Author Archives: ktulu007

About ktulu007

For me, writing is the greatest passion and sharing what I work on is a privilege. I write a lot about LGBT characters because so often the media we see with them is about their sexuality or gender identity or they’re the token LGBT character in a group of straight characters. So, I try to write a fleshed out character who’s part of a story about a fantasy quest or a star ship crew and happens to be LGBT. Comments are always appreciated. Just don't make me get sarcastic. Or do, I like being sarcastic.

Mizu no Kotoba: Short and Semi-Sweet

Mizu no Kotoba is a nine minute anime from Studio Rikka. That’s right, the Eve no Jikan & Harmonie studio. It was released in 2002, making it the oldest Rikka anime I’ve looked at by over half a decade. It’s also the shortest by a pretty wide margin. Let’s see how it holds up.

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Story:

Our narrative is set in a quaint cafe where a group of patrons are all holding their own conversations. Our main focus is on the young man at the counter and the barista who’s trying to cheer him up after he broke up with his girlfriend.

One thing to note about the story-telling is that the conversations from the people besides our main character all, in some form, foreshadow what he’s going to experience towards the end of the short. Which, I don’t really think is necessary. You could honestly have the cafe be basically barren and show some quick, visual hints and get the same effect.

I will credit the short with capturing a very interesting moment. It does keep your attention from start to finish. Which doesn’t seem like a great feat for something that’s only nine minutes, but I’ve seen other short anime/ anime with very short episodes where there was just nothing compelling. Hi, Chokotan. In some ways, this feels like a very short story that Ibis could tell. It also does a good job of giving you enough of the world to get you interested. This could make an effective lead in to a longer series if it wasn’t just a stand alone thing.

Characters:

The characterisation in this isn’t anything special. Our main protagonist has a basic level of verisimilitude and about as much depth as you could reasonably manage with nine minutes. The waitress comes across as almost a trickster type with her eagerness to help and her guiding our protagonist to a strange area. Until you learn the truth about her, any way.

The rest of the patrons aren’t really worth mentioning. They’re all kind of boring if I’m being honest.

Art:

I’m not completely sold on the art style. This is one of those anime where all the characters have dead looking eyes and the facial expressions are a bit awkward. It doesn’t really look bad. It’s serviceable enough. It’s just a bit of a blah style. And they do get lazy at points and just show text.

The only point where I genuinely like the art is towards the end when things get a bit surreal. Partially because they aren’t showing the people as much and partially because there are some interesting visuals.

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Sound:

The acting is fine. It’s not particularly good or memorable, but it’s better than mediocre. The music is quite nice. It’s not the best out there, but it’s solid enough.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any. Not that I would expect a nine minute short to have hugely developed character dynamics that would allow for strong romance period.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Lose all the side patrons. Honestly, their chatter doesn’t really contribute anything except for some foreshadowing. Which you could get purely from visuals, assuming you think you even need foreshadowing in a nine minute work.
  2. Better character art. While I mean no disrespect towards the animators who worked hard on this, the characters really don’t look good.
  3. A longer surreal sequence. That twenty seconds or so is the most stand out moment of the short and just looks the best.

Final Thoughts:

Mizu no Kotoba is a solid short. It’s well put together and compelling throughout. Honestly, if you have nine minutes where you’re just waiting for something, give it a quick watch. I’m giving it a 7/10.

December Bonus Review #1: Big Hero Six- The Series 1

It’s no secret that I don’t care for the vast majority of Hollywood’s super hero films. And why should I? They take unique characters with long histories and unique characteristics, when well written, and reduce them to Hollywood’s usual action archetypes. It’s also no secret that one hero film I actually liked a lot was Disney’s Big Hero 6. Someday, I’ll do a full review of it and go in depth as to why. Now, when I heard there was going to be a cartoon based around the film, I was sceptical. Not because the film makes it an odd fit for a children’s cartoon like The Police Academy, Rambo, Mortal Kombat or The Toxic Avenger. But because I’ve learned that adaptations of good media frequently don’t go so well. Obviously, I was still going to watch it. So, let’s have a look at the first series of Big Hero 6, the cartoon.

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Story:

The narrative picks up at the end of the film. Most of our heroes are ready to return to their normal lives, but they’re persuaded to continue as Big Hero 6 since there are plenty of people out there who still need help especially with a mysterious new villain, Obake,  on the loose. A lot of the episodes are of the “connected but stand alone enough that it can be picked up at most points” variety. We see Obake’s machinations progress as things go on. We also see the team face a variety of threats. Some connected to him, others not.

Honestly, the stories we get throughout do suit the film fairly well. They’re well constructed, fun and just solid super hero stories.

The one exception, at least in the first series, is the episode Fan Friction. In this episode, we find out that one of the supporting cast, Karmi, is writing self-insert fan fiction about the team. Hiro correctly points out that it’s creepy and weird to write fiction about real people you don’t even know but the episode paints him as taking it too personally. Yeah, the stories quite literally have him as her love interest but he shouldn’t be creeped out by it because… Yeah, it’s just a lousy episode. The only good bit is seeing Fred get into it and come up with ship names for all of them. Which is pretty funny.

Characters:

The cast is great. We see the characters develop a bit from their states in the film. The series does an excellent job of building their interactions and dynamics. We also get some new characters. Professor Granville is a very strong character. Mini Max is very enjoyable. Felony Carl may be one of my favourite incidental characters in anything. And you can’t leave out Fred’s father, Boss Awesome. He doesn’t appear all that much, but it’s great when he does.

The villains are really strong as well. Obake, Momakase, Globby, Baron Von Steamer even Noodle Burger Boy. They’re all great villains in their own ways. And one thing I appreciate is the way they can have villains, like Steamer, who are nods to the silver age of comics while maintaining a writing aesthetic that’s more like the bronze age in the way it can be more serious but also embrace the sillier, more light-hearted aspects of comics when it works.

The only character I actually don’t like is Karmi. At first, I just thought she was mildly annoying with her obsession with Hiro’s hero persona, but after she got an actual episode, and it was by far the worst episode in the series, I kind of got to the point where I found her pretty intolerable.

Art:

Clearly, the cartoon does not have the budget that the film did. And, as such, it uses a much more simplistic style. I don’t mind that and I think the animators did a great job on the artwork and animations. The one criticism I do have is that the style has a very toothy way of making the characters talk and it can be a bit off-putting.

Sound:

Most of the film’s actors reprise their roles in the series and do a stellar job. The exceptions are Damon Wayans Jr as Wasabi and TJ Miller as Fred. The two of them are replaced by Khary Payton & Brooks Wheelan. Maybe Wayans & Miller didn’t want to do the cartoon, maybe they had other obligations at the time, maybe they wanted more money, maybe the controversies Miller got involved in had Disney decide to replace him. I honestly don’t know. But I do have to give both Payton & Wheelen credit, they did an excellent job of sounding enough like the film versions to fit the roles and they deliver their lines really well.

This series also gets some amazing performances in the side roles. The late Stan Lee voiced Boss Awesome. Gordon Ramsay voices a celebrity chef who challenges Aunt Cass in an underground cooking competition. Jennifer Lewis, John Michael Higgins, Andrew Scott, Naoko Mori & Diedrich Bader are all excellent as well. It’s just a very immaculately directed and performed series.

The music is well composed too. Adam Berry did an amazing job of capturing the aesthetic of the series in his compositions.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Show fewer teeth when the characters talk.
  2. Outright lose the Fan Friction episode. You can find another way to introduce the new techniques from that episode without the cringe. It also makes Karmi a much worse character than she would be otherwise.
  3. A bit more Felony Carl. I would actually watch an entire spin off about this dude in spite of him having rare and short appearances. Because those appearances are so compelling and memorable.

Final Thoughts:

This cartoon is pretty damn excellent. It features strong characterisation, a compelling narrative and solid fundamentals. The only major flaw is the Fan Friction episode. Aside from that, everything comes together very strongly. As such, I’m going with a 9/10 on this one.

Kakegurui: Gambled its quality and lost

Kakegurui is a Kawamoto Homura manga that’s been adapted into both anime and live action forms. The first series of the anime came out in 2017 from MAPPA. The same studio that we only forgive for Sakamichi no Apollon because they proved they can do well with Dororo. Let’s see how they did with this one.

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Story:

Our tale takes place in a prestigious school where the children of rich and powerful families are allowed to gamble away their futures. For at this school, gambling is considered justice and all students take on gambles. Our protagonist is transfer student Jabami Yumeko. A girl who joins the school to sate her gambling fetish and wants nothing more than the opportunity to go up against the student council.

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend the premise isn’t completely, irredeemably stupid. Let’s pretend there’s some logic to a school like this being allowed to exist. So, what’s wrong with the story when we allow for that? First off, there’s no real tension to it. Our protagonist doesn’t give a shit what happens to her when she gambles. Which means that when her opponent comes in and asks her to gamble her future, or some such thing, there’s no reason to get invested since she very blatantly isn’t concerned.

A broader issue is that her gambles end kind of predictably. There’s a case in particular where they participate in a “debt erasing” poker game and you know which character is going to lose as soon as the game begin. You also know which character is going to win because it’s clearly set up. It’s also pretty obvious which gambles Jabami isn’t going to lose. To make things worse, it’s obvious which ones she’s going to draw.

The only positive thing I can give the narrative is that it can be kind of interesting to see Jabami figure out how her opponent’s cheating and turn it against them. Or to see her figure out how to beat the odds when they’re stacked against her.

Characters:

The cast in this is quite bad. Jabami’s whole shtick is that she gets caught up in the ecstasy of gambling and behaves in an irrational way that catches her opponents off guard. She probably spends tens of millions of yen on loot boxes every week. And the other characters in this have even less to them than that. They’re pretty much one-note characters who are there to get swept up by Jabami’s psychosis.

Art:

This series thrives on the spectacle of its scenarios. And a part of that involves artwork that’s either overtly sexualised or absolutely hideous. This series loves to have its girls getting really close and cuddling up. As for the really ugly scenes, think of what the Phoenix Wright breakdown scenes would look like if they were considerably more grotesque and bereft of any charm and you have this series’ idea of intense.

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Sound:

The acting in this gravitates towards bombastic over-exaggeration that’s so bad it makes Brian Blessed’s most over the top performance seem subtle. Particularly during those scenes that are supposed to come across as intense. The music is pretty decent. So, that’s the best element to the series.

Ho-yay:

There are two girls, Ikishima & Igarashi, with very blatant romantic interests in other girls. This series also has a fetish for positioning its girls in ship teasing fashions. But don’t get the wrong idea. There aren’t any proper relationships betwixt any of the girls. That would require being able to write semi-decent human interaction.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Even the slightest hint of character depth would be nice.
  2. Put the gambling underground instead of in a school. You could pretty easily rework the premise to have a bunch of children from influential families engaging in illicit gambling in a more clandestine fashion. All you’d lose would be the house pet system, which you could work around.
  3. Draw proper faces. All these scenes with overly pronounced teeth, bugged out eyes and such that are supposed to be intense are just ugly looking.

Final Thoughts:

This one is easily as bad as Sakamichi no Apollon. Granted, the characters aren’t as obnoxious but the bombastic, over the top and downright ugly aesthetic is definitely just as bad in its own way. That’s why I’m giving this a 3/10.

November Bonus Review: Event Horizon

This November, we’re going to look at a film that bombed. But, we’ve looked at other films that didn’t do well when they came out. The brilliant John Carpenter film The Thing didn’t make much of a profit and the Black Cauldron lost a lot of money but was pretty solid. Maybe this one also has a good amount of merit in spite of flopping harder than a sumo wrestler in a diving competition.

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Story:

Our narrative begins with a bunch of background text before moving into a rescue mission. The titular Event Horizon went missing seven years ago during a test of an experimental drive that allows it to circumvent light speed. Now, it’s reappeared. The rescue vessel Lewis and Clark, is sent along with the scientist who created the drive to save the crew and bring the ship back.

To the film’s credit, it starts out pretty well. There’s a compelling mystery of what happened aboard the Horizon and with the hallucinations. The issue of having a limited time to get off the Horizon provides some strong tension. And the lack of any defined monster or slasher killer and having very little in terms of blood or gore makes for a nice change.

Unfortunately, the last third of the film happens. This is where it succumbs to bad Hollywood horror clichés. This is where we get the absurd, over the top gore that’s not scary in the slightest, just kind of gross. This is where we get a big, bad antagonist who wants to murder everyone. And this is where the mystery of the Horizon is answered in the dumbest way possible. In fact, I’m going to spoil it because I have ranting to do about this. So, if you don’t want spoilers, now is the time to stop reading.

Now, there are lots of explanations that could have been used for what happened with the Horizon. Some kind of psychic entity integrated with the ship and wants to goad the crew of the Clark into getting killed to absorb their neural energy. There’s an unknown pathogen that’s caused all the side effects they’ve experienced. The Horizon’s computer fused with the mind of a member of its crew and the chimera is subconsciously trying to repel the Clark’s crew like they were a virus. But no, one of those could be unique and interesting if well execute.

No, the true explanation is that the Horizon quite literally went to hell and now the ship has a demon in it that wants to bring yet more people back to hell for torture. It’s like the plot you’d get in one of those old, deliberately schlocky B-films. And there’s no potential for anything interesting since it’s just a force of pure evil.

Characters:

The most interesting part of the characterisation is Captain Miller butting heads with Doctor Weir. Which does lead to some interesting moments. Unfortunately, most of the crew aren’t all that interesting. You’ve got the mother, the young innocent, the more hard-nosed one and a bunch of other stereotypes.

Cinematography, Visual Effects:

The first two thirds start out pretty promising. The effects look pretty damn good for the late 90s. The futuristic technology provides a neat little spectacle. The barren, dingy atmosphere aboard the Horizon makes for a strong horror backdrop. Then the last third devolves into absurd, over the top gore. The eyes sewn shut thing especially just looks silly.

Acting and Music:

You can’t really fault the actors in this. Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill in particular deliver some strong performances. Even the more underwritten characters are pretty well performed. Michael Kamen’s soundtrack is pretty nicely composed as well.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. A better solution to the mystery. Seriously, in a situation where you had hundreds of more interesting possible solutions, you chose to just go with hell.
  2. Give the characters a bit more depth. If that means you have to have one or two fewer characters, it’s worth it.
  3. Leave out or minimise the gore effects. This is a case where having less makes what you do have so much more effective.

Final Thoughts:

This one had potential, but the final third just dived straight into bad trope territory. I’ll credit the film with subverting some clichés, having some strong elements to its build up and some other fairly impressive elements. Such as the music and the acting. Unfortunately, Phillip Eisner’s writing just couldn’t sustain it in the end. So, I’m giving it a 4/10.

Chrno Crusade: I’m not crying, you’re crying

Chrno Crusade is an early 2000s anime based off of a manga by Moriyama Daisuke. The anime version was handled by the folks at Gonzo. Yes, the Bakuretsu Tenshi, Final Fantasy Unlimited & Trinity Blood studio.

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Story:

We open with representatives of the Magdalene order, a religious order that hunts demons, going into action. These are our main characters, Sister Rosette and her daemonic partner Chrno. We quickly learn that Rosette’s younger brother, Joshua, was taken to a twisted version of Shibuya to play a reaper’s game. I mean, he was kidnapped by a demon named Aion. To search for him, she’s formed a pact with her friend, Chrno. The price being her very life force.

I have to give Moriyama a lot of credit here. The writing is brilliant. It’s one of those series where the premise has potential but only if it’s handled very well. Which it is. The theme of time is a powerful one and it’s handled immaculately. The way the series builds up to big events is superbly done as well. It’s very good at giving escalating hints at what’s coming and of having worthy pay off.

This series is also excellent at mixing some more light-hearted comedic elements with its more serious, dramatic moments. Which is one of those things that most media can’t manage. But this series handles it by making the comedy more subdued and never going too far with its dramatic elements. Even the most serious moments contain a strong spark of hope and even the most comedic moment has some serious undertone playing out. As a consequence, the shifts are a lot more natural.

I can also credit the series with having fantastic world building. It doesn’t just throw back stories and fantastical terms at you. It eases you into them gradually so, when some aspect actually gets explained, you’re able to easily grasp it as part of the world and see where it fits in with the rest. It helps that the visions of heaven, earth and hell in this series are really compelling.

The ending is absolutely perfect. I won’t spoil it, but I will point out that a lesser writer would not have gone with the ending this series has. They would have seen it as too risky or not marketable enough. But it is also the ending that works best with all the build up and events of the series.

This series also deserves some credit in being one of those rare anime that makes me tear up. There are two scenes in particular where I had to dry my eyes. And I don’t cry at that many pieces of media. Especially not after multiple viewings but I re-watched this series for a third time for this review and it still got to me.

Characters:

My minor complaint here is that Chrno Crusade has one of those comedic dirty old man characters. To its credit, there is more to the elder than you would usually get with that type of character. He does have some complexity. But it’s still a tired and kind of shit archetype to work off of.

That gripe aside, the characters in this are excellent. Rosette starts out seeming like one of those more brash, action girl heroines. But as the story progresses she gains more complexity and you learn that a lot of her more reckless behaviours tie into her wanting to live every day to its utmost due to her more limited time.

Every major character is like that. They start with some, simple archetype and elevate it to something unique, complex and interesting. Which also leads to some superb character dynamics and interactions. Chrno and Rosette in particular have a superb bond. The minor characters may not be as perfectly developed and fleshed out, but they have enough complexity to come across as actual people.

I also have to credit the series for its antagonists. The villains, Aion especially, are complex characters with clear and compelling motivations. Aion makes such an excellent villain because he is very blatantly villainous but he’s also got his own twisted reasons behind everything he does and he excels at manipulating others into doing what he needs them to do. He doesn’t come across as the most physically intimidating but he doesn’t need to because his powers of persuasion and manipulation make him a terrifying opponent.

Art:

My minor gripe here is that there are points where Rosette or Satella will have their clothes torn in battle in a fashion that borders on sexualised. To the series’ credit, it never crosses that line but it does come uncomfortably close.

Aside from that, the artwork is very strong. The demon designs are great. The various technical devices the Magdalene order uses have interesting designs. Steeped in religious imagery, obviously, but that just adds to the aesthetic. Gonzo deserves a lot of credit for framing their important scenes very effectively. For instance, there’s a scene towards the end where Rosette is going out and helping people but its framed in such a way that it comes across as very unsettling. And a lot of that comes down to the art since she isn’t moving right and there’s something just a bit off about her face.

The action sequences are fairly strong as well. There’s a lot of creativity behind them and they’re very effectively animated for the tone that the series is going for. The more light-hearted scenes come with more high energy, fun action scenes while the more serious scenes have heavier sequences.

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Sound:

The performances in this are superlative. Ishida Akira, Kawakami Tomoko, Chiba Saeko and Neya Michiko are all excellent. I don’t even care that Neya Michiko’s Deutsch isn’t quite natural. And you can’t fault Inoue Kazuhiko’s performance as Aion. The music is excellent as well. Amazing theme tunes with Tsubasa wa Pleasure Line & Sayonara Solitaire and perfectly fashioned in episode music. Which includes some lovely song performances by Saeko Chiba.

Ho-yay: 

There are moments in Chrno’s shown back story that make it seem like maybe he and Aion were more than friends but it’s not a lot and there’s nothing definitive.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Give the elder a different comedic attribute. Yeah, I admit that I just personally can’t stand the dirty old man trope. But even putting that aside, you could definitely do something more unique here.
  2. Less attire tearing during fights.
  3. Show a little more of Joshua’s fate in the ending. After the effort put in on his behalf, it would be nice to know a bit more about what happens with him.

Final Thoughts:

This series is excellent. In terms of writing, acting and animation it’s really exemplary. I did struggle a bit with whether to give it a 9 or a 10 since I do have two gripes with it that somewhat affected my enjoyment but given how stellar the whole thing is and how minor they are by comparison to everything it does right, I’m going with a rare 10/10.

Slayers Gorgeous: No, I’m not done with this franchise

I’ve talked about JC Staff’s Slayers franchise quite a bit. And by quite a bit, I mean thrice with reviews of The Motion Picture, Great & Return. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a largely comedic fantasy tale about a powerful sorceress who stops rampaging monsters, grabs treasure wherever it glitters and claims victory over her foes. Along with a colourful cast of companions. So, is this film as good as the others we’ve looked at?

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Story:

So, we open with Lina and Naga sitting in a town square, enjoying some tacos, when everyone around them starts panicking and running indoors. They find out why when an armoured girl appears with dragons. Lina fends her and her dragons off only to find out that her father rules the town and they’re fighting over a raise in her allowance. That moment when you realise you suck as a parent. Naturally, both Lina and Naga are brought in on opposite sides for the promise of gold.

The biggest weakness of this film is that it does hit some of the same beats as Great did. That on featured a father and son building golems for opposite lords in a dispute while Lina and Naga took opposite sides. To be fair, the reasons for parent and child fighting were different and the way their dynamic plays out is different, but the basic story lines are pretty similar. Another, more minor gripe is that the imagery accompanying the ending credits has a segment with Lina flipping a coin that’s pretty close to the same as the scene that Great had in its.

The strength this has is that the humour is at a very high level with most of the gags landing very effectively. This film also demonstrates the ability this franchise has to introduce a big threat and have a cool action sequence, but also add in a bunch of comedic elements during the fight that make it tonally fit perfectly. The reveal of the ultimate antagonist is also very cool.

Characters:

In terms of character, the strength of these films has consistently been Lina and Naga’s dynamic. They’re similar and distinct enough that you can both understand why they keep one another company and why they drive each other crazy. I can really buy them as friends. Hell, I’d buy them as lovers of the “old bickering couple variety” if that had been the route they’d taken. And their dynamic really shines in this film at the point where they’re working in combination and you can see them communicate intentions without saying a word.

The side characters also follow the same pattern as the ones in the last film. They aren’t complex, but they’re quirky enough for some good gags and to make them memorable.

Art:

JC Staff has consistently done a great job with the artwork in this franchise. It features some strong visual gags, well designed characters and some really good action sequences. My biggest complaint about the action sequences is that some of the scenes in them are a bit too clichéd. For instance, it has that scene where two opponents run at each other, it pauses for a moment and then you see the result.

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Sound:

Hayashibara Megumi & Kawamura Maria are amazing as ever. The actors for the film exclusive characters give strong performances as well. You can’t really fault Hikami Kyouko, Kamiya Akira, Takiguchi Junpei or anyone else in that regard. The music is pretty great. Hayashibara Megumi’s ending song in this one is Raging Waves, which is fantastic.

Ho-yay:

There’s still none to be had. Yeah, they could make Lina and Naga work as a couple, but there are no hints of that.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Vary the film plots more. I get that every writer has a “thing” but it’s going to get a bit tired if we keep seeing parent/ child squabbles as a central plot element.
  2. Lose the action scene clichés. I’m sorry, they just don’t work all that well.
  3. A different ending gag. I get that they vary it slightly, but it’s close enough to the same thing that it doesn’t work all that well when you’ve seen the film before it.

Final Thoughts:

This is a pretty great film and definitely worthy of the franchise. Ultimately, my complaints with it are more minor nitpicks than serious, enjoyment affecting problems. So, I’m going to give it an 8/10. If this franchise is your thing, you’ll enjoy this film. If it’s not, at least look up the song Raging Waves by Hayashibara Megumi.

Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki:

Angolmois is based off of a historical fiction manga by Takagi Nanahiko. It’s based off of the events of the first Mongolian invasion of Japan from 1274. So, this was back when Kublai Khan was running things. But enough history, the anime adaptation was handled by NAZ. One of those rare anime studios that I haven’t seen anything from. Let’s see how strong of an introduction this is.

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Story:

Our narrative is set on Tsushima Island. We follow a group of Japanese exiles who are being sent for the sole purpose of serving as troops against the incoming Mongolians. They soon find themselves as a small unit trying to stay in hiding and avoid the larger, more powerful Mongolian force.

Now, it makes sense from a narrative perspective to follow a small, guerilla force since it’s pretty well known that Tsushima fell very quickly during the first Mongolian invasion. The problem this has, as a narrative, is that there are literally a million characters and none of them are memorable. The tension in the story hinges on us, as the audience, caring about our small group of plucky survivors but even with a relatively small number, there are just too many characters and there’s never time taken to flesh them out. It doesn’t help that the climax of the story involves a huge ass pull with a certain character being underwater for a good twenty minutes and somehow surviving.

Characters:

Herein lies the big flaw to the series. The huge cast of characters. We’ve got big, shark teeth guy, bullseye head, the short merchant, the barely adolescent scout, the doctor, the grizzled dude, the sleazy one and the main samurai. That’s just the exiles who play major roles too. That’s not even going into the named native islanders, the Toi Barai or the Mongolians.

A more important character in this series might get close to being two dimensional, but the vast majority of these characters are just stock tropes. Which makes it really difficult if not impossible to give a shit when things start going badly and characters start dying.

Even our two major characters, Jinzaburou & Teruhi, aren’t all that interesting. He’s got a vague honourable warrior shtick going and she’s pretty much a highly emotional action girl who’s attracted to him for no adequately explored reason. Will they get together? I really could not care less.

Art:

The art is a bit unusual. Everything has a weird texture to it. It’s like they want to visually marry the idea of an old sepia toned samurai drama to modern animation techniques. So, the colours are a bit muted and the whole series just looks a bit off, visually. And I’m not sure it’s for the best. I’d hesitate to say it looks bad, since there are some nice details and the action scenes generally flow pretty smoothly. I also could not say it looks good.

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Sound:

The acting is decent enough. You won’t get highly skilled, emotionally deep performances. Even though there are some amazing actors like Ishida Akira & Koyasu Takehito. There are also plenty of good actors we’ve heard give strong performances before. But this is one of those cases where the lack of character complexity really hampers the actors’ abilities to give strong performances. The music is fine. It’s not Katayama Shuji’s best, for certain. But it’s okay.

Ho-yay:

There is not any.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Flesh out your characters. This is probably the biggest thing. This premise needed strong characterisation for the tension and investment. And we simply don’t get it.
  2. Humans can not breathe underwater. I get what they were going for with this. They were trying to build the tension by showing a character tossed underwater and then cutting to other stuff while occasionally going back to that character. The problem is that they leave him down there so long his survival comes across as absurd.
  3. Lose the filter. Again, I get what they were going for with this. They wanted the call back to old period dramas. But the series would, quite honestly, look a lot better without it.

Final Thoughts:

Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki isn’t a bad series. It has a premise that could easily work, some of the action sequences are nicely handled and it just doesn’t have anything it does all that badly. Unfortunately, the characters are dull and stock. The muted artwork does not do the series any favours and it’s just not compelling. So, I’m going to give it a 5/10. If you really love historic samurai dramas, you might be able to forgive the nothing characters but I can’t recommend it for most.