Another in Review [5/10]

Another was one of my most anticipated anime to watch this season. Yet again I am reaffirmed that no one knows how to properly do a mystery story. I am always one to pick on plot holes, but being a mystery story, this is even more important to be fleshed out. It didn't leave as sour of a taste as Higurashi did for me, but it was far from my expectations.

Wolf Rants: Some Anime Winter 2012 reviews

Okay so here are my quick reviews for most of Winter 2012s anime series. Yeah, I ain’t reviewing all the series that came out or ended this season either because I didn’t watch them or I just don’t feel like making one for ‘em. BTW, I’ve already given Nisemonogatari its own review but I just copy-pasted it here just in case.

Ano Natsu de Matteru - Review [7/10]

Like many others, I initially associated Ano Natsu de Matteru with Ano Hi Mita Hana no Name o Bokutachi wa Shinranai, because of the immediate name and character design similarities. I pegged this show as my romantic comedy fix of season since I didn't really count Amagami SS+. I've never seen Onegai Teacher, so I knew I wouldn't make any connections if there were any. Looking at the director, I felt I could expect something similar to Ano Hana or Toradora, two of his more famous works. However, I didn't go in having high expectations, because this is J.C. Staff we're talking about. Onto the spoiler-free review.

Given the genre, I didn't give it much scrutiny for this category. This was your basic country boy meets alien girl, and they fall in love schtick. The romance part of the plot unfolded very well. You have your standard misunderstandings, but not only are they cleared up, the relationship status doesn't revert back to zero. The characters, one by one, express their feelings in an orderly manner, creating a well structured love polygon. Where they stumble, however, is when the sci-fi subplot kicks in. It wasn't poorly done, but it felt a tad bit rushed and had a plot hole near the end. Nonetheless, I didn't care too much about the sci-fi aspect because the romance was done well.

The main couple, Kaito and Ichika, were very bland characters. Neither possessed any personality traits that made them particularly stand out, and the two seem to just fall in love because of circumstance. The supporting cast was much more complex. Kanna was endearing and played her role in the love polygon very well. She was just someone you couldn't help but root for. Tetsurou and Mio both had inner conflicts regarding whether they should make decisions to benefit themselves or their friends. Remon was just plain fun to watch. Other supporting characters that only showed up for an episode or two played their part well. Main couple aside, they did a very nice job with the characters.

The first thing I noticed as far as art goes is character designs. Tanaka Masayoshi's character designs are distinct and easily recognizable, notably from shows such as Ano Hana, Tora Dora, and High School of the Dead. His designs have a very smooth aesthetic feel to them. As for color, I found the palette they used to be a bit dull. Being a romance anime, there wasn't very much animation of note. Though during the small amount of sci-fi scenes, the animation was done well.

This was probably one of my favorite aspects of the show. They used some excellent scores to evoke various emotions throughout the show. The key part, however, was that their musical timing on when to play those scores was impeccable. Another song of note was definitely the ending song, Vidro Moyou by Nagi Yanagi.

I more or less had fun keeping up with this show every monday. Ano Natsu brings nothing new to the genre, but the romantic aspect of the show was well executed. Everything was well put together, aside from a bit of a stumble near the end. The show made me care about the characters, and that is good enough for me as far as romance anime goes. I found it to be a satisfying watch, but it definitely wasn't memorable. I wouldn't recommend it as a must-watch, but it's definitely better than a lot other romantic comedies out there. A solid 7/10.


Last Exile: Fam 21 - Lelouch End

Words can not describe the rage I have for this final episode. Still, I couldn't help but tear up a bit through this episode even as illogical as it was. Almost a week after the episode aired for the subs to come. I already partially spoiled myself watching the raws though. I gotta say, Last Exile: Fam was quite the disappointment from start to finish with no redeeming qualities.

High School DxD In Review 7/10

High School DxD was a rather surprising show this past season, introducing a enjoyable story, unique characters, and humor under all that fan service.

I decided to give DxD a 7/10. I would have gone higher if there was less ecchi dependent moments in the early stages of the show, however I do understand that this was their initial hook.

At first glance, you might think this is just a fan service show with no real plot or well defined characters, just nudity at every turn. This show was a huge surprise to me with how much fun I had watching Issei use his perverted abilities and hidden dragon powers to vanquish fallen angels after becoming a Gremory Devil.

One of the biggest surprises I found in this show was the girl Issei chooses in the end, after the show's build up could suggest otherwise. Personally, I never found a dull moment while watching this show, there was plenty of character development, humor, and some interesting fight scenes which was more fun to watch over some of the other shows that aired this season. Additionally some serious events would pop up and I found them to be quite interesting.

Overall the main cast was well defined. The story involves each of the core characters taking up a "role" or chess piece. Issei was the pawn, the weakest of them all but with the most potential. The chess piece system gave enough feedback behind each character that there was no need for any flashbacks or history of any other character. The characters were simple and straightforward, I was surprised with how much I enjoyed all of them despite neither of them receiving their own episode or special screen time. Each character was so different from each other that they made such entertaining comparisons.  

Surprisingly enough, there was a large background issue involving the Devils and Fallen Angles, not to mention the rather serious heartbreak Issei sustains after the first episode, which develops into a brilliant showing of Issei's inner emotions. The two key stories revolve around Issei's personal connections to three women, involving a close friend, a respectable sensei, and his first love. While the two stories were not at all serious events on the outside, they became compelling concerns that shape Issei and reveals his true nature underneath his perverted personality.

The bread and butter of the show, everything involved Issei's perverted nature and it was quite funny. I felt that this form of humor was not the best of it's kind, however each character reacted differently to every situation and Issei's perverted events, which was the real gem in this show. Every character reacted different to Issei and each of them developed a likable personality that contrasted with everyone else, no one was too similar.

Overall this was one of my favorite shows this season and I would definitely like to see a continuation, although I find that highly unlikely.


Bern's Thoughts:

Firstly, I learned of the show from maneki_neko, who linked me to the trailer saying that I'll like it because apparently all guys are supposed to like fanservice shows. After seeing said trailer, I didn't have very high hopes going into the show. After watching the finale, I felt surprisingly satisfied with the show overall, and I think that it's a lot better than other typical supernatural harem fanservice shows, and it should rank pretty up there in the genre.

Though the show blatantly presents itself as a fanservice show, I really only took note of it early on. After the first couple episodes, I just sort of glossed over all the various ecchi shots and paid attention to other things. So if you don't really care about the fanservice in a fanservice show, what is there left to see? For me, the characters were the main driving force. Each of the main girls had their own charms and they all satisfied certain archetypical panderings. Most importantly, I liked the main character more than your typical anime protagonist. Issei knew what he wanted, wasn't ashamed to show it, and was extremely determined to accomplish what he set out to do. Oh, let's not forget about Kiba; he was a pretty cool dude as well. All the members of the Occult Research Club meshed well together.

Story-wise, I never really take the stories of supernatural harems seriously and I found the plot in this show very acceptable. It used the idea chess pieces in an interesting way and their powers were pretty cool. The crowning moment of the plot was definitely during the final episode. When all hope seemed lost, Issei barges into the engagement party, beats the shit out of the bad guy with some clever thinking, and rides off into the night with his girl around his arm on a griffon. Not too bad.

Unlike a lot other light novel adaptions, the show paced it self really well, choosing to adapt only two volumes into a single cour. Good move. Overall, it was a humorous and enjoyable watch. Unfortunately, I don't think this show is selling well enough to warrant a second season, but if there is another season, I'd definitely watch it. 


Guilty Crown in Review [6/10]

After being one of the most hyped up anime for quite some time, it falls pretty flat in delivering anything close to what they set out to do. It did however provide quite high amounts of entertainment values for all the wrong reasons. To be honest, I was never a huge fan of Code Geass, I found the first season pretty good but nothing amazing, the second season was just a train wreck. Still, being such a high profile anime, I had to see it through, definitely far from the worst I watched, but nowhere near the quality it could have gotten had they spent some more effort on things rather then just throwing money at it.

Ozma 02 - Giant Sandbox

I was going to hold out until I could find a better alternative to Crunchy's subs, but it looks like it isn't happening anytime soon. I also changed the post titles from "Ozuma" to "Ozma" since it seems closer to official. This episode picks up right after the premier left off, and it was more a less just pussyfooting around in the sand. What it felt like to me was just hide and seek in a giant sandbox.

This episode continues the trend of an inundation of more in-universe technobabble. At least it felt like a real battle, unlike a lot other anime which seems to be more smoke and mirrors while being as flashy and showy as possible. I mean the tension and strategy was clearly there. What it really boiled down to was (no pun intended), who was willing to back off first, because someone's life was clearly in danger. Of course, our heroes prevail for now.

If Maya's that sensitive to heat, I sure wouldn't want to be her living in a desert wasteland. I guess that brings up the question of why she was about to burn out from the heat, aside from the fragile heroine syndrome, of course. Why did she run away from her pursuers? Why do her pursuers "need" her? Why is she addressed with the "sama" honorific?

These guys know for sure, but I'm sure we'll find out a bit more when they actually question her in the next episode. Though, I doubt she'll give up her secrets that easily. Maybe she'll pull what a lot protagonists pull, the "I don't want to cause anyone trouble" card. Overall, I felt this was a nice change of pace episode. The subterranean hide-and-seek was more or less interesting to see, but I hope they tone down on the in-universe jaron a little bit. What I look forward to in the next episodes is exactly what on those medical charts make our heroine a not-so-ordinary girl.


Ano Natsu de Matteru 12 - Finale

After an enjoyable three month ride, the Ano Natsu train has finally arrived at its final destination. The finale ended up being more of the same, with some romance, some drama, and some comedy. I didn't really mind as long as we got some form of a happy end, after all, isn't that why we watch these kinds of shows in the first place? Overall, the ending was less than perfect, but I found it to be surprisingly satisfying.

Hahaha, I burst out laughing at this part. I guess those of us who speculated that Remon's part of the Men in Black were right on the mark. They definitely dropped enough hints to push us in that direction. A little bit I liked was that Nanami's husband is part of the MIB as well. No wonder he's rarely home to keep his wife happy.

It turns out that the evidence that there was indeed alien contact with Earth was a sign on a tree, but the tree has already been destroyed, probably by natural causes. Though I haven't watched Onegai Teacher, the voice in the stored memories seems to be Mizuho, and the name scratched on the tree is Mizuho. This confirms that the show takes place in the same universe, but some time after it. With no evidence, Ichika really has no choice but to be taken home.

This was something that I really hoped would be in the show at the end of the series: the crew being able to watch end product of all the movies as well as the various candid scenes that Remon shot. Being able to see their various reactions to what they all went through that summer was nice. Again, the ED placement was nice as well.

I'm pretty sure this should be translated as "Special Advisor" rather than "Special Visit"

Because there is no longer evidence of alien contact in the past, the MIB seems to be working on researching the alien technology. What I'm sure they were going for is that if they advanced their technology, they will no longer be classified as a Class F civilization, and thus alien contact will be allowed. My small gripe about this is the fact that they're probably using the drones that they destroyed and Rinon's help to replicate one of their space ships. I'm pretty sure the reason Ichika's sister came to Earth was that one of the drones went missing. How could they possibly leave a couple of the drones and Rinon unaccounted for?

Then again, I don't care so much about the plot in a romance anime. At the end, it is implied that Ichika eventually came back to Earth, so I'm sure MIB was successful. This ending sort of reminded me of the ending of another JC staff work, Toradora: have the main girl leave, but show up during the final seconds of the final episode. I'm sure a lot of people were hoping for a bit more closure, me included, but I felt that the ending stands well on what it is right now. Another small gripe that I had was that they could have been more explicit about Tetsurou and Mio getting together, even though they gave a slight hint near the end. Overall, an acceptable ending to an enjoyable watch.


Another 12 - Master of Disguise

Had I not already been spoiled, they do a decent job explaining who the dead one really was. Things seemed nicely wrapped up though I did dislike how the anime portrayed many of the subtle hints making it nearly impossible to guess who the dead one is other then dumb luck. I think that is a major failing in how this was done in the anime. Part of what makes mystery stories fun is it leaves you the possibility to guess correctly and you go back and watch previous episodes. It doesn't work when you have zero chance at guessing.

Gundam Age 24 - Asemu's Plight

Finally an upgrade to Asemu's Gundam. It has been quite some time since he started using that same model. This episode I think was extremely well done, they really captured Asemu's plight well. This is turning out to be a very good arc. Partially because the gundams in this arc look so much better then the crap we got last season.

Symphogear 12 - Resurrection

Oh god, I guess I am the only that couldn't stop laughing at this line. So they drew things out this episode to make way for one final battle. One thing that was clearly noticable this episode was the budget. The whole battle and most the small details were done well this episode, their was more budget put in this one episode then probably the rest of the season. So my predictions from last week seem to be pretty spot on so far.

Nisemonogatari Final: The ImpoStory & Review

So it has finally ended(?)… However this ending left me with the impression that there is more to come. They did leave an impression of something to happen between Araragi and Senjougahara. Also I was expecting something more for an ending rather than just a last boss fight and a small speech. But then again that’s just me having really high expectations.

I just went berserk when I saw Shinobu transform into a teenager. I mean really, Shinobu tops 2nd in my list of female characters but would’ve shared 1st place with Holo (Spice and Wolf) if only she didn’t have that loli character. Yeah her loli body added to her character type but not into that. Then here they come with Shinobu in teenager form!!! Damn, I love that character… Too bad they just gave her one episode as a teen. NEED MOAR!!

So story wise, I was quite disappointed in the fact that they didn’t show the fight between Shinobu and Yostugi. Their battle would be much more interesting don’t you think? Then I noticed that their battle ground was hardly destroyed. Then compare their fight to Araragis fight with Kagenui where they go up and down pounding through multiple floors.

Kagenui speaks with Arargi saying humans are born fundamentally evil and us being good is us not being true to ourselves. Well, I’m sure you folks must be smart enough to know that this ain’t true right? I believe we are all born with the good and evil levels inside us varying throughout. And humans mostly do evil simply cause of its immediate convenience for our personal selves and our inability to control our own foolish desires. You and I both know that doing the right thing usually requires doing the most difficult thing. But strength in ones “self” and “character” comes from overcoming our destructive desires and conquering our evil self. “For change to occur, destruction must first be done”

Yeah, this episode review is quite short. Mostly because I got a lot of work to do and the fact that I feel this series is still undone. That being said you might have noticed that I wrote “ended(?)” in the first words of my post. Well along with me not feeling like this series is undone; I feel they were implementing more with the final scene between Araragi and Senjougahara. It’s like they are saying “Moar to come” in the form of a scene. And I’m extremely interested to know the changes Senjougahara has come to. BTW, Senjougaharas change in appearance was quite good as well; she still has her “hot” factor intact. But now we’ll have to see if her change in personality complements her new look.

In the end, I WAN’ MOAR!!

Nisemonogtari Review

As its title suggests “Nisemonogatari” is all about the fakes. “Nisemono”, translates into English as “impostor” which is the basis of the entire series. The fake ideals of the “Fire sisters”, the illusion of Karen’s “Bee oddity”, the con-man Kaiki and his argument that the “fake is of more value in its attempt to be real”, Araragis fake sister, Tsukihi, and Kagenui talking about how humans doing good things are humans being untrue to themselves. This series is all about the fakes.

I must commend that the way they portrayed such a concept as “Impostors” and “fakes” in to the story without over blowing it.  The concept flows together with the story flawlessly, and everything just comes together complementing each scene with the rest without leaving any obvious plot holes or lack of pretext.
Overall, due to the series only having two arcs, I felt that I was shorter than Bakemonogatari. None the less the composition of plots and portrayal of characters though dynamic camera angles, excellent animations, and awesome designs the series was a ride worthy as a sequel of its predecessor, Bakemonogatari.

Next up in line is the prequel to Bakemonogatari, Kizumonogatari. Unfortunately Kizumonogatari is just an OVA or something. None the less, I’m looking forward to it with great expectations. With all the hype, fanbase, and money that the series reels in, hopefully they also adapt the rest of Nisio Isins “Monogatari” series into an anime. I could care less if it’s another TV series, an OVA, or even a movie, as long as they make MOAR!!


Black Rock Shooter ep 8 - Redemption

Rainbow Gun
Well, I know I promised to keep up to date with BRS posts, but honestly I felt so lost in this show that I had no idea what to blog about, but here I am after the final episode. I wont spoil anything btw.

This episode has redeemed itself on the plot side of things, to an extent at least. I was so confused as to what exactly the girls in the "dream world" were, or what their purpose was, but after learning about them I find this show to be a little more enjoyable. After this episode I felt myself reminiscing to the final episode of Madoka, except this comparison is only justified in its context and not the quality of the show itself. Black Rock Shooter episode 8 was a nice return to all the pretty colours they had for the art style, and while the shows actual quality is sub-par, the colour style for the characters and environments was quite compelling.

The last 2 episodes do a great job of clearing things up, but it is still unable to pull its weight in the combat portion. The continuation of the battle between Yuu and Black Rock Shooter is brought to an enjoyable end with lots of character expression and personal resolves coming to light. I was actually highly interested with all that I learned about the girls and their connection to the real world. This episode was more or less well thought out, and delivered on a 7.5/10 conclusion as an ending for BRS.

It is very hard to string together a conclusion that satisfies all the questions brought up in a show, and is even harder to deliver them in a fashion that is both compelling, exciting, and complete. I felt that this episode satisfied all the questions I had about BRS and the characters within, although I find myself still confused towards Black Gold Saw's character and her counterpart.

Pretty Colours!!
I think I will end up watching the show all over again with the knowledge of the last 2 episodes so that I may actually understand what is going on in the show.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of Black Rock Shooter within a few days.


Guilty Crown 22 - The Final Song?

After a long half year, we finally reach the conclusion for Guilty Crown. To be honest, it was slightly better then I expected, but then I wasn't expecting anything; Too bad they ruined it all in the final 3 random timeskip minutes. I guess it is to be expected that their writing sucks, I just didn't think they could butcher so much in such a short time span. At least some good music came out of this show, the final song at the end just fit perfectly.

Mirai Nikki Ep 22 - Kill Everyone!

This question was left burning in our minds for a whole week.
I was not anticipating this episode to go by so fast for myself. The entire time I was on the edge of my seat watching Yukkii shoot his friends in cold blood with all these questions being raised towards Yuno's existence, and the fate of all life on earth. This episode was the beginning of the end, and I have no idea what is going to happen in the finale.

Shes definitely using Yukkii for something, but for what?
While Yukkii is the center of this show, Yuno is the main attraction with her mysterious and curious end game goals. Throughout the season I though Yuno was just a psycho who was fixated with Yukkii, however this episode raises further questions to whether or not she is the original Yuno, or who Yuno even is. Yuno seems to be in possession of three diaries, raising speculation about multiple Yuno's or something of the sort. I have been able to half guess most of the mysteries that circulate throughout the show but I really have no idea who Yuno is or what this girl's purpose really is. Akise made it clear that she is just manipulating Yukkii, but I don't think he realized it himself until after his meeting with Deus.

I wonder what will happen to Murumur.
Akise had this surprising confrontation with Deus, only to find out his existence was created by Deus as a spectator, which makes a lot of sense with how awesome Akise is. Unfortunately this little emotional showing feels bland after Akise escapes only when Eigth makes him a diary, thus giving him an alibi for existing. This scene was served as a triumphant win over Deus's reasoning and logic, but it ends up being a pancake flat quick fix that makes no sense by using a diary which Deus created in the first place. Akise's end was nowhere near as awesome as Uryuu, but Akise was still one of the dominant characters of the show.

Oh no, trust me, she NEEDS to kill.
Overall this was a nice set up for the final episode, and it actually returns to the original emotions that were set in the beginning of the show. We have no idea who Yuno really is or what her intentions are, and we find Yukkii to be a confused, scared little sheep, but there are no covers for him to hide under this time. 

WOW did not see this coming.
I did not expect Akise to go so far as to kiss him, I will admit there were several undertones of his apparent love for Yukkii but I did not expect this.


Ano Natsu de Matteru 11 - Against the Universe

A bit of a late post because of some procrastination and being busier than expected, but we're nearing the finale at the penultimate episode of the season. With the arrival of Ichika's sister the previous episode, they are going to address the issue of Ichika leaving at long last. Reserving the final two episodes to resolve the problem is quite fitting as any less time would feel rushed, and any more would likely result in some random filler.

I literally burst out laughing when I saw the pair take Rinon hostage. Ichika seems to be the character with the least resolve. She always requires some external force, or character for that matter, to push her to do what she really wants to do. She gives up too easily because she fears the consequences, and not wanting to bring any trouble to anyone else. I would say that it's selfless to a fault. You really have to be selfish sometimes to get the best outcome.

After Ichika's sister explains to them that alien contact with Earth is illegal because Earth is classified as a Class-F civilization, the gang tries a long-shot, last-ditch effort in an attempt to get through a loophole. After several logical leaps, they come to the conclusion that if they find evidence that aliens have made contact with Earth before at Ichika's envisioned place in the past, they would somehow no longer be classified as a Class-F civilization. Surely enough, they find the place but it becomes a race against time because the kidnap pods make their unwelcome return.

Just who is she exactly? She's portrayed as a rather omnipotent character with access to all kinds of crazy gadgets. I wonder how she convinced Ichika's sister to help them out. Though Ichika's sister seemed sympathetic to their cause, I wouldn't outright rule out that Remon has some sort of leverage over the aliens. Maybe she is Men in Black after all.

The perfect time to ask someone out would be amidst the action, because you won't know how everything will turn out. Now that the already obvious Mio and Tetsurou pairing is finally confirmed, Kanna is playing her role nobly as well. Being good friends that they are, the three of them put themselves at risk to divert the pods away from the main couple. Like the rest of the series, Ano Natsu has really excelled in musical timing during these kinds of scenes.

Director Nagai sure loves his cliffhangers. Judging by the preview, however, it seems to suggest that Ichika will be leaving, but coming back to Earth in the future. Then there's the issue of what the title exactly translates to. I've seen it as "Waiting in the Summer," and "We'll Be Waiting for You That Summer." If we take the latter to be true, the finale may end in a bittersweet note, but hinting hope for the future, which sort of reminds me of Anaru and Jintan's relationship at the end of Ano Hana. Nevertheless, it was a great episode, and I'm looking forward to the finale next week.