So Ra No Wo To: How is this from the same writer as Vampire Bund?

So Ra No Wo To is an original anime brought to us by A-1 Pictures. Yes, the studio behind Kuroshitsuji, Uchuu Kyoudai, Sword Art Online & Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin is back. Or, more accurately, I’m looking at one of their works again. Thus far, my experience with them as a studio has varied a lot. With Uchuu Kyoudai being at the high end and Sword Art Online on the low, because it’s shit. This particular series is from 2010 and was relatively early in terms of their productions. It was written by Yoshino Hiroyuki, speaking of people I have mixed experiences with. Yeah, this bloke also wrote Shuumatsu no Izetta, which was a great series and Dance in the Vampire Bund, which will always be remembered as utter rubbish. So, this one is a gamble. I’d give it about 50-50 odds.

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Story:

In the far distant future, humanity seems to be running out of habitable land (now we know how all those species we’ve fucked over to build cities feel) and a lot of old technology has been lost. It’s in this future that the country of Helvetia and the new Roman Empire are on the brink of war. We follow a young garrison on the border of No Man’s land as they mostly faff about.

The only real criticism I have about the narrative is that the build up to the climax could have been handled better. It’s largely relegated to the last few episodes with small bit beforehand that give very small hints and we’re talking very basic like Rio’s identity being obvious by the time she plays her role or the threat of war being omnipresent throughout.

I do really like the way the series mixes a kind of standard slice of life style with the whole war scenario (Sort of like how he melded cutesy yuri romance with a war scenario in Izetta). It allows it to have that sense of fun and enjoyment while also leaving room for more serious, dramatic stuff and it never feels dissonant. The world building is really interesting and executed in a fully organic way. We don’t just know the broad stroke details, we know very trivial everyday things like how life in Kanata’s little village differs from life in the city of Seize (I know, not a subtle city name) because of geographical variations within the same nation. Which is a fascinating detail. The series has a good sense of humour as well. Filicia’s way of confirming whether or not their visitor speaks their language is hilarious but it also makes sense. The whole episode where they all get pissed, save one, is really funny. There are good dramatic scenes too. Noël & Filicia both have some real tragedy to their back stories. Rio & Kureha have some as well but Kureha’s plays less of a role and Rio’s is kept a bit vague because they don’t want to show the actual details and spoil the climax. Then we have the epic Amazing Grace scene. Those are words I never thought I’d string together, but it’s a part of the climax and it’s a superb scene. It’s also interesting the way Helvetia and the Roman Empire have similar legends, but different takes on them.

Characters:

I quite like the cast in this series. They have enough complexity to carry the more dramatic scenes as well as enough quirkiness to make the humour strong. Which is something Gintama couldn’t manage with over fourteen times the number of episodes. This is only a fourteen episode series and that’s counting the two special episodes. I also appreciate the way the series connects the characters through most of the main cast having formative meetings with a certain person of note. He fleshes out their back stories enough to give them a sense of completion while also building up their dynamics with one another. Those dynamics are very nice too.

Art:

The animation is well done. It moves smoothly and just generally does a good job at holding any given tone. I love some of the mechanical designs, especially the old tank that Noël spends a good portion of the series working on. I appreciate that the girls are given proper uniforms instead of going full GI Joe solely for the sake of having variety. But, in all fairness, GI Joe has a bunch of similar looking characters while this has characters with distinctive appearances.

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Sound:

Our major characters are voiced by Yuuki Aoi, Kanemoto Hisako, Kobayashi Yuu, Endou Aya & Kitamura Eri. They’re all absolutely fantastic. The side characters have good acting as well with the talents of Fukuen Misato, Yasokawa Mayuno, Ishizuka Unshou (don’t be surprised if he asks whether you’re a boy or girl) and others. Oshima Michiru’s sound track is fantastic. Even the Amazing Grace motif and I’m saying that as someone who doesn’t generally like that song.

Ho-yay:

There’s a fair amount. This is one of those series where all the girls seem interested in one another. It’s especially true at the point where they talk about their dreams. I don’t want to spoil anything too specific since that episode takes place after the climax, but putting it in vague terms, one girl wants to be a bride. And I’m fairly certain she wants to marry the other girl she’s been writing to, based on their dynamic and interactions. Another girl wants to stay with yet another female character forever and her expression along with the flush on her face when she says it indicates that she’s thinking of tribadism and cunning linguistics. Plus the two of them are incredibly homo-erotic throughout.

Final Thoughts:

How the hell did Yoshino write this, then write something as bad as Dance in the Vampire Bund directly after? Because this is a fantastic anime. Virtually everything about it works and works really well whereas that’s practically the opposite. Is Yoshino actually twin brothers who take turns turning in what they’ve been working on with one being a complete knob and the other skilled? Does he lose all writing ability when exposed to indigo kryptonite? Is the studio working with both him and his goatee sporting counterpart from an evil opposite universe? Is it just  that he was doing his best to adapt a really shit manga? Whatever the case, I’ll give this series a 9/10. Next week, Fortune Quest: Yo ni mo Shiawase na Boukensha-tachi.

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May Bonus Review: Blake’s 7 Series 1

Blake's 7

Blake’s 7 is one of the BBC’s classic science fiction programs. It started in the late 70s ad ran into the early 80s for a total of four series. It was created by Terry Nation, a man who also worked on Doctor Who back when that was actually worth something. He even created one of the most iconic enemies for that franchise, the Daleks. Does this hold up as well?

Story:

We open with our protagonist, Roj Blake being called out for a mysterious meeting. He’s told that the government is controlling the population with drugs in the water & food, not the same ones that turn the frogs gay according to cranks but real ones. He’s also told that he was a leader in the resistance before he was captured and had his mind tampered with to make him a symbol for the regime. He’s skeptical until soldiers barge in and shoot the entire unarmed resistance. They take Blake prisoner and he soon finds himself framed for a crime he didn’t commit and en route to a prison on the world of Cygnus Alpha.

Things take a slight turn for the better when he and a pair of other prisoners, Jenna & Avon, are sent to examine a potentially dangerous ship. They manage to survive its trap and gain control over it. With a highly advanced craft at their command, Blake sees the potential of mounting a resistance against the federation while Avon thinks him a crusader and a fool. From there we follow Blake’s ragtag crew of criminals while they try and damage the federation using guerrilla tactics while evading pursuit.

The series doesn’t have much wrong with its narrative. I like the way it subverts a lot of standard sci-fi plots by simply making the antagonists competent. Blake and his crew aren’t shown as being able to match the federation. Rather, they’re shown as barely escaping them while making a nuisance of themselves. Which is an interesting take since most series like this take great pains to show you that the heroes have some chance, even if a slim one. I also like that the series manages to have a sense of fun alongside its air of futility. Which it manages by not dwelling overmuch on how little of a chance they have and by celebrating their small victories. The series is also really good at setting up interesting scenarios and challenges for the crew.

Characters:

Another strong suit of the series lies in the characterisation. Blake may be a crusader, but his crew all have their own reasons for sticking around. Avon, for example, likes the rest of the crew on a personal level, but he sticks around because he wants control of the ship. The rest  of the crew has motivations more along the lines of having nowhere else to go or being taken in by Blake’s idealism. Every single character has a back story that explains why they’re in the position they’re in and both Jenna and Blake get some elements of their past used in episode narratives. Even the antagonists get some moments of humanity, with Travis becoming upset over a friend of his at one point.

Visuals:

This is definitely the area that has’t aged well. Like with any old science fiction work, the effects are dated and the set pieces can most definitely look cheap. It holds up  better than the original Star Trek but not by as much as it should, given that it came out around a decade after that series ended. The fight choreography can also come across as slow and cumbersome.I’ll give full credit that the designers clearly had ambitions and a very limited budget and I wouldn’t say the series ever looks bad.

Acting and Music

The acting varies a bit. Most of the cast is quite good. Paul Darrow is absolutely phenomenal. Gareth Thomas, Michael Keating, Jacqueline Pearce  & Stephen Greif are all really good. Then you have Owen Aaronovitch & Sally Knyvette who are kind of weak. Not bad, but certainly not on par with everyone else. Dudley Simpson composed the theme tune for the series and it’s bloody amazing.

Final Thoughts:

In the areas that matter most, Blake’s 7 remains a science fiction classic for good reason. The characters are interesting, the writing is superb and the cast, by and large, is excellent. If you’re a fan of really well done sci-fi and can appreciate the classics, give it a go. But if you want your sci-fi to have all the latest and most expensive special effects, it’s not going to be for you. As for me, I’d say the first series is a strong start and I’m going to give it a very well deserved 8/10.

Renkin San-kyuu Magical? Pokaan: GA, meet Bottle Fairy

Renkin San-kyuu Magical? Pokaan is a magical girl comedy from 2006. It was brought to us by Remic. Never heard of them? Well, they don’t have many credits to their name so that’s not a surprise. Let’s hope it gives as favourable first impression.

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Story:

We follow four princesses from the Netherworld. The witch, Uma, the vampire, Pachira, the werewolf, Liru & the android, Aiko. One of these things is not like the others, not like the others, not like the others. The four of them are living in the human world and all kinds of shenanigans ensue. That’s the basic crux of the comedy in the series, the bizarre outsiders getting into strange situations.

The biggest weakness in the comedy is simply that the series sometimes puts its desire for more fan service over its humour. Its “jokes” that revolve around under garments or nudity tend to be the weakest. Sometimes they get a funny one out there, but they’re mostly just too predictable and not in the Space Balls, I can quote this by heart because it was just so memorable, way. No, it’s in the “this joke was obvious and really heavily telegraphed” way.

With that aside, this series does have a lot of funny moments. It melds the zany absurdism of a series like Galaxy Angel with the supernatural outsiders trying to engage with humanity aspect of Bottle Fairy and the two do mesh well. The whole “drinking game” episode is really funny. So is the sentai team parody episode. Actually, those two both remind me of episodes from the aforementioned Galaxy Angel but with completely different execution. The tanuki bit is one that involves some more ecchi elements, but still manages to be a surprise and pretty funny to boot. There are plenty of other funny bits as well.

Characters:

The series has one of those casts that only works in a comedy. The characters are zany, a bit shallow and, fortunately, have a good amount of comedic potential to their interactions. Remic could do a good four series more of this and not exhaust the possibilities. Even the minor characters who show up once or twice tend to have enough moments to be memorable. The invisible girl being the prime example. Which effectively makes them a strong cast for a comedic work. Although Aiko’s desire to become human is a bit odd. It’s like they were inspired by the best series of Star Trek but couldn’t be bothered to put in the more substantial characterisation that makes that motivation make sense.

Art:

All of you who are familiar with my reviews know exactly what my complaint is in regards to the art. Yes, it’s our old nemesis, excessive fan-service again. At least in a totally not serious series like this the only way it detracts is just based on the general crassness rather than being detrimental to the tone or impractical. I also have to give them credit for trying to blend the fan-service with the humour to make it relevant, even if that is the weak point of the comedy. I kind of like the character designs (they might’ve overdone the invisible girl’s make up though) and the artistic direction is generally really good.

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Sound:

For our main cast we have Nabatame Hitomi (also Aida Mana), Hirano Aya (also Haruhi), Saitou Momoko (also Solty) & Akesaka Satomi (also Korokoro) as our main characters. The four of them give really good performances and work well together. Then we have the music. This is one of those series where the theme tune doesn’t remotely fit. Maybe Remic thought it would be a nice jape to put in a really serious looking theme tune, but it kind of doesn’t work when you use the same tune with every episode. It would be another thing completely if they kept changing it to other tunes that ran completely opposite to the tone but they never do. The ending theme tune changes regularly, but the opening is just the same overly serious thing every time and it just comes across as inept.

Ho-yay:

There’s a little bit here and there, but the series is always quick to remind you that all of these girls are looking for handsome boyfriends. Because, you know, it’s a comedy about a group of girls and if you didn’t remind people they were straight they’d be shipping them all together. Although, let’s be fair, it could have very well just been that they had some good jokes about their romantic misadventures. This series does have quite a few of those. What are they supposed to do, have the same kinds of jokes about them pursuing other girls? That sounds like something I’d write. (New comedy, Tuesdays after the case files of Detective Hildegard. Except not really.)

Final Thoughts:

Magipoka, is a pretty solid comedy. Not the greatest one of all time, certainly, but it is quite good. If you enjoy zany absurdity, or the whole outsider trying to fit in types of comedy, give it a go. You’ll probably get some laughs out of it. My rating stands at a solid 7/10. Next week, So Ra No Wo To.

Uchuu Kaizoku Mito no Daibouken: Has its Moments

Uchuu Kaizoku Mito no Daibouken is an anime from the very late 90s. The first series aired in the beginning of ’99 and the second aired mid to late ’99. For the moment, we’re just looking at the first. I might watch the second at another time if you guys really want to see me review it or if I really want to see it. It was brought to us by Triangle Staff, That’s right, the studio behind Serial Experiments Lain, and Genco, A company best known for working on the more administrative production side of things. It’s an original work too, not one based of of a manga,game or anything like that. Let’s see how it turned out.

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Story:

Mitsukuni Aoi is an ordinary teenage boy. He goes to school, hangs out with friends, has a crusty sock in his closet. That’s not hygienic, Aoi. He’s ordinary save for a couple minor details. The first is that he lives alone. The second is that his mother is an alien pirate. Yes, he finds out during a respectful visit to his father’s grave, when his mother makes an excuse to get rid of him and he finds her fighting with aliens. He quickly learns that the person he thought was his mother was actually a mechanical suit and inside that suit is an alien who looks a bit like a young girl. Here’s what I’m curious about, how did she squeeze out that baby? It would be like a Chihuahua birthing a Labrador puppy. Setting that aside to fester in your minds, he has to come to terms with the truth about his mother all while she’s trying to protect him and herself from the Galactic Patrol. Hijinks happen.

The biggest issue with the series is that it’s not all that funny, and this isn’t a series that remotely works in any kind of serious capacity. Its more serious moments aren’t bad, per se, but they’re pretty weak and the series has to quickly retreat back to something absurd whenever they have one which ultimately cheapens any gravity it might have had. It relies pretty heavily on the comedic aspect and that involves a lot of mediocre gags like Mutsuki breaking out in mushrooms or Aoi having an awkward moment with his mother when she’s outside of her adult suit.

That being said, there are times when the comedy works. Their teacher going full ninja, some of the crazier action sequences and Mito’s crazier interactions with her crew are where the series absolutely shines. If it maintained that level of humour throughout instead of only having it sometimes and filling in the gaps with mediocrity, it would be a great series.

Characters:

As a whole, the characters aren’t that interesting. The series tries to do compelling things with some of them. Like Aoi and the whole incident in his past that haunts him or Mutsuki and her wavering. But they tend to be executed in suck lacklustre ways that the ultimate effect on their characters is minimal. The one exception is Mito with her whole situation of trying to mend things with her son after lying to him for so long. Even speaking as a non-parent, it’s pretty relatable. I think we’ve all had relationships hit rocky patches and had the challenge of mending them. Unless you’re someone who only has close relationships with two-dimensional characters. Maybe try getting just a little sunlight sometimes? The characters can be enjoyable in those comedic sequences that work, but in general the jokes that revolve around their interactions don’t tend to be among the strong ones.

Art:

The series doesn’t look bad. It looks decent enough. The crazier action sequences are outright great looking. One thing that’s a bit disappointing is the alien design. You have aliens like Mito or Mutsuki who just look like humans. You’ve also got a lot of aliens who just look like the animal people from Dragonball. There’s not a lot of interesting or unique design going on. I think the 1960s Lost in Space had more unique designs. And sure, it ran for three years but they were also designing their alien costumes with cardboard and bits of string. You should be able to do more with animation. There’s also the questionable nature of Sabu’s design to consider. She’s a cyborg who looks a bit less than racially sensitive. That’s the polite way to say it.

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Sound:

There are some good actors in this. Kawakami Tomoko, Asakawa Yuu & Hoshi Soichiro among them. And I will say their performances are pretty good, Kawakami’s in particular. Itou Masumi handles the composition and it’s damn good. Maybe not as good as what she did for Galaxy Angel but it’s close, at the very least.

Ho-yay:

There’s a bit towards the end. I don’t want to go into too much detail since it’s a factor in the big ending sequence, but it’s there.

Final Thoughts:

Uchuu Kaizoku Mito no Daibouken has comedy that ranges from mundane to actually pretty great and some more serious scenes that chronically don’t work particularly well. It has decent animation, overall and art that’s perfectly functional. Along with some really good acting and music. Ultimately, that doesn’t add up to a brilliant series, nor even a good one but it’s a decent enough one. Thus, my final rating is going to stand at a 6/10. Next week, Renkin San-kyuu Magical? Pokaan.

400th Anime Review: Sailor Moon SuperS

I’ve done a lot of reviews online over the years. Most have been anime but I’ve also looked at comics like Civil War, live action TV shows like the First Doctor from Doctor Who, Films like DEBS, cartoons like Spectacular Spider-man and even video games like Miitopia. I’ve reviewed some of the worst anime out there, some of the most generic and some of the best. All from a wide variety of genres. And now, I’m reviewing anime number 400. With every hundredth review, I’ve had a tradition of looking at the next instalment of the Sailor Moon franchise. We’ve looked at the first series, R, S and, now it’s time for a look at SuperS. Who knows, maybe I’ll be going long enough to get to the controversial Crystal series. But we’ll worry about that when we get to it.

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Story:

We open with our pretty sailor-suited soldiers observing an eclipse. Unbeknownst to them, but knownst to us, a group of villains called the Dead Moon Circus use the eclipse to enter their lovely Japanese town. Their mission is to find the person with a beautiful dream that Pegasus is hiding inside. From there, we get the usual Sailor Moon formula. Ordinary people are threatened by monsters, the soldiers power up and drive the menaces back all while getting steadily closer to the mastermind behind it all.

I don’t have any real issues with the Sailor Moon formula. Having a monster of the weak set up works when you’ve got media aimed for younger audiences, which this is. It’s not like they’re stupid enough to put monster of the weak episodes in something for older teenagers or adults. Only someone truly brain dead would do that. That being said, there is one element to the narrative I have a serious problem with. And that is the attempted romance betwixt Chibi-Usa and Pegasus. And it’s not just that he spends most of the series as an alicorn. That is part of it, but the bigger issue is that he’s thousands of years old and she’s a grade school kid. It would be like if the esteemed Princess Celestia was trying to put the moves on Pumpkin Cake. It’s beyond creepy and no one ever acknowledges it. Mamoru will speak out when he thinks she’s interested in a significantly older human, but is surprisingly taciturn when it comes to the paedophile Pegasus. I mean, yes he’s also older than Usagi to a degree where he should not be dating her but at least they have the whole reincarnated ongoing love story thing to somewhat excuse it. As opposed to Pegasus who is just a wannabe child molester.

That whole really terrible romance aside, the series does have a lot to like. There are some really strong episodes that let the other soldiers besides Usagi and Chibi-Usa have a taste of the spotlight. The series is also pretty good about giving the victim characters a sense of personality. There are exceptions, particularly towards the end where entire groups are getting checked. But it is mostly a strong point for the series. The handling of the dream motif is also quite interesting. They explore the dreams of our heroines and they use the villains to illustrate what happens with corrupted dreams, how lost people get without dreams and the danger of having a selfish, impossible dream. The series also has a pretty strong sense of humour, like the rest of the franchise.

Characters:

Our main heroines all get their chances to shine and exploring their dreams does help flesh out and further their characters. Then we have the antagonists. That’s another strength of the series, the way the antagonists are fleshed out. Some of them are quite sympathetic even the big bad Nehelenia who’s pretty pitiable when it comes right down to it. Honestly, I think these are the best antagonists we’ve seen in the franchise thus far. Finally, we have Helios or as I like to call him, the worst part of this entire franchise. No, seriously. There’s nothing in any of the other series we’ve looked at that’s worse than mister ancient but young looking paedophile. And, sorry to spoil it, but I know there’s nothing in Stars that’s worse than him. The interactions that don’t involve him are pretty strong. I like the way the series develops the familial bond betwixt Usagi and Chibi-Usa and I like the way the sailor soldiers interact with the Amazoness Quartet. Those are the two strongest interactions in the series.

Art:

Yeah, the artwork continues to be rather dated but fine looking. One thing I really like in this series are the monster designs and the whole atmosphere you get in the Dead Moon Circus. The performers have interesting and varied looks. But, like every part of the franchise, you can expect a lot of stock footage and long transformation sequences. You can also expect the occasionally bizarre facial expression.

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(I had to include this image from the second ending theme tune.)

Sound:

Our all star cast returns. We get strong performances from Mitsuishi Kotono, Fukami Rica, Tomizawa Michie, Shinohara Emi, Hisakawa Aya & Araki Kae. We also get some great acting from our secondary cast. One in particular I want to talk about is Ishida Akira. Almost three years ago I reviewed the OVA, Ice. In that series Ishida Akira voiced a woman and gave a terrible performance,sounding completely masculine. This series lets us confirm for absolute certain that that was the director’s fault. In SuperS, Ishida voices the trans-woman Fish Eye and he sounds really feminine doing it. They don’t even use the shitty old joke where his voice turns super masculine at times. It’s feminine throughout. Arisawa Takanori’s soundtrack is nicely done. Even if the franchise has been using the same opening theme tune for every series.

Ho-yay:

This one dials back the les-yay quite a bit. There’s an episode where a young girl starts admiring Rei in a way that comes across as more than friendly. We also get to see Ami dance with Makoto. That’s something.

Final Thoughts:

Honestly, I seriously considered going as low as a 6 for this one. Solely because of Pegasus. Like I said, worst thing in this entire franchise. However, I’m going to go a bit higher because the antagonists are really well done and there are plenty of other strong factors in the series. It’s still the weakest instalment of the franchise thus far but I would still say it’s enjoyable and pretty good. So, my final rating is going to be a 7/10. Next week, Uchuu Kaizoku Mito no Daibouken.

A big thank you to everyone who’s been a regular reader. I appreciate all of you whether you generally agree with my assessments or not.

Melty Lancer: Underwhelming

Melty Lancer is an action comedy ova based off of a Konami game. You may know them as that company that seems bent on losing any good will it might have ever had with pachinko machines based off of their franchises and whatever the hell Metal Gear Survive was. The studio they got to work on this was Gonzo. The same studio that gave us Final Fantasy Unlimited, Solty Rei & Sunabouzu among others. How does this hold up compared to their other works? I’m guessing better than Sunabouzu, not that that would be hard.

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Story:

We open with a bunch of old, politician looking types approaching a prisoner. They offer him a deal. He leads a group they’re reuniting and they’ll give him his freedom. They don’t even care what happens with them. We cut to his aide travelling about to find the members of the titular Melty Lancer. Fortunately, they gather just in time to stop an attacking giant robot. Unfortunately, they seem to be pawns in some kind of political game, probably connected to the case Sylvie’s been working on. Will they be able to survive and conquer this perilous situation?

Honestly, the big issue is just that the comedy is so generic. We’re talking jokes that are super obvious and overdone like the old chestnut about men being a bunch of mindless apes who will lose it at the sight of a pretty girl. Because I know when I’m supposed to be guarding something I’ll just give a pretty girl access immediately. They also have the old jape about the powerful looking machine that has a really glaring weak point but it’s okay because they lampshade it. The series just never makes use of surprise or has anything uproariously funny. The best it can manage is being kind of, sort of funny. And that’s a big issue when you’re looking at a comedy. What’s supposed to make up for it? The strength of the plot? Because, I have to say, this isn’t a complex, compelling plot line.

That being said, there’s nothing in the series that’s bad. The comedy might be underwhelming but it’s not cringey or awful. The same is true for the script. It’s not particularly interesting, but it’s not bad either.

Characters:

The cast is pretty standard. They’re bland comedic characters. And a comedy having characters who are kind of one-note can work. We saw that last week with Galaxy Angel 2. The difference betwixt that series and this one is that that series had characters who had strong comedic interactions. That series had characters who were enjoyable to watch get into shenanigans. Whereas this one has characters who are just dull.

Art:

The character designs aren’t bad. They aren’t the most visually interesting group out there but they’re fine. The backgrounds and action sequences are perfectly acceptable. Again, not the most interesting you’ll see but they work.

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Sound:

They did get some strong actors for this. Ogata Megumi, Tange Sakura, Yukana, Ikezawa Haruna & Iwao Junko are all good actresses. (No, this isn’t a Cardcaptor Sakura reunion.) And their performances in this are good, not their best but good. The biggest issue is with Iwata Mitsuo. He has two modes in this series, mumbling and shouting. Maybe the director thought that would be a good quirk for his character but it’s not. It’s kind of obnoxious. Amano Masamichi’s soundtrack is decent enough. I won’t be listening to it on its own or anything but it was fine.

Ho-yay:

There are some moments that come across as a bit les-yay, but those are very few and nothing comes of them.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, Melty Lancer is a below average series. But hey, that still makes it better than a lot of Konami’s recent output. It’s not bad but it’s far from good. My final rating is a 4/10. Next week is my 400th anime review (obviously not counting the manga, cartoon, comic or live action ones) and you all know what that means. That’s right, time for some Star Power make up.

April Bonus Review: C.O.P.S

Last month I said that I was going to look at a cartoon based off of one of Hasbro’s properties. Naturally, I had to pick their most famous toon, C.O.P.S. For the very few of you who haven’t heard of it, COPS was a late 80s cartoons based off of Hasbro’s toy figure line of COPS & Crooks. So, let’s delve into it and see how it holds up, before Michael Bay directs a shit film based off of it. 

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Story:

The show is set in the futuristic Empire city where the Big Boss and his gang of crooks are always up to some untoward activities. Fortunately, the city has COPS (the Central Organisation of Police Specialists) to fight against these nefarious schemes. Each episode basically deals to the Big Boss or one of his cronies coming up with some scheme to steal loot and the COPS having to foil them. 

The biggest issue with the series is just that it’s satisfied with being a generic children’s show. It never tries to do anything unique or interesting and it easily could have. And this was a premise that could easily have gone above and beyond.  Cops and Robbers with a sci-fi twist could make for an amazing kid’s show. All they needed were some ongoing story lines with character development. You know, like those 90s super hero cartoons that were coming out three years later. Instead, what we get is a bog-standard show where they foil the plot of the week and move on to the next one. I think the only time we even get a multi-part episode is the Case of COPS File One.

And you can tell the writers don’t care that much because there are pretty consistently things they don’t bother thinking through because they either can’t be asked or they want to just get the next episode out and they figure children won’t notice. So, you’ll have an episode where Bullseye has his helicopter stolen because he just leaves the cockpit open. Goofus leaves his expensive work helicopter out in the open while he buys doughnuts. Gallant locks it up and keeps the keys safely with him. In the aforementioned COPS File One there are characters who are called by their code names before they actually have Code Names. Because it’s hard to remember that Bulletproof’s real name is Baldwin Peabody Vess or that Mainframe’s is Tina Cassidy. There’s also one where they have invisible crooks and no one thinks to let the cyborg puppy loose to nibble on their bums. And I fucking know kids spotted that one because kids aren’t that stupid. They know dogs have great senses of smell. 

That being said, I can’t say anything about the show’s writing is truly bad. Yes, it would have worked a lot better if they’d taken more time to develop their scenarios and thought through them properly,  but  they’re kind of entertaining as they are. Honestly, if I was watching this as a kid I’d probably find it diverting enough. And it does have some awesome ideas like the cyborg pup or the crook with a sub-machine gun in his chest. Yes, this cartoon from the late 80s has actual guns. I wasn’t just talking shit when I said that 4kids is made up of overly sensitive cock munchers. 

Characters:

The big issue with the characters is just that they’re bland. the series could have really benefited from taking more time to give the characters real senses of personality and from having some crooks who could put on the façade of being respectable at times when they weren’t just trying to look good in front of their mothers. 

Art:

Honestly, this is not a good looking cartoon. There are things that definitely could have worked. The character designs, overall could’ve worked. The futuristic technology could have been great as well. Unfortunately, the animation itself seems to have had a very limited budget resulting in awkward movements and expressions. As well as stuff that’s just heavily recycled. Then we have the villainous bloke with dwarfism, Small Guy. He and his gang appear in two episodes and their designs change pretty noticeably from one to the other. It’s like they couldn’t even be bothered to go back and look at what they’d done before so they could keep it consistent. And the combination of crap animation and inconsistent art just doesn’t look good. That’s another thing this show needed, a budget that wasn’t being heavily embezzled for cocaine. 

Sound:

Honestly, the voice acting isn’t bad. It’s pretty “meh” but it’s far from the worst I’ve ever heard in a kid’s cartoon. It’s definitely better than Defenders of the Realm or Spectacular Spider-man. One issue with it is the budget. There are episodes where characters will appear and be featured quite prominently in scenes, but won’t say a bloody thing. Presumably because they didn’t want to pay for more voice actors. The music is pretty good, actually. The theme tune has a good beat and would’ve been pretty amazing without the lyrics, which consist of saying the word “Cops” periodically. In case you aren’t sure what you’re watching and need reminded twenty seconds before they show the logo. 

Final Thoughts:

COPS was a show that could have been amazing. I’d honestly like to see Hasbro get a studio that gives a shit with competent writers and revive it. Just to see the concept done justice. In fact, I’ll do it. I’ll even promise to not heavily imply that every single character isn’t straight. Which would be unusual for my writing. Still, the sixty five episodes are passable enough. If you’ve got a wee one at home, they’ll probably be entertained by it. My final rating is a 5/10. It’s mediocre.