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Magus_Melchior
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Post by Magus_Melchior » Sun Sep 27, 2009 10:46 am

There's still a week left this season, but what the hey, most of the shows I've been watching are done...

Yoku wakaru gendai mahou ("Modern magic for beginners") - I'm told this is based on a light novel series about a girl who can use only one kind of magic-- the kind that turns any other kind of magic into a metal wash-basin, AKA a tarai. The writers could have easily turned this into an obscene exploitation of the tarai-drop meme (where a "failed" spell results in one of those things landing on someone's head with a loud clang-- this was last seen in Negima!?, I think), but thankfully they elected to make the tarai-drop a reserved gag except for the first episode. Production-wise there's not much to complain or compliment about, but a few notable things: 1) They used a Haruhi season 1 episode ordering-- that is, somewhat random in order to work some momentum towards the climax rather than working in chronological order; 2) A few gags were borrowed from other anime-- the most noticeable being based on the voice actress for the lead part, Ai Nonaka; 3) Although the lead character can convert a ton of spells into tarai in a matter of minutes in the first episode, the final episode has her struggling to do this, which makes her skill a bit too contrived (though it does beat using her skill as a deus ex machina device).

Valkyria Chronicles is based on the video game of the same title (which they ought to have ported to the Call of Duty engine given the similarity, but they opted for a really stupid turn-based strategy engine-- see Zero Punctuation's review), where the international politics and sociology take a back seat to the main cast of characters and the ongoing war. To the production crew's credit, they opted to follow the game's plot rather strictly, but this had the result of some episodes being mainly filler (i.e. primarily character development encased in an otherwise extraneous plot device), and the overall plot being incredibly predictable (oh, she's going to die, isn't she?). The animation uses a blend of mainstream elements and a "colored pencil fill-in" for highlights and shadows, which IMO doesn't add much to the show other than an interesting touch. Despite the rather weak plot and shaky characterization, the cast and crew manage to piece together a decent war drama, so in the words of Q2: "Not bad... Not great, but not bad."

Taisho Yakyuu Musume ("Taisho-era baseball girls") is pretty much what the title suggests, and is a unique twist on the sports anime genre (which I generally avoid because they're about as varied as any other shonen title-- as in, not at all). The premise is a high school girl during the reign of Emperor Taisho (who briefly reigned before Hirohito) who decides to get back at her fiance's sexist remark by forming a baseball team at her girl's school that could beat his team-- and as you might imagine given cultural and historical context, it takes a fair amount of shoehorning to get a bunch of demure Japanese girls to assemble a baseball team. And it is a reasonable approximation of American-style baseball, so the girl's pitcher doesn't use the softball pitcher's wind-up (she does, however, side-arm the ball in the end). There's a healthy tension between the comedic relief and straight-ahead drama, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the production never giving laser-like focus to any dramatic moment that should only last 2 seconds in real time. The animation style, which leans towards the shojo side of the aisle, visually reinforces the idea that this isn't a shonen show.

Sora no Manimani: I had to grab Wikipedia and a dictionary-- it means "In the wake of the stars"-- and I probably should've researched that earlier, as now the show makes a lot more thematic sense. This one's about a girl in the high school astronomy club who is obsessed with the stars, and a guy who inevitably gets dragged along with her wacky ways of watching the night sky. This one is a bit like K-On! in terms of story-- that is, it's not as imporant as the characters-- and the production does a pretty good job of keeping the audience focused on the characters that really matter in any given moment, and develop them as well.

Saki probably will continue long after this review, but the set pieces are probably going to be the same down the road. This one's about a girl who joins her school's mahjong team, and she has incredible skills with the game, but initially doesn't have much fun playing it. This is probably one of the better "B" animes of this year, but the story is subordinate to the characters' development, while the characters are a bit flat and two-dimensional-- I suppose that's inevitable, since there are so many of them. The other thing that really poses a challenge to the writing staff is that mahjong scoring rules are exceedingly complex, but spending too much time explaining them would destroy the already weak storytelling. What they could have done is something like Bleach's Shinigami Almanac, where miniature episodes explain the scoring rules in detail (probably with comedic-relief character Yuki doing the explanation). They did a little of this during the prefectural tournament, but it wasn't nearly enough to clear up the confusion, given the commentary from the audience.

Guin Saga isn't Tolkien by any stretch of the imagination, but it gives it the old college try. If anything, its lore is deeper than Lodoss War, and may even rival C. S. Lewis. This one is a bit of medieval fantasy where the magic starts off playing a big role, then stepping backstage. The original novel and the adaptation to anime both make sure that this adventure isn't a re-think of earlier works, but you can't help but see a few influences here and there; in particular, the titular character Guin seems to be very similar to Utawareru mono's Hakuoro (humaoid superhero with amnesia), and Ishtoban seems like a boorish version of Tolkien's Aragorn. There's no really concrete goal that the audience can expect, as danger and inconvenience has a way of changing the direction of the band of companions; in addition, other events in the world are necessary to the overall story, so the story feels slowed somewhat. But all in all, I think this will be a worthy addition to any fantasy fan's viewing collection-- assuming they don't butcher the ending.

BaSquash! started with yet another crazy idea from the mind of Shoji Kawamori; namely, what if giant robots played basketball? Given the mass and comparative joint strengths, you'd think that robots doing all the crazy stunts of street basketball would destroy the robots, but of course that's no problem for Satelight. The robot design was done by a French studio, which makes some sense because classic Japanese robots playing basketball would be way too campy, and there's enough comedic relief in the characters already. The weakness for this show (like for so many of Kawamori's ideas) is that the story has a tendency to wander, or is pushed aside to highlight various art styles. This time around, they evidently learned from past shortcomings and never let the audience forget the ultimate goal of the characters, and gave the "impending doom" exposition another 2-3 episodes compared to earlier works like Macross Frontier (2-3 episodes) and Aquarion (half episode).

Finally, SHAFT's Bakemono-gatari ("Ghost/Demon" (bakemono) "Tales" (monogatari)). This one is decidedly much more "horror" than Natsu no Arashi!, their earlier ghost story, and heavily draws from Japanese mythology. They push the animation envelope as always with their unique visual storytelling, though this does result in an episode where the animation didn't completely make it into the can, so the story had to be inferred from the sound effects-- which would have been effective if they had properly synchronized the filler frames with the sound. Given that they fixed a similar episode from Hidamari Sketch in the DVD release, I'm sure they'll finish it in time for the DVD. Bakemono-gatari is also intensely dialogue-heavy, which means a huge challenge for anyone fansubbing this-- not only is there an insane amount of dialogue, SHAFT throws in frames with nothing but text like they did in the ef series. Like some of the others in this line-up, there are 1 or 2 episodes left, but they're gearing up for a strong finish.

I'll post a comment on next season in a week or 2.

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Kimiko
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Post by Kimiko » Sun Sep 27, 2009 12:39 pm

Sora No Manimani seems interesting. I've already added it to my to-watch list. Taisho Yakyuu Musume I'm not so sure about. I've heard that it's okay, but I'm not really a fan of sports anime, and I watched Bamboo Blade just recently. Bakemonogatari I'll have to look into some more later. It's said to be good, but I don't really know what it's all about, and experimental art styles can be a turnoff.

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Post by Kimiko » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:07 am

Just finished:
Shugo Chara - Oh, this looks wonderful ^_^ Who said magical girl anime are all the same? This one's definitely cheekier than usual. Amu looks/acts like a mixture of Pretty Cure's Nagisa, Utena, and Nana's Hachiko. So cute ^_^
Nagehiko? o_o This is becoming a little too much like a harem anime now. I want more women, not more men :( Also, the blatant heterosexual overtones of the Humpty-Dumpty stuff are really weirding me out. It's icky creepy.
Overall though, this is definitely one of the better magical girl anime. About as good as Pretty Cure, I'd say. In some ways it's not as good, in some ways it's better.

On to Shugo Chara Doki :)

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Kimiko
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Post by Kimiko » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:17 pm

Just finished:
Shugo Chara!! Doki - It feels as if this season has much less plot development than the first. Most episodes are just egg of the week without any plot progress.
Well, it got a little better later on, but it was still uneven. Some episodes were really good, having important character or plot developments, then the story would be stalled again for a few. The conclusion, although it had a lot of flashy sparkles, wasn't really great either. Too many things were left unexplained until they were suddenly resolved without much effort. Overall this anime was still worth watching though.

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Dr. Sheexy
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Post by Dr. Sheexy » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:52 pm

Just in case anyone is wondering, I think this kind of double/triple posting is ok.
Six and Five days between each post, and the posts each add to the thread.

This has been a public service announcement by Sheexy.

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Post by Quemaqua » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:21 pm

Aria is one of my favoritest shows ever. I thought they couldn't possibly be cute and happy for a whole 2nd season without becoming nauseating or stupid, but I'll be damned if I wasn't wrong. This show amazes me.

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Post by Magus_Melchior » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:30 pm

Okay, fall season 2009.

A (strong start / high expectation):

Kimi ni todoke (May it reach you): At first glance, this is the story of the human equivalent to Jonathan Coulton's "Creepy Doll"... okay, maybe not that bad. But closer inspection reveals an insanely sweet love story in the making, like Kare-Kano but with a completely different art style and direction. One flaw I see so far: the lead guy's personality is way too perfect; if they do the rough equivalent of Arima in the next few episodes and introduce some more flaws, the characters will be pretty much dead on. Certainly Mamiko Noto as the lead girl is a huge plus with her unique voice being suited to both the creepy and gentle aspects of the character.
-- You'll notice that I already have that much to say about this anime, and it was only the first episode. If you're into romantic comedy, this will definitely be one to watch.
Kämpfer: This one is sort of a mash-up between Ranma 1/2 and most of the magical girl anime under the sun. Also a spoof-- there are a number of anime industry and voice actress in-jokes that are hilarious, as the hideously and hilariously designed mascot plushies insult other, well-known voice actresses in the cast (which includes veterans like Yui Horie, Yukari Tamura, and Nana Mizuki-- and one wonders how many takes ended up with the cast breaking up into laughter).
Tegami-bachi (Letter-bee): This one reminds me of Dr. Tezuka's fantasy/sci-fi works and Galaxy Express 999. This one revolves around an interesting take on the idea of a postal service.
Toaru kagaku no Railgun (Railgun of Science): This one is a spin-off of another series, Toaru maho no Index. Interesting setting and animation, let's see whether the rest of the production holds up.
Natsu no Arashi! Akinai-chu (latter part: In all seasons but autumn): The first episode of this season was a service-laden filler. Hopefully the rest won't be as dull.
Argh! I forgot one:
Seitokai no ichizon (Life in the Student Council): The first episode had me in stitches over the ridiculous premise of a guy who wants to turn the council into his personal harem (he fails at just about every turn, of course).


B (mediocre start and/or production values, interesting aspects):

Nogizaka Haruka's Secret s.2 (I have no clue what the sub-title means): Like season 2 of Natsu no Arashi!, the first episode was essentially fluff, but a good review of the first season (plot was never its strong point).
Kobato: A new CLAMP comic adapted to anime. I think they're either running out of steam, or they're demanding too much control over story/direction-- I never found Tsubasa Chronicle to be anything but boring, and the first episode of this new show wasn't very encouraging. It's obviously meant to be a comedy about a girl who needs to capture broken hearts in a vial (so they're recycling bits of Card Captor Sakura), but the jokes fell flat because the timing was ruined. If that was intentional, that would make the overall work worse, IMO.
Nyankoi!: This one is a nightmare scenario comedy. The lead character is allergic to cats, but when he accidentally desecrates a cat shrine, he is cursed by the cat-god by being able to hear their thoughts, and unless he helps 100 cats within a certain amount of time, he will be turned into a cat himself (and probably die of anaphylactic shock). The gags aren't too bad, and there are some redeeming qualities to what may otherwise be a rather pointless romp of laughter.
Asura Cryin' 2: They did a bit more exposition on the backstory in the first episode of this season (there's amnesia involved, though thankfully not of the Code Geass "buy more time" variety), but the plot and theme remain clear as mud.
White Album: It's starting to turn into a mini soap opera (in that they're probably going to destroy the main character's relationship to his girlfriend in order to heighten the drama)-- but then, that was probably what was in the original manga. What's tragic and a bit infuriating about this one is that nearly every character older than 23 or so is a manipulative, conniving sociopath (I thought it was just the girlfriend's manager, but the other adults are becoming more prominent)-- and come to think of it, that was probably true of many Japanese adults of that time (late 1980s). There's also a point where realism can be taken to the extreme, where you just get angst devoid of whatever good one may see in life. This anime and the manga it's based on will probably win literary praise because it's actually very well-made... I'm just not a huge fan of this sort of drama, I guess (apologies for the rant).
Sora no Otoshimono (lit. "The thing the sky dropped"; a better rendering may be "She Fell from the Sky"): This is essentially I Dream of Jeannie meets fan-service anime.
Sasameki Koto (Whispers): Another one for Kimiko, although I think this might not be as well-written as Aoi Hana. The first episode dived right into angst, although there were a couple of light-hearted moments-- which means it'll last 11-13 episodes because that is pretty quick for a romantic anime.
Inuyasha Final Season: What? Rumiko "Yank their chains forever" Takahashi, concluding one of her works? That sounds absurd. Let's see her try. :D

Other anime that premieres this season: Queen's Blade (evidently no one in Japan's equivalent of the FCC complained about the T&A nature of the first season), Darker Than Black (season premiere), The Book of Bantorra, and FAIRY TALE (looks a bit like One Piece; some of the voice actors are familiar, so I may pick this one up and dump White Album).
Last edited by Magus_Melchior on Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Tekka » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:40 pm

Wasn't White Album based on an H-game? But whatever, I can't take any more White Album, the first season drove me mad with its drama and self destructive idiocy. Definitely going to skip it. -_-

I liked Nyan Koi a whole lot so I'm definitely sticking with that one. Nogizaka Haruka and Darker than Black are both big favourites of mine so I'm sticking with them.

I'm also interested in Seiken no Blacksmith and 11eyes, though not so much 11eyes, I don't really like the character designs... but I haven't watched them yet. I have no doubt I will love Seiken no Blacksmith if only purely because of my adoration for fantasy.

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Post by Kimiko » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:08 pm

Sheexy - Oops ^-^; I didn't even notice I'd posted three times in a row because of the time between them.

Melchior - Interesting to see you put Kobato and Sasameki Koto on your B list. Over on ANN's forum they seem to be the best rated so far. Those two and A Certain Scientific Railgun are the ones that look most interesting to me. I'm not giving in to temptation (Sasameki) this season though. I did that with Aoi Hana and hated waiting a week between episodes.

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Post by Kassidy » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:12 am

Sheexy wrote:Just in case anyone is wondering, I think this kind of double/triple posting is ok.
Six and Five days between each post, and the posts each add to the thread.

This has been a public service announcement by Sheexy.
Bing bong BING!

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Post by Tsurayu » Sat Oct 10, 2009 6:42 am

Well I finished all of Code Geass and it was really good. It does feel a little like Death Note since Lelouch and Light are very similar in intelligence and strategy. Although I like it a lot more than Death Note because the whole strategic and cunning character design fits really well into the idea of war time and mechas. Only real complaint is the character development is fairly shallow in favor of focusing so much on Lelouch.

I gave up reading Fruits Basket. I read about twelve chapters and I couldn't do it anymore. It bored me to tears.

Still working on Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I'm over halfway through the series though, and it really is just amazing. They aren't kidding when they say George Lucas should give up the name Star Wars and it should given to this series. Star Wars looks like crap compared to LoGH.

Might be more detailed later, but not really in the mood to give any opinions more complex than this right now.
Last edited by Tsurayu on Sat Oct 10, 2009 6:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

Magus_Melchior
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Post by Magus_Melchior » Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:48 am

Tekka wrote:Wasn't White Album based on an H-game? But whatever, I can't take any more White Album, the first season drove me mad with its drama and self destructive idiocy. Definitely going to skip it. -_-
It's a visual novel; the only resemblance to a "game" is that the player clicks on it. It's essentially the software version of a "choose your own adventure" book.
Tekka wrote:I liked Nyan Koi a whole lot so I'm definitely sticking with that one. Nogizaka Haruka and Darker than Black are both big favourites of mine so I'm sticking with them.

I'm also interested in Seiken no Blacksmith and 11eyes, though not so much 11eyes, I don't really like the character designs... but I haven't watched them yet. I have no doubt I will love Seiken no Blacksmith if only purely because of my adoration for fantasy.
I'd forgotten about Blacksmith.

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Kimiko
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Post by Kimiko » Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:15 am

Finished:
Magic User's Club OVA - The art is very 90s, and there is a lot of ecchiness because Takeo's dirty imagination is shown explicitly. Otherwise the premise, witches vs. aliens, is quite interesting.
Phew. I'm glad that's over. All the pantyshots, nosebleeds, bouncing boobs and screaming completely overshadowed the story. Stuff like this gives anime a bad name. I hope the TV series is much better.
Magic User's Club (TV) - Because this is a TV series, I was hoping it would be less ecchi than the OVA, but I guess that was too much to ask with only three years between them. Now the question is if I will endure it for 13 eps., or move it to the 'won't finish' category.
Five eps. in, there's still no plot development. Takeo is still very irritating, and Sae is too stupid to save this anime. Bye-bye.

Someday's Dreamers - Ah, that's better. Nice art, and a sympathetic main character who, even while being a little naïve or clumsy at times, at least isn't too dumb to live. I like Yume's accent too :)
Mmm ^_^ This is one of those healing type anime that put a big smile on your face. I love it. Highly recommended to fans of anime like Aria and Haibane Renmei.

Whisper Of The Heart - A lovely little romantic story :) I'll have to see what the relation between this and The Cat Returns is. There are a few Ghibli references anyway.

The Cat Returns (rewatch) - A fun magical adventure :) The story is clearly inspired by Shizuku chasing the cat Muta in Whisper Of The Heart and finding the statue of the Baron in the antique shop. Not surprising really, as both movies are based on manga by Aoi Hiiragi.

Alice Academy - A curious mixture of an unusual take on the magical girl genre with slapstick comedy.
Aww, Mikan and Hotaru are so cute together ^_^ And Luka-pyon and Natsume too. Yay for gay couples!
This anime doesn't have much of a plot though. A darker side of the Academy is hinted at often, but in the end nothing is revealed really.

Library War - Yes, the premise is indeed as ridiculous as expected. I hope the rest of this anime is still okay though.
Hmm, it's basically a 'lone woman in the military' story. The 'special task force' bit is just an excuse to keep the cast small.
Meh. What passes for a plot is so weak it doesn't even make it to the fridge before falling apart. Because of that it's hard to care about the trouble the characters get into. Aside from their job, there's only a vaguely romantic subplot, but that isn't nearly enough to save this anime from mediocrity.

Oh My Goddess! (OVA) - :) It's nice to see the goddesses and Keiichi again. So far, these OVA episodes seem to be much like those from the TV series, except they leave a lot of details out and move the romance along quicker. Hmm, I guess that means they're not all that much alike actually. Well, anyway, that's what it reminds me of because I saw the TV series first. The art here is a little more detailed in places (mostly the characters), but the animation isn't as smooth. The OVA is about twelve years older than the TV series after all.
After seeing all of this OVA I can't say I saw anything new that wasn't in the TV series. The last two eps. mixed things up a very little bit by combining two stories (one about Keiichi and Belldandy getting each other presents for Christmas, and one about Belldandy having to leave), but the few details that are OVA-original are there to make do without all the background that is present in the manga or TV series. Overall, I'd recommend this OVA only to hardcore or completionist fans of the franchise. Casual fans can watch the TV series without worry that they're missing anything.

Ah! My Goddess: The Movie - This was made in 2000, between the OVA and the TV series, but content-wise it fits after the two TV series I think. Very good quality art and animation in any case, and a nice stand-alone story.

Someday's Dreamers: Sora's Summer - Backgrounds that are just filtered photos, but character art that looks rather crude most of the time. A clashing combination that makes the anime look cheap. The story is okayish, but not as good as the first Someday's Dreamers.

Next:
Like The Clouds, Like The Wind, K-On!, Ryoko's Case File, Kino's Travels, Tokyo Mew Mew, Negima!?[/url]

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Post by Abdul_Moti » Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:48 pm

Haven't seen anime a lot for quite a long time..
I watch Origami Warriors along with my little brother, but it's almost finale, so ready for goodbye.

Also rewatch Digimon Savers, but not so frequent so I have a trouble in mastering the story and my digimon database in my head.

Instead, I rewatch Dragon Ball Z and Blue Dragon.

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Post by Kimiko » Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:57 am

Finished:
Like The Clouds, Like The Wind - Not from Studio Ghibli, but the staff includes several people who also work(ed) there. The animation/art is pretty good, although of course from 1990. The story I found rather thin though. None of the characters get much development, the bad guys' motivation is, non-existent, and the ending is quite unsatisfying. Overall this anime seems more like exercise for the artists than a great movie.

K-On! - Another awesome anime by KyoAni, makers of Lucky☆Star.
At first I thought that Yui-chan's clumsiness was a little over-the-top, but by ep.2 I got used to it. They're all so cuute ^_^ And the music is pretty good. I think I'll look around for the OST.

Next:
Ryoko's Case File, Kino's Travels, Tokyo Mew Mew, Negima!?

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