Sansha Sanyou: It’s a slice of life comedy about a group of quirky girls.

Sansha Sanyou started as a four panel manga series by Cherry Arai. Just this year it received an anime adaptation by Doga Kobo, the same studio behind Yuru Yuri. Yeah, this is a pretty recent one, having ended at the end of June. Is it as strong as Yuru Yuri or is this the first negative review I’ll be doing of something Doga Kobo worked on. Of course, I have only reviewed series of Yuru Yuri from them, so I’m not exactly looking at a long and proud tradition that could be broken here. Either way, let’s take a look.

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Story:

We open with Nishikawa Youko, a former rich girl who’s ostracised because she still has a rich girl’s sense of comportment in spite of her family having lost its money, is sitting outside for her lunch of bread crusts when two other girls, Odagiri Futaba & Hayama Teru, decide to join her. The three become fast friends and various shenanigans quickly ensue as they go about their daily lives. So, no real story to the whole thing. Let’s move right on to discussing the comedy.

The humour in this series is based heavily around quirky personalities interacting with one another. Like Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka, Azumanga Daioh, Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight or several other slice of life comedies. In Sansha Sanyou, the results are a bit inconsistent. It has some moments that are quite funny. some that are funny the first time but then get repeated basically verbatim twice or thrice. It’s one of those comedies where there are running gags that don’t have much variation in their occurrences. For instance, there’s a jape about an older student who has a one-sided rivalry with Futaba over which of them can compete bulk eating challenges faster and most of his scenes are the same thing repeated. I really shouldn’t be watching a twelve episode series and getting bored by the running jokes. To its credit, there were more moments that I was entertained and amused than moments where I was tired of the running jokes or where the jokes just fall short.

Characters:

If you’re looking for deep, complex characters, this isn’t the right place. These characters are simple with comedic quirks. For a comedic work, they’re more than adequate. They have decent interactions and their quirks are largely entertaining. Which is pretty important since that’s the crux of the comedy in this series.

Art:

The character designs use a pretty typical slice of life style. It looks fine. The background scenes are actually really nicely detailed and there’s a lot of effort put into the various flora. In contrast, the fauna is done in a really simplified un-detailed style. I guess drawing flowers is easy, but drawing kittens is hard. Although, to be fair, they’re probably cuter as the semi-amorphous blobs we get in this series than they would be if they looked incredibly realistic and the realistic look wouldn’t work for animals given the style they use for the human characters.

Sound:

The actresses in this give good performances. Kanazawa Mai, Wakui Yuu & Imamura Ayaka may all be relatively new to voice acting without many credits to their names, but they all do a good job. The biggest weakness is that Momokawa Rika’s performance is a bit annoyingly over the top. It’s like she’s trying to add a robotic quality to Sonobe’s voice. The music was handled by Mutsuki Shuuhei and it is a really nice soundtrack. It’s fun and has a lot of energy.

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Ho-yay:

there’s a bit. Sonobe seems to be attracted to young ladies, although the series dances around the topic. There’s also a character named Sasame who seems to have an active crush on Youko. Honestly, I really like the dynamic betwixt the two of them. It’s cute. It’s like a more subtle take on the Sakaki/ Kaorin dynamic from Azumanga Daioh.

Final Thoughts:

That’s Sansha Sanyou. Is it the best comedic slice of life work I’ve ever seen? No. But it is entertaining and has a charm to it. If you’re into slice of life comedies you’ll probably have fun watching it. That being said, it also didn’t grab me in the way that some others have. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. It’s a decent watch. On a side note, I’m rapidly approaching my 300th anime review. Next week I’ll look at Ixion Saga DT. Then I’ll take a look at Byston Well Monogatari: Garzey no Tsubasa and then it’ll be time for anime review #300. So, that’ll be fun.

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri: Has stronger potential than execution

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is a Wit Studio original production. The writing was handled by Okouchi Ichiro, who also worked on Code Geass, Shigofumi and the Brave Story film. Yeah, the quality of his work varies a lot. So, how does he do with this one? Let’s take a look.

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Story:

Our tale takes place in a steam punk world where a zombie-like infection is turning humans into monsters called Kabane. Survivors live in walled cities called stations and travel betwixt them using massive armoured trains. Our protagonist, Ikoma, is a scientist in Aragane station and he’s trying to develop a new weapon that can better pierce the kabane’s heart cage. We see the station authorities following the procedure to bring in a train. During the course of inspecting the people for bite marks, the guards become paranoid over one of the passengers. Ikoma steps in, earning himself a night in prison. That’s when there’s an accident with the second train and the station finds itself swarming with kabane. Can the people of the station escape to the train and get out of there alive?

That actually brings me to the first problem with the series. During the inspection of the first train, we see the procedure they go through and we see how paranoid these people are when it comes to the kabane. Then the second train comes and they immediately ignore those procedures which directly results in the station getting overrun. Basically, the story requires these people blatantly acting like idiots in order to get momentum. There’s also the kabaneri, creatures that are part human and part kabane. We’re told that males are rare, but we only see a few in the series and half of those are male. Furthermore, there’s nothing about the way that they get manufactured that should favour women so there’s no readily apparent reason behind the men being any rarer and they don’t offer any explanation. Even something as simple as the X chromosome being more resistant to the process would have worked. That brings me to the third narrative issue I had with the series, the ending. I’ll try not to spoil too much but the very basic issue here is that they set everything up for a bitter-sweet ending but they don’t have the ovarian fortitude to follow through with it. The result is an ending that’s safer but also trite and disappointing.

With all that being said, there are quite a few positive aspects to the series as well. The world building is strong, with a lot of detail going into the whole thing. I will also give the series full credit for taking the basic idea of zombies and using them in a unique and creative way. That’s not easy to do, given how much they’ve been over-used in mass media. The narrative itself is also quite engaging and does a good job of keeping you invested, in spite of its few major missteps.

Characters:

This is one of those series where the major characters are pretty well fleshed out and have complexity to them while the side characters vary. Some of the side characters have verisimilitude, in spite of us not spending much time with them. Others are pretty much there as fodder or stay on the sidelines just to be present in big scenes while not really contributing anything that you couldn’t use any other random character for. I do quite like the stuff that explores Mumei’s past and Ayame’s whole arc of building herself up as a leader is nicely handled. Then we have the antagonist. He has motivation behind his actions, but they’re also kind of flimsy. To be fair, a big part of that is just that there’s not much time devoted to him. If the series had had one or two more episodes to flesh him out he might have been a really strong villain, albeit a bit bonkers.

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Art:

I’ll give Wit Studio full credit on this one, the artwork looks really damn good. The backgrounds are nicely detailed, the character designs are fairly unique, the action sequences are strong. The various steam punk gadgets we see just look really interesting. It’s basically what you’d expect from one of the studios who worked on Shingeki no Kyojin.

Sound:

The acting is nicely done. We get strong performances from Senbongi Sayaka, Hatanaka Tasuku, Uchida Maaya & Masuda Toshiki. The side characters all get actors who are minimally competent although most of them do give performances that are pretty good.

Ho-yay:

There’s not much. The dynamic between Mumei and Kajika comes across as a bit homo-erotic.

Final Thoughts:

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is a pretty decent series that could have been great. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. It has a lot of potential, but also some significant problems. If you like the idea of a steam punk world with a zombie infestation, consider trying it. Next week I’ll look at something a bit lighter with Sansha Sanyou.

Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl- Yuri, but not really

Kashimashi started as a yuri manga by Akahori Satoru, the same writer behind the generic Bakuretsu Hunters. He was also one of the writers for Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, which was pretty decent. In 2006, the manga got adapted into a twelve episode anime, and a follow up one episode OVA, by Studio Hibari, the same studio behind the mediocre Venus Versus Virus. So, given the people behind it can we anticipate something that’s mediocre or just all right or will it surprise us in a positive or negative way? Let’s look at Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl and find find out. Keep in mind, I will be covering both the series and OVA.

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Story:

We open with young Hazumu wandering around some hills to get over his broken heart after he was turned down by Yasuna, the girl he likes. The melancholy scene is interrupted by a spaceship crashing into him. But it’s okay, they reconstruct him, just in a female body. Apparently these aliens can rebuild someone who gets mangled by their ship, but they can’t figure out their gender or reverse their reconstruction process. Thus he begins his new life in his female body while caught in a love triangle with Yasuna and his childhood friend, Tomari. Strange, I thought this was a yuri romance, not a romance about a cis man who becomes a trans man due to bizarre and stupid circumstances.

Let’s start with the faults of the series, and there are a lot in this one. The first problem is that the romance is really melodramatic. We’re talking bad soap opera levels. It’s not just really stupid, but it clashes with the various attempts at humour. Speaking of, the comedic elements in this are absolutely horrible. One of our big jokes is that the teacher takes pratfalls, which could work except that they’re ridiculously forced. To name an example, there’s a scene where someone suddenly shouts in class, the teacher hops backwards on one leg thrice or four times and falls out the window. How does anyone manage that? The clumsiest person on the planet couldn’t be that clumsy if they tried. However, compared to the other big joke in this series, that’s comedic gold. The second major joke we get over and over and over again is that Hazumu’s father acts like a creepy incestuous pervert towards his son now that he has a female body. That’s not funny, it’s creepy. It’s vile. It’s nauseating. But it’s okay because his wife hits him for it and we all know that domestic abuse makes attempted incestuous relations between father and child okay. Wait, it doesn’t help at all. 

There’s also the dialogue to consider. It’s really badly done. There’s one scene where one of the other girls is talking to Hazumu and it’s supposed to be really sad and dramatic, but she’s talking about his future children and grandchildren. Which is odd since he has a body that’s biologically female and his potential love interests are both girls. If we’re going to give her credit, we could assume that she’s talking about adopted kids or possibly children obtained through one of the processes that allow two women to have children together, but it still feels like an incredibly awkward and idiotic thing to bring up in context. There’s also the basic premise itself. We’re supposed to believe that these advanced aliens can reconstruct a human body, but can’t reverse the process or figure out what someone’s sex is? Even for a work that has a lot of “comedic”elements, that’s pushing it.

Then we have the biggest problem with the series. The fundamental flaw that really makes the whole thing irredeemable. This is a supposedly yuri series that seems to actively abhor yuri. It’s like Ice in that regard. Every single character who gets involved with someone of the same sex has to have some convoluted, nonsensical reasoning behind it. For Hazumu, it’s that he’s a boy who had his DNA mucked with by aliens. For Tomari it’s that she liked him when he was still a boy and that makes it okay. Yasuna also liked him as a boy but she gets the additional element of not being able to see men except as shapeless blobs. She must have the same plot contrivance disease as Kei did in Onegai Teacher, just with different symptoms. There are a few girls who offhandedly mention liking Tomari, but they also say she’s like a boy. Could you imagine how much it would weaken Sasameki Koto, Blue Drop, Sakura Trick, Grand Pilgrimage or any other yuri work if the writer spent a lot of time coming up with insulting explanations for why the girls liked other girls? It would be a really stupid decision especially since you don’t need an overly complicated explanation. Some people are just attracted to the same sex. It’s not a big deal.

Characters:

The characters don’t help matters. A lot of the side characters exist for a single joke, just one that gets repeated throughout, and don’t really have personalities. Even the main cast is just made up of weak stereotypes. The result is that we get a cast that ranges from actively annoying to just being badly done.

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Art:

The art in this is kind of weak, but not all that bad. The main problem with it is just that it’s lazy with environments that lack detail and character designs that don’t seem to be trying. It’s odd because there’s a computer that gets given a female body based on Hazumu’s and we’re told that she looks like him, but all the girls in this have basically the same face so I don’t know how you’d be able to tell without the exposition. Even the alien spaceship is boring looking.

Sound:

This is one of those series where they got talented actors but you wouldn’t know it to hear their performances in this. Our main trio is voiced by Horie Yui (also the voice of Nepgear), Tamura Yukari (the voice of Nanoha) & Ueda Kana (the voice of Toosaka Rin). All three of them are really good actresses who have given some amazing performances. The problem is that their characters don’t really have anything to them and their performances come across as weak. They don’t get it as badly as some of the actors for supporting characters. Mizutani Yuuko & Yasumura Makoto both sound terrible in this with really exaggerated performances that are just obnoxious to listen to. Hosoi Soshi’s music is forgettable but inoffensive.

Ho-yay:

There’s a little. Hazumu’s friend, Asuta starts to develop a thing for Hazumu based on Hazumu’s new female body. There’s also the disturbing stuff with Hazumu’s father and the girls who mention liking Tomari because she’s like a boy.

Final Thoughts:

Kashimashi is complete rubbish. The romance is overly melodramatic. The characters are pants. The comedy is painful and disturbing. There are a lot of things that are completely stupid. Then we have its biggest failing. It’s a supposedly yuri series, but not really, that seems to have serious problems with yuri existing. My final rating for Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl is a 2/10. Next week I’ll look at Koutetsujou no Kabaneri. It would be hard for it to not be better than this.

Golgo 13: Macho, macho man

Golgo 13 is an ongoing manga written by Saito Takao. A really long running manga at that. It started in 1968. It wasn’t until 2008-2009 that it finally got a proper anime adaptation, although it got an OVA in 1998 and an anime film in 1983. The fifty episode series was handled by The Answer Studio, which I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything else by them. So, after a forty year wait is this anime any good?

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Story:

Golgo 13 is one of those series without a major narrative. It’s episodic with none of the episodes really affecting what comes after. You could actually watch them in a completely random order and it wouldn’t matter in the slightest. The basic set-up is that Duke Togo, the titular Golgo 13, is a professional assassin, quite possibly the best there is, who charges three million per hit. Each episode shows a different mission

That leads me to the biggest issue with the series. Mainly, it’s very formulaic. You can start an episode and know that Golgo is going to face some kind of challenge and kill his target. It’s the type of thing you encounter with “monster of the week” series, except with a lot more machismo and a lot of those series are for younger audiences which makes the formula more acceptable. We also get quite a few sex scenes that exist solely for the sake of showing how manly and amazing Golgo is. He can just lie back and think of England, completely stone-faced, while she writhes on top of him, feeling great pleasure. From a meta standpoint, it makes sense. This series is pretty blatantly intended to be a power fantasy for us men, after all. However, the scenes largely don’t actually do anything. They’re mostly just an excuse to have bare breasts.

That being said, I will praise the series for actually having a lot of episode variety. It is quite good at devising creative scenarios for Golgo’s missions. You know he’s going to win in the end, but there are times that you’re really curious about how he’s going to do it. The episodes also take varied approaches. Some focus on the people around Golgo, including his intended victim for the episode. Some focus on his preparations or on building up the difficulty of the scenario. Some put the focus on building up an antagonist for Golgo. And, to the series credit, a lot of the scenarios are really intense and compelling, in spite of you knowing what the end result is going to be. I’ll give the series full credit for that. I will also say that the whole aesthetic of exaggerated machismo can be pretty entertaining.

Characters:

Golgo, as a character, isn’t particularly compelling. He’s the epitome of machismo but there’s really not much to his character aside from that. Which is clearly what the series is going for. The series also strives to develop some of the one shot characters in order to make you hate his targets or feel for them, depending on the episode. Or in order to try and make the world around our macho protagonist fleshed out and lend it credence. The success of those efforts varies quite a bit. In some episodes, it really works. In others it comes across as forced and falls flat. To the series’ credit I will say that they succeed more often than they fail.

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Art:

The art is mostly really nice with detailed background, strong character designs, and visually interesting action sequences. That being said, there are some weaknesses to it. There are points where they get lazy with the characters and the people Golgo kills frequently have unintentionally silly expressions on their faces when they get shot. It’s like the folks at Answer were under the impression that people spontaneously decide to enter a silly face contest right before bullets hit them and their faces just instantly undergo rigor mortis.

Sound:

The actors in this do fine. Tachi Hiroshi pulls off the very stoic attitude of Golgo well. Although one could make the point that it’s not difficult since he just has to refrain from emoting. When it comes to all of the characters who show up for an episode, which is most of them, the performances range from decent to really good. The music is nicely done and really complements the whole aesthetic nicely. I especially like the little victory composition.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any in this series.

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s Golgo 13. What did I think of it a a whole? Well, it certainly has its problems but it also provides some interesting scenarios that make you wonder how Golgo is going to manage and its overly macho execution can be entertaining. My advice is, if the concept sounds like it could be entertaining viewing to you, give it a go but don’t try to watch a lot of episodes in one sitting. For myself, I actually did mostly enjoy it and my final rating is going to be a solid 7/10. Next week, Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl.

Triangle Heart: Sweet Songs Forever-Weak precursor to amazingness

I’ve reviewed a lot of the Nanoha franchise. The first series, A’s, StrikerS, Vivid and I’m sure I’ll review the follow up to Vivid when it comes out. Why am I talking about Nanoha? Well, today’s offering, Triangle Heart Sweet Songs Forever, is kind of a prequel but not really. The basic gist of it is that this series started as a series of eroges and OVAs called Triangle Heart. Nanoha’s character was introduced as the younger sister of two of the main characters in the third instalment, and the one this OVA was adapted from. It was also the last hurrah of the series, with the OVA coming out late in 2000. Incidentally, the Nanoha franchise spun off of it in 2004, changing hands from Discovery to Seven Arcs. So, is it worth checking this one out or is it fortuitous for everyone that it isn’t tied directly into the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha franchise?

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Story:

We open with a young woman named Crystela Fiasse, who’s been receiving threats. She’s about to go on a concert tour with charity along with the students at her song school. Her childhood friend, McGaren Ellis, is brought in to act as her bodyguard. She also reaches out to their old friends, the Takamachi siblings, Kyouya & Miyuki. They may not be professional bodyguards, but they’re experts with blades. Ellis resents their amateur interference. Will they be able to put aside their differences and deal with this threat?

Let’s start by talking about what the series does poorly. The biggest issue is that there’s quite a bit of filler for a four episode series. We get to spend time watching people work in Kyouya’s café, even though none of them are actually important to the narrative and the scenes do absolutely nothing. We also get to watch overly long exposition scenes about the shared back story of our four leads. We don’t need these scenes since everything important in them comes out in the main narrative but we get them anyway. The climax is also weak. We get a lot of build up for a battle that gets concluded in a very short amount of time. That aside, what we’re left with is a pretty standard action story.

Characters:

The cast in this is really boring and not just those café characters who just take up time. The main characters in this are just bland. Both Kyouya & Miyuki were better fleshed out in the Nanoha spin off. They weren’t incredibly complex characters in that, but they at least had verisimilitude, which is more than I can say for them here. Which is really sad since they were just minor characters in that and they were the focus characters in this.

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(Nanoha’s first anime appearance, Folks. Working the cash.)

Art:

The art is pretty well done. Aside from some odd, faux artistic choices like tinting everything a single colour for some scenes. Overall, it is a nice looking OVA with some strong designs and solid action scenes. The artwork is definitely the OVA’s strongest point.

Sound:

The acting in this is passable, mostly. There are exceptions. Kodama Satomi sounds like she’s not trying at all. She gives a very listless, emotionless performance as Miyuki. Which could be why Miyuki was voiced by Shiraishi Ryoko in Nanoha. Seki Tomokazu has the opposite problem. He really chews the scenery in how far he goes over the top. Aside from that, we get performances that are functional, but not really good. The music, on the other hand, is pretty good. The biggest issue with it is that they talk the concert up quite a bit. In fact, they go really overboard with it, going on about how great it’s going to be and how it’s going to bring tranquillity to everyone who hears it and it really doesn’t live up to that kind of hype.

Ho-yay:

There’s only a little in this one. Surprising given how much is in the spin off, I know. A lot of the dynamic between Ellis & Fiasse comes across like they’re an old couple. Although that could be more as a result of there being basically nothing to their characters than anything intentional.

Final Thoughts:

Triangle Heart isn’t a bad little OVA but it is pretty weak. The story, what little it has, is largely forgettable and the characters are just dull. Overall, I give it a 4/10. Next week is going to be one that was requested quite a while back, Golgo 13.

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin: Spoopy NEET Ghost

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin is an ongoing light novel and manga series by Otorino Kazuma. Both manga and light novel series began publication in early 2012. In 2014 our old friends at A-1 pictures worked on an eleven episode anime version. I haven’t read the novels or manga, so I won’t be able to tell you how well the anime series follows either of them. I will, however, tell you how well it stands as its own entity. With that in mind, let’s delve into it.

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Story:

Our protagonist, young Yama Juugo, moves to the man-made Nanae Island after being disowned by his father. Once there he finds a low rent apartment, but there turns out to be a catch. It’s haunted. The ghost is Nanana, that isn’t a lead up to saying ‘Batman’ it’s actually her name, one of the island’s founders. Ten years ago she was murdered in her room and she’s been bound to it since. Juugo is approached by his High School’s Adventure Club. A group dedicated to finding Nanana’s collection, a group of artefacts with magic powers. He joins them, hoping to find something to help him solve Nanana’s murder.

Let’s open with the issues I had with the narrative. The first is that it’s a bit inconsistent. To name a big example, Nanana mentions that she was killed from behind and didn’t see her attacker, but she somehow knows they had a dragon tattoo on their neck. How exactly did she manage to see their neck and nothing else? You’d think she could at least also give a hair colour, description of their back and be able to tell roughly how tall they were. The tone also shifts a bit. Most of it is more light-hearted and kind of goofy, but they also try to throw in some more serious moments and they don’t transition well betwixt the two, resulting in a lack of investment in the serious scenes. I took it more seriously when Q threw the elements of harmony into chaos and that was a program for small children. My final issue was with the ending. I understand that it’s difficult to end a single series when there’s more to the story. You want some closure, but you also want to keep things open enough to get the audience interested in the continuation. In this case, they try to do it with a climactic battle against an antagonist they’ve built up and with Nanana’s murder still unsolved. However, the execution is pretty weak and the battle ends with a total anti-climax.

On the positive side, the premise is an interesting one. The comedic elements are handled decently enough. I also do like that they play Nanana up as a neutral party and not as a being who’s only helpful to the main group. As a consequence, you can’t say that they only clear ruins ahead of other treasure hunters due to supernatural assistance.

Characters:

The characters in this aren’t badly done, but they also aren’t incredibly complex, compelling or funny. All in all, they’re pretty standard. That being said, I did rather like Tensai. She can be quite fun. What I didn’t like are the relationship dynamics. They’re incredibly stilted. There’s a moment where certain characters betray others, there’s a fight and then everyone goes back to being the bestest of friends. Because that seems like what would happen in that situation.

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Art:

The art is okay. It’s mostly pretty standard with some nice effects and designs for the ruins. A bit of fan-service, mostly involving an effeminate male character. So, that’s different.

Sound:

The acting in this is fine. It’s not anything special but it’s competent enough. The music is done by Hoashi Keigo, who also did work on Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu. The music here isn’t as good, but it’s all right.

Ho-yay:

There’s a little bit. Some of the other boys demonstrate attraction to our fan-servicey effeminate boy. So, there’s that.

Final Thoughts:

And that’s Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin. There are some aspects that are decent, some that are kind of weak but, by and large, it’s just an average series. If you really like the sound of the premise, you may like it and it’s only eleven episodes, so it wouldn’t be a huge time investment to try it. As for me, my rating is going to be a 5/10. Next week I’m looking at Triangle Heart: Sweet Songs Forever.

Rokka no Yuusha: Trapped & Paranoid

Rokka no Yuusha is an anime based on a series of light novels by Yamagata Ishio. The light novels are still going too. There’s also an ongoing manga based on the novels. So, in 2015 there was an anime version from Passione, a studio that also did Rail Wars & Haitai Nanafa, which I haven’t seen, and nothing else. They haven’t exactly been the most prolific of studios, but maybe that doesn’t mean much. They haven’t exactly been around for that long. And their few projects could be really good. So, let this serve as my introduction to them as I delve into Rokka no Yuusha.

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Story:

We open with our main protagonist, Adlet, interrupting an exhibition match while declaring himself “the strongest man.” Get used to that line, it gets repeated a lot. Turns out that Adlet really wants to be one of the Braves, six chosen warriors who are destined to fight the demon king. His little stunt lands him in a dungeon and, after spending a long time within, he has a strange dream and wakes up with the Brave’s Crest on his hand. He shouts out that he’s been chosen and gets rescued by Princess Nashetania, who has a Brave’s crest on her upper chest, just below the neck. Which I’m sure is not a design choice to excuse her exposing her cleavage. The two run off to meet with the other Braves.

The biggest fault with the series is that it starts out slow, looking very much like a typical fantasy story. When the series is a third of the way through they introduce a locked room mystery surrounding a seventh Brave where Adlet and his companions are trapped and have to find out who among them is an enemy. At that point, it actually does get interesting. The ending also does drop the ball a bit by promising that the continuation will regurgitate a major plot point from this series. Which could easily become repetitive unless Yamagata is very careful.

In all fairness to the slow start, it is kind of necessary in this case. The series enhances its mystery by setting up the viewer’s expectations for a very typical type of story, including having characters who look pretty readily suspicious, only to subvert those expectations as the series heads towards its climax. I will give the series credit, it is done in quite the clever way. I’ll also give it credit for being excellent at foreshadowing. There are several events that appear to be just part of the world building or ordinary character moments that are actually important when the climax comes around and the series is good about treating them the same way they do the world building and regular character moments. Which results in a climax that’s not telegraphed but has a good amount building up to it. I also will give the ending credit. It does stop at a good point with the promise of more challenges but with a huge one out of the way. It also does craft a sense of paranoia quite well with the seven characters being trapped together, not knowing which one is their enemy. 

Characters:

Like the narrative, the characters are initially set up to look very typical but, as the series progresses, they start demonstrating facets that go beyond the archetypes that you’d associate with them on that basis. At least, most of them do. There are some who are a bit under-developed. Which isn’t particularly surprising, given that there are seven major characters in this and twelve episodes. If there’s a follow up series, maybe those characters will get more to them. And I will give the series credit that even the more under-developed characters get something that advances them above the usual archetype. Even if it isn’t much. About the biggest issue is that the main romance feels a bit forced. Maybe the story develops it better in the stuff that takes place after this, but it starts really abruptly.

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Art:

Take a wild guess at what my major issue with the art in this is. If you’re familiar with my reviews, you can probably guess it easily since it’s probably the complaint I have about art most frequently. Yes, this series has a bit of an issue with fan-service, giving several characters ridiculous outfits. Whether its Fremy’s tiny strip of cloth covering her breasts while her stomach is fully exposed, Nashetania’s fetishy bunny girl thing or Goldov’s muscular stomach being shown in much the same way as Fremy’s outfit, including a tiny strip of cloth covering his chest. So, at least its equal opportunity fan-service. On the positive side, the backgrounds in this are very well detailed. The monster design is superb. These things just look really cool. The action sequences are also nicely done, with smooth, quick action that can be really intense.

Sound:

The acting in this is well done. Saito Soma, Yuuki Aoi, Hikasa Yoko & Suzumura Kenihi all give strong performances and there aren’t any weak ones. The music is good. It was done by Oshima Michiru, who also worked on the music for Fullmetal Alchemist.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any.

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s Rokka no Yuusha. As a whole, I really liked it. The subversive aspects work well. There are some strong characters. Ridiculous outfit design aside, the artwork is strong. It has really good acting and music. There are some things that could have been done better, but nothing too substantial. I’m actually really interested in the possibility of a sequel, just because a lot of the establishing stuff is out of the way and it could dedicate more time to fleshing out those aspects. That being said, my rating for this one is a solid 8/10. Next week I’ll look at Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin. Until then, take care.