Bleach: Memories of Nobody

Way back in the early 00s when I was still in the early stages of getting into anime, three big battle anime started airing that everyone in the community was watching. There was Naruto, which I watched a few episodes of and stopped because I found the main character really annoying. There was One Piece, which I watched a bit of and stopped because the main character was really annoying. Then there was Bleach, which I actually watched all the way through. This was before I’d started doing reviews, mind. But yes, I watched all 366 episodes about Kurosaki Ichigo and his comrades. And whenever anyone brought up the old Bleach vs Naruto vs One Piece discussion, I always had to side with Bleach because it was the only one where I found the protagonist decent enough as a character to watch it.

One thing I actually never did was watch the films. Even though I liked watching the anime, it wasn’t a franchise I was super into. But, lately I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic for the franchise and I’ve seen way too many bad OVAs lately, so it seems an opportune time to watch the first Bleach film. This one came out in ’06 when the series was still pretty early on. Since it ran from ’04 to ’12.

Story:

We open with Ichigo and Rukia dealing with a Hollow that’s gotten loose in a park. Rukia criticises Ichigo for not making use of Kon since just leaving his body lying prone could be dangerous. Someone could think he’s dead or touch his bum. The pair responds to another situation, this time Ichigo makes proper use of Kon. This time, they encounter a bunch of strange, white things instead of Hollows. They watch an unknown shinigami dispatch them. Rukia goes to report to Soul Society and leaves Ichigo to talk to the girl and figure out what she knows. Little do either of them realise that the fates of both Soul Society and Earth could be tied to this strange girl.

The biggest issue with the film is that the whole plot and its twists are pretty predictable. About the most surprising thing is the Soul Society decision of how to deal with things once they get going. I get it, it’s a battle anime and they aren’t known for being super original with their story-telling. But it’s like how using too much stock footage is a frequent weakness in magical girl anime. Every time I see it become an issue, I’ll bring it up. It doesn’t help that whenever it brings up something that’s meant for foreshadowing, they make it really obvious. Like, to the extent that they might as well throw in a little marching band at the bottom of the screen with a banner that says “this is foreshadowing.”

I am also a bit confused by the way Orihime and Chad are told they can’t enter the climactic area because “it’s a spiritual area like Soul Society. Humans can’t go there.” I seem to recall both Orihime and Chad going to Soul Society with Ichigo to rescue Rukia but maybe they had to use something special to do it and I just don’t remember that part.

That being said, the story is well-paced. It has some comedic moments that work well. I also do think the lore it adds is compelling and, even if the story is predictable it has some decent emotional moments.

Characters:

We get to see a lot of major characters from the franchise proper. It’s definitely set up for people who have seen the franchise since there are multiple characters who show up in the background or for very brief moments. If you were to watch the film on its own, you would have no idea who they are or why they’re significant. We do see characters like Ichigo, Rukia and Renji showcase their best qualities. I do also appreciate that the antagonists are given proper motivations, though they could have been better extrapolated upon. I do quite like Senna. I think they did a good job of developing her as much as they needed to without making that aspect of the film overpowering.

Art:

The film looks pretty good. Bleach has some strong character designs. And that is on display here. The action sequences also flow pretty well. They have some nice intensity to them. I also do like the backgrounds for Earth, but when they get to the spiritual world where the climax takes place, the backgrounds pretty much become variations of every desolate wasteland ever. Which is a bit boring.

Sound:

The regular Bleach cast is really good. Paku Romi, Orikasa Fumiko and Morita Masakazu stand out in this film since they all have fairly significant roles. In terms of the original film characters, both Saito Chiwa and Ebara Masashi give strong performances as Senna and Ganryu. The music is mostly quite good. I didn’t really care for the ending song, but aside from that it was a strong element.

Ho-yay:

I guess I could say it has a little just because it has Soi Fon in a supporting role and she’s blatantly not straight in the series proper. However, there’s really no indication of that in this film. Yoruichi doesn’t show up and she’s the character who really brings out that aspect of Soi Fon. So, the film has a not straight character, but no actual ho-yay.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. The film could have done a better job using characters like Ishida, Chad and Orihime. There’s almost no reason for them to be here, as is.
  2. The film could have benefited from being a little longer and showing some of Rukia’s interactions when she went to Soul Society. It could have helped establish some of those relationships for people who aren’t all that familiar with the series.
  3. Be more subtle with the foreshadowing. Yes, it’s important to introduce elements that will come into play later, but there’s also a point where you draw so much attention to it that it just makes everything that’s gonna happen far too obvious.

Final Thoughts:

Bleach: Memories of Nobody is a pretty enjoyable film. For me personally, it’s nice to see these characters again and I thought that, in spite of its shortcomings, Pierrot did do a fine job with it. It may not be a masterpiece. It may not be subtle. But it’s good fun with some strong pacing, action sequences and well executed emotional parts. So, I’m giving it a solid 7/10.

Soukihei MD Geist: Yet Another Rubbish OVA

This week we’re doing yet another requested review of a short OVA, and yes, I know it’s late. I apologise I have been very busy with work stuff recently. This one is from ’86. So, this came out when I was a newborn baby who didn’t even understand snark, sarcasm or the importance thereof. It was written by Sanjo Riku and produced by the Studio Zero G-Room. A relatively unknown studio that seems to have made nine OVAs and fucked off into the abyss.

I’ve never reviewed anything of theirs before, though I did watch one of their OVAs back when I was getting into anime and I was just randomly watching anything starring Hayashibara Megumi. And, I’ve gotta say, I don’t recall Saber Marionette R being good. But who knows, maybe I’m just not remembering it that well cause it’s been nearly two decades since I saw it. Maybe they’re a brilliant studio that had their time cut short. Though I doubt it.

Story:

So, we have a post-apocalyptic world where two factions are at war and Mad Max style motorcycles can go toe to toe with mecha. In this world one of the “Most Dangerous Soldiers” Geist awakens.

The story in this is pretty nonsensical and pretty much jumps from one action sequence to the next without any real world building, build up or coherent plot. It seems like Sanjo’s writing process was sitting down, coming up with ideas that he thought would make cool action sequences and then stringing them together one at a time with no regard for the cohesive whole. Which, unfortunately, means there’s no real investment in the action sequences And, honestly, they come across as a bit boring because the plot is such a garbled mess that you’re inevitably wondering how this scene is connected to the last and where the whole thing is leading instead of actually getting into the action. The only exceptions are when something so stupid happens that you have to take momentary notice of it, like a spear going right through one of the armoured mecha. How does a basic ass spear pierce through your advanced mecha? Did they make the bloody thing out of papier mache?

Characters:

The characters in this are unmemorable, uninteresting and, just generally rubbish. It’s the same basic problem as the plot. Sanjo doesn’t care to actually develop characters or make them remotely interesting. He just wants to go from one action sequence to the next. But because the characters have nothing to recommend them, you just don’t care what happens to them and you wind up checking out of the action sequences. Oh, did Character #7 get killed? I don’t really care. There are Red shirts in the original Star Trek who get one line before they die and that has more impact than anything that happens to any of these characters. And yes, that does include Geist himself.

Art:

The artwork isn’t very good. They’re clearly going for a Fist of the North star style with big, macho men, exploding heads and that type of thing. They just aren’t competent at it.

Here’s the big issue. The draw of this whole OVA is clearly meant to be the action sequences. However, those sequences are disjointed and awkward. It honestly kind of reminds me of a bad 90s comic where the fight sequence panels just seem to have no connection with each other and you can’t tell how they got from one panel to the next. Wait, in that one Wolverine is throwing Cable over his head but in the next Cable’s kicking Wolverine in the face? I feel like we’re missing about a minute of events that happened between these. It’s that kind of thing, but in anime form.

Sound:

The acting isn’t very good. This is one of those OVAS where you look at the cast list and you see Wakamoto Norio, Matsumoto Rica, Ishizuka Unshou and some other skilled actors and you think “at least it’ll have good acting” but then either the directing was really bad or they just saw the script and decided they didn’t need to put effort into it. Because it sounds like they just don’t care. It doesn’t help when the sound balance goes off and the music or sound effects are suddenly far too loud.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any. Not that you could tell if this OVA was trying to portray two characters as romantically linked since the character interactions are so uncompelling and below bare minimum.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Make the characters interesting. Or at least give them some basic archetypical personalities that you can do something with.
  2. Actually have a fleshed out, developed plot. Having action sequences be the main draw is fine, but you’ve gotta have something competent to drive them. Otherwise they just aren’t interesting.
  3. Get action sequences that flow better. It’s obvious that these are intended to be the draw, but that doesn’t work when they’re a disjointed mess.

Final Thoughts:

This OVA is pretty awful. Maybe not among the worst I’ve reviewed this year, but it’s still terrible. The plot is nonsense. The characters are nothing. The action sequences are a mess. The acting comes across as no effort. In the end, I’m giving it a 2/10. If this is typical of Zero-G’s work, it’s easy to see why they don’t exist any more.

Fairy Gone: Untapped Potential

P.A. works is a studio I have a pretty positive history with. Charlotte, Another, Angel Beats, Canaan. Seems every time I review something of theirs, I like it quite a bit. This time, we’re looking at Fairy Gone. An original anime by them from early 2019. Let’s take a look and hope for the best.

Story:

We open to a flashback talking about the end of a war over unification where we see two young girls fleeing their village as it’s destroyed. We also hear about fairy soldiers and see a group of them throw down their arms. Cut to the story proper, our heroine, Marlya, considers herself cursed since people always seem to die around her. Obviously, she’s one of the girls from the village flashback and she’s searching for the other, Veronica. She’s acting as a guard at a mafia auction when she meets our hero, Free, a former fairy soldier. After an incident, she joins the organisation Dorothea which investigates illegal uses of faeries and flirts with the organisation Petra. Both Free and Marlya quickly find themselves facing old friends from the past and trying to unravel a plot against the unified government.

There are a couple significant issues with this series. First off, the world building is pretty sub-par. It feels like a lot of it comes through flashbacks that are a bit dull or through exposition that’s a bit stilted. The pacing is also a bit awkward. Some major plot points get rushed through while you get flashback sequences and other bits that just drag on quite as bit. The climax is also kind of weak and features some really dumb moments. Like, there’s a part where an antagonistic character is walking very slowly towards a gate while a bunch of nameless guards shoot at him and they all miss like they were trained by Cobra. Honestly, the way he moves so slowly and all these dipshits can’t be bothered to aim just makes it seem like a parody rather than something we’re supposed to take seriously.

I do like the concept of the series. The idea of people being surgically implanted with faeries that basically act as like the Personas from the game franchise of the same name. Those people having a limited place in ordinary society because of the legal status of their personae, I mean faeries. Those are all good ideas that could have been used much better than they are here. The series also does do a somewhat good job of handling the theme of survivor’s guilt. Both our main characters have issues with it because they can’t help but remember the situations where they lost people and couldn’t do anything about it.

Characters:

To be blunt, the only thing that gives the protagonists any real depth is the survivor’s guilt theme. You get some indications that they mean for the characters to be something more, but they never really amount to that much. The same isn’t true with the antagonists. At least not with Wolfran and Veronica. They both clearly suffered some serious trauma during the war and they’re both very clearly working towards something even if the anime says “wait until the next series to find out the full details.” It’s still evident that P.A. has a plan in place.

The character interactions aren’t particularly appealing or that good. I like the dynamic betwixt Marlya and Veronica, it leads to some strong moments. But aside from that, I’m kind of ambivalent towards all of them.

Art:

This is one element where I can give the series full credit. It looks very nice. The action flows well. The characters are distinct. The backgrounds and various objects look good. The personae have very interesting designs. The Fairy Weapons, when they show up, have very nice designs. Looking intricate and decorated without being ostentatious.

Sound:

The actors do really well. Ichinose Kana, Fukuhara Ayaka, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Suwa Ayaka, Sonozaki Mie and the others all give strong performances. The music isn’t the best, but the series uses it very well. Ramping it up during big action scenes but keeping it pulled back enough that you can still hear the battle. And they use it very strategically which gives it more impact.

Ho-yay:

There’s a little bit betwixt Veronica and Marlya. Klara also talks about the director, Nein, like a girl with a crush. I doubt they’ll go in that direction with either of them, but I wouldn’t complain if they did.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Build the world more naturally. Exposition has its purpose, but that purpose is, in general, not to provide a short cut so you don’t have to really build your world.
  2. Those moments that give the characters hints of complexity need to be built on.
  3. You can’t have a scene where a character walks slowly past a hail of gunfire. Unless that character can turn invisible or they have a shield like Magneto, it doesn’t work. I know, you think it looks cool, but it’s really dumb.

Final Thoughts:

Fairy Gone could have been a great anime. It had all the parts in place for it. But it’s ultimately let down by under-written characters by sub-par world building by poor pacing. And by that exceptionally stupid climax. It’s not a good series. It’s not a bad series either. It ends up being quite average. Which is why I’m giving it a 5/10.

Eiken: Eikes

I’ve reviewed a lot of bad OVAs this year and it looks like I’m about to add another to the list. Eiken: Eikenbu Yori Ai Wo Komete is an early 2000s OVA from JC Staff that’s based off of a manga and appears to be about girls who have had absurd breast implants.

Story:

We open with our protagonist, Whatever, Who Cares, going to school while he thinks about how he picked his school arbitrarily. On his way there, he runs into a girl with massive bosoms and spends about five minutes sitting on her, squeezing her bosoms before he notices he’s doing it. And we can already see a lot of the problems with this OVA. Yes, the idea is to make fun of that old romance trope where the protagonist accidentally gropes the heroine and it takes a second before he notices. The problem is that the execution is so over the top, overtly sexualised and just unfunny that it comes across as less of a parody and more as a really egregious example of the trope. But back to the summary, he’s then called in to join the Eiken club which has a purpose, presumably, but the audience doesn’t need to know it.

What follows is an hour of over-sized, bouncing bosoms, women holding and putting phallic objects in their mouths and Whatever, Who Cares accidentally ending up in really bad positions while trying to win the heart of the girl he accidentally groped at the start. Because, clearly, you have to marry the first person you grope. Otherwise you’ve lost your hand virginity like a godless whore for nothing.

The fundamental flaw with the whole OVA is that it wants to parody dumb harem tropes, mostly the ones surrounding characters accidentally doing sexual things and having misunderstandings, but it also wants to embrace those tropes. Which basically means it uses them, but it does it in a more obnoxious, bombastic fashion. There’s no subversion, no clever deconstruction, no cleverness in general, really. It just plays the tropes straight and makes them more annoying.

Characters:

The characters are very much bottom of the barrel, one-dimensional schlock. There’s no complexity or strong interactions. Take our hero and heroine. He seemingly falls for her because he accidentally groped her that one time. She’s constantly seeing him in questionable positions and coming across like a complete pervert, but believes the best of him because… she has low self-esteem? Frankly, it shouldn’t be hard to make your character interactions seem passable when your characters are this one note, but Eiken still finds a way to fail and make them seem awkward and stilted.

Art:

The artwork is pretty damn ugly. Even if you ignore all the excessive fan-service, the anatomy is bad. The animation isn’t up to par. And there are a lot of moments where the artwork just blatantly had no effort put into it. Now, if we get into the fan-service, it’s pretty horrendous. Whether you’re someone who likes large breasts or not, most of the major female characters in this are so ridiculously huge in the chest that it passes the point where it could, potentially have sex appeal and goes to the point where it’s gross. The art is almost Liefeldian with them having overly thin bodies, massive breasts that are bigger than their heads and legs that should not be able to carry them.

Sound:

The acting in this is quite bad. Oshiro Miwa and Watanabe Akeno in particular just have awkward, poorly directed performances. And Watanabe can act. She was in Bakuretsu Tenshi, Boku no Hero Academia, Witch Hunter Robin and more with strong performances. You just wouldn’t know she’s capable here. Her performance in this is so over the top, exaggerated and downright obnoxious. While Watanabe’s issue is over-acting, Oshiro’s issue is the opposite. She doesn’t emote well and it makes a lot of scenes even worse than they were in theory. There are multiple scenes where her character is supposed to be crying out in pain but she sounds like she’s reading a phone book she’s so uninvested. The music isn’t all that bad, which does make it the strongest element of the OVA but that’s a low bar to clear.

Ho-yay:

There is none.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. If you know a trope is stupid, do some subversion or deconstruction. Don’t just make it more over the top.
  2. Give your characters dynamics that basically fit. Even if you aren’t going to try and make them complex since you’re going for a comedy, at least put some effort into giving them dynamics that work.
  3. Never go this Liefeldian with your art. It will look like rubbish.

Final Thoughts:

I wouldn’t say Eiken is the absolute worst OVA I’ve ever reviewed, but that’s only because it has some very stiff competition. It’s definitely down there. My final rating is going to be a 1/10.

New Game!: Watashi, Shain Ryokou tte Hajimete nano de: Celebrating Their Victory

It’s been quite a while since I discussed New Game, an anime about a group of girls working at a game company and experiencing copious amounts of les-yay. And in our continuing quest to balance out rubbish OVAs like Iron Virgin Jun, Mad Bull 34 and more, we’re going to look at the New Game OVA.

Story:

Basically, our story takes place after they’ve finished releasing their game. They go on a company vacation to a ski resort. Which doesn’t seem like a real thing, but whatever we’ll let it slide. Basically, the OVA consists of them skiing, soaking in the onsen, going to the sauna and just having a good, les-yay fuelled time.

The big issue with the OVA is just that it doesn’t really do anything to advance the characters and their dynamics. And the OVA comes across as more of an excuse to see the girls at an onsen than as there to tell any kind of story or advance anything.

That being said, it does have a lot of fun, entertaining moments throughout. Seeing Aoba play with the snowmen is fun. Watching Rin take care of Kou like a doting wife will always be adorable. The whole scene where Umiko gets sloshed is really funny. So, while it doesn’t advance any relationships or do anything revolutionary for the series, it does provide more of the same endearing slice of life bits that it’s known for.

Characters:

We see all the major characters from the series. Even Nene, although she only appears briefly and only interacts with Aoba through cell messaging. What really matters is that they remain a fun cast and their les-yay fuelled interactions/dynamics are nice to see.

Art:

The artwork is much the same as it is in the series. It’s cutesy. It has some delightful elements and there’s some pointless fan-service thrown in. And, frankly, the series would be better without the fan-service. And I’m saying that as a man who likes women. Yes, that is true. Don’t mind the Due South review. It doesn’t prove anything.

Sound:

Doga Kobo has some strong actresses in this series. Takada Yuuki, Yamaguchi Megumi, Hisaka Yoko, Takeo Ayumi, Toda Megumi, Kayano Ai, Morinaga Chitose and more all give strong performances. They use the same theme tunes as the series proper. And they are good tunes, so that isn’t a bad thing. It is a bit lazy when an OVA or film for a series just uses the regular music though.

Ho-yay:

There’s a lot of the same homo-erotic dynamics from the series. Hifumi still wants to practice cunning linguistics with Aoba. Rin still wants to do tribadism with Kou. Hajime and Yun still have that type of friendship that could easily get added benefits. There’s also a little bit of Hazuki showing interest in the girls, but not so much as the other dynamics since she is a more minor character and doesn’t get the level of screen time that the others do in this.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Seriously tone down the fan-service.
  2. Switch the music up since this is a OVA and not part of the series proper. Even if that means you only have a single theme tune, it’ll be worth it.
  3. Have some kind of advancement in either character dynamics or something leading into the second anime series. Having a series of cutesy moments is all well and good, but it doesn’t really justify having an OVA.

Final Thoughts:

This OVA may not give you anything new or crucial for the franchise, but it does provide more of the fun, cutesy, les-yayriffic content that fans of the franchise already enjoy. So, I do have to give it credit for being entertaining. My final rating is going to be a 7/10. It’s pretty good. Maybe not required viewing for fans of the franchise, but pretty good.

Texhnolyze: Did Tarsem make an anime?

Texhnolyze is a 2003 Madhouse original anime. Yes, Madhouse. The studio that can make anime as amazing as Monster, Death Parade and Rainbow and then turn around and make utter rubbish like Highschool of the Dead, X-men and the Final Fantasy OVA. Only time and viewing will reveal where this one lands.

Story:

We open with a young fighter named Ichise. the gang that runs the fight decides to get rid of him after he gets violent and he’s left without an arm and leg. Fortunately for him, he meets an automail mechanic… I mean, a texhnolyze doctor, who gives him mechanical limbs. And then it’s off to a dozen episodes of him trying to find a purpose while members of different gangs scowl menacingly at each other.

Therein lies one of the major flaws with the series. It’s painfully slow. And not in the “take time to develop characters or explore fun scenarios” way. No, it just features a lot of really slow scenes where we watch a character stand with an expression of dull surprise while taking in some new information. It’s like every character in this processes information at the speed of old dial up Internet, and someone keeps picking up the phone.

Another element that contributes to the general slowness of the series is that it has a bunch of scenes that move at a crawl because there’s some faux artistic symbol in them and the director really wants you to notice. It actually reminds me of that absolutely horrendous Tarsem film, The Cell. Both because that film does that a lot as well and because both this series and that film are really obvious about what they’re going for in those scenes and they just fancy themselves far more clever than they actually are. I have bad news for both of you, the really obvious colour symbolism in All’s Quiet on the Western Front is vastly superior to anything you have to offer. Subtler too.

Now, this is painfully slow and almost as full of itself as David Cage but it’s not as bad as The Cell or anything by David Cage. Once it gets going, it has the occasional moment that’s almost interesting and it does basically keep your attention. Which isn’t much, especially when you factor in how long the build up to that point is, but it’s better than The Cell or Cage could manage.

Characters:

Part of the issue is that the characters in this are really bland. They aren’t obnoxious. They aren’t completely one note. But they are very under-written, trope characters. Ichise is the hero with anger issues and a traumatic past. Ran is basically Cassandra from the Iliad except people actually believe her visions and just don’t bother trying to do anything about them. Oonishi is the mobster who has a code of honour. We’ve seen these characters and we’ve seen them with vastly superior execution.

The biggest problem with them is that a lot of the interpersonal relationships really lack any kind of real connection. Take Ichise’s interest in Ran. His interest in getting close to and protecting her doesn’t have any coherent motivation and basically comes down to “he saw her flowers when he was in a tight spot a couple times.” Ichise’s loyalty to Oonishi really comes out of nowhere and never really makes sense. It’s like the writers needed the pair of them to be together for the story to work, but they couldn’t be asked to give strong character reasons or to develop their relationship.

Art:

I’m not a fan of the character designs in general in this. I think they just look boring. The series also has that sort of dingy, muted look with a lot of shadows and not much in terms of vibrant, bright colours. Which is just a boring aesthetic. In terms of animation, the series just moves too slowly to have smooth, good looking animation. It’s not a bad looking anime, but it’s very drab and not interesting to look at.

Sound:

The acting is questionable. They got Itou Shizuka. She’s been very good in some other anime. The big problem with the acting is that the characters do very little emoting. So, everyone basically uses the exact tone you’d use when reading off the items you need for a recipe so you can add them to your grocery list. The closest you get to emotion in this are Ichise’s grunts. And even those sound less emotive and more like he’s having a stroke. The music is very lacklustre and forgettable.

Ho-yay:

One of the guys Ichise meets has gay sex to improve his position. So, there are some powerful gay men in this series and they’re all shady. But don’t worry, it’s not a homophobic thing. Every powerful character in this is shady to some degree.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Speed things up. We don’t need every obvious revelation to be accompanied by five minutes of Oonishi or whoever just standing there looking grim. Sure, it gives me time to get up, grab a snack and not miss anything but it would be better if it just flowed well.
  2. Build up some strong character dynamics. Because giving the characters the relationship they need to advance the plot without putting any effort into it, is just lazy writing.
  3. Give it some colour. Yes, we get it, your dystopian world isn’t a nice place. That doesn’t mean absolutely everything needs to look drab.

Final Thoughts:

Texhnolyze isn’t a bad anime. It’s slow as hell. Its characters have nothing compelling about them. Its world is dull. And it thinks it’s far more clever than it actually is but it isn’t bad. It’s not good by any means. I wouldn’t even give it high enough praise to call it mediocre. That’s why I’m giving it a 4/10.

Love Live School Idol Project OVA: Needs more Sapphic Sleepovers

I’ve discussed the Love Live franchise quite a bit. And we’re going to do it again. This little OVA was bundled with the group’s sixth single. It’s only fifteen minutes. So, we’ll see how it goes.

Love Live OVA

We open with Maki having a nightmare where she’s being chased by hooded figures. She finishes telling Hanayo about it. Which scares Hanayo, likely making it necessary for her to take solace between Rin’s legs. The next day Maki’s not at school and the rest of our cast decides to go visit her, leading to a slightly trippy sequence followed by a musical number. So, the “story” is basically build up for the music video.

The issue is that the build up is awkward. It’s a bit surreal and has some magical realism shit going on that doesn’t really go with the rest of the franchise. It doesn’t help that a lot of it is stretches of a character running and it’s not that interesting.

I will say, it does have a few cute moments. Nico’s face when they decide to visit Maki along with Nozomi’s narration. That’s cute. Little baby Maki telling the rest of the girls that she’s always really liked them. That’s cute. I also do like the music video bit.

Characters:

The regular μ’s cast is all there. The OVA doesn’t give us anything new but it is nice to see the group doing their thing. Even in a short OVA.

Art: 

The OVA looks much like the series proper. About the worst I can say about it is that the running scenes are a little lazy in terms of their backgrounds just staying pretty much the same throughout. Other than that it all looks good. It’s well put together. The music video is very much what we’re used to from the franchise. With the costumes, choreography, lights and bright colours.

Sound:

The acting in this franchise has always been well done. The music portion features a really good song in terms of its performance. If you’re a fan of that type of idol music, you’ll enjoy hearing the song.

Ho-yay:

It’s almost like Sunrise was pandering to me specifically with this one. There’s a lot of homo-eroticism in the music video. The girls’ idea of a party is, apparently, getting in sleepwear, cuddling up to one another and staring at each other longingly. This isn’t a Never-ending party, it’s a never-ending Sapphic sleepover. Which is much better. And you might think “But Ktulu, you wouldn’t be allowed into a never-ending Sapphic sleepover.” Which is true, but I don’t go to parties either. The most people I’ll be in a room with is about seven other people for D&D.

Love Live OVA1

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Less surrealism in the build up.
  2. Fewer scenes of running.
  3. Maybe just lose the dream angle in favour of something that suits the franchise better. Like a Sapphic sleepover.

Final Thoughts: 

Is this OVA as good as the series proper? No. Is it going to be enjoyable if you’re not a fan of the series proper? No. If you’re a fan of the series, will you enjoy it? Very likely, yes. It has its cute moments and the music video portion is great. So, if you’re a fan of the franchise, you should probably watch it. If you’re someone who likes the music but doesn’t care much for the rest, watch the last five minutes. If you aren’t sure whether you’d like the series, watch the regular anime first. For myself, I’m giving it a 6/10. The mediocre build up combined with the great music video makes for a decent viewing experience.

Shingeki no Kyojin: Lost Girls

It’s been a long time since I reviewed the first series of Shingeki no Kyojin. In that time we’ve gotten two more series, multiple films and OVAs. And since I’ve been reviewing so many rubbish OVAs recently, it seems an opportune time to remind myself that there are quality OVAs out there. Lost Girls is one that was bundled with the 24th through 26th volumes of the manga. I’ll warn in advance, there will be spoilers for the first series of Shingeki no Kyojin in this review since they are a part of the OVA.

Lost Girls

Story:

The first two episodes of the OVA follow everyone’s second favourite Titan shifter, Annie, as she tries to solve a case about a missing rich girl so that her room mate will give her an opening to capture Eren. So, this is just before episode 17 of the anime. We get some glimpses into her past, her relationship with her father and how she trained.

The third episode focuses on Mikasa during the battle of Trost when she believed Eren was dead. So, really early in the anime. It basically goes into her head and her private fantasy of a world where she might be able to be with her adoptive brother. Sweet Home Alabama intensifies.

The two episode Annie story is really well done. It’s compelling. Her investigation is interesting. It gives you a strong sense of her life in the Capital and her motivations.

The Mikasa episode, in contrast, is mediocre at best. It’s basically her getting into her own head and finding nothing of value. It could have been an opportunity to explore her relationship with her parents and regrets over losing them so young, but them being alive in her little fantasy is solely incidental and you barely see her interact with them. It’s not interesting and it doesn’t add anything because it’s basically nothing in terms of the larger narrative and all it does is repeat what we already know about her character, or lack thereof.

Characters:

Annie really benefits from her story in this. We get to see facets of her personality that are normally hidden beneath her cold, collected exterior. We get a stronger sense of her motivations and how her upbringing helped turn her into the woman we see in the series proper.

Mikasa’s episode just highlights what a bland trope of a character she is. Which is unfortunate because this was an opportunity for her to be more than a generic action girl with a fixation on the hero who happens to be her adopted brother that makes her emotionally vulnerable. But that’s literally all her episode focuses on. This is why Mikasa is rubbish.

Art:

You have to give Wit credit. They make this franchise in general look fantastic. The varied character designs look really good. The action flows well. Annie actually looks adorable when she eats a doughnut for the first time. And yes, it is an actual doughnut and not a misidentified rice ball. 4Kids doesn’t even exist any more.

Lost Girls1

Sound:

Shimamura Yuu and Kitanishi Junko both give strong performances. Even Ishikawa Yui does well voicing Blanda. Certainly better than you would expect given the lack of character. The music is strongly composed.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any. Christa and Ymir aren’t in this with their adorable interactions. Neither are Levi and Erwin with their weird way of flirting that makes it clear they’ll never admit they’re flirting.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. This OVA would be better without the Mikasa episode.
  2. If you must have an episode about Mikasa, at least give it some narrative or character significance. A story from her childhood that somewhat elevates her as a character so she’s less boring. Or an aside about her activities during, before or after a battle that we didn’t see before.
  3. Stop pushing the idea of Mikasa and Eren as romantic interests. I get that Mikasa was adopted into Eren’s family when she was nine and not born into it but that’s still enough to make it creepy.

Final Thoughts:

Honestly, I would give the Annie episodes a solid 8/10 by themselves. The problem is that I also have to factor in the Mikasa episode, which is a 5/10, if I’m feeling generous. So, averaging it out, the OVA gets a 7/10. If you’re thinking about watching it, I do recommend the first two episodes if you’ve seen the first series of the anime or more. But I’d skip the Mikasa episode completely because it’s literally nothing.

July Bonus Review: The Twelve Chairs

The Twelve Chairs is a 1970 American comedy film written and directed by Mel Brooks. It was the second film he wrote and directed. So, this was early in his career. It’s based off of the 1928 Russian novel of the same name by llya llf & Yevgeni Petrov.

Twelve Chairs

Story:

Our tale takes place in the Soviet Union. A former aristocrat is on her deathbed. She sends for her son in law to tell him about a treasure trove of jewels that she hid in one of the chairs at her home before the revolution. Naturally, this sends him on an avarice-fueled quest to find the chairs and the treasure. Fortunately, he manages to partner up with a skilled con artist. Unfortunately, the priest who performed the last rites is also hunting for the chairs. Having abandoned the church for profit. Which is number eight in the top ten reasons to leave the church. Right after humanitarianism.

The comedy is well done, subtle and uses a lot of strong visual elements. It doesn’t have the big, quotable moments that a lot of Brooks’ films do but it is consistently entertaining and funny. The narrative arc works well for comedic purposes. There are a lot of strong opportunities for different gags. Which Brooks is good at monopolising on.

Characters:

The characters aren’t very complex. What they do deliver on are strong comedic interactions. They’re also a surprisingly likable group, for a pack of scoundrels.

Cinematography, Visuals and Effects:

As a whole, the film is well shot. Brooks is very good at framing and blocking. The visual gags also work well. About the only real criticism I have is that the chase sequences can be a bit awkward. There are times when they seem to almost want to do the Benny Hill thing but don’t fully commit.

Acting and Music:

Our three main actors are Frank Langella, Ron Moody and Dom DeLuise. All of them give strong performances. Mel Brooks also appears as a supporting character. Which isn’t a surprise. He always appears in the films he writes and directs. One thing that is a little off about the acting is that some of the actors put on Russian accents but most of them just don’t bother. Which is the same thing Brooks did with English accents in Men in Tights. The music does its job capably.

Final Thoughts:

The Twelve Chairs is a strong take on adapting the novel. Brooks does do a good job of preserving the satire but also in putting his own spin on it and injecting his own brand of humour into it. It’s not the strongest Mel Brooks film out there, but it does keep you entertained and make you laugh. My final rating on it is going to be a solid 7/10.

Iron Virgin Jun: Complete Mess

Iron Virgin Jun is a comedic action OVA based off of a manga by Nagai Go. I’ve never reviewed anything by him. He’s best known for Devilman and Devil Lady. It was handled by Dynamic Planning. Which is Nagai’s own baby company. So, you know they’ll handle his vision properly at least.

Iron Virgin Jun

Story:

Jun is having her 18th birthday and, as per family tradition, she’s “required” to get married. So she does what any sensible person would do and nopes out of there followed by the loyal servant, Kurata. Her mother responds by… sending a group of rapists after her. Because, clearly, if she doesn’t want to get married to some random man getting brutally assaulted by random men will assuage her fears. Seriously though, this is supposed to be a comedy there shouldn’t be the threat of rape.

The OVA basically follows Jun as she tries to escape her mother and the gang of rapists in order to determine her own fate. There are some huge problems. First off, sexual assault and comedy don’t mesh. I don’t care if you make their genitalia floaties with ducks, turtles and other various bollocks. It doesn’t work. So, having a group of rapists as major antagonists don’t work. The lack of logic from characters (Jun refusing to throw away her tracker, her mother wanting her to get married at 18 but not having a fiancée set up or anything) could work in a comedy if there was strong humour. There are no good jokes in this. About the “height” of its jokes is Jun being cornered, flexing out of her party clothes and beating up some guys. Which isn’t really funny, it’s just unexpected.

Characters:

The characters are one note and rubbish. Yes, comedic characters can get by with being somewhat shallow if they’re endearing and they have strong comedic dynamics. The characters in this don’t have that because there are no funny jokes. So, they just come across as paper thin, low effort characters. Nagai tries to add some depth by giving the mother some informed characteristics at the end but it doesn’t work to tell us a character has these motivations or these traits when those traits are never demonstrated.

Art:

The artwork is really bad. The action doesn’t flow well. It’s clumsy and disjointed. Nagai is clearly going for a Wrestling aesthetic with it. Not Olympic style, the fake one. But it just fails to deliver any excitement or flair. The character art is lazy at its best and absolute rubbish at worst.

Iron Virgin Jun1

Sound:

The acting is of the “nobody gives a shit” variety. Yokoyama Chisa, Komiya Kazue, Nakamura Daiki… none of them seem to be putting in any effort. And these aren’t bad actors. Yokoyama was the voice of Biscuit Kreuger. It just sounds like they got their scripts and decided they didn’t need to try. The music is probably the best part of the OVA because it’s, at least, sub-par.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Have some comedy. Because wading through these non-jokes is painful.
  2. Develop your characters enough to give them comedic quirks and dynamics. Characters in a comedy don’t need to be all that complex but they do need to be funny.
  3. Get the Basics down. I realise that a lot of bad anime don’t give their actors enough to work with for them to give good performances, but you could at least direct them so they sound like they’re trying and put any kind of effort into the art.

Final Thoughts:

Iron Virgin Jun is pretty horrendously bad. No effort. Terrible comedy. There are many, many better things you can do in forty six minutes. To name a few examples, you could play with your pet, shiny hunt in Pokemon, watch any episode of any Star Trek series that isn’t Discovery, grind some levels in an RPG  or light some candles and play with your genitalia. I mean, most things are going to be better than this. My rating is a 1/10.