Tag Archives: anime review

Golden Kamuy Series 2: Second Verse, much like the first

I talked about the first series of Golden Kamuy about four months back. It was a piece with an interesting premise and some solid moments. When we left off, Sugimoto and his group were competing with Tsurumi and his soldiers as well as Hijikata Toshozou and his former prisoners. Unbeknownst to Sugimoto or Asirpa their comrade, Shiraishi had made a deal with Hijikata and was playing both sides of the street. Let’s see where things go from there.

Golden Kamuy s2.png

Story:

When we open, Tsurumi is meeting with a grave robbing taxidermist for what I’m sure are completely sane reasons. Meanwhile, Sugimoto and his group are on their way to Abashiri prison to meet with Nopperabo. Which also seems to be the goal of Hijikata’s group. Back in Asirpa’s village, Inkarmat persuades Tanigaki to help her find Asirpa. They’re joined by an Ainu boy who’s just starting to take an interest in boobs.

This series suffers from the same big issue as the first. Namely, it can be overly slow with overly long scenes about how to hunt different game or how to prepare it. I’m sorry, but if I wanted to know how to prepare snares for this particular bird or how to properly cook Salmon heads I’d watch a proper hunting or cooking show.

The series also continues to have some jokes that don’t land very well. At least they stopped having Asirpa refer to miso as faeces. In this series our not really funny comedic moment is Asirpa referring to Ushiyama as “Chinpo-Sensei.” Next season, she’ll probably call Inkarmat vaginal squirt woman or meet a dog called prolapsed anus or something. Since all the worst, most drug out jokes in this franchise are just Asirpa referring to something in a toilet joke fashion.

That being said, the narrative is still interesting with a strong concept backing it. I also appreciate that it doesn’t drag out events. Yeah, it has its other forms of padding but at least the plot moves briskly when the series is actually covering the plot elements. The more comedic elements do largely work. This one has some very morbid humour, mostly involving the taxidermist but that works for me. I’m a fan of well executed macabre elements. This series also follows the first one’s example in that it stops off at a very good point. We get some closure for some major plot points while also having plenty of intrigue to carry another series.

Characters:

Our big three are still Sugimoto, Asirpa & Tanigaki. This series gives us some more development for Shiraishi, Ogata, Inkarmat & Hijikata. But the characters aside from that core group still gravitate towards the weaker side. They’re lucky to get some very simple motivation and hints of something more to them.

Art:

Honestly, the series would look better without the goofier character designs. I understand that it’s not entirely serious but it’s hard for the more serious elements to have the full gravity they should when you’ve got goofy looking characters like Tsurumi or Ushiyama floating around in the middle of it all. On the positive side, the nature scenes look fantastic, the action sequences are appropriately intense and the backgrounds are nicely detailed.

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Sound:

The acting remains a very strong element. The performances are beyond what they need to be. Particularly for those characters who don’t have that much depth to them. Suehiro Kenichiro gives us another strong soundtrack.

Ho-yay:

It’s heavily implied that three of Tsurumi’s men have the hots for him. I don’t see the appeal he has personally, but I won’t judge them for what they’re into. There’s also a scene that gets really homo-erotic in a way that borders on being a gay joke but with clever execution that actually makes it work quite well.

Areas of improvement:

This is honestly pretty much the same as my list for the first series. Since this one has basically the same issues.

  1. We don’t need long explanations of how to hunt and cook. They’re just padding.
  2. Can we have a series of this where Asirpa doesn’t drag a semi-dirty joke into the ground? First it was confusing Miso for excrement Now it’s the Chinpo-sensei thing.
  3. Rework the goofy designs.

Final Thoughts:

The second series is on par with the first. It’s a strong, well crafted anime that has the definite potential to get stronger. I’m giving it a 7/10, like the first series. Maybe the third will raise that score a bit when it comes out. We’ll find out.

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Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou: Lost the plot at the end

Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou is an anime from the late 90s released by Gainax & JC Staff. It was based off of a manga by Tsuda Masami. And, apparently, she was unhappy with the way Gainax handled it which resulted in it not receiving a full adaptation. So, what exactly is wrong with the adaptation? Let’s take a look and see what went wrong. Or maybe she was just being overly picky. We’ll see.

Kare Kano2.png

Story:

Miyazawa Yukino excels at everything. She’s an outstanding student, a strong athlete and is well liked by everyone. There’s just one problem. She doesn’t show her true personality to anyone outside of her family. She puts on a mask because she loves to be praised. One day her major rival, Arima Soichiro, uncovers the truth behind the mask. The pair become friends and quickly go beyond friendship. The narrative from there goes into their ups and downs as well as their relationships with those around them.

The big narrative problem with this anime is that the last third is really atrocious. Here’s the thing. Roughly the first two thirds have a strong comedic aesthetic where problems come up, get resolved in ways that are pretty entertaining  and things flow from there. Roughly the last third throws that out and adds a bunch of terribly written angst and poorly thought out drama. This causes the series to devolve from an entertaining romp to being virtually unwatchable. The ending is trash too. Most anime that aren’t going to cover an adapted work entirely have the decency to give some closure and end with some pressing issue getting wrapped up. This one takes the rubbish heap route and leaves every single plot point unanswered.

There are some lesser problems before that. Yukino’s friend, Maho, talks about dating a dude who’s almost thirty and no one finds it creepy except the people in the audience who have sense. Hate to break it to you guys in your late twenties, early thirties, but if you’re chasing after high school girls you are objectively a complete fucking creep. Same with those of you in your mid twenties. Even early twenties is pushing it given the developmental difference. The anime is also pretty lazy. It features a lot of long recap segments, a full recap episode and two episodes that are half recap. To an extent, I do understand it since the economy was doing poorly, but it still does impact the quality of the work when it wastes your time rehashing to that extent.

On the positive side, the first seventeen or eighteen episodes are enjoyable, except for the recaps. The high levels of humour work quite well. To the point where you can almost completely forgive the lazier elements. If it had maintained that momentum, this could have been a very solid anime. But some incompetent moron working on the adaptation lost the plot. It was probably Zach. No one likes that guy.

Characters:

The characters were never super complex. Even before Zach ruined everything. But this was a more comedic series and the characters did work well in that regard. Then we reach the shite segment of the series and Arima gets obnoxiously angsty and drags the whole cast down with him. They also introduce a male love interest for the girl who has spent the entire series showing interest exclusively in cute girls. Which actually makes me mad. Like, I haven’t entirely forgiven Fire Emblem Fates for pulling that shit with Soleil and I liked that game considerably more than I liked this anime.

It’s also a bit annoying that they basically get rid of all Tsubasa’s character after wrapping up her arc about her dad remarrying. It’s like they couldn’t think of anything for her character to do and didn’t know how to work her into the friend group. So, they gave up and had her just go feral.

Art:

This is another area where the obvious fiscal problems resulted in a lot of laziness. There are a lot of scenes where characters will be talking and they’ll just show some still images of street lights or some other nonsense that doesn’t matter and is just boring to look at. They’ll also just cut to quiet scenes of the same kind of scenery for no narrative reason and just linger on it to pad out the episodes. The series uses a lot of boring still images and recycled animation in general. It doesn’t help that it has one of the worst drawn dogs I’ve ever seen in anime. How do you have a dog that isn’t even a little cute? Honestly, most of it looks pretty bad.

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Sound:

Here’s where the director royally failed. The acting in this can be pretty damn bad. Shintani Mayumi, Fukui Yukari, Kiyokawa Motomu and several other actors sound really stilted in their delivery. There’s also a lot of over the top comedic exaggeration that might be fine in more moderation but gets grating when it’s employed this often. I’ll give the series credit for having some theme tunes that are pretty good, musically. The imagery isn’t. The rest of Sagisu Shirou’s soundtrack is pretty mediocre.

Ho-yay:

There’s Sakura and her thing for cute girls. There are also moments where both Asaba & Tonami seem to have a thing for Arima. And there’s an episode where Yukino’s sisters seem to pick up female admirers solely for cheap jokes. Naturally, this episode is at the point where the series has already gotten bad.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Lose the badly written, ill conceived angst. There’s a place for angst. Preferably, as a temporary shift due to some major events. But it doesn’t work in a mostly comedic series. Especially when it just keeps going.
  2. Do not give the one character who’s been portrayed as not straight a hetero love interest. Yes, we get that bisexual people exist. However, there’s also this terrible tendency in media to have one LGBT character to earn some “representation points” and then give that character a hetero normative relationship so you don’t actually have to deal with any of that queer stuff. Fuck that. Fuck it with something long, awkwardly shaped and covered in literal spikes.
  3. Have a satisfying conclusion. I get it, Zach is an awful writer and screwed up, thereby making it so the series had to end prematurely. At least give us some closure. End the emo Arima phase and show Yukino’s play. Just give us something to make it feel somewhat satisfying.

Final Thoughts:

This is, honestly, a bit difficult for me to rate. On the one hand, I did enjoy the series for about two thirds of it. And if it had maintained that standard, I could somewhat forgive the lazy, rubbish artwork, the lazy rehashing and even the poor directing. If not for the way it ends I’d be going with a “6” maybe slightly higher. However, the final third is utter tripe and those elements that worked get heavily bludgeoned to the point of being nearly unrecognisable and a whole slew of problems come in to make sure they stay damaged. And if the entire series was like those last eight episodes, I’d be giving this a “1” and making rude gestures in its general direction. Still, I can’t bring myself to call it bad given the way it started. So, I’m going with a 4/10 for the whole thing. Maybe I’ll go read the manga and it won’t have the same problems at the end. Maybe that final stretch is what made Tsuda unhappy with the adaptation. In which case, completely justifiable response there.

Mahoutsukai Tai! OVA-

Mahoutsukai Tai was released as an OVA in ’96 & ’97 from Production Reed. The OVA spawned a whole bunch of follow up media including manga and a thirteen episode anime. The good news is that this is the same studio that brought us Nuku Nuku. The bad news is they also brought us Nuku Nuku Dash. So, I have no idea how this one is going to turn out.

Magic user's club.png

Story:

Our story begins with invaders from space. They declare themselves in charge and defeat the forces sent against them. They proceed to hang around, doing nothing unless provoked and just kind of observing. They even obey traffic laws. Well, that’s a convenient invading force. They don’t care if we keep governing ourselves and going about things as normal. They just want to hang around. Our protagonists are part of a High School magic club and they accidentally draw the aliens’ attention when they’re going to attack their Bell-like base because their leader wants to impress the girls in the club.

I could poke into all the dumb elements of the plot, but the OVA is ostensibly a comedy. So, the dumb stuff is pretty much by design for comedic effect. What I will criticise the OVA for is that the humour is fairly lacklustre. This is one of those comedies where the best it gets is being “kind of funny” with the potential to be funnier if there was a stronger build up. Take, for example, Akane decide to inflate a dude because he’s, supposedly, being creepy. That’s kind of funny. If they had more set up where we could see what this guy did to deserve being inflated like a balloon, it might have very well been funnier.

And that’s when the jokes are at the high level of “kind of funny.” A lot of the time, they’re just not funny. There are a lot of “jokes” that basically boil down to Takeo acting pervy towards the girls or Ayanojou making unwanted advances towards Takeo. Basically, a lot of shit that’s a bit uncomfortable. At least they don’t delve into full gay joke territory, though they border on it at times.

Characters:

The characters are pretty one note archetypal. Which would be fine since you don’t need incredibly deep or complex characters in a comedy. You just need characters with strong comedic interactions. Which doesn’t happen in this series. The dynamics are just generally trite and kind of boring.

Art:

The artwork is basically passable. It can be overly crass with the fan-service at times and the alien designs are boring. They’re just a lot of circles, mechanical tentacles with eyes at the end of them and vaguely humanoid androids. Other than that, it’s functional.

Magic user's club1.png

Sound:

They got some really good actors like Koyasu Takehito or Iizuka Mayumi but the performances are pretty mediocre. Probably because this is one of those comedies where they try to compensate for the lack of strong jokes with a lot of exaggeration. Oshima Michiru’s music is decent enough. It’s a bit more standard than her tracks usually are, but it’s better than the soundtrack for Kaze no Tairiku, at least.

Ho-yay:

There’s all the stuff with Ayanojou flirting with Takeo. It’s very clear that it’s one-sided though.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Stop the fan-service with adolescent girls. Somewhere, some dude named Donald who never bathes, is in his forties and on a government watch list is into that. But it’s still tawdry. Plus, it does limit your audience when you get really fan-servicey with teenage girls. Teenagers may get excited for it. Donald is into it. For the rest of us, it’s just trashy.
  2. Better set ups for the jokes. Having Sae decide she’s going to be less clumsy only to immediately fall over isn’t all that funny. Having her decide she was going to be less clumsy, last a while and then fall over when she’s feeling proud of herself would be funnier. Either way, it’s obvious that she’s going to fail. The second method just gives some build up to it instead of an immediate pay off because they think the people watching this will forget the set up if the joke stemming from it isn’t immediate.
  3. Take more advantage of the magic. For a work with magic as a central element, they don’t do much with it in terms of the comedy. About the furthest they go is Takeo accidentally shrinking himself. And even then they barely do anything with him being shrunk. You could do all sorts of crazy comedic stuff with magic as a tool. And I feel that’s where this OVA could have shined, if they’d done a better job taking advantage of it.

Final Thoughts:

This is another one I can’t really call bad. It has a lot of problems. It’s certainly not good. But it does have its kind of funny moments and it is only six episodes long. So, if you like the idea of aliens fighting wizards, you might enjoy it. For myself, it was sub-par. I’m giving it a 4/10.

Film Festival Week: Kaze no Tairiku

We’ve officially arrived at our last film of this year’s festival. This one is based off of a light novel series that was going from ’88 all the way until 2006. The film came out in ’92 and was brought to us by the letters IG. As in, Production I.G. That’s right, the Psycho Pass, Suisei no Gargantia, & Blood+ studio.

Kaze no Tairiku.png

Story:

Three travellers are walking through the desert, hoping to find more water, when they encounter the corpses of a group of people. One small child is still barely alive and is shown a small kindness before she goes into the good night. Our protagonists continue on to an abandoned city called Azec Sistra. A city populated by the dead and being targeted by a gang of looters.

The biggest issue with the film is that it drags. We get a long stretch with them just walking through the desert, a long stretch with them wandering through Azec Sistra. Even the climactic final sequence involves long stretches of talking and flashbacks. There’s barely even any action as our heroes have blades that are mostly decorative. You can definitely get by with some of that to build the world, set up the atmosphere and such. But what we see of this world is just a vast expanse of desert and the atmosphere is just a bit dreary. Which doesn’t need that much set up. I get taking some quiet moments for atmosphere in a film like Glass no Hana where there are shifts and those quiet moments are building up to something but not so much in a film like this.

There’s also this general feeling that everything interesting happens outside of this film. We don’t know how our heroes got together. We don’t know what their ultimate goal is beyond just finding water. We don’t even know why Lakshi cut her hair and left her old home. We know the villagers were pressuring her brother to have her do something, but there’s no hint as to what it was. It could have been something reasonable like “Please ask your sister to stop stealing our dogs. She does not need every dog in the village to cuddle.” It could have been something kind of shitty but understandable like “Please convince your sister to marry that rich noble who will provide our village with the resources we need in return.” Or it could have been something insane like “Just let us sacrifice your sister to our God of prosperity. You know the great God Lovecraft demands the life of a young girl of colour. Just be cool and respect our stupid, toxic religious beliefs.”

And yes, I could read through the light novels and get some of those answers if not all of them. However, this film is not nearly compelling enough to make me want to get further into this world or these characters.

About the most credit I can give it is that some of the scenes illustrating the restlessness of the spirits in the city are quite effective.

Characters:

The same issue plagues the characters as permeates through the story. They just aren’t interesting. Boice is a big, strong dude whose defining trait is that he’s a bit taciturn. Tieh is a gentle healer. You know, like the vast majority of healers you get in any fantasy work ever. Lakshi is a good-hearted and naive type of character. And their villains are pretty much assholes who want to raid the city because the Temple probably has a good treasure. They also want to rape Tieh, mistaking his androgynous appearance for him being a woman. So, pretty much a hive mind of being terrible.

Art:

The artwork is definitely the best part of the film. While it isn’t the best I’ve seen, Azec Sistra is pretty well detailed and there are some strong background details. If the action sequences weren’t boring, this element would actually be good.

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Sound:

The acting is passable. I know that Seki Toshihiko, Takayama Minami & Yara Yuusaku can deliver stronger performances but I would also be pleasantly surprised to hear them do really well with the material they have to work with. Oshima Michiru’s soundtrack is a bit bland in this. Which isn’t something I can recall being able to say about any of the other soundtracks I’ve heard from her. I mean, she did compositions for Fullmetal Alchemist, So Ra No Wo To & Rokka no Yuusha. All of which had strong soundtracks.

Ho-yay:

We do have a bunch of guys referring to another as a “beauty” but they also think he’s a woman so it barely qualifies.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Less wandering, more substance. Yes, atmosphere and world building are important. But this film forgets that you need a hook to get your audience interested in order for those factors to work.
  2. Give us the context behind why Lakshi left. Okay, they show fragments of her flashback at least three times, maybe more. If it’s really that important, give us the reason she left beyond the vague “the villagers wanted her to do something she didn’t want to do.” Otherwise don’t waste our time with the same goddamn flashback of her cutting her hair over and over again.
  3. Characters with personality, please. You’d think with how much time they just spend wandering and looking at things, we could get some dialogue to give them a more complex level of characterisation. Which would also help add some investment.

Final Thoughts:

This film has quite a few problems. It’s slow. Its characters have nothing to them beyond clichés. There are way too many flashbacks. However, I hesitate to call it bad. I just don’t think it has quite that level of problems. So, I’m going to give it a 4/10. If you want to watch a walking tour of a dead city with the world’s dullest tour guides, go for it. It may be worthwhile if you’re a fan of the light novels. I wouldn’t know since I haven’t read them and, after watching this, I doubt I ever will.

Thank you all for joining me for this year’s film festival week.

Film Festival Week: Glass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai

Glass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai is a 2016 A1 original film. The script was by Shimo Fumihiko who also worked on Air, Bakuretsu Tenshi & Non Non Biyori. I honestly don’t know what to expect because the output there is a bit mixed and the same is true for A1 themselves. They’ve put out some great anime like Uchuu Kyoudai and absolute rubbish like Sword Art Online. I guess I’ll have to dive into this one and see where it lands.

glass no hana.png

Story:

Our main heroines, Dual & Dorothy, are anti-virus programs inside a device known as the “Box of Wisdom.” Which I thought was the nickname for Athena’s virginal vagina, but has a completely different meaning here. They scan various cyber worlds that come up based around Earth’s past and erase viruses. One day, their lives change when they find a strange program named Remo after dispatching some viruses. Remo has no memory of who she is but seems strangely human. Their only clue is that she mentions returning to a “flower garden.”

My only issue with the story is that the whole theme surrounding humanity gets to be a little heavy-handed towards the end. I’d like to really go into heavy detail about it, but it is extreme spoiler territory so I’m not going to.

Aside from that, the narrative is pretty fantastic. It really does a superb job of establishing what the “lives” of our programs are like. The flashbacks it uses are highly effective. The way it showcases the various worlds encased within the Box of Wisdom by having the girls visit while looking for clues to Remo’s past is very nice. It’s a montage that helps build the girls’ relationships while also running the gamut of the human experience. I also appreciate that the ending takes some big risks and they pay off very well. The sci-fi elements are also handled very well.

Characters:

Since the film only really deals with three major characters, it really needs to get them right. Which it absolutely does. Shimo does an excellent job of giving us some sense of personality from Dual & Dorothy before they meet Remo & of developing them in a more human direction as a consequence of their interactions with her. Remo is also a great character with a good deal of verisimilitude. Even the viruses have a decent level of depth. And they aren’t exactly talking, high interaction characters like the viruses from ReBoot.

Art:

The artwork is very impressive. The inside of the Wisdom Box has a lot of really cool visual elements. Although they might get a little too busy at times. The viruses have a really good look. Especially when you see them in the act of infecting something. The characters don’t have the most unique designs. Dual & Dorothy look a lot like the heroines from OreGairu. They’re still well drawn and the designs are good ones. The animation is nicely done too.

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Sound:

The acting is pretty close to flawless. Hanamori Yumiri, Taneda Risa & Sakura Ayane are all superlative. The film uses a lot of really well done piano music and some nicely performed songs.

Ho-yay:

This film does get progressively more homo-erotic with its characters as it goes and our anti-virus programs start developing more human personalities. We’re talking all three of our major characters are very shippable. Now, you might say they’re programs so it doesn’t really count. But they’re programs that take on the forms of girls and have very human aspects to their personalities. So, I say it counts.

Areas of Improvement:

This is going to be pretty nit-picky since I don’t have many complaints. And those I do have aren’t major ones.

  1. A little more subtlety with that whole theme surrounding humanity.
  2. Character designs that don’t look like they were ripped off from another anime. I get it, most designs have been done and getting something truly unique isn’t going to happen. But I feel that the characters being programs was an opportunity in that regard. For instance, you could have given them an odd skin colour when they weren’t engaging with recreations of our world or another odd feature that would have set them apart.
  3. A bit more subdued backgrounds. As much as I like the aesthetic for the more computerised sequences, the backgrounds can be a bit much.

Final Thoughts:

Glass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai was a fantastic film. I absolutely loved it. That’s why I’m going to go so far as to give it a 10/10.

Film Festival Week: Yes Precure 5- Kagami no Kuni no Miracle Daibouken

The PreCure franchise is one I’ve talked about quite a bit. Oddly enough, I started with Doki Doki before going back to prior entries. The last series I reviewed was Yes PreCure 5, which was one of the weaker instalments. But in my ongoing quest to watch everything PreCure, I’ve got to review the films based on the more mediocre series too. Which is why we’re looking at the Yes PreCure 5 film today.

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Story:

We open with a strange figure on a throne giving orders to some teddy bear looking dudes. They give him a shard of glass with Nozomi’s face on it. He transfers it into a crystal causing a shadowy figure to appear. We cut to our heroines who just watched their own show and are, naturally, feeling a bit bored. They decide to head down to a Princess theme park where all the guests dress up in cosplay for some fun. Which gets disrupted when Coco & Nuts are dragged into a mirror.

The biggest issue with the narrative is just that it’s not very interesting. Yes, all the PreCure films have been quite predictable and they’re all equally guilty of following the same pattern of having the heroines dragged into a fight to save some random magic kingdom. The others, however, had some strong character moments and interactions to make them worthwhile. Because PreCure 5 is made up of bland archetypes, it just makes the usual pattern all the more noticeable. And there aren’t a lot of fun sequences to distract from it.

The film tries to have the same sense of fun that makes the PreCure films, as a whole, entertaining in spite of their formulaic nature but it doesn’t work all that well. The sense of investment just isn’t there.

Characters:

They’re still archetypes. It doesn’t help that the big draw of the film involves the PreCure fighting their dark versions. In some works, they make that cliché compelling by using the dark versions to tell you something about the characters. In this case, they pretty much all win because they draw strength from their friendship. This could have legitimately been an opportunity to add some depth to the heroines but it just doesn’t happen.

In terms of character interactions, about the best we get is a scene where Komachi, Karen & Urara are just joking around. And it is kind of a fun scene, to be fair, but there’s more focus on them participating in theme activities than there is in them actually spending time with each other.

There’s not much to say about the antagonist or the inhabitants of the mirror kingdom either. The antagonist is evil & the denizens are small, plush looking creatures that are easy to kick around.

Art:

The artwork is quite nice. The action sequences have a good amount of impact and the overall designs are nicely done. It does bother me that they spend so much time on transformation sequences when the film isn’t that long. Seriously, they have an abridged transformation scene and then one where they all transform one by one and it feels like they’re trying to pad out what is, ultimately, a fairly short film.

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Sound:

The acting is well done. One thing I can credit PreCure 5 with is that the acting has always been better than you’d anticipate given the lack of complexity in the characters. The Dark PreCure don’t have the same actresses as their counter parts which is an interesting decision. Nishimura Chinami, Minaguchi Yuko, Kugiyama Rie, Kiuchi Reiko & Nagasawa Miki do give pretty good performances as the dark versions. The music is decent. It’s pretty much the same thing you get from the series proper, like every PreCure film.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Make the victories over the dark versions more personalised. I get it, the theme of the importance of friendship and connections has to be represented. But you can still have the girls win over their dark forms in more varied ways besides just having them all rally because they have people they care about.
  2. Cut out the long transformation sequence. Just have the girls already transformed when they enter the mirror kingdom. We don’t need two transformation sequences in this short a period of time. It just wastes our time.
  3. Give us stronger character interactions. I know the characters are boring archetypes, but you can still provide some entertainment by giving them fun scenes. Like the aforementioned one with Komachi, Karen & Urara.

Final Thoughts:

This film, ultimately, is not very good. The characters don’t have strong enough interactions or personalities to really carry it which just makes the old PreCure film formula very noticeable. I can’t say the film is bad. If you really like Yes PreCure 5, it’ll probably be a fun time for you. But for me, it was a sub-par offering. I give it a 4/10.

Film Festival Week: Onigamiden

Onigamiden is a Pierrot film from 2011. That’s right, this is the same studio that brought us The Sonic OVA, Hikaru no Go & The Choujo. We’ll continue film festival week with a look at this.

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Story:

Our protagonist is an ordinary middle school boy. One day, he’s chased by a shadowy oni and finds himself in a mysterious temple. This results in him being taken to the Heian period to help aid in the fight against the oni. But there’s more to the situation than meets the eye and he’s going to have to tread lightly.

Let’s start with the big issue with the film. Mainly, there are a lot of elements that don’t add up. For example, it tries to make the oni sympathetic in the second half but the oni also very deliberately make themselves look like shadowy monsters and tried to murder our protagonist in cold blood when they could have tried, I don’t know, talking to him. We also have a scene where our protagonist is about to be sent home, scarpers for no reason and then goes back to a ceremony that will send him home after a pointless interlude. Because that’s good story telling. Having a hero who Runs away from something for no adequately explored reason only to return to it after a short scene. There’s also the question of why we need a protagonist who’s from the future and a middle school student. In the narrative this is basically glossed over as “he’s the last part of this clan who has this special power” but that comes across as really contrived.

I actually want to talk in detail about this while time travelling element. Because, honestly, it causes a lot of problems. Even without the contrived reasoning behind it, it just plays into the whole “chosen hero with a special power” cliché. And our protagonist doesn’t help matters. He comes across as completely unprepared and as not even willing to try. Even Miaka from Fushigi Yuugi could kick this kid’s ass and take his lunch money. At least she had some degree of determination.

Characters:

The biggest problem here is with the protagonist himself, young Tendou Jun. He spends most of the film being a whiny sod because he just wants to go home and he can’t figure out which side to believe. Even though the ordinary humans he talks to never dispute a single thing the oni have told him. No, seriously, it’s not a case of side A & side B contradicting each other, it’s more that Side A says X while side B says “yeah, so?”

The antagonist being a complete moron doesn’t help the situation. This dude quite literally sets himself up for failure when he could have easily won simply by not messing with time travel.

The rest of the cast are just boring one note characters. Some of whom we spend all of two minutes with and are supposed to care about for some reason.

Art:

The artwork is pretty good. There are some nice mythical creature designs and some pretty solid action sequences. The animation is nicely polished. The only real issue is that some of the more large scale action sequences can be overly chaotic.

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Sound:

The acting is on the sub-par side. Most of the actors deliver their lines as though they’re very bored and the performances sound more than a bit stilted. Ono Kensho & Ishihara Satomi in particular. The music does not fit the whole “fantastical past with magic” aesthetic. It’s a lot of generic metal. Which isn’t always balanced all that well. There are some scenes where it’s far too loud and you can’t hear the dialogue very well.

Hoyay: 

The closest you get to ho-yay is Raikou’s attached companions. And even then they don’t spend enough time interacting with him to really say anything definitive.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Lose the Time Travel Aspect. You could easily have the hero be from the remote countryside and not waste time with scenes of the modern age or with the majority of the exposition scenes designed to explain the situation to him.
  2. Give us a hero with a brain. It’s fine to have a protagonist who questions a situation. In fact, that’s great. The problem here is that he runs in circles and can’t piece anything together without having some other character outright explain it to him.
  3. Give the sides more areas of contention. This is another aspect that’s great, in theory. The idea of the sides in a conflict both having their own takes and the protagonist having to decide who to believe is a good one. But it’s so inept here. “So, you think the oni are bad?” “I dunno. I’m fighting them because…” That’s all we see for about twenty minutes.

Final Thoughts:

This is easily the worst film I’ve looked at so far this week. The narrative is a mess. The characters are shoddy. The acting is, at best, sub-par and the music isn’t suitable for the aesthetic. A lot of the ideas have potential but the execution just isn’t there. That’s why I’m giving it a 3/10.