Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: The Movie 1st- Not Completely a Retread

It’s no secret at this point that I’m a big fan of the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha franchise, except for Triangle Heart but that barely counts as connected to the rest. And since Nanoha and Fate are one of my favourite anime couples, it seems like an ideal time to look at one of the films. We’ll start with the oddly named Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: The Movie 1st.

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Story:

The film basically gives an abridged account of the first Nanoha series. As such, I’m not going to worry about giving spoilers since I’ve already reviewed multiple series of Vivid and anyone who’s read my reviews regularly knows basically how the first series ends. But for those of you who don’t and don’t want spoilers, consider that your warning.

We open with Yuuno escaping a jewel seed created monster, turning into his ferret form and being found by our gayby heroine, Takamachi Nanoha. She quickly learns how to transform, beats the monster that was chasing him and decides to hunt for the jewel seeds before their power can hurt anyone. This leads her into conflict with Fate Testarossa, another mage who’s also after the seeds.

Like I said, same story as the first series. About the only big difference is the in depth background scenes of Precia and Fate’s magic teacher, Linith. Linith wasn’t in the original series at all and the events surrounding Precia’s descent weren’t nearly as thoroughly covered.

To be fair, these scenes do add some nice background and they flesh Precia out as a character beyond what the original series did. The main series kind of relies on the knowledge of her situation and brief glimpses into who she was before the accident to demonstrate what happened to make her the way she is. Which does work in its own right, but this does strengthen that.

The worst thing I can say about this film is that it’s kind of unnecessary. If you’ve seen the series, you’ve seen all the big scenes, twists and all the cute, hugely homo-erotic scenes. There are also some scenes that feel rushed in this because it is an abridged account and there’s not nearly as much time to devote to pacing.

Characters:

The major characters are still strongly written. Nanoha, Fate, Arf and Precia especially. Like I stated earlier, Precia actually benefits from having her back story detailed more strongly.  She still comes across as a villainous person who mistreats her daughter when all Fate wants is her love, kindness and acceptance of her future marriage to the Takamachi girl.

A lot of the side characters aren’t so well handled. Nanoha’s family is barely present in this Her friends, Alisa and Suzuka, have a decent sense of character but it’s not nearly as strong as it was in the anime proper but, to be fair, they’re condensing the events of the anime into a two hour film.

Art:

The artwork still looks really good with the same exception as the series proper. The transformation sequences, though we don’t see them a lot of times, are pretty horrendous. I don’t know who the asshole at Seven Arcs was who decided the franchise needed fan-servicey transformation sequences for third grade girls, but they belong on some kind of watch list.

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Sound: 

Mizuki Nana, Tamura Yukari, Igarashi Rei, Mizuhashi Kaori & Kuwatani Natsuko are all really strong in their roles. Really, all the performances are well done. The music is excellent as well. There are two ending themes sung by our leads, Mizuki Nana & Tamura Yukari. They’re both superb songs and Tamura’s seems designed as a NanoFate love song with the way it’s used. Rather like Spiritual Garden was in A’s.

Ho-yay:

There’s a lot. For everything they do abridge, they seem determined to keep in as much NanoFate as possible. Which I vehemently approve of.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Rework it a little more so  it doesn’t feel so much like a re-telling. I’m not saying the aesthetic needs to change or that there should be less NanoFate, but since this is supposed to be an alternative version, it would be nice to see some substantial changes. Maybe Precia could be less terrible and get saved in the end. Maybe Fate could openly rebel without being tossed aside first. There are plenty of options.
  2. Lose the fan-servicey aspects to the transformation sequences. They are still decidedly not cool.
  3. Lose a few scenes with side characters who don’t do anything for better pacing. As much as I appreciate all the side characters in the franchise, you clearly need to make some sacrifices to turn a thirteen episode series into a two hour film and I think that stuff is the most expendable.

Final Thoughts:

The big question on my mind is a simple one. Is this film worth watching? Because it does come so close to being an abridged retread of the series proper and the few new scenes don’t add all that much. And I would say, it’s worth watching if you’re a huge Nanoha fan or if you’ve never watched the anime and you’d like an idea of what it’s like before committing to watching it. If you don’t like Nanoha or you’re a more casual fan who liked it fine but isn’t all that interested in re-watching it, you’re probably not the audience for the film. For myself, I’m giving it a 7/10. Because even if it is largely a retread, this story is still entertaining and the characters are still endearing.

500th Anime Review: Sailor Moon Stars

This is it, time for my 500th anime review. That’s right. We aren’t counting the manga, game, live action, comic, book or Western animated reviews. In keeping with the usual pattern, it’s time to look at the next instalment of the Sailor Moon franchise, Sailor Moon Stars. In the name of the moon, I will critique you.

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Story:

We open with things on a pretty high note. Nehellenia’s been defeated. Mamoru’s been accepted into an American University back when that meant something and ChibiUsa is heading back home. Things go south when a strange voice rouses Nehellenia from her sealed status and she returns seeking revenge against Usagi. They defeat the revived Queen and both Mamoru and ChibiUsa go off their separate ways when a new enemy appears. There’s just one thing different, these enemies also appear to be sailor soldiers. Meanwhile, a trio of new soldiers, the Starlights, have made their appearance.

I can honestly say that this series of Sailor Moon is the best written. The way the two plots connect is really well handled. The foreshadowing is clever and, while clear, not shoved into your face or otherwise overdone. The tension between our regular soldiers and the Starlights actually makes a good amount of sense since, as the outer soldiers point out, the enemy is made up of sailor soldiers. Usagi’s stance also makes sense. The Starlights have been fighting alongside them and deserve the benefit of a doubt.

There’s also the climax. The last stretch of episodes in this series is phenomenal. The way it builds up a very bleak mood and really tears at your gut with some of the events that transpire and then follows it up with Usagi finally confronting Galaxia, not in a battle of brute force but one of ideals, is fantastic. It could not have possibly been handled better. This series also features the best comedic elements that the franchise has ever had. There are a lot of really funny sequences. A lot of which involve the inner soldiers interacting with the Starlights while they’re all in their civilian identities. Hell, the episode where they transform in front of each other for the first time is one of, if not the funniest with the way that whole sequence of events is handled. The episode where the inner soldiers are going overboard trying to guard Usagi also has some really hilarious moments.

Characters:

Those people who view Mamoru or ChibiUsa as the best characters will probably be disappointed since they don’t get much in terms of screen time. It didn’t bother me because the character dynamics we get with the inner soldiers, outer soldiers and Starlights is so damn good.

I’m gonna be honest, I like Usagi’s dynamic with Seiya significantly more than her dynamic with Mamoru. And not because Seiya is a girl and I’m a crazed ho-yay fan. Here’s the thing. My problem with the romance with Usagi and Mamoru has always been that it’s very lazy. Why are they together? Because destiny. Will they stay together? Yes, because future daughter implies that it’s destiny. And, ironically, Seiya’s interactions with Usagi that are designed to establish her as a credible romantic rival for Mamoru actually create a more compelling and well developed dynamic between her and Usagi that we’ve ever seen with Usagi and Mamoru.

This series also has some of the best Haruka/ Michiru moments. Pretty much every time these two show up, we get some light flirting and general adorableness. The antagonists get a good amount of personality as well. It does help that their basic back stories are pretty clear once we learn what the Starlights’ story is. Even before that, it’s pretty heavily implied.

Chibi Chibi is interesting. Not because f the soldiers trying to figure out if she’s Usagi or ChibiUsa’s future child. It should be obvious she can’t be ChibiUsa’s since ChibiUsa’s future partner is clearly Hotaru. No, she’s interesting because she can barely speak. So her personality has to pretty much come out through non-verbal means. Which it does. And there are some compelling episodes that focus on showcasing her personality.

Art:

The weaknesses in the art remain the same. There are some overly long transformation sequences and stock footage attacks. There are frames where someone will have a bizarre expression. And it looks a bit dated by today’s standards. In spite of that, there’s a definite charm to the visuals in this series. The monsters have a good look. The character designs as a whole are great. And even if they do get repeated too often, the transformation sequences and stock attacks are pretty nice. The series also does do a good job of positioning its characters in various scenes. A good example would be the enemy soldiers entering their travelling phone booth that’s totally not a police box that can go through time and space. When Crow and Siren enter it together, you can see that they’re close. Conversely, when Crow and Nyanko enter one together, they take very hostile positions.

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Sound:

The acting remains an excellent element of the series. Fukami Rei, Tomizawa Michie, Hisakawa Aya, Katsuki Masako, Ogata Megumi, Shinohara Emi, Kawashima Chiyoko, Minaguchi Yuko & Mitsuishi Kotono have proven themselves many times in this franchise and they continue to be fabulous. In this series Niiyama Shiho, Tsunoda Narumi & Sakamoto Chika make excellent additions to our lineup of soldiers. What sets them apart is that they have to keep their voices fairly androgynous since the Starlights take on male forms during their stay on Earth.

Although this is the last series so you won’t hear them in the roles again unless you play the yuri dating game where the player controls Princess Kakyuu and can date the Starlights in their true forms. Before you go looking for that, it’s not actually real but sounds like something that could be.

For the antagonists, the performances that really stand out are Horie Mitsuko, Inoue Kikuko & Suzuka Chiharu. All of the actresses are strong but those three do stand out.

This series also features the best music. It’s the first time we’ve heard a different opening theme tune and, not only is it spectacular, but it actually has a very strong, and clever, connection to the big climactic battle. Moonlight Densetsu actually does get played once in the series and it’s very effectively used for impact. The Three Lights’ music is really well put together and sung.

Ho-yay:

There’s quite a bit. First off, there are the scenes with Haruka and Michiru. We also get some stuff betwixt Hotaru and ChibiUsa during the opening Nehellenia arc. And there are multiple girls among the inner soldiers who don’t seem to mind that much when they find out the Three Lights are really women. Plus, every single one of the Three Lights seems to be attracted to other women. There’s also Aluminum Siren and Lead Crow. These two are actually reminiscent of Zoisite and Kunzite from the first series. Their dynamic makes it abundantly clear that they’re more than friends. And the aforementioned dynamic is used to showcase their sympathetic sides. Although, in this series, the writing is more skilled at showing them as sympathetic even outside of their loving relationship.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Princess Kakyuu could have been more of a character. I understand why she couldn’t have been a character in the series proper for very long, but they could have developed her a bit by showing some flashbacks of her with the Starlights or something. As is, she’s kind of an archetypical “good woman.”
  2. Less time with the stock footage. If only there was something substantial they could replace it with. Like the thing I mentioned above.
  3. Include the manga scene where Usagi gets a bit jealous seeing Hotaru and ChibiUsa holding hands and Hotaru tells her to just hold hands with Mamoru then. This is honestly one of the only good scenes from the manga that isn’t in the anime.

Final Thoughts:

I can truthfully say that this series is the Sailor Moon franchise at its very best. Fantastic characterisation, a well-crafted story, excellent acting and music. It’s definitely the perfect way to end the series as a whole. So, in spite of the relatively minor gripes I had with it, I’m giving it a full 10/10.

A massive thank you to all my readers, especially you regulars. 500 anime reviews wouldn’t have been possible without all of you. And since it’s the first review of January, the theme for the month this year is going to be anime that feature some of my favourite couples. So, that’ll be fun.

Code Geass: Nunnally in Wonderland- A Diversion Into Tepidity

It’s no secret at this point that I enjoyed Code Geass. I reviewed both series about Lelouch’s rebellion and was generally pretty positive. This time we’re looking at a special that was bundled with the home release, Nunnally in Wonderland. Which obviously has to do with Lewis Carroll’s most famous work, Sylvie & Bruno.

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Story:

The narrative is simple enough. Nunnally and Lelouch are sitting together when Nunnally mentions missing hearing him tell stories. So, Lelouch summons the cast of the anime to tell her a variation of Alice in Wonderland with her as the protagonist.

Honestly, the biggest problem with the narrative is that it comes across as very low effort. Take a famous, public domain story, abridge the hell out of it, put in some nods to your series and boom. It doesn’t help that the story they’re using is as over-used as Romeo and Juliet or A Christmas Carol. If they actually had used a lesser known Carroll story, it would have at least felt a bit more unique.

For positives, its basically a passable version of the story. And it is hard to get too critical with something that’s wholly bonus content. Not that that would stop me if they’d done a really bad job.

Characters:

What this special gives us in terms of characterisation is brief snippets of each character’s personality. A lot of them only show up for around thirty seconds. Which means that their personalities don’t really shine nor does it do anything particularly new with anyone. It relies on you already knowing what they’re like. Which is a reasonable expectation given that it’s bundled with the home release.

Art:

The art does generally look good. I’m not the biggest fan of the character designs. I still think they’re overly thin and stretched but the backgrounds do look good and the Wonderland inspiration does shine through. My issue is that there’s virtually no animation to speak of. Most of the special uses still images like it’s trying to be a visual novel. This also has, quite possibly, the worst action sequence of all time when Suzaku fights Gino. I know we’re not supposed to be taking this seriously but it’s not even a funny sequence.

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Sound:

You can’t fault the actors. They deliver good performances. The music is nicely composed as well.

Ho-yay:

This special makes the odd decision of putting Cornelia & Euphemia in married roles. Out of all the possible people, you decided to present sisters as married? I know there’s a portion of the fanbase that’s into that, but it still seems odd.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Put more personality into it. I get that it’s a bonus but you could have some effort.
  2. Actually animate it.
  3. Have fewer characters and longer scenes. I get that you wanted as many Code Geass characters as possible, but you really don’t need them all.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, this just feels a bit pointless and lazy. If you really want to see the cast of this series in an abridged version of Wonderland, I guess this is for you. But I’ve honestly seen so many variations of this story done so much better. For bonus content, it’s better than nothing but not very exciting. I’ll give it a 5/10.

December Bonus Reviews #4: The Hogfather

The late Sir Terry Pratchett crafted an amazing, highly witty world with his Discworld novels. In 2006, there was a two part TV film adaptation of his 20th Discworld novel, The Hogfather. It was produced by The Mob, a British production company and Sir Terry Pratchett himself makes an appearance in a very minor role. Let’s take a look.

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Story:

The Hogfather is Discworld’s version of Father Christmas or Santa if you prefer. All around Discworld, people are settling in to celebrate another Hogswatch. What the denizens of Discworld don’t know is that the Auditors of reality have approached the Ankh-Morpork Assassin’s guild with a simple contract. Eliminate the Hogfather. The guild sends Mr. Teatime, an assassin with a reputation for coming up with creative solutions. Meanwhile, Death notices the Hogfather’s time running out and decides to take his place in order to strengthen belief in him. His granddaughter, Susan encounters him in the costume and decides to go investigate what’s happening for herself.

Now, since the film’s only three hours long there are bits cut from the book. The Cheerful Fairy. Most of the kids Death encounters in the department store. The Death of Rats goes from frequent appearances to a brief segment and there are other bits cut for time. That being said, they did an excellent job of keeping everything they needed to preserve the integrity of the narrative while also shortening it and making it more stand alone. Since the original has quite a few segments with the wizards that do work best when you’re already familiar with the wizards.

Yeah, there are quite a few funny lines and sequences that aren’t in the film but none of them are absolutely essential for the plot.

The story is very clever. One of the strengths of the Discworld series is that there’s a strange, easily picked up on internal logic to everything, including the magical and other fantastic elements. And that is very much on display. Another strength is that the humour is just incredibly clever with a lot of strong dialogue. Which we also see on full display.

Characters:

The Discworld novels are full of excellently written, memorable characters. Arguably two of the best are Death and Susan, who are the main protagonists in this story. Which does make it a fantastic choice for Discworld’s first live action.

A big part of why their dynamic works so well is that Death doesn’t quite grasp human customs but knows the theory behind them whereas Susan has a better grasp on the world Death inhabits than most humans but has an imperfect comprehension since she’s spent so long trying to be more or less normal. Yet they are family so they do try to connect in spite of the gap. This leads to a lot of scenes that are really funny but also, in a strange way, quite heartfelt.

I also do really like Teatime as a villain. He’s the type of awkward character who could easily be played up as charming in that awkwardness but that’s coupled with a deep-rooted sociopathy which makes him very dangerous.

Cinematography, Visuals & Effects:

This is a very good looking film. The CG scenery is very clearly CG but it’s very good CG. The backgrounds look fantastic. The effects used for the magical elements are largely pretty subtle and work nicely. The shots are all set up very well.

Acting and Music:

The acting is phenomenal. Marc Warren pulls off Teatime perfectly. Mchelle Dockery is fantastic as Susan. Ian Richardson delivers Death’s lines very powerfully. Marnix Van Den Broeke also deserves credit. His movements as the body of Death are very deliberate and work perfectly for the scenes. Every single casting choice is just immaculately thought out and Vadim Jean’s directing is spot on. The music is superb. Paul Francis and David Hughes deserve a lot of credit.

Final Thoughts:

This is pretty much the perfect film adaptation. The cuts it does make are the ones it can afford. The quality is stellar in terms of acting, visuals and music. It’s difficult to imagine how they could have done it better without making it nearly twice as long and just including everything. Which just isn’t a realistic expectation. So, I’m going to give it a 10/10. It’s pretty much the definitive source on how to bring the Discworld into live action. I would suggest reading the book as well since it does have a lot of funny scenes that are cut for time but definitely watch this if you’re a fan of Sir Terry Pratchett’s.

Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari:

Tate no Yuusha is a Kinema Citrus anime based off of a light novel by Aneko Yusagi. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kinema Citrus, they worked on the second series of Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka with White Fox and they were behind the heavily over-rated Made in Abyss. But who knows. Maybe this will be their crowning achievement.

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Story:

Our protagonist is an otaku named Iwatani Naofumi. He’s examining a strange book when he finds himself pulled into the world described by the book. He’s told that he’s one of four Cardinal Heroes that’s destined to save the world from waves of monsters. To be specific, he’s the shield hero. Things go badly for him pretty quickly when he gets no respect and is promptly accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He finds himself without resources and virtually alone in a world he can only escape by defeating all the waves or dying.

The big problem with this narrative is a simple one. The way the kingdom of Melromarc acts towards Naofumi makes no sense. From the moment he arrives, they act like he’s basically useless and they shouldn’t have summoned him. And to make this more egregious, we find out they didn’t have to. There were other kingdoms that actually wanted to summon the shield hero. So, why did a kingdom that thought he was useless from the start even bother summoning him? It would be like dragging the chubby kid who starts sweating if they have to walk a couple centimetres into a sporting game that you absolutely need to win. This plot point would make sense if all four had to be summoned together or if they considered him useful until he was falsely accused but neither of those is the case. We even find out that the kingdom that summoned him has a sizeable cult that thinks the shield hero is basically Satan. So, why did the representatives of this kingdom think summoning him would be a good idea?

There are also some issues with consistency. To use a big example, Naofumi is approached by the chocobo… I mean filolial queen who berates him because the heroes have all been gathering together instead of each going their own ways to fight aspects of the waves in different areas. Shortly afterwards, she gets upset with him for quarrelling with the other heroes because they all need to fight together to beat the waves. So, they should be splitting up against the waves but they also need to fight together or they won’t survive the waves?

There are also points where Naofumi does come across as over-powered in comparison to the other heroes. In theory, this makes some sense since he’s had to go it without the perks and other advantages they’ve gotten, but when the series has a levelling system and he’s the lowest level, it’s a bit absurd.

With those criticisms out the way, there are a lot of good aspects to the narrative. Having Naofumi serve as a scapegoat for a certain, unscrupulous member of the royal family leads to some strong tension. The way the series hints at something more behind the waves and uses that in its climax is really well handled. The series is also pretty consistently engaging. There’s always something happening to keep your interest. And the series does end on a strong point with good reasons to watch the follow up and a satisfying end point for the series.

Characters:

For me, the strong point of characterisation is Naofumi himself. I appreciate that he isn’t your stereotypical, bright-eyed paragon protagonist. Nor is he the completely obsessive, dark and tortured type of protagonist. Nor, for that matter, is he the magnificent bastard variety of protagonist. He has some aspects of all three but they’re combined in a way that makes him unique. He does strive to do what’s right but he’s also pragmatic and completely willing to take advantage of the rules of the world he’s in to advance his own position. He’s even willing to play up his own notoriety when he thinks it will give him the edge he needs. Which combines to make him a very interesting character.

His party is quite interesting too. Raphtalia, Filo and Melty are all compelling characters in their own right. The biggest issue I have with the three of them is that there are points where the series is almost harem-like in their dynamics with him. Which is annoying. Especially when they’re dynamics with him are so much better when the series plays up a more familial relationship with him as either a surrogate father figure or a big brother type.

The other heroes are a bit boring. Itsuki and Ren don’t have much to them and Motoyasu’s big purpose is to be the more naive, paragon type of hero in order to play against Naofumi’s pragmatic approach.

The antagonists do deserve some credit. Early on, the series hints at there being more to them than just, mindless monsters invading cause that’s how they are. And the climactic scene at the end gives us exactly why the waves are happening and what those responsible stand to gain. There’s certainly more to be extrapolated upon, but what we do get is really interesting.

Art:

As a rule, the anime does look pretty damn good. It captures the feel of a game world really well. It has some strong designs, especially when it comes to its fantasy weapons and armour. The action sequences are, as a rule, well executed and flow nicely. Kinema Citrus also did well with background details and fleshing out the world that way.

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Sound: 

The actors do a good job with their performances. Ishikawa Kaito, Hidaka Rina, Seto Asami and Uchida Maaya all deliver in the main roles. There are good actors in the supporting roles as well. Han Megumi and Inoue Kikuko both come to mind. The music is a bit mixed. I’m not really fond of the theme tunes but a lot of the incidental music is well done. Kevin Penkin deserves a lot of credit on that front.

Ho-yay:

There are definitely moments betwixt Filo and Melty that read as more than a little gay.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Give an actual reason for Melromarc to summon Naofumi. Because, as is, it’s a pretty big problem and really makes zero sense.
  2. Proof-read your story. There’s really no excuse to have inconsistencies of that magnitude.
  3. Focus on Naofumi as a father figure and not a potential love interest. Yes, the borderline harem element is worse in some rubbish anime like Sword Art Online or Goblin Slayer, but that doesn’t make it good or even acceptable here. It just comes across as a lazy way to prop up the hero while sacrificing the potential for more interesting avenues for character interaction.

Final Thoughts:

There are quite a few elements to this series that I appreciate and I would like to give it a good rating. Unfortunately, the borderline harem interactions and various story problems are bad enough that I can’t, in all honesty, call this a good anime. I would still say it’s pretty decent, certainly better than some other isekai series out there. I’m giving it a 6/10.

December Bonus Reviews #3: House of M

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It’s been a while since I talked about a badly written event comic by a talentless hack of a writer. In fact, I think the last one was Civil War last year. This time, the story was handled by Brian Michael Bendis, a man who has made a career out of writing comics without even a hint of quality to them. It was written as a follow up to Avengers Disassembled, Which is another horrendously bad event comic that I could spend a long time going off of. Maybe another time.

Story:

We open with the Scarlet Witch going steadily mad. The Avengers and X-men meet up to try and decide how to handle the situation. This causes her brother, Quicksilver, to panic under the assumption that they’re going to kill his sister. The combined teams are approaching Wanda when the world changes. It transforms into a world where mutants are the majority and not persecuted and the vast majority of people on both the X-men & Avenger teams find themselves with the lives they always wanted. Only Wolverine seems to remember the world as it was.

Now, I’m not going to go into all the terribly written retcons that make no sense like Lorna Dane being Magneto’s daughter or Wanda being able to alter the fabric of reality. Maybe if I ever review the comics that made those changes, but they didn’t originate here and I’m not going to expect it to just ignore bad continuity changes from elsewhere. Especially when there are so many badly written elements that form the core for this event to talk about.

Let’s start with the impetus. First off, it’s completely out of character for Quicksilver to panic and assume the worst. Just like it’s out of character for either the X-men or Avengers to even consider using lethal force on someone because their powers are out of control. But the worst of it may go to Magneto for reasons I’ll go into when I talk about characterisation.

Another problem comes with the plot convenience of the plot device child. She somehow remembers everything about the old world and is conveniently able to make other people remember. Man, aren’t we lucky that someone who can alter the entire planet left such a huge weakness to her new world? And no, I’m not accepting “she’s mentally unhinged” as a lazy excuse for it.

It’s also clear that Bendis doesn’t know shit about the X-men because he talks about Magneto abandoning the twins. He didn’t abandon them. For those who don’t know Magneto’s history, here’s the short version. He and his wife, Magda, were living in peace with their young daughter. An angry mob showed up at their house. Their daughter was murdered. Magneto’s powers went out of control and he completely wiped out the mob. Magda was terrified after seeing that side of him and fled while still in the early stages of pregnancy. Magneto didn’t realise she was pregnant but still searched for her in the hopes of reconciling but eventually had to give up. He didn’t abandon them, he didn’t know they existed until they were adults. And even then he didn’t know they were his children right away.

There’s also the pressing question over whether the new world is better than their old. Everything we see indicates that the lives of the various people on the team are pretty nice and comfortable. All evidence also suggests that the world itself is in pretty good shape. Humans aren’t even treated as badly as mutants are in the universe proper. But when leaving things as they are gets brought up, it’s lazily dismissed as “this world isn’t right” and “you’ll feel like a jerk later because you even suggested that.” Because Bendis isn’t smart or good enough of a writer to actually engage with that question. It’s like the old Silver Age comics that tried to showcase Doctor Doom as a villain by having one dude in a crowd of adoring citizens who disliked him. Even Magneto freaks out when he finds out and he’s basically been given a world where his dream is reality. This, naturally, leads to the lazy, rubbish ending where the majority of mutants lose their powers.

Characters:

Like with Civil War, I can’t go into every single character who’s out of character and how since they’re all taken out of character. Instead, I’ll go into the most egregious examples. Let’s start with the twins themselves. While Pietro can be impulsive, he’s also someone who’s known both the Avengers and the X-men for a long time. He would never assume the worst from them. Nor would he panic like that. If anything, he’s smart enough that he’d stay around and listen to their conversation to find out what they were actually going to do. Whereas Wanda’s conversion to a villain is just horribly handled and relies heavily on stereotypes of women as emotionally fragile and obsessed with motherhood.

Magneto might get it the worst. Not only is he willing to let them murder his daughter, which makes no goddamn sense given his back story, but he himself turns on and attacks his own children after finding out they’ve remade the world into one of his dreams. Because… how dare his children make his dream come true?

Honestly, for a lot of the characters it makes no sense for them to be fighting against the new world. Spidey is a beloved celebrity. His Uncle Ben is alive. He’s married to Gwen Stacey and they have a child together. Carol Danvers is America’s most popular hero. Hawkeye gets to be alive. Cyclops has the peaceful life he always wanted. Beast has a promising career as a scientist and doesn’t look like a refugee from a furry convention. But we’re expected to believe that every one of these people is willing to dismantle the world as it is because… it’s different?

Art:

The artwork is definitely the least shit aspect of the event. Yeah, the covers are kind of shit and there are several group shots where the characters just look awkward or squashed down but, ultimately, Coipel’s artwork is basically serviceable.

Final Thoughts:

I really hate this event. It builds off of what was already a terribly written mess of an event and makes it even worse. It has massive plot holes, lazy, unengaging story-telling and characters who are completely, grossly miss-characterised. If anything, it may even be slightly worse than Civil War. I’m giving it a 1/10.

Zetsumetsu Kigu Shoujo: Amazing Twins- A Better Esper story than Mob Psycho

Zetsumetsu Kigu Shoujo is a two part OVA where the first part was released very late 2013. It was written by Okada Mari. Who’s also done good work for anime like Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, mediocre work on anime like Toradora & shit work on rubbish anime like Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. Although, in all fairness, the mediocre and terribly written examples were both adapted from light novels. And this is an original work from Encourage films. You may know them as the driving force behind… nothing I’ve seen.

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Story:

Todoroki Amane is an esper or an “ISH” if you want to use the anime’s terminology. She desires one thing and one thing only, to use her powers to entertain people and give her bodyless twin sister a purpose. Their entertainment group has a small fan base but they’re trying hard. Unfortunately, her powers draw the attention of a shady man who experiments using espers. And he sees her multiple esper abilities as a grand asset for him.

The biggest issue with this OVA is that the story does somewhat rely on clichés. Take, for instance, the big confrontation Amane has with Aya. There’s nothing in the OVA to show any real friendliness between them, but they have to have a stereotypical “convert the villain with the power of friendship” moment that relies entirely on the trope being common to work. It’s also a bit disappointing that they spend so much time building Hasudou up as a shadowy puppet master and grave threat only to just kind of drop it in the end. It’s like they were going to have three episodes and canceled the last one.

To the OVA’s credit, Okada does do a good job of using the time effectively. She sets up the scenario and gives you all the essential information pretty quickly. She also provides compelling reasons for a conflict between Amane and Aya. She also does a pretty grand job of building the world enough that it feels much larger than it actually is. And the comedic scenes are pretty well handled. The Captain Japan super hero parody segments are especially memorable.

Characters:

The big problem with the characters is that there are just a lot of one note ones who don’t do much. Take the dude with teleportation abilities and the girl with super strength. Their purpose is pretty much “part of Amane’s entertainment troupe.” Or how about the girl who shows up with their sponsor? She’s such a nothing character I’m not sure why she’s even here.

Okada does a pretty good job with the major characters. We get a strong sense of what Amane, Lilian and Aya are like. Even if the dynamics are a bit trite.

Art:

Encourage did a pretty decent job. The animation isn’t the highest budget out there for certain, but it looks just fine. The best part of the artwork is definitely the action sequences. I gave Mob Psycho a hard time for their overly busy, messy esper battles. This presents much cleaner and better sequenced esper fights while still taking advantage of the unusual abilities for a unique feel. Am I saying this two episode OVA is artistically superior to Mob Psycho 100? Yes.

My biggest issue with the artwork is the way they sneak in some rather crass fan-service scenes. They Put Amane in a school swimsuit and have her strapped in a chair for an examination while Aya a similar examination with only straps to cover her private areas. These girls are probably supposed to be all of fifteen. We should not be seeing them scantily clad.

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Sound:

There are some strong actors in this. Sato Satomi, Uchida Aya and Touyama Nao all deliver fairly strong performances. The music was composed by Conisch and he did a great job with it.

Ho-yay:

There’s a bit. Amane’s female sponsor very blatantly has a thing for her. And probably shares around a Mamoru/Usagi age gap with her. So, pretty questionable. Aya and Amane also come across as a bit homo-erotic in a couple major scenes.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Lose the extra performers. Just give Amane a solo show. You can still have the same ending, just without the superfluous characters who don’t really add anything.
  2. Ditch the fan-service of young teenage girls. Bad Encourage, bad. You sit in your room and think about what you’ve done.
  3. Actually build up the dynamic with Aya and Amane to make the ending trope work.

Final Thoughts:

This OVA is actually pretty good. For an hour long work, Okada and the folks at Encourage put together something quite solid. If a comedic bent little story about espers seems interesting to you, maybe give it a watch. For me, I’m giving it a 7/10.