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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall 2013 Anime First Impressions: (Part Two)

Yozakura Quartet Hana no Uta:  There are some bad points to this series.  Like the guy who just randomly sexually harasses his fellow member of the 'United Bad Guy Front for Evil.'  But I guess that's what evildoers are like, at least he isn't a member of the hero group.  There's also unnecessary panty shots, and dumb jokes like a guy pretending to be an esper, that fools the audience for a split second, before it turns out to just be him throwing a glowstick.  This is all made up for by the good points though.  The people acted like reasonable mature adults.  They got along with each other.  Their powers were unique and interesting.  The animation was just spectacular.  Maybe because it was the first episode or something, but wow, it felt like the budget of a Ghibli film.  The setting is interesting and the plot looks like it could develop well.  I've never been interested in the Yozakura franchise but it looks like now is the right time to jump on the bandwagon.  Pass.

Yowamushi Pedal:  The main character is such a loser.  He's short, wears glasses, has a terrible hair-do, a squeaky voice, is clumsy, socially inept, and gets flustered around girls.  Supposedly this is all a good thing.  You see, the story will be, from here, of this ugly duckling transforming into a beautiful swan by joining the cycling club and realizing the glory of sports.  He'll grow in self-confidence, motor skills, and body build until all the girls are flustered around him.  Hallelujah, thank you cycling, you can save anyone!  This is probably a very positive message for manga readers who feel themselves to be losers and want to fantasize about changing themselves.  But it's just painful for everyone else to even have to waste time looking at such a repulsive, degrading sample of the human species.  I'd rather watch badasses who, from the very beginning, are competent and popular and confident in themselves.  Sort of like the other character shown this episode, who seemed like a perfect main character candidate for a cycling anime.  If only they had cast him as the protagonist and the actual protagonist didn't exist, I would've liked this show.  Too bad that's not the message the manga-ka was trying to send.  Fail.

Arpeggio of Blue Steel - Ars Nova:  If not for the decision to animate this using CG only, this would have been a great show.  It has cool combat, interesting protagonists, and a unique setting.  However, the CG isn't as good as normal hand drawn animation, and creates many awkward and distracting scenes.  This is much better than the past, and it's obvious they tried very hard for the CG to not look awful and weird like it usually does, but the technology just isn't there yet.  I'm not sure why they chose to use CG for this project when it clearly isn't ready for the Major leagues yet.  Maybe it's to stand out versus their competition?  Maybe it's cheaper and this is on a shoestring budget?  Maybe because it was a bunch of creative people who wanted to do some creative things only CG was capable of doing?  I don't know.  This show reminds me a lot of that Natsu no Sora show, where the live action film interspersed with animation was so distracting the story itself became invisible.  The Natsu no Sora show also had a decent plot and characters, but I just could not stand the art style.  Like Natsu no Sora, I'll keep soldiering on and see if I can get used to it and just enjoy the story.  I gave up on Natsu no Sora on the second episode, so I can at least give this show a second look as well.  Pass.

Non Non Biyori:  I expected this series would be good, because it has all the right elements.  Cute girls doing cute things together without any boys anywhere in the picture.  Plus Silver Link's gorgeous animation, which shows yet again that Kyoto Animation simply isn't the leader of the industry anymore.  What could possibly go wrong?  And the answer is nothing.  The show is pretty much perfect at representing the laid back countryside through artistic use of downtime where nothing happens and beautiful scenery paintings the camera slowly pans over.  The unsophisticated girls without many wants or needs are perfect for an unsophisticated world without much to offer.  I'm really impressed by how this show tackled its subject matter in such a realistic and fair manner.  To think that Silver Link is doing this instead of more Fate/Prisma Ilya is kind of frustrating though.  We've gone from epic to 'watching paint dry,' and that's not much to cheer about.  I guess watching enough Non Non Biyori will teach us the virtue of patience.  We'll need it, since 2wei's release date hasn't even been announced yet.  Pass.

Unbreakable Machine Doll:  Best show of the fall season.  An obvious entry into my rankings once I've reached three episodes and it qualifies.  Let me count the ways I like this show.  The art is beautiful, both the 1920's style look to the clothes and architecture, and the character designs for the particular characters in the show.  Yaya looks gorgeous in her black yukata and red ribbons.  The blonde girl isn't bad either.  Once you're done staring at this beautiful world, it's time to enjoy the wonderful repartee Yaya and her puppeteer has.  It's way more fun than Spice and Wolf's, and approaches the dialogues in Bakemonogatari in terms of wit and chutzpah.  Then we get to the motivations of the main character, which are adult and mature as opposed to Peace Maker Kurogane type nonsense.  And lastly the combat, which is utterly badass.  I generally object to Pokemon -- making sentient slave-beings fight each other for the sake of entertainment -- but in this case it's okay because the fights are just that awesome.  That cliffhanger ending where the object of our hero's revenge appears before him in the very first episode is just amazing.  Obviously he's going to lose here or the story would end, but it's a great way to start an already action-packed beginning.  Stopping that train?  Amazing.  From the very start to the very finish, every single second of this episode wasn't wasted, and made me like the show even more than before.  Before we go all gaga on this series, though, I will say that its limited scope means it can never be as grand as the truly best series.  A story about a loner drifter who seeks revenge is always going to be limited to a very narrow spectrum of the human experience and human psychology.  This is why it's generally better to make your main character Naruto, not Sasuke.  But it's doing what it's intending to do well, and that execution is what differentiates this show from all the rest.  Pass.

Tokyo Ravens:  Rotten series.  The setting is ridiculous.  But ignoring that, the art style is terrible.  The audio is terrible, with the sound effects way louder than the dialogue.  Every character is annoying, and every character is rude or violent to every other character.  But to top it off they add in this over the top slutty bitch who licks candy apples and choco-bananas just to get a rise out of onlookers.  Just when I thought the story couldn't get any worse they managed to throw her in to the mix.  This is just a disgrace.  Fail.

Blazblue Alter Memory:  This sucks too.  The art style is borderline okay, but the animation is sorely lacking.  It's like they simply didn't have a budget for this show.  The fighting doesn't make much sense to the onlooker and none of their magic is explained.  In addition, most of the characters are over the top and thus annoying, especially that incredibly obnoxious retarded genki cat girl.  I hate that trope.  The plot is also totally random, as everything is happening in the middle of the timeline instead of the beginning.  Throughout the episode there's just no telling what's going on concerning anything.  If you want to watch low budget fights lacking any mechanics, characters who do random things without explanation, and every annoying anime trope personality under the sun, this is just the show for you.  Otherwise it should be avoided like the plague.  They should have done an adaption of Guilty Gear -- those characters are way better looking, more interesting, and more likable than these losers.  Fail.

That's all for previews right now.  I'll write a third and final post to cover the stragglers of the fall season at a later date.  In addition, that post will rate the anticipation I have for each new show each week compared to each other that I'm following this season, and we'll also find out just how many good shows are worth following overall, to see how this season stacks up to previous ones.  With four new passes, the Fall season is up to 15 shows now, one more than the summer season had, so we're already on positive ground.

While we're on the topic of anime first impressions, I didn't include these anime series in my 'Lost World' reviews, because they are older than the year 2000.  However, three additional series are worth checking out, so long as we're investigating the past.  These series are Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Ojamajo Doremi, and Touch.  All three are over 100 episodes long, so you ought to be able to get quite a lot of entertainment out of them if you were so inclined.

Ojamajo is a story about young girls training to become full fledged witches.  Its closest comparison is Pretty Cure.  Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a giant space war story set far in the future.  Its closest comparison is Tytania.  Touch is a story about the intersection of romance and baseball.  Its closest comparison is Cross Game.  Being similar to two ranked series, and also being extremely long and thus full of entertainment value, both Ojamajo Doremi and Touch will likely be joining my rankings once they expand to the top 160.  However, being similar to Tytania isn't a very ringing endorsement, so it's safe enough to ignore Legend of the Galactic Heroes, unless you're really into space opera.

With these series also taken into account, I've finally covered all possible good anime from even the dawn of the time, rather than just from 2000 forward.

In other news, the Japanese voices are available in DW8 for download for free now.  This gives voiced portions to the previously unvoiced segments of the game, like in ambition mode, during base conversations, and the narration.  This is the only real way to play the game and get the full experience you were intended to have, plus the voice actors are way better in the Japanese, native, language.

DW8 XL has announced a new character joining the roster, Lu Lingqi.  She's the daughter of Lu Bu and fittingly, she uses Lu Bu's old weapon from DW6, the cross halberd.  Her character design is gorgeous and it will be a lot of fun rampaging through the Lu Bu story mode as father and daughter.  It's unknown if any additional characters will be added for this expansion, but five is already pretty grand.

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