Fate/Stay Night Film: Heaven’s Feel I- Presage Flower

I’ve talked about the Fate franchise a few times. It hasn’t always been positive. I like the concept, but then you get rubbish main characters like Shirou and plot problems. Let’s hope these films are a bit better than Unlimited Blade Works. We’ll start with the first and go from there.

Story:

The narrative opens basically the same way as Fate/Stay Night or Unlimited Blade Works. Rubbish protagonist, Emiya Shirou, encounters a servant at school, ends up summoning Saber and has to have the situation explained in monosyllabic words as he is very stupid. The film basically covers the first part of this version of the Holy Grail war with the situation getting complicated by a shadowy creature that kind of looks like The Web from Reboot.

The biggest issue with the film is that the build up really drags. We spend almost twenty minutes with nothing of value happening. It’s all about Garbage boy and his banal relationships that no one cares about.

On the positive side, it does gloss over some of the story beats that you’ve seen already if you’re familiar with the franchise. The mystery surrounding the shadow creature is also pretty compelling. I can also appreciate this franchise’s ability to take the same scenario and characters and do something different with it even if they can’t seem to make Shirou a decent character.

Characters:

Honestly, the characters are a weakness of this film. Just because we have less of the characters who are any degree of interesting and more of Shirou and Sakura both of whom are pretty dull and underwritten. The best thing you can say about Sakura is that she doesn’t have Shirou’s annoyance factor.

Art:

The artwork still looks good. It’s always been one of ufotable’s strengths. There are some really nice action sequences. The character designs are nice. The backgrounds are nicely detailed.

Sound:

The acting is well done. Kawasumi Ayako, Ueda Kana, Shitaya Noriko and the rest are a capable bunch. Even the actors who don’t get much to work with on the characterisation front are perfectly capable in terms of their performances. The music is pretty good.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Get a decent protagonist. Shirou is a trash character. Has been in every single one of these anime that puts him in the forefront. Always will be. He’s a standard character with an obnoxious obsession with being heroic who does incredibly stupid things as a result.
  2. If you’re going to spend a full sixth of your film on build up, make it count. Showing mundane parts in the life of a shitty character along with their banal relationships is not a constructive use of time. You might as well show wet paint slowly drying and it would be just as interesting. Possibly even more entertaining because it’s not as actively annoying as dealing with Shirou.
  3. If you have a cast of characters this large, don’t focus on the blandest ones. What is this, Shingeki no Kyojin?

Final Thoughts:

I think this first film shows some potential. It has strong action, some interesting elements with promise. The problem is that we spend so much time with Rubbish and the ever dull Sakura. So, the good concept, strong ideas and epic action sequences end up getting brought down by the focus characters. It’s like if Marvel had done the Secret Wars with Squirrel Girl and The The Invisible Woman as the focus characters. I have to give it a 6/10. It’s okay but it could have been amazing. Eventually I’ll get to the other two films in the trilogy and we’ll see if it improves, but it’s a disappointing start.

Hoshi no Umi no Amuri: Low Effort in many ways

Hoshi no Umi no Amuri is a Studio Hibari original from 2008. We remember them for their work on the horrendous Kashimashi and the mediocre Venus Versus Virus. So, great sign there. Let’s delve into it and hope for the best.

Story:

We open with a group of girls travelling through space when their shuttle is attacked and they find themselves floating in space. That is until they’re dragged away by strange beings for nefarious purposes and have a super sentai style group sent to rescue them. Fortunately, they find floating capsules with special transformation suits that can draw out their powers.

Let’s talk about the big issue with this anime. The narrative is kind of all over the place with a lot of plot points that get heavily rushed and others that don’t make much sense or basically come out of nowhere. Which combines to craft a story that’s not very engaging.

To its credit, I kind of like some of the ideas. The concept of characters born with super powers being captured by aliens and having to figure a way out could work. The big twist could also have worked with some proper build up. Which it doesn’t get, unfortunately.

Characters:

The characters are pretty dull. About the only noteworthy thing about them is that the OVA goes for a love triangle among the three lead girls. Which is a bit awkward since their interactions aren’t very strong, but I can appreciate the idea behind it.

Art:

The artwork looks pretty sub-par. It goes for a 3d CG look and it just looks like a kind of low effort unity game. I’m not joking either. If I hadn’t watched this anime, you could have actually convinced me that a screenshot was taken from a cheap Indie game.

Sound:

The acting is decent enough. Makino Yui, Saitou Momoko & Aizawa Michiru are all capable in their roles. The other various actors are perfectly capable as well. If the characters had more complex personalities, I suspect the performances would have been better but they’re fine. The music is the same. It’s fine, not the best.

Ho-yay:

The three main girls are all in a bit of a love triangle. I really wish they had stronger dynamics because I think it could have been really cute. But at least they tried.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Give some proper build up and world building. I understand that this isn’t a long OVA and there’s only so much you can do in three episodes. That being said, I’ve seen films that are roughly as long as this that do a much better job in those regards.
  2. Give your characters some personality. A strong love triangle needs strong bonds among the characters. Which we don’t get in this OVA. They lack the personality and the dynamics.
  3. A little more effort in the artwork. I’ve always maintained that a good story, endearing characters and strong humour can make up for lacklustre art. But even if those other aspects were all really good the low quality artwork would hurt this OVA.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, this is at roughly the same level as Venus Versus Virus. It has some things that work. It has some potential. But poor execution, under-written characters and just general lack of writing skills results in a work that’s pretty bland. I give it a 5/10.

April Bonus Review: Daria

Daria is an American animated show from the late 90’s to early 00s. It ran for five series and two films. Which will all be included in this review. It was a spin-off of the show, Beavis and Butthead. Now, I have seen a bit of Beavis and Butthead. My very broad opinion on it is basically, it’s one of those comedies you need to be in the mood for and can’t watch much of in one seating. So, let’s see how Daria compares.

Story:

Our tale opens with Daria Morgendorffer and her family moving to Lawndale. When she starts at her new school, she’s immediately labeled as a potential miscreant and sent to a self-esteem class where she meets Jane Lane. The two become fast friends and navigate the turbulent nonsense of High School life together with the weapons of detachment and sarcasm. Each episode basically covers some scenario in their High School experience or in dealing with their families. Until it culminates in the final film “Is it College Yet?” where they solidify their plans for higher education and graduate.

Within the series, there is one awkward episode that doesn’t really fit or work well. That episode is “Depth Takes a Holiday” from the third series. In this one, Cupid and the world’s tallest Leprechaun approach Daria to help them convince Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day to return to holiday island. And if that premise wasn’t already dumb enough on its own, the episode is also light on the sarcasm and witticisms that make the rest of the show so enjoyable. It almost comes across as an episode the writers didn’t want to do but they had to because someone higher up was demanding a holiday episode.

With that negative out of the way, I actually loved this cartoon. The humour is based around making sarcastic comments and some rather dry witticisms to the dumb shit you see. Which is very much my type of comedy. I also appreciate that things do advance. This isn’t one of those American comedic cartoons that sticks vehemently to the status quo. We see growth in Daria’s interactions with her family. We see changes around the school that stick.

Characters:

The cast in this is fantastic. Not just the major characters like Daria and Jane, but the side characters. They all have quirks that make them entertaining but enough depth that they have some verisimilitude as characters. The interactions are pretty spectacular and they lead to a lot of funny moments. The big draw is going to be Daria and Jane’s strong friendship but there are also some very interesting dynamics with their families, their teachers and their classmates.

The way Daria’s relationship with her sister Quinn starts to noticeably improve in the last series is really compelling. I can also appreciate the way Jodie’s relationship with Daria is clearly based off of mutual respect but it’s also pretty quickly established that there are some definite differences in how they see things with Daria being more idealistic and Jodie more pragmatic.

Probably the biggest issue is with some characters, most notably Mac, who undergo significant changes between their early and later appearances. Not due to character development, rather due to the writers clearly not knowing what they wanted to do with them initially. It’s not too much of an issue since the characters it happens with are more minor and they pretty quickly settle on a direction for them, but it is noticeable.

Art:

I do think that Daria has some strong character designs and excellent visual gags. Including the ending theme tune and its little dress up game with various characters.

That being said, the show’s animation can be a bit choppy and there are some clear moments of laziness. To use an obvious example, Quinn and her friends in the fashion club are major side characters but, like every character, they mostly wear the same outfits at all times. Which you’d think wouldn’t be the case for girls who are super into fashion.

Sound:

The acting is well done. Tracy Grandstaff does a fantastic job of maintaining a detached monotone except in certain circumstances when the character lets down her guard and shows more emotion. And it’s not easy to convincingly pull off that type of character when their mask cracks. Wendy Hoopes is actually brilliant, pulling off Jane, Helen Morgendorffer and Quinn. And you would never guess the same actress was voicing all three of those characters while watching the show. The music is solid as well. The “Standing on my Neck” theme tune is well composed.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Lose the stupid holiday episode. It doesn’t have the humour that the rest of the show and it really doesn’t fit.
  2. Figure out what you want to do with your major supporting characters before introducing them. I get it, Mac isn’t a major character but his characterisation still could have been handled better if the writers had decided what his deal was before introducing him.
  3. Teenagers wear multiple outfits. I understand, in cartoons like this it’s kind of standard to give every character a look that they largely maintain. But it kind of doesn’t work when you have these four fashion obsessed girls who are super into buying new clothes that they inexplicably never wear.

Final Thoughts:

While this isn’t the greatest American cartoon I’ve ever seen in my life, I actually do love it. It perfectly fits my sense of humour. The characters are fantastic. They have great interactions and dynamics. And its few miss-steps aren’t enough to really weaken the show. Ultimately, I’ll give the whole thing an enthusiastic 9/10. I’d happily recommend it to anyone with a more sarcastic sense of humour and politely suggest skipping that one episode.

Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth- Characterisation, please?

Stand my Heroes is an anime based off of a mobile otome game. It came out late ’19. It was produced by M.S.C, a studio I’m completely unfamiliar with. Although their big thing seems to be anime about tennis. This one was a request, so let’s look into it.

Story:

Our heroine is Izumi Rei, a law enforcement officer who’s immune to drugs and, as such, gets chosen to act as a scout for Stand, a new unit that’s designed to handle drug crimes. While doing her job and looking for people to join Stand, she stumbles into a conspiracy.

Let’s start with the problem most of you have already picked out based on that short description. Having a character who’s “immune to drugs” as a blanket statement doesn’t make sense. Unless they’re an android. Your body absorbs drugs the same way it absorbs nutrients. If you abuse one for a long period of time, it will lose a lot of its impact and there are conditions that cause you not to absorb things properly through digestion which could, theoretically, make her basically unaffected by ingested drugs. But, it’s worth noting that people with that kind of condition couldn’t physically serve in law enforcement because their bodies are really messed up. We’re talking, getting fed through a tube and not having much energy messed up. So, right away our premise is bullshit. And it actually contributes almost nothing because she only has someone try to drug her once.

The whole conspiracy aspect is also executed in a really petty way with low stakes. It basically boils down to some petty bickering based on a problem someone has, not with someone else but with their parents. Because that makes for a fascinating story, someone being petty towards a person because their parents were dicks. Another issue is the pacing. This anime is very slow and so crammed with filler that it could have easily been four episodes instead of twelve. Which makes it really drag.

Characters:

Here’s another major problem with this series. These characters are really bland. You have our main heroine who’s designed as an every woman type character aside from her exceptionally rubbish super power. Then we have a bunch of guys who all look very similar and have no real personalities. Which do you like, the blonde one the white-haired one, the red head or the brunette? What’s that, there are multiple characters with each of those hair colours? Well, if they had defining personality traits I might be able to tell them apart. They’re just such nothing characters I can’t be bothered.

Art:

The biggest issue with the art is that most of these guys barely look different. Like, all the black-haired guys basically look the same. So, I never really know which one I’m looking at until someone says their name. Which is not what you want with your character design. At least the backgrounds are fine.

Sound:

The acting is basically passable. They got some skilled veterans like Namikawa Daisuke and Sugita Tomokazu. The problem is they just have nothing to work with. They all just get roles like “personality deficient guy # whatever.” The music is basically acceptable as well. It’s nothing you’re apt to track down and listen to on its own, but it basically works.

Ho-yay:

You’d think with a series that’s mostly made up of guys, you’d get a bit of ye olde ho-yay. But for that to happen you need either strong relationships and interactions between those characters, which doesn’t happen, or very deliberate ship teasing. Which also doesn’t happen.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Develop your characters. We don’t need over a dozen interchangeable dudes with no personality. It would work better to have a smaller cast with actual development.
  2. Lose the magic drug immunity. Not only does this get used all of once, but it’s the only part of this series that makes no sense without some magical realism or science fiction shit. Which is just a bizarre decision.
  3. Cut down on the padding. This anime is easily three times longer than it needs to be for the main story on account of its long, boring as hell stretches.

Final Thoughts:

This anime is pretty bad. Characters with no personality combine with a poorly told story, long bits where nothing of value happens. Are there worse anime out there? Yes. But this one is still pretty bad. As such, I rate it at a 3/10.

Panzer Dragoon: Just play the game

Panzer Dragoon is a classic game. It was released in ’95 for the Saturn and stands alongside titles like Nights and Shining Force III as a worthwhile game from a console that didn’t offer many. In late ’96, Sega partnered with Production IG to create a promotional OVA for the game. Since the sequel had just been released earlier that year and all. Let’s have a look.

Story:

The OVA somewhat follows the game’s story. Keil is part of a hunting party when they run into a battle between a blue and black dragon. The blue dragon’s rider is killed and Keil finds himself entrusted with a mission to stop the black dragon from reaching and activating an ancient ruin. The OVA does add some details. Keil has a kidnapped girlfriend in the OVA and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t in the game. I also don’t recall him having a friend who gets unceremoniously Yamcha’d by the black dragon, but it’s also been a long time since I played the game, so maybe they were there and I just forgot all about them.

Here’s the problem with the OVA, it just doesn’t tell the story well. It’s just this rushed, trite narrative. And I’m not really sure how this serves as an effective promotion for the games when any enjoyment you may get from watching it is going to come from memories of playing the game. It’s not a bad work, it’s just not very compelling.

Characters:

There are hardly characters worth talking about in this. Alita is a damsel in distress. Keil comes across as a bit whiny. He’s not one of the worst in that regard, but he is a little annoying. His hunting party friend and the blue dragon’s former rider both exist solely to get killed off. The dragons could definitely have been interesting with their psychic communications and such, but they don’t really have personalities or motivations in this. So, missed opportunity there.

Art:

The art isn’t very good. The designs are fine. The problem is that a lot of the backgrounds, especially when characters are riding, are made up of really bad CGI that loops and hurts your eyes. And the whole thing just comes across as low effort, rushed out the door if I’m being honest.

Sound:

Onasaka Masaya, Shiratori Yuri, Ohtsuka Akio and the rest of the cast are fine. The performances aren’t anything special, but they’re decent enough. The music is forgettable but basically acceptable.

Ho-yay:

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Areas of Improvement:

  1. If you’re trying to promote your game, don’t just speed through the basic narrative with no regards for pacing. Show a very small part of the story that is paced well and where you extrapolate on things. That will actually get people interested.
  2. Put some care into your backgrounds. Your viewers should never feel their eyes hurting because of what you’ve done with them.
  3. If you’re going to have dragons that can communicate psychically, take advantage of that for some compelling characterisation. Don’t use it in a couple scenes and not bother the rest of the time.

Final Thoughts:

Is this a good OVA? No. Is it a strong advertising tool? No. Is it worth watching for fans of the game? No. Is it among the worst OVAs I’ve ever seen? Not even close. I’d honestly just recommend playing the game. I know it got a remake recently. As for this. It’s a sub-par piece and I’m giving it a 4/10.

Transformers Zone: They Didn’t Care

I’ve talked about the Transformers before and it’s a subject I’ll definitely come back to when I decide to sit down and re-watch Beast Wars for a bonus review. But this time around we’ll be looking at one of the many anime versions that came out. To be specific, the early 90s OVA Transformers Zone brought to us by Toei and Takara.

Story:

Our story begins with the evil Destrons attacking a peaceful planet. Fortunately, the heroic Cybertrons are there to save the day. So, just think of Destrons and Cybertrons as the terms for Decepticons and Autobots in this. In any case, the Destrons quickly take their battle to Earth to recover a powerful energy source called the Zodiac.

Here’s the issue with this OVA, most of it is spent on technobabble and exposition since none of it is actually tied into the Transformers we know and love. So, we get to have long, boring bits where they explain every detail. Like what Powered Masters are or why the Destrons are doing every little thing they’re doing. Which would make for a banal viewing experience even if it used characters we know and love and had strong action sequences. But I’ll get into the issues with those in a moment.

About the best I can say for it is that it’s mostly just dull. It’s not one of those offensively terrible OVAs, and I’ve certainly reviewed enough of those. There’s also not anything really egregiously bad about it. If you wanted to sit a kid in front of this, it would probably keep them out of your hair for a half hour.

Characters:

Here’s the problem with this. These aren’t characters we know anything about. They aren’t characters we have any reason to care about. They’re just a bunch of bland robot characters. And that’s comparing it to the original Transformers where there were a bunch of characters with very little personality. But at least the original had some memorable faces like Soundwave, Megatron, Starscream, Ironhide, Mirage, Optimus, Bumblebee, the Insecticons and The Dinobots. And we aren’t talking about a simple case of “they were just around longer.” We’re talking, any one of those characters was more interesting in their first episode than any of these characters.

But the human characters are still the worst part. Basically, we have two kids who get rescued and then just sort of hang around and occasionally have something explained to them or react to something. They’re both completely useless to the plot and just take up valuable time.

Art:

This could look just fine. The character designs are decent enough. The backgrounds are definitely on par with the classic cartoon. The problem is with the action sequences. In this, the action sequences are basically the Destrons running in, getting pelted with fire and shrugging it all off because they have super special armour like bratty children always seem to have when playing imaginative games.

It honestly just gets really boring to watch because, until the very end, we’re just watching these one-sided matches where the Cybertrons can’t do shit except fire lasers that do nothing and transform sometimes.

Sound:

The acting is fine. Yara Yusaku, Shiozawa Toshikazu, Kakegawa Hirohiko and the others all do decently enough. The music is fine as well. It won’t win any awards and you probably aren’t going to listen to it on its own, but it works well enough.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any. You’d have to have well developed interpersonal dynamics for ho-yay to sprout or at least say it’s there outright. Neither of which happens here.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. You don’t need the human characters. In anything where your main cast is giant robots, nobody wants to see random humans hanging around. Because they want more time with the giant robots.
  2. Have some dynamic action sequences. I get it, they want the Destrons to be a threat. But you don’t do that by making them over-powered. You do that by giving them numbers or making them really cunning or highly skilled. You get better action sequences that way.
  3. Give us fewer characters and more time to get to know them. I get it, you have one episode to work with. That doesn’t mean you have to have a huge cast of completely forgettable characters with no personality traits. We’d be better off with a more intimate cast with some personality to them.

Final Thoughts:

In terms of Transformers media, I’ve definitely seen worse. Both from Michael Bay films and from one particular TV series that was rubbish but still better than Michael Bay films. That being said, this is a largely dull affair with nothing characters and uninteresting action sequences. I can’t really see it appealing to anyone except for possibly some really hardcore fans of the franchise. I’d give it a 4/10.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works- Lost it at the end

I’ve talked about ufotable’s Fate franchise before way back when I reviewed Fate/Zero. This one came out in ’14 and ’15. I’ll be looking at both series together for this review and the prologue. Keep that in mind. Let’s get right into it.

Story:

Our tale is set roughly ten years after the events of Fate/Zero. A new holy grail war is beginning. We open with Tohsaka Rin summoning Archer, though she wanted Saber. She goes to the school and discovers a barrier being erected. So, she goes to investigate it at night and finds the servant Lancer there. Her classmate, Emiya Shirou gets caught in the skirmish between Lancer and Archer and is nearly killed. Tohsaka then discovers that he’s also a master and he manages to successfully summon Saber.

The biggest problem with this series is that it kind of falls apart at the end. Not just because there are some ridiculous coincidences. Not just because there are a lot of moments that should have impact but they get heavily rushed and lose it. Not just because they kind of go off the rails and into absurdity. But because of all of those, two major deus ex machina moments in the climax and a really poorly handled romance sub-plot.

I will say, the first series has a promising start. There’s some strong build up, a lot of intrigue, some very good twists and it just gives things a strong start. Before the second series comes along and royally buggers things up.

Characters:

To put things very bluntly, Shirou is the biggest problem with this series in terms of characters. Yes, there are some under-developed side characters including some who don’t have much purpose in the narrative. But Shirou is a very obnoxious character. Basically, his whole thing is that he strives to be a paragon but he’s angsty about it. And, as a consequence, he does a bunch of really stupid, na├»ve shit and the series perpetually excuses him because he’s an idealist. Which I really find intolerable. I would go so far as to say this series, as a whole, would be significantly better if his dumb ass had died in the prologue.

The best characters are Rin and Saber. And they aren’t great characters. Saber has some interesting things going in her back story that would be much better if they got fleshed out more. Rin is a character with some tsundere characteristics but with actual complexity and more elements to her than just that. Unlike the majority of tsundere characters.

Art:

The artwork is actually really good. The character designs are nice. The action sequences are, mostly, really good. The backgrounds are detailed. If there’s any problem with the artwork, it’s that it can go too far with its more gruesome scenes.

Sound:

They got some really good actors for the cast. Ueda Kana, Kawasumi Ayako, Tanaka Atsuko, Suwabe Junichi, Seki Tomokazu. They all deliver pretty strong performances. The music is quite good as well.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any. The closest you get to ho-yay is Shirou having another guy strip for reasons that are completely unrelated to sexuality.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Avoid Deus Ex Machina. If you can’t think of a way for a character to survive that makes sense, just let them die. And if that means a tragic ending to your story, so be it.
  2. Put some effort into making your protagonist likeable, complex or both. The big problem with Shirou as a character is, ultimately, that their twist on the typical paragon is to make him angsty about it. Which doesn’t really make him complex but does make him really annoying.
  3. Have some proper pacing. I think what happened with this is that they paced the first series properly, but then had to cram a bunch of major plot points into the second series with no time to do it properly. Which could have been avoided with a third series or by balancing the two series a bit better. Yeah, the pacing would have still been a bit quick, but at least it would have been less egregious when it comes to its major plot points.

Final Thoughts:

I actually kind of liked the prologue and the first series in spite of Shirou. If ufotable had kept their momentum, they could have had a winner on their hands. Unfortunately, the second series is rubbish. The overly rapid pacing, deus ex climax, and other major writing problems leave it ending very poorly. If I were to review the first series by itself, I’d probably go with a 7/10 with Shirou being the main factor dragging it down. If I were to review the second series by itself, it’d be a definite 3/10. Combined, I’ll give the work as a whole a 4/10. And here’s why I’m leaning low instead of going in the middle. I can’t really recommend watching the first series because if you continue to get the entire story, it ends on a terrible note but if you just stop there, you get a completely incomplete experience. So, I have to lean on the low side.

Super Street Fighter IV: Didn’t Even Have Good Fights

I’ve reviewed multiple anime based off of the Street Fighter games. I’ve done films based off of Street Fighter II and Street Fighter Alpha. This time around, we’re looking at a 2010 Gonzo anime based off of Street Fighter IV. Which is an interesting studio choice given that they haven’t done any other Street Fighter anime.

Story:

We open with a mechanical eye being implanted in Juri Han by the criminal organisation, S.I.N because Capcom is bad at names. Juri is sent to test the weapon by fighting a bunch of dudes who are on the run from S.I.N and capturing Vega’s squad of mind wiped bodyguards. While doing her tasks, she finds herself up against the trio of Chun Li, Guile and Cammy.

There’s not much here in terms of story. The OVA mainly exists to give Juri some back story and go into details about her powerful fake eye. The biggest problem with it is simply that it’s not that interesting. Juri does something for her stupidly named organisation, the heroic characters interfere, she beats their asses because her eye makes her OP. It’s basically a really dull plot that serves as a vehicle to justify the action sequences. Although that may well be the main reason some people would want to watch an anime based off of a fighting game, in all fairness.

Characters:

While I credit this as the only Street Fighter anime I’ve seen without Ryu as the focus, they don’t exactly do anything interesting with Juri, Chun Li, Guile or Cammy. I’m not saying any of them are bad characters in the games, but in this they’re portrayed as very bland.

Art:

I will give the OVA some credit here. The artwork looks pretty nice. The issue that comes up with the action sequences is just that they’re far too one-sided. Juri just beats everything’s ass in this OVA without trying all that hard. It’s kind of like watching Dragonball before Goku gets involved in the battle and the antagonist just beats the shit out of everybody else.

Sound:

The actors are pretty good. Orikasa Fumiko, Kitamura Eri, Sawashiro Miyuki and Yasumoto Hiroki all perform their roles nicely. I imagine if this was a longer thing with actual character development, they’d make for a really strong cast. The music is decent.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Go into some actual details about how Juri’s eye works. The whole purpose of this OVA seems to be to provide details about Juri, but all we know about the eye is that it’s basically a magic eye that makes her stronger. At least give us a cursory explanation using some technobabble.
  2. Give us at least one close battle in the OVA. It’s not really interesting to watch one-sided fights. I don’t mind if Juri always wins in the end, but at least give us one match where she’s actually pressed.
  3. Give the OVA something of an arc. This really would benefit a lot from some kind of story with a beginning, middle and ending. Even if it’s an open ending to segue into the game. As is, it’s just Juri going on a couple missions and beating the shit out of some better known characters.

Final Thoughts:

Super Street Fighter IV isn’t a bad OVA. It has some nice artwork from Gonzo. They got strong actors. It’s just a very uncompelling piece without anything to really recommend it. Even the action sequences, which should be the main draw, are just too one-sided to be interesting. As such, my final rating is a 4/10.

Ktulu’s Eighth Annual Awards & Shaming

Before we begin, you can see the previous winners here:

Hall of Fame

Hall of Shame

As usual, this is going to cover everything I’ve reviewed since February 14th of 2020. And with how many rubbish OVAs I’ve seen this year, the negative awards are going to have some stiff competition. Let’s start with the bonus reviews.

Worst in Show:

This one was actually really easy to decide. For the most part, my bonus reviews have actually been positive with a few mediocre ones and exactly one thing that was worse than mediocre. And that thing was:

This year I had one of my rare double reviews when I talked about the two different film versions of the Haunting. One of them was a masterpiece. The other was complete tripe and that’s why the 1999 version has to be acknowledged as the worst thing I’ve covered in a bonus review this year.

Best in Show:

This one was actually really difficult. I had five bonus reviews that earned 9/10s. So, I kind of has to ask myself, out of all these which one comes closest to getting that 10/10? And the winner ultimately had to be:

For me, it came down to She-Ra or Due South. There are two reasons the Canadian live action ultimately prevailed. The first is that it’s a genre I don’t normally like. The second is that She-Ra’s animal companion is a kind of annoying horse while Due South has best boy Diefenbaker. That wolf is fucking adorable.

Moffat Award for worst writing in a series or OVA that we’re supposed to take seriously.

There’s a lot of competition this year. There were four non-comedic anime I gave 1s this year. So, which of those takes the crap crown?

Ousama Game the animation had two major things going for it that the other 1 rated anime didn’t have. First of all, it’s significantly longer with the other entries with the others being short OVAs and a short film. The second thing is that it uses its status as a full series to really crank up the trashy exploitation factor. It has no redeeming qualities and deserves to be shamed.

Simone Award for best writing in a largely serious series/ OVA. This one was actually really easy since I only gave out a few nine ratings and only one of those went to a series that’s not comedic rather than to a film or to a comedy.

Yakusoku no Neverland is an intense, creepy horror work about a small group of children struggling to outmanoeuvre adults and monsters alike upon learning that they’re basically cattle. It’s subtle, clever writing and excellent use of tension make it a worthy recipient of the Simone Award.

Abrams Award for failtastic film making.

Yuukai Anna is everything a good film isn’t. It looks ugly, features a nonsensical plot and has characters with no redeeming qualities. The only way it could have been worse would be if it was based off of something really good.

Miyazaki Award for phenomenal film making. This year, there were two stand out films that both earned 9/10 ratings. But there can only be one winner and it has to be:

Harmony is an excellent film with a lot of clever writing, intriguing elements, strong characters and complexity. The big reason this won over Sennen Joyuu is that I liked the characters in it a bit more. But it was a very close call.

Macfarlane Award for worst comedic/ light-hearted series. This year we had three unworthy contenders for the absolute worst. But there was one that really stood out for just how rubbish it is:

Green Green is truly horrendous. From the rapey, incel humour to the unpleasant characters. Everything about it seems surgically designed to be the exact antithesis of comedy.

Pratchett Award for best comedic/ light-hearted series. The competition wasn’t nearly as stiff for this one. It goes to:

Slayers is a hilarious series with endearing characters, clever writing and a lot of really good jokes. It’s well worth watching for fantasy and comedy fans alike and no other comedy I’ve reviewed this year deserves this award more.

Meyer Award for worst romantic elements. I’ve seen quite a few anime with reallly terrible romantic elements this year, but one does stand apart for how egregiously bad they are:

Yes, Green Green takes another one. The anime where attempted assault and sexual harassment constitute flirting somehow doesn’t know how to write a passable romance. Pretty obvious when you think about it.

Kanemaki Award for strongest romantic elements. This is a bit difficult since I haven’t reviewed that many good anime that also had really strong romantic elements. But it has to be:

Konohana Kitan is an adorable little series about lesbian kitsune, their relationships and the way they interact with other folk lore creatures. These girls have great relationships that also have the advantage of being super cute.

Anno Award for worst cast of characters. I’ll be honest, I’m actually tempted to give this one to Green Green, but I have another cast I want to highlight:

Not only does Eiken have annoying, bottom of the barrel characters with basically no personality but it also manages to make their interactions seem stilted and awkward. Which is quite a significant failure.

Moore Award for the strongest cast of characters. This year it goes to:

What makes Yakusoku no Neverland’s cast so strong isn’t just that the kids are really well written with great dynamics but that the antagonists actually have motivations that make sense. These are characters who are raising children as food for monsters and the series manages to give them very human motivations instead of just taking the easy out and making them evil. That takes a lot of skill.

Bendis Award for worst conflict. There were a lot of worthy contenders for this. And I do mean that sincerely, but there was one I ultimately felt deserved it more than the others:

Mad Bull 34 features a bunch of silver age villains trying to rape and murder for no adequately explored reason while our buddy cop duo goes into action to oppose them. The conflict is basically designed around being over the top, having no substance and major tonal problems.

Claremont Award for best major conflict.

Harmony has a very interesting conflict that deles into the protagonist’s past and pairs that with a lot of present intrigue. It all works very well and makes for an excellent conflict.

Liefeld Award for worst visuals. Terrible visuals don’t always go with bad anime, but this year they were pretty hand in hand.

As much as a lot of the low quality OVAs I watched this year looked like rubbish, Shuranosuke Zanmaken stands out as having really horrible art. In the film category, while Yuukai Anna also looks really bad, Alice in Dreamland is ultimately, a bunch of still images of dolls put together. It’s unique, but not in a good way.

Urbino Award for vivacious visuals.

Shingeki no Kyojin: Lost Girls is a gorgeous looking anime with fantastic looking characters, beautiful backgrounds and Annie looking completely adorable eating a donut. Porco Rosso has everything that makes Ghibli films vibrant, beautiful and full of life. That’s why these two win for the series and film categories.

Spencer Award for worst acting. Normally, this one is easy to pick becase even bad anime usually have strong acting. This year, it’s a challenge since so many of those rubbish ones also had horrendous acting. But there is one that set itself apart for being absolutely terrible:

Ousama Game the animation has a huge flaw with its acting. Mainly that everything is absurdly exaggerated to the point where it sounds like small children trying to put on a play coached by Brian Blessed. Even some very strong actors sound like they can’t act in this piece of garbage.

Sir Stewart Award for acting excellence. This one is always hard to pick a winner for. Even this year when there were so many bad anime reviewed, there were a lot of contenders for best performances. But this year it’s going to:

Sennen Joyuu does something very impressive with its performances. Namely, every major actor in this, especially Orikasa Fumiko, takes on multiple roles. Those of their characters at various points in their lives and those of the roles their character takes on during the flashback sequences. It’s a very impressive feat and that’s why it takes the award.

Perry Award for malignant music. This is another one that had a lot more contenders this year than normal, but there is one that was particularly putrid in this regard:

Soukihei MD Geist has a problem with its music that I rarely see. Because these are supposed to be professional products. The sound balance wasn’t handled properly and the music will randomly blare over the dialogue so that you can’t hear shit. Not that you’re missing anything, but still it’s the principle of the thing.

Kloss Award for fantastic music. This was a hard one to pick. There were a lot of anime with brilliant soundtracks. But there was one that stood over the others:

Slayers has some of the best theme tunes in anime. These are legitimately superb songs. Coupled with the fantastic music in the series itself, it just deserves it.

Five Worst Overall of the year:

This may be the most difficult time I’ve ever had choosing these. I’ve given out more 1s this year than ever before. I also gave out a lot of 2s and 3s that would normally be bad enough to get awards of their own, but they slid by because of the uncommonly stiff competition. I’m pretty sure my average score went down by a noticeable amount, I watched so many bad works. I gave out so many 1s, I can’t even fit them all as the bottom five. I had to pick some that were slightly less shite to leave out.

#5 Iron Virgin Jun This is a really terrible, unpleasant comedy. It narrowly missed several awards, but it’s still among the worst.

#4 Eiken An unfunny comedy where the writers decided to replace character personality with big bosoms.

#3 Mad Bull 34 This OVA is terrible in every regard. It’s like a 70s exploitation film but exceptionally stupid.

#2 Ousama Game: The Animation If you want to see one of the worst horror pieces of media out there, this one is there for you with its nonsensical plot, terrible characters and awful acting.

#1: Green Green. It’s not often I see a comedy as bereft of humour, as unpleasant and as infuriating as this one.

Five Best Overall of the year: What made this one difficult is that I had four 9s, no 10s and a bunch of 8s competing for the #5 spot. It was also pretty difficult to order the top four since they are all amazing pieces of media.

#5 Konohana Kitan Of all my 8 ratings this year, this is the one I enjoyed watching the most. With its endearing characters, clever take on folk lore and adorable les-yay.

#4 Sennen Joyuu It’s a fantastic film with some strong themes and characters.

#3 Harmony It’s an amazing film with some serious themes handled very well.

#2 Yakusoku no Neverland Strong tension, superb characters, a intriguing plot with subtlety and complexity.

#1 Slayers I really adore this anime with its amazing humour, endearing characters and its well cultivated sense of adventure.

Angel’s Feather: Missing the Twelve hours of VN Exposition

Valentine’s is approaching and you guys know what that means, something with romance. In this case, we’re looking at Angel’s Feather. A 2006 romance, fantasy OVA based off of a visual novel. The studio behind it was Venet, which I’d never heard of before watching this. And the game was from Blue Impact, which I have also never heard of.

Story:

Our tale takes place in an all boy’s school where our protagonist, Shou, comes in search of his long lost twin brother, Kai. At least they’re not Gundam pilots or one of them would be killed and then replaced by the other and they wouldn’t be allowed to have different personalities at all. But moving on, Kai doesn’t remember Shou, leading Shou to wonder if he actually is his brother even though they look virtually identical aside from the length of their hair. But I digress. Unbeknownst to the brothers, they’re from a different world which they only discover when Shou sprouts white wings during a ghost hunt.

Let’s start by delving into the problems with this things. The biggest is that the world building is very weak. A lot of the elements are hurriedly introduced and either not explained or given a rushed explanation. I’m sure in the actual visual novel they spend upwards of a dozen hours of scrolling through text meticulously explaining everything with walls of text and dialogue, but in the anime that isn’t the case. The anime also likes to have “intense, shocking” moments as part of its big conflict in both episodes, but they don’t really work because they centre around characters we’ve seen for all of a couple minutes. There’s just no real impact in spite of the attempt at having an impact.

About the best I can say about the story telling is that I could see some of the ideas working if they were well developed and properly extrapolated on. There’s also nothing really heinously bad about it which is more than I can say about a lot of the OVAs I’ve reviewed this year.

Characters:

The big issue here is that there are a lot of really under-developed characters running around and to make matters worse, a lot of them look similar. Like the two guys with short blue hair or the three somewhat older guys with dark hair and glasses. It’s a case of quantity over quality with there being a lot of characters, and very few who are memorable in any regard. The only characters who left any kind of impression were the twins, because they’re the focus characters, and the silver-haired effeminate guy with the healing flute. And he’s only memorable because it’s weird to see him in the back, playing a flute during action sequences.

Art:

As a whole, the art looks fine. At its worst, there are a few too many close ups of specific parts on the boys that are clearly meant as fan-service and there’s the aforementioned issue with characters who look overly similar. The OVA could have potentially gotten by with that if they were written in a really memorable way, but their also being under-written leads to a bunch of characters you don’t care enough to distinguish from one another. At its best, it has some action sequences that work pretty nicely and the backgrounds look pretty nice.

Sound:

The acting is fine. They got some pretty big names like Yamaguchi Kappei, Midorikawa Hikaru and Miyata Kouki to name a few. This just isn’t among their best performances. It falls more under the, they did the bare minimum to be competent. And, in all fairness to them, I think that’s largely due to their characters being dull and unmemorable. The music isn’t very good. It’s not terrible but it’s not good.

Ho-yay:

There is a lot of flirtation among the guys. With several being heavily implied to be lovers. I don’t mind it being really gay at all. What I mind is that none of the relationships are strong. You’ll see one of the boys either briefly flirt with another or in a situation with sexual implications but you’ll never see a proper conversation or anything substantial to the relationship. So, they kind of give you the implication and just leave it at that.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Have fewer characters and more development. Look, I do understand that they’re trying to adapt a VN and that VN probably spends more time on its introduction than the entire OVA lasts. However, when you’re making an adaptation, you have to accept that there are going to be viewers who haven’t seen the original. Which means it has to be able to stand on its own. And a major way they could have simplified things to make it stand on its own, would have been to cut out some of these non-characters and used some time to actually develop the ones they kept in. At least a little bit.
  2. Have some proper build up. These big betrayals they have in each episode don’t really work, because we barely see the people in question with the guys they betray beforehand. You need to show us enough to strengthen those character dynamics so that it means something when they get completely altered. Not a minute of them together and then some random flashbacks of their past after the betrayal.
  3. Do more to illustrate the fantasy elements. Part of the problem with this OVA is that the fantasy setting is largely downplayed and it seems like a regular ass boys’ school until things take an abrupt shift into fantasy during the action sequences. Which makes it a little jarring.

Final Thoughts:

This isn’t a good OVA. It’s better than a lot of the OVAs I’ve watched during this past year, but when you’re being positively compared to Mad Bull, Iron Virgin Jun and some of the other tripe I’ve reviewed this year, that isn’t much of an endorsement. It’s still a below average work. As such, I’m giving it a 4/10.