Tag Archives: Anime

Official Hall of Shame

Here’s where we put the sultans of shite, rulers of rubbish and emperors of excrement from the yearly Awards. Awarded exclusively to anime I review over the course of a year. We’ll start with a quick explanation of the awards themselves.

Worst in Show- Awarded to the worst thing that got a bonus review that year.

Moffat Award- Awarded for worst writing in a supposedly serious series or OVA

Abrams Award- Awarded for worst writing in a film.

Macfarlane Award- Awarded for worst attempt at comedy.

Meyer Award- Awarded for worst romance.

Anno Award- Awarded for worst cast of characters.

Bendis Award- Awarded for worst conflict.

Liefeld Award- Awarded for worst art.

Spencer Award- Awarded for worst acting.

Perry Award- Awarded for worst music.

Year One Recipients

Crime Edge

Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge

Moffat Award

End of Eva

End of Evangelion

Abrams Award, Anno Award

OreImo

Ore no Imouto ga Konnani

Macfarlane Award, Meyer Award

From up on Poppy hill

From Up On Poppy Hill

Bendis Award

Cheesesteak Suppository

Aku no Hana

Liefeld Award

Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon (English dub)

Spencer Award, Perry Award

Year Two Recipients

Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Moffat Award, Anno Award, Spencer Award

Metropolis

Metropolis

Abrams Award

Kill la kill

Kill la Kill

Macfarlane Award

Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum

Meyer Award

SAO

Sword Art Online

Bendis Award

Amada Mario

Amada Anime Series- Super Mario Brothers

Liefeld Award

Street Fighter II

Street Fighter II

Perry Award

Year Three Recipients

X-men

Madhouse’s X-men

Moffat Award

Hetalia

Hetalia: Paint it White

Abrams Award

Sunabouzu

Sunabouzu

Macfarlane Award

Love Hina Again1

Love Hina Again

Meyer Award, Anno Award

Ice

Ice

Bendis Award, Spencer Award

Corpse Party

Corpse Party: Tortured Souls

Liefeld Award

Fusion Reborn

DBZ: Fusion Reborn

Liefeld Award

Mars of Destruction

Mars of Destruction

Perry Award

Year Four Recipients

brain-powerd

Brain Powerd

Moffat Award

Yonna

Hanare Toride no Yonna

Abrams Award, Liefeld Award

kashimashi1

Kashimashi

Macfarlane Award, Anno Award, Spencer Award

dvb2

Dance in the Vampire Bund

Meyer Award

sao6

Sword Art Online II

Bendis Award

Garzey2

Garzey no Tsubasa 

Liefeld Award

kagewani1

Kagewani

Perry Award

Year Five Recipients

Civil War2

Civil War

Worst in Show

Elfen1

Elfen Lied

Moffat Award, Anno Award, Liefeld Award

Arion1

Arion

Abrams Award, Liefeld Award, Perry Award

Idol Project1

Idol Project

Macfarlane Award

Wolf Guy

Wolf Guy

Meyer Award, Spencer Award

AD Police

AD Police

Bendis Award

Year Six Recipients

Detroit

Detroit Become Human

Worst in Show

tiger and bunny2

Tiger And Bunny

Moffat Award

Bio Hunter2

Bio Hunter

Abrams Award

Grand Blue1

Grand Blue 

Macfarlane Award, Anno Award

junjo romantica1

Junjou Romantica

Meyer Award

meisou-ou border

Meisou-ou Border

Bendis Award

Ajin2 1

Ajin 2

Liefeld Award

Godzilla1

Godzilla Kaijuu Wakusei

Liefeld Award

Elf princess Rane

Yousei Hime Ren

Spencer Award

Poemy

Puni Puni Poemii

Perry Award

Year Seven Recipients

house of shit

House of M

Worst in Show

Satsuriku no tenshi1

Satsuriko no Tenshi

Moffat Award, Bendis Award

Phantom yuusha densetsu

Phantom Yuusha Densetsu

Abrams Award, Liefeld Award

sakurasou

Sakurasou no Pet Na Kanojo

Macfarlane Award, Meyer Award

Goblin Slayer1

Goblin Slayer

Anno Award

Dunwich Horror

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror and Other Stories

Liefeld Award

Miyuki2

Fushigi no Kuni no Miyuki-chan

Spencer Award

onigamiden1

Onigamiden 

Perry Award

Ktulu’s 7th annual awards & shaming

It’s that time of year where I go over the best and worst things I’ve reviewed since February 14th of last year. We’ll start with the bonus reviews, best and worst of.

Bonus Reviews Worst in Show: 

I’ve only had this one for a couple years and the previous winners were Civil War & Detroit: Become Human. The big stinkers I had to choose from here were The Little Mermaid, House of M & X-men Evolution. And since The Little Mermaid got rated slightly higher, that leaves two X-men related contenders. Both are series with major plot issues. Both are works that screwed the characters they used. But in the end, the worst by a narrow margin was:

house of shit

The reason why is a very simple one. House of M had more impact on comics and works that came after. The only thing Evolution did was give us two characters, Spyke & X-23, who never seem to appear in anything good. House of M was used for a bunch of other terrible comic stories and events.

Bonus Reviews Best in Show:

Our previous winners were Ohimesama no Himitsu & Secret Six: Villains United. For this one, I really had two options. The romantic comedy Saving Face or the classic BBC take on the Hogfather. It’s a tough choice since both are absolutely phenomenal. But the accolade goes to:

Hogfather1

Doing an adaptation of a novel as good as anything in the Discworld franchise is very difficult. Most films and series wouldn’t even try. They’d just give you a cheap work that vaguely resembles the original. Which is one of the big reasons the Hogfather stands out. So much care went into deciding what could be cut without compromising the core of the story and what we get is the perfect adaptation.

I’m not going to list every series/film I’ve seen this year this time round. If you’re really curious about everything eligible, you can scroll through the blog to last year’s awards and check. This will also be the last year I include previous winners in the post itself. When I get the chance this or next week I’ll do two posts. A hall of shame and a hall of fame where I catalog all the winners and I’ll just link and edit that next year. Just because I’ve been doing this long enough that the lists of previous winners is getting unwieldy.

The Moffat Award for worst writing in a series or OVA we’re supposed to take seriously. Previous wall of shamers were: Dansi Bunri no Crime Edge, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Madhouse’s X-men, Brain Powerd, Elfen Lied & Tiger & Bunny. 

This year they’re going to be joined by Satsuriku no Tenshi

Satsuriku no tenshi1

This series was truly awful. It’s not just really stupid, it’s really stupid, full of plot holes and with horribly written characters. I’ve technically seen worse horror since this isn’t quite as bad as Elfen Lied, but it comes really close.

The Simone Award for best writing in a serious series or OVA. Our previous winners have included such classics as Psycho Pass, Ghost in the Shell SAC, Nanoha StrikerS, El Cazador de la Bruja, Mononoke & Cowboy Bebop. This year they’re joined by:

Chrno Crusade

Chrno Crusade is one of those rare series where everything falls together perfectly. The plotting, characters, romance, ending… they all come together for a near perfect whole.

The Abrams Award for worst writing in a film. We’ve seen this go out to End of Evangelion, Metropolis, Hetalia: Paint it White, Hanare Toride no Yonna, Arion & Bio Hunter. This year I had a very clear “Winner” in:

Phantom yuusha densetsu

For those of you who don’t remember Phantom Yuusha Densetsu, it was a terrible OVA film with a nonsensical plot, severely under-written characters and very low effort.

The Miyazaki Award for best writing in a film. Previous winners were Nausicaa, Kara no Kyoukai 4, Spirited Away, Mononoke Hime, Koe no Katachi & Futari wa Precure Splash Star: Tick Tack Kiki Ippatsu. This one also had a clear winner this year with:

glass no hana2

Glass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai was a fascinating film with an interesting aesthetic and a very well constructed story.

The Macfarlane Award for worst comedic/ light-hearted series. Prior wall of shamers have included: OreImo, Kill la Kill, Sunabouzu, Kashimashi, Idol Project & Grand Blue. This year they’re joined by the obvious choice:

sakurasou

There was a point this year where I thought Miyuki-chan would easily take this award. Then this came along. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is easily among the worst comedies I’ve ever seen. Obnoxious characters, zero funny moments and incessant idiocy.

The Pratchett Award for best comedic/light-hearted series. Previous hall of famers were: Bottle Fairy, Doki Doki Precure, Yuru Yuri San Hai, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka 2, Azumanga Daioh & Galaxy Angel 2. Joining them this year:

Sailor Stars

Sailor Moon Stars was a series with a great sense of fun. Endearing characters, really funny moments. It’s just a delight to watch.

The Meyer Award for worst romantic elements. Previous hall of shamers were: OreImo, Mawaru Penguindrum, Love Hina Again, Dance in the Vampire Bund, Wolf Guy & Junjou Romantica. This year they’re joined by:

Sakurasou1

Chalk up another for Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. With its shitty, chemistry bereft romances. I thought about giving this to Gunbuster but it wasn’t nearly as bad.

The Kanemaki Award for best romantic elements. Previous winners were: Btooom (Himiko/ Ryouta), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS (Nanoha/ Fate), El Cazador de la Bruja (Ellis/ Nadie), Shuumatsu no Izetta ( Finé/ Izetta) & Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san (title characters). This year it goes to:

Gundam Wing

I’ll be honest, it was really hard to choose this year. I love Chrno & Rosette as a couple. I adore Haruka & Michiru in Stars. And this week’s review of Given gave us another really strong contender. But Quatre & Trowa are one of my favourite couples in anime and watching the series again just reinforced how well they work as a pair.

The Anno Award for worst cast of characters. Previous Hall of Shamers: End of Evangelion, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Love Hina Again, Kashimashi, Elfen Lied & Grand Blue. This year they’re joined by:

Goblin Slayer1

I was tempted to also give this one to Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo or to give another to Satsuriku no Tenshi but Goblin Slayer ended up taking it. Part of it is the heavily harem-inspired characterisation. Part of it is the one-dimensionally rapey villains. Part of it is that it just has a larger major cast than Satsuriku. Part of it is the laziness in not even giving these characters proper names. The final part of it is the abundance of “rape or near rape as back story” for the female characters in the series.

The Moore Award for strongest cast of characters. Previous winners were: Sailor Moon, Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin, Death Parade, Sailor Moon S, Hunter x Hunter 2011 & So Ra No Wo To. This year they’re joined by:

Sailor Stars1

The only reasons I gave Sailor Moon Stars this one over Chrno Crusade are that Stars has a larger cast to work with. And Stars does not have a dirty old man character. I also considered Gundam Wing, Bubblegum Crash & Arslan Senki, but Stars outshined all its competition, in the name of the moon.

The Bendis Award for worst conflict. Previous winners were From Up On Poppy Hill, SAO, Ice, SAO II, AD Police & Meisou-ou Border. This year it goes to:

Satsuriku no tenshi

Satsuriko no Tenshi doesn’t have a conflict that even works in theory. She wants to die but first she wants to lead a serial killer out of a complex and she doesn’t want to be killed by anyone but this one dude. It only sounds like a nonsensical mess because it is.

The Claremont Award for best major conflict. Previous winners were: Psycho Pass, Shingeki no Kyojin, Nanoha As, Haibane Renmei, Vivid Strike & Figure 17. This year they’re joined by:

Arslan senki1

Arslan Senki shows an epic conflict spanning many years with a lot of well thought out strategic elements. The only reason it’s winning over Chrno Crusade, however, is that a lot of Chrno Crusade’s episodes are more stand alone whereas everything in Arslan connects to the main conflict.

The Liefeld Award for worst visuals. Previous winners were Aku no Hana, Amada: Mario Brothers, Corpse Party, Garzey no Tsubasa, Elfen Lied & Ajin 2 for the series category. DBZ: Fusion Reborn, Hanare Toride no Yonna, Arion & Godzilla Kaijuu Wakusei for the film.

This year, the winners are:

Lovecraftion horror is difficult enough to add visuals to since so much of it is based on creatures that are indescribably horrific but when you make those visuals claymation that makes Gumby look high quality, you just destroy any chance to make anything remotely scary. Which is what The Dunwich Horror & Other Stories did.

Phantom is an awful looking film. Janky, half-assed animation. Low effort artwork in general. They clearly just didn’t care.

The Urbino Award for amazing artwork. Previous series winners: Mushishi, Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans & Flying Witch. Previous film winners: Nausicaa, Tokyo Godfathers, Spirited Away, Mononoke Hime, Kaze Tachinu & Mary to Majo no Hana. This year they’re joined by:

Bubblegum Crash may be an older series but it still looks really impressive. Even moreso given how much modern technology they didn’t have access to. Seeing the Sabres go into action is definitely a treat.

For films, I had trouble deciding between Marnie & Totoro since both films look pretty much equally fantastic. I ended up letting the rating difference decide since something had to break the tie.

The Spencer Award for worst Acting. Previous winners: Sailor Moon’s English dub, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ice, Kashimashi, Wolf Guy & Yousei Hime Ren. This year it goes to:

Miyuki2

Fushigi no Kuni no Miyuki-chan is awfully acted. While Kouda Mariko is a capable actress in series like Kemono Friends or Dirty Pair Flash, all she does in this series is run around and scream. And that’s the most prevalent sound in the series.

The Sir Stewart Award for best acting. Previous winners were Black Rock Shooter (OVA), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Glass no Kamen, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, Hunter x Hunter 2011 & Cowboy Bebop. This year it goes to:

Chrno Crusade1

This was tough to pick since I’ve reviewed quite a few series and films with excellent voice acting. I ended up narrowing it to Chrno Crusade and Glass no Hana and the ultimate reason I gave it to Chrno Crusade is that Glass no Hana only has three major characters and most of the film focuses on the three of them whereas Chrno Crusade has quite a robust cast and they’re all excellent.

The Perry Award for awful music. Previous winners: English Sailor Moon, Street Fighter II, Mars of Destruction, Kagewani, Arion & Puni Puni Poemii. This year they’re joined by:

onigamiden1

Onigamiden has a lot of problems. One of them is that the music does not match the aesthetic and isn’t properly balanced. It’s definitely not a good sound.

The Kloss Award for fantastic music. Previous winners: Slayers Perfect, K-on the film, Love Live 2, Love Live the Film, Shuumatsu no Izetta & So Ra No Wo To. This year it goes to:

Given

While there are some songs in other anime, like Raging Waves or Shoot Love Hunter, that I would prefer on a stand alone basis, Given excels at taking its music, theme tunes included, and making them heavily plot relevant. While still being good songs. Which is why it takes the win here.

Five Worst overall of the year:

#5 Goblin Slayer 

There were a lot of “3” ratings that could have made this list. But only room for one with the 2 and 1 scores. The reason I ultimately picked Goblin Slayer as opposed to Gunbuster or Onigamiden is that I have a special hatred for dark and stupid content.

#4 Fushigi no Kuni no Miyuki 

That series that tells us sexual harassment is funny when it’s among women.

#3 Satsuriku no Tenshi

The only thing horrific about this horror series is the quality.

#2 Phantom Yuusha Densetsu 

There were two 1 scores this year. This was the slightly less shit of them.

#1 Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo 

This was easily the most obnoxious series I watched this year. And the longest series in the bottom five. Just to prolong your agony.

Five Best of the Year:

#5 Gundam Wing

There were a lot of “8” score and only room in the top five for one. The reason it went to Gundam Wing over Arslan Senki, Totoro, Given, Bubblegum Crash or any of the others is just because I think it’s slightly closer to a “9” than any of them.

#4 Omoide no Marnie 

This was an excellent film with a touching story and strong dynamic between the two main characters.

#3 Chrno Crusade

There were three perfect ten scores this year and ranking them from slightly more substantial problems to slightly more significant is going to take a lot of nit-picking since the top three are all excellent with basically microscopic quality differences. And the only reason Chrno Crusade is ranked lowest of the three is that it has the Elder.

#2 Glass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai

This is a fantastic film and I can’t recommend it enough. The reason it takes the two spot is that I felt my nitpicks for it were a little more substantial than my nitpicks for the best anime of the year.

#1 Sailor Moon Stars

The best season of one of the best magical girl franchises of all time.

Given: Pretty Boys Making Music Together

It’s the week of Valentine’s and you all know that means a romance anime review. This year, we have Given a 2019 anime from Lerche. They’re the studio behind the Danganronpa anime adaptations and nothing else I’ve reviewed. It’s based off of an ongoing manga by Kizu Natsuki. Who I’ve never heard of. So, no idea what to expect here.

Given

Story:

Uenoyama Ritsuka is just searching for a spot to nap when he spots a boy, Satou Mafuyu lying down clutching a guitar. Uenoyama notices that the guitar’s in bad shape with rusted strings. He’s berating Satou which leads Satou to the realisation that his guitar’s strings can be fixed. Uenoyama turns out to be weak to sad puppy eyes and not only replaces the strings but, eventually, agrees to teach him how to play. From there, their relationship starts to blossom.

The biggest issue with the narrative is that some of Satou’s quirks stretch suspension of disbelief. Like, this guy doesn’t know that guitar strings can be fixed. I knew that in primary school and I’ve never played an instrument besides the recorder. He also doesn’t know very basic shit about bands like what promotional photos are. It’s like Kizu wanted to explain it to the audience even though literally everyone who’s watched this already knows this information. Then there’s the fact that he can just improvise song lyrics during a performance and have them go with the melody and make sense. Admittedly, I’m not a musician but I’m almost a hundred percent certain that writing lyrics isn’t something you could do on the fly that easily.

Moving on to the positives, the romance between Uenoyama & Satou is pretty well handled. I also appreciate the way they subtly hint at Satou’s previous relationship before actually going into details. The scenes where he’s just walking through various areas with a pained expression are really good because you get a strong sense that he has a painful connection and that it involves his previous boyfriend but they don’t give you the flashbacks until episodes later. It’s a nice way of setting up intrigue. Actually, everything about Satou’s past is nicely handled. I also appreciate the ending. It’s set up to look like there’s going to be some last minute drama but that gets pretty well subverted.

Characters:

The main cast has some nice complexity to them. Uenoyama, Satou, Haruki & Akihiko are all pretty interesting characters. There are some side characters who have enough depth to seem real as well, like Uenoyama’s sister, Yayoi, Hiiragi and Murata. There are some strong interactions among them too. The entire band has an interesting dynamic. The one negative I can really say is that it’s kind of a wasted opportunity to never have Satou’s mum around since all we know about her is she’s away and she was okay with his previous relationship. It could have been interesting to see him interact with family like we do with Uenoyama.

Art:

Lerche deserves a lot of credit. This series looks pretty damn good. The characters, backgrounds, details for instruments and other active objects as well as the lighting during concerts is all strongly done. I’d say this looks the best of all the anime I’ve reviewed from them but it’s up against Danganronpa and its bad case of shounen design so, that shouldn’t be surprising.

Given1

Sound: 

Yano Shougo, Uchida Yuuma, Nakazawa Masatomo & Eguchi Takuya are all strong in this. There aren’t any poor performances. Yano’s singing is pretty amazing too. The music in this is really good just in general. The theme tune just suits the series perfectly.

Ho-yay:

In addition to all the stuff betwixt our main couple, we have Satou’s past romance. Akihiko is also shown to have been involved with a man in the past. It’s weird because he basically says the relationship is over but they’re living together and still seem to have romantic tension. Haruki very blatantly has a crush on Akihiko.  This may be the gayest band I’ve seen in an anime since Bad Luck. Which I’m completely okay with.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Don’t be quite so extreme with Satou’s quirks. Having him not know how to change his strings is one thing, having him not know that they can even be changed is quite another. It would also make more sense to have him have mostly written lyrics but be unsure how to finish them and then have that come out during the performance as opposed to just making them all up on the spot.
  2. Some familial interactions for Satou. I think it would really strengthen his character and add an interesting layer to the story.
  3. Either have Akihiko still be dating Murata or don’t have them living together. It really doesn’t make sense for him to just be living with his ex.

Final Thoughts:

Honestly, this is a really good romance. While it has a few elements that don’t work all that well or could have been done better, the main romantic plot is great. The handling of Satou’s past tragedy is also really well done. And the characters are nicely complex. So, I’m giving it an 8/10.

Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho: It Exists

Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho is a production based off of a series of light novels. The novel were published in eleven volumes from early ’14 to late ’17. It has an ongoing manga adaptation and this anime that aired at close to its end. The anime was brought to us by White Fox, the studio that produced such colossal shite as Goblin Slayer & Katanagatari but also brought us some strong anime like Jormungand and Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka. Let’s hope for the best but anticipate the worst with this one. Which is pretty much my modus operandi.

Zero kara hajimeru mahou no sho

Story:

Our protagonist is a beastfallen mercenary, which basically means someone’s white tiger fursona. One day he’s escaping from a witch when he encounters a young looking witch named Zero. She persuades him to work as her bodyguard while she looks for her stolen grimoire and the compatriot of hers who went out looking for it. His condition is simple, she has to turn him from a fursona to a normal man when it’s over. He also won’t give her his actual name so she refers to him as Youhei.

The big issue with the series is that a lot of the writing is very uneven. Take the meeting between Youhei and Zero. It’s established in the events leading up to this that he’s terrified of witches but he’s won over with very little effort. The same can be said for the resolution for the conflict with Thirteen. Or take Zero’s supposed lack of knowledge when it comes to life outside the caves she grew up in. It’s an element that comes into play whenever the writer decides to bring it up. For instance, she doesn’t know anything about money or commerce but she knows what a sex slave is. What, did she have a teacher in the caves who felt it very important that she know about sex slaves in the event that she wind up in the outside world but felt that understanding the basics of shopping was just useless? Was she taught by Kimura from Azumangah Daioh?

For positives, the pacing is pretty well handled. The series also has some interesting ideas which prevent it from getting boring.

Characters:

The cast isn’t very complex. A part of the issue does come from the uneven writing. So, a character will shift but it won’t feel like natural development, it’ll feel more like they’re changing their position because the plot demands it but they’re still the same character.

The same rather typical character with very little if anything to differentiate them from a list of similar characters. Even their interactions are very under-written with huge shifts in how they’ll act towards each other with little or no reason behind it.

Art: 

The artwork is pretty good. The animation flows smoothly. The action sequences are decently handled. The backgrounds include some nice details. You can also credit the series for having some nice character designs.

The biggest issue is with the expressions. A character like Thirteen won’t change his expression at any point and a lot of times other characters will have awkward expressions given the circumstances. It’s almost like White Fox wanted everyone to look vaguely stern at least half the time because they thought it would make things seem more intense.

Sound:

White Fox got a pretty good cast. Koyasu Takehito, Taichi You, Koyama Tsuyoshi and Hanamori Yumiri all give good performances. Matsuda Akito’s music is pretty much typical fare to the point of being boring.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any to be found.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. More consistent story-telling. If you want to have Zero win over Youhei in spite of his fear of witches, actually put some effort into making it believable. Same with Thirteen’s change of heart.
  2. Move beyond the character archetypes. We’ve seen the hero who acts tough but has a heart of gold. We’ve seen the naive but powerful heroine. Using archetypes as a base is fine but they need to be expanded on and made into something unique to be interesting.
  3. Vary the facial expressions. I know Koyasu is a great actor, but he can’t really give a character emotional depth when the art shows them with the same expression at all times. If you want to set a specific tone, both the actors and artists need to work together.

Final Thoughts:

This one definitely isn’t as bad as the worst we’ve seen from White Fox. It’s certainly not as strong as the best either, however. It’s a mediocre series where the uneven writing and lack of character depth largely waste the potential of the premise. It’s not a series that’s particularly infuriating or horrendous with its worst elements but it’s also not one that’s ever great. It ends up quite middling. I’m giving it a 5/10.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing 3×4=Squee

The Gundam franchise is one I’ve talked about twice. Once with Iron-blooded Orphans & once with the considerably less competent 00. But since it’s the month for great couples, it’s time to look at an older instalment with Wing.

Gundam Wing1

Story:

Our tale takes place in the future where we have established space colonies and a powerful Earth alliance that basically runs the planet. Factions within the colonies feel that they’ve been oppressed by the Alliance’s overwhelming military might and this leads to operation Meteor. Five different colonies all sending their own Gundams and pilots to Earth. The pilots land and fight separately, with a special focus on the OZ organisation.

At its heart, Wing is a story about fighting for peace and asking how far is too far in pursuit of that goal. Overall, it’s a theme that’s well explored and compelling. The weakness of it is that it can come across as a little absurd to have people talking about ending fighting while blowing up enemies in giant robots. There are also some scenes that go a little overboard with the discussion and come across as a bit preachy.

Thematically, it also makes sense to have young Gundam pilots with the whole concept of a new generation giving their all against the old for the sake of peace. In the story, however, it seems a little strange to have all the pilots be teenagers. I believe they could have done a better job of giving an in-universe reason for that. Oh, and the series has two recap episodes which, being generous, is one more than you need. Doesn’t help that they’re back to back.

The pacing is very strongly handled. The narrative is also highly compelling with quite a few threads that come together. The series also has strong world building and an excellent sense of scope.

Characters:

The cast is very well put together. The major characters and important side characters all possess a sense of verisimilitude. The series also excels at fleshing out motivations for all its characters, including the antagonists. The interactions and character dynamics are pretty close to exemplary. Especially between Quatre and Trowa, but I’ll get to that in detail when I talk about ho-yay.

What makes the dynamics work so well is that a lot of the characters have pressing topics of discussion. For example, Quatre and Relena both have a lot of philosophical differences with Dorothy. But Dorothy’s dynamics with each of them are very different in spite of Quatre and Relena having a similar philosophy. She’s a lot more combative with Quatre and comes across as outright amorous towards Relena. It’s that type of detail in character writing that really fleshes out your characters. And it is nice to see some of the pilots interact with family. Quatre with his father and sister, Trowa with his sister.

Art:

The art is definitely dated by today’s standards. For the mid-90s, this looked pretty good and the art does hold up well enough. But you’ll definitely notice a lot of the hallmarks of mid-90s animation. Like repeating frames, crowd scenes where only the focus characters get detailed, & occasionally choppy movements. You know, the type of thing you get when you have those old-fashioned hand drawn series.

In general, Sunrise did do a good job of getting the animation to flow smoothly. Especially during intense action sequences. The Gundam designs are excellent. I especially like Shenlong & Deathscythe. There are some strong backgrounds. Especially when they’re on Earth and out in nature.

Sound:

Midorikawa Hikaru, Seki Toshihiko, Nakahara Shigeru, Orikasa Ai, Ishino Ryuuzou, Koyasu Takehito & Yokoyama Chisa are all superb in this. Really, there aren’t any poor performances. The direction and delivery are just on point.

Otani Kow did an excellent job with the musical composition. He also worked on compositions for Another & Haibane Renmei. So, he has a history of excellence. With this being the earliest example I’ve reviewed.

Ho-yay:

There’s a lot in this series. One of the first things we see Trowa do after meeting Quatre is grab and blow his flute. Take that out of context if you want.

Gundam Wing

Even putting the double entendre aside, these two start out making music together. This series also does a similar thing to Battle Athletes where they psychically convey their feelings from a distance. The difference being we don’t see them kiss even though we know they have because it’s so obvious. Even their image songs: Love is a Shooting Star & Star’s Gaze, go together. It’s like the writers scientifically engineered their dynamic to be as gay as possible without becoming canon but only on a technicality.

And these two just provide the most prominent source of ho-yay. Zechs and Treize also have that kind of dynamic. And Dorothy very blatantly has a crush on Relena.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Only one recap episode, maximum. In general, I would say not to have any, but if you really feel you need one because the series is almost fifty episodes just stick to the one.
  2. An in-universe reason for the pilots to be teenagers. Yes, it works thematically. But that isn’t a blanket excuse for it in-universe. If it were up to me, I’d say they were genetically modified to make them better pilots and the procedure had to be done at a younger age. Hence why they’re teenagers when the operation begins. Now you have a simple explanation.
  3. Less dialogue decrying war. Like I said, the anti-war theme can get preachy at times and I feel that having less dialogue directly addressing it would fix the issue.

Final Thoughts: 

Gundam Wing has some noticeable problems. That can’t be denied. However, it also has a lot of significant strengths. And it certainly, in my mind, is an enjoyable series that’s well worth a view for any mecha fan who cares about more than mindless action. So, I’m giving it a solid 8/10.

Madoka Magica Film 1: And a Cliffhanger

Madoka was one of my early reviews. And it’s a series I still have a great fondness for. That being said, I never watched the films because they seemed like retreads of the series. But it’s been long enough since I last saw it that I might as well delve in. Plus I’m watching something fairly long for the last review of January so I need something shorter.

Madoka film

Story:

Kaname Madoka is an ordinary enough girl. She hangs out with her best friends, Sayaka & Hitomi. She goes to school, has chats with her family and just has a bogstandard normal life. That is until her school gets a new transfer student, Akemi Homura. Homura gives Madoka a vague warning about not changing and, shortly afterwards, Madoka encounters Kyuubey. This strangely creepy looking “cute” character offers contracts to both her and Sayaka. Become magical girls and get a wish granted.

Honestly, this film is a retread for the first two thirds of the Madoka series. There are some differences but the big plot points are the same. Including the stuff with Mami, Kyouko and Sayaka’s arc. The film actually ends when she’s undergoing her second transformation and Kyuubey gives his ominous line about the nature of magical girls.

Honestly, this is a bit of a problem for me. I get that the Madoka series is very dense and getting through the meat of all twelve episodes in one two hour film isn’t plausible. But I also think that the stopping point comes across as far too sequel-baity. It’s one thing to let the audience know there’s more to come. It’s quite another to end on a really sinister note. It also does have the same issue as that Nanoha film where it doesn’t really offer anything new. Although, given how much ground it covers, the second two films pretty much have to. So, that’s good to know. And the story-telling is really strong with subversive elements that are very cleverly handled.

Characters:

This is one of those franchises where the characters are just excellently written. With the major ones having strong back stories that help flesh them out and the supporting characters having enough to them to have verisimilitude. For example, there’s a really strong scene where Madoka just has a heart to heart with her mum and a lesser, but still good scene where Sayaka and Hitomi sit down for a somewhat serious discussion.

I also do appreciate the way the film hints at Homura’s true motivations. I suspect the next film will actually showcase them, but the foreshadowing is really damn good.

Art:

I’m still not fond of the way the human characters are drawn in this franchise. I can appreciate Kyuubey’s creep eyes. I also really like the witch battles. The landscapes they come up with for them are inventive and have a strong sense of the surreal. As do the witches themselves. This franchise is very good at using its art to convey specific moods and when it wants to show you something unsettling or creepy, it does it very well.

Madoka film1

Sound:

You can’t fault the cast. Saito Chiwa, Yuuki Aoi, Nonaka Ai, Kitamura Eri, Mizuhashi Kaori & Katou Emiri are all superb. The music is very atmospheric and powerfully put together. Kajiura Yuki deserves a lot of credit.

Ho-yay:

The early MadoHomu stuff is already pretty damn blatant. I can also tell why so many people are fans of Kyouko with Sayaka, since they do have interactions that could easily lead to that.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Don’t end on that big of a cliffhanger. Will it get people to see the sequel? yes. Is it a classy move? Not remotely.
  2. More detailed character design. This franchise as a whole would benefit from that.
  3. Let us spend a bit more time with Mami. It would make a certain event more impactful.

Final Thoughts:

Is this film worth watching if you’ve already seen the franchise? Not really. It doesn’t offer anything new. Most likely the two sequels do diverge and may or may not be worth getting into. But this is more a retread to establish the important events from the series for people who haven’t seen the series proper or for those who just want to sit down and watch a film trilogy. It’s still a great film with the strengths of the franchise intact. As such, I’ll give it an 8/10.

 

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

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

Nanoha the movie 1st.png

Story:

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

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

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

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

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

Characters:

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

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

Art:

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

Nanoha the movie 1st1.png

Sound: 

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

Ho-yay:

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

Areas of Improvement:

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

Final Thoughts:

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