Aug 22, 2011

Summer 2011 Mid-Season Impressions - Part 2 of 2

Here's part 2 of my 2-parter Mid-Season Impressions. Part 1 can be read here.

Hanasaku Iroha
It's another show from last season, so you know what that means! A short paragraph with entirely nothing new to say! The only update I can give is that I've been a bit unsure about this show lately, but it's still very entertaining and there seems to be a nice bit of drama on the horizon (and naked fighting from what I saw in screenshots). If you want more you may as well just read my Spring 2011 Mid-Season post.

"You could at least be making an effort with this post"
Once again, I have next to nothing to say beyond my Mid-Season Impressions post (this post is looking to be easier than I expected) other than it seems to have been getting better at hitting more than it misses in the second half of it's run.

A taster of the sheer amount of characters in this show (with the best two in the middle)
As a show full of teenage girls trying to become idols I wasn't really expecting this show to be the pinnacle of story-telling and drama... and it isn't. I'm still relatively unsure about this show after 7 episodes. Due to the sheer clusterfuck of characters and the need to introduce them all in one episode it took me a while to warm to this show. I definitely don't dislike it, but I don't particularly love it either. To me this show is nothing more than an excuse to pick your favourite girl and listen to some cheesy J-pop whilst watching them all do cute things.

This loli looks serious
Kamisama no Memochou
Make your first episode double-length, introducing a cast of interesting characters tied together by an intriguing plot. Now you have your viewers hooked, so the logical next step is to throw that all away and instead set the series on a downward spiral where it gradually gets worse with each episode, with a cast of barely developed characters tied together with needless fan service and boring plot. Well done! You've just created Kamisama no Memochou, otherwise known as J.C Staff's latest victim. Okay, maybe I was a bit harsh, but seeing a show which looked so promising at the start become barely mediocre greatly bothers me. If not for the fact the last two episodes were slightly better than the previous few then I would likely have dropped this ages go. I don't know how many episodes this series has, but if it's 12/13 and the next arc isn't as crap as episodes 2 through 5, then I may be able to force myself to finish, just like J.C Staff's previous victim Yumekui Merry (of which I've recently started reading the manga, needless to say it's much better than J.C Staffs attempt). Also like Yumekui Merry, the only redeeming feature of this show seems to be it's main female character, but even then she can be pretty damn annoying with her whole "I'm not a detective, I'm a NEET detective" talk non-stop.

It's like a better animated Wacky Races
REDLINE, otherwise known as SEVEN MOTHERFUCKING YEARS HAND DRAWN, is the latest film by Madhouse, finally given it's DVD/BD release and the subject of great amounts of hype and praise, mainly for it's animation (which took seven years to hand draw) and soundtrack. The story revolves around racer "Sweet" JP and also to some extent his gorgeous rival Sonoshee in between two races called the Yellowline and the Redline. The Yellowline is the race into which we are immediately thrown at the beginning of the film, showing the incredibly powerful cars and the several races (not the car kind) which feature in this galaxy-spanning race (of the car kind) series, including humanoid dogs, horrible wrinkly things and so on. The Redline, on the other hand, is the no-holds-barred race which takes part at the end of the film, full of explosions and crazy bio-weapons galore as the racers try to avoid the military of an empire who doesn't want the race, which is broadcast all over the galaxy, to be taking place through one of their major military bases full of several secrets. In between these two races is where the majority of the story and character-building takes place as the Roboworld empire tries to stop the racers in any way possible, and the racers try and sabotage the Roboworld empires plans. There is also a whole load of back-story concerning JP and Sonoshee as well as comedic Redline TV segments in which the other racers are interviewed and back-story is provided to the viewers. In the end, this film certainly isn't a masterpiece of story-telling, but it was never supposed to be. The purpose of this film was to provide non-stop adrenaline-packed action which is beautifully animated and complimented by a quite simply excellent soundtrack, and it sure as hell managed it, even finding time to throw in some romance. This film is a must-see, if only for the pure experience of watching it rather than to be provided with a thought-provoking storyline. If you're still not downloading it by now, then you should sure as hell hurry up and do so, and grab the soundtrack while you're at it.

Well, I wasn't expecting to write so little about the first three shows, but I suppose my rant at Memochou and relatively large paragraph on REDLINE made up for it slightly. That's me (probably) done for a few weeks  until the End-of-Season Impressions!

Aug 21, 2011

Summer 2011 Mid-Season Impressions - Part 1 of 2

Despite my previous comments on how the summer season seemed to be lacking decent shows I found myself picking up 6, resulting in 10 shows overall... and there was me thinking 7 was a handful. Due to the number of shows and my chronic laziness (evident by the fact I haven't posted anything since my Spring End-of-Season Impressions) I have decided to split Summer 2011 into two posts, because otherwise it'd take far too long to do and I'd find myself delaying over and over.... which I've already done enough as most shows are now past their mid-season episode.

"Hooooney~ I'm ho- THE FUCK?"
Tiger & Bunny
Well, the second half of this series has sure been a roller-coaster ride, with twists and turns around every corner, with the quality of everything remaining consistent as ever... except for maybe the character animation, which I've noticed has been a bit off lately, but I hear that's purely budget restrictions. This show is simply great, and will probably go down as one of my all-time favourites after it's ended, which unofrtunately isn't that far away. After 3 posts involving this show I don't have much more to say... so... yeah...

"Hey, you! Why the fuck aren't you watching this show!?!?!?"
This show... THIS FUCKING SHOW. Steins;Gate couldn't have departed from it's somewhat carefree first half any more dramatically. Gone is the scientific shenanigans with lab members, to be replaced with murder, suicide, despair and a desperate struggle to fix things again. Without a doubt, this show is already one of my all-time favourites, and when the Visual Novel is finished getting translated I'll make damn well sure I read it immediately. If for some insane reason you are yet to watch it, grab a crate of Dr Pepper and a lab coat, sit down, and enjoy the ride, because I sure as hell am. With only 4 episodes left I can't wait to see what happens.

One big thumbs up to this show, and without a doubt the best character this season.
Cute girls doing cute things, an abundance of yuri (even if it is predominately implied or merely Chitose's fantasies) and great comedy? Sign me the hell up! I was already looking forward to this show because I knew it would involve plenty of yuri (it's a guilty pleasure, stop looking at me like that!), but I didn't expect it to be this great! Not since K-ON!! has a show managed to reduce me to giggling like a little girl at every little thing the characters do, and the comedy is just plain brilliant too. The characters largely aren't too stereotypical and each is rather unique, but for me the one that stands out well above the rest is Kyouko (above), with her care-free attitude, otaku interests and unrequited love towards Chinatsu (who I simply despise) due to her resemblance to anime character Mikarun. The character designs are quite nice too, and I particularly like the more circular design of their eyes as is present in the manga. With episode 8 being aired tomorrow there is unfortunately not long left for me to enjoy this show, but I'm pretty sure I won't forget it, if only for my already gigantic picture folder of the show.

The only thing more adorable than Hideyoshi is his summoned being... which are now able to talk!! 
Baka to Test to Shokanjuu Ni!
Ever since the announcement of Season Two last March, I've been looking forward to it with incredible anticipation, and it didn't disappoint. The characters are as loveable as before, the comedy is as great as before, and the animation is as great as before. In fact, my only complaint is that they should perhaps dial down the whole yandere aspect of Minami and Himeji in the first few episodes, and perhaps that there hasn't been too many summoning battles. That aside, never before have I watched a show which managed to make the male characters mission to peek into the girls bathroom so action packed, inspirational, heart-warming and hilarious, and their reason for doing so isn't even perverted desire (originally), but merely a desire to clear their name... it'll make sense once you've watched it. I adore this show and I'm incredibly happy that it continues to be great. I'm not sure how long this will run for, but I have an unhappy suspicion it may be just 13 episodes long like the first season. Either way, I can't get enough of it, and especially it's characters!

Ah, nothing better than curry with family and friends. Wait... are those penguins!?
Mawaru  Penguindrum
This has been one of the surprises this season. I'd heard very little of it before the season began, but after quite a lot of people were talking about it after the first episode I decided to check it out, and I'm glad I did. Without going too much into spoilers of the first episode, brother's Kanba and Shoma are tasked with finding an item known as the Penguin Drum, with the assistance of a trio of penguins, which they creatively named Number 1, 2 and 3.  A great deal of the comedy of this show comes directly from the antics of the three penguins as they go around helping the two brothers, with a particular highlight being the penguin espionage of the first few episodes. It's not all comedy though, as the quest for the Penguin Drum sees more characters being introduced, some more dangerous than others, with the story really picking up in the last couple of episodes. The animation is nothing to complain about either, and with 24 episodes announced, I can't wait to see what else the show has in store.

"Why aren't you watching my show!?!? I'm just so adorable!"
Usagi Drop
Don't you just hate it when you find yourself raising your grandfathers illegitimate 6-year-old daughter? What do you mean you've never experienced it?! This is another show I heard next to nothing of before the season began but decided to pick up after seeing it discussed a lot, and once again I'm incredibly glad I did. Whilst attending his grandfathers funeral, 30-year-old Daikichi notices young Rin (above), who appears to be treated as an outcast and an embarrassment. Annoyed by their attitude, when the conversation arises as to what will happen to Rin now, Daikichi stands up and offers to take care of her, despite having no idea what it means to be a parent. Thus begins one of the most adorable and emotional shows I have ever watched as they both manage to teach each other new things about life. The two main characters are instantly likeable (if you don't immediately love Rin you have no soul) and although the character animation is somewhat different to the usual I've grown to like it, although it can be a bit off at times, but that's probably due to budget. Just like last seasons similarly emotional show, AnoHana, Usagi Drop also unfortunately has merely 11 episodes but again just like AnoHana I doubt I'll be able to forget about it any time soon. I also won't be surprised if it has me crying like a baby before it ends, especially as it's already made me tear up slightly on more than one occasion.

Part 2 will include:

Hanasaku Iroha
Kamisama no Memochou
REDLINE (movie)

Jul 4, 2011

Spring 2011 End-of-Season Impressions

Despite the fact I finished Lucky Star (and a J-drama called 'Life') a week and a half ago, my laziness has reached new peaks, and as such I haven't even come close to starting those posts... so expect them eventually. However, the Spring 2011 season is more or less over, and I can't delay this post as much as the others, so here it is!

It's not a real anime without a beach episode!
Hanasaku Iroha
Quite frankly, I don't have much more to say about this beyond my mid-season impressions post. The animation continues to be brilliant and the story is still engaging with an expert mix of both comedy and drama. I can say that the quality of episodes has only dropped twice, but even then they were incredibly entertaining, and their seeming lack of quality was only because of the other brilliant episodes with which they are compared. I'm more than excited for the next half of this series during the Summer season.This series has also managed to get me emotionally on some occasions, however, not as much as some other shows, which brings me on to...

My face when the final episode ended... except with considerably more tears

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
This anime, man. Man, this anime. I may hesitate to call this a masterpiece, but it was certainly emotionally draining. I am unashamed to say straight away, that not since Clannad ~After Story~ Episode 18 have I cried so damn hard like a little girl as I did during the final episode of this show. The fact it managed it in only 11 episodes as opposed to (what was by then) the 42 that Clannad took, is all the more impressive. I spent a good two-thirds of the finale with tears rolling down my face and then suddenly those letters... DAMN THOSE LETTERS. Oh, I'm getting teary-eyed at the thought of it. Anyone, enough about how much of a little girl I am and into the actual show itself. The animation isn't exactly anything special, in fact it was sometimes prone to some of the problems consistent in SHAFT productions, but overall it was good enough. The story was up and down for me. At times it was excellent, but at others it would just become incredibly cheesy, or just have everyone bursting into tears left right and centre as if to force an emotional response, although it of course still worked in the finale (then again, ever since Clannad it's considerably easier to make me cry than it used to be). Despite this, the story did remain more or less solid and other than a few nit-picks there wasn't much wrong with it. The music choice, at least in the OP and ED, was brilliant and complimented the series well, and I challenge you to find anyone whose watched this series that doesn't at least tear up when they hear the ED (I know that for many, me included, the beginning of the ED alone was often enough to push them over the edge into tears during some of the more emotional scenes). Overall, I'd definitely recommend this to anyone, especially if they enjoy a good tear jerker. The run of only 11 episodes isn't too long either and this show certainly didn't need any more, in fact I myself had doubts over how they'd even manage to drag it on into the 11th episode.

Never trust adorable teddy bears
Tiger & Bunny
Much like Hanasaku Iroha, I don't have much to say about this show beyond what I said in my mid-season impressions. The quality has remained consistent, and it's first multi-episode arc kept me interested and entertained from start to finish. Most of the characters have also been given their own episodes for character development, and Kotestsu especially is definitely growing on me as a genuinely nice guy who cares more for others than himself. It rarely offers anything new in terms of story, but the way in which it packages it means I couldn't care less, I just want more of it. I'm also delighted to discover that this show will be continuing into the Summer season.

It's far too difficult to find screenshots from the anime rather than the visual novel on Google...
This is almost certainly within my top three shows of the season, and has even managed to make me develop a liking for Dr Pepper, which I previously found disgusting (hooray for marketing in anime!). The main character, Okabe, is more than enough to carry this show by himself, but luckily for us he has a cast of supporting characters which are equally as interesting and enjoyable. Not only are the characters brilliant, but they are complimented by an equally brilliant story, with (particularly recently) twists and turns that you probably didn't see coming (unless you were spoilt for one of the biggest ;_;) and sciencey fun to keep you more than entertained! In short, this show is excellent, why aren't you watching it? If you are watching it, why aren't you wearing your lab coat and swigging Dr Pepper? If you are doing those things, why the hell are you reading this blog post instead of getting more SCIENCE!? I can't wait for the second half of the series, and I'll make sure I have a Dr Pepper ready for each new episode.
A Channel
And so this season's cute girls doing cute things (with even more yuri undertones than usual) offering is over, and it wasn't that bad. The show was pretty basic in terms of episode layout and had even less plot than slice-of-life shows usually have, but it somehow managed to put it all together to create a satisfying and entertaining episode week in week out. Whilst it's certainly nowhere near a masterpiece and the characters weren't exactly original either, it was consistently... mediocre enough (and not in a bad way like Star Driver) to make me actually look forward to it each week, and not just for my latest dose of Tooru. Although I'll probably largely forget about this after a couple of seasons, it definitely wasn't a waste of time, and if you're looking for a light-hearted slice-of-life to wind down to you should definitely try this out. However, the insistence for a insert song EVERY FREAKING EPISODE can get a bit annoying after a while.

"You'd do WHAT to Ryuushi!?!?!?"
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
Denpa Onna is a strange show really... mainly thanks to it's strange characters. This series doesn't have too much in ways of plot, but very much like Steins;Gate it has characters that are more than enough to make it entertaining by themselves. The only real criticism I have for this show is SHAFT's usual neglect on character design which can at times just make things look ridiculous, and I swear it got worse in the second half of the series. Anyway, back to the characters. The female cast is the first thing you'll notice about this show. Each of them has an incredibly unique personality, whether it's the far too childish aunt, the tall girl with more than enough interest in cosplaying, or the cousin who thinks she's an alien (above right). That's without even mentioning the white-haired loli who may or may not have esper powers or the laid-back and hyperactive Ryuushi (above left). The main character himself is also very likeable, and will often share the same thoughts as you in terms of his quirky supporting cast. Already the show sounds like it's bound to be full to the brim with fun, and I haven't even went into some of the more minor characters. In summary, this show may not be a masterpiece of story telling, but it sure as hell is fun to watch! Although it did end with a few unanswered questions, these will hopefully be answered in the final and 13th episode, which we unfortunately have to wait quite some time for (not the first time SHAFT has done this, nor the second) as it comes out with one of the blu-ray releases.

There isn't really anything more to say about this show (and I'm also getting lazy towards the end of this post), so I'll just copy and paste what I said last time: "Some of the sketches are brilliantly funny, whilst others are good enough to bring up a chuckle but often suffer from lasting far too long. The common overreactions from Yuuko in particular are also hit and miss, with some being funny and some just being plain annoying. However, almost all characters are very likeable even outside the main group, with a certain eight year old professor, her robot Nano and their cat Sakamoto being certain highlights. The animation is also what's to be expected of KyoAni, being fluid and of very high quality, often raising some scenes from mediocre to excellent all by itself. Despite some rather frequent misses which are the fault more of the source material than KyoAni themselves, Nichijou remains to be more than enough fun to keep me watching, with the characters and animation being particular reasons." However, I think it seems to be improving by each episode, and I'll definitely carry on watching it into the Summer season.

You may have noticed a certain anime missing (if by some miracle there are actually people who check this blog regularly) and that's because I did indeed drop Ao no Exorcist like I said I was considering in the last post.
As for next season, there are four shows from this season carrying on, along with two new ones I am definitely planning to watch, along with a few others I might try out. This means that my hopes for a quieter season after which I watched seven shows (and started nine) are completely gone, and in fact I may end up watching EVEN MORE shows than I was this season. I'm dreading the Summer 2011 posts now... but I suppose it'll mean I'll always have something new to watch when I'm bored!

Jun 21, 2011

Rise Against - Make It Stop (September's Children)

Rise Against have just released the video for Make It Stop (September's Children) from their latest album Endgame, battling the simply idiotic idea of homophobia and concerning the number of suicides of GBLT teens last September. The video centres around three homosexual teenagers and the bullying they're forced to endure, before each finally snaps and prepares each of their own suicides. However, they come to realise they still have a future (in amongst numerous clips from the 'It Gets Better' campaign and the names of the teenagers who took their lives last year) and stop before it's too late.

As I have come to expect from Rise Against, this video was simply brilliant, tackling a common and sometimes controversial issue perfectly. The message of this song is perhaps best portrayed in the lines "Too much blood has flown from the wrists, of the children shamed for those they chose to kiss" and it's such powerful songs as this that are why Rise Against are perhaps my all-time favourite band, rarely disappointing me. I'll be recommending this video to absolutely everyone I know, not only for the message, but for the song as well.

Many LGBT youth can't picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can't imagine a future for themselves. So let's show them what our lives are like, let's show them what the future may hold in store for them.

Jun 11, 2011

Dead Island - E3 Trailer

The latest trailer for Dead Island is out, and it sure as hell has worked to get me excited. It starts off with what seems to be one of the protagonists stumbling around the resort drunk, before the zombie outbreak suddenly hits. He then wakes up, hungover, to discover chaos. The trailer then goes on to show several clips of gameplay, showing off some of the weapons you can use. With it's incredible announcement trailer and now the two further ones showing off gameplay, I will be very shocked if this game does not sell well, and extremely disappointed if it turns out not to be very good.

Jun 7, 2011

Final Fantasy XIII-2 E3 2011 Trailer

The third trailer for Final Fantasy XIII-2 has been released at E3, featuring even more gameplay and cinematics, and showing some more of the battle system, which appears to be basically the same but with the inclusion of quick-time events. It also hints further towards the idea that Serah is going to play a very big part in the game, which makes me very happy.