongest characterisation in the whole story, and while she is without doubt a major player at certain points of the show, what makes her interesting is the fact that the viewer is never quite sure of her goals.
There are a number of very strong characterisations in the series, but one of the things that is a little strange is the difference between the two versions where the homunculi are concerned. Unlike the first adaptation the homunculi in Brotherhood have very different origins, even though they still deal with similar obsessions. This raises an interesting perspective on the series as a whole, and is one of the reasons why Brotherhood is far more of a shounen tale than the original adaptation. The plot takes on a subtly lighter tone, even though it may not seem that way, once their origins are understood, and the main reason for this is the “de-humanisation” I mentioned earlier. The viewer is aware that these characters, though human-like in form, are not linked to humans in any way, and this awareness acts as a buffer so the viewer is less likely to question the actions and behaviour of the homunculi. In essence one is subjected to the ethos that monsters are evil and do bad things, which raises some interesting issues where Kimblee, Greed and the military’s generals are concerned.
The quality of the acting is possibly the main reason why Brotherhood is able to pull off its feat of developing not only the familiar characters, but also the new additions. Paku Romi and Kugimiya Rie reprise their roles as Edward and Alphonse Elric, but with the exception of a few roles, the remaining cast are very different from the first outing. Now normally one might consider this a recipe for disaster, but it’s a testament to the quality of not only the actor’s abilities, but also the scriptwriters, that this series easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the original.
The music is very well composed and produced, and the series has a surprisingly large number of opening and ending themes, especially for 64 episode series. That said, fans of Brotherhood may find themselves in a bit of a quandary, especially if they prefer the OPs and EDs from the first series. As for the sound effects, they are handled in a decidedly competent manner that makes one wonder why other shounen anime seem to have trouble in this department. Granted there are occasions when there’s a bit of a cacophony, but in general the effects are clear, bold, and well choreographed.
Now unlike most viewers, I actually consider Brotherhood to be equal to the first series, and I don’t really fall on one side or another. Like a number of fans my preference is for the much darker tone of the first series, however the cathartic ending of Brotherhood, as well as the improvements in production and animation, go some way to balancing the scales. Some people prefer the somewhat darker nature to Ed’s character from the first adaptation, but in all honesty the rationale behind the two versions is very different, and while they’re broadly the same character, that perception is only really valid until the last few episodes of either show. The same principle applies to Alphonse, Roy Mustang, in fact to most of the characters.
That said, Brotherhood is just as entertaining and involving as its predecessor, and it’s a testament to Arakawa’s skill as a mangaka that she has been able to produce a tale that, at the very least, rivals the original anime adaptation.Yes, Brotherhood is more typically shounen than the other version, but the nice thing about this is that fans are given two very good versions of the same story, and that is something rare in anime.
Now if only all remakes, revisions or reboots could be this good.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
2. Fullmetal Alchemist
3. Youjo Senki
4. Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season
5. Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri
6. Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin
7. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
8. Senjou no Valkyria
9. Toshokan Sensou
11. Yomigaeru Sora: Rescue Wings
13. Hisone to Maso-tan
14. Strike Witches: Road to Berlin
15. Strike Witches 2
16. God Eater
17. Rewrite 2nd Season
18. Pumpkin Scissors
19. Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino
20. Azur Lane: Bisoku Zenshin!
21. Strike Witches
22. Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai
23. Brave Witches
24. Viper’s Creed
25. Stratos 4
26. Tide-Line Blue
27. E’s Otherwise
28. Akai Koudan Zillion
29. Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen
30. Strike Witches: 501 Butai Hasshin Shimasu!
31. Senyoku no Sigrdrifa
32. Tactical Roar
33. Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e
34. World Witches Hasshin Shimasu!
35. Cluster Edge
36. Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka
37. Rikujou Bouei-tai Mao-chan
38. Azur Lane
39. Submarine Super 99
41. Geisters: Fractions of the Earth
42. Soukou Musume Senki