lessonsinescapology: (Yay)
Just watched the final episode of Yuri on Ice..... That ending caused me to have tears in my eyes, broke my heart, yet lifted my spirits and made me smile like a madwoman! What a brilliant, brilliant series with a great production team behind it.

Excuse me while I go search for tissues..*Chibi Ariss in fangirl mode*
lessonsinescapology: (Rose)
Some of the animé series I've watched in the past 6 months:

Tokyo Ravens (24 eps-Year 2013): This series feels like it has an identity crisis. On the one hand, it works as a shounen series with magical battles, then there is a contrived hidden character as a plot device and three female characters whose character design is different from the rest of the cast to mark them as love interests and fetish objects. I think this is the first time I've seen a different character design in the same series just to mark some girls as fan boy service. It's a shame because the Onmyoujitsu factor is interesting and there are some truly multi-faceted villains and the coolest disabled character yet in anime-land. But in the end, it fails because of excessive fanservice and a lack of a coherent plot and ending.

Break Blade (6 films-Year 2010): This one was a surprise. Great OP& ED sings, beautiful animation, and a plot driven by strong characters and some moral issues thrown in amid a war between two nations over a valuable yet dwindling natural resource. The ending was left open-ended but it's a very good piece of animation that should have more if only the manga would oblige. As a side note, I really disliked a certain female character here who looked like a Christmas elf with no pants and walks around naked in rooms as pure fanservice. Never mind that she is the queen of a country where the culture and manners seem very conservative. Logic clearly went out the window when it came to this plot point.

Noragami Aragoto (13 eps-Year 2015): I wasn't taken by the first season but this second season was more robust and meatier since it focuses on what Noragami does best: characters and their relationships. We learn more about Bishamonten and Yato's past and it's both tragic and compelling. Hiyori continues to be a strong and likeable character even if she can't wield magic or a sword. It's a definite improvement over the first season.
lessonsinescapology: (Yay)
Great news! Natsume Yūjin-Chō aka Natsume's Book of Friends is getting a fifth anime series this autumn! XD

Yay! I adore this manga/animé, especially with the way it keeps getting better with each instalment. Thank you! *waves at mangaka and animé staff*

Link: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2016-03-20/natsume-book-of-friends-tv-anime-gets-season-5-this-fall/.100011
lessonsinescapology: (Rose)
1. Senki Zessho Symphogear (13 eps, Year 2012)
2. Senki Zessho Symphogear G (13 eps, Year 2013)
3. Senki Zessho Symphogear GX (13 eps, Year 2015)

I'd heard of an animé genre called "Idol animé" featuring usually pre-pubescent girl who sing and dance and go on adventures or fight magical enemies. Knowing how bored I would be if I attempted to watch that, I picked Symphogear because it was more action-based and while I wouldn't say I was disappointed, it's also one of the strangest animé series I've watched yet^^

The show is a blend of fanboy favourites like cute girls singing and forming yuri-like relationships, some extreme instances of fanservice in the form of nudity/sex/S&M implications (pretty sure this aired after midnight in Japan), and elements from Sailormoon with transformation sequences and monsters to fight, and characters suddenly singing with frames and special effects on the screen similar to Jem& The Holograms. If that's not enough to raise eyebrows then the completely over the top villains will.

Symphogear isn't a good show and I can't in all honesty recommend it, but it's worth a look if only to see the way the show's director managed to blend the chaotic mishmash from every animé cliché into one entertaining whole. Because it IS a lot of fun to watch in the end, if only for the viewer to shake their heads and say they can't believe that happened! XD

Personally, I enjoyed the generic J-pop songs by industry veterans Nana Mizuki and Aya Takahagi and the fight scenes were amusing. The girls' armour designs reminded me of old arcade games and Bubblegum Crisis. The annoying part was predictably the main character Hibiki Tachibana; her story and background is weak and she has no real motive to fight and risk her life. Other characters outright say that fighting and dying for someone else without a valid reason is simply a form of suicide but the show glosses over this by emphasizing her "heart of gold." Uh-huh. It doesn't help that the seiyuu, Aoi Yuki, has a squeaky voice that resembles a little girl.

If you've got some free time, give it a try. Someone compared it to Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and that's not far off.
lessonsinescapology: (Captain Cold)
Garo: the Crimson Moon (ep. 1-13, Year 2015): I watched the live action Garo and liked those so when a Heian-era anime was announced, I gave it a try. Honestly, Studio Mappa has done a poor job animating this series. The animation is pretty bare-bones and even ugly in some places, the colours are flat, and there are instances where the characters' anatomy looks wrong. *sighs* That said, there are usually a few scenes in each episode with an almost panoramic view that resembles Japanese paintings and those are beautiful and really set the mood for an anime taking place in ancient Japan. The accompanying soundtrack is nothing special though.

The plot is a straight-forward procedural with a monster in each episode that needs to be defeated. There's a Makai Knight, Makai Priest (magician), and a cute side kick. It may not be accessible to many fans because it relies heavily on Japanese folktales and references to demons and Onmyoujitsu and it doesn't make much effort to explain it to the viewer, assuming fans already know.

Park Romi is fun to listen to as Seimei, yes the famous Onmyouji is a woman in this show, but I keep waiting for the story to do something interesting or for the plot to move at a better pace. The series is listed as having 26 episodes so we'll see if it improves. I'm not hopeful at this rate^^
lessonsinescapology: (Stormy)
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic (25 eps, Year 2012)
Its sequel Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (25 eps, Year 2013)


After spending 2 weeks watching 50 episodes of this animé, I have a lot of comments and not a small amount of frustration. There will be spoilers below.
Read more... )
lessonsinescapology: (Stormy)
Noragami (12 eps, Year 2014): I thought I'd catch up on this animé since the sequel is airing this autumn. See, I have a problem with animé series that are produced by Studio Bones. The series usually have beautiful animation, gorgeous colours, and good music/soundtrack but the story is always the weakest point. Unfortunately, Noragami continues to prove me right.

The characters are all likeable and the goal of this first season is clearly to establish all three main characters and resolve their issues in a way that allows them to become friends/a family. The animation is beautiful with some truly gorgeous backgrounds and lush over-saturated colours. The music and OP song is particularly strong. And the characters are likeable but... there's nothing new in this animé. The plot and characters are re-hashed from several shounen manga/series and have appeared in various forms for anyone who's been watching animé for a few years. I enjoyed Noragami but ultimately it's average at best and is unlikely to be remembered by animé fans.

Yes!

Oct. 5th, 2015 10:50 pm
lessonsinescapology: (Yay)
After two abysmal Gundam series that focused more on merchandising than being an actual anime, it was great to watch the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. Hats off to writer Mari Okada for achieving so much in 25 minutes, the setting, political factions, and the main characters and their relationships are all outlined. I felt like I had a good grasp of the possible storyline without any sacrifice on part of pacing and action scenes. Love the main battle theme too!

The relationship between Orga and Mikazuki looks promising and Takahiro Sakurai is voicing the villain! Yay! One happy fangirl ^_^ Hopefully the series will continue as it started, with a definite bang.
lessonsinescapology: (Stormy)
Arslan Senki aka The Heroic Legend of Arslan (25 eps-Year 2015): It is impossible to watch this TV series and not compare it to the OVAs that were released in the 90's. So which one is better? In terms of character design, animation quality, music, and story-telling technique, the OVAs are vastly better but will not appeal to casual animé fans or those who dislike non-linear story-telling.

The TV series is a solid pseudo-historical/fantasy series dealing with war, politics, and religious intolerance (quite appropriate for today's political climate); it offers a larger cast of characters and more exposition on parts of the plot that the OVAs didn't convey coupled with sweeping battle scenes and a surprising amount of blood and violence.
Read more... )
lessonsinescapology: (Stormy)
Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold: (13 eps-Year 2015) I can always rely on Saint Seiya for beautiful men doing battle with each other, falling in tragic love affairs with women, and themes of overt masculinity and male friendship in the effort to save the world. It's entertaining in a shallow way but it works^^ Though the production values and seiyuu are of a low quality for this series, it was nice to get a look at the Gold Saints because they rarely get any screen time in a normal SS anime.

Kamisama Hajimemashita aka Kamisama Kiss, season.2 (12 eps-Year 2015): Nanami is still an entertaining and strong heroine but the overt use of humour and "Greek chorus" ruined the second season for me. The crows plot wasn't that interesting either and the series only redeems itself in the last two episodes with a small revelation about Nanami's past/origins. Hopefully a third season will move back to the main storyline.
lessonsinescapology: (Cloud)
It's been a while since I posted about animé. The trend toward light novel adaptations and fanservice haven't produced much worthy series. Here are the ones I've recently seen and enjoyed:

Madan no Ō to Vanadis aka Lord Marksman and Vanadis (13 eps-Year 2014): Surprisingly enough, I really enjoyed this despite the fair amount of fanservice on display but the way it's presented and handled makes it easier to bear by a female viewer and I can brush the "breasts" aside in favour of tangled politics and alliances, military strategy, and a cast of solid female characters wielding weapons given to them by dragons in a fantasy/pseudo-historical setting. All the female characters rank above the male ones, which makes for an interesting dynamic. Though I am amused by the inability of this series' team to draw and animate horses. The only possible assumption is they've never seen a horse in real life.

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii aka The World Is Still Beautiful (12 eps-Year 2014): I liked this unconventional animé so much that I will be purchasing its US release by Sentai Filmworks when it comes out. The story is about a boy genius whose cunning and ruthlessness crowned him as the Sun King even before he hit puberty and a 16-17 years old daughter of a tribe from a faraway land with mystical powers. I loved Nike; she's strong yet compassionate. Some viewers didn't like the wide gap in age between the main characters but don't let that stop you as the series doesn't ignore that aspect and deals with Livius' issues. There is a dark layer beneath the comedy and cheerful colour palette: implied child neglect, self esteem issues, unrequited love, and a murky line between childhood/adulthood and love/possession. The different characters, their motivations, and their ability to make the viewer care is this series' strong point.

Suki-tte Ii na yo aka Say I love You (13 eps-Year 2012): I only watched because I wanted an animé with Takahiro Sakurai in the lead role. Gorgeous animation and OP song. The themes are a bit clichéd but they are portrayed with enough sincerity and sensitivity that the characters and story becomes likeable. It handles issues related to high school and adolescence very well.
lessonsinescapology: (Yay)
I was browsing several sites before accidentally clicking on this. It seems to be from an actual, honest to god animé! XD

Don't drink anything when watching this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2sk-XfiyOc

EDIT: I just noticed that the henshin phrase is "Lovemaking!"
*dies laughing*
lessonsinescapology: (Moi)
Sailor Moon Crystal ep.1-7: Okay, that's enough. While I enjoyed the new character designs and CG sailor transformations, the animation quality is poor and the pacing and storytelling is lethargic and uninspired. The real problem with this adaptation is it's lack of "heart", there's no emotional attachment on part of the viewer. Say what you want about the original SM which was cheesy as hell at times, but directors Junichi Sato (Kaliedo Star) and Kunihiko Ikuhara (Utena) knew how to balance themes of female friendship, romance, and off-beat humour to hook viewers into following a show that had very standard animation and the same OST over five TV seasons and multiple films. SMC looks and feels like any generic magical girl anime with overt yuri tones, such wasted potential. I will be buying Viz's re-release of the original SM coming this November, thank you very much.

Gundam Reconguista in G, ep.1-2: I am not sure what Reconguista stands for but this anime feels dated due to the child-like character designs and the mecha looking very simplistic. The main character is a smart and talented pilot but keeps licking his finger or lips and there are too many female characters serving as eye-candy and exhibit hysterical behaviour. The OP is a good clue to the tone of the show. I'll pass.

Madan no Ou to Vanadis, ep.1: aka Lord Marksman and Vanadis. A harem-show in a fantasy setting with 7 girls called Vanadis who were given magical weapons by dragons. The dragon is seriously cute! Lots of bouncing boobs here but I think I'll continue watching for a while because I admire a female character who is naked and tells a man she wants to have sex with him since she likes the way he tried his best to kill her. *laughs* How refreshingly direct for a female animé character!
lessonsinescapology: (Sky)
Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio aka Arpeggio of Blue Steel: This show is a full of contradictions. It has a great OP song but a lousy ED one. The animation is terrible and so are the character designs but the CG is very beautiful. The basic concept is sci-fi and ambitious, yet gets dragged down by gratuitous fanboy service that nearly derails the entire plot. It had its moments but the fanservice made it hard at times to watch.

Kuroko's Basketball, season.2: I enjoyed this. Beautiful animation and a bright colour palette and basketball-type music. I was surprised though to find the series ending before the final match of the tournament but learned there's a third season coming soon. This series is full of homoerotic tension^^ It's hard not to speculate when the characters all display such strong feelings of "loyalty and brotherhood". Kuroko is an interesting main character. The action is rarely centred around him but he is always connected to the plot and has a part to play, much like his namesake from Japanese theatre.

I have to admit that I enjoyed the OVAs more because they show Kuroko's time with the so-called Generation of Miracles. It's "Kuroko's Basketball: Tip Off" and "Mōikkai yarimasen ka".

Anime

Jul. 15th, 2014 09:17 pm
lessonsinescapology: (Hana)
Nobunaga the Fool, ep.1-8: Okay, enough is enough. This is so silly and full of clichés. Kawamori Shoji isn't doing himself any favours here.

Aldnoah Zero, ep.1: Um.. for a new and original animé, this feels very dated. The plot is familiar from a dozen mecha series and the first episode was very heavy-handed in its message of "War is Bad" along with racism and class struggles, poorly veiled symbolism and a protagonist who seems like a robot doesn't help matters. The background animation is gorgeous, the CG is poor, and the character designs are problematic as they look more suited to a romance or slice-of-life animé. Seriously, all the faces are round with soft, thin lines. I can't tell one character form another.

Love Stage!, ep.1: This one is an unexpected delight. Cute, sparkly, and like crack. The premise is old but the execution makes it shine. This will be my "feel-good" series for the summer. I couldn't stop grinning while watching it.

Sailor Moon Crystal, ep.1: Wow. Look at these character designs. The whole series looks beautiful and much closer to Naoko Takeuchi's manga version. Is it bad of me that I'm waiting for the Outer Senshi to appear? XD Haruka and Michiru! Oh and I hated Usagi's seiyuu before so I'm not exactly thrilled that she's back.

Tokyo ESP,ep.1: This one needs a better title. It's a fast-paced, stylish X-Men derived series though. I hope it lives up to its promises. The scene with the motorbike was the same as the one in an animé from last year so the director is clearly copying there.
lessonsinescapology: (Hana)
I'm not a fan of harem shows or reverse-harem shows. Several attempts at watching them failed and faltered before I even reached more than 4 episodes, titles including: Amnesia, Uta no Prince, Corda D'Oro, etc. But I needed something light and fun to watch so I tried Kamigami no Asobi.

The official summary is: "Yui Kusanagi is ordered by Zeus, a god and the headmaster of a school he created, to teach the meaning of love to young and handsome gods. The reason he has for doing this is to cancel the negative effects of the weakening bond between the world of the divine and the world of the humans."

While it's nominally true, that's not what this series of 12-episodes is really about. Zeus is as much an ass here as he is in the myths and creates a floating island/garden and kidnaps young gods from Norse, Japanese, and Greek pantheons and places them here and puts Yui in charge of teaching them about humanity in order to make sure they can relate to humans and thus have worshippers or some such and no one can leave until the "class" graduates from this fictional school he created. For an added bonus, he seals their powers and puts them into human bodies with all the limitations that come with being mortal. The first episode provides a good "WTF" introduction to Yui's situation.

Yui ends up as a sort of nanny/teacher of humanity/and spiritual counsellor to a group of angry young gods who want to go home. The comedy and drama arises from her interactions with the young gods who all fit a certain stereotype in yaoi-land. It's worth noting that the director, series composition, and character designers are all women which undoubtedly contributed to the beautiful character designs and themes of friendship that dominate the series. Sure there are the usual attempts to pair Yui with every male character since this is based on an Otome game but Yui comes out as much more strong-willed and independent than the average bland female protagonist often found in such a series and all the male characters have such strong ties to other male characters that Yui ends up in the role of a supportive sister/friend.

A major spoiler here but I think you should read it if you want to know what happens: Read more... )

This isn't a stellar animé series but it does what it sets out to do: deliver a show with beautiful animation, well-known seiyuu, fanservice, and a light-hearted tone that appeals to female viewers and at 12-episodes it was short and had a good ending. I rather enjoyed it.
lessonsinescapology: (Snow)
Just finished watching the last episode of Valvrave, episode.24, and I'm speechless. I had such low expectations for this and then mid-season the tone of the series changed completely. Very nicely done and this is one animé that deals with some of the issues we see in the news today like modern military warfare, social media and information manipulation, politics, and the meaning of humanity.

A word of warning though. This series is NOT for the faint of heart. There is a good deal of graphic violence, character death, and dark themes. It's not gratuitous but realistic and shocking. The director uses these moments to punctuate the rhythm of the story to good effect. If there was one thing I could complain about, it would be the scarce number of scenes between L-elf and Haruto. These two really drive the plot.

And Rukino Saki is my favourite female character to be added to a very short list of female animé characters which I like. She goes through a lot, both in her past and during the series, and she still manages to be strong and yet sympathetic without falling into popular clichés.

Great last episode. I might need to ponder it some more.
lessonsinescapology: (Moi)
Finished watching season.1 of Hakkenden. I won't be watching the second season. It's a sloppy mixture of every trope in shoujo manga and a little yaoi too. The animé doesn't know what it wants to be or which direction it's going. The strange paradox of a Japanese society ruled by a Western Church hasn't been fully explained either in any episode. Unless they like the church angle because the priests wear pretty robes? *raises eyebrow*


Kuroko's Basketball on the other hand is a lot of fun. Beautiful and vibrant animation with decent music. It's a shounen tournament-style sports animé about basketball. What makes it interesting is a protagonist who is a genius but in a very, very specific field and acknowledges that he needs someone else to "shine" for him. It's a nice twist to see a main character who is a "king maker" rather than aiming to be the "king". The sequel/second season is coming this winter. I bet there's a lot of yaoi doujinshi for this series^^
lessonsinescapology: (Moi)
I've missed watching real sci-fi shows like Star Trek and Babylon 5. The Western/sci-fi hybrids just don't do it for me so I was pleasantly surprised upon delving into Fafner.

Thoughts are behind the cut in case anyone has spoiler-phobia.
Read more... )

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