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.

Mass Effect 3 - E3 2011 - Fall of Earth Trailer

One of the most exciting moments of E3 for me was the latest trailer of possibly my all-time favourite franchise: Mass Effect, along with a couple of gameplay demos showcasing Kinect integration and a mission in a Reaper base. These have all worked to get me even more excited for the game, which has unfortunately been pushed back from it's original release date to March 6, 2012. Although I'd rather play this game as early as possible, I guess it gives me time to play the piles of brilliant games set for release later this year.

Halo 4 and Halo: Anniversary - E3 2011 Trailers

This year's Microsoft conference saw not one, but two big Halo announcements! The biggest of this is the start of a new trilogy developed by 343 Industries, formed when Bungie left Microsoft to become an independent company. Part of me is pissed off with the blatant dragging out and milking of the franchise (and that it's not even being made by Bungie), however, another part of me is FUCK YEAH HALO 4!!!!! There's still a long way to go though, as it's set for a 2012 Winter release.

The other announcement was a complete HD remastering of the original Halo, Halo: Combat Evolved, with a new co-op feature and multiplayer online. There's a shorter wait for this, set for release on November 15th 2011, exactly 10 years after the release of the original. As Halo: CE remains to be the only Halo I haven't played, I'll definitely be getting this so I can round off my Halo experience. This is also being released by 343 Industries.

There's also an exclusive video with interviews with 343 Industries:

Assassin's Creed Revelations - E3 Trailer

The first trailer for the next instalment in the Assassin's Creed franchise, and the last to feature Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Despite the lack of gameplay footage, it's certainly worked to get me excited and I definitely can't wait until November 15th.

Jun 4, 2011

Final Fantasy XIII-2 - E3 Teaser Trailer

With E3 just 4 days away, Square Enix have released another Teaser Trailer for upcoming title Final Fantasy XIII, this time featuring several clips of gameplay and a plot synopsis. Whilst I'm still unsure about this game and whether or not it'll just be some stitched together money-maker, I can't help but get excited. The fact that Serah is a playable character and looks like she'll be a main part of the story excites me quite a bit to, as I really liked her despite her limited appearances in Final Fantasy XIII. Now I've just got a new Mass Effect 3 trailer to look forward to!

Set a few years after Lightning and the others saved Cocoon, some survivors have decided to start over by rebuilding on Gran Pulse. Lightning, however, is nowhere to be found and thought dead by many, but Serah believes otherwise. When her town is suddenly overrun by monsters, a mysterious man named Noel appears to save her. Together, the two set off to find Lightning…

May 31, 2011


Today I finished the first of three new series I've downloaded: SHAFT's highly acclaimed series Bakemonogatari, centred around ex-vampire Koyomi Araragi and his encounters with several different girls and the 'apparitions' which are affecting their lives, the first of which is Hitagi Senjougahara, a self-styled tsundere with a problem concerning her weight, or rather the lack of it.

The animation is typical SHAFT. The backgrounds are well drawn and tend to be clean, bright cityscapes with a futuristic style. The characters are also well drawn, especially in close-ups (of which there are MANY, especially with eyes), but with some questionable wide-shots, although these were few and far between as I was watching the cleaned up blu-ray release. Each character is also unique in look and personality, and seem to be similarly as attractive as those in SHAFT's other show Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. The animation was also quite varied in some cases, mainly in sequences if character reactions and in some conversations, which provided a nice variety to the visuals as the settings rarely changed for long periods of time in some episodes as well as a comedic touch in some of them. It also seemed slightly as if SHAFT were experimenting with different styles.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, each character is completely unique to one another, in look, style and personality. They're all also pretty likeable, or at least were for me, especially Senjougahara (above) with her tsundere attitude, stylish dress sense and good looks, whilst also remaining fun, loving and also quite vulnerable despite her hard outer shell. SHAFT do a good job developing each character and providing their back story, which is made rather easy by the fact each new girl has usually three episodes dedicated to her arc and then carries on to play a big role in subsequent episodes.

One main thing I noticed whilst watching is that there is a LOT, and I mean a lot, of talking. I also noticed that this was usually just meaningless chatter between the two characters with little relevance to the story, however, I quite liked it, as it created a connection between the two and was usually quite comedic in nature, and when it wasn't comedic is was serious emotional talk. All this talk makes Bakemonogatari a very character-driven show, with the real action only really taking up 10 or so minutes of the whole arc. As is probably clear from my numerous other anime posts, I tend to love shows that rely on the strength of their characters, as it also helps the viewer to make a connection with them, making the story much stronger emotionally and enhancing the experience greatly. Quite a lot of jokes and some explanations rely on wordplay, which means that some of the comedy and details are lost in translation if you don't have much knowledge of the Japanese language. Of course, because this was obviously intended for Japanese audiences and not foreign ones, this can't really be put as a negative point towards the show.

Another thing I noticed, and very much liked, was the music throughout the series, be it the soundtrack itself or the various OPs and EDs. The background music worked well to enhance almost every situation, be it emotional, action or comedy and by the end of the series I found myself recognising and really liking some of the songs used. Each arc is also accompanied with a new OP sequence and song that compliments the theme of that particular arc, and I personally liked them all except for maybe one. The ED song remains the same throughout, but each arc brings a slightly different ED sequence (above) and I also really liked the song.

As I said earlier, the story was largely character-driven, relying greatly on these characters' pasts and their emotions to provide a basis for the situation they've each found themselves in. The story's main themes concerned the supernatural, with spirits/'apparitions' and gods causing the most trouble, and because of this almost anything was possible, as realism was largely irrelevant. This of course allowed for more elaborate and interesting stories and action sequences.

In summary, I enjoyed this show very much, with the animation, soundtrack and characters being particular highlights. However, the sheer amount of talking and some of the series particular quirks (you'll have to watch to understand) can sometimes get tedious, but not so much to get annoying. I can certainly see why this sold so well (with the sixth blu-ray volume holding the record for highest first-week sells before SHAFT's Puella Magi☆Madoka Magica broke it last month) and was very popular among anime fans, although I'm not sure if I liked it enough to class it as one of my all-time favourites as I'm not sure the characters and story in particular were as strong as other series' I've seen.With this being the third SHAFT show I've watched and greatly enjoyed, I may have to take a look at some of their older shows and will definitely look forward to future shows from them, especially the prequel film Kizumonogatari set to be released next year.

Along with the other two series I've downloaded (Lucky Star and Death Note) I'm also planning to re-watch  a number of series over the summer along with most likely a couple more new ones, as well the Summer 2011 shows, and so there'll likely be quite a lot of anime-related posts over the next few months.

May 29, 2011

Spring 2011 Mid-Season Impressions

Now that I'm no longer as busy as I was previously and laziness is my only obstacle, I have decided to get around to this post, so here we go! It's going to be a lengthy one.

Hanasaku Iroha
Straight away, this show easily has the best animation of the season, then again that's to be expected as it's P.A Works 10th Anniversary piece. From the first episode, this show has been great at mixing both comedy and drama, and even at it's lowest points it's still more than satisfactory. Every Monday I check to see if this has been subbed before doing anything else. The plot centres around Ohana (above) and her life at the Kissui inn after being forced to move their after her mother in Tokyo runs away from tax collectors with her boyfriend, leaving Ohana alone . Ohana is instantly likeable, as is most of the supporting cast and the plot is usually progressed through their interactions and the rivalry with a nearby rival inn. I couldn't be happier with the fact this is going to have a 26 episode run and I'm confident the quality won't drop.

Tiger & Bunny
This season's superhero offering comes in the form of Tiger & Bunny, set in a world where 45 years previously individuals with superpowers called NEXT started appearing. Not one to miss out on a party, Capitalism jumps in, resulting in each superhero working for a specific sponsor, with uniforms containing sponsors from real-life companies who paid for them to be featured in the anime. Their work to bring down criminals is then broadcast on Hero TV, which often affects their way of working thanks to advert breaks and the need to show off sponsors. Whilst catching criminals, each Hero accumulate points based on their contributions. The story focuses on one particular ageing hero Kotetsu (above green), otherwise known as Wild Tiger, and his new partner, the young Barnaby (above red) whom Kotetsu has nicknamed Bunny. This new boy Barnaby seems to care more for points than catching criminals, resulting in a number of clashes in opinion with Kotetsu. The animation for this show isn't anything special but it's certainly good enough, and the CG used to animate their costumes works well enough despite some awkward moments. The story too isn't anything special but it's fun and interesting enough to keep you hooked, with characters which are equally interesting. I don't know how long this show will be lasting, but I certainly wouldn't complain if it carried on into the next season.

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
Whilst certainly winning the award for longest name (translating to "We Still Don't Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day." for anyone who cares), this show also looks pretty promising, at least as a tear-jerker. A group of six childhood friends have drifted apart since the death of one of them, Menma, dies in an accident. Ten years on, leader of the group Jinta "Jintan" Yadomi has become a social recluse who sits in his room playing games rather than go to school. That is until one day when a slightly older looking Menma appears in front of him, asking that he grant a wish for her that she asked him when they were young, but which they've both forgotten. This blast from the past motivates Jinta to become more sociable and get closer to his old friends, including Naruko "Anaru" Anjou (above). The old group then starts to gradually get back together and work to grant Menma's wish, although they're not all too sure if Jinta actually can see Menma but they seem to be happy enough to be back together nonetheless. As I said earlier, this show sets out to be a tearjerker from the start, playing mainly on the nostalgia of old childhood days. This emotional angle compliments what is quite an interesting plot (although I feel it's been lacking lately) as the friends reunite and old feelings are brought back up along with new ones. Each character is unique and interesting in their own way and the animation is pretty good quality too. Although (if Wikipedia is to be believed) this is set for a slightly shorter run than other of 11 episodes it seems to be moving along at a good enough pace and good easily be one of the gems of the season.

Carrying on with what is a season of rare quality is the animated adaptation of the visual novel Steins;Gate. To keep it relatively short, this show is centred around the concept of time travel and it's affects on the world and the lives of the main characters, as well as an evil company in the form of SERN (so, basically CERN). The sci-fi angle is interesting, with constant twists and turns to hold your attention, and the eccentric main character Okabe "Okarin" Rintarou is endless fun. The other characters each have their own unique personality and are as equally fun and interesting as Okabe. Much like Tiger & Bunny, the animation isn't exactly ground-breaking but it does the job very well. This is easily one of my favourites of the season and with it's 24-episode run it'll likely be one of my favourites of the next. I may even get around to playing the visual novel some time.

A Channel
Breaking with the rather serious trend of the rest of the show's I'm watching is my "cute girls doing cute things" show for the season. There isn't really much of a plot to explain here, it's just essentially the everyday lives of four schoolgirls, focusing slightly on the younger of the group and perhaps the sole reason I'm watching this show, Tooru. From what I've heard, this show has a rather low budget, yet I think it's done pretty well with it as it's rarely noticeable. The characters are nothing new, but each is likeable in their own way and are different enough to keep it interesting, especially Tooru. This definitely isn't one of the greatest slice of life shows to be made, but it's good enough to be some simple fun to wind down with after a long week and the other more serious shows I'm watching. I'm basically seeing it as a mediocre version of K-ON!!, and the (not-so-subtle) yuri undertones are enough to please my guilty pleasure.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
This is SHAFT's offering for the Spring season, and although it definitely doesn't live up to their previous offering (and I doubt anyone expected it too) it is far from a disappointment. The main character Makoto Niwa has moved to a seaside town to live with his rather strange aunt Meme Touwa (above) and her daugher Erio Touwa, who after an incident some time ago thinks she is an alien and walks around wrapped up in a futon. The story is mainly based on Makoto's interactions with his aunt and cousin, as well as a couple other girls he meets, with him constantly monitoring what he calls his 'adolescence points' (a point system he's created based on living the perfect adolescence). The animation is what's to be expected of SHAFT. It's pretty good in close-ups and in background, but the character animations can really suffer at times, especially in wide shots. However, it isn't too distracting and will likely be improved greatly with the blu-ray releases, as is SHAFT's usual method. Although not as great as the first three shows on this list, Denpa Onna is a fun, interesting and good quality series, and would probably shine brighter if not for the numerous great shows this season. The main female characters are also quite possibly some of the most attractive seen in a long time.

Ao no Exorcist
Okumura Rin is a normal 15-year-old boy living at his father's church with his twin brother Okumura Yukio. Little does he know that the world is full of demons, and that his father is an exorcist. Although this is not strictly true either, as Rin discovers he is in fact the son of Satan, born of a human mother, and as such is part demon himself (his twin brother isn't because Satan deemed him too weak in the womb or something). After Satan then kills who he thought was his father Rin vows to become an exorcist too, and starts to go to what is basically exorcist school. I'm really unsure about this show. It started off looking like a fun enough series about fighting demons with plenty of action, but it seems to have just deteriorated into a mediocre school life show with a few demons thrown in. The characters aren't anything too special and the plot is rather predictable, with the rather good quality animation being it's only redeeming feature. Because of this I'm not sure if I'm even going to bother downloading the new episode as it's become a bit of a chore to watch and I could really do with one less show to watch (I've already dropped Dog Days earlier in the season).

This is KyoAni's Spring offering, and seeing as they're yet to produce a show I haven't loved I had high expectations. Nichijou can more or less be summarised as a sketch show centred around a group of school students and their school, in particular the three friends Yuuko, Mio (above) and Mai. I have to say, this show is rather hit and miss. 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. Whilst I'm not sure how it can keep this charm going into next season (as I'm sure I've heard in several places it's going for a 26-episode run) I'll certainly carry on watching to see.

All in all, this Spring season has certainly been one of, if not the, best I've seen so far (then again, I've only been watching anime for about 18 months and never saw the highly-acclaimed 2007 year of anime as it aired) and seeing as at least three of them are carrying into next season I may not even pick up anything new other than the second season of BakaTest, as from what I've seen the Summer 2011 season seems pretty weak. Although the fact I'm watching eight shows (nine if I hadn't dropped Dog Days) resulted in me spending incredibly long on this post, I'm glad that there are so many high quality shows airing, and it certainly gives me something to do.

Now that I'm not so busy any more I've also downloaded Bakemonogatari, Lucky Star and Death Note (as it appears I'm one of very few anime fans that have never actually seen it), so expect posts on each of them as I complete them over the next few weeks as well as possibly a couple more as I've cleared up a fair pit of hard drive space.

May 25, 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Reveal Trailer

2 weeks after the release of the teaser trailers, here comes the first proper trailer of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with in-game footage. Although I'm not too much of a fan of Call of Duty I may get this, because it's my dislike of Treyarch that stopped me getting Black Ops and World at War, and Infinity Ward seem to make good enough games. There's also the fact that my friends have much different opinions of this franchise, and if I actually want to play games online with them the next two or three months after release I'll probably have to get this.

May 21, 2011

After The Rapture

I was going to do a post mocking the fact The Rapture obviously didn't happen, then I thought "Hey, I'm not creative enough to do that!". Luckily, TheThinkingAtheist posted a video to do just that for me, allowing me to go back to mindlessly browsing the internet (Read: /a/) and watching South Park. This is basically a follow-up to an earlier video from when this so called 'Rapture' was first announced, seen below.

Change in Focus

As has already probably become clear to anyone who reads this blog regularly (let me dream!), I have been moving further and further away from the original purpose of this blog: to report world news. This is mainly because I've found myself far too busy to make long news posts like those on the Arab Protests/Revolutions and also because there is rarely a news story I deem interesting enough to report about. As such, the posts in this blog will be moving more towards anime, video games, movies and YouTube videos, with the occasional news posts and maybe some stuff on music.

On the topic of anime, I have the 'Spring 2011 Mid-Season Impressions' to do, which will either be some time in the next few days if I can find time, or next weekend when I'll definitely be free. I'm watching so much this season that I really need quite a bit of time to make a proper post, especially if I'm to include pictures like my last one. Although by the time it's finally posted it'll be much past the middle of the season...

May 17, 2011

Dead Island Teaser Trailer - Tragedy Hits Paradise

The latest Dead Island trailer has arrived, and unlike the announcement trailer, this teaser shows some in-game footage and environments, however, it doesn't show any actual gameplay. They appear to have gone with a similar method as the announcement trailer, in that they've tried to make it emotional. Whilst it can't equal the emotion of the first trailer, my heart certainly did twinge when the music from the first started playing at the end.

May 16, 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - Teaser Trailers

I saw a link to this by absolute chance, but on May 13th four new teaser trailers were released concerning Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (which has apparently been in production since two weeks after the release of Modern Warfare 2), each centred around a different country (England, Germany, France and America), providing possible settings for the game. I personally don't particularly care for the Call of Duty franchise after the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but for many people this is a big announcement, so I suppose I better post about it.

May 15, 2011

The Rapture & Nerimon's Last Video

With The Rapture (21st May 2011) fast approaching, Alex Day - better known as Nerimon - has taken his time to say goodbye to us, his loyal fans, in one last, final video. However, he promises to see all those who won't be going up to heaven "on the battlefield" during the next 5 months of hell on Earth, so it's not all bad.
Good luck to everyone for next Saturday!

Further information on the impending apocalypse can be found here and here.

May 1, 2011

Puella Magi☆Madoka Magica - Final Impressions

The final two episodes aired over a week ago, but as the theme seems to be for the last couple months I've been too busy to make this post, so I shall attempt to now.

This show has to be one of the best I've seen in a while and I'm sure if I'd seen any other Mahou Shoujo shows this would be one of my favourite ones. After the long delay caused by the tsunami and earthquake Madoka  managed to slip to the back of my mind, especially with the start of what looks to be an exceptional Spring season distracting me further from it. In order to make up for this I re-watched the first ten episodes the day before the two finale episodes aired, and I'm glad I did otherwise the ending probably wouldn't have had the same impact if my connection to the characters hadn't been rebuilt. Having already seen the ten episodes once, re-watching them enabled me to appreciate certain aspects more, such as the mirroring between episode 10 and 1 where Homura and Madoka walk through the halls of the school.

The animation of the series is also pretty good. The character designs are smooth and each character is easily distinguishable from others, with everyone having their own distinct look. The only problem with the animation was that the character animation was occasionally off, but there are few anime where this s not the case, so I'm not going to pick on it too much. The backgrounds are also very clean and also very detailed in some cases. The backgrounds for the witches domains are pretty trippy and strange, but they suit the crazy world of magic and the creatures within them, and the actions scenes that take place in them are usually pretty well animated too. Complimenting the animation, there is also a pretty good soundtrack with a number of memorable tracks, with the OP and ED carrying on the Winter seasons theme of quality OPs and EDs.

The characters were each very different people to one another, with back stories provided for Kyouko and Homura which explain how they came to be the person they are today and helping you to connect to them even more, especially with Homura's back story, which encapsulates the whole of episode 10. Kyubey (pictured above) is also an extremely unique character, the sort of which I haven't really seen in other anime. His adorable appearance with its permanent :3 face is contrasted against the blunt, arguably evil genius the hides within, taking advantage of others for his own (and his species') desires.

The ending itself was brilliant, and definitely the best of the 5 shows I was watching that ended last season. Most of the developments within the last two endings were completely unpredictable (at least to me) and episode 12 in particular was very emotional for those who had formed a connection with the characters through the 12 episodes. As expected for a finale of a show with magic and monsters there was an excellent action sequence in episode 11 as Walpurgis Night arrives, with a ridiculous amount of military-grade fire-power. The twists in the final two episodes were also very characteristic of the rest of the series, with its revelations, deaths and character developments of the first ten episodes.

In summary, Puella Magi☆Madoka Magica is almost definitely going to be one of the best anime to air on 2011 and judging by the sales of the first Blu-Ray/DVD release it can easily become a classic. Madoka showed itself to be unique, at least in terms of the Mahou Shoujo genre, from episode 3, and manage to keep up the break-neck pace, unpredictable twists and turns and character development all the way until the end, making for an emotional and action-packed final two episodes, which failed to disappoint even with all the expectation and hype that had built up among fans during the weeks it was delayed. Even halfway through the series' 12 episode run this show managed to jump right into my top 10 or even 5 anime of all time and I'll almost certainly be watching the series again when all of the episodes are released in Blu-Ray, with improved visuals which will undoubtedly enhance the series further.

EDIT: The first Blu-Ray volume sells 53,000 in first week to break previous record of 51,000 set by Volume 6 of Bakemonogatari

Apr 18, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Trailer

The latest victim of Hollywood's obsessive need for reboots and remakes is once again The Planet of the Apes, this time with a prequel explaining how it all started. I've only seen the remake of The Planet of the Apes and a little bit of one of the original sequels, but I'm aware how much of a classic it is and that they should really be careful with this one. Despite that, this trailer certainly does look interesting, then again, that's the job of a trailer. However, the name of the drug - The Cure- is a bit silly, and the fact the military were unable to shoot down a few apes before they took over the world is a bit of a plot hole.

Apr 15, 2011

The Hobbit - Start of Production

Having read The Hobbit and being a very big fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy I simply cannot wait for The Hobbit's film adaptation. On Thursday what seems to be the first of many video diaries from the set of the upcoming film was released, and will surely hype up anyone who has been waiting for years for this film to be made.

Apr 10, 2011

Young Animator Training Project

Last year 16 companies applied to JAniCA for 38 million yen in order to create their own 23-minute original animation using their young animators. Earlier this year the 4 winners released their animations and I've finally gotten around to watching all of them.

Ojiisan no Lamp
This first one recounted the life of a boy's grandfather who used to sell lamps. The story basically revolves around how the westernisation of his small Japanese village initially made him rich before leading to his ruin. The animation was excellent, the simplicity of it's plot was one of it's most appealing points and their were simply no flaws I could see.

Kizuna Ichigeki - One-Hit Kizuna
This one's much simpler than Ojiisan no Lamp in terms of character design and to some extent even story. This one is about a young girl called Kizuna who lives with her father and grandfather at a martial arts school. Due to her upbringing Kizuna is very talented and the show begins with her winning a championship and it's 100 million yen prize, allowing her grandfather to pay off his debts. The man she beats in the finals is obviously not pleased with his loss and it comes to light that Kizuna was in fact ineligible for the prize as she was still 2 days away from her 13th birthday. Due to this several other martial artists try and challenge her within those two days in order to become champion. This was a fun 23 minutes with some nice comedy every now and then and good enough characters, but it's certainly not anything special.

Bannou Yasai Ninninman - Super Veggie Torracman
Young Mari is the centre of attention for this show, along with her hatred for carrots, peppers and milk, and fear of crossing a certain bridge after a childhood incident, a fear that also causes problems with her friend after she gets a new dog, which means she is unable to go the long way to school with Mari in order to avoid the bridge because her parents say it isn't safe to walk the dog near the road. After being forced the eat her dreaded carrots, peppers and milk at school for dinner she collapses, waking up in the nurses office to find that the ghosts of those three foods have come to life and are now speaking to her, much to her annoyance. Without giving away the story, these three end up helping her towards the end of the show, although she is still unable to cross the bridge as the 23 minutes end. I liked this one quite a bit, the backgrounds were nice and the character animations were quite good too. The story was very good for something that was only 23 minutes long and I even found my self getting a little teary-eyed at one point.

Tansu Warashi - Wardrobe Dwellers
The rather basic premise for this one is of a wardrobe that has been passed from 'mistress to 'mistress' down the main characters family which contains a number of spirits to help them in their daily life. The animation was nothing special, but nor was it particularly bad, it was just... in the middle, something which I feel added to the charm of it's already very charming array of characters. Each of the spirits have their own unique personalities and skills with which they help the very normal female office worker who finds herself the be their latest 'mistress'. The attractiveness of all of the characters led me to grow to them very quickly within the short 23 minutes, leading to a heart-warming yet sad ending.

Overall, I very much enjoyed these four and the latter three provided me with a very pleasant Sunday morning (which is perhaps why I gave Ojiisan no Lamp such a small paragraph as I watched it a good week or two ago) and all of them except for Ojiisan no Lamp could very easily becoming fully fledged series that I'd very happily watch. I'd recommend you watch all of these if you are a fan of anime or perhaps just want something inoffensive and enjoyable to watch for 23 minutes on a weekend. All four can be downloaded from here.

In other anime news, the final two episodes of Madoka Magica have finally been given dates after the disruption caused by the earthquake and tsunami and will be airing on April 22nd, so there's still more anime posts to come before my Spring 2011 Mid-Season Impressions (which looks to be packed with shows as I'm already watching 6 and won't be surprised if I end up picking up a couple more by then).

Apr 4, 2011

Winter 2011 End-of-Season Impressions

Overall, I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this season. Puella Magi Madoka Magica was the only thing that stood out, and of those continuing from the previous season the only one not trodden in mediocrity was Bakuman. That being said, there were some damn good OP's and ED's.

Accelerator returns in the final episodes of To Aru Majutsu no Index II
To Aru Majutsu no Index Season II
This has been a mixed bag. The first two arcs were great, and then it descended into predictable mediocrity which actually got a bit boring. This was until the last few episodes. The second to last arc started off incredibly, and I was hooked instantly, with almost all of it's characters taking part in saving Academy City once again. However, the last episode of the arc was a bit of an anti-climax, before immediately going into a final arc (if you can call it that) for the last couple of episodes, which provided hardly any closure to the season and hinted towards a third. All in all, this second season of Index was disappointing, with a mediocre middle that went on far too long to be made up for with the interesting arcs either side. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my favourite arcs included Accelerator and the girls from the Railgun spin-off... so I suppose I'm just more of a Railgun fan.

One of many sparkly and fabulous scenes from Star Driver
Star Driver
My opinion of Star Driver is becoming very much like the show itself, repetitive and predictable. Much like Index II, this show was stuck in a rut of extreme mediocrity throughout the 25 episodes, which is a real shame considering the potential it had. The animation was pretty good, especially in those damn Zero Time scenes, and the characters were brilliant, it's just a shame that it was all so identical and seemingly pointless until the final third perhaps. In fact it was after the break from the mould of episode 14, which I celebrated with a post of it's own that Star Driver started to slowly improving, albeit with a couple of misstep still. However, I watched the finale this morning and the animation was so brilliant and the episode so excellent itself (although still retaining the usual ridiculous motives and ass-pulls) that it almost makes up for week after week of the same thing. All in all, whilst this certainly wasn't a terrible show, it wasn't exactly memorable, and this time next year I'll probably barely remember it and it'll likely be one of the first to go when I have to delete some anime to make space on my far-too-small hard-drive.

Star duo 'Ashirogi Muto'
This for me was the gem of the last two seasons, a light-hearted show about two best friends looking to become mangaka. I loved the characters, nail-biting tension was often provided by the wait on results for various competitions, the drama and rivalries were great, and I even liked the romance. This show had it all, except for maybe big mecha battles. Although the animation could be a bit off at times this show has shot straight to one of my all-time favourite anime, and I simply can't wait until the second season in October, I've even started reading the manga, which is rare for me because I usually find manga far too awkward to read on a website.

Merry's not too pleased with my views on her show
Yumekui Merry
This still has one episode left but I don't think the final one will change my views too much and I didn't really feel like delaying this post for a whole week just for it. I'm unsure about Yumekui Merry, for the first couple of episodes I found it brilliant, but it seemed to slowly decline through the rest of the season. I love the characters, especially Merry herself, but I never got drawn into the overarching story too much and have gotten to the point of watching it half-heartedly just to finish it. The low budget didn't help either as it led to some poor animation, with numerous close-ups and stills due to the restrictions of money, which was somewhat distracting. All in all, I think Yumekui Merry will end up with a fate similar to that of Star Driver.

Yoshii fights to save Voyeur after the girls (and HideYoshi) prove too much for him in their traditional Chinese dress
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu: Matsuri 
One of my favourite anime series, Baka to Test to Shōkanjū, returned this season with two OVA's titled Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu: Matsuri, before returning for a second series this summer. The two OVA's carried on with what made me love the series in the first place; the comedy was great, the summoning battles were as entertaining as usual, taking up the majority of the second episode, with excellent animation to top it all off. If you were a fan of the original season last year, you'll definitely want to watch these.  

Due to disruptions from the earthquake and tsunami, the final two episodes of Madoka have been delayed indefinitely, with a plan to have them air sometime this month, so I'll make a post when they're finally out. I've also been watching the four episodes from the Young Animator Training Project and will make a post once I've finished them all.