91 Days Episode 7.5

91Days7.5

Review:

You know, Cheer Boys did the whole recap thing awhile back and I expressed my dislike of recap episodes that add nothing new then. At least when it did it, they added some narration and they were following a high point in the series. 91 Days follows the killing of Frate (which might have been emotionally interesting but is hardly a major plot progression) with a recap episode that literally gives us nothing new. It did however make me wonder why Avilio hasn’t changed his haircut throughout his entire life. That is the level of engagement I had with this episode. Now, 91 Days has put itself on the back foot because if the next episode doesn’t do something good, I am going to go from finding it interesting enough to being frustrated with it.

91 Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Erased Series Review

1b5ebe2a3ef25e4fe23d0861cd908c511451466235_full

Overview:

Satoru has a strange ability to go back in time moments before a disaster. After his mother is murdered and he is made the main suspect he goes back 18 years to when he was a child and finds himself trying to prevent a series of kidnappings and murders from his childhood.

Review:

Erased is one of those anime that when it was airing everyone was talking about it. Some people loved it, some people thought it was overly hyped, and there were a few who really didn’t care but just got sick of hearing about it. Given it’s a murder mystery with a supernatural plot device (though that aspect of it never get’s developed or explained), I was kind of sold on the series from the get go.

395674923747_erased-key-visual

I’m going to keep this review short (or so I thought when I started but it kind of went on a bit) because most of what I’d like to say has already been covered a million times before and also,  and because it’s a mystery of sorts (though that aspect doesn’t work so great because you can pick the culprit one episode in after the time jump) so I don’t really want to spoil it for anyone who has avoided the internet for most of this year and somehow still managed to find my blog.

I’ve already said the mystery doesn’t work so well. The main issue is the lack of potential suspects. Plus, the story is told in a relatively straight forward fashion (strange for a time travel story) so it’s really easy to get a sense of where things are going and how they connect. That said, just because it isn’t really a guessing who the villain is kind of story, doesn’t make it bad. The plot works really well and the changes Satoru makes in order to overcome the past tragedy have sensible flow on consequences. Though, without any real mystery, the plot could be accused of being a little bit dull. Which is a weird thing to say about a time travel story with murders occurring both 18 years ago and in the present time setting.

bokumachi_001

With Erased, it is the characters who sell the show. And even then you couldn’t point to anyone character and say that character is amazing. A lot of people liked Satoru’s mum but I found her one of the least interesting characters because she really didn’t seem like a realistic mother and was more a plot device that existed only to Satoru the advice he needed when he needed it, cause him distress with her death in the original timeline, and filled in any parts of the plot that you really couldn’t expect a child to succeed at overcoming. The friends Satoru has as a child are also a little off and at times serve no purpose. The first potential child victim is interesting but not overly believable as a character. However all of these characters complement each other perfectly and create a show that has a lot of heart and at times emotional depth. Even if they don’t shut up and like to endlessly articulate things that really don’t need to be said.

maxresdefault1

The opening theme is fantastic. On my first watch I wondered what that up-beat song was doing on such a show, but like the cast of characters, there’s a surprising amount of depth when you listen to it and by the second watch through you realise just how perfectly the music is for the story and its themes. Erased is also beautiful. Whether we are focussing on a character or the night sky, everything is just really pleasant to look at and the animation works well.

I really enjoyed my first watch of Erased. So much so that I talked a friend into watching it with me about a week after it finished airing and we marathoned the series. This is where I think the plot really succeeds. If Erased had been a guess that bad guy kind of mystery where the reveal at the end was what brought all of the plot threads together, I don’t think a rewatch could have been very satisfying. However, as a character driven piece with a steady and well thought out plot, Erased can be watched again and I actually enjoyed it more the second time through, because I knew what to expect and wasn’t trying to watch it as a mystery.

erased

For people that might find endangering a child a bit confrontational, Erased probably isn’t their cup of tea. If you’ve been told it’s a murder mystery you may walk away disappointed. If you actually want to know why Satoru time travels and how that works, give up now. But if you want to see the power of the human spirit and friendship overcome what seems like an insurmountable obstacle and you don’t mind an overly talky ending, Erased will be a rather enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

 

Hitorinoshita Episode 8

Hitorinoshita8

Review:

So from half-decent to watchable at best. There were some genuinely amusing moments this episode as Houhou infiltrated headquarters looking for Chou Soran but then we kept having to go back to Soran who spent most of the episode being an idiot. He did get to make one touching little monologue about Houhou which humanised him a little and then he got punched through a wall and spent the rest of the episode getting beat up but still being completely cocky. While this show remains watchable, that’s about the best recommendation I’m giving it. So many good ideas just getting buried under poor characterisation and execution.

Hitorinoshita is available on Crunchyroll.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 8

Alderamin8

Review:

Continuing the battle in the mountains things take a turn for the worse this episode due to the inept command and lack of preparation for a battle that by all appearances the commanders instigated but weren’t ready for. While this helps to endear us further to the core group and to really feel for the plight of the soldiers, it also feels like something is lacking. The entire military cannot be made of idiots, regardless of Ikta’s personal views. The obvious trap set up early on in this episode takes some of the emotional punch out of the final scene but Alderamin continues to be a very solid show.

Alderamin on the Sky is available on Crunchyroll.

Servamp Revisited

Servamp3

So I originally made it through an episode and a half. Rather than try to pick it up mid-episode I read a synopsis of episode 2 and hit episode 3.

Review:

Yeah-no. As cool as the whole vampire setting is, and clearing out a restaurant by dropping a body on the floor, and even some of the visuals, I absolutely cannot stand the main character. He is the type of protagonist I find the absolute most annoying. He brims with confidence and ideals and forces his viewpoints onto others but has no personality other than reject the views of others and to push those around him to feel the same (maybe there is more to his personality for those who are actually watching the show but that’s all that I got out of it). No matter how great the story and setting may be in this show (or how cute the vampire who turns into a cat might be), nothing is going to make me enjoy an episode with this protagonist blowing any kind of atmosphere out of the water. This show can remain dropped.

Servamp is available on AnimeLab and from what I have watched it is actually a perfectly reasonable show provided you don’t spend every episode wanting the protagonist to die.

No Man’s Sky Update

99446de440f3958e6e4cde3b1c532c213cf03f112db6d6d43b3dc5257884b175

I kind of feel like this is going to be a thing for awhile.

So, I’ve played some more (not excessively because I just don’t have the time, but I am having to set an alarm before starting the game because I completely lose track while playing) and I’m starting to get a feeling that things are at times a bit too repetitive. And then I think, I’ll just go over one more hill, one more scan, one more planet, one more monolith and somehow I get hooked straight back in.

Naming things is one really fun. Each system I enter I have to think of a theme and all the planets and moons are getting named whatever the first part of their original name was and then hyphenated with a name relating to the theme I’ve chosen for that system. Plant and animal life on each world also has a theme. Sometimes letter combinations, sometimes lists of things, it doesn’t really matter but I’ve ended up with some truly bizarre planets.

It took awhile before I died the first time. I was warned that the sentinels on the planet were aggressive and would attack me on sight. I was warned. More than once. I still got myself shot down. Lesson learned and all that but still a pain trying to get back the resources I was carrying. I haven’t died since though a dinosaur (named Elvis of all things) had a real go at trying to duplicate the effect.

Honestly, I’m trying to decide whether I want to follow the path the monolith is trying to send me on or whether I want to keep just randomly jumping between systems. Having an actual goal and direction set for me seems like it could be fun but at the same time I’m really liking the not knowing what is on the next planet or in the next system. More importantly, given some of the imagery you get from the monoliths, I’m not certain I trust them to send me somewhere good.

The last system I jumped to has a lot more traders and life than any of the systems I’d been in previously. The disadvantage of that being that I also finally got attacked in space and man does that space ship handle badly. You know that from the start but you really notice it when you are being shot from behind and you know you don’t have any kind of shielding that is going to save you unless you figure out how to manoeuvre (luckily I survived and managed to shoot the pirates down – unluckily I didn’t gain anything for that other than an increased standing and the ability to live on).

I’ve also found that discussing No Man’s Sky with other players is fantastic. Once you get started on what you’ve found or tried it just keeps going. For a game that some argue is boring, a lot of people are certainly having fun exploring their lonely corner of the galaxy. I’m continuing on my journey and I’ll do an update every now and then on how that journey is going.

Let me know how your journey is going.

Summer 2016 Week 8

Overview

Here’s week 8. Wow, I can’t believe how fast this season is flashing by. It really feels like it was just yesterday when I was trying out the first episode of so many anime and having to decide what to drop and what to follow. I can’t say I made the best choice in holding on to either Taboo Tattoo or Hitorinoshita this long, but that’s hindsight for you. What are you still watching that you should have dropped?

Apologies for earlier this week when I lost internet access. If I haven’t dropped by your blog, let me know and I’ll catch up.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the season below.

tumblr_m6if6m8d431rz8x2qo1_500

I Must Keep Watching

  • D.Gray-Man Hallow (Ep 8)
  • Alderamin on the Sky (Ep 7)
  • Days (Ep 8)
  • Tales of Zestiria (Ep 7)
  • The Morose Mononokean (Ep 8)

D Gray Man Hallow is telling a compelling story and packing an emotional punch (at least for fans of the show who are already in love with the characters – hard to tell how anyone else would take the last three episodes). I’m loving it and while I don’t feel the wait was worth it (that was a long break), I am so happy this is back.

Alderamin is just a good anime. That’s really all there is to it. It isn’t flash and it isn’t trying to do anything particularly amazing but it is telling its story about its characters and it is doing it really well. For a military/fantasy anime it is one of the better ones in terms of not going for spectacle and just getting the fundamentals right. While I understand some people are finding it a bit slow, I’m genuinely loving watching this anime.

Days continues to charm and I just found out it’s hanging around for the Autumn season so I’ll get to see whether an anime about soccer (football) can actually keep me hooked that long. Seems like it so far.

Tales of Zestiria took us back to Sorey and friends and actually did a pretty good job of picking up where we left off. Honestly, as an anime there are a lot of issues here, and as I’m not a fan of the game when I do my overall review I will probably be pretty critical of some aspects, however, it is a lot of fun to watch.

Lastly, The Morose Mononokean delivered a so-so episode. Another one like this and I may drop this to the On My Radar group.

 

akagami2b-2b062b-2

Still On My Radar

  • Orange (Ep 8)
  • Food Wars (Ep 8)
  • 91 Days (Ep 7)
  • Cheer Boys (Ep 7)
  • Momokuri (Ep 16)

Yep, I dropped Orange down here. Sorry to the fans, but Naho is driving me crazy and the overly contrived plot this week was the final straw. While I am not tempted to drop this, I’m also not mad keen on waiting for the next episode any more.

Food Wars delivered a really strong episode but I’m still not moving this up to the Must Watch because too much of this season has been the Autumn Election with very little else happening. I loved this week though, as it gave us more interactions with other characters as we were preparing for the next match rather than straight into it.

91 Days continues to be watchable but not particularly impressive. I feel that without a substantial drive toward a climax this show will ultimately be very forgettable for me. That isn’t to say it isn’t good. The storyline is fine and so are the characters. But it just feels that after a very solid and impressive opening the anime has been content to go through the usual family conflicts and hasn’t really delivered anything particularly noteworthy. Should I discount a show because it didn’t live up to its first episode? Probably not, and I am still watching and enjoying 91 Days. However, it just isn’t going to move up on my list without something changing soon.

Cheer Boys went for some actual conflict this week and it didn’t really spoil the overall feel good atmosphere the show has gone for up until now. It kind of felt like the right time in the series for a serious break down in the team so as long as next week does something about it, this will be fine.

Momokuri ran into a small problem this week when I genuinely found myself criticising the animation rather than watching the show. This is not an anime built on a foundation of impressive animation and the animation didn’t get any worse. That indicates to me that I’m finally getting tired of cute couple getting awkwardly together. It’s kind of what happened with Rinne. The anime didn’t actually get worse, but I’d kind of found that my interest in it was done.

hyouka-13-houtarou-alone-bored-happy-content

Not Dropped But Close

  • Hitorinoshita (Ep 7)
  • Taboo Tattoo (Ep 8)

Hitorinoshita managed to surprise me with a not terrible 7th episode. Does that mean the anime is going to improve as we come to the end of the season? I actually kind of hope so because there are still some fascinating ideas hidden underneath the poor characterisation and storytelling we’ve had so far. Definite improvement during episode 7.

Lastly, Taboo Tattoo manages to be definitively the worst anime I am still watching this season. I’m actually looking forward to it ending so I can review the entire series and then never think about it ever again.

3356735_1378638347097-59res_413_300

Dropped

  • Cute High Earth Defence Club Love (Dropped at Ep 4)
  • The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi (Dropped at Ep 4)
  • Sweetness and Lightning (Dropped at Ep 4)
  • Danganronpa 3 (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • Mob Psycho 100 (Dropped at Ep 1 – Revisited to Ep 3)
  • Servamp (Dropped at Ep 2 – Revisited to Ep 3)
  • Rewrite (Dropped at Ep 2)
  • The Disasterous Life of Saiki K (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • Ozmafia (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • Scar-red Riders XechS (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • Qualidea Code (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • First Love Monster (Dropped at Ep 1)

What’s your pick for best show this season? What about the worst?

 

Noblesse: Awakening OVA

Noblesse5

Once again, Crunchyroll gave me a random show to watch and this time it was an OVA for something I’d never heard of before. Of course that was after I dismissed a fighting anime option and an idol one and I only gave myself 3 chances before I was going to watch whatever came up.

Overview:

Vampire wakes up after 800 years or so. Apparently he’s some sort of noble. Then he goes to highschool.

Review:

At 30 minutes, this doesn’t really have time for anything complex. It gives you a text-based introduction about the setup and then we are pretty much straight into coffin opening and then vampire goes to school. At times I wondered if this OVA was paid for by Japan’s education system given how many plugs going to school got in the 30 minute run time. That said, I give the human characters credit for knowing when to run away unlike in most shows where they would see the weird creepy thing and run toward it. Going to point out it is very unfair that they weren’t rewarded for their actual and credible survival skills.

Overall this was enjoyable enough but it doesn’t have enough time to really make you care about anything that is happening and then it is over but feels like it really is just starting so unless we get something else you just kind of wonder what the point was. Fans of vampire anything will enjoy this, if you like an okay action story you will enjoy this, and if you are just looking for a way to kill 30 minutes, there are worse ways to do it than Noblesse: Awakening. But that’s about as far as I can recommend it.

Nobless: Awakening is available on Crunchyroll.

Cheer Boys Episode 7

Cheer7

Note: Sorry about the late replies to comments. I did not realise I was going to be without internet over the last few days. Hopefully everything is back on track now.

Review:

Well this episode is certainly an excellent case study on what happens when a team lacks a shared vision. It’s kind of hard to watch the inevitable break down of communication and the half-hearted and doomed efforts to patch over the problems rather than address them. That said, it is kind of exactly what this show needed because the feel good and everybody just pulling together thing was really starting to feel a little artificial, particularly with so many new team members joining for so many different reasons. Kind of hoping they find a genuine way to deal with these issues next week.

Cheer Boys is available on AnimeLab.

Friday’s Feature – Emotional Connections in Mecha Anime

07_gundam00n

I often point out I have a love-hate relationship with the Gundam franchise in general. Some series I love and others I really hate and can’t get into at all. I kind of have that same relationship with most Mecha anime. Some I get right into and others, even though the storyline is ostensibly the same, I just can’t like or enjoy.

mobile-suit-gundam-00-full-189661

In a moment of clarity I finally came to realise what my issue with Mecha Anime is. It’s the fact that the robots themselves dehumanize the conflict and remove my emotional connection from the characters. Clearly that doesn’t happen in all of the series featuring giant robots fighting one another, given the number of series  I have enjoyed, but ultimately it is the mecha themselves that take away from my enjoyment.

Let’s be honest, the vast majority of mecha anime set up conflicts between groups of people who have developed these fantastic machines (either mainstream or as a highly experimental and new kind of weapon) and the show then finds some way to spark that conflict into a full on battle whereby the various pilots get into their machines and we then spend a few episodes zooming past one another and blowing things up. I’m severely oversimplifying but that’s the basic set up when you boil it right down.

majestic-prince-2-3

During these fights we sometimes get to see the pilots and their internal dialogue or their conversations through the comms with other pilots, but the action is seen from outside. The robot with its big gun or sword thrashing another robot that then explodes or smokes while the pilot may or may not eject. Very occasionally (if the character is someone the show wants us to care about) we see the damage to the human pilot, but more often we get a scream over the comms and then the bang and we move on to the next part of the conflict.

Therein lies the problem. When there are a large number of combatants, we know little about anyone other than the main group so have little reason to care. Most of these stories set up governments that are all equally despicable and so we aren’t really standing behind any one groups ideals more than any other. So we don’t know the individuals particularly well and we have no reason to rally behind any one political stance, why do we care about the outcome of the battle?  And I get that we’re usually meant to like the ‘heroes’ side but regularly they are just as bad as the people they are fighting.

gundam_age2_cockpit_view

When we see an anime set in a more medieval setting we often have vast armies confronting one another and getting mowed down by a hail of arrows, and that is more affective to me than a giant robot going bang, flash. Why? Because of the human element. There is nothing between me and my view of the human combatants being mercilessly slaughtered.  That scene affects me and makes me feel sorry for them or happy that the other army is winning, or gives me some emotional impact.

One robot hitting another? That might be cool and visually awesome but the human aspect is gone, at least for me.

mobile-suit-gundam-full-451891

So which mecha anime do I like? I love Code Geass. Why? Because of Lelouch, Suzaku and Kallen. They are the human element for me even if the vast majority of soldiers I don’t care about. Gundam Seed (and more recently Iron Blooded Orphans) won me over with the human characters at the core of the story even while the greater political agenda within the story kind of rolled past me in a haze of grey morals. Even Aldnoah Zero worked for me, though Slaine kind of went off the rails in the second season making it a bit harder to care about the outcome. Then I also loved Full Metal Panic with Sagara and Chidori. They were great characters and the contrast between the military fight sequences and the high school daily life was well done.

code-geass-characters-wallpaper-3

Of course, my favourite mecha anime is Evangelion, mostly because it gives you the cool and awesome giant robot fighting monstrous (and bizarre) angels but is almost totally focussed on the human elements of its story.

evangelion-wallpaper-560x420

I know this wasn’t much of a feature, more just a ramble about something that I probably should have figured out awhile ago, but I think since starting this blog I’ve wanted to really understand where some of my opinions have come from.

I’d love to know your thoughts on mecha anime. Do you watch it? Do you like it? What works for you and what doesn’t when watching giant robots fight?