My collection of short anime reviews

Contain spoilers that you may hate, but never biased in any way!

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Apr
08
2014
0

Review: Kakumeiki Valvrave (革命機ヴァルヴレイヴ)

The best male character in this anime.
The best male character in this anime.

It has been nearly 5 months since I last posted a review here, mainly because of some unavoidable issues, plus some laziness maybe? Anyway, the audition for this blog’s ‘Anime of the Year 2013’ continues in 2014 with Kakumeiki Valvrave, which finished airing its second season when I procrastinate during those 5 long months. A second mecha anime title reviewed in this audition after Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince, this anime performed surprisingly very well, especially in one unexpected area. Read on to find out more.


The best female character in this anime.

Story:-
Sometime in the far distant future, where Windows Metro GUI has actually succeeded and people lived in space colonies, the main male protagonist and his friends lived a peaceful life in a fully-residential high-school. Then a special op team from another military empire attacks and the main male protagonist watched the main female protagonist dies in front of his eyes. Enraged, he conveniently found himself an overpowered mobile suit hidden beneath the school, become immortal and then started to repel the invasion.

One thing that dawns to me when watching this this anime is the storyline is better than the one seen in Majestic Prince. I actually do not really expect this to happen. It could have been better if the main female protagonist did not rise up from the dead and the main male protagonist lives his life in perpetual rage just like his counterpart in Shingeki no Kyoujin. The fact that the reanimated main female protagonist is involved in some several cringe-worth moments in the anime, especially the early parts of the series does not help either.

But then again there are some awesome moments in this anime which mitigated the problems that the main female protagonist poses, like the ‘Moses moment’ that also happens early in the series. That particular event surely shows that Japanese anime writers still has some gas in their creativity tank. The only major blot that marred the quality of this anime’s storyline, at least when compared to Majestic Prince, would be the ending arc.

The lousiest death scene in anime history.
The lousiest death scene in anime history.

While the ending arc of Majestic prince is quite solid, the same thing cannot be said for the one for this anime. Throughout the course of this series, some flash-forward scenes that happened roughly 200 years after the timeline of this anime’s storyline. The major drawback of those scenes is that they made the ending more predictable than it otherwise would have been. The flash-forward scenes should not have been shown at all, and instead the time jump should have been incorporated into the ending arc itself. Another thing I dislike about the ending is the entirety of episode 22, which is full with cheesy dramatic moments, like in the picture above. Unlike Majestic Prince, the ending did not accommodate any room though for a third season (or a movie).

The pacing of the storyline of this anime is great, much faster (and better) than in the Majestic Prince. It slows down a little during the ending arc, but not too much that it becomes detrimental for this series. The flow of the storyline could have been just as good too, but for too many usage of badly-placed flashback scenes.

Character developments in this anime are done very well most of the time. I say ‘most of the time’ because the person that matters, the main male protagonist, has only so-so character development strategies. At best, his character developments are not better than some of the side characters of this anime like that high-class blonde lady with big breasts. Even his counterpart in Majestic Prince has better development than him. By comparison, the main female protagonist has better developments, and so are many of the other characters. The first two screenshots above should indicated the characters I consider the best ones in this anime.

Character Design:-
When it comes to character designs, I vastly prefer the ones in Majestic Prince over the ones in this anime. Designs in this anime is actually not bad, it is just too generic and way too normal just like the first three titles reviewed in the audition. The only good character design in this anime is probably the green-haired leader of the military republic, I’m kind of attracted to that one but alas his airtime is extremely limited. Lack of black hairs in this futuristic anime title is forgivable; after all most of the characters are genetically-engineered to be immortal.

Voice Acting:-
This anime did not do exactly a good job in this aspect because just like Majestic Prince the voice acting gigs are uninspiring. Those two titles are on the same level if you ask me. No notable voice acting gigs either, even for both of this anime’s best characters here.

Music:-
From all the various OP/ED themes this anime has, I think only the 2nd OP theme is decent. The other themes are meh, and so is the OST.

Animation/Direction:-
Animation quality in this series is great and pretty much flawless, slightly better than Majestic Prince. Integration between CGI and 2D animation is seamless too. This anime has inferior mecha fighting scenes when compared to what seen in Majestic Prince though. The director of this anime has better cinematographic techniques than his counterpart in Majestic Prince, but also struggled somewhat with the presentation aspect of this anime.

The fact I know this line will be said at this scene is proof enough on how predictable the ending is.
The fact I know this line will be said at this scene is proof enough on how predictable the ending is.

Conclusion:-
8 out of 10.
Same score as Majestic Prince, therefore not in the running for 'the ‘Anime of the Year 2013’ title. Maybe I should just cut short the audition, and make the next review the last entry for the audition. The next one should not take another 5 months though.

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Nov
14
2013
2

Review: Shingeki no Kyoujin (進撃の巨人)

The vengeful main male protagonist, featured in the 'Attack of Gabe' parody video.
The vengeful main male protagonist, featured in the 'Attack of Gabe' parody video.

The fifth entry for this blog’s audition of the ‘Anime of the Year 2014’ title is also a replacement for one of the titles in the original list, with Shingeki no Kyoujin replacing Kakumeiki Valvrave (will watch this one after the second season finished airing). I actually did not plan to watch this series at first, but I changed my mind after I watched the ‘Attack of Gabe’ parody video during the Steam Summer Sales a few months back. I’m sure glad I have decided to watch this anime, because this title shared one thing in common with Highschool of the Dead. Confused? Then read on to find out why I say that.

No matter how I look at this monster, the phrase 'giant zombie' really fits it well.
No matter how I look at this monster, the phrase 'giant zombie' really fits it well.

Story:-
This is the end. The world was infested by a bigger, naked and non-rotting version of the zombies from the I am a Hero seinen manga which has quickly ravaged the human civilization as we know it. 100 years later since the outbreak happens, the remnants of humanity keep themselves safe behind 3 layers of city-walls. The slightly emotional Eren (a.k.a main male protagonist), his one-dimensional yandere female companion Mikasa (a.k.a. main female protagonist) and their weakling sidekick Armin (the side character that actually keep both of them alive) live their lives peacefully behind the outer-most wall. Suddenly, the story kicks in, the outer wall goes down and Eren’s  mother got eaten right in front of him. His emo quotient was then turned on to the max, and he swore that he will only find peace on Earth after he killed every single one of the zombies with his own bare hands.

Just like the manga I referenced before, this anime also doesn’t call their zombies with the Z-word, instead preferring to call them Titans. For starters, let’s go straight to the major weakness this anime has: badly crafted presentation. One thing I don’t like about this anime’s presentation is, that unlike many other action titles I have reviewed here before, this anime pull a page from One Piece’s playbook and like to do the episode recap thing right before the opening theme plays. I found out I have been using the fast-forward function in PotPlayer in this anime more than I did in the last 50 anime titles I reviewed here before.

Now if that’s the only thing this anime has actually copied from One Piece, I could just look the other way and ignore that issue. After all, this anime doesn’t play full-length OP themes. But no, this anime copied another of One Piece’s anime features that didn’t exist in the manga, and that would be the extremely slow pacing of the One Piece anime. If you think Majestic Prince is slow, this anime is even slower. I can understand this kind of pacing if this anime actually has the plot that has the same quality as the one seen in the aforementioned ‘I am a Hero’ manga. But considering that this anime is more like Naruto instead, which means that action scenes is aplenty, a much faster pacing should be in order. If this anime has, for example, the excellent pacing of Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?, this anime would only need 13 episodes maximum to present the storyline that is shown in all 25 episodes used in this anime. The horrible pacing this anime has will affect other elements of this anime, that I will note even more below.

This one sure do look like a special infected from Left 4 Dead series
This one sure do look like a special infected from Left 4 Dead series.

The story of this anime itself is actually very good. Not as good as the ‘I am a Hero’ manga, which is arguably is Japan’s answer to The Walking Dead, but enthralling in its own sense. Better than Hataraku Maou-sama for sure, and slightly edging what you can see in Majestic Prince. But because of the horrible pacing, I found myself having the ‘When will this arc gonna end?’ feeling, which is something I don’t have when watching the two anime I mentioned in the previous sentence. Looking back, the amount of plot this anime has is not very much actually; Hataraku Maou-sama definitely packed roughly the same amount of them in less episodes. This anime ends up abruptly, in a kind of cliffhanger, although the one in this anime is not as good as the one in Code Geass’ first season.

Therefore I expect there will be a second season, mainly because so that I can have the answers for some of the very glaring loose ends still presents in the anime after the final episodes windows down. For example, did the main male protagonist’s mother really died? If yes, then what happened during the flashback where his father zombified him with Titan powers surely contradicts that event. Plus, what is the main female protagonist doing (or where is she) when he was zombified? Somehow, it will not surprise me if in the future season(s) of this anime, it turns out that she can become a Titan too.

Back to this anime’s presentation aspect, while the pacing is simply horrible, the flow of the story is smooth (it is going to be hard to screw up the plot flow with this kind of pacing). The usage of flashbacks in this anime is done nicely too; the part where the main male protagonist inadvertently turned the main female protagonist into a yandere (and a bad-ass zombie killing machine at that) at the molecular level is one of the finest moments this anime has. The way the events are stacked could be so much better though; the arc in the final three episodes where the giant female Titan’s identity was finally revealed is the kind of story arc that will usually be presented in the middle of a series run, not the end of one. This is another consequence of the horrible pacing, and that’s why this anime’s cliffhanger ending isn’t as good as the one in Code Geass.

This particular one here is quite good-looking too even as he munched on a human.
This particular one here is quite good-looking too even as he munched on a human.

Character developments did not escape the effects of the horrible pacing either, plus other factors like huge character cast and high characters churn rate does not help either. Let start with the main male protagonist. His character has pretty much static development strategy from start until the end of the anime. Only notable development he has is during the final arc in the last three episodes, which actually worried me a bit. The main male are better off staying as a low-dogmatic character like he is throughout the series, unlike in that final arc where there are signs that he is going the high-dogmatic way. Last thing this anime needs is a failure of a character like Uchiha Sasuke is.

As for the main female protagonist, her character development is worse because her character regressed as the storyline timeline moves forward. Her character, right before the first 1-year time jump as the three main characters joined the Training Legion, are still good, even if she is already a yandere back then. She is actually more decisive, make some good decisions and has actual control over the main male protagonist. After the time jump, she merely become an object whose actions are largely dictated by the main male protagonist’s. Her character needs to revert to the pre-time jump state, or her yandere-ness has to be dialed up to the max just like the main male protagonist’s emo meter.

The side character, who is also the narrator of this anime, is by far the best character in this anime. His importance in the anime is so great, he can actually be considered as a plot device character. He is the only character that is assured to live until the end of the series, because if he died, that would be the end of the two main protagonists, and the end of humanity too. His character development from the initial breach of the wall up until he becomes one of the planners of the capture in the anime’s finale is the only extensive developments in this anime.

But for other characters, due to the pacing, many of the side characters simply has non-existent character developments. Many of the unfortunate characters also has aborted development due of being devoured by Titans too. The character that has been unmasked as the female giant Titan for example, she is barely visible before that capture arc; some of the characters before her has more screen time than her. If a second season comes out, the first thing the writer needs to do is to flesh out her character dramatically, with a faster pacing than the one seen in this season.

The nastiest nightmare you can ever have if you live in this anime's settings.
The nastiest nightmare you can ever have if you live in this anime's settings.

Character Design:-
Character designs in this anime is just average, even unoriginal. The first time the main female protagonist is shown, I remarked to myself on how similar she is with her counterpart in Bleach. In a zombie apocalypse that takes place in the Middle Ages, black hairs are surprisingly very common and so is blonde. More realism than in Highschool of the Dead for sure, although I am a Hero character designs is much more realistic.

Voice Acting:-
Voice acting in this anime is generally solid, but not more. I wish there is at least one outstanding voice acting gigs in here, but there is none. I have a nagging feeling I can find a character that is already dead in this anime whose voice actor is going to be better than the ones voicing the two main protagonists.


Watch this zombie extermination video and wait for the first OP theme to play.

Music:-
The two power metal OP themes of this anime are really good, especially the second one. In contrast, the two ED themes are forgettable. The OST is really good too, and so is the insert song that plays near the end of the first major arc.

So many sleep-deprived characters in this anime.
So many sleep-deprived characters in this anime.

Animation & Direction:-
The animation quality in this anime is really good, whether it is for general animation and also character animation. Combined with great use of static background scenes and excellent integration of CGI animations, this anime is the most visually-impressive title within this audition so far, even eclipsing Majestic Prince. Choreography for action scenes is great too, although Majestic Prince is still better in this department.

While I will put the blame squarely on the director for the horrible pacing, his technical skills in cinematography is much better than all the directors of the titles in the audition combined. And the director is consistent too unlike his counterpart in Fractale. Now if only his story compositing skills matched his camera works skills…

Conclusion:-
7 out of 10.
A very promising action title ruined by a director who think he is doing a comedy or a slice-of-life title. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love COme wa Machigatteiru still leads the audition for the time being. I hope the next entry will come faster than this one.

If this scene really happens, I would have awarded a perfect score to this anime.
If this scene really happens, I would have awarded a perfect score to this anime.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/prgSo-Cn

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Oct
12
2013
0

Review: Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince (銀河機攻隊 マジェスティックプリンス)

The main male protagonist and his teammate a.k.a his older brother.
The main male protagonist and his teammate a.k.a his older brother.

The audition for this blog’s Anime of the Year 2013 award stalled for more than a month due to unavoidable commitments, therefore I took the liberty to replace one of the earlier candidates in the audition, Arata Kangatari, with the recently concluded Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince. Some of the other titles I haven’t watched yet that is in the audition, listed at the end of this blog entry, may be replaced too in the near future as the audition progressed. Attack of Titan anyone?

Story:-
In the distant future where our civilization has already colonialize the solar system, humankind was suddenly assaulted by a mysterious alien race that are looking for the main ingredient for that cookbook. As if in cue, 5 troublesome genetically-modified teenagers are given 5 cutting-edge mobile suits and is told to fight those aliens so that the application of that cookbook will not be realized.

Taking place in a futuristic space-faring Earth that is engulfed in a war with a mysterious alien race, this anime sure is eerily similar to Gundam AGE. This anime starts slowly, and for me the plot only gets into gear by the time the troublesome teenagers, called Team Fail by their peers in the anime (and me too from now on), finished their second mission. While never reaching the heights attained by the second arc of Gundam AGE; the crusade of Team Fail against the aliens, plus all the things and events they have to cope with being a world-saving celebrities and more, results in a fairly more solid overall storyline than what you can watch in Gundam AGE.

The ending of this anime for example, is exactly the kind what Gundam AGE should have had. First, despite only having only half the episode count, this anime managed to allocate more episodes to the finale events. Plus, there are plenty of action too in the finale, with no ‘accidental’ deaths (or losses) to the aliens’ antagonists as they are predictably kicked out from the solar system. The ending is also structured to have a second season, which as of today, no news about it yet. The ending is definitely one of the positives this anime has.

Another surprise positive aspect that this anime has is the lack of the romance elements. When the alien princess first appears, I anticipates a love-triangle between her, the main male protagonist and one of the latter’s female teammates. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and that female teammate may have her chances later if this anime has a second season, as long as she learns to bake a cake he didn’t hate. Would have been awkward if my scenario does happen and we have an ending that is similar to what a certain anime in this year’s audition also has. You know, the one that has 16 episodes and incorporate the domain name of this blog in its title.

You cannot have the same positive feelings about the character developments in this anime though, because they (the developments) are mixed bag at best. Let’s take the main male protagonist as an example, where apparently some off-screen character developments has happened between his first and second encounters with the alien prince. During the second encounter, when the alien prince commented that the main male protagonist has improved from his pathetic showing in the prior battle, I exclaimed to myself, “When did that happen? Is there any special events happened of special training routine he has done between those encounters?”. He has not improved at all during the timeline between the first and second encounter with the alien prince. The main male protagonist only has some proper character developments in the timeline the second and the third encounter with the prince, and in the events after that.

Not that the rest of Team Fail can be absolved from this problem too. The long-ranged mecha pilot that wear glasses and the pilot that do reconnaissance tasks has static character development, even with the latter’s attraction to the main male protagonist. Same can be said for Black 6 too, but at least he has the excuse of only being introduced at the middle of the series. The oldest member of Team Fail fares better with some developments off the battlefield (see the caption of the screenshot at the top of this review), but not on it. Only the big-breasted girl can actually keep up with the main male protagonist in terms of character developments, although hers starts kinda slowly at first but doesn’t have the off-screen developments the latter has like what I have mentioned in the paragraph above. Best character anyone?

But still, if there is a second season, the potential for further character developments is tremendous. One thing that bugged me throughout the series is why no other teammates of the main male protagonist can become as strong as him. There is no reason at all for some of his teammates like Blue 1 and Black 6 to not be able to become as strong as he is. And of course, potential romantic development for the main male protagonist and the surly teammate of his that I mentioned before.

The pacing of this anime is actually quite slow for a mecha anime (which is also a negative aspect for this anime), and definitely slower overall when compared to Gundam AGE. This anime doesn’t have the turbulent flow of the storyline that the Gundam title has though, and no scene transitions problems too.


Team Fail.

Character Design:-
While storywise this anime is similar to Gundam AGE, when it comes to character designs this anime is similar to Gundam SEED series (and Kurogane no Linebarrels, Gin-iro no Olynssis and Heroic Age). This not a bad thing of course, and this makes this anime better than Gundam AGE in this aspect. For the first few episodes, I do have problems differentiating between the main male protagonist and his older brother teammate (a common problem for this anime’s character designer portfolio) but I get used to it after that. Has an abundance of black hair, despite the futuristic settings and also the fact that the major characters are GM goods, which is a good thing too.

Mecha designs, on both sides of the war is excellent too. Better than Gundam AGE to be sure. Or the whole Gundam series, including the provosionally-impressive Gundam Build Fighters, to be exact.

Voice Acting:-
Voice acting in this anime is just average and utter forgettable overall, and Gundam AGE has complete superiority over this anime in this aspect. Damning because the latter isn’t exactly very good at this too. Obviously, no outstanding voice acting gigs can be heard in here.

Music:-
The OST is very good, but the vast majority of the OP and ED themes and also the insert songs is not that way. Only the ED theme that plays in episode 15, 21 and 22 is better than them. That particular ED theme is actually quite outstanding.

Animation/Direction:-
Animation quality in this anime is good, with only few jerky sequences. Integration between the 2D-like CGI animations with traditional 2D animations is superb. Choreography of action scenes (mecha fights of course) is excellent, even surpassing the ones in Gundam AGE; the structure of this anime’s ending really helps. The director’s problems only lies in the presentation aspects, and nothing more. The job he/she has done is solid, but not more.

Conclusion:-
8 out of 10.
A little bit better than Gundam AGE, but will not be able to challenge the the front-runner of this running audition. I wonder if a certain anime title with 16 episodes will be able to surpass it…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/prgSo-C5

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