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Anime Review: Medaka Box July 13, 2016

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Back in June I wrote up a review for Sentai Filmworks’ complete collection of Medaka Box. At this point this review is a fair bit old, but I kept forgetting to post it here. Overall, Medaka Box is only a tame introduction to the great stuff the manga eventually has in store, but it’s still a pretty decent time, and I didn’t at all mind watching it again. Check out my full thoughts over at The Fandom Post.

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Anime Review: Tribe Cool Crew October 6, 2015

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We should all feel some level of appreciation for Crunchyroll at this point. When I started really watching anime, the popular things were licensed, most of the late-night otaku shows were fansubbed (if not a little late sometimes), and more pertinently, if you were into kids shows, you could count on the big, long-running franchises – your Pretty Cures and Jewelpets – to be subtitled eventually, depending on the demand for such things. Nowadays though, while not everything will get picked up, Crunchyroll does seem to try their best to pick up as many things as possible to serve every possible audience they can every single week. Tribe Cool Crew is one of those weird little kids cartoons that probably would have never seen any exposure in the English-speaking (and Spanish-speaking, and Portuguese-speaking) world had it come out at a different time, but for the past year we have been thoroughly graced by the joy of this show almost every single week, and I couldn’t be happier.

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Anime Review: Fuujin Monogatari December 26, 2014

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I participated in MyAnimeList’s Secret Santa event this year, and I received Fuujin Monogatari, a simple show about people who have discovered flying cats and magic wind-controlling powers. I have been intending to see it for a while now and I had as good an excuse as any thanks to my secret Santa. How does it hold up?

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Anime Review: Durarara!! August 11, 2014

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Durarara!! is pretty addicting urban legend suspense stuff. It intimidates at first by having such a large cast, but each and every one of the characters is cool in a modern, hip way and also not at all complex, making them both easy to digest and to quickly like. This works in its favor for the most part, because Ikebukuro is not only the setting for Durarara!!, it is also essentially the story and the main character. So, the show presents the city to you in pieces, specifically, the cast, whose stories mingle, collide, and combine in an interesting and exciting fashion, but it eventually loses itself in the struggles of only a few, when the beauty lies in its many. This review contains spoilers, so heads up.
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Anime Review: Hajime no Ippo August 21, 2013

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There are plenty of stories about a young man finding some sort of passion and following it to some sort of logical conclusion, and Hajime no Ippo chooses not to stray from that basic idea very far. Luckily for original creator Morikawa George, not straying far from this premise seems to be the recipe for a successful comic that has lasted more than 1000 chapters week after week since its original Shounen Magazine publishing in 1989. This adaptation by Madhouse and director Nishimura Satoshi is longer than your usual TV anime run, at 75 episodes, but it doesn’t quite cover the incredible length of Morikawa’s original comic. Instead, it opts for a sort of complete story in itself, covering protagonist Makunouchi Ippo’s career from its inception until his eventual championship. (more…)

Anime Review: Cross Game July 15, 2011

Posted by navycherub in Anime, Review.
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I am typically hesitant to even begin decently long shonen series. They tend to be filled with flaws that reflect lazy writing for the sake of length, unfortunately. From huge casts of characters, ranging from the barely touched upon yet interesting side characters to the incredibly dull main characters who receive much more than their fair share of exposure. On top of that, there are occasionally long stretches of boring developments or slow pacing to keep the content running. Very often these lengthy series become too stagnant and similar to itself, leading me to feeling the need to take breaks from the show simply because I need to experience something in any way different for once. Last but not least, the ending is very rarely satisfying, leaving me wishing I had spent my time on a series that could end itself without so many bumps in the road.

Cross Game has none of those problems, and that is why it is a series that will be remembered. (more…)

Anime Review: The Legend of the Legendary Heroes February 11, 2011

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The Legend of the Legendary Heroes is a surprising show in that it has quite a bit to offer that one most likely wouldn’t have expected on a quick glance. On the surface it is a typical shounen action anime involving magical attacks and a search for mystical objects, and to some extent that is true. However, once the story begins unraveling, and it happens pretty quickly, Legendary Heroes shows that it has much more to offer than fighting and quirky antics. (more…)

Anime Review: Heroman September 26, 2010

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Ever wanted to live in Los Angeles? Is it your dream to pour coffee at a diner for famous celebrities like Stan Lee?  Wait, you say want a giant mute robot and random super powers, so that together you can annihilate opposing alien invaders? Wow you dream big. Well all this and more can be yours simply by watching Heroman! Yes, it can all be yours for the low low price of 26 episodes!

In Heroman, we follow Joey Jones, a young American teen, having all the usual teen problems: Bullies, Sexy female friends, and Working at diners.  While at work , Joey sees a commercial for the HEYBO robotic toy, but being the broke teenager he is, can’t afford it on his salary. Flash ahead a little further, and a gang of privileged youth, who always pester Joey, happened to have such a HEYBO. They then proceed to break it and throw it away;  Joey picks it up, fixes it in super montage time, and voila! Well, where do the powers come in? Patience my dear. Well, while all this is happening, Joey’s quack science teacher manages to get a transmission out to space, leading to an alien invasion! Well, all that space travel tends to cause lightning… and that means that lightning has to hit a young boy’s recently repaired toy robot, the blast causing Joey to get powers by proxy. And there you have it; Heroman is born.

Heroman is the brainchild of Stan Lee and Bones studio. It’s only natural the show takes a lot of its cues from comic books, i.e. the achievement of superpowers via some extravagant means; In Heroman’s case a bolt of cosmic lightning. Heroman can be categorized as an action anime. In reality, it’s really more like a magical girl anime, but with an effeminate male lead. The character line-up is pretty standard including- Joey; the timid male lead, Psy; the cool and collected best friend, Lina; the hot, kind of pushy cheerleader, Will; the bulky football player, that happens to hate Joey, and be Lina’s big brother at the same time; and Professor Denton, the eccentric science teacher.

The story is what you would expect from an action anime. A giant robot and a kid with powers fight against insect-like aliens who have come to destroy the planet. While we expect this sort of storyline from an action anime, there is little to no effort to try and spice it up. Occasionally, you might catch an interaction between Joey and Heroman thats awkward at best. He can’t talk Joey. Just thought I’d let you know. If you have seen any decent action anime, you can probably guess what is going to happen next. The staleness continues into most of the battles and action scenes, which aren’t anything special either. Aside from the Super American robot fighting for America, there isn’t much in the way of originality. Although I personally did enjoy the American-ness of it. I did learn a lot about America that I didn’t know before. Like people in L.A. can wear whatever they want, no matter what weather, and that nobody ever tells the president anything about anything.

Overall though, Heroman isn’t the worst thing to watch. The action is a little interesting, and I am a proponent of electricity-based super powers.  The fact that the characters follow the standard path is almost relaxing. Also, being able to see Stan Lee randomly in an episode is amusing, and watching how the Japanese portray America is a pretty good draw in. If you’re looking for an action anime to kill time in between anime seasons, and have a good sense of humor, pick this one up.

Rating: 3/5

Anime Review: Shukufuku no Campanella September 24, 2010

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In a world powered by a magical substance called Ale, Leicester Maycraft is a technician working for the adventurous Oasis clan. He and his comrades take jobs helping others in various ways, usually involving stopping Ale-powered “Crystal Monsters.” Leicester is living the life, surrounded by a good amount of lovely girls who are always willing to shove themselves in front of him for his attention. Alas, this wonderful world made possible by the abundance of Ale is being threatened by the flow of the Ale itself…

Shukufuku no Campanella is interesting. No wait, that’s a lie. It’s incredibly boring. Sukufuku is an adaptation of an ero-visual novel, but you would probably never be able to tell this from the anime itself. As a result of the sudden change of direction, everything about Shukufuku feels half-baked and strangely maneuvered.

The characters themselves are not exceptional. We have the childhood friend, Carina; the loli, Minette; the modest warrior, Chelsea; the outgoing girl, Agnes; the opposite twins, Salsa and Ritos; and the slightly airheaded one, Garnet. There is very little if any development of any of these characters except for Minette, and only because she is a central part of the overarching story. As a result, all of the characters are left flat and uninteresting, rarely venturing outside of their individual archetypes that everyone has seen before. Ritos and Salsa do have their moments, however. They have amazing chemistry and I found myself enjoying the segments where they were the focus very much. Unfortunately, as they are not actually part of Clan Oasis, they were not around as often as the rest of the characters, and their parts were usually used as transitions from one half of an episode to another.

The story itself was also quite conventional. The basis of everything seemed to be to defeat the monsters as they appeared, which is all good and well for an adventure anime. The monster designs seemed bland, though, and the fight scenes were not particularly phenomenal or even memorable. The final fight was an exception to this in a way; it was fairly exciting and had me wishing more of the show was like this. The story’s progress at the end, on the other hand, seemed to fall apart. It felt like much was skipped in order to fit all the events into one episode, and the puzzle and “Spirit Bomb” ending did not help make this any better.

Now, being based on an eroge visual novel, there would of course be plenty of fanservice. And there was, but it was toned down to become a bit awkward in most situations; most of the time I felt like the swimsuit stills and other various fanservice scenes were inserted just because there was no other fanservice in that episode and they didn’t bother coming up with some sort of transition to most of it. In order to avoid this, much of the fanservice was placed in parts about Ritos and Salsa, further reducing their status as characters with any sort of real meaning in the story. Finally, as the scenes involving sex and actual nudity obviously had to be taken out to work in anime form, scenes that lead to these parts felt only half-done. The biggest perpetrator of this to me was when Leicester was putting Chelsea to bed after her party was compromising to say the least – not that there was much they could do to prevent that outside of removing the scene completely.

Overall, there is simply nothing outstanding about Shukufuku, and the things it tries to do it does averagely or below averagely. If you are a fan of shallow adventure stories with a bit of fanservice, then this may very well be the show for you. But it certainly didn’t do much for me at all.

Rating: 3/10

Anime Review: Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi September 22, 2010

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Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi is about a strange club, the Otogi Bank, made up of high school students who do favors for other students, their “clients,” in return for their help in the future. It’s a simple episodic anime with a decently large cast of likable, if not the most original, characters. Our male protagonist, Ryoushi, actually doesn’t have anything to do with this organization at the beginning of the story. He does, however, have a crush on our female lead Ōkami. While Ryoushi has some extreme troubles with shyness, he manages to protect Ōkami from some attackers, and somehow manages to confess to her within the day. Ōkami refuses his confession, but her best friend Ringo tracks Ryoushi down and convinces him to join them at Otogi Bank.

From here the anime takes no delays in getting right to the first of many one episode stories that the show’s structure is built on. Normally I would consider this kind of storytelling to be boring and unengaging, but Ōkami-san manages to be, at the very least, more entertaining with this layout than I expected. Its most unique factor is the fact that all of the stories are based (very loosely) on one fairy tale or another. Some are more obvious than others, but the first episode makes the intentions of the show very clear with its obvious parody of the well-known Cinderella story. From there on out the plots of each episode are more or less inspired by various familiar fairy tales. This aspect was very hit-and-miss for me; some of the episodes, such as episode three’s The Tortoise and the Hare theme, felt unique and relevant, while others like Snow White often seemed superficial at best. Regardless, an effort was definitely made each time, and I can at least appreciate that.

Aside from the situations, the characters themselves were also a mixed bag of generic, boring, and pleasant surprises. Most of the usual archetypes are there and not too different from what a typical anime viewer is used to by now. Most of the characters do have some sort of interesting backstory or developments that separate them somewhat from the caricatures you are used to, but this itself even has flaws. The histories of the characters who are looked into are typically brought about suddenly and without much fanfare, usually delving deep enough to be engaging but not enough to be meaningful or make me feel anything most of the time. Then there is Ōkami’s backstory which, without spoiling anything, is interesting but is never really explained for what seems to be the sake of keeping the show’s content acceptable for the target audience – a disappointment, to say the least. The gist of it can be gathered, but the clear avoidance of certain topics makes me want more.

On the other hand are the background characters, who receive almost no development whatsoever and stay ambiguously strange and unappealing for the entirety of the series. The poster girl for this flaw is Majo, the crazy scientist. I would say more, but there is quite literally nothing else I can say about her despite Majo appearing in every episode and apparently being an active member of Otogi Bank. Other characters, like the President of the club and his cousin, follow a similar pattern, and it is sad when the one episode side characters have more personality than recurring characters that the viewer is supposed to feel something for.

On a similar note, there is an overarching plot that is slowly expanded upon until the last few episodes, but its ending was significantly anticlimactic, making me wonder how badly J.C. Staff wants a second season after teasing us with an arc like that.

The comedy is nothing to write home about. Near the beginning of the series it is typically almost embarrassing; half the time I wasn’t really able to tell if what was happening was supposed to be funny or not. Somehow this does improve over time and Ōkami-san finds its groove, but that might be a result of the show becoming a tad more serious and the joke scenes becoming clearly different from the more serious ones. Overall, though, comedy is most definitely not one of Ōkami-san‘s draws or strong suits.

I also have a love/hate relationship with the art and the music. The BGM is all well and nice, just about always fitting of the atmosphere and the scenes, but nothing ever stood out to me. The character designs are very familiar to anyone with any recent anime experience, so much so that you might be right to call it plagiarizing if fans weren’t so forgiving. However, I feel as if this is, for the most part, J.C. Staff’s fault; the illustrations related to the original light novels are nicely stylized and appealing, while the adaptation’s versions of these characters aren’t so interesting, so I can’t help but feel disappointed in that regard.

Overall, while Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi was quite a rollercoaster ride of surprises and disappointments, I did at the very least look forward to what it had to offer each week. In the end though, I can’t shake a sweeping feeling of mediocrity.

Rating: 5/10