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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Irregular at Magic High School Ep 3: The Disciplinary Committee

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Tuesday, April 22, 2014

After defeating vice president Hattori, everyone else attempts to find an explanation to how Tatsuya defeated him so easily and so quickly. His speed comes from years of ninjutsu training with Kokone (the bald headed guy from Ep 1). Hattori passing out is actually due to something akin to seasickness or severe nausea. Tatsuya simply fired three rounds of Psions at varying frequencies which resulted in Hattoi passing out from the intense impact of so many different types of Psions which affect magicians like light does with you or me. When Hattori awakens, he formally apologizes to Miyuki but still carries animosity towards Tatsuya. Mari finally has Tatsuya become a full fledged member of the Disciplinary Committee where he is welcomed with open arms by all but one of it's members, Shun Morisaki. On the first day of disciplinary duty, Tatsuya saves Erika from a group of club recruiters and intervenes in a kendo match turned deadly. Tatsuya skills in taking down not only Kirihara Takeaki but the rest of his club has garnered the interest of the Kendo club's captain, Captain Tsukasa.

This week, Tatsuya skills were on full display as he proved himself to the Blooms and the rest of the student body that Weeds are capable of being just as strong. I'm still not seeing why Tatsuya was classified as a Weed as it seem that the written test was not exactly the defining mark for one's ranking but maybe Tatsuya just held back. Either way, I'm enjoying the beat downs he delivers on a regular basis as I cannot help but love it when I see cocky characters who enjoy putting down everyone else finally get their ass beat into the ground by the people they insulted. I guess I just love the idea of vengeance.

Miyuki attempts to make another at laying down with her own brother but Ttasuya isn't having any of that. Instead of the usual one sided incest relationship in anime, Tatsuya is uninterested and completely unfazed by his simi-nude sister which is understandably upsetting for Miyuki. Miyuki on the other hand delivers a knockout blow to Tatsuya when she believes that he is more interested in Mari and President Sagaesu signalling that she is indeed walking the path of the yandere. What's truly disturbing is that Tatsuya has a self-repair/back-up spell in case of situations like this suggesting that this was certainly not the first time this has happened.

I glad we didn't have to wait long before someone started respecting Tatsuya for his skills rather than rank. As this show struts along, more and more of the student body will begin to shy away from the discrimination that plaques the campus. Then again, Tatsuya being a member of the Disciplinary Committee could very well go the way he had warned Mari of. The older students as well most of the Blooms will not take kindly to being policed by a new student who also happens to be a Weed. I guess the situation will have to become worse before its get better.

Monday, April 21, 2014

First Impressions: No Game No Life and Black Bullet

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

No Game, No Life

Studio: Madhouse Studios

Genre(s): Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Supernatural

Summary: The story of No Game, No Life centers around Sora and Shiro, a brother and sister whose reputations as brilliant NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) hikikomori (shut-in) gamers have spawned urban legends all over the Internet. These two gamers even consider the real world as just another “crappy game.” One day, they are summoned by a boy named “God” to an alternate world. There, God has prohibited war and declared this to be a world where “everything is decided by games”—even national borders. Humanity has been driven back into one remaining city by the other races. Will Sora and Shiro, the good-for-nothing brother and sister, become the “Saviors of Humanity” on this alternate world? “Well, let’s start playing.”

This was actually much more entertaining than I was expecting. Sora and Shiro are indeed OP in terms of their gaming skills but Sora's extreme confidence and Shiro's moe make it all bearable. The confidence Sora has in his skills and his cheating prowess are just a joy to watch as he schools everyone around him. At some point he will probably be brought to his knees by someone with more skill but for now I love the confidence he exudes. Shiro feels more like the sidekick who works for Shiro as his analyst though.

No Game, No Life delivered a pretty good first impression as it caught my interest with the variety of games that has and will be introduced, the color scheme and the strong willed NEET duo. Life is just a crappy game so a world where games are the norm and can even decide the fate of one's life must be a joy for someone like Sora and Shiro. Nogenore has that theme that screams the old saying "the grass isn't always greener on the other side" but that might only be speculation on my part. There's a lot that can go right with this series and a lot that can go wrong. Overall I enjoyed this first episode and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

Black Bullet

Studio: Kinema Citrus

Genre(s): Action, Supernatural, Sci-fi, Drama, Suspense, Post Apocalyptic

Summary: In the year 2021, mankind was defeated by Gastrea, a parasitical virus, and was forced to live within a wall made of Baranuim monoliths, a metal that is able to subdue Gastrea. Soon, the "Cursed Children" were discovered: children born infected with the Gastrea virus who possess superhuman abilities. Due to the Gastrea virus' intervention, the Cursed Children could only be female. Civil Securities are formed to specialize fighting against Gastrea, operating with the pair of an Initiator, who are cursed children, and a Promoter, serving to lead the cursed children. Ten years after the war, Rentarou Satomi, a high school student and Civil Security member, and his Initiator Enju Aihara, receive a secret mission to prevent Tokyo's destruction.

Hmm, I think I'm going to like this show. Even though I rather not have such a clear emphasis on the fact that loli are here to stay. Black Bullet was going for the theme of "humanity rebounding from a major disaster" but the fact of making loli humanity's last hope downplays the seriousness. I have o problem with loli but when they're the "little girl wants to be grown" type of loli who is clingy and always attempting to claim the MC as her fiance then yeah, I get a little annoyed. I'm hoping I'll get used to her personality by the third or forth episode.

Black Bullet has a lot of potential and this first episode felt like a showcase. A slightly messy showcase but a showcase nontheless. By that I mean, we were given a glimpse of everything this series will most likely contain over the next 12 episodes. monster of the week, superpowered loli (Initiators), street fighter style fights between Promoters, childhood friend romance drama and survival. Sort of like being fed a series of small samples before eating at the buffet. I can see this series doing well and I hope that it does as I've recently been getting into grim dark survival type series.

One of the first things I noticed was the background music and the sound effects for the Gastrea. I don't know who is in charge of sound but it turns out that Shiro Sagisu is composing the soundtrack. If you don't know, Shiro Sagisu is the composer for the Bleach series, the Magi series and the Evangelion movies among a number of other anime. Black Bullet is already shaping up to have one of my favorite OST of the season right along with Irregular at Magic High School's.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

First Impressions: Chaika the Coffin Princess and Brynhildr in the Darkness

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Saturday, April 19, 2014

Considering the fact that I barely have enough time to watch anime these days, I decided against doing an episodic post on Chaika the Coffin Princess every week and will only be blogging about Mahouka here on the Heartless Aniblog and M3 Sono Kuroki Hagane on Sekijitsu which begins next week. I hope to complete reviews and small editorials in-between post as well as posting about the latest news. That's pretty much the gist of it and so let's get this double first impression post over with.

Chaika the Coffin Princess

Studio: Bones

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Drama, Suspense

Summary: Toru Acura is a 20-year-old retired soldier meandering through life now that the war has ended. He encounters Chaika Trabant, a 14-year-old sorceress carrying a coffin, and follows her in hopes of finding meaning to his life again. The two travel with Toru's adopted sister, Akari, the employed member of the group and thus Toru's source of income.

This was exactly what I was expecting, except for the unicorn. That demonic unicorn was completely out of left field and I was sadden to see such a magnificent creature be killed. Even a Google search for "demon unicorn" wouldn't turn up an image resembling that thing. Anyway back to what I was expecting out of this show.

As detailed by the premise, this series is about a former soldier taking on a job protecting and helping a mysterious girl. My initial thought was simply that and nothing more. A former soldier helps a mysterious loli along side his sister who seems to be a fusion between a brocon and a kuudere. Right off the bat, I'm expecting this series to be pretty average, not bad at all but nothing special either.

Hell, I even made out the personality types of Albert Gillette's team:
Happy go lucky cat boy, shy and soft spoken nerd and the tsundere/himedere
Chaika the Coffin Princess' first impression left an unsatisfied taste in my mouth. Again, it wasn't bad per say but it didn't blow me like most pilot episodes do. It didn't make me excited for next week. After watching this first episode, I feel like I don't want to give any urgency to the next episode. I think we all know that feeling of not being able to hold your excitement for something or just counting down the minutes until a new episode of a series you really like. For me, anime like NagiAsu and Kill la Kill gave me that feeling last season. Maybe the best is yet to come but you how the old saying goes right: first impressions mean everything. I'll continue watching in hopes that it get's better but even if it doesn't, I'll probably stick around for reviewing purposes.

Brynhildr in the Darkness

Studio: Studio ARMS

Genre(s): Mystery, Sci-fi, Drama, Suspense, Drama, Psychological

Summary: When he was a child, Murakami was infatuated with a girl he called Kuroneko. She insisted on knowing about aliens and having met them, but no one believed her, even young Murakami was skeptical. One day, she decides to show him the aliens, but an accident occurs and Kuroneko dies while Murakami is left seriously wounded in the hospital. Years go by and Murakami obsesses on finding proof of the existence of aliens because of a promise he had made with Kuroneko. Then, one day, a new transfer student comes to his class, who not only looks a lot like Kuroneko, but is named Kurohaneko. And even though she insists on never having met Murakami before, the girl has superhuman strength and seems to even be able to predict the future.

This was a pretty damn good first episode; funny, dramatic, sad and just plain strange. The opening which is a badass combination of electronic music and your typical visuals giving us an early shot of our future antagonist and a hint at the plot. Rarely is there an anime with an opening without lyrics and Gokukoku's (Brynhildr in the Darkness short title) is absolutely great. It was creatd by Nao Tokisawa whose only other work in anime is an insert song for Kin-iro Mosaic. If you want to listen to more of his work than here's a link: Music by Nao Tokisawa.

I get the feeling that this series is attempting to be serious and at some point it probably will be but for now it's pretty damn funny. The credit for the image above goes more to the translator then the original scriptwriter but I wonder what the actual Japanese word translated to? It was probably something along the lines of "incredible" but I'm thankful for the translator adding his/her own little flare to the show.

Even if that wasn't intentional, Murakami's incredible demands of Kuroha certainly were in the script and they are eve funnier. My vote for the best pickup line in anime of 2014 goes to Murakami and his line "Just shut up and show me your armpits!" Nothing says I want to get to know you then wanting to see those pits. LMAO, but seriously this first episode was more funny than dramatic but I expect that change over time.

I'm looking forward to where this show plans on going. A quick Google image search for the manga has given a slew of incredible and slightly disturbing screenshots that state that this series is about to go the way of Elfen Lied. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise as both Brynhildr in the Darkness and Elfen Lied were created by Lynn Okamoto.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Irregular at Magic High School Ep 2: The Student Council

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Thursday, April 17, 2014

Due to Tatsuya's quick thinking he manages to avoid receiving any punishment from the Disciplinary Committee but he has made a new enemy out of Shun Morisaki. The following morning, Miyuki is invited by the student council president to join the council but she is reluctant to do so without her brother assuming a position within the council as well. Sadly, only Blooms are allowed to join the council but the Disciplinary Committee are a group within the school that pretty much have their own set of rules. In order to put Miyuki's mind at ease, head of the committee; Mari Watanabe invites Tatsuya to join the Disciplinary Committee even though he really doesn't want to and he's a Weed. Mari and Miyuki consider Tatsuya perfect for the job but vice president Hattori hates the idea entirely, viewing Weeds as inferior to Blooms in every way. Even though he doesn't want to join the Disciplinary Committee, Tatsuya challenges Hattori to a mock battle to prove his skill and make his sister proud. After displaying such confidence in the weakness of Weeds, Hattori is defeated with one shot by Tatsuya's gun.

I'm starting to really get into this series even though it still has a few issues. Of course, we all kind of expected Tatsuya to be over powered as almost every stoic character is an absolute badass by nature. His fight with Hattori though left much to be desired. Even if he's the great badass we all know he is, seeing him win against the vice president, someone who is suppose to be a pretty decent (if not great) magician himself was a bit too much. Then there is the scene where Tatsuya is attempting to get the little robot tablet or something moving and he can only get it to move really slowly. In the first episode, Tatsuya wants to portray himself as a low powered and low achieving person, befitting of his position as a Weed but then he beats Hattori's ass in one second. I'm not sure what I'm suppose to feel here. The scene of him moving the tablet gives the impression that Tatsuya really is a week magician and is frustrated with being so but his two second fight with Hattori suggest that he is in fact OP as I thought he was.

Damn, why can't consistent with this anime? Somewhat contradicting my paragraph above, I couldn't help but gin cheek to cheek seeing Hattori get his ass handed to him so easily. Ahhh yes, one of the greatest scenes in anime is seeing an overly confident jackass receive the beatdown he so rightfully deserved. I'm guessing that next week Tatsuya will officially join the Disciplinary Committee and we'll get a nice lecture on the mechanics behind the trick Tatsuya pulled on Hattori. I'm not being sarcastic by the way as I am legitimately interested in learning about the science and technology of Mahouka. I just hope it will be a bit more easier to understand than Erika's description of her engraved CAD.

And now you will forever be known as the bitch who got his ass handed to him by a Weed.
Only two episodes in and Miyuki's blinding loyalty and fanboyism like affection is beginning to irk me. Indeed, I enjoy the small glances Tatsuya gives her that look kind of like the face your mother gives you when she caught you doing something you know you had no business doing. I am jut waiting for that one moment when Tatsuya finally snaps and tells her off. With this kind of relationship, it's just bound to happen and when it does maybe Miyuki will finally snap out of it an realize just how much she embarrasses herself with her blind devotion.

Loli Alert!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

First Impressions: Mekakucity Actors and Akuma no Riddle

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We're already into the second week of the 2014 Spring season and I'm just now starting my first impressions video and I'm already late on my Chaika the Coffin Ep 1 post. I've been taking on more hours at work recently and add that to my classes, my anime time has been cut drastically so this type of lateness might be normal for a while which is a bummer but hey, a guy gotta make money right? The point is that my first episodic post about Chaika the Coffin Princess will be a double feature for both episode one and two. In order to try and make up for my lateness, I felt it would be best to start doubling my first impression posts (at least for this season). The first duo will be composed of Mekaku City Actors and Akuma no Riddle.

Mekaku City Actors

Studio: Shaft

Genre(s): Comedy, Action, Drama, Mystery, Supernatural

Summary: Shintaro Kisaragi, a HikiNEET who shut himself inside his room for 2 years, had been living his life normally until he met a cyber girl named Ene, who appeared in his computer screen when someone anonymously sent him a mysterious e-mail one year ago. One day, Ene messes with Shintaro's PC which causes him to go outside for the first time in two years.

The incidents which occurred on August 14th and 15th bring a group of young boys and girls together… They are members of a group they call themselves the “Mekakushi Dan” (Blindfold Organization) and each member possesses a strange power involving their eyes. Will the members of this peculiar organization be able to solve the mysteries behind these incidents and see the truth?

I'm not entirely sure as to what I just witnessed but I could tell one thing, this was full on Shinbo. All of the trademark headtilts of the Monogatari series, the contrast between shadow and light of Madoka Magica and of course, those close ins to the face. The premise wasn't really put into any detail with this first episode but the animation is indeed wondrous so this was pure eye-candy.

Mekakucity Actors seems to contain the incredibly long and typically irrelevant conversations between the main duo much like Monogatari but for some reason, these conversations have never bothered me despite how irrelavent they tend to be. Even when half or more of the episode is taken up by pure dialogue that has little to do with the actual story and progresses the series in no way but it still entertains me. Despite my content with it, that still doesn't excuse the simple fact that this episode did not introduce me to anything except who are our main characters are. Normally a first episode introduces most if not all of the main cast or the premise and setting of the series. This episode did not o either of those things. Content wise, this episode could be ranked a 1 out of 10 (with 10 being the best).

Ene has been entered in the running for my favorite character of the season. XD

Then again, I wasn't really enthralled with the first few episodes of Bakemonogatari but now, the entire series is one of my favorites. After listening to the Kagerou Project series, I'm still kind of interested in this anime but I hope it doesn't decide to feel it's time with pure unrelated dialogue as you can only use a good trick once to impress someone. My first impression of Mekakucity Actors is that its nothing special, slightly interesting due to it's mysterious back drop and it certainly looks gorgeous which should be no surprise at all since this is Shaft we're talking about.

Akuma no Riddle

Studio: Diomedia

Genre(s): Shoujo-Ai, Action, Drama, Mystery, Romance

Summary: Haru Ichinose is a student at a private girls' boarding school, Myoujou Academy, who is being targeted by 12 assassins disguised as students. Tokaku Azuma is a transfer student and an assassin who also initially targets Haru, but develops feeling for her and decides to protect her from the other assassins.

From the studio that brought you Squid Girl and My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with the rest of this long ass title (NouCome) comes a love story about lesbian assassins. No joke.

The premise aside, Akuma no Riddle is everything I thought it would be which isn't exactly a good thing. Multiple assassins aiming for the same target, one becomes her protector and the target is an eternal optimist who is like sunshne in her protector's otherwise dark and cloudy life. Despite it's complete and utter predictablity, I might enjoy this solely for the cast and their respective back stories and interest. I have an affinity for both crazy chicks and stoic characters which this series is filled with. Despite being the always cheerful type of character, I still like Haru for the idea that she might not be all she seems to be. When she stated "Don’t hate me even when you’ll learn about the real me," she may or may not be more badass and possibly more psychotic than she appears.

For now, I'll stick around because of the cast of crazy and murderous psychopaths but even I have a limit to how much a show can be filled with nothing but pure action. If my hunch is correct than Haru will simply sit idly by and let Azuma do the dirty work and in the end, Haru will kill her herself because she's crazy like that but who knows. Let the classroom assassinations begin!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Attack on Titan Will air on Toonami May 3, 2014!!

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Sunday, April 13, 2014

Of course we all expected this to happen but I am shocked that it will be arriving so soon. Funimation has recently finished the English dubbing of the Attack on Titan anime series and if you want to see the clips then click here. Even stranger than it's quick date is the fact that it will airing on May 3rd which brings about the question; "What will become of the Space Dandy reruns and Space Dandy S2 in the summer?" Attack on Titan is 26 episode long series and will air at 11:30pm (Space Dandy's original timeslot). Well, thankfully, Toonami (Adult Swim) always updates the schedule whenever they announce a new series being added and here's how it's going to go;

May 3, 2014 Toonami Schedule:
11:30pm: Attack on Titan
12:00am: Bleach
12:30am: Space Dandy
01:00am: Naruto Shippuden
01:30am: One Piece
02:00am: Blue Exorcist
02:30am: Black Lagoon
03:00am: Naruto
03:30am: Ghost in the Shell
04:00am: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
04:30am: Samurai Jack
05:00am: Star Wars the Clone Wars
05:30am: Sym-Bionic Titan

Well, that's not bad. I was hoping Space Dandy would be pushed behind Naruto Shippuden as well then it would be right beside One Piece. I just feel after watching something as strange as Space Dandy, watching One Piece immediately after would be a follow up but that's just me.

Here's the official TV commercial that aired while I was typing this post:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Irregular at Magic High School Ep 1: Blooms, Weeds and the Irregular

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

Studio: Madhouse

Genre(s): Magic, Romance, School, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Supernatural

Synopsis: Magic is a product of neither legends nor fairy tales, but instead has become a technology of reality since a time unknown to people. Supernatural power became a technology systematized through magic, while magic became a technical skill. A “Supernatural Power User” became a “Magic Technician.” Magic Technicians (in short, Magicians) are nurtured through Magic High Schools and Universities.

This is a story about:
Tatsuya, a defective elder brother low achiever.
Miyuki, a perfect, flawless younger sister high achiever.
After both siblings entered a Magic High School,
The stage of daily turbulence was unveiled—.

Well, I officially decided that Mahouka will be the one of the three anime I blog about this season with the others being Hitsugi no Chaika and M3 Sono Kuroki Hagane on Sekijitsu. Without a further ado, Time for the first episode summary.

World War Three has come to an end and it's all due to the technological advancement of magic. The world is nearing the end of the 21st century and the new arms race has taken hold. Developing technology to create and control magic while also nurturing magicians, those most suited to handle such technology is the prime goal of every nation. Magic schools have become the new military schools and as such, the school is divided into two sets of students; Blooms (honor students) and the Weeds (regular students). Tatsuya Shiba has been labeled a Weed and his younger sister Miyuki has been labeled a Bloom. The pair enter their first year together into the prestigious magic school: Private Magic University Affiliated High School (First High School). Rank based discrimination and superiority complexes is all apart of the academy experience. Such a culture threatens the relationship between Tatsuya and his overly attached sister Miyuki as other Blooms attempt to separate the pair. Their attempts almost lead to an all out brawl between Tatsuya's new Weed friends and a few Blooms. The fight is stopped when Mari Watanabe of the disciplinary committee and student council president; Mayumi Saegusa show up but everyone involved is saved from disciplinary action due to Tatsuya's quick thinking.

The music is always one of the first things I catch when it comes to anime and Mahouka has managed to catch my attention with it's electronic rave like music with auto tuned vocals. It sounded somewhat familiar and just as I expected, Taku Iwasaki is responsible for this series' soundtrack. Damn, this guy is popping up like Hiroyuki Sawano. With his name attached to this anime, all of sudden my enthusiasm for this show just doubled which seems strange since he's only working on the music. I know, but seeing his name in a anime is like seeing Hiroyuki Swano or Hans Zimmer as the composer for a series. It's as if when a studio hires one of them for a project, you know it's going to be good but still this is only the first episode so I need to calm down.

This was a better introduction episode than I was expecting and the magic high school concept has taken a different when compared to others. What I'm most impressed with is the science put behind the creation of magic which sounds like a oxymoron but it's the best way I can explain it. Even though this episode was more an introduction to the cast and the technology, we weren't given an in-depth introduction into CADs, Magic engineering or the like. From what I could find on Wikipedia, there is A LOT more to it than what we've heard and I am excited to learn all about it. Magic has always been approached as this substance that was simply there an incantation or some kind of image was all that was needed to use it but it appears that Mohouka plans on adding science fiction with fantasy.

Tatsuya and miyuki's relationship is obviously a little questionable but fret not, the easiest way to deal with wincest is to use the old "were not blood related" trope. Even though it wasn't officially stated, Tatsuya did mention that his birthday was in April while Miyuki's was in March but then again, Miyuki is still the younger sister so this could mean Tatsuya is actually 11 months older than Miyuki and he stayed back a grade (but that's based on the American educational standard). Damn, now I'm not sure if we're dealing incest or a step-sibling relationship. Either way, judging from Miyuki's little quip about Tatsuya dating, she seems like the type that will one day become a yandere which would certainly be awesome. Miyuki's constant clingyness annoys me somewhat but that may have to do with her family circumstance as it appears their father doesn't want much to do with either of his kids unless they succeed in something. I just hope she either changes and becomes a little less clingy or she goes batshit crazy towards any girl that clings to Tatsuya.

The setting with Blooms and Weeds has set up a Romeo and Juliet like setting where Miyuki and Tatsuya will constantly be pulled part by the belief that "kings should not meddle with the peasants." Tatuya is neither a king nor a peasant but an irregular who is here to disrupt the order of Private Magic University Affiliated High School. I hope that title also means we'll get to witness Tatsuya give a few Blooms a taste of their own medicine and start tearing down some egos. Mahouka has caught my attention but this is just the first episode and the pilot episodes are almost always good so I'll keep my hype ticket until the end of the month.