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So I am checking out some of the latest anime shows that are popping up on Hulu. And the latest to be added to the list of tepid streaming offerings is the pedophilierrific Vividred Operation, where underage girls live in a near-future utopia where all of our energy needs have been solved by the miraculous Manifest Engine. And apparently girls are not allowed to wear pants.

Within the first thirty seconds of the first episode, in the very opening scene where the main character is peering off into the bright morning sunset, the camera angle pans down and our optical nerves are assaulted with this little gem:



....Aaaaaand from there, we are off to a veritable parade of shameless butt-shots with junior high girls galavanting around in the sheerest of skin-tight short-shorts, with one shot after another of shiny pre-teen butt crack and tightly outlined pubis mons.

About as shameless as you can get; there's no mistaking that this is an anime series aimed at all the slack-jawed anime fans out there who get their jimmies rustled by lingering shots of animated asses.

Oh, and there's something about some sort of robot or alien thing that is threatening mankind, a crazy grandfather inventor and the girls who are humanity's only hope. But really, it's all about the butt shots. Underage. Butt shots. Lots of them.

In a nutshell, this series appears, in plot and theme, to essentially be Strike Witches, Part Three. And some people wonder why anime fandom cannot be taken more seriously.



Somehow, methinks I won't be following this show very closely. I felt dirty and creepy after finishing the first episode. Instead, I'll be sticking to another recent Hulu addition, Michiko and Hatchin (from 2008), which is Worth the Watching.

Dec. 6th, 2012

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My plan to try and restart some sort of anime reviews before the end of the year have been stymied by a frustrating pinched nerve -- it's amazing how something that goes wrong in the back of the shoulder can cause so much pain in the tips of my fingers. In particular, the radial nerve of the right arm/hand, which causes all sorts of deep-aching pains in the arm that vicodin cannot even touch, means I can only sleep a certain way, and more importantly means that it hurts to click a mouse and hurts to type a few sentences at a time. Hence I am avoiding computer usage (other than casual browsing). It's an order of magnitude better now than it was before, at least. Hooray for growing old.

In the mean time, for the past few months I've been flying through tons of anime on Netflix -- a few good shows, but most of it ranging between bad, really-really-bad and terribad. Decent stuff includes Canaan and Ghost Hound, okay stuff includes Gunslinger Girl, Blue Drop, Corpse Princess. The truly awful stuff includes Air Gear, Rosario and Vampire, Dragonaut, Vandread, Moeyo Ken. Frankly, I *want* to so some sort of reviews for the awful stuff, because I have more fun writing those types of reviews. Guess that makes me a sadist, wanting to rip something apart rather than heap praise. There's just so much awful stuff to choose from, too!

Also in the past month, Netflix slashed their anime offerings, more than half of their remaining (already shrinking) catalog was dropped mid-month. And there's been no moves to try and beef up their catalog. No matter. Plenty of other options with much larger catalogs via streaming on Roku, including the 900-pound anime gorillas of Hulu and Crunchyroll, as well as a rather impressive selection via free streaming through Amazon Prime, also Crackle and Funimation's own channel. It's amazing how the availability of anime has changed so much just in the past five years, much less ten or twenty years (could anyone from 1992 fathom what today's media landscape would have been like?).

The only thing I don't like is the notable lack of back-catalog stuff. Looking for all the recent releases? Sure, most of it is just a few clicks of the mouse away! But try and find some anime show from the eighties or nineties? Yeah...not so much. Torrenting is about the only way to go for most of that stuff. And being the old fart that I am, that's the stuff I'm more interested in. Oh well, can't win them all.

So, until I can type for any length of time without having to take breaks to ice down my arm, I'll remain quietly in the background, spooling up the next episode of Humanity Has Declined to watch or somesuch. Happy holidays!


(Yoinked from Reddit)

Quick Non-Specific Anime Update

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Since I essentially ran full-force into the brick wall of blogging burnout a few months ago and put a screeching halt to my relentless (yet largely meaningless) anime reviews, I've still been watching various anime shows. But because I didn't want to interfere with my previously-planned schedule of reviews (which at that time I was still planning on continuing), I shifted my focus to other shows entirely.

For the past few months, I've gone back and I've been watching what is available on streaming services through Roku -- notably Netflix, but as the pickings start to get a little thin on Netflix I can easily shift over to Hulu, Crackle or Crunchyroll as well. Netflix's current offerings can basically be summarized as "Funimation's Dubbed Non-Current Greatest Hits". There's a couple hundred series available, but nothing subtitled, nothing newer than 2010, and also (much to my displeasure) basically nothing from before about 1998.

Now, given the choice, I'm much more likely to choose a subtitled version of a show over the dubbed version. Yet, I am most definitely *not* a "dub snob" who will turn up my nose at anything that is dubbed. Back in the eighties and nineties, the quality of the American voice acting was truly a terrible experience that made shows largely unwatchable (although occasionally HILARIOUS). But with experience the dubbing studios have definitely improved, and nowadays badly-dubbed shows are few and far between. Most are "acceptable", and in some cases quite decent.

And the one big advantage to watching a dubbed show over a subtitled one is that I can do what I am doing at this very moment: Sit in front of my computer typing away with some mediocre show on the television in the background. With a subtitled show, I must focus by undivided attention and eyes to screen -- with subtitled anime you can't do two things at once.

ANYWAY...

I kinda sorta want to get back to doing some sort of anime reviews, albeit at a much greatly reduced rate. The previous way I was doing them required many, many hours a week, going episode-by-episode with a shit-ton of screen grabs to boot. Instead, I'm thinking of completely changing things up, one or two paragraphs, a picture or two, more of a capsule review than multi-paragraph theses.

I've already watched a few dozen different series, usually moving along at one episode a week on each as I work through my Netflix queue. It really does run the gamut of good, bad and ugly shows. There's the good (like Canaan, Ghost Hound, Moribito, Birdy), the bad (like Air Gear, Slayers, Kaze no Stigma>, and the godawful bad (like Rosario and Vampire, Dragonaut, Shuffle, Moeyo Ken). There's the Better Than Expected (like Gunslinger Girl, Princess Tutu, Schools Rumble, Full Metal Panic Fumoffu), the Worse Than Expected (like Chobits, Fruits Basket, Blue Gender, Baccano), and the About As Expected (like Sacred Blacksmith, Full Metal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Trigun)...and of course the incomprehensibly unwatchable (like Tokyo Maijin, D.Gray-Man, and Tears to Tiara).

And I really should get back to finishing off what I started with all of those shows that I left hanging from 2011. There's around 20 shows I was in the middle of watching that I just stopped cold-turkey, like Nichijou, Mawaru Penguin-Drum, Ano Hana, Stein's Gate, Usagi Drop, Last Exile, Hanasaku Iroha, Mirai Nikki, Chihayafuru, and many more.

Not to mention that I have intentionally avoided watching anything from 2012 -- even though I've been told this year's shows include some of the best new stuff in a generation. Oh well, I guess that means I just have that much more to look forward to.

Anyway, sorry about the radio silence. I'll make no promises for the future, though, I've been terrible about keeping those promises before.
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My livejournal has been largely abandoned of late, but I thought I would share a few thoughts on some recent events related to fandom from years past, that have been the "talk of the town" on some other blogs in the past couple of weeks.

The first involves Kevin Lillard, whose name was synonymous with anime conventions for many years. His website "A Fan's View" was the unofficial visual "newspaper of record" for the rapidly growing anime fandom. While he did photograph all sorts of panels and events at conventions, his specialty was anime cosplay, shooting hundreds of photographs and putting the best ones up on his website. Hell, I even ended up appearing in some of the photos (the website is long-gone, however).

But recently, Kevin Lillard has fallen on some pretty hard times -- lost his job, lost his home, dead-broke, living out of his car, and there has been a call for donations to help him in his time of need.

There really isn't a whole lot I can add that hasn't been mentioned by others already...except when Dave Merrill added an interesting twist on the whole situation in a recent entry on his livejournal. (http://davemerrill.livejournal.com/767502.html). Dave bluntly calls out a certain type of fanboy (whether it be comics, anime or what-have-you) that puts their fan obsession before "real life" -- which is something that is fine when you're young and stupid, but not exactly a rut you want to be stuck in when you're middle-aged without a future or savings to show for your efforts.

Read it. It's short, and a little harsh...but spot-on. And also rings somewhat true for my life as well, although it wasn't so much that I was immersed in fandom as a fan, but rather as my method of employment for the first fifteen years of my adult life. And when I did finally leave Cold Cut when it went under in 2008, all I had to show for it was a bit load of debt, no job, no savings, and a room-full of comic books. At the age of 38.

Since that time I've obtained an honest-to-god real jorb; it doesn't pay much, but it's steady and reliable employment and I actually am fairly good at it even if it's unglamorous. I'm slowly building up a 401K, I'm in the middle of a payment plan to finally take care of my 5-figure debt. Over the past several months I've been selling off a large chunk of the remaining dregs of my comic book collection, so far to date shipping off somewhere between 15 and 20 long-boxes-worth of comics to Lone Star for a few thousand bucks (what's the point in keeping comics around if you haven't cracked them open to read in two decades anyway?). This, on top of the thousands of graphic novels I've sold on Amazon in years past, which is also on top of the tens of thousands of comics sold on ebay in years past. I still have years to go, but it's a start.

It's not like one day a few years ago I suddenly thought, "Oh shit, I've been wasting my life, just barely treading water, now I'm getting old and have nothing to show for it!" Nah, nothing so dramatic, but that's effectively the result -- perhaps an unconscious realization? Dave Merrill's THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU! cautionary warning might have been directed at me a few years ago. And I certainly know plenty of people it could apply to now, just as Dave knows several as well. Both of us have watched people we know in various fandom circles who are stuck in the same place in 2012 as they were in 2002...and as they were in 1992 for that matter. I hope his "don't let this happen to you" admonition is taken to heart by those who need it.

As for me, I'm still interested in anime, I'm still interested in comics and manga and whatnot. That's never going to change. I'm still watching gob-loads of anime shows, and picking up the occasional comic or two. Haven't been to a convention in a while, but I have no doubt I'll head off to one or three at some point (I kinda-sorta wanted to crash AWA because I've been on an "old school" kick as of late). But I have to keep it all in perspective, remember a hobby is just a hobby -- it is not my life.

-----

Moving on to the next topic that has one small corner of the fandom a-twitter, there's the unseemly matter of Mitch Beiro. Earlier this month, he was arrested and charged with several counts of child porn. (No links, but if you're interested a quick search will bring up the details.) Frankly, no one saw it coming. Mitch was definitely NOT the sort of person that you would suspect, never gave off any clues or hints or "bad vibes". Anyone who has been immersed in various fandoms (whether it be sci-fi, comics, anime, or furry fandom) can probably very easily tick off half a dozen names of people who give off that "child porno" vibe; and Mitch was nowhere near that list.

Mitch was (er, is) a genuinely nice guy. I cannot say he was a friend, but throughout the nineties and aughts I probably met him on dozens of occasions, either on a friend-of-a-friend basis or professionally (I worked on plenty of comics in which he was published). By-and-large, I enjoyed his company. He was more of the "lovable loser" type of guy (and I say that affectionately rather than pejoratively), the type of person who never seemed to get a break in life, but also never seemed to make any sort of serious effort to break out of whatever hole he found himself in. In fact, he's exactly the sort of person the Dave Merrill cautionary warning above could be directed towards.

Mind you, at this point he's been arrested and the charges are 'alleged'. Lots of people are coming to his defense, some even trying to trump up wild conspiracy theories. But one news article says he admits he has a problem, which is pretty damning.

The problem of child porn has always been an unspoken and rarely acknowledged undercurrent in some of the darker circles of various fandoms. No surprises there, no doubt because sci-fi/fantasy fandom, comics fandom, anime fandom, what-have-you fandom has always been in some respects an "island of misfit toys" where those who do not fit in can gather and commiserate in their shunning from the larger society as a whole. The over-arching uber-fandom of sci-fi and all its subsets have always been more accepting of those who tip-toe around the fringe of polite society. I really doubt that's ever going to seriously change. Mitch's arrest changes nothing.

Except that I hardly saw it coming. NO ONE SAW IT COMING. Based on multiple interactions with him over the past twenty years, I would never have guessed of the mere possibility. And that is a little scary.

Who else out there is hiding some deep, dark, unfathomable secret? I would like to think that I could pick up on that sort of thing, but apparently I had no clue. Which can only make me wonder about other people I know or may have known in the past. Just sort of makes me a little bit less trusting of people in general. I'm already turning into a bitter old man, I hardly need this to make me that much more bitter. Bah.

Missing

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Interregnum

Burger King
Okay, so I lied.

Well, not really lied, but when I said over a month ago that I was going to keep chugging away at the various online anime reviews, I obviously did not follow through with my plan. Sorry 'bout that.

Instead, I've been slaving away at something entirely different: making some extra money. I've been sorting through and selling off anything of value in my many boxes of comic books I have sitting around. Throughout most of the past decade I had been selling tons of comic books on ebay as well as on Amazon. And by "tons" I mean tens of thousands of transactions; I have no idea of the total amount sold but it has to be in the hundred thousand dollar range since 2000.

But for the past year-plus, I've let all of that lie fallow as I've chugged away at my regular jorb. Mostly it was because the amount of money I could make selling comics and the time it took to sell those comics was less than the amount of money I could make by just doing a few hours of overtime at work.

Not only that, but the bottom fell out of the comics market on ebay some years ago, and lots of comics are selling today for a mere fraction of what they went for previously...if at all. Furthermore, I haven't bought anything new for years, haven't refreshed any stock, so over time the quality of the comics I have left has declined until there is little of value remaining. It was reaching a point where the money I was earning was barely covering the expenses, much less approaching anything close to minimum wage.

On top of that, one of the places I would sell comics (mycomicshop.com) had stopped buying comics altogether for a couple years as the economy bottomed out. They weren't buying anything, period, so all those boxes of comic books started collecting dust, filling up space in my home.

But last month, I went back and checked and LO AND BEHOLD, mycomicshop.com was buying again! I sorted through a couple of boxes, scrounged together a box of comics I could sell to them, and shipped it off. We're not talking huge amounts of money here, but $100-$150 for a short-box of comics for a few hours of work, so not bad.

That was over a month and twelve shipments ago. And I'm still at it.

I've dealt with mycomicshop.com at various times in the past, and they've always been honest with me. They have an online database you can search through, just stick the name of the comic in, and it lets you know whether they are buying it, and exactly how much they are paying by grade. Ranging from Golden Age to modern comics, just search, click, and ship. Of course they're buying on the cheap, so most of the comics they are buying at a fraction of wholesale, unless it has a collector's premium. Furthermore, about 80-90% of what I have they are not buying at all, so it's a matter of searching and sorting through lots of boxes to separate the wheat from the chaff.

There's a method to my madness. Over the years I've managed to whittle down my comics to about 44 long-boxes-worth comics, plus three full bookshelves of graphic novels (used to be much, much more). First I sort out all of the near-mint comics and then separate out those they are willing to buy above a certain dollar amount. Then I sort out all the very fine comics, lather rinse repeat with fine comics, then very good, then good comics. Plus their database is updated all the time, so I can come back the next day/week/month and some of the comics that they weren't buying before are now on the buy list.

For someone who has a ton of comics sitting around doing nothing, it's an easy way to make a couple thousand bucks, and I'll keep at it until there isn't anything left to sell, I guess. Looks like I could use it in the near future, with what I'm guessing could be a failing head gasket. Like I said, twelve boxes down (each 30-40 pounds), who knows how many more to go? Good times, good times.

ಠ_ಠ ಠ_ಠ ಠ_ಠ ಠ_ಠ

Crazy Cat
External RSS feeds to Livejournal have been broken now for nearly a week.

Reading a whole bunch of sites via RSS feeds to Livejournal is one of the main reasons I come here anymore.

Livejournal has been aware of the problem for the past week. Still no fix in sight.

In the grand scheme of things, it's a very minor annoyance. But an annoyance nonetheless.

Anime Burnout!

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For the handful of people that may have been following the various reviews that I have been doing, ya'll may have noticed that I have slowed down quite a bit over the past few months. For the casual follower of my reviews, ya'll might have also noticed that I've been plodding through shows that first aired several months (or even over a year) ago, and here it is the first day of Summer and I haven't even touched anything from 2012.



I think the problem can be diagnosed as a case of Anime Burnout. Or, more specifically, Anime Review Burnout, because I'm actually watching just as many of the cartoons as I always have, but it's a chore to get around to actually reviewing them.



The simple fact, which I have been obstinately avoiding, is that the amount of time I've been spent writing and ham-fistedly critiquing the shows far outweighs the amount of time it takes to actually watch said show. If it takes twenty minutes to watch an average episode of your average anime series, it should not take the better part of an hour (or longer) to whip up a full-fledged review complete with image scans and online blog reactions. I just sorta-kinda burned out on the whole process.



A little while back, I made the decision not to take on any new shows (as in the Winter 2012 Anime Season, much less the Spring 2012 Season or the now-upcoming Summer 2012 Season) until I take care of what I'm already working on. My plate is full, have to clear off room on my plate before I add anything new. This is why I haven't touched anything from the current year yet, even though I posted a "upcoming season preview" some months back.






So, here's the deal: I'm throwing any semblance of any sort of schedule out of the window. I've never really been concerned with being timely with reviews, and this just is a confirmation of that already-existing policy. I will continue to methodically work my way through reviewing shows from 2011 that I'm already in the middle of watching, episode-by-episode, until I'm done. Even if it takes until the end of the year. (At the moment, that's well over two dozen episodic shows from the Spring, Summer and Fall 2011 Anime Season)



I will completely finish off what I started, which means reviewing in full every single show (even if it's just the first episode) of every single series, movie, OVA, or special from 2010 and 2011. That's right -- there's still a tiny handful of shows (mostly odds-and-ends movies and specials) from 2010 that are on my place. The rate that I'm plodding away at right now (roughly an episode a day, or less) seems about the right workload for me, so it is going to take several months until I'm done.



When I am finally finished with that, in all likelihood around the end of this year, I'll do my comprehensive year-end review and rankings. THEN AND ONLY THEN will I finally take a look at stuff from this year. (I've heard there's some really good stuff, but I've intentionally avoided looking ahead or reading various people's reactions and reviews lest it taint my own views).



At that point, I'm planning on drastically changing how I do reviews. For example, for a series do a review of the first three episodes together as one review. Then those shows that get a passing grade, do a review of the next group of three episodes. Then if those get a passing grade, watch through to the end of the series. So, that means between one and three posted reviews for a series rather than one for each damn episode. And for many (but not all) specials, OVAs and movies, shortened reviews rather than a full-length post. The idea is to cut the amount of time I spend writing about shows by at least half, closer to two-thirds or three-quarters.








Up next (as in probably the next day), I'll be posting a long-delayed "Where Things Stand" post that summarizes the last four months of reviews. Then I'll keep working away at the remaining shows from 2011 I'm still watching (I'm close to wrapping up the Spring 2011 Season shows at this point). Any "season preview" posts for 2012 shows are on indefinite hiatus until I've cleared by queue of 2011 shows.



P.S. For those of ya'll who occasionally comment on my reviews either on Wordpress or on Livejournal, please be assured that I definitely do notice your messages. Even if I very rarely respond, I am listening.



Furthermore, in addition to all the crap that I'm reviewing here, I'm watching a whole bunch of other anime shows, currently I'm working my way through what's available on Netflix. Lots and lots and lots of dubbed anime on Netflix -- the decent, the bad, and the terribad. It's easy to have a dubbed anime show on the television while I'm typing away on the computer, so I can listen without having to keep my eyes glued to the screen for subtitled. I half-jokingly call it "Hilary Haag's Greatest Hits", because it almost seems like she's a voice actress in literally everything on Netflix. For better or for worse (mostly the latter). I'll do some sort of quick summary of that crap at some point in the future. There is some interesting stuff out there worth recommending. And even more stuff worth ridiculing.






So, that's the deal. I'm going to keep what I'm doing at my own pace, and finish off what I started before moving onward. I'm not touching 2012 until I'm done with 2011. The end. And as always, have fun out there, kiddos!

Anime Review: gdgd Fairies Episode 2

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Anime Review:
gdgd Fairies Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Gdgd Fairies is a weekly anime television series featuring computer generated animation, starting in October 2011. Three magical fairies, pkpk, shrshr and krkr, sit around talking about the world and practicing their magic.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: pkpk, shrshr and krkr sit around and talk about waking up late, finding money in your pockets and life's little joys. Later, they decide to hold an extreme bungee-jumping-bread-eating contest. Then they make fun of a baseball pitcher accosted by a giant chicken.

My Impressions: Does anyone remember the very first episode of Lucky Star when the girls were just sitting around a table talking about eating chocolate coronets for several minutes? The bulk of gdgd Fairies is *just like that*, with the characters sitting around talking about the most unusual of topics, coming to the most unlikely of conclusions. Especially the emotionless, demure krkr as she seems to always be trolling the other two nearly all the time.

You can't take anything in gdgd Fairies seriously. At all. It's like watching an inside joke for about fifteen minutes, either you "get it" or you don't. It's like some Japanese writers got stoned out of their gourd and decided to watch a Xavier: Renegade Angel marathon. Then decided to create a Japanese anime version, only with cute moe-style anime girls. The whole shebang seems almost designed to fit within the old Cartoon Network "Adult Swim" post-midnight block of programming.

The verdict:

I can't really call this a "good" show or not, but I can definitely say it is different and you can never expect what is going to come next. The inanity of the bungee jumping contest makes no sense, and krkr breaking out in her non-voice-acting voice (that whole segment has to be unscripted) at the end. This show is just bananas, I tell you! Bananas!




For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • If anyone posted an honest-to-god actual review of the second episode online in the past eight months, they've done a damn good job of hiding it from Google Search! No reviews at all! Except for mine!




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate/Zero, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, gdgd Fairies

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Tamayura: Hitotose

      Coming up next: None - round 2 is over!

Anime Review: Tamayura: Hitotose Episode 2

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Anime Review:
Tamayura: Hitotose Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Tamayura: Hitotose is a 12-part anime televisions series between October and December 2011, a sequel to the 2010 4-part Tamayura OVA series. After the death of her father, Fu moves back to her hometown after several years away. Taking up her father's hobby of photography, she works to shake off her shyness and make new friends.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: After the flashback introductory episode, the series moves forward to the present day, after Fu has moved to the new town and started to fit in with her new friends. Fu has a sleepover with her new friends. They do girlie stuff. Nothing of significance happens. The end.

My Impressions: One of the genres of anime is the notion of the Iyashikei, or "healing anime", and Tamayura fits that category to a tee. It's all about the ridiculously-shy Fu as she makes new friends and moves on with her life after the death of her father, all through the magic of taking really bad photographs with dust spots on the lenses.

It's all light and heart-warming and inoffensively fuzzy-wuzzy and all that crap, which is fine and dandy. But it's also incredibly boring.

I've been down this road before, having watched the original four-part Original Video Animation of Tamayura last year, and this second episode fits right into the mold that was set earlier perfectly. Tamayura is a whole lot like the much more popular K-On, as it features a clique of four girls who spend their days doing not much of anything of significance, where the journey of their life through their friendship is more important that the destination itself. There's nothing wrong with that at all, but it does make for an unexciting show.

The verdict:

Since I know where this show is going (as in NOWHERE), might as well cut it short at this point. I don't fault anyone else for watching this show, but I see no reason to keep watching a show that I consider inconsequential and boring.

Also, I really don't think I could take one more episode where one of the four major characters communicates primarily by whistling. Talk about one of the most annoying character traits ever!




For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "Tamayura is as gentle and pleasant as a morning breeze, and I do find the TV more engaging than the OVAs. But I confess, the whole affair is still a bit boring for me." - Lost in America
    • "I’ll say it again…this show is so relaxing. The music’s always light and the mood is never too extreme." - Marth's Anime Blog
    • "From the sleepover, it seems that Fu has finally settled with her two new friends and childhood friend. Through her motivation to carry her father’s legacy on, she’ll improve and maybe surpass his skill. Even so, I look forward what lies ahead for these girls." - Chikorita157
    • "Pretty slow paced, so if you don’t like episodes that kinda laze along, you may not like this series, but I think it’s a good pace for this show." - Josh's Anime Blog




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate/Zero, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Tamayura: Hitotose

      Coming up next: gdgd Fairies -- then it's on to Round Three (3rd episodes)

Anime Review: Hunter x Hunter Episode 2

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Anime Review:
Hunter x Hunter Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Hunter x Hunter is a weekly anime television series started in October 2011, based on a long-running shonen action/adventure manga series. In addition to over two dozen manga volumes, there was also an anime adaption in 1999 and extended OVA series in 2002; this is a brand-new series, not a sequel. Gon has always dreamed of growing up to become a "hunter", one of the elite few who travel the world on dangerous missions to find rare creatures, items or people. At the age of 12, he decides to leave the island and follow in his legendary father's footsteps to take the Hunter examination.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: The Hunter candidates arrive in town with instructions to head to a certain spot at the top of a hill for the actual examination. But along they way, the three of them are waylaid by and old lady who requires them to answer a riddle to pass. Later, they meet up with some shape-shifting creatures in the forest, which also turns out to be part of the test.

My Impressions: Keeping this very short, because I really don't have much to say about this series at all. It really is following the path of a stereotypical shonen-action-adventure series, albeit a moderately decent one. We are still in the very early stages of defining the world they live, as well as the main characters and the trials they have to face, but given the history of how these type of shows go, I wonder if there will be enough "meat" in the story to keep me interested. Already it is definitely showing how it is aimed at a ten-year-old male audience with the storytelling style; while there is nothing wrong with that per se, it's not the sort of thing that appeals to a crotchety old dude like myself.

The verdict:

I am guessing that the decision whether or not to continue watching Hunter x Hunter will rest largely on how interesting the characters become. Gon as the bright-eyed, naive, optimistic and talented main lead is fine enough; Kurapika remains somewhat of a mystery. However, Leorio is an unsufferable prick, I hated him immediately and nothing he has done changes my opinion. Only three main, recurring characters at this point, but now that we're heading into the next scene, I'm sure we'll get a whole new batch of regulars.





For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "Until we get to the real meat of the hunter exam, there’s not much to really say. Everything is going smoothly, and our characters are learning more about each other and growing to trust each other more. When the hunter exam does begin, though, I’m expecting a rather powerful change to the story at hand, and is something I’m really looking forward to." - Emory Anime Club
    • "I certainly enjoyed the second episode just fine. This is an agreeably high-energy series, bright and loud and cheerful – though I know it gets darker as it goes along...The premise is pretty straightforward and easy to grasp, and not uninteresting. I don’t have anything to compare it to as I haven’t read the manga or seen the original series, bur so far I have nothing to complain about. At the same time, I’m somewhat hard-pressed to find too much to say about it." - Lost in America
    • "This show certainly has charm. Just mentioning ‘Magical Beasts’ immediately gives off that adventurous feeling. Anyway, for me– they did a good enough job compressing 2 chapters an episode. It didn’t feel too rushed." - Hachimitsu




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate/Zero, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain

      Coming up next: Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies
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Anime Review:
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, or "I Don't Have Many Friends", is a 12-episode televised anime series between October and December 2011, based on a continuing light novel series. Kodaka recently transferred to a high school, but ends up being ostracized due to his appearance and a bad first impression. Until one day he comes across Yozora, who also is friendless, and decides to make a club for the express purpose of finding new friends.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: Yozora decides that the best way to form new friendship bonds is through video games. However, starting with a "monster hunter" role-playing type game, Kodaka discovers that Sena and Yozora are much more interested in playing against each other. Later, Sena brings in a "gal game", and she ends up getting hooked.

My Impressions: Hm. Considering that Kodaka is the male lead of the series, in this episode he gets pushed back into barely a supporting background role as the two girls are practically at each others' throats the entire time. This has suddenly turned into the Sena vs. Yozora Show.

More than that, you certainly can understand exactly why this series is titled "I Don't Have Many Friends", as the two girls have about as much social grace and personal amity as a sack of rocks. Very angry rocks. Socially inept, clueless rocks.

One might think, based on the initial set-up, that this series is going to devolve into Yet Another Tiresome Anime Harem Series. But after two episodes, I'm certainly not getting that impression. These girls have about zero sexual awareness, it seems, as Kodaka has about as much presence as wallpaper, most of the time. A love triangle seems to be one of the most distant of possibilities at this time.

At this point, I am sort of flummoxed as to exactly where this is all supposed to be heading. Given that this second episode was all about video games, and largely poking fun at people playing these sort of games, I wonder if it will run the gamut of otaku activities by having the girls (and guy) run through the gantlet of standard tropes? Or perhaps I'm overreaching, and this was just a way to further define the main characters and their personalities...so far. And by that I mean we only have three named characters, and if they just keep slinging verbal barbs back and forth repeatedly that will get tired fast. Please, time to throw in a new character or two, to sweeten the pot!

At this point, I would hazard to say that the amount of enjoyment you would get out of this is directly tied into how much you are steeped in the anime/gaming/otaku culture already. They're clearly aiming for the anime-insular audience, which is fine, but it does limit the possible appeal to an already clearly-defined pool of potential viewers. I would say that if you enjoyed "OreImo" (which, much to my shock, I did) or "Genshiken", then this is right up your alley.

The verdict:

At this point, I'm not sure whether I like this series or not. I was truly surprised by how much I enjoyed the first episode; but the second episode leaves me wondering where this all heading. However, I must admit that I was largely entertained throughout. And that's a good sign.





For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "As of now, this series seems to be strongly oriented towards more hardcore otaku in general. The comedy relies upon your familiarity with otaku culture, so for those that aren’t too keenly aware of such, this episode won’t hold quite the same level of impact. If you do understand it though, it’s pretty darn funny." - Emory Anime Club
    • "I can certainly say that I enjoyed the second episode of Haganai much more than the first. This was more in line with what I was expecting – a lot of sass, a little sex, and some very funny dialogue...While it was at times wildly entertaining there’s not a lot of specific moments I can pick out as genius. Rather, the overall experience of watching the episode worked because the dialogue was really sharp." - Lost in America
    • "Though they have done quite a good job in adapting, I feel the anime isn’t portraying the comedy as efficiently as the manga does; being hesitant whether or not a wide audience would find certain scenes ‘comedic’. If you’re one of those who’ve decided to knock off Boku Tomo I’d suggest you to give the manga a try first." - Sekijitsu
    • "I must say that I watched this episode with a stupidly wide grin plastered across my face, while sitting on a train in London bound for Oxford, and with people facing me in the seat across. But Haganai really pulled out all the stops in the second episode with a torrent of blatant references, parodies and spoofs. Of games, no less." - How I Met Your Otaku
    • "I have a feeling that inevitably, Yozora and Sena’s fighting will become a means by which they show affection for one another, following the “even though they fight, deep down they are friends” sort of scenario...The two are more similar than they care to admit, or perhaps even recognize at this point in the show. However, it is clear the constant arguing leaves space for the two to develop into genuine friends, a desire the girls also have in common." - AniMaybe




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate/Zero, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain

      Coming up next: Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies

Anime Review: Fate/Zero Episode 2

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Anime Review:
Fate/Zero Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Fate/Zero is a 13-episode televised anime series starting between October and December 2011, a prequel to the popular Fate/Stay Night franchise from Type Moon. The story is set ten years before the events of the Fate/Stay Night series, during the fourth Holy Grail War. Seven different warriors are chosen to be teamed up with legendary Heroes to obtain the greatest prize: The Holy Grai, where they battle until one victor remains.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: Waver talks with his servant, Rider (Alexander the Great), who is less interested in the upcoming battle than with his place in history and conquering the modern world. Saber reconsiders her opinion of her master, Kiritsugu. A serial killer summons a demon, who turns out to be Bluebeard, the final contestant. With all the players in place, the battle begins.

My Impressions: I came into this episode fully prepared to dismiss it completely and give it a definitive thumbs-down. After all, I have been less than kind (to put it charitably) with everything else related to this series in the past.

And yet, this second episode (which was really an extension of the hour-long snoozefest introductory episode)...I did not hate. Not that there was anything special; it was nothing more than filling out the cast.

Perhaps because between now and when I watched the first episode, I actually listened to someone accurately describe what the whole grand storyline was about. Hence, I was not immediately lost in the complicated, unexplained storyline anymore. This was not something that was done when I watched the Unlimited Blade Works movie. This was not something that was done when I watched the first part of the Fate/Stay Night TV Reproduction (as a recap/compilation series, it certainly was a failure at what it was supposed to do). And it was not something that was done in the first episode of Fate/Zero -- or, if it was, then I was so achingly bored out of my gourd that I couldn't tell and didn't care.

My lack of understand of the series may be a product of my bass-ackwards way of sampling it (first the movie, then the Reproduction, then the Fate/Zero series). If instead I had picked up Fate/Stay Night with the first episode like everyone else, I might not be in this sorry state. Or perhaps the writers are just awful at their job of explaining the big picture, and get so lost in the details that they don't allow for an entry point for new viewers. It says something about the ability of the writers and producers of this series that I am much more able to get a handle of the big picture after a ten minute fan review from some minor podcast blog, than I am from watching over four hours (so far) of Fate-related shows.

The verdict:

Either way, I am thinking that I may not have given the series a fair shake, and really should give it a few episodes to see how it works out. Now that I understand the whole back-story of the Grail Wars, who the warriors are (in terms of resurrected heroes from the past), and all that. Mind you, at this point nothing has really happened, they've only really put the chess pieces on the board and made the first move. I'm not so much as giving the series a thumbs-up at this point, rather keeping my mind open. Hopefully something interesting will happen to maintain my interest, because if they just keep with the long-winded expositional scenes, I'll just get bored fast.





For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "I can’t knock anything about the series so far – production-wise it’s flawless, with great visuals and a terrific cast. The sense is that Urobuchi has created a pretty powerful and epic story here, somewhat reminding me of a modern dark fantasy with a sort of “Game of Thrones” feel to it. With GoT, it was also mostly admiration for me in the first few episodes – and then the emotional buy-in kicked in once all the facts were established, and the show became something great. Hopefully Fate/Zero will follow that same path for me." - Lost in America
    • "Fate/Zero doesn’t miss a beat as the build-up and exposition continues on in this second episode. It maintained the same pacing as the hour-long premiere and was just as epic too. Compared to Fate/stay night, there’s been a lot less emphasis on Saber and it sometimes feels like there’s no “main” protagonist at all, which as unusual as it may sound, is actually one of the reasons why I’m enjoying this prequel as much as I am." - Random Curiosity
    • "Most was much better than the first episode. Waver was one of the few parts in the first hour-long tedious affair that wasn’t terrible, and the first 10 minutes were all spent on him and Iskander arguing between conquering the world or fighting the Grail War. UFOTable did a decent job actually giving Kiritsugu a bit of personality besides "standing there stoically" with his interactions with Ilya too. Assassin dodging Adobe After-Effects at the end was rather corny looking, but hey… actual movement showing his agility and skill instead of just telling us about it. It’s a bloody Christmas miracle." - Tenka Seiha
    • "This was a really cool episode, and even better than the first, now that most of the explanation is out of the way. But man, does this show really like horror stuff; first the worms, now the kid? I won’t complain though, at least something’s taking itself seriously these days." - The Notaku Blog
    • "To wrap things up quickly, Fate/Zero is proceeding along at a good pace, and the dynamic between Uryuu and Caster is one of many interesting devices presented to the audience. As long as it isn’t pushed aside and left to fester until it’s needed for the plot, I have a feeling their relationship will be one of the highpoints in anime for the year, regardless of how much they’re actually developed." - Shinde Iie




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate/Zero

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain

      Coming up next: Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies
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Anime Review:
Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing is a 23-episode anime television series airing between October 2011 and March 2012, a sequel to the popular Last Exile anime series from 2003. Fam, the Silver Wing is a new story set in the same setting as the original series, following the adventures of Fam and Giselle, two vanship pirates and members of the Sky Pirates who rescue to princesses after war unexpectedly breaks out between warring kingdoms.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: Princess Liliana allies with the Sky Pirates to battle the encroaching Ades army, while her younger sister Millia heads back to the capital with Fam and Giselle. Liliana's surprise attack fails, and she is taken aboard the Ades flagship. Millia tries to rescue her sister with the skilled help of Fam and Giselle, but upon reaching the bridge of the ship, the Ades captain Luscinia explains his true motives for his attack. Luscinia utters one of the Mysteria, bringing down one of the Exile 'moons' in orbit around Earth, utterly destroying the Turan kingdom.

My Impressions: In a relatively weak Fall anime season, I'm leaning towards Last Exile as potentially the most interesting series of the season..

They throw a whole lot into just two episodes -- far too much to easily digest in just one sitting, and some parts that just leave me wondering "what the fuck just happened there?" -- such as when Liliana is possessed with light, and one of the orbiting moons responds by raining death from above. One thing is for sure: this series cannot be accused of not Thinking Big.

There are certain times when it is clear that the production staff are trying to show off, such as when the sky is filled with hundreds of floating ships in the sky, and the battle is in full swing. But the element of 'visual spectacle' means nothing if there isn't a story to back it up in the end (see my condemnation of Guilty Crown, for example). Luckily, it seems that Last Exile may actually have that complicated, interesting story to match up with the artwork and animation.

The first Last Exile series a decade ago had an extremely rich and textured setting, and it seems that the second series may be equally as detailed. So far we have only touched a small tip of this fantastical world, and I'm left wondering how much more will be revealed in the episodes ahead.

The only true wildcard at this point is the main characters themselves. Well, notably Fam, but also her co-conspirator Giselle and the rest of the cast. At this point the story itself is overshadowing any sort of serious character development, so I don't really have a feel for Fam as a character, or anyone else for that matter. All except for Dio -- but that is because he's the lone (so far) holdover from the last series, and thankfully in this second episode he comes across as a calm and measured ally rather than the prickish, puckish ass from before.

The verdict:

Before Fam the Silver Wing debuted, there was a great deal of trepidation among the fan community whether or not it would hold up compared to the seminal work. Everyone wants to compare the second series based on the first -- and it's hard to measure up to something that gosh-wowed the anime world the first time around. As near as I can tell, reaction to Fam the Silver Wing remains a mixed bag -- but from my own personal perspective, I've come away largely impressed after the first two episodes. Haven't been bored once.





For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "The second episode is an improvement over the first episode and it delivers the big, loud and easy action in a decent way. Since the series doesn’t feel like sharing at this moment it’s difficult to really sympathize with what’s going on since that’s simply unclear. Therefore what this series needs now are quiet moments to develop and deepen the stuff that were introduced in the beginning two episodes." - Otakuness
    • "Now this is more like it! It seems that the fears of excessive fanservice were misplaced." - Draggle's Anime Blog
    • "My impres­sions for the first epis­ode of Last Exile were largely the same as they were for Guilty Crown. Looks hella pretty, room for the plot to improve, please add some depth to these char­ac­ters. Guilty Crown took this advice on board, tied them up, stuck them in the boot of its car and drove it off a cliff. Did Last Exile fol­low in its sui­cidal tire tracks? Nope, some­how Gonzo have gone 2 epis­odes without screw­ing everything up." - The Cart Driver
    • "While Last Exile can’t match up to Guilty Crown in visuals, it certainly has a lot going for it in that department. The actually CG doesn’t exactly look amazing, but the way in which it’s used in the dogfights in the air are pretty cool. There’s definitely one thing for sure; Gonzo isn’t holding your hand and babywalking you through the beginning of the story. We get an immediate introduction to an all out war between two opposing sides, and oh man, was it a sight to see." - Emory Anime Club
    • "It was a nicely action packed episode. It helps that this series is much more plot driven which is something I always look for. I am just waiting for more of the plot to unfold to give it a more definite thumbs up, it is still too early; There is lots of room to screw up still. At least they are doing a good job mixing in CG into the art style. I am really liking that small touch." - Clanrain
    • "It’s still too early to write “Fam” off as “The Phantom Menace”. All it really has to do is step back and give us some time with the characters and a reason to care about them – sounds easy, right?...I suspect the answer won’t be apparent for a few more weeks at the very least, but no one will be rooting harder than me for it to happen." - Lost in America




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain

      Coming up next: Fate Zero, Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies

Anime Review: Phi-Brain Episode 2

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Anime Review:
Phi-Brain Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Phi Brain: Puzzle of God is an original 25-episode anime television series between October 2011 and April 2012, airing on NHK Educational Network. Kaito is a master at his high school at solving all kinds of puzzles. Along with his assistant Nonoha, he discovers a massive "unsolvable" puzzle near his school, and ends up battling the mysterious "Puzzle of God" for his very life.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: Kaito, using his 'special powers' solves the underground maze puzzle and saves himself and Nonoha. The next day at school, he meets up with another annoying puzzle solver known as Gammon. When Kaito is called to solve another "Puzzle of God" puzzle, Gammon butts into the action. Trapped in a life-size version of the 'parking cars' game, Kaito once again saves the day.

My Impressions: Everything that I found distasteful about the first episode, I find equally as distasteful in the second episode.

One thing that makes Phi-Brain so unenjoyable is Kaito himself, who is definitely in the competition for the most insufferable and dislikable character of the year. As hard-headed as a mule, always yelling, always frowning, lashing out at everyone about everything -- I wonder why the hell Nonoha would stick around that jerk. Then again, she hasn't proven to be exactly the smartest girl on the short bus, herself. (And the overbearing, brash, braggart Gammon who apparently is being introduced as one of Kaito's rivals -- not exactly an improvement in character over Kaito. Hate him, too.)

Also, for a show that is about puzzles, I remain underwhelmed. While I cannot say that I am a fan of the American movie series "National Treasure", at least they get the idea of these huge, cryptic secret-society puzzles *right*, with tension and excitement and honest-to-god mystery. In this second episode we have our protagonists facing off against a bwa-ha-hah-eeeeeevil-style-minor-level-boss-bad-guy in a...wait for it...real life parking car game. For those unaware, it's the kind of game where various cars are 'parked' on a sealed grid, and you have to slide them back and forth until you are able to slide the key car through the exit. So, this relatively easy little puzzle is the best they can do?

The verdict:

In the beginning, I wanted to like Phi-Brain, and the rough concept is kind of intriguing. It's a shame that they decided to lead it off with the most disagreeable character I've come across in a long time, and dumb it down too much. Cool concept, terrible execution.




For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "The show itself is not terrible but the over-the-top reactions of the characters with their awe-filled voices does get on my nerves and destroys the show." - Otakuness
    • "Despite the puzzles being a little easy so far (my favourite one was the morse code one, and that was barely even a puzzle), at least the show makes the puzzles seem tense. Characters sweat like mad, the music ramps up, and the villain starts laughing evilly. It really is a world where if you can solve a puzzle, you can rule the world. Can’t wait to see how lulzy things get when they try and solve that DIVINE PUZZLE to become closer to God ppffftttt. Well, if you’re gonna do puzzles in a shounen anime, might as well go all the way! This show is corny as hell, but I kind of like that sort of thing." - Metanorn
    • "Yeah, it’s generic shounen shit — NOW WITH PUZZLE SOLVING! — but it’s also pretty harmless shit. And I think that counts for something. In a medium where twincest, incest, loli fetishism, etc. is the norm, Phi Brain deserves another look." - Moe Sucks
    • "I still have no idea if this show will be good or not. The episode was entertaining, but I feel like there were just too many things that could go wrong with this title." - Angry Anime Bitches
    • "So yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous at first glance. Look a bit longer, and it’s still silly. But if you’re willing to accept the absurdity of the premise and just roll with it, there’s some enjoyment to be had." - The Anti-Otaku




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain

      Coming up next: Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero, Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies

Anime Review: Guilty Crown Episode 2

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Anime Review:
Guilty Crown Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Guilty Crown is an original 22-episode anime television series aired between October 2011 and March 2012 as part of the Noitamina time slot. In the future, Japan has been decimated by a virus, and is now occupied by a heavy-handed military international organization. Shu is little more than an ordinary high school student until he meets a member of the resistance organization Funeral Parlor, and in the heat of battle is bestowed a mysterious power that allows him to extract weapons from other peoples' bodies.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: After a strategic retreat following battling the government forces, Shu is confronted by the rebel leader, who is disgruntled because the genome virus that infected Shu was intended for him. The "Big Bad Government Baddies" target a group of civilians to draw out the Undertakers, and it works. But they soon learn they have bit off a bit more than they can chew when Shu breaks out his special powers and totally pwns them. When invited to join the Undertakers, Shu turns them down flat, wanting instead to return to his own, boring life.

My Impressions: I want to believe.

I mean, I really want to believe in Guilty Crown, because it truly is a gorgeous show, with stunning visuals and top-notch animation. However, no amount of gobsmackingly purty pictures on the computer screen can offset an otherwise subpar story or unbelievable plot.

In the first two episodes there were just so many times when I wanted to smack my forehead at their stupidity, or pinch the bridge of my nose and sigh in mock frustration. To be fair, the idea of an outrageous or unbelievable story by itself is nothing to complain about -- I think I could comfortably say that more than half of all basic story concepts in the world of anime these days defies reality. I guess it really depends upon the tone and timber of the story itself, and how the characters react in their own little made-up universe that matters. And Guilty Crown is...well...guilty of far too many transgressions that I cannot abide.

Yet it is so very easy to get caught up in the visual spectacle of it all, and just drink in the eye candy while you are watching. It is only afterward when I'm trying to tease out the plot and story that I realize just how much of a piece of shit Guilty Crown truly is. It was last week when I was listening to an audio podcast where someone reviewed the first few episodes, in which they accurately described the outline of the story in about ten minutes -- and it all sounded so ridiculous and derivative and cliched.

I hate the listless, uninterested-and-uninteresting main character who is playing the avoidant anti-hero (could he be any more unsympathetic?). I positively loathed the new eeeeeevil bad-guy gubmint character they introduced this character who seems to be chaotically evil for no logical reason. The cute girlie character, Inori, really is cute beyond belief...but has about as much personality as a knot of wood. I hate the gobblety-gook science of being able to reach into teenagers and pull out a "Void" weapon -- which would be utterly silly except it is compounded silliness because this is a variation of something that has been done before. Same with the bwa-ha-ha-evil! authoritarian government oppressing the poor Japanese public, with a small rag-tag group of rebels in opposition...where have we seen that before?. And I hate mecha...period.

And that's just for starters. I could go on. I won't. Guilty Crown is oh-so-pretty to watch, but previous experience has proven that the bloom wears off the rose after a few episodes, and unless there is an actual worthwhile story behind the visuals, it gets wearying very fast. And with a scheduled 22 episodes for the series, I figured I better cut it off at this point. I fear that if I watch it episode-by-episode, watch it with a critical eye and try to detangle the story and plot, by prefrontal cortex will eventually leap out of my forehead and strangle me in defiance.

The verdict:

I think the one moment where I determined that "Yeah, this is shit" was in the middle of the battle when the cute, underaged little cat-eared girl in the skin-tight outfit was doing her Dance Dance Revolution routine in her virtual reality set-up that remotely controls one of the battlesuits/mecha/Endlaves/whatever. And in the middle of the swirling melange of lights, she uses a tap of her butt to close one of the open holographic windows. Uhhhh...yeah. Thank you, World of Anime, for forever etching that memory into my mind.

I might return to Guilty Crown at some indefinite point in the future, but not to watch it with any serious thought. More like on Netflix if it comes out dubbed in English, so that I can sort-of watch it in the background when I'm only paying attention to the television screen 20% of the time, and typing away on my computer 80% of the time. Dubbed anime where I can turn by brain off makes for great background noise/entertainment.




For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "It looks like I’ll have to seriously re-adjust my expectations for this series. As of now, the one standout category for Guilty Crown is it’s production quality. The animation quality maintained it’s high standards from last week, and looked absolutely gorgeous. The story, on the other hand, does still feel a bit lackluster." - Emory Anime Club
    • "GOD. DAMMIT!! Stop being some fucking generic, lame-ass, shonen filled, re-hashed, Geass rip-off!!!! For the love of Christ please don’t waste the tools you have. I really want to try to like this show, and I have hopes that it will at least attempt to try to make it’s story better than what it seems like it will be. You don’t have to follow the same tropes as everything else, you don’t have to remake Code Geass, you don’t have to fuck this up." - The Notaku Blog
    • "You know, like the main character is bland, and the series has one cliché after another. Guy meets girl with special power, and now she’s in his high school class. By the way, he has a window seat! Quite frankly, I don’t even care...The psychopathic character is the second biggest attention grabber, followed by the mysterious girl. So you see, even if the main lead is bland, the show still offers enough entertainment to go around. Besides, he has time to improve." - Meeping Anime
    • "Well, that was a very suspense- and action-filled episode. We got guns, mechs, swords, and girls screaming in pleasurable agony. I get that the series is aiming for eradicating the evil empire aimed in making those who are less privileged suffer but I can’t seem to find the middle ground in all this. What is the turning point in all this?...Overall. This episode is breathtaking. It takes no stops to deliver the action it wanted. Action, suspense is what came into me in this. So I don’t have any qualms on this one." - The Dere Moe Project
    • "The second episode didn’t change much about the overall impression of disappointment hovering over this series. The concentration on action in this episode showed what each episode should look like to make this at least a decent action-shounen-series. But the ending of the second episode instead made sure that the bad stereotypes not yet covered by this series also get mentioned in the next episode surely." - Otakuness




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2, Guilty Crown

      Coming up next: Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero, Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies

Anime Review: Chihayafuru Episode 2

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Anime Review:
Chihayafuru Episode 2




What this is about: Separating the anime wheat from the chaff! Reviewing every subtitled anime show from 2010 and 2011! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Chihayafuru is a 25-episode anime television series airing between October 2011 and March 2012, based on a shoujo romance manga by Yuki Suetsugu. Chihaya has always put all her effort in supporting the modeling career of her older sister, until one day she meets a reclusive transfer student who introduces her to the competitive world of karuta. Now, years later, in high school she continues to pursue the game of karuta in hopes of meeting her friend again.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: In this episode of Li'l Karuta Rascals... Li'l Taichi bets that he can beat Li'l Arata at the upcoming karuta tournament. With his reputation on the line, Li'l Taichi goes dirty pool and steals Li'l Arata's glasses, so he can't see the cards. As he heads for defeat, Li'l Chihaya butts in as Li'l Arata's replacement and bests Li'l Taichi. While Li'l Chihaya is thrilled, her family doesn't care in the slightest. Li'l Taichi finally befriends Li'l Arata, and they life happily ever after.

My Impressions: Hey, hey! I am now finally getting around to reviewing the second episodes of all the shows from the Fall 2011 Television Season that received a “thumbs up” — let’s see what shows survive to the next round!

It's Part Two of the elementary school flashback that introduces the main characters and their motivations. Li'l Arata, Li'l Chihaya and Li'l Taichi are cute and all, but I'm sort of hoping that they'll wrap up this flashback sequence soon, because at this point it beginning to feel like a "very special episode" of The Wonder Years, complete with that sickly-sweet, cloying feeling forced nostalgia.

But that being said, this was a fairly effective way of quickly defining the characters, and we certainly do get the solid impression of Chihaya's strong-headed willfulness and emotional cluelessness. Likewise with Arata's autistic laser-like focus on his one-and-only skill (karuta), and with Taichi...well, he's pretty much your average half-devil/half-angel little boy, full of braggadocio and guilt and snips and snails and puppy tails and all that shit.

And I think we have a good overall feel for the game of karuta as well (to wit: sort of a cross between Spoons and Concentration). As far as I can tell, there really isn't that much of a "skill" involved -- to be a good player it seems all you have to do is memorize a couple lines from a whole bunch of old poems and be really fast.

Given that there isn't a whole lot of strategy involved with the game, I really hope they don't delve too deep in the minutiae of karuta (as opposed to the excruciating intricacies of mahjong covered ad nauseum in Saki), or this show could get really boring really fast. But honestly, I don't think that's going to happen, as it seems this is going in the direction of heavy character interaction. Which is a good thing.

The verdict:

But I really do hope they wrap up the whole flashback bit soon, and start moving forward with the modern-day story instead. The fumbling innocence of elementary students has limited appeal to me.

Oh, it really did sting a little bit when Li'l Chihaya was calling her family all-so-proud at winning the school tournament, only to get completely rejected by her mother and dismissively ridiculed by her sister. I realize their actions were not so much mean-spirited as they were out of a total lack of caring or empathy, but I did want to reach through telephone line and slap them around a little bit. Unintentional cruelty really hurts.




For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "Chihayafuru continues to surprise here, with it’s rather charming cast of characters leaving a great impression. The cast really has a sense of realism and personality to them, with even the bits of drama due to jealousy and guilt feeling very real and not blown over the top. There’s a strange sense of honestly and naivety to the kids here, and makes the entire premise feel rather genuine." - Emory Anime Club
    • "I sort of want to cry after having seen this episode. It is not because it was sad, nor is it because it was emotional, but simply because I could not help but cringe multiple times whilst watching the show and that disappointed me. One thing this episode did for me was that it reaffirmed my lack of tolerance for brats." - Otakuness
    • "lol the irony of this series is, I keep telling myself that i would have dropped the manga during certain scene but still loving this show." - Conspicuous Klux
    • "I’m not necessarily complaining about the plot’s realism. Rather, the drama just feels a little too cheap and a little too forced for my liking. Every drama is contrived to a certain extent, but when the story becomes too transparent in its designs, the narrative immersion is ruined for me. I should be finding myself lost in the story, but instead, I’m removed from it and picking at the structure." - Moe Sucks




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2

      Coming up next: Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero, Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies

Anime Review: Ben-To Episode 2

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Anime Review:
Ben-To Episode 2




What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don't have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Ben-To is a 12-episode weekly anime television series based on a light novel series, airing between October and December 2011. Yoh Satou has recently started attending a private high school, and heads out in search for a cheap meal for dinner. But little does he know that he gets sucked into an all-out battle royale for half-priced bento lunch boxes at the local supermarket.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: Yoh joins the "Half-Priced Food Lovers Club" and begins his apprenticeship in the fine art of fighting for ben-to lunch boxes. He meets other fighters, including Yuu "The Wizard", as well as obstacles like "The Boar" who absconds with the food before battle, or "The Wolf Pack" that descend on the supermarket in overwhelming numbers. Despite this, Yoh emerges victorious on his first night, with a special meal sticker that earns him kudos with Sen.

My Impressions: Hey, hey! I am now finally getting around to reviewing the second episodes of all the shows from the Fall 2011 Television Season that received a “thumbs up” — let’s see what shows survive to the next round!

Yes, yes...the very concept of the show is utterly ridiculous. And yet, I think part of the charm lies in that very fact. Once you accept the idea of teenage kids fighting tooth and nail for cheap food -- as an underground sport -- it all seems to come together. And as long as they don't try to take it all too seriously (and they're *not*), all is good.

But I think ultimately the series will succeed or fail based on how interesting the characters become, and how well the interact with each other. We start with the main character Yoh, playing the part of the hapless deer-in-the-headlights guy dumped into the middle of it all. At first, he could be going down the route of the indecisive weakling (the "Shinji", a character type that has infected and ruined so many shows of late, and which I've lamented about before); but in the middle of this episode he has a moment of revelation when talking with "The Wizard", and basically says fuck it, I'm going to go for it. Hooray for characters with a bit of spine!

There's also Sen, who really takes a bit of a backseat this time around, but it seems she's not going to be as much of the emotionless, unapproachable character type (the "Rei Ayanami"), but may actually show hints of emotion, hooray for that as well. The club is rounded out by the always-eager-yet-useless Hana...I'm not so sure where she fits in the series yet. Nor am I certain about the comedy relief of the student council prez Ume, who is downright obsessed with Hana. We also get glimpses of some of the other food fighters, such as The Wizard, and I'm sure we'll be introduced to more to come.

So far, so good. Ben-To is nothing special, but good for a lightweight diversion, although I wonder if the concept can really carry a full season of shows. Then again, as I said above it's not so much about the all-out battles themselves, but the characters bouncing off each other. Let's see how that develops.

The verdict:

Oh yeah, and I definitely noticed how repeatedly the first-person point-of-view through Yoh's eyes kept gravitating downwards whenever he was speaking with a woman...down away from the eyes towards the chest. I found that hi-LARious because it is so true. Sorry girls, but when you're a teenage boy drenched in hormones, it is all to common to try and steal a glance (awkwardly turning into a stare when you think no one is looking) whenever possible. But what makes it so funny is how they do it, with the camera view slowwwwwly panning down... Yes, it's true; all teenage guys are horn-dogs at heart.




For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "The reverential pomposity of a samurai epic combined with the outrageous humor really works. You’ve also got a very strong cast and a visual style with a ton of flair. Put it all together and you have a solid comedy with a lot of potential." - Lost in America
    • "I’m too busy having my mouth open the entire time than to complain that Satou has no personality at all as a character, is completely uninteresting, and keeps wandering his vision to breasts...The pacing’s really nice though, speeding through what could have been dragged out to be several episodes, and combo’d with the frenetic fights sprinkled between scenes, it’s hard to stay bored." - Random Curiosity
    • "This episode does an amazing episode of showing how that this anime is more than just a senseless battle for food. The writers look as though they put real thought into certain aspects in this anime that are so surprising and clever, it actually makes sense. I also appreciate how this anime utilizes Sato's attraction to women. Go Ben-To." - Media Beast
    • "The notions of Pride, Strength etc are forced upon the setting of fighting over bentos and none of it felt natural to me. The writers had tried to integrate the generic morals of fighting into the setting of fighting over food and having pride in a fight but because of the whole concept, it felt cheap and questionable instead. Everything was simply a “what the hell” sort of thing for me." - Otakuness




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2

      Coming up next: Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero,Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies
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Anime Review:
Shinryaku Ika Musume Season 2 Episode 2




What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don't have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.



Series Premise: Shinryaku Ika Musume, or "Invader Squid Girl", is a weekly anime television series based on a comedy manga by Masahiro Anbe. The first 12-episode series aired during the Fall of 2010, and the second 12-episode season between September and December 2011. The story follows a young Squid Girl who is angered by humanity's defiling the oceans, so she arrives on a beach one day to subjugate the human race. But she soon discovers she may have bitten off more than she can chew, and ends up working as a waitress in a small beach cafe as she continues to plan her eventual conquest.



Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:



Very Quick Episode Summary: Ika Musume visits elementary school and plays soccer, only to discover that, with the exception of her tentacles, she's extremely clumsy. Nagisa and Ayumi dress up to attract more attention for the cafe, but end up attracting Ika Musume's jealousy. Later, they discover Ika Musume has the power to change her weight at will.

My Impressions: Hey, hey! I am now finally getting around to reviewing the second episodes of all the shows from the Fall 2011 Television Season that received a “thumbs up” — let’s see what shows survive to the next round!

This is a season of "second seasons". Not only do we have another batch of Shinryaku Ika Musume, but also another batch of Working!, as well as another round of Bakuman. If there is one thing that I've learned, it is that the "second seasons" are essentially no different from the first seasons. Well, not really "learned", because I already knew that going into this little boondoggle; more like "reinforced" what I already knew.

So, if the second season of the same show is often nothing more than an extension of the first season -- then it really boils down to a question of how much I liked the first season. With Working! and Bakuman, I was pretty "meh" with the first seasons, and likewise my opinion is pretty "meh" with the second season as well. But I considered Shinryaku Ika Musume the best comedy of 2010 (and in fact the 4th best series of the year overall). Hence, I an enjoying the second season as well.

To be clear, we are not covering any new ground here -- the characters have the same quirks and foibles (and, alas, annoyances), the comedy remains light-weight and inconsequential, each episode is broken into three short episodes with a different joke or topic. There's not really any continuity to speak of -- just one throw-away joke after another.

And it all centers around the still-adorable-as-ever Ika Musume. She remains as haughty as they day we first met her (no waning in her enthusiasm or ego), but her experience, talent and skill remain...less than awe-inspiring. For example, even though she has mad skillz with her tentacles, that does not translate over to her hand-eye coordination, as we learn on the soccer pitch.

Shinryaku Ika Musume is never going to be knock-your-socks-off amazing, but as far as light entertainment goes, it hits the spot. Not every show has to be fraught with deep meaning or angst, after all. And perhaps most refreshing, it is one of the few shows out there that does not have to resort to inappropriate fan-service for attention. Yay! Frankly, I wish more shows would follow Shinryaku Ika Musume's lead.

The verdict:

One more thing: Are we sure that she's a Squid Girl...and not a cat? We learned that (through a twist of her bracelet), she can change her weight at will. And my immediate thought was, "Hey, that's a cat's ability!" After all, anyone who has ever owned a cat -- and tried to pick one up when they don't want to be picked up -- will know that cats can seemingly change their density at will. Suddenly it seems like that eight pound ball of fur has turned into a floppy fifty pound sack of suet.




For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:
    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • "I know they picked much of the first season from some of the funnier moments of the manga, so I was slightly concerned that the second season wouldn’t be as good. But after watching the first two episodes, I’m no longer worried. Surely there were moments of discovery, such as the “umbrella” episode, that can’t be recreated, but now that she’s more familiar with land-based-life, Ika will surely have more opportunities to plan her invasion." - Moe Monster
    • "Looks like last week was a bit of a false alarm – after this week, I can say with confidence that everyone's favorite squid girl is truly back." - Lost in America
    • "The jokes were hilarious, and strangely enough, worked out without being too repetitive or redundant. Seriously, if every episode turns out like this one, we’re in for one heck of a treat." - Emory Anime Club
    • "So episode 2 wasn’t a total loss but I’m hoping they can rekindle some of that chemistry of the first season because right now, I feel that the current second season quality is such that I think I would have dropped it already if I hadn’t already watched the first season of Ika Musume in its entirety." - No Name Anime Blog




      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2

      Coming up next: Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero,Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies

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