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Monday, July 21, 2014

First Impressions: Glasslip, Ao Haru Ride and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Monday, July 21, 2014


Studio: PA Works

Genre(s): Romance, Slice of Life

On the other side of the glass, you can see tomorrow. The daughter of a glass artisan family, Fukami Touko, spends relaxed days at a cafe called Kazemichi at a friend’s house. On the summer vacation of her third year in high school in front of Touko appeared a transfer student boy Okikura Kakeru. He spoke out to her, that he can hear the voices of the future. If someone knew in advance what their future would look like, what would they wish for? While feeling never before felt tremors in herself, Touko realizes that she has started getting a sense in her heart which she can’t leave alone…

Another dramatic (possibly supernatural) love polygon anime brought to us by PA Works. Group of friends spends their days happily together with one sided romance hidden underneath their friendship. A new guy comes in and disrupts their peaceful way of life and his presence ends up bringing out the underlying feelings the group held for one another. Seen it before but I've enjoyed NagiAsu, Ano Natsu de Matteru and Kokoro Connect thoroughly giving each a solid 4/5 so I'm willing to watch this.

This first episode didn't lay out anything for me other than the cast's names and personality. I can already sense where this series was planning to go right off the bat tho. The transfer student Okikura is a really weird guy who at least half of the main group are immediately suspicious of and carries the same exact personality as Tsumugu from NagiAsu. Suggested from his earlier stunt with the chickens, he will turn out into the most hated character in the bunch, become the Touko's love interest which will conflict with Yukinari's feelings for Touko and slowly create a domino effect . My first impressions of Glasslip is that it's pretty bland but will probably end up being pretty great if not decent due to it's immediate similarities with NagiAsu and AnoNatsu.

Ao Haru Ride

Studio: Production I.G

Genre(s): Romance, Drama, Slice of Life, Comedy, School life

Summary: Yoshioka Futaba has a few reasons why she wants to “reset” her image & life as a new high school student. Because she’s cute, she was ostracized by her female friends in junior high, and because of a misunderstanding, she couldn’t get her feeling across to the one boy she has ever liked, Tanaka-kun. Now in high school, she is determined to be as unladylike as possible so that her friends won’t be jealous of her. While living her life this way contentedly, she meets Tanaka-kun again, but he now goes under the name of Mabuchi Kou. He tells her that he felt the same way as she did when they were younger, but now things can never be the same again. Will Futaba be able to continue her love that never even started from three years ago?

Ao Haru Ride seems to have a decent following and I can why. Production I.G decided to flesh out the same art and atmosphere they gave to Kimi ni Todoke on this series as well. The chalky background is just as oddly beautiful in Ao Haru Ride as it was in Kimi ni Todoke. Besides art, the romance here is definitely taking a different route than the usual awkward and "too nervous to say something" theme are not present here. Mabuchi and Futaba have both underdone severe changes since they've last seen each other and the pair that had a secret love one another are no longer present. They both love what the other used to be so this series is more focused on whether or not they can love what they see before them now.

I think I'm actually going to enjoy this romance more so than the awkward cuteness of Sawako and Kazahaya. The renewing of old romance is just one of two themes as loving one's self as they truly are will also be a major theme in this series. The cruel bishounen Mabuchi may revert back to his more feminine ways as the tomboyish Futaba learns to care less about what other people think, drop her fake friends and return to her cutesy moe self. I'm looking forward to all of those changes.

It's kind of weird how he can say that with such a smile.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun

Studio: Dogokabo

Genre(s): Romance Slice of Life, Comedy, School life

Summary: Sakura Chiyo confesses to her crush, Nozaki-kun, but he mistakes her as a fan! Unable to convey her feelings, what happens when he invites her to his house? Find out in this hilarious series!

I wouldn't say that this series is absolutely hilarious but it managed to make me laugh here and there. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun states that it's suppose to be a romantic comedy but really it will most definitely be a completely comedic series with our Chiyo crushing on Nozaki all season. Sadly though,  feel like this show will probably go the same way Mangaka-san to Assistant-san went. It's pretty funny at first but then there's recycled jokes and the same comedic situation being reused and the jokes becoming stale. That's the obstacle all comedy based series have to overcome tho. Some are good at it and some aren't. I'll hope that Nozaki-Kun is one of those anime that manages to get funnier and funnier every week but I doubt it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Irregular at Magic High School Ep 13-14: One Match to Win Them All

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Friday, July 11, 2014

I guess double post might be the norm if I don't manage to get back in the swing of things. On the other hand, doing double post might be for the best for a series like Mahouka which has slow development with little to talk about. Not to rip the series but it is far from even coming close to the hype that was built for it.

In the last two weeks, the Nine School's Competition has been underway and yet another "accident" has occurred and it involves the No-Head Dragons after all. To a certain extent, I feel underwhelmed that their grand scheme involves rigging high school competitions to win bets. I guess international crime syndicates don't have a lot to do these days to get money if they have to get into the business of rigging high school competitions. Talk about how the mighty have fallen.

Like the last arc, this one uses their terrorist group (in this case, a criminal organization) as a another means of escalating the tension between the students which is where the real drama comes from in this series. If not for the No-Head Dragon's interference during the Monolith Code match, Tatsuya wouldn't be up against mister Crimson Prince and Cardinal George so even if they are wind up being easily defeated by a bunch of high schoolers; at least they were still of some kind of use to the overall plot.

Tatsuya might have finally me his match in both military strength and technical capability in the form of Ichijou Masaki the Crimson Prince and Kichijouji (Cardinal George) Shinkurou respectively. Besides the mess Tatsuya has to deal, it turns out he was right all along about having a Weed on the team causing a rift within the chosen representatives of 1st High School. Morisaki still cannot get over his superiority/inferiority complex and it's only bound to get worse after he finds out that Tatsuya will be replacing him in the Monolith Code match.

Through episode 13 and 14, the only real point of interest for me was Tatsuya's well thought plan regarding his aunt and why he carries himself in such a modest fashion. Turns out that killing his aunt has crossed his mine and even believes that he can beat her in a one on one match; something that even his aunt believes as well. Even so, the rest of the Yotsuba family will most likely not follow him and thus only end up making himself an target to be eliminated. Sticking to his double life as a student on the weekdays and a solider/technological genius on the weekend while staying under the watchful eye of the Yostubas is better then living on the run and fighting the clan alone. His secret as Taurus Silver seems to be a necessary key in keeping that scenario from happening which makes Azusa's curiosity about Taurus Silver's true identity all the more worrisome but not to worry, our harem inducing MC has a plan for just about any and everything.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

First Impressions: Akame ga Kill

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Thursday, July 10, 2014

Studio: White Fox

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Psychological

Tatsumi is a self-acknowledge country bumpkin who is nonetheless a well trained fighter. He and two companions leave their remote village to head to the Imperial City to find a way to relieve their friends and family from ruinous taxation imposed by the authorities. Yet the Imperial City is filled with unimaginable amounts of corruption and evil from supernatural sources. Tatsumi is immediately swindled after reaching the City and nearly loses everything soon after, but finds himself allied with an unlikely group of assassins.

Well damn, that was a mixed bag of awesomeness. A big switch from comedic action to dark as fuck gore in under half an hour. Akame ga Kill has all of the hallmark trade signs of a typical hack and slash shock factor series but if I enjoy I'm willing to still think highly of this series. I haven't read the manga so I didn't know things turned so dark so quickly and in such a fucked up way. I was genuinely surprised by the how things so easily became through a arrow right in a heart. There was little to no exposition for Tatsumi's friends but I still felt for them after learning their fate.

The entire episode can be best summed up in the meme; "The cake is a lie!" The first half may have been more geared towards letting the viewers guard down so you would never expect the second half and it worked, on me at least. You have my attention Akame ga Kill and I will watch you closely. I don't care too much if a series relies on shock factor if it's entertaining; it's what made Attack on Titan pretty successful after all but I do hope that gore isn't all Akame ga Kill has to offer. It's a gory action series so I'm probably wishing for a bit much.

Friday, July 4, 2014

First Impressions: Tokyo Ghoul

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Friday, July 4, 2014

Studio: Studio Pierrot

Genre: Horror, Drama, Psychological

The suspense horror/dark fantasy story is set in Tokyo, which is haunted by mysterious "ghouls" who are devouring humans. People are gripped by the fear of these ghouls whose identities are masked in mystery. An ordinary college student named Kaneki encounters Rize, a girl who is an avid reader like him, at the café he frequents. Little does he realize that his fate will change overnight.

That was a great first episode to say the least and there were only a few small changes compared to the manga. Of course the biggest thing bothering me is the censorship which is more of a testament to how much I enjoyed this episode. Since censorship of gory series like Tokyo Ghoul is pretty much mandatory, I saw it coming but it's the only thing I can complain about which is a good thing.

Some have stated that it was pretty rushed but it followed the pacing of the manga pretty closely and delivers the life changing drama of Kaneki's new hybrid life perfectly. A smooth yet subtle introduction to beings known as Ghouls running through the cities transitions to Kaneki being attacked by one such creature and then it ends with a full blown show case of what Ghouls are capable of. To me at least, this first episode managed to get straight to the point without throwing too much at the viewer, allowing them to digest everything that's just happened to Kaneki. I honestly have nothing to complain about (besides the censoring which isn't the animator's fault).

Few psychological series tend to actually be psychologically damaging or challenging for the main characters but nothing is more psychologically challenging than forcing someone to abandon their humanity. Besides the long battle Kaneki has ahead of him regarding him trying to cling onto his humanity, he also has to deal with the near animal like culture of Ghoul society and being hunted down by the CCG. Tokyo Ghoul certainly looks like a keeper but first episodes are almost always great so only time will tell whether this series is really as deserving of it's hype. I hope Tokyo Ghoul will not disappoint.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Black Bullet: Decent Action & Horrible Pacing (5.4/10)

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Thursday, July 3, 2014

I've been off my game lately due to work so more and more reviews might be the next major thing for this site and to kick that off, I'm starting with Black Bullet. Premise? Sounded great as it reminded me of Attack on Titan's premise, a series that Black Bullet has been compared to quite often because of the similar vibe. Humanity fenced off and protected by giant walls against an enemy that is nearly impossible to defeat and the only saviors are the ones humanity hates most. In AoT, it was people who could turn into Titans, in Black Bullet's case it is not people who turn into Gastrea but loli called the cursed children who have superhuman powers due to their hybrid blood. Okay, so this show is pandering to the lolicons even though it's suppose to sound serious. It's difficult to take a story based around humanity's near hopeless battle against monsters seriously when those fighting on the front lines are literally a bunch of ten year old little girls. Alright, I don't mind loli in anime but in this case it just didn't match up properly but that's not the worst of it.

Black Bullet's biggest shortcoming is it's erratic pacing where scenes pop up in the most out of place times. One minute I'm witnessing a battle that could determine the city's fate and the next scene is Rentaro teaching a class of cursed children, half of which want to become his bride. This show has a hard time determining when it wants to be funny, when it's want to be sad and when it wants to be an awesome action series. The transitioning is just piss poor between each of them and we're left with a choppy mess of action, comedy, death, anger and chillness.

I don't expect a lot of character development or background in a thirteen episode series but it's well appreciated when I do find it. In Black Bullet's case, there doesn't seem to be any real attempt at showing us that background but just telling us; yet again in the most out of place times. The whole deal involving Kisara and her parent's death, Rentaro's past and Kagetane for just being there are never fleshed out. There isn't actually much a background other then a few sentences when it comes to everyone else. All of these things were hinted at but nothing was actually made from it except for Kisara in the last half of the finale.
Kagetane is still one of favorite characters due to his style and personality though.

What did Black Bullet did get right was it's action and music which I enjoyed thoroughly. The soundtrack was composed by Shiro Sagisu the composer for the Bleach anime series. The music managed to get more of an emotional reaction out of me than the scenes they were made for did. The action was on par for a typical shounen action series and didn't disappoint so when it comes to the shear beauty and artistic value of Black Bullet, I can't help but love it but when it comes to the actual story and characters, this anime dropped the ball.

Why You Should Watch This:
If you're a lolicon then welcome to the world of Pokemon: Loli Edition. If not then enjoy the action and great music. When it comes to fight scenes and tearing monsters apart, Black Bullet delivers and Shiro Sagisu really brings forth the feels with his touching music.

Why You Shouldn't Watch This:
If you're for looking for this series to take it's own premise as serious as it sounds, you'll be partially satisfied. Black Bullet feels as if it was originally a two cour anime that was cut down tremendously for some strange reason and you're looking at the end result of that decision. It's a bunch of scenes glued together like a collage attempting to pose as a comic book.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Favorite Character of the 2014 Spring Season

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Wednesday, July 2, 2014

CHARACTER(S): Kagetane Hiruko and Kohina Hiruko
ANIME: Black Bullet

It's that time again but this one's a little different due to the fact that I just couldn't make up my mind. My favorite characters this season are the father-daughter duo from Black Bullet. The dual pistol wielding joker and his dual blade wielding psychopathic daughter have won a special place in my heart. Kagetane is just a crazy guy who does any and everything the way he wants and everyone around him has no choice but roll with it and play by his rules.

The adorable praying mantis class Kohina is more than she appears to be. A dual blade wielder with a bloodthirsty nature which borders on the insane. If not for her father to keep her in check, Kohina would probably spend her days causing massacre after massacre, leaving nothing but thinly sliced body parts littered throughout the city. Crazy characters have always been my favorites among a cast but Kohina has definitely reached my all time top five and for that reason she and her father have become my favorite characters of the 2014 Spring season.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Irregular at Magic High School Ep 10-12: Let The Games Begin!

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This is the first time I've posted a triple feature post. For that reason, I'm not going to write an episode summary and instead dive right into the post. In episode nine, we left off with the chosen students of First Magic High School making their way to the Nine Schools Competition grounds but were blocked by a burning car. For the past three episodes since then, I've been mildly entertained by short segments of the Nine Schools Competition as if I were watching the Olympics. These last three episodes have been filled with the typical amount of magical/science jargon and I've been having a pretty fun time keeping up with the magical physics and terminology of the Mahouka world.

With that being said, the only thing that has really progressed thus far has been the introduction of the terrorist group No-Head Dragon which will appear to play as minor a role as the Egalite did last arc. Just like the Egalite was used to highlight the conflict between Weeds and Blooms, the No-Head Dragon this arc is appearing to highlight the quote from Kudo Retsu; "Large scale-magic used erroneously is inferior to small-scale magic used creatively." This new arc will focus more on the idea that Weeds and Blooms are nothing more than titles and are not a true assessment of one's skills as a magician. I'm looking forward to that as I hoped that the cool and calm Tatsuya wouldn't always be the one curb stomping people while destroying their arrogant sense of superiority. The next magician in question that has shown that promise would be Erika and maybe Mikihito as well.

Speaking of which, thumbs up for the convenient throw in of information regarding his hidden potential (Sarcasm). Mikihito is going to assist in stopping some No-Head Dragon members from doing only Gods know what and utters a line that was so horribly scripted it was actually kind of funny (pictured right). So very precise. Not to say that the thought was out of place as it seemed appropriate to note his magical short coming at the time but I just think it could of been worded better.

With the Nine Schools Competition under way and the No-Head Dragon finally in the picture, there should be no surprise that strange activity has begun to appear during the tournament but yet again, I ask "how?" Despite the fact that the tournament takes place on a military base, a terrorist group not only manages to make it's way inside but the students are yet again left  to deal with it. How are the adults so incompetent that a group of freshman led by one genius are more effective in curbing and investigating terrorism than those who were hired to do so?

Mari ends up with some broken bones and the only person to notice something strange (besides Mari) is Tatsuya? For the sake of reasoning, I'm hoping that this was actually an inside job so it doesn't appear as though the terrorist are so crafty that only a group of high school students can foil their evil deeds. There's still the possibility that someone from the tournament committee had fooled around with a few CADs but I'm not sure if the writers actually plan to jump on that theory.
Even with the fun Olympic style tournament and my usual cup of technological jargon, Mahouka is far from being as entertaining as the hype had suggested. Twelve episodes have gone by and there isn't anything to really look back on and say "that was absolutely badass." Mahouka is "decent" at best even for those like me who take an enjoyment in seeing world building being taken more seriously by it's creator. I have no plans to drop this anime, especially after coming this far but I hope it pulls up sooner than later.