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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer 2013 Anime Second Impressions:

Now that I've watched a little more of the summer season, I'm dropping some series from my watch list.

First off, Hyperdimension Neptune.  This show has way too many characters, none of whom were effectively introduced.  It's impossible to even keep track of them, why they are here, or how they are relevant to the plot.  For that matter, there doesn't seem to be a plot in the first place.  To make matters worse, for a series about fights, the 'villains' of the series are ridiculously goofy, disgusting nobodies that are an embarrassment to anime.  As cute as the heroines are, because of their overly stale characterization and their overly stale plot that doesn't allow these characters to really have any character-defining moments, there's just zero potential for this show.

Second is Blood Lad.  Blood Lad is trying too hard to be a 'shonen' manga.  It has too many telltale annoying signs.  The girls have enormously large breasts.  The guys all stand around and talk like badass punk gangsters who don't have to take shit from anyone.  There's too much fighting in scenes that should have been settled peacefully just because boys like watching fights.  There's a lot of immature physical humor like people being kicked in the rear when making long speeches or pigeon headed minotaurs because, hey, it looks funny so let's do it.  Like usual, there's the ever-present gay transvestite who makes his voice as horrendous as possible because isn't that so hilarious?  I can already see where this series is going and it's basically all downhill from here.  There's just nothing to keep the viewer interested and no one in the story you could actually care about.  The demon world itself is basically a really rotten world and everyone in it is of zero interest to me.  Putting the setting there was a fatal mistake.

Third is Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi.  I hoped that later episodes would explain the previous ones, but they never did.  This series is a colossal failure.  How did Hampnie Humbert become immortal?  How did that immortality suddenly disappear for no reason?  Where did those 'villains' who killed Hampnie come from?  Why did he suddenly lose a fight today when he'd been wandering the world for years never losing any fights?  Why didn't his description of Hana match Ai's memory of her mother in the first place?  What did he mean when he said he had lost his memories when he still clearly remembered Hana and Ai and everyone else?  What the hell is with his schizo friend who first says he's come to kill him and the next episode is trying to save him?  For that matter, this same guy threatened to kill Ai in episode 2 but in episode 3 is saving her from drowning.  Talk about fickle.  Does the story even try to remain consistent whatsoever?  Basically, none of the characters make sense, nor do any of the mechanics of this world.  Things suddenly happen, then they suddenly reverse course, all for no reason.  Like how there's no births in the world, but somehow Ai was born anyway.  Inconsistent mechanics are the most maddening bullshit possible in any story.  It's a death knell to any story when I can pick so many holes in it just three episodes in.  Why did Ai and Hampnie travel together in the first place?  Hampnie had done nothing but hit her and threaten to kill her.  Why did he decide not to kill her after deciding to kill her in episode 2?  It's all so random.  I kept thinking everything would be explained later but it never was so to hell with it.  What a terrible series.

Fourth is Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C3-bu.  This series isn't terrible, but it also has nothing interesting going for it.  It has way too many characters, none of whom are truly any different from one another.  They are all very shallow, and watching kids play paintball is about as fun as watching paint dry.  It isn't a sport, it isn't difficult or challenging, nor are they playing at a professional level.  They are literally just playing around.  The last straw was when the main character, who had a beautiful hairdo, chopped off her hair and made herself look like her tomboy roommate as some sort of determination to play paintball more seriously.  If you sacrifice beauty for a lousy game your priorities are completely out of whack.  Not even professional women athletes cut their hair, not even swimmers, divers, or track stars who could all benefit from that much less drag.  To cut your hair to play paintball better is absurd.  Plus, to chew out a girl for giving up when it's 1 on 5 and she's a complete newbie to the game is ridiculous.  Perhaps she should've kept playing until she was shot but it's just a game, the point is to have fun, and she wasn't having fun anymore.  The other team wasn't being sporting either by playing with her like cat and mouse instead of just seizing the flag and ending the game like they should have.  Does anyone care about their bad behavior?  No.  They all just want to pile on and insult the newbie.  I don't know where this series went wrong but it was probably when friendship and beauty was sacrificed for the purity of paintball and when they one after the other cut apart verbally the girl who had surrendered and then cut all her hair off and made her into a G.I. Jane.  Too much cutting, so I'm cutting the series.

Fifth is Danganronpa.  I like a lot of elements to this story.  The character designs, and the murder mysteries, but I find I can't stomach it anymore.  The long and pleasurable animation of an innocent guy's execution who had only killed in self-defense, in order to save his own life, and how they went through all the gruesome details of how he was tortured to death in all sorts of new and innovative ways, never before seen by man, is just over the top.  Only a sadist could enjoy this series anymore, because the sadists are in full control of the situation.  Everything is just an excuse to drag someone away and kill them, while keeping everyone else as afraid and guilty as possible to revel in their emotional pain before the main course of torturing them physically to death arrives.  Doing whatever you want for the sake of creating murder mysteries just doesn't work.  It has to work within the plot, and it has to arrive naturally, not be forced into a box like this locked up school.  Umineko was so infinitely superior to this.

Sixth is Servant x Service.  The jokes are repetitive and the characters aren't likable.  Sexual harassment isn't funny, it's serious business.  Also, big-breasted girls are so unattractive it's hard to stomach one as the main character all series long.  Then there's the imouto character, one of my favorite tropes in anime, being exaggerated beyond all reason to the point of just being annoying, which is like mocking Mary mother of God as far as I'm concerned.  Plus, it has no plot.  There's just nothing to see here.  These people do paperwork all day.  No one has any hopes or dreams, as the show just pointed out.  So why watch?  Why not just go do paperwork?  Even that should be more interesting than watching someone else file papers all day.

With these six purges, I've jettisoned all the mediocre series into the trash bin.  I'd rather just watch the genuinely good series and not waste my time with anything else.  The remaining series look like this:

1.  Railgun
2.  The World God Only Knows
3.  Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Ilya
4.  Monogatari Series:  Second Season
5.  Kiniro Mosaic
6.  Tamayura ~More Aggressive ~
7.  Ro-Kyu-Bu SS
8.  Hunter x Hunter
9.  Kitakubo Katsudou Kiroku
10.  Watamote (Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui)
11.  Doki Doki Pretty Cure
12.  Shingeki no Kyojin
13.  Naruto
14.  One Piece

Watamote and Kitakubo are the only unranked series I'm willing to keep watching for now.  There's plenty of good, ranked anime to watch so there's no need to lower myself to watching something less than the best.  This reflects my final spring watch list where I was only watching Suisei, Namiuchigiwa, and Yahari as far as unranked shows go, and I only stuck to them because I'd gotten so far into them I figured I could just wait until they ended naturally and it wouldn't make much difference.  It's important to constantly be on the search for new good anime, but there's little point in watching known mediocre anime.  If you know what you're watching is bad, you may as well just watch more Gundam.


In other news, Dynasty Warriors 8 came out.  It's a good game, the best Dynasty Warriors yet.  But I wouldn't call it a completed game.  Without the story mode from Dynasty Warriors 7, there's no way anyone could understand what was going on from the cut scenes in 8.  The cut scenes in 8 are really sloppy and random, they don't help convey the plot at all.  Furthermore, the game has a lot of annoying glitches.  For instance, the second player in co-op mode can't use switch counters.  Occasionally the game just freezes, and so on.  Furthermore, the English voices are awful (as usual) and don't even cover the narration or base-building segments of the game's text.  The Japanese voices, which are wonderful and cover all the speech in the game, isn't available for download yet even though they had promised us dual audio from the very beginning.  Supposedly this feature will be available in a couple weeks, when it should have just been on the opening disk.  A lot of the downloadable content for DW8 dramatically improves the game, but none of it is available in the English-speaking world yet.  The new weapons, costumes and stages are all out of reach.

The vast array of weapons, officers, music, viable skills, weapon abilities and special moves available to each character is a huge plus.  Storm rush and switch counters have made wielding two weapons in battle a necessity instead of just a curiosity in DW7.  You will now almost always fight with both weapons during a battle, adding a lot more variety to the game.  Three musous is 50% better than two.  Plus, the awesome rage-musou that harkens back to the glory days of DW4's musou system is so powerful, fun, and exciting.  They really nailed the fighting mechanics this time around.  The graphics aren't visibly much improved.  There's still soldiers disappearing and then appearing out of thin air all around you.  The map doesn't do a good job of showing a route from point A to point B that isn't blocked off by some gate or cliff.  Navigating the battlefield is a real pain.  Still, they're the best graphics a DW game has ever had, which should be counted as a positive.  The close-ups before a musou are particularly gorgeous, I wish I could just freeze the frame and take some snapshots during those.

The game has an enormous amount of content available.  Leveling up all 80 characters or what have you is going to take forever, plus finding quality weapons for everyone, unlocking all the what-if stages, and so on.  Since the gameplay is fun the amount of content doesn't feel like a grind, but just an opportunity to keep enjoying the game while it remains eternally fresh.  The return of free mode is much better than DW7's 'conquest mode,' and the ability to play story mode 2 player is an enormous improvement over DW7.  If you're poor and can only afford to buy one Dynasty Warriors game, go ahead and buy DW8.  But if you can afford it, people really should play DW7 first, to get a basic grasp of the characters and the three kingdoms history, before diving into DW8, which concentrates almost entirely on gameplay.  DW7 is more of a movie, and DW8 sacrifices that great cinematic quality for the sake of being a good video game.  You really need both to fully experience the franchise.

One thing I'll note, I love all the new characters.  I don't feel there's any bloat at all, they were all important to the story and noted for their valiant deeds.  They all have good character designs and interesting weapons.  Keep them coming!  Dynasty Warriors benefits from new characters, new blood, new mechanics, and would wither away if there weren't always more to choose from.  I hope DW9 has a dozen more characters -- there's still plenty of fine choices left, from Yu Jin to Lu Kang to Zhu Ran.  Also, I'm still waiting for Sima Yan to join the story and for the entire true story of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms to be told.  Please expand the story in DW9, Koei.  As it stands, DW8 still isn't the finished product we are looking for.

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