Posts Tagged ‘TLDR’

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2017, part 3

November 2, 2017

Sometimes anime are not bad, they just don’t hold my interest. Somewhere around mid-season I wander off and don’t come back. Herewith a few of those:

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life: Not bad, but I thought it had a reasonable closure at the end of the first cour, and couldn’t think of a reason to continue. I kept it in my queue for a while and then gave up on it.

Kino’s Journey: I watched much of the first season, back when, and had the same opinion: the show has a little too high of an opinion of itself. It’s like one of those artsey foreign movies you watched back in college. Pretentious.

Blend-S: A one-trick pony, and that one not very interesting

Code:Realize: What did I tell you about anime with Code: in their names? Just couldn’t get interested in cute guys doing cute things with steampunk. Must be my finger-length.

And then there’s a couple of others that are not new this season but which I tried because various reviewers seemed to like them. Various reviewers are apparently not within three standard deviations of my demographic.

Yuki Yuna is a Hero: Girls in a middle-school Hero’s club become actual magical girl heroes and protect the Earth while passing all their tests. Importance of ともだちがい and がんばって and clap if you believe in かみさまs.

Tenchi Muyo: AKA 天地無用, which can be variously translated as No Need for Tenchi, or this side up, depending on context. Since most of the episodes are titled No need for xxx, that’s probably the preferred reading. Tenchi is a typical ultra-dense protagonist who manages to have a bevy of beautiful space aliens fall in love with him.

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TLDR: Anime I never started

October 14, 2017

Sometimes you don’t have to watch even the first episode. Sometimes you happened on the first volume of the manga. Here’s two.

Inuyashiki: From the creator of Gantz. Actually, that tells you all you need to know. Old guy and young punk are reincarnated as robots. Old guy becomes superhero. Young punk becomes supervillain. Much bloodshed and dismemberment, most of it gratuitous. I dropped the manga after the first volume.

King’s Game: Normally a slightly racy kids game. Whoever is ‘king’ gets to tell the others what to do (“kiss the person to your right”). In this one, everybody is out to kill everybody else, because some ‘king’ made that decision. I don’t even…

This is why one reads manga.

 

 

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2017, part 2

October 6, 2017

Three up/three down – the off-puttingness continues. This started off being a potentially busy season, with twelve anime that I was considering watching. Fortunately, seven of them blew up on the pad. So far.

The first two in this listing could easily be swapped and few would notice the difference.

1. Dies Irae: Godlike beings fight grotesque monsters for obscure reasons during the latter days of the Third Reich. Too much shouting, fighting, and dismemberment for me. Later episodes will, I think, shift to modern day Tokyo. It won’t help.

Everybody wants to be Wolverine

2. Garo – Vanishing Line: Grotesque hero fights even uglier monsters, assisted by his talking motorcycle. Too much shouting, fighting, and dismemberment for me. This is not a Kino spinoff.

I guess they forgot that modern cameras have a ‘red eye’ setting

3. Taisho Mebiusline Chicchaisan: The title is longer than the episode. Country boy and his sword come to Tokyo to study and get away from the grotesque spirits of the dead that only he can see. On his first day there, he gets turned into a chibi figure. Nobody notices. First episode was about three and a half minutes longer than it needed to be.

They just happened to have a yukata his size

 

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2017, part 1

October 4, 2017

There are some anime that are so off-putting that there’s no reason to invoke the three episode rule. Here’s three four that fell at the first fence.

1. Sengoku Night Blood: Young woman is whisked into an isekai by a wonky smartphone app. Said world turns out to be filled with bishies who are historical figures who are vampires. We good? She may or may not be rescued by a talking tanuki who isn’t Shimogamo Yasaburō.

2. Black Clover: Remember how Tanya the Evil was raised in an orphanage and used her magical abilities to claw her way to the top? Why don’t we have twins, raised in an orphanage. One is calm and competent and is gifted with the way to the top. The other, the protagonist, is an incompetent, unmagical, spiky-haired loudmouth who plans to shout his way to the top. With a first episode like this, everyone who watched it thinking it was the second season of Honey and Clover is sure to be captivated!

3. Juni Taisen: A collection of twelve psychopaths, representing twelve different families of psychopaths, representing twelve psychopathic interpretations of the twelve signs of the Chinese Zodiac, takes part in a psychopathic death match anime. It’s like Fate/Stay Night with worse costuming and no cute girls.

4. Urahara: Three girls in a dress shop fight to keep UFO’s from stealing Japanese culture. Squeaky voices. Kids book style backgrounds. Best part was Rito-chan coming to work on a skateboard. Then a Japanese expat from America, who appears out of a giant nursing bottle, turns them into magical girls, who can fight for justice and the nihongo way.

Did I mention there was a talking tempura shrimp?

 

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2017 – 3

July 16, 2017

I’m crying here. I was going to have just two TLDRs this season, but sometimes one has to reopen the books for new challengers.

Shining Tears X Wind: Pronounced crosswind. STxW (pronounced stew) is a Crunchyroll re-release of a 2007 anime based on a Sega mobile game. Parallel worlds. Multiple handsome heroes. Multiple ornamental girls to fill out the handsome heroes’ harems. The girls also act as …ah… receptacles … for …um… magic swords … that the heroes store in their oppai, bosoms, chests. King Arthur it ain’t.

They wanted to copy the tank chase scene from GaruPan, but didn’t have the budget

Graphics and animation appear to be done using the same 8-bit technology they used for the game. If you liked the game, then (A) you will like this, and (B) we can’t be friends anymore.

True Tears: Crunchyroll re-release of a 2008 anime. High school boy lives in the same house as a cute classmate who he thinks likes him but she really likes the brother of a girl who he also thinks likes him but all she wants him for is his bodily fluids.

Trust me, it will all end in tears before bedtime

None of them are very likeable. Well, there’s the girl standing on the beer crate.

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2017-2

July 11, 2017

And the losers keep straggling in.

Konbini Kareshi: Grand Hotel, the anime version. Six couples and how their lives are changed by their experiences at the local Lawsons. The boys are the type I spent my high school days avoiding. The girls are the type who spent their high school days avoiding me.

I wonder if I’ll find the girl of my dreams in there. They carry everything else.

Fox Spirit Matchmaker: Fox maiden vows to excel at matchmaking despite the urgings (threats) of the sexy head of her powerful fox clan, all the while avoiding marriage to a jerk who is also a powerful priest who is attempting to avoid marriage despite the urgings (threats) of a bunch of gunsels from his powerful human clan, all the while fending off attacks from a different fox clan, along with some nefarious plots by a fat underhanded plotting priest. Got that? Feels like the producer just threw everything he could think of into a pot and called it stew.

This picture sums it up: One third sexy fox ladies, one third chibi fox follies, one third assholes

Aho Girl: Aho is the word for idiot. It’s for when you’ve already said baka. Our protagonette is an aho. Bright, cheery, infinite mood swings, no short term memory, banana fanatic, zero common sense. Her neighbor (one can’t say ‘boyfriend’, he tells her mother she’s a monkey — her mother agrees) keeps her in line through force and violence. All the girls love him.

The carrot banana and the stick

Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU: Bunch of guys with swords, who are swords, fight demons, who are time travellers, with the aid of a fox with a computer. Running with swords. Fighting demons. Bantering with the guys. Running…

With a thousand years of experience, you’d think they’d find a better way to run with a sword

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2017 – 1

July 6, 2017

Two days into the Summer Season and already the rejects are piling up.

Saiyuki Reload Blast: AKA Saiyuki Version V. Latest in a long line of anime adaptations of a long line of manga. Based on the Japanese version of the Chinese compilation of the Buddhist folktale collection called Journey to the West. Bad art, ugly characters, poor acting, static fight scenes, and a stupid AI jeep (Kino should sue).

Which one is the monkey?

Netsuzou Trap: Girl sexually molests another girl. Other girl not sure she objects. Does that make it right? Did they limit the length to 9 minutes because they ran out of body parts to fondle?

French kissing while hanging off an apartment balcony three stories up and she’s afraid her mother will walk in and see them

Knight’s & Magic: Programmer dies and is resurrected in a magical fantasy world with knights in shining mechas. Develops new magical apps by applying good coding practices to existing magic. The weak spot, of course, being the lack of code comments and documentation. Unless maybe the extraneous comma in the title means that everything that follows is a comment.

Patlabor it ain’t

 

TLDR — Gantz

June 19, 2017

Here’s how to watch Gantz: watch Episode 1 to convince yourself I’m right, then fast-forward through the rest, stopping only if the screen turns red, or black, or pink, depending on your interests.

Gantz is a two-cour anime from 2004. An alien-in-a-sphere makes copies of people as they die, and forces the copy-people to fight and kill things. That’s it. Collect people, put on fighting suits, go kill aliens and each other. If the screen is mostly black, that’s the fax-folk running around in their combat suits, looking for aliens. If it’s mostly red, they’ve found the aliens, or undeserving humans, and are eviscerating them, or maybe being eviscerated, it varies. If the screen is mostly pink, then it’s naked scenes, which don’t happen nearly often enough to make up for the red and the black. The rest of the time, the characters are shouting at each other about the morality of killing monsters and why aren’t the others doing more to help. Not enough pink to make up for that, either.

Red and Black
(At this point there’s about five minutes of yelling)

Gantz is available on Crunchyroll. In fast-forward mode, it’s about six minutes of play time between thumbnails, and about two and a half minutes of real time per episode. That means you can get through all 24 episodes in about an hour. Not counting pauses for pink, of course.

…and Pink
(Some more yelling here, as well)

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2017 Part 2

April 10, 2017

I tried some other shows, when Crunchyroll finally broadcast them. Some didn’t fare as well as others.

Hinako Note: Country girl comes to the big city to go to high school. Is better at talking to animals than people, and has a tendency to freeze with her arms out straight, like a scarecrow, when flustered. Sounds like a good way to get your pockets picked. Meets four other girls in her dorm and at some point they will decide to put on a show (it’s too far to use my father’s barn). Would have been a soothing slice of life, if it wasn’t for the eternally squeaky voices and the stupid scarecrow shtick.

Eromanga Sensei: Japan is full of middle- and high- school students making a living as light novel authors and mangaka, which is good for their futures because I’ve never seen one do a lick of homework. Even primary school girls can make it big, drawing erotic art for magazines and LNs. Presumably, they get their subjects from various online websites — although some 12 year olds take selfies of their butts and use that as the basis for drawings they post online, and tell me how that doesn’t violate half a dozen laws.

It should not be all that rare, then, for the 12 year old little sister to turn out to be the one who is drawing erotic art for the 15 year old big brother’s best selling novels. Think, Oreimo with a business relationship.

Tsugumomo: The story of a mama’s boy with an obi fetish — he carries his late mother’s obi everywhere, even to school. Thirty seconds into the main story, they’ve already hit two classic anime tropes, the accidental boob clutch followed by the accidental panty shot, with extra points for chaining the events. Two minutes after that, Our Protagonist is subject to attempted tentacle rape from a marauding wig, but is saved by the Goddess of the Obi, Tsugumomo (つぐもも) which, as far as I can tell means next generation peach. She subjugates him, moves in, shares the bath, shares the bed, hogs the Playstation. Meanwhile, his little sister, who wants to share the bath, share the bed, and to hell with the Playstation, is getting suspicious.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2017

April 7, 2017

There are some anime that are so off-putting that there’s no reason to invoke the three episode rule. The four anime that follow might not be bad, but they are certainly not my cup of tea.

1. The Royal Tutor: There’s a new tutor in town. Looks like a kid but is a grown man (there’s lots of hormonal balance mutations in Japan). Tutor to four princes, of various degrees of snottery, apparently born 9 months and 15 minutes apart. Oldest one looks like a romance novel cover, and talks like he’s lost one too many mace battles. Shorty Tutorpants will outsmart them all — and of course, that’s the problem.

2. Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor: There’s a certain kind of character, with too high an opinion of themselves and hair that won’t stay off of their forehead. A simple three-finger toss of the hair and the head will unerringly identify them. This one’s an incompetent cad. Unless they are planning on doing a body swap with Oda Nobunaga in Episode 2, I see no possibility of redeeming this train wreck. Did I mention the female student uniforms make KanColle look like nuns?

3. GranBlue Fantasy: Generic girl-with-powers escapes from secret lab. Lab is in a Pilot’s Love Song-style Airborne Battle Cruiser. Girl lands near generic village. Generic boy finds her. They, and her generic (female) knight companion, are surrounded by troops from the ABC, led by generic foppish captain with a falsetto voice. Generic ending with Boy merging life forces with Girl, beating the snot out of the Troops and heading off for a Secret Location known only to everyone in the village. Generic.

Paul Robeson sang “Joe Hill” next to this cottage

4. Silver Guardian: While the scantily-clad maidens of the Maidenly Academy for Young Maidens sleep quietly in their maidendorm, a boy is fighting for their survival, unbeknownst to all but the maidenly dorm mom. When the pyramidical tomb he is guarding is surrounded and attacked by thousands of undead, he does the logical thing by taking out his magical swords and attacking the throngs in front of the stonepile, evidently forgetting that there is a back entrance. In fact, there’s a front entrance that’s left unguarded while he’s half a mile away, whacking off zombie heads. Fortunately, the zombies are missing, you know, brains.

OK, I lied. They’re bad.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished: Seiren

February 18, 2017

A lot of anime are adaptations of Visual Novel originals. The problem with adapting  a VN into a twelve-episode anime is that they almost all are multi-track — work you way through while romancing girl A, then go back and do the same with girl B. The question for an anime studio is, how do we handle this during an adaptation?

One way is to pick one girl and follow her to the end, with all the other girls having walk-on parts. Clannad is a good example. The upside is, the story can devote twelve whole episodes to the budding romance. The downside is is, everyone who likes girl B, or C, or …. will be disappointed.

A second approach, call it the Kanon model, is to keep one girl on the main track, even if it disappears into the background for a bit, and give the other girls their own arcs, without ever promising them romance. This requires a certain skill in balancing the screen time and keeping the main heroine as the obvious favorite.

Finally, we have the omnibus approach, famous in Amagami and Photo Kano, and (this season) Seiren. Each girl gets a turn at romance, and after three or four episodes rides off into the sunset with the protagonist. Then we reset, and go through the whole thing with some new girl. It’s like a collection of short stories instead of a novel. The problem with the omnibus approach is twofold, or maybe three.

photokanogirls

First, they are short stories. There’s no depth, no chance to develop characters. The four episodes tend to run to a pattern: boy meets girl; boy and girl hit it off; boy and girl encounter insurmountable relational problems; boy and girl decide to get married.

amagagamigirls

Second, they use the same cast in different roles across different arcs. It’s kind of an ensemble production — like some of the old Murder, She Wrote programs, where the bad guy one week is an old family friend the next. It’s not just that the main heroine changes, that’s to be expected, it’s that our protagonist’s male friend one arc is a complete stranger the next one. Or maybe they play video games one arc, and the next one he’s off on the soccer team. It makes for a certain mental whiplash.

seirengirls

After a while, they all look alike

Finally, and this is a particular problem with Seiren, the protagonist might or might not be the same personality from one arc to the next. In Amagami and Photo Kano, the protagonist was the same person, with the same goals and hangups: in Amagami, he was recovering from having been stood up for a Christmas Date; in Photo Kano he was a camera nut. In each arc we get to see alternative ways he can work through his life problems. In Seiren, he’s a different guy each time.

This season, Seiren is sandwiched in between Tanya the Evil and Demi-chan, and it doesn’t really fill an anime-watching need.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished: Yozakura Quartet

February 6, 2017

Yozakura Quartet
A one cours anime from 2010. Not so much bad as very much not my demographic. Two-thirds of a century ago, maybe, but now, if I had the ability to try-before-buy (say, via Crunchyroll or Funimation), I would not have bought it.

On second thought, no — it’s bad. It’s about a group of humans and half-demons who bond socially to fight other half-demons (the anti-social ones) to drive them to the other side and to protect the six sacred sakura stumps that (sortof) guard the town from demons.

I guess you’d call this a shonen fighter, appealing mostly to middle-school boys, because every episode features a battle of some sort. The trouble is, all the fights are the same: each protagonist takes turns fighting the demon, instead of ganging up on them; everyone spends most of the time talking, and the demons spend their talk time gloating; and about a third of the combat dialogue by the protagonists involves shouting the name of one of the others (the one who is currently getting the individual snot beat out of them).

The spikey hair is a dead giveaway

The spikey hair is a dead giveaway

The art is crude, and the animation is minimalist. The funniest scene was when the womanising land god who looks after the town (but doesn’t actually do anything to protect it) visits the festival to see if there are any pretty girls to romance, and runs into a couple of 70 year olds who fondly remember dallying with him some decades earlier. Always embarrassing.

It was not available for preview on Crunchyroll or Funimation, but there had been some good reviews on-line, back in the day (and one of the characters was voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki), so when it came on sale on Amazon a couple of weeks ago, I bought it. I made it halfway through Episode 7 and gave up. Life is too short, and Amazon Prime is streaming Highschool Of The Dead.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2017 Part 1

January 13, 2017

So far, the Winter season of 2017 has given us a disappointment in almost every genre.

Hand Shakers — Clueless HS student forced to fight unknown enemies for unknown reasons in intersecting parallel dimension. Male combatants evoke their combat prowess by fighting hand-in-hand with a female counterpart. Or sometimes foot-in-crotch. Characters are animated in 3DCG by a team that never looked at what either the backgrounders or the special effects parts of the team were doing. Plus, they know nothing about the physics of fluid-filled spheres.

Remember, it's not assault if she sounds like she's enjoying it.

Remember, it’s not assault if she sounds like she is enjoying it.

Akiba Strip — Poor man’s Ikki Tousen. Protagonists beat the outerwear off demons from an intersecting parallel dimension disguised as beautiful girls, who then get all burned up over it. In most cases, the outerwear barely covers the underwear, so the exact destruction mechanism is as obscure as the reasoning behind the existence of this show.

Remember, it's not assault if they're demons in disguise

Remember, it’s not assault if you claim they’re demons in disguise

Chain Chronicles — Multiple multi-racial armies assault insanely-evil-mage-king’s castle in a bid to get a small group of heroes inside to kill the IEMK and recover a magical tome. Heroes choose the heroic option and attack IEMK one at a time. Heroes get their collective ass handed to them. Final tug of war between IEMK and his insanely-evil-mage-king’s-daughter over magical tome ends with the book being torn in half. After which, all the MMRAs, along with the IEMKD and the halfbook ride slowly away. To be followed by ten episodes of recriminations.

Good thing none of you is smart enough to sneak up on me through the smoke

Good thing none of you is smart enough to sneak up on me through the smoke

Schoolgirl Strikers — Not-exactly-magical girls (see Luck and Logic) travel to an intersecting parallel dimension to fight monsters that look like they were the result of a failed genetics programming algorithm for generating monster art.

We're not magical girls. Don't call us magical girls.

We’re not magical girls. Don’t call us magical girls.

Fuuka —  Group of students decide to start a band, unfortunately in this dimension. Others have done it better.

I know! Let's put on a show! We can use my father's barn!!

I know! Let’s put on a show!
We can use my father’s barn!!

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2016

October 17, 2016

A second pass through the season drops some more.

March comes in like a lion: A prequel to Your lie in April, shows Arima Kōsei when he was going by the name of Kiriyama Rei and making a living playing shogi instead of being a piano player. No indication as to how many of the cute girls he’s involved with will die of AWD (Anime Wasting Disease).

March

March

April

April

Occultic;Nine: The guy who gave us the excellent Stein’s;Gate, and then missed with a long string of other semicolon stories tries again. Weird occult blogger accretes a team of weirdos to solve weird mysteries. The character designs tell you all you need to know. Weird.

If those buttons go, we're all gonna;die

If those buttons go, we’re all gonna;die

ClassicaLoid: Think vocaloids with better composers but worse directors. Beethoven, Mozart, mechas, and a construction crew all dance while their house plays musique.

You should see who's dancing with the secretary bird

You should see who’s dancing with the secretary bird

Drifters: Great warriors of history pulled into alternative afterworlds to fight the Enders. Think, Death Parade meets Nobunaga the Fool.

L to R we have: Shimazu Toyohisa, the protagonist, Oda Nobunaga, the famous pirate, and Nasu no Yoichi, the trap

L to R we have: Shimazu Toyohisa, the protagonist, Oda Nobunaga, the famous pirate, and Nasu no Yoichi, the trap

TL:DR — Dropping my shorts, Fall 2016

October 11, 2016

So, not all the mediocre, bad, or just plain uninteresting anime comes as long-form 23min episodes. Much of it now appears as short features, as if the creators knew the worth of what they were doing and wanted to minimize the impact on humankind.

Four that were just dumb:

Cheating Craft: How to cheat on exams, with the usual perfunctory "This is bad" warning.

Cheating Craft: How to cheat on exams, with the usual perfunctory “This is bad” warning.

Soul Buster: Cardfights between the souls of ancient Chinese warriors. Like Ikki Tousen without the fanservice.

Soul Buster: Cardfights between the souls of ancient Chinese warriors. Like Ikki Tousen without the fanservice.

Kiitaro's Yokai Diary: Sibling rivalry over household chores ignites demon wars. As usual.

Kiitaro’s Yokai Diary: Sibling rivalry over household chores ignites demon wars. As usual.

Miss Bernard Says: How many book references can you fit into three and a half minutes?

Miss Bernard Says: How many book references can you fit into three and a half minutes?

Two that were bound to offend somebody:

To Be Hero: Eight minutes of toilet jokes

To Be Hero: Eight minutes of toilet jokes

My wife is the student body President: Eight minutes of boob jokes.

My wife is the student body President: Eight minutes of boob jokes.

And one that could have been a contender:

Old woodblock drawings as anime. Good idea, poorly executed.

Sengokuchojyugiga:Old woodblock drawings as anime. Good idea, poorly executed.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2016

October 3, 2016

It’s always a relief when I can clear my calendar early. The first week isn’t over, and already I’ve dropped four anime, and two whole categories! The first thing to go is, Time Travel!!

Touken Ranbu.
Remember that show with girls who were the embodiment of boats? The one that all the boys loved? Let’s do one for the girls! We can have boys, who are the embodiment of … of … swords! And nobody will know it’s a ripoff, because we’ll have them fight to preserve history, not to avoid it! That’ll fool ’em! And we can have thousands of bishies, because there were thousands of swords.

And there's seven more, even cuter!

And there’s seven more, even cuter!

It will make for a complex anime, but we can start with an eleven minute expository dump, and have them clean off in the bath afterwards.

Your purification ritual lacks dignity

Your purification ritual lacks dignity
(and your towel is much bigger than necessary)

And since all that the girls really want is good artwork of cute boys, we don’t have to spend money to make exciting action scenes, just lots of closeups.  And these swordboys will have a leader, who you will never see, so that every girl can pretend it’s her. And, here’s the best part — we can call it SwordColle!

We can’t?

Time Bokan 24
You know, I’m thinking that time travel might be the Next Big Thing, now that little sisters have had their run. Remember last season, where that girl went around propositioning various great names from history? Suppose we get ahead of the pack and do another one for kids. We can make it the usual [insert name here] schoolboy, who is one of the few who can survive a time leap, because time means nothing to him, just look at his tardy record!

Another high impact moment

Another high impact moment

And then we’ll have an evil publisher trying to keep the time travellers from finding out what the real history was, so they don’t have to rewrite the history books, and issue new editions, and make everyone throw the old ones away and buy the new ones, and thus have a perpetual income stream. No…wait.  Well, they’re just kids, they’ll never notice.

And nobody else will even think of doing a time travel anime this season!


The second category to drop is another duo, all about Survival Games.

Bloodivores
So, here’s the high concept: it’s a cross between Deadman Wonderland and Blood C, only it’s four vampires (mutated virus vampires, the other kind are so 19th Century), in a prison full of monsters. We’ll hoke up some reason for them to be in there — betrayed by a parent in the government maybe. We won’t need a lot of logic in the first episode. The government can tag everyone with the vampire virus (with flashing dog collars), but they can’t quarantine them, or find a cure, or a way to suppress an attack of vorishness. And when they’re on a bank heist, their masks can be plain sunglasses.

Our stylish Oafly-Stump sunglasses come in transparent, eyeshade, and opaque.

Our stylish Oafly-Stump sunglasses come in transparent, eyeshade, and opaque.

I know it’s stupid, but later on we’ll have lots of big insect monsters (ignore the mass square laws) and vamp on vamp action, so no-one will notice.

Magical Girl Raising Project

OK, I know the How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend project was not well received, even though some people liked it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reuse the name. This will be infinitely better. Squeaky-voiced middle school females (and one secret gender-bender!) get recruited as Magical Girls, and then (due to budget cuts, or something), they get told they have to have a 50% RIF.

Good evening! Which four of you will I have to kill before the season ends?

Good evening! Which four of you will I have to kill before the season ends?

And since Magical Girlhood is an organization you can’t resign from, because they don’t exist, the only way out is feet first. That’s a lot of feet.

The kids will just love this one!

The kids will just love this one!

What anime am I watching, Summer 2016?

July 22, 2016

Having been down on a bunch of shows, let me tell you about what’s good what has kept my interest. There’s a number of highly thought of shows this season, but for some reason, none of them resonate with me. Right now there’s only four that I’m watching.

Amanchu! In the quiet, ‘healing’ tradition comes a story about how a shy transfer student to a high school by the sea learns to fit in by way of scuba diving and a whacky friend. So far, it’s more Aria than Girls und SCUBA. The girl is well presented and believable. The friend is over-the-top. Her most common face makes her look like one of the elves in Humanity Has Declined.

One of these girls is having way too much fun

One of these girls is having way too much fun

ReWrite  Typical VN-based high school harem hi jinks. Our Hero joins the Occult Study Club because, well, that’s where the oppai are. Gets involved in various occult happenings. What I like about it is that it keeps throwing in twists. Like when they catch the tsuchinoko monster that’s been seen around campus, and it turns out to be a rubber dummy being used as a tsuchinoko lure by another occult seeker.

I suppose you ladies are wondering how you all came to be in the club

I suppose you ladies are wondering how you all came to be in the club

ReZero HikikoNEET gets transported to a fantasy world. This is a two cour series that started last Spring, so we’re on episode 16. Proto-agonist Subaru (yes, it’s , the same as the car, and the same as the Pleiades/Seven Sisters constellation) keeps getting horribly deaded, respawning at an earlier place and time. In the first season he came over as well-meaning, if a little dense and hot-headed. In the second season the heat and density reach stellar-core proportions. So far, he still has the two maid-demons (demon-maids?) on his side, but in the latest episode the Main Heroine has dumped him for being as crazy as a bag of cats. Oh, and everybody has died. Horribly.

Post-respawn awakenings can scare the maids

Post-respawn awakening screams can scare even demon maids

Planetarian Lonely robot keeps watch over a dying planetarium in a dead, post-apocalyptic city. Is befriended by a junk dealer. It’s sweet and sad and reminds me of There Will Come Soft Rains.

Even though we only have electricity for one week, every five years

Even though we only have electricity for one week, every five years

Flying Witch Yes, I know that’s last season. I watched then, also. Very much slice of life. Country-style OP and ED and BGM. Good characters, good art. I’ve marathoned it twice, so far, and plan a much longer essay, later.

It looks like fun, but it can be painful, until you learn the trick

Well, where did you think they came from?
Besides, they’re on sale

But since I’m watching it this season, it counts.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2016

July 14, 2016

Tales of Zestiria the X: Is that X the unknown, or X, the queen after Zestiria the IX? Or maybe it’s a date on their calendar?

Court astronomer has been using his telescope to observe local weather, and in no way is he peering into bedroom windows. Maybe he should be the court meteorologist. Anyway, he sees an unmoving dark cloud (does that make it climate?) over in the next county. Princess sends court climatologist and her trusted companion to find out what it is, and then leads out a patrol of her own to find the trusted companion when they don’t come back two minutes later, because rulers of countries always have time to act like platoon leaders. Encounters ninja-shaped aliens. Finds out that the cloud is of geological origin, not climatological. But before she can find the court climatologist to tell him of his new title, the geology becomes a little unsettled and everybody but her dies. Then it gets weird. Later on, there may be sheep.

Normally, you build a dome that will protect all of your 100cm refractor

Normally, you build a dome that will protect all of your 100cm refractor

The acting is over-wrought, the art is crude, and the animation is clunky. And they don’t know how to build observatories.

Qualidea Code: Highly accomplished team member refuses to cooperate with his team-mates when defeating the pink, boob-shaped alien invaders because they’re almost as dumb as the aliens. Team-mates refuse to cooperate with other teams because they have other highly accomplished members who aren’t him. Competition among the teams for accomplishment points (always a bad thing) leads to the destruction of both the aliens and a vital causeway.

Because crenellated walls are the best way to defeat airborne enemies

Because crenellated walls are the best way to defeat airborne enemies

The art is OK, the characters are the usual range of emotional types (defined by hair color), and the plot is clunky.

Ange Vierge: Highly accomplished team members clash with less highly accomplished team members when defeating the black, dildo-shaped alien invaders. Spend the rest of the episode naked in the bath, naked in their quarters and naked in the office, bepestered by lens flare. Decide that the best way to improve their accomplishment levels is to break into naked competitive teams (always a good thing).

If you think the lens flare is bad, just wait for the steam

She must have very sexy elbows

The plot is minimal, the interpersonal interactions are contrived, and the camera work is clunky. The characters are well rounded.

This is the last TL:DR of the season, I swear. Next week, I answer the question every one of my reader is asking — So, what is he watching, anyway?

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2016

July 7, 2016

Sweetness and Lightning: Hey, have you noticed how well food-porn shows are doing right now? And how much people like smart, energetic little pre-school girls?  We could so clean up with a show that combined the two!

His idea of a child's balanced meal

His idea of a child’s balanced meal

Yeah, but there’s got to be more. If we don’t want to look like Barakamon with food, or Wakakozake with kids, or Gourmet Girl Graffitti with parents, we need something with an edge.

What about making it a single parent, a widower? One who can’t cook?

I don’t know, Japanese are reluctant enough to get married already. We don’t want to give the impression that marriage involves a 50/50 chance of death. I mean, think of all the other single parent or missing parent shows out there. In how many anime do you even see a parent, anyway? Whatever happens to them?

Yeah, but that gives us an opportunity to add a romance angle. You know, like, he’s a school teacher and there’s this girl who’s in one of his classes that keeps coming over to cook. Not just romance, but underage, inappropriate romance!

And she can’t cook either! And they learn together! Sweet lightning, that would work! But what should we call it?

Taboo Tattoo: Guys, what is Miyata thinking? We’ve already got Amanchu, Saiki Kusuo and Food Wars on our plate, and now he wants us to do this Tattoo thing? Even Miyamori Aoi couldn’t find enough animators to save us!

だいじょうぶ, だいじょうぶ. It will be OK. We’ll just use a generic highschool boy develops superpowers plot. Throw in a blonde foreigner and a boobified childhood friend who can cook (maybe we can recycle some outtakes from Food Wars) and the thing writes itself. No need to spend time on the animation, just use dark blobs and speed lines. This will be bigger than Dai-Shogun!!

Take that! You secret tattoo-wielder!!

Take that! You secret tattoo-wielder!!

Momokuri: OK, we’ve got one more 24 minute hole to fill in the schedule, and nobody willing to do it. TMS is busy playing mortician for D.Grey Man while murdering ReLife, and KyoAni is prepping for a second season of Euphonium. Even J.C. Staff is wrapped up in their Tattoo blockbuster thing.

What about recycling something from last years Internet-only ONA programs? Like Momokure. Yandere girl stalks younger boy. I mean, all the episodes are done, it’s cheap, it has low bandwidth, and it already has a 7.2 rating from people who watch anime on their smartphones. What more could you ask for?

Such a cute boy!

Such a cute boy!

 

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2016

July 6, 2016

The first two programs I dropped were not even on my season preview list.

D.Gray-man: Boy who hunts soul-sucking demons teams up with sister of soul sucked brother. This is a 2016 continuation of a 2006 anime. The current release starts at Episode 104, but Funimation has posted everything, starting from Episode 1, which is what I watched. Too dark (as in, no light in any of the scenes). Too cartoony (as in, everybody is overacting, even by anime standards). Too much 2006 style art (as in, c’mon, it was made in 2006!). Bottom line: I don’t plan on watching a 103-episode prequel.

Would I lie to a policeman?

Would I lie to a policeman?

Berserk: Another resurrection of an earlier era (2008), only this one doesn’t have any prequels available. Demon-haunted man with a big sword and a tiny tattoo fights skeletal demons in a dark forest. Too dark (as in, no light in any of the scenes). Too cartoony (as in, it looks like it was drawn by US comic book artists). Too much CGI (as in, c’mon, it was made in CGI!). OK, too much bad CGI.

And the skeletons move like stop action from a '60's Voyage of Sinbad

And the skeletons move like stop action from a ’60’s Voyage of Sinbad

Re:Re:Re: Only one of the next three was on the list, but that’s OK, ’cause I only dropped two.

ReWrite: Double length into to a VN adaptation because they had to introduce all the girls who are going to fall in love with Our Hero. As usual in these things, the girls are more interesting than Our Hero, but the art style is from the early naughties VN genre and the magical hijinks that are meant to be ominous are silly instead. As in, magical witch girl secretly enters Our Hero’s room at night, slides up under the covers with him, and bites him … on the arm. She also stabs him with her ribbons.

I will so report you to the teacher!

I will drop you from the Konohana Lucia path and force you into the Bad Ending

ReLife: NEET takes a pill that makes him look young again. Re-enrolls in high school, and immediately forgets how to behave. The only saving feature is that the representative from the company that talked him into taking the pill (as an experiment), looks like Koizumi Itsuki from Haruhi Suzumiya, so it’s nice to see that he got an interesting job after college (probably still working for the Organization). I tried reading the manga, and dropped that too.

My Organization wants you to take this pill

My Organization wants you to take this pill

ReZero: This started in the Spring season, but it’s a two-cour, so it still counts. NEET gets transported to a fantasy world in the first of a double episode (1A, 1B) opener. Keeps getting killed and respawning back where he first appeared, but it takes him a while to figure it out. In fact, at the end of 1B he still hasn’t. Since the respawn point is at the same time as well as the same place, it’s like a time loop anime as well. So everything he does based on prior knowledge means the future is different from that point on. Impresses the girl, gets killed; misses meeting the girl, gets killed; catches up to the girl, she doesn’t know who he is.

Three minutes in and already he's adapted

Three minutes in and already he’s adapted

 

This is the only one I’m continuing to watch.

 

TL:DR — Anime I never finished (and don’t intend to), Spring 2016

April 19, 2016

So here’s my first cut at cuts. One or two eps was all it took for these to drop off the radar.

Anne-Happy: Three girls try to find happiness in a class full of losers. Too much ‘cute girls doing cute things’. What the British would call twee.

None cuter, and we know it

None cuter, and we know it

Twin Star Exorcist: A pair of high-powered 14-year old exorcists get told they need to start making babies to save the world. He’s a whiner. She’s inept. Chief exorcist is a con-man. Strange mix of well done backgrounds and secondary actors, combined with cartoony main characters.

More like grade-schoolers

More like grade-schoolers, really

Pan de Peace: As I thought. Cute girls doing cute things… with bread … manages to be boring, even when limited to three minutes.

There's another three minutes of this

There’s another three minutes of this

High School Fleet: GaruPan meets KanColle. High school girls operate automated warships, get involved in some sort of high level government plot. Alternates between too many shrieking adolescents on the bridge, and not enough really good CGI warship shots. I continue to watch, but I fast forward through the dialogue.

The fleet sorties!

The fleet sorties!

TL:DR — Anime I never finished (but mean to), Winter 2016

April 5, 2016

Usually, shows under the TL:DR header are stinkers. These are not. They are well done, (mostly) well received, and the first two probably would have worked as mainstream live action programs. So why didn’t I finish them? I don’t know. Anime Ennui? Being at a point in my intellectual development where I would rather watch Galko Chan? One day, I plan to watch these all the way through.

ERASED: Time travel murder mystery. Well done setup, despite the done-to-death hero found bending over victim with bloody knife plot device

Showa Genroku: Trying to make it as a vaudeville storyteller in the ’50’s. First episode was excellent. Demonstration of how a rakuga works was fascinating, as well as funny.

Grimgar: Being an adventurer in a fantasy game is all fun and, well, games, until you actually have to murder a poor solitary goblin in cold blood. Psychological study masquerading as a trapped in a video game anime.

Dimension W: The least satisfying and most traditional anime on this list. Former enhanced government warrior searches for unlicensed maguffins energy coils, dragging along an adopted gynoid, which is like an android only with gynaecological aspects. Good adventure, good characters, worth coming back to. Someday.

TL:DR — The Muv-Luvs

January 15, 2016

Once upon a time, almost fifteen years ago, there was an adult visual novel called Muv-Luv (マブラヴ, although in one place it’s reported as 真愛, or True Love)* Originally, it came out in three vaguely related parts. Muv-Luv Extra is a straight highschool harem VN. Muv-Luv Unlimited has the protagonist wake up in an alternate world where Earth has been invaded by aliens. Muv-Luv Alternative is Muv-Luv Unlimited with the protagonist sent back in time to save the Earth. Got that? Good. Now ignore it.

We're the girls who play high-school sports

We’re the girls who play high-school sports

We're the girls who fight

We’re the girls who fight

The franchise spun off a bunch of manga, which inspired a couple of anime — Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, and this year’s prequel, Muv-Luv Schwarzes Marken (Black Mark, as in blotted your copybook). I started watching M-L:TE because I read the description of M-L:SM which said it was set in the GDR in 1983, and that sounded interesting. Boy, was I wrong.

We're the girls who defend the Earth

We’re the girls who defend Asia

We're the girls who defend the GDR

We’re the girls who defend the GDR

Both are straightforward mecha vs alien anime. In both, the aliens — that look like mecha/monster hybrids — cover the earth from horizon to horizon and are pretty much immune to all weapons except those on the mechas.

<rant>And why doesn’t anyone think to retrofit existing systems with mecha-grade weapons? If armor works on a mecha, it can be bolted onto a tank. And if a mecha can carry a blast-o-matic beam rifle, why can’t one or two of those be stuck on a tank? Or a fighter jet? And another thing. Why aren’t we just using nukes on the screaming hordes of godless aliens? It’s not like there’s anything left once they’ve overrun a patch of ground. And it’s not just these shows. Most mecha combat anime have the same problems.</rant>

The big difference between the two anime here is that M-L:TE is trying to be a romance between the Japanese protagonna, and the Japanese-American assigned to her unit, while M-L:SM is a mystery about a girl who looks like someone’s little sister. Oh, yeah, the Stasi are every bit as much a threat to our protags as the aliens are. In any event, there’s lots of shouting and angst and going off the deep end half cocked. It confirmed why I don’t like these shows.

I watched through seven eps of M-L:TE while waiting, and then one of M-L:SM, when suddenly I realized that I needed to prep for my colonoscopy.
————————————–
*The name is a little confusing. マブラヴ transliterates as maburavu, which could be mab love, whatever mab is. 真愛 translates as true love, which is pronounced ma ai. I should note that the original author is notoriously bad at English.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2016

January 9, 2016

One week in, and already I’m trimming the fatuous. Well, after watching Shirobako, I have vowed never to accuse anyone of producing crappy anime again. Everyone, I’m convinced, produces the best possible product they can, within the constraints of time and budget and staff and source material. What I will say is that many studios don’t produce anime that holds my interest, possibly because, as a fat, old, Euro male, I’m not the target demographic. So, I’m trimming the ones that don’t inspire me on first look, and will likely not get a second one.

Active Raid: Jolly band of misfits operate experimental mecha to fight crime. They are called the Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Unit Eight. So, 3+5+8 = 16 = 4+4+4+4, which in Japanese maps to Die Die Die Die.

We could have done a second season of Twin Tail, but no...

We could have done a second season of Twin Tail, but no…

Divine Gate: Superhuman humans using magical tools called Drivers fight over the Gate to the Worlds Beyond. Super-powerful boy-girl team trains at special school for super people. Emotionally-scarred super-loner with depressing past and even super-er powers gets added to their team. Super.

Too bad it's Divine Gate, and not Divinegate

Too bad it’s Divine Gate, and not Divinegate

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju: Ex-con decides on a new career as a radio-hall storyteller, just as television becomes popular. Enters into a menage-a-trios with a woman who is also an aspiring ragkugoka, and her dead father.

Oh, I thought you said Joshi Raku

Oh, I thought you said Joshi Raku

Luck and Logic: Superhuman humans using magical tools called Logics fight monsters that come through gates from the Worlds Beyond and take possession of non-super-humans. Non-super humans. Non super…nevermind. Super-powerful boy-girl team trains at special school for super people. Jolly band of super-powerful magical girls cooperate to take down monsters. There’s a little sister. Super.

We are not magical girls. Don't call us magical girls

We are not magical girls. Don’t call us magical girls

BBK/BRNK: Super-loner with depressing past, depressed at having misplaced his little sister, assisted by jolly band of misfits with super-powers based on magical tools called Bubuki (BBK), plans to restart antique super-mecha called Buranki (BRNK) to fight super-oppressive government. Super.

...or is it a Buranki? One hangs down from the roof of the cave, right?

…or is it a Buranki? I can never remember which is which. One hangs down, right?

Twelve Days of Anime 4: TL:DR, Anime I never finished, 12 Days Edition

December 17, 2015

Most of my TL:DR’s are about anime that couldn’t pass the three episodes rule, ones that were bad enough that I didn’t want to watch a full season. What I’m writing about here are those anime that were enjoyable enough to watch the first season of, or the first cours, but not engaging enough to be worth watching the rest. Sometimes these are streaming anime, other times they are DVD’s that I bought but couldn’t be bothered to put in the second disc. All (well, most) are kirai jianai — I don’t dislike.

 

Twelve Kingdoms: A collection of stories. The first, and longest, is about a young girl who is kidnapped from the coast of Japan and ends up, not in North Korea, but in a different world. She has an extended series of tribulations, which she barely manages to survive (all the while crying the Japanese equivalent of Auntie Em! Auntie Em! There’s no place like home!). She is befriended by a large rat, who helps her be reunited with her kidnapper. Said kidnapper turns out to be a Kirin (Chinese dragon/giraffe hybrid that looks like a unicorn here), who has decided she should be the Immortal Queen of one of the Twelve Kingdoms.

It was a nice enough series, but it falls into what I call the costumed-period-fantasy category, and those have a hard time holding my interest. I stopped watching at the end of the first season/DVD.

Got to Episode 13 of 45

Got to Episode 13 of 45

 

Polar Bear Cafe: Slice of life about a slacker panda who hangs out with a love-struck penguin in a nice little Applebee’s-like cafe run by a polar bear. Gilligan does Friends. It’s very cute, and I enjoyed every episode, and I didn’t drop it so much as wandered off. It’s still in my Crunchyroll queue, but I haven’t touched it for months.

Episode 28 of 40

Episode 28 of 40

xxx-Holic: Spirit-bepestered student works for a witchy-woman. Slice of life/spirit of the week. No over-arching plot, so no reason to tune in next week, but unlike say, Non Non Biyori, most of the individual episodes are not strong enough to stand on their own. It does have its moments, like Episode 5’s description of Shiritori as a game you play to keep the monsters away. Like Polar Bear, it’s a wandered-away-from.

Episode 10 of 24

Episode 10 of 24

Sword Art On-Line: Trapped in a MMORPG. The art work was good, and the fights were interesting, but I had the same problem a lot of others did: the hero was too heroic. That is, the hero could never lose, except emotionally. I got surprisingly far into this one but didn’t bother to finish it.

Episode 16 of 24

Episode 16 of 24

Log Horizon: Trapped in a MMORPG. Better characters, better plot, more gaming-related lore. Still, it couldn’t overcome it’s costumed-period-fantasy core. I watched the first season, and bought the DVD, but didn’t bother with the second.

Episode 13 of 24

Episode 13 of 24

A Certain Scientific Railgun: Extra-special-talent girl at a school for special-talent students. Can accelerate metallic objects using her electric personality. Not exactly slice of life. Not exactly danger-of-the-week. Not exactly strong on plot. Did I mention that her little sister has a totally unhealthy obsession with? Kindof fun, but a little went a long ways, and I didn’t bother to follow up on the second half. I must say it’s a better series than A Certain Index — that one is awaiting a true TL:DR.

Episode 12 of 24

Episode 12 of 24

I bought the DVD, but that was more to show support for the industry than any desire to have a family treasure to mention in my will.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2015

October 7, 2015

Not much to talk about here, because my in-depth  cover art analysis already filtered out a lot. But not everything. And one still wants to spot-check the discards to make sure one was right. On the other hand, some of these might not be appearing on either Crunchyroll or Funimation, and it appears Funimation is getting a late start on the season (only one new series posted so far), and I don’t want to wait for fansubs, or for Funimation to finish resting their server hamsters, so not everything on that list is covered here.

Will Watch second thoughts:

Beautiful Bones (AKA The Corpse Buried Beneath Sakurako’s Feet): Rich scientist helps police with their inquiries, whether they want help or not. Her connections help.

Obviously murdered. I'll take it home for my collection

Obviously murdered. I’ll take it home for my collection

An uneven start. Interesting premise. Very well done art. Strange plotting and characterization. Sakurako drags high school kid around to her bone digs. Finds 100 year old skull. Doesn’t bother to look for the rest. Stops at police crime site. Insults local police inspector. Points out why supposed double suicide wasn’t. Tries to steal the skull. Feeds boy Alaskan shrimp (AKA あまえび, sweet shrimp).

The bones tell me things

The bones tell me things

The boy, shonen, is a typical insert-self high school student — observer, commenter, inept assistant. Her character is all over the place — arrogant and insulting, interesting to the point of being lyrical when speaking of the bones, childish when trying to keep the skull. The show has promise, it’s just hiding it well. I’ll give it another couple eps.

Might Watch results:

Turns out, The Empire of Corpses and Miss Hokusai are both films.

Young Doctor Frankenstein Black Jack: He’s young. He’s a medical student. He has a huge collection of body scars. He’s there when the ward is overwhelmed by a mass casualty accident. One of the casualties is a kid on a gurney with an arm and a leg torn off. Despite the fact that someone helpfully stuck the limbs into an ice-filled bento box, the cartoonish senior doctor wants to just clean up the stumps and send him on his way. Something, something, triage. Young Frank Jack, jumps in, and with the help of an intern (who for some reason reminds me of Ghost Hunt’s Taniyama Mai), races the kid out the door and down the street and an unknown distance through the city to a sleazy clinic run by a self-doping doctor who will let him do the operation there.

We turn left at the first dark alley

We turn left at the first dark alley

What was the result? I don’t know. I tuned out at the break, while the intern was admiring the top half of Young Frank Jack’s collection of body scars.

Perfect Insider: Very much an introductory episode, in that you have no idea where the story is going after this. POV character Nishinosono Moe, is a young woman (old enough to drive, young enough to wear motley tights) with a crush on a slightly older professor. The Maguffin seems to be another woman, Dr. Magata, a genius (Ph.D. at 11, murdered her parents at 13 [maybe], currently hidden away on an island to do her [unspecified] research). Everybody is asking the big questions about the whichness of what.* Moe-girl has Skype-interviewed Magata, who talks about things like why seven is the loneliest number, just like B and D.

Why yes, I've seen Neon Genesis Evangelion. Why do you ask?

Why yes, I’ve seen Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Why do you ask?

Moe-girl and professor and his students decide to go camping on Magata’s island. Blurb says they find a corpse and solve a mystery. Not sure if this will be a corpse of the week, like Bones is shaping up to be. The ED looks like a fractal version of Conway’s Game of Life, with Unix-like terminal windows floating around (looks like they were programmed in Borland C), and finally resolving into a CGI image of Dr Magata.

This is trying to be an anime for thinking sentients. I think. I’ll watch at least one more episode, just to see what happens. It might be a keeper.

*As Douglas Adams said “Why does man eat? How does man eat? And, Where shall we have lunch?”

And how did my rejects do?

Heavy Object: After seven minutes of pure expository lump with no end in sight, I bailed. Right after the invention of the snowplow.

And I wonder why it's only two guys to clear 3km of runway

And I wonder why it’s only two guys to clear 3km of runway

Gaukusen Toshi * (AKA Asterisk War): New kid with natural dueling ability transfers to school where winning duels is the primary goal, meets high powered but obnoxious red-headed girl, semi-powerful but obnoxious musclebound guy, garterbelt-wearing Student Council President who has great tracts of … boobs …, the better to massage his shoulder blades with, and helpful, M-1 standard issue sidekick guy. Fights most of a duel. Dodges assassination attempt, finds embroidered hanky, sees angry redhead with her trousers half off, and finds that his missing sister is remembered mostly as a corrupt data file — not necessarily in that order. Oh yeah, his goal in transferring there is to find himself. I lasted the entire episode, but only because I was hoping to see Miss Garterbelt again.

...always get this treatment from the President of the Student Council

… is that a sword hilt in your pocket or did you just notice my hemline?

Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry: Kid with natural dueling skills. School that emphasizes dueling. Powerful but obnoxious redhead.  Magical duel…. You know the drill…. Redhead wears the garterbelts.

Lance N’ Masques: Modern day knight. As in, it’s modern days, and he’s still running around in armor, with a cape, a domino mask, and a big magic lance. He rescues tiny girls who fall off their playground equipment, and high school girls getting hit on by high school boys. After which, he kisses their hands and gives a creepy speech about protecting them forever. The youngsters are charmed. The ones old enough to know better run away, shouting hentai! I’m surprised he isn’t in jail. Did I mention that he has a magic horse that transforms into a chibi girl? And that the whole administrative staff of the worldwide association of creepy knights is run by maids? Life is too short, and I am too old.

... my lance extended to its full size and I just had to come ... rescue you

… my lance extended to its full size and I just had to come … rescue you.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2015

July 11, 2015

We are two weeks into the season, and the shows are dropping like exhausted fruit flies.

Danchigai Slice of life HS kid lives with four sisters, two older, two younger, one a tsundere brocon. Parents traveling overseas. Etc. Very generic. Very vanilla. Very uninteresting.

Castle Town Dandelion  Eleven super-powered children of a middle-class king vie, with various levels of enthusiasm, for a shot at the next kingship. Not…bad…just not compelling. Or interesting. Second show this season where people with superpowers have just one, and that very restricted.

Shimoneta: A boring world where the concept of dirty jokes doesn’t exist  In a 1984-style Japan, everyone wears dog collars, that detect whenever the wearer uses sexually related words. Even soft-core porn is prohibited (the episode starts with a SWAT team raiding a bunch of teen boys with girly mags), and children grow up with no understanding of the birds and the bees.

Naturally, there’s an underground resistance, led by the vice-president of the Student Council of a highly moral HS. She does things like prance around the roof of a train station wearing only a robe, shouting subversive cries, like “c**k a doodle p***y”, or whatever that is in Japanese. Her disguise is a pair of (hopefully, washed) panties, worn over her face. She recruits our male protagonist, and proceeds to hijack a student assembly with slides of two fruit flies going at it, to the sounds of off camera moans.

Hilarity ensues. Well, onscreen. Offscreen, the best I could do was mild smirking.

This is most likely a reaction to the Tokyo Metropolitan law called Bill 156, and other laws that  attempt to let bureaucrats define what constitutes pornography (particularly child pornography), showing what happens “if this goes on”.

Not enough redeeming social value, although I suspect there’s a whole lot of culturally relevant nuances I’m missing, or that got translated out (e.g. the show’s p**is-substitute word in Japanese is mushroom, subtitled here as cucumber).

Prison School Mizujima Tsutomu, what’s happened to you? How could you go from directing Garupan and Shirobako to this? Bad art, bad acting, stupid premise (roughly – boys imprisoned in an all girls school). Admittedly, a premise is only stupid if it’s executed badly. Garupan, after all, was about girls driving tanks on giant aircraft carriers. This was executed badly. How badly? After ten minutes of P-School, I flung the controller across the room and ran, weeping, out to the back deck to teach the local mosquitoes about the effects of gin on the human bloodstream.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2015

July 10, 2015

Ranpo Kitan (Ranpo Mystery Stories)
Based on the works of mystery writer Edogawa Ranpo. Emotionally stunted HS student (“Wow, a dismembered body, life is no longer boring”) goes to work for brilliant crime-solver, who is also of HS age. Think “Ghost Hunt”, only with dead bodies instead of dead souls, and an off-putting male POV character, instead of a sympathetic female.

Chaos Dragon
Based on a D&D game, and these never turn out well. It’s like you’re watching somebody else play. Now I know why gamers don’t have nongamer girfriends.

My wife is the student council president
Plot line 1: Innocent girl wins election as student council president by throwing codoms into the student assembly, and promising free love on campus.
Plot line 2: Innocent girl student council president moves in with the vice president as his wife because of an agreement their parents made sixteen years earlier. Finds out all about first base.
For the first time I know of, CR is broadcasting both a censored and uncensored version, (because it does need censoring). Why couldn’t they have done this with Highschool Of The Dead? Oh, yeah. That had a plot.

Aoharu x Machine Gun
Hey, guys! Looks like anything featuring cute girls with guns is a hit (Sabagebu, Upotte, C3-Bu) these days, but what can we do to up the game? How about making her a HS student with a strong sense of justice? Sounds good. Yeah, and she could be ultra-strong! Great! …and a cross-dresser! Now, you’re talking! And, and — you’ll love this — her love interest in the paintball club is an obnoxious guy who…who…works at a host club!! The fans will go wild!!!

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2015

April 16, 2015

We’re into Week 2 of the Spring Anime Season. Here’s some more shows I’m dropping. The first two aren’t bad out of the gate (the first one is rated highly by the aniblogiscenti), but I don’t think they’ll sustain my interest.

My (Love) Story: The (Love) is in parens because the actual title is simply Ore Monogatari (おれ ものがたり), or My Story. I guess a Western audience needs a little less subtlety. Gentle giant befriends young girl, thinking she has a thing for his friend when she really has the hots for him. Too, too treacly sweet for my taste.

Arslan Senki: AKA The Heroic Legend of Arslan. The Japanese sure can pack a whole paragraph into one kanji. It’s high fantasy, much like 12 Kingdoms, or Yona of the Dawn. For some reason, these kinds of stories don’t (usually) hold my attention, unless they have some redeeming feature, like Grenadier did. I quite liked 12 Kingdoms, but not enough to actually load the DVD with Cour 2 on it. I liked Yona, but not enough to actually order the DVD. It’s not them, it’s me. Well, it’s partly them. Anyway. Arslan is another of this ilk, only somewhat more clichéd than most.

The rest would have made last week’s list if only they had aired soon enough:

Gunslinger Stratos: Students from a future school where grades seem to be based on paintgun duels, fall through a crack in reality and come out in what might be present day Tokyo, where their dopplegangers use real guns.

Denpa Kyoshi / Ultimate Otaku Teacher: Otaku NEET slacker teaches school. As bad as it sounds.

Show by Rock: A rock show. For the pre-teen female demographic. Cute, in small doses. Like, one episode per season.

Rin-Ne: Girl can see ghosts. Not that girl (Re-Kan), the other one. Gets involved with cheapskate supernatural being. Not that supernatural cheapskate (Noragami), the other one.

Mikagura School: Flaming yuri enrolls in magical school because she likes the girl on the cover of the catalog. Her magical power is pointing her finger, flexing her thumb, and saying ‘bang’.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2015

April 9, 2015

The Spring Shows are just starting to bud out, and I’m doing some early pruning, based on the first episode alone. There may be some series that I’ll reconsider, if the popular acclaim is loud enough. I doubt these are them.

Seraph of the End: Vampires enslave children after everyone over 13 dies in a plague. Group of kids from an orphanage gets a vamp-gun and a tourist map showing routes out of the underground city and decide to make a break for it. Everybody dies.

Overly evil bad guys. Good backgrounds, but mediocre character art and animation. It’s dated 2015, but it looks like something from the 90’s, and the lead-in shows the now obsolete logo of the six-years defunct Geneon corporation, as if this was something they found in a back room storage bin.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls In a Dungeon?: In this case, yes. Clueless, over-eager (but sensitive), n00b adventurer gets the hots for a 5th-level combatrix from an insufferably powerful family, followers of the god Loki. Our adventurer is the only follower of the goddess Hestia, who looks and acts like the traditional anime childhood friend and is totally smitten with her oblivious follower. So, he’s off getting damaged by demons in a dungeon when he could be at home, snogging with a goddess. It’s like a spin-off based on one of the less interesting side characters from Sword Art Online. So far, the only appealing character is Eiefull-Halfelven, his local guild mistress. To add insult to injury, Wikipedia says this all takes place in Baltimore.

Food Wars: Hey, guys! Did you see how well Gourmet Girls did last season? I’ll bet we can do better than that! Instead of middle school kids, we’ll have high-schoolers, and adults, because the foodgasms can be that much more explicit, and we can have nudity and peanutbutter-lubed tentacle rape! Oh, oh, and predatory land developers, with bigger boobs than in the manga, of course! And then, and then — wait for it — we can send him off to a pathologically intense cooking school where we can subject him to arbitrary demands and unreasonable conditions while not teaching him anything! It’ll be like a combination of Game of Thrones, and Iron Chef America, with a touch of American Gladiators thrown in! There’s no way this can go wrong! Eat your heart out, Ed Wood!!

Triage X: Boobs, blood, and bombast. If you like nudity, car chases, explosions, and extra-judicial murder justified by pseudomedical bafflegab, this one’s for you. Otherwise, it’s something that followers of Highschool of the Dead would turn their noses up at. Follows the manga quite closely (you say that as if it was a good thing). CREDITS: Miss Sagiri’s boobs were played by two sumo wrestlers, who appear by special arrangement with Nihon Sumō Kyōkai.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2015

January 13, 2015

One final pass at possible programming before the full weight of the quarter lands on me. Besides, MJ is off on a trip, so I don’t have to watch those stupid game shows in the evening but can concentrate on high school harem anime, instead.

We start off with a couple of right fafners, you know? (more…)

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2015

January 10, 2015

Winter is supposed to be a good season for anime. It’s a new year, with new budgets, and new stories. Studios can take risks, and emphasize quality. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

Yurikuma Arashi

Lesbian teddy bears invade a girl's school and eat the lilies.

Lesbian teddy bears invade a girl’s school and eat the lilies.

Absolute Duo:

Boy with unique powers attends special high school and ends up rooming with a girl. Yes, this is a repeat from every year since 1980.

Boy with unique powers attends special high school and ends up rooming with a girl. Yes, this is a repeat from every year since 1980.

Cute High Earth Defense Club:

Awkward attempt at parodying the magical girl genre using magical boys and a pink wombat goes horribly, horribly wrong, and not even the inclusion of a passionate discussion of what makes a good bowl of udon can save it.

Awkward attempt at parodying the magical girl genre using magical boys and a pink wombat alien goes horribly, horribly wrong, and not even a passionate discussion of what makes a good bowl of udon can save it.

Your Lie in April, Second Cour:

Young boy who was beaten into becoming a piano prodigy by his sickly mother and then went piano-deaf at her death is slowly brought back to his original love of the instrument by a wild-child violinist -- who is likely to have a bad case of Anime Wasting Disease herself.

Young boy who was beaten into becoming a piano prodigy by his sickly mother and then went piano-deaf at her death is slowly brought back to his original love of the instrument by a wild-child violinist — who is likely to have a bad case of Anime Wasting Disease herself. Good music, bad angst.

 Rolling Girls:

Skateboarding girls attempt to reunite a shattered Japan. No mention of Oda Nobunaga.

Motorcycle-riding girls engage in a ramen-eating contest, then attempt to reunite a shattered Japan.
No mention of Oda Nobunaga.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2014

October 18, 2014

Four more shows bite the dust. No common theme here, except boredom.

Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Yuki the hero. Four middle school girls in a “Hero’s Club” have to drop their normal lives of finding homes for cats and picking up trash to become real magical girls, defending the planet. The transition from slice-of-life to magical girl was exceptionally well done. The transformation-to-magical-girl app on their cellphones was original. Their battleground is looks like a deep dive into a pastel-colored fractal of a taxidermist’s sink trap. The picture quality was low — jaggies on my 32″ TV — and the whole magical girl trope is aimed at a demographic that isn’t me.

Celestial Method: Girl comes back to town she left seven years ago, meets a lot of people she knew but doesn’t remember, has enigmatic encounters with grey-haired girl who has been waiting for her to come back. Oh, yeah, just before she left, a ginormous flying saucer came and permanently parked itself a thousand hectometers or so above the town. One of her newly-met old friends shoots a bottle rocket at it.

Nice artwork, but, as someone said “When people leave the theater talking about how good the scenery was, your play is a failure.”

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Literary club suddenly gains superpowers, and nobody cares. Some cute “Here’s a dimensional gate to the Arizona desert (saguaro cactus) so we can practice blowing things up and creating lava and stuff with our powers” action. Male lead is a cheap Togashi Yūta style chūnibyō knockoff. It’s the sort of thing you’d watch if there wasn’t anything else on.

Karen Senki: Humans fight the machines. Machines try to become human. Too long at ten minutes per ep. Badly animated — looks like it was done using a low-budget RPG graphics engine.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2014

October 14, 2014

A classic trope is the “princess in danger” situation, one that can be traced all the way back to Andromeda and Perseus, and all the way forward to Princess Peach and Mario. This season there were two entries in that category, and neither one made the cut.

Akatsuki no Yona: Semi-bratty, air-headed princess sees her kindly father killed by her childhood sweetheart, is rescued by her faithful guardian general.

So far, she isn't doing much to help herself

Warrior princess makes daring escape

Cold opening of the first episode, and the flashback at the end of the second episode shows she makes it back, as a warrior princess leading a band of superhero allies. Think, medieval Justice League.

Poor artwork, mediocre animation, boring presentation — evil sweetheart had four different opportunities to kill her, stopped to exposiate each time — makes it not worth wasting bandwidth on.

Cross Ange – Rondo of Angel and Dragon: Beautiful, athletic, charming princess Angelise, beloved by all, turns out to not have the mana-wrangling powers that true humans are supposed to have and so is stripped of her name, titles, and clothing, and send off to a women’s prison for “Normas” as plain old Ange. There to suffer various forms of sexual violation and harassment by the female guards and the other Norma women. Later on there are dragons, and bathloads of women washing each other’s backs.

Relax, it's just a physical exam.

Relax, it’s just a physical exam.

Really bad art and animation made it painful to watch, and its disregard of the proprieties drew at least one stinging on-line rebuke. Plus, I’m not particularly a fan of the “let’s throw in some rape to show how bad her situation is” approach to story-telling.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2014

July 22, 2014

So, last week I dropped all the mecha anime. That doesn’t mean they were all bad, but they all were not interesting to me. There were a number of shows that survived the first pass, but ultimately didn’t come through.

Second thing to go — Tokyo!

Tokyo? 東京 Tokyo? Really? There’s enough Tokyo-themed shows to make a bad-show category? Read and see:

Tokyo Ghoul — Tokyo is beset by ghouls. They’re like a cross between vampires and zombies. You can become a ghoul if you’re attacked by one, and you have to eat one person per month. In between times, you’re a normal person, except you can’t stand personfood. Protagonist Highschoolstudent Iforgethisname becomes a ghoul after he accidentally gets some body parts transplanted — he was in the same accident that killed the ghoul and the parts were handy, so why not. Lots of gratuitous blood. Lots of tiresome angst. Very little common sense.

Tokyo ESP — Tokyo is beset by ESPers. They levitate the Diet building, with all the Dietitians inside it, while declaring themselves the new rulers of Japan. They teleport, they throw fireballs, they do all the tiresome things that superbeings do, and they have the same boastful superiority that bad guy superbeings have, along with a large dose of “I’m doing evil things for no purpose, just because I can”. They also smoke unfiltered cigarettes, and that can’t set a good example for the children. Daring counteresper-esper group of high school students takes them on.

Tokyo Terror* — Tokyo is beset by terrorists. Well, two high school age boys who are terrorists. They steal nuclear material from a power plant. They blow up the two towers of Tokyo City Hall.

Just a high school prank

Was this too soon, America?
Should we not have done this?

They are evidently part of a group that was experimented on in a lab (refer to each other with numbers, talk about the ones who didn’t get out), and so have some authority issues. Unlike last season’s lab rat anime, Brynhilder in Darkness, they don’t seem to have any superpowers. I mean, other than the ability to infiltrate a nuclear lab, run carrying a nuclear shipping container like it was an Australian Rules football, drive a motorcycle like Clément Desalle, and infiltrate enough explosive-laden stuffed toys into the Tokyo City Hall to blow up the building without being noticed or missing class.

Tokyo Ravens — I do love a good baseball anime. Unfortunately, TR isn’t about baseball. It’s about power struggles between two magical families in Tokyo. Heir apparent to the head of the most important family is a girl. But heads of families aren’t supposed to be girls, this being traditionalist Japan, so she dresses like a boy, says ぼく (boku, masculine I), instead of わたし (watashi, gender neutral I, but normally used by women), lives in the boy’s dorm, etc…. and nobody notices. The rest of the action involves magical duels between students, between their shikigami familars, between students and shikigami, between students and various juggernauts and ogres and demons  (oh, my). Think Zero no Tsukaima, with a competent Louise de La Vallière. This is another holdover from Spring that I just started, and stopped, watching.

*OK, the real title on Crunchyroll is Terror in Resonance, but it’s called Terror in Tokyo in Japan.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2014

July 14, 2014

My anime list has been bouncing up and down like a World Cup football. At first, I thought there were 4 or 5 that looked good. Then, I swung all the way up to 15 or 16, based on other people’s initial reviews. I may have been right the first time.

First thing to go — Robots!

Aldnoah Zero — Earth-descended Martians (don’t ask, it was the Moon’s fault) invade the mother planet in giant combat robots. Allusia, a Princess of Mars is thought to have been assassinated by Terran terrorists. Except it was actually a false flag operation, organized at the behest of the Master Mind of Mars, Count Kurūteo, by rebellious Warlords of Mars as a causus belli — just in time for SarajevoFest. Except that she’s not really dead, it was a stunt double, and now (accompanied by Thuvia Ederurizzo, Maid of Mars) she’s the Maguffin. Martian robots have this surface field thingy, that destroys things that touch it, which means it stops bullets, and slices through buildings just by leaning on them (adds a whole new meaning to the phrase cutting corners), and roads just by stomping on them. They don’t say how it keeps from going in up to its knees every time it takes a step. Meanwhile, the Terran battlebots have to make do with older weapons

 

Fangs out and brains in the helmet bag

Fangs out and brains in the helmet bag

Argevollen — The peaceful country of Ingelmia is invaded by warlike Arandians, who break through the Maginot Line of Ingelmania with giant combat robots. Everything is falling apart, when a rebellious soldier finds a cute girl, with glasses, operating a big transport truck, with a giant combat robot, the way cute, glasses-wearing girls are wont to do. He jumps into the robot, which looks suspiciously like something out of Evangelion, finds it responds to his mere thoughts and inclinations, and starts beating up on the ‘Randy robots. This being anime, I’m surprised it didn’t start chasing meganegirl. Meanwhile, the rest of the troops have to depend on older weapons

Are you sure this is the peak of robot development?

Nothing for me to be envious about

 

M3: The Dark Metal (It’s from Spring, but I didn’t find it on Daisuke until this week.)– The peaceful city of Kawadahara is invaded every night by the human-derived Admonitions and must be protected by high school students driving, you guessed it, giant combat robots.  Meanwhile, …

Nothing like a blunt instrument when you're engaged in the dark

Nothing like a blunt instrument when you’re engaged in the dark

 

Thinking about it, there’s two problems with building battlebots in real life. First, physics. They’re unstable (just like humans), and have many single-point-of-failure features (just like humans). Of course, no-one in anime would ever think of sneaking up close and shooting one in the back of the knee, or the ankle, or pulling the old エヲク – ログ attack. The second problem is human. If a human does a duck-and-weave, their head moves maybe a foot. A thirty foot tall robot jerks its head (and its pilot) five or six feet. And sitting in the cockpit while a battlebot runs into battle is like sitting in a box that’s being attacked by a two-hammered blacksmith while being dragged downstairs. Thud-thud-Thud-thud. I was on the verge of a mild headache after every one of these shows.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2014

June 8, 2014

The season is drawing to a close, and I’m still dropping shows. These are ones that I kindof watched, sometimes over halfway through, but then the inertia died and I got bored and wandered off…I guess.

Brynhildr in the Darkness – Presumably dead or dying girls brought back to life and experimented upon (Gunslinger Girls trope, with superpowers) by secret government project. Some escape and get chased down and killed. Others escape and join the Astronomy Club. Flopped back and forth between gratuitous violence and gratuitous fanservice.

Chaika–The Coffin Princess – Granddaughter of dead and dismembered evil emperor wanders around with an anti-tank gun-shaped magical weapon in a coffin-shaped carrier, trying to collect grampa-parts for burial. Unlike most magical weapons, this one seems to require a pre-firing checklist and spin-up time, which was really cool. And then … um… there were some characters…and…a…um…plot.

The World is Still Beautiful – Spunky teenage daughter of small, cloud producing country, having lost a game of Jan-Ken-Pon to her sisters, is married off to the 12-year-old king of seriously big, seriously dry country that (through his presumably precocious efforts) has conquered most of the rest of the world. Her skills apparently include understanding lonely 12 year old absolute monarchs, and making it rain by singing poorly written J-Pop in bad English. I guess the point of this Seattle-Los Angeles romance is that there’s no problem a nice cold shower can’t solve.

Nanana’s Buried Treasure – Ghost of a cute teenage girl haunts an apartment complex after her precursor buried powerful artifacts all over an artificial island, leaving them protected by hidden high tech puzzles, any one of which would require a major construction project coordinated by a general contractor. Many years later, an “Adventure Club” of other teenagers hunts them down, in a this-should-be-in-a-museum style. Meanwhile, crime gang works at infiltration and theft of the artifacts. Some interesting plot twists, but what a waste of a good character — videogame-playing teenage-girl-ghost acts as nothing more than a story arc hook and plucky comic relief.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2014

April 19, 2014

Some of this season’s anime got off to a late start. Others seemed, seemed, worth a look at two episodes. I know that folks say to watch a minimum of three eps before deciding, but, ya know, that’s 25% of the series. Herewith, the stuff that didn’t make the second cut.

Captain Earth: Giant robots battle in space. Small group of teenagers are the only ones who can handle them. Sound familiar? It’s like fan fiction by someone who overheard two other people talking about Evangelion on the metro, except unlike Shinji, Our Hero has … a boomerang! The robot launch sequence was cool — pilot capsule on top of a bunch of disintegrating totem poles, three (count them, three!) on-orbit gate transitions/self assembly points — it’s like the water bottle stations at a marathon, except you get mecha arms and legs. The battle was … OK. Then we look inside the invaders’ ship and find a blue boy/pink girl Shibuya fashion pair if there ever was one, who start talking about the libido component of the weapons. The fully built robot lands feet-first back at the base and the really boring character development begins (yes, really boring development, really boring character). Question? Will they launch the whole mecha on another Delta V booster from there, let it fly itself back up, or take it apart and drag the parts back up to the really cool assembly gates? The World (-) awaits.

Irregular at Magic High: Magic as an engineering discipline. Boy and his over-attached sister (aren’t they all) get selected for a prestigious national high school. She is good at magic. He … doesn’t do well on standardized tests. Big social gap between magic-users (her) and non-users (him). That’s OK. All the magic-using girls on the Student Council like Our Hero, and want Him to be on the Student Discipline and Bondage Committee with them, while all the magic-using guys do that thing with the dark upper half of the face. So it’s a harem/imouto/pariah’s-progress anime. And the white-and-minty-green uniforms aren’t the worst this season, but they’re among the top two.

The Comic Artist and his Assistants: Based on a 4-koma. Overworked, under-experienced mangaka gets his busty assistant and his equally busty editor to do various perverted things, like boob self-fondling ….. self boob-fondling … self-fondling boobs…. you get the idea … so that he can draw them from life. That’s it. Wash your hands and repeat.

 

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2014

April 12, 2014

I took a quick scan through this Spring’s crop of anime. Many, I could reject based on the program description alone. Some seemed worth watching….janai.

Black Bullet: You can just see the production crew sitting around, naming their favorite anime of the past, and arguing what parts of them to clip out and include here. Virus turns people into monsters, ignoring things like conservation of mass and structural engineering. Monsters are hunted by plucky independent company run by incompetent former highschool classmates. Plucky independent company monster hunters include former high school boy and his extremely loli love interest. Former high school boy and his extremely loli love interest encounter laughing-man-masked human who plans to conquer the world, using a virus. Oh, yeah — there are special bullets.

JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure: Murdering slob accidentally saves the life of a Victorian-era rich man and his son. Rich man promises to reward him, but seems to have let that idea slip for the next sixteen years or so. Murdering slob dies and his beautiful-but-evil son goes to live with the rich man and his gentlemanly-but-inept son. They welcome him with open arms, not realizing that the poor are not like the rest of us, Ernest. He starts off by kicking their dog, and promising to take over the household. There appears to be a mask involved. For some reason, the first season was wildly popular. From my standpoint it would probably work better as a Masterpiece Theater series, or maybe an HBO special.

Blade and Soul: Medieval setting, with guns. Protag is taciturn, emotionless, female warrior with a butterfly tattoo on her armpit and the ability to deflect bullets with her knives. She arrives at a small village, which is threatened by the Evil Empire (said empire has also offered a large bounty for the capture of The Girl with the Butterfly Tattoo). The village hires her to do a Magnificent Seven against the imperial threat. She grunts agreement, not bothering to explain the meaning of the word empire, and why God is on the side of the big battalions. The inevitable happens, so she leaves the burning village and heads for someplace with more opportunity and fewer ignition sources. The program gives off a vibe like Grenadier, without the on-the-bounce reloads. Characters are unlikable, story is uncompelling, and Miss Butterfly has a habit of wandering around in sleeveless outfits, wondering why everyone is attacking her — if she wasn’t so fastidious about grooming, people would just think it was a moth and stop bothering her. So far, nobody is wearing a mask.

 

 

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2014

January 20, 2014

I watched a lot of anime over the MLK weekend. I also dropped a lot of programs. Here’s a representative sample.

The Three Sisters

Onee-chan ga Kita: Mother remarries and now there’s an older sister, who thinks her new little brother is incredibly cute. If you flip the genders, it’s incredibly exploitive, but older girl -> younger guy is evidently more acceptable than older guy -> younger girl.

Recently, My Little Sister is Unusual: Little sister is intermittently possessed by the ghost of a girl who died of unrequited love, or something, and who proceeds to molest and abuse and embarrass her, while attempting to seduce her older brother. Dropped before the end of the first episode. Maybe if she was an older sister…

Pupa: Older brother serves as meat farm for monstrously transformed younger sister. People harsh on this one because they had read the somewhat grue manga and were expecting a well-done 26min bloodfest. What they got was a well-done 4min of stills. If this was a contest for artful manga compaction, it would win first place. As it is, and ignoring the manga and the expectations, ….meh. Some things work in the four-minute format. This isn’t one of them.

Flying Psychos

The Pilot’s Love Song: Some people like it, but my one-sentence summary is: Society solves its social problems by putting all of its emotionally crippled aristocrats on a flying rock named the B Ark Isla and telling them to look for the end of the sky. Based on the previews, I was expecting 26min of tilt-rotor diesel-punk flying-boat porn. What I got was 4min of bad flying embedded in 26min of bad emoting. Flying technology has Morse radio but no DF, top gunners turret — for a rifleman. Flying school sends up students to learn formation flying in groups of 25, air to air gunnery with no ground training, flying in cloudy conditions without basic instrument training (AKA “trust your instruments, Luke“), extended over-water operations with no navigation training. That’s quite a bit to pack into four minutes. I’ve stopped watching the story and have resorted to fast forwarding until airplanes appear. I might even stop that.

What Am I Watching?
(for those who care)

Second half/second seasons of Silver Spoon, Chunibyo, Golden Time, and Log Horizon. Also watching Hozuki no Reitetsu (bureaucrats in Hell); Witch Craft Works (gormless boy protected by expressionless witch, in high school); Nisekoi (Raku Montague and Chitoge Capulet pretend romance to prevent gang warfare outbreak, in high school); Magical Warfare (two boys and a girl fight evil wizards while learning magic, in high school); Seitokai Yakuindomo (boy becomes student council vice president at a formerly all girls — yes, high school. Finds out they talk just as dirty as boys). Everything with “high school” in the description is likely to be dropped, except maybe Seitokai.

UPDATE: Yes, dropped Nisekoi and Magical Warfare. Too generic. Too contrived. As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of childhood girlfriend secondary characters, I’ll miss Onodera san. WCW is worth continuing, if only because of the ‘witch bitch’ ED, with its quintet of tortured witches.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2013

November 16, 2013

Two more anime slide off my radar. Neither are bad, as such, just not compelling.

Gallilei Donna (Galileo’s Girls): Three greatN granddaughters of Galileo are pursued across a frozen and dying Europe by ruthless energy barons, duplicitous Italian police, and ultra-fashionable sky pirates, while they search for clues to his inheritance, whatever that is. The writers appear to have read too many Dan Brown novels and have taken the art form to heart — plot holes, contrived discoveries, hidden meanings and all. I can put up with a lot of anime logic, but there are limits. I lasted five episodes, primarily to watch the flying goldfish mecha.

Gingitsune (Silver Fox): He’s a ten foot tall invisible fox in flowing priestly robes, she’s a middle-school priest-descendent shrine-maiden, and the only one at the shrine who can see him. Started out as a slice of life program about their relationship; tried to add drama with a depressed and rebellious teen-age boy (is there any other kind), who is also a priest-descendent (forced to leave his shrine for excessive slouching or something) and has his own invisible fox, said fox being an immature, scared, bratty chit of an 80-year-old. I didn’t drop it so much as I wandered off and left it laying somewhere.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2013

October 18, 2013

Add three more to the list. I couldn’t finish the first episode of either of the first two, but I did what the anisensei all say to do — I watched the first three minutes before dropping the series. None of the reviews I’ve read since have changed my mind.

My Mental Choices…: Boy is haunted by a voice that forces him to choose between two stupid options (ForEx: A: eat the discarded porn mag B: sniff the discarded porn mag) and presumably uses this affliction to impress all the girls in his harem.

Samurai Flamenco: Wannabe superhero gets in fights with drunks, gets superhero suit set on fire, ends up naked in an alley. Not necessarily in that order.

I am not totally against stupid. Stupid has its place in anime.* Then again, there’s stupid and stupid. Life is too short. I’d rather go watch HOTD reruns.

Strike the Blood: Teen becomes supervamp, fights demons with the aid of a Lion King Org middle-schooler with no fashion sense.**

No, I'm not color-blind. Why do you ask?

No, I’m not color-blind. Why do you ask?

Too, too, melodramatic, and when not being TTM, was filled with useless expository lumps, and when not exposiating was just plain overwrought. I lasted through 2.75 eps before my wroughtmeter pegged.

——————————————

*There are friends of mine who would say that sentence is missing a comma

**I mean red plaid panties with blue plaid school uniform belt skirt? Did her parents teach her nothing? Ah,  right, she’s an orphan, raised by lions to kill supervamps.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2013

October 11, 2013

The Fall anime season has started, and I’m wasting time seeing what might appeal. So far, not a lot.

Nagi No Asukara (凪のあすから), Nagi’s Tomorrow, is about children of the sea forced to go to school on land. Gorgeous graphics, OK animation, total ignorance of the laws of fluid dynamics. Just because you can live and breathe there, doesn’t mean you can walk the same way, or cook stew in a pot. Obviously, they’ve never heard of a Reynolds number. The rest is all clash of cultures and coming-of-age angst of middle schoolers, not something I feel like watching right now.

Infinite Stratos 2 Typical high school harem show. Transformer suits only girls can operate, except that the clueless male protagonist [insert your name here] is the only boy in the world who can do it. First episode was fun because they packed everything from maid/butler to shower scenes to the beach trip in one ep. Still, ya seen one, etc…

Walkure Romanze (ワルキューレ ロマンツェ), Valkyrie Romance. A Visual Novel adaptation set in a jousting school. Remember how one of the strong points of Girls und Panzer was how well they did the tanks? WalRom’s approach to horses is exactly the opposite. Their scenery is quite good. Their characters are reasonably well drawn (except that their lady-armor design has lots of what the tank community would call shot traps). Their concept of horse movement seems to have come from 17th Century English foxhunting prints. I dropped it at the 11:35 point

MeganeBu (メガネブ) Glasses Club. Boys wearing glasses turn themselves into asses. The first episode looks like a opthalmologists version of the swimming anime Free!. The color palette looks like they hired Shaft Studio’s Monogatari staff to do their color.

Ace of the Diamond is a country-boy comes to the city to make a name for himself in baseball anime. I like baseball anime, if it’s about baseball. So far, this one is about the character development of a smart-ass little shit with a good arm. In the first episode, everybody shouts, and the protagonist cries a lot, when he’s not trying to be M.T. Luffey, and we see a grand total of two pitches, one wild, and the other a cliff-hanger at the end of the episode. The artwork is OK, except during the action (AKA pitching) scenes, when it turns into a bunch of heavy-penciled comic-book stills with speedlines. Big Windup (Ōkiku Furikabutte), a baseball anime from 2007, is my gold standard for baseball anime. It features the character development of a spineless wimp of a pitcher, but it has the saving grace of being almost entirely about baseball, with the character development tacked on between episode-long coverage of games. I might look in on this one again, mid-season.

TL;DR — Anime I Never Finished

July 16, 2013

Kin Iro Mosaic (AKA Golden Mosaic, AKA Kinmoza). Japanese middle school girl does a short homestay in England. In return, her short, blond, English friend turns up enrolled in her class in high school. K-On with no music and with Japanese subtitles for the English phrases. Too-too cutesy-sweet. What the English would call ‘twee’. Makes my fillings ache. Not recommended for pre-diabetics.

Fantasista Doll Another too too cute program. This one involves magical girls / magical cards. Lots of good advice for young girls (‘be yourself’, ‘don’t lie’). If you’re the parent of grade school girls, they’ll love it. Me, I’m totally the wrong demographic.

TL;DR — Anime I Never Finished

July 8, 2013

Two more anime bite the dust.

Rozen Maiden: Zurückspulen  (Rose Maiden: Rewind?): Reboot of a popular anime from 2004. Seven overly-emo dolls trying to achieve Alice-hood by stealing each other’s souls, or battery packs, or something. For some reason it feels like a more irritating version of Fate:Stay Night, assuming that’s possible. I couldn’t finish episode 1.

Chronicles of the Going Home Club: It’s a real club. They specialize in doing pointless things on the way home. One or two cute things (their martial arts specialist goes around the world fighting fierce animals and texting the results. gets home and finds out the meaning of ‘roaming charges’). Doesn’t quite work. Feels as if someone read the high concept description of Yuyushiki, and said “I can do better than that.” No, you can’t.

TL;DR — Anime I Never Finished

July 2, 2013

I took a quick look at the Summer offerings on Crunchyroll. Good thing I like to go outside and play in the sun.

None of the real series are up yet, but the latest trend seems to be micro-series. Not short from a number of episodes standpoint, but short as in 3min episodes. It’s as if every studio in Japan decided to have a midsummer meetup on Okinawa, and said “If we keep them short we can crank out 13 episodes and still make our plane.”

Teekyu (2 minutes): Irritating cartoony characters playing at tennis
Senyou (4.5 minutes): Irritating SAO/RPG characters playing at a quest
Recorder & Ransdell (3 minutes): adult-appearing 5th grader and grade-school-appearing high schooler in irritating situations

It’s as if everybody looked at Yuyushiki and Aiura and said “how hard can it be?”

Evidently, it’s harder than it looks.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished

April 15, 2013

Attack on Titan, 進撃の巨人, which is literally something like Attack’s Giants (where 進撃 is a military advance, の is a possessive, and 巨人 is giant, like the Tokyo Giants), is the story of a boy who lives in a medieval walled city, which protects the last of humanity from the giants who live outside the walls.

Our Story So Far: Young Eren is your typical idealistic overexcitable early teen, who lectures the city guard to be more alert (yes, it’s been a hundred years since the last attack, but you never know), yells at bullies who don’t want anyone to leave the walls, and says he wants to be part of the Survey Corps. The SC mission is to learn more about the giants and their world. They do this, from what we are shown, by going out and attacking the first giant they find. This particular giant is strolling along, head down, oblivious to the world, looking like he’s worried about his mortgage. The SC executes their cunning plan by splitting into five groups, including a decoy group and a air attack group, plus three unspecified others (battle group, striking group, covering group?) and converging on this guy.

As a historical aside, this was a typical failing of the Japanese Navy in WWII. They’d come up with these complex plans requiring close coordination of five or six battle groups, and invariably get their ass handed to them.

The Survey Corps gets their ass handed to them. Their latest ‘survey’ comes back all bandaged up and minus several of their members, who are also minus several of their members. Nothing daunted, Young Eren still wants to be in the Corps, presumably because of the chance for a quick promotion.

Too loudy (as one of my Japanese students called this type of anime), too shouty, too much fangs-out-and-brains-in-the-helmet-bag. Young Eren has two settings — sullen and enraged. The Survey Corps has been working their side of the problem for a hundred years, and still can’t get it right. On the plus side, the artwork reminds me of Spice and Wolf, and the mechanized spiderman web-spinners looks like a fun way to do airborne, as long as you have a lot of trees around and don’t get tangled up.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished

April 14, 2013

Devil Survivor 2, The Animation. Given a name with that many modifiers, you know it’s a long way from home. It’s an Evangelion knockoff, based on a sequel to a game with magical apps instead of mechs.

Our Story So Far: Earth is being attacked by demons. Secret underground government organization recruits teens to help fight them. Three teens — hero boy, clueless sidekick boy, passive girl — have downloaded other-demon summoning-apps to their smartphones (at least the Japanese are now moving away from blade phones). When summoned, the other-demons fight the demons. Secret underground government organization won’t use their secret underground government organization transport system to evacuate Tokyo after the demons start destroying things and eating people, because it might cause panic.

I get the same vibes from this that I got from Blast of Tempest, which many people liked. I don’t really care about the characters. They haven’t done anything so far to make be interested in their future, and when they are doing things, they aren’t doing anything that surprises me. Not that I can predict their actions, but that once something happens, I say ‘Oh, yeah, that’. If you liked Blast of Tempest you might like this. If you liked Evangelion, you might not.

TL;DR — Anime I Never Finished

April 13, 2013

The first to be dropped this season is Majestic Prince, a combat mech story that one reviewer described as “an old-school space opera through and through that is full of heart and intelligence“. If they had said “has more heart and intelligence than your average mecha” I’d have agreed with them. But that’s setting a pretty low bar.

Our Story So Far: Crew of losers from an Academy prep school dropped into major battle as a rear guard, covering a retreat. Obviously because they were expendable. Fights off the enemy fleet (well, they were leaving anyway) and saves the base. Their group leader’s stated goal is to be a hero. As another reviewer said, in any army in the world, that goal will get you pulled from combat immediately — heroes get people killed. In the second ep they are accosted by the bad guy equivalent of their own cutting edge mechs — who proceed to fly rings around them, but don’t kill them because they are not worthy opponents.

If you are a mech fan, and I’m not, this will probably be right down your beamline.

TL;DR — Anime I Never Finished

December 19, 2012

This time it’s Eureka Seven (Kōkyōshihen Eureka Sebun, where the first word means symphonic, don’t ask me why). It’s a shounen mecha anime that ran to 40 episodes. I dropped it after three. Twenty-four hundred people rated it 5 out of 5, and only 30 rated it as a 1, so I’m in the minority. It’s just as well that I got out before I had a lot of time invested. I had gotten into the program late, and it turns out that Crunchyroll also dropped it at the end of its run, probably due to licensing requirements.

The “high concept” description might be Evangelion rebellion with mechs on flying surfboards, set on a decayed future Earth. Protagonist is a kid who likes to fly surfboards, has special skills for making mechs work, and is the son of a deceased rebel leader. Gets caught up in the whole fight against an oppressive government thing.

I wasn’t into surfing even back in the Beach Boys era when the music was better, and I have already seen enough Evangelion mechs to last a good while. I won’t miss E7.