Tag Archives: Figure 17: Tsubasa & Hikaru

Ktulu’s 6th Annual Awards & Shaming Ceremony

Welcome, Everyone, to this year’s rewards. Where we celebrate the best anime I’ve reviewed for the year and take shots at the worst. This year, we’ll be doing something a little different. At the end, after the individual rewards, I’ll be doing a list of the five best and worst overall. Now, as usual we’re covering everything from February 15th 2018 up to this week’s review of Hybrid Child.

We’ll move right into things with the best and worst of our bonus reviews. And no, we won’t be counting the bonus reviews for the top and bottom five. The list of potential candidates is: A Hard Day’s Night, Avengers: United They Stand, The Black Cauldron, Blake’s Seven Series One, C.O.P.S, D.E.B.S, Detroit: Become Human, The Hulk, Maximum Carnage, Pryde of the X-men, The Rescuers, Secret Six: Villains United, Silver Surfer, Star Trek: Next Gen/ X-men Second Contact, Stories of Ibis, The Thing

The Worst in Bonus:

It probably seems like this will be difficult since the lowest score I gave a Bonus review this year was a 3/10, and there were four things to get that score. However, it’s actually easy because there’s one thing that almost got lower and I still feel a “3” was a bit generous for. So, the worst of award goes to Detroit: Become Human. A terrible game with little game play and the worst toss in terms of writing, but it earned a merely bad score solely because its graphics are great.

The Best in Bonus:

This one was much tougher to decide. There were four 9/10 reviews this year and all of them have a lot to recommend them. We have thirteen issues of one of Gail Simone’s best comic runs, possibly John Carpenter’s best film, one of Disney’s best films & a brilliant collection of short stories with a cohesive narrative tying them together. Out of all those works, I ended up deciding to give it to Secret Six: Villains United.

secret-six-villains-united-bloody-six

While any of those four could have gotten it, I think that’s the one that had the biggest burden in terms of making the audience care and something had to be the deciding factor.

And the anime reward candidates are: A-ko the Versus, Aggressive Retsuko, Ajin series 2, Aki no Kanade, Ayane-chan High Kick, Bio Hunter, Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail, Boku no Hero Academia, Citrus, Cowboy Bebop, D-Frag, Dirty Pair Flash, Dragonball: Majinjou no Nemuri Hime, Dragon Half, Dragoon, Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi, Figure 17: Tsubasa & Hikaru, Flying Witch, Fortune Quest, Futari wa Precure Splash Star: Tick Tack Kiki Ippatsu, Galaxy Angel 2, Garo: Honoo no Kokuin, Godzilla: Kaijuu Wakusei, Grand Blue, Hellsing Ultimate, Hybrid Child, Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san, Iron Man, Jinzou Ningen Kikaider, Junjou Romantica, Kakurenbo, Kanamemo, Made in Abyss, Mahoutsukai Sally, Makai Senki Disgaea, Mary to Majo no Hana, Meisou-ou Border, Melty Lancer, New Game, Ninja Batman, Ojamajo Doremi, Overlord II, Panda Kopanda, Pokemon: Mewtwo no Gyakushuu, Puni Puni Poemii, Renkin San-kyuu Magical Pokaan, Sailor Moon SuperS, Slayers: Great, So Ra No Wo To, Tetsuwan Birdy Decode, The Choujo, Tiger & Bunny, Uchuu Kaizoku Mito no Daibouken, Witch Hunter Robin, Xiao Qian, Yousei Hime Ren, Yuru Camp, Yuuki Yuna wa Yuusha de Aru, Yu Yu Hakusho the film

The Moffat Award for worst writing in a series or OVA we’re supposed to take seriously. Prior winners: Dansi Bunri no Crime Edge, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Madhouse’s X-men, Brain Powerd & Elfen Lied. This year they’re joined by Tiger & Bunny.

tiger and bunny2

With tacky product placements, massive plot holes, terrible characters and an inconsistent world Tiger & Bunny is truly garbage.

The Simone Award for best writing in a serious series or OVA. Former champions were Psycho Pass, Ghost in the Shell SAC, Nanoha StrikerS, El Cazador de la Bruja, & Mononoke. This year it has to go to the year’s one 10/10 series, Cowboy Bebop.

Bebop5

A classic in the truest sense and well deserving of the Simone award.

The Abrams Award for worst writing in a film. This has gone to End of Evangelion, Metropolis, Hetalia: Paint it white, Hanare Toride no Yonna & Arion. This year the two I kept coming back to were Bio Hunter & Godzilla: Kaijuu Wakusei. But only one can sit at the bottom of literal excrement and this year it’s Bio Hunter.

Bio Hunter2

Netflix’s Godzilla may have been slow, boring and had a really lame depiction of Godzilla but Bio Hunter is a film dedicated to having as many dumb, nonsensical plot points as it can fit. Which does make for a worse film.

The Miyazaki Award for best writing in a film. This year’s winner will join Nausicaa, Kara no Kyoukai 4, Spirited Away, Mononoke Hime, & Koe no Katachi. This year, it goes to Futari wa Precure Splash Star: Tick Tack Kiki Ippatsu.

Splash Star film

I struggled a bit to decide from this, Aki no Kanade & Slayers Great. This one ultimately gets it because I think it has the strongest pacing and a more engaging conflict out of the three.

The Macfarlane Award for worst comedy. Previous winners were OreImo, Kill la Kill, Sunabouzu, Kashimashi & Idol Project. This year it was hard to decide between Grand Blue & Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi. Both are absolutely terrible but the worst of the worst is Grand Blue.

Grand Blue1

Here’s the thing, I rolled my eyes a lot when watching Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi but I got more annoyed when watching Grand Blue and the reason both for that and Grand Blue ultimately getting it is that the characters in this are so unbearably obnoxious.

The Pratchett Award for best comedic sense. The prior winners were Bottle Fairy, Doki Doki PreCure, Yuru Yuri San Hai, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka 2 & Azumanga Daioh. This year, it goes to Galaxy Angel 2.

Galaxy Angel 2nd 05-06

This series is just an absurdly good time. It’s hyperactive, zaniness at its finest.

The Meyer Award for worst romantic elements. We’ve given this to OreImo, Mawaru Penguindrum, Love Hina Again, Dance in the Vampire Bund & Wolf Guy. Romance is hard to botch as badly as these series managed but this year, we had one heavily romance-oriented work that did it. And that’s Junjou Romantica.

junjo romantica1

Yes, the story where the main couple has a relationship built entirely off of rape. It’s also our first winner that isn’t het, proving that any type of couple can be terrible.

The Kanemaki Award for best romance. Previous winners were Btooom (for Himiko/ Ryouta), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanha StrikerS (both for NanoFate), El Cazador de la Bruja (Ellis/ Nadie) & Shuumatsu no Izetta (Finé/ Izetta). This year is a bit tough because there aren’t really any amazing romances but we do have more than one solidly good one and the best among them is Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san.

inugami3

They don’t have a really complex relationship, but it is pretty damn cute. It’s just an enjoyable, light-hearted romantic dynamic.

The Anno Award for the worst cast of characters. The former crap crews were End of Evangelion, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Love Hina Again, Kashimashi & Elfen Lied. This year the winner is Grand Blue.

Grand Blue

There are very few anime where every character is immediately hateable to this extent. Grand Blue seems to make it a point of pride to have trash characters.

The Moore Award for strongest cast of characters. The previous champions have been Sailor Moon, Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin, Death Parade, Sailor Moon S & Hunter x Hunter 2011. Usually, this award goes to something with a very robust cast that manages to do a spectacular job with writing them all well. Simply because it’s harder to write a cast of a dozen well than it is to write a cast of five. This year, I have to give it to So Ra No Wo To.

sora no woto1

It has a smaller core cast than I’d normally look for, but every side character is really well written. The main cast is amazing and the series gives the “antagonists” sympathetic motivations and makes them very human.

The Bendis Award for worst conflict. The winners thus far have been From Up on Poppy Hill, SAO, Ice, SAO II & AD Police. This year the series that least knows how to keep things remotely compelling is Meisou-Ou Border.

While not among the worst series I’ve watched overall, it has nothing happening in it. The “conflict” is basically two idiots mucking about. Adventure?

The Claremont award for best major conflict. The plots that got this previously were Psycho Pass, Shingeki no Kyojin, Nanoha As, Haibane Renmei & Vivid Strike. This year, it goes to Figure 17.

figure 17

What makes this one really stand out in regards to this is that it has multiple conflicts. The whole situation with Tsubasa & Hikaru as heroes is one thing. Their interpersonal situations involve more and they’re all really compelling and they mesh together very neatly. Which is very impressive.

The Liefeld Award for worst visuals. Aku no Hana, Amada: Mario Brothers, Corpse Party, Garzey no Tsubasa & Elfen Lied all won this for the series category. For films, DBZ: Fusion Reborn, Hanare Toride no Yonna & Arion have taken it. This year, the winners are Ajin 2 & Godzilla Kaijuu Wakusei.

Ajin 2 earns its spot for having bad artwork that really hurts what it’s going for. Netflix’s Godzilla earns it by also having CG that looks like crap and also having the worst action sequence involving Godzilla ever animated.

The Urbino Award for amazing artwork. Series winners have been Mushishi, Stand Alone Complex 2nd gig & Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. Film winners have been Nausicaa, Tokyo Godfathers, Spirited Away, Mononoke Hime & Kaze Tachinu. This year our winners are Flying Witch & Mary to Majo no Hana.

I won’t lie, the series one was really hard to pick since Cowboy Bebop, Flying Witch and Boku no Hero Academia all have spectacular art and animation that stand out. But, ultimately, if I was going to just look at images from any of them because the series just looks so good, it would be Flying Witch. Mary to Majo no Hana was an easy choice. The backgrounds, characters and everything else in that film just looks great.

The Spencer Award for horrendous mouth noises. Previous winners were Sailor Moon’s English dub, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ice, Kashimashi & Wolf Guy. This year they’re joined by Yousei Hime Ren.

Elf princess Rane

The other two series I really considered giving this too were Grand Blue & Puni Puni Poemii but, while those both had really annoying acting, this one was so badly done it literally gave me a headache to listen to.

The Sir Stewart Award for greatest acting. This one is always difficult to choose but the previous stand outs have been Black Rock Shooter (OVA), Nanoha, Glass no Kamen, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and Hunter x Hunter 2011. This year, it’s going to Cowboy Bebop.

Bebop3

Cowboy Bebop is a series with excellent actors and they’re all fantastic in it. So, while a lot of other anime I’ve reviewed this year have had great acting, it does stand out as the best.

The Perry Award for awful music. Previously, this was granted to English Sailor Moon, Street Fighter II, Mars of Destruction, Kagewani & Arion. This year, it goes to Puni Puni Poemii.

Poemy

The soundtrack in this is what happens when a good composer seemingly doesn’t give a shit. And the OST suffers immensely for it.

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

Sora no woto

Not only does it have a superb OST in general, but the whole motif it has with music is amazingly graceful. Which does help the series stand out from all the others with strong music.

Five Worst of the Year:

We’ve gone over the worst in various categories, now let’s do some rankings. Starting with the least bad and going to the worst. This year, all of this list is going to be populated by 2/10s. And we had six of those, so one is going to be left out.

#5: Godzilla Kaijuu Wakusei

Honestly, I think this one earns a spot because of how incompetent it is as a Godzilla work but it’s not quite as egregiously bad as most of the 2s. So, it gets the highest spot of the five.

#4: Bio Hunter

Bio Hunter is dumb. Really and truly insipid. But there isn’t as much wrong with it as there are with most of the 2s.

#3: Elf-wo Karu Mono-Tachi

I struggled with whether to give this one the two or three spot. But my big issue with this is its fetishy bullshit humour and I had a lot more negative things to say about the series that did get that spot.

#2: Tiger & Bunny

This series can take its tacky product placements, awful homophobic character who shares the name with an amazing game franchise and nonsense plot straight to Tartarus. I really hated it.

#1: Grand Blue

You probably saw this coming. Awful characters, horrendous jokes, random incest. This series is the Prince of Shite for the year.

Five Best of the year:

As usual, let’s end on a positive note. We may have seen some shit this year, but we’ve also seen true greatness. And here are the five at the top. Keep in mind, #5- #2 were all really close and separated by very slight margins.

#5: Yuru Camp

This series is highly endearing, features an adorable chihuahua, nice scenery, fun characters and a lot of les-yay.

#4: Flying Witch

This is a series that just feels good to watch, has a great cast of characters and looks amazing.

#3: So Ra No Wo To

A fantastic series with a phenomenal cast of characters, interesting events & superb music.

#2: Galaxy Angel 2

This one is just uproariously funny for the vast majority of it. It could be nearly a perfect comedy if not for that episode that takes a serious tone.

#1: Cowboy Bebop

Everything about this series is stellar. It’s not just a classic anime but a classic of science fiction. 

Advertisements

Figure 17: Tsubasa & Hikaru- Wonder Twin Powers Activate

Figure 17 is a thirteen episode anime from the early 2000s. OLM, the same studio behind Gunsmith Cats, Disgaea & Pokemon, was responsible for bringing it to life. It was written by Yonemura Shouji, who also worked on scripting episodes for both Doki Doki Precure & Hunter x Hunter. So, that’s all a positive sign as far as I’m concerned. Let’s get into it.

figure 17

Story:

Shiina Tsubasa is having a rough time. She’s lost her mother and just moved to a new area for her father’s work. To top it all of, she’s very shy and doesn’t make friends easily. At least the place she moves has a nice dog that she gets to look after. I immediately relate to this character. Change the parent she lost and that’s my childhood. One night things change when there’s a loud crash. Tsubasa wakes up and finds a UFO with an alien pilot and a hostile alien life form called a Maguar. Maybe it just wants Reese’s Pieces? Tsubasa accidentally combines with an alien called a Riberus to take on an armoured form capable of fighting the hostile creature. After the battle, an unusual thing happens. The Riberus takes on Tsubasa’s form. She calls herself Hikaru and the newly created twins have to balance their school lives while secretly combating the alien menace before it overwhelms Earth.

Now, my big problem with the narrative is with one specific side story. Namely, the reporter’s. Basically, we get segments throughout the series of this researcher turned columnist wandering around the scenes where they’ve fought Maguar and trying to figure out exactly what happened to cause the ecological damage. And throughout the series I kept wondering how this random dude’s story was going to tie into the main plot line. So, how does it ultimately pan out? It doesn’t. This character and his bullshit segments could have been completely cut out and it wouldn’t have had any impact except to give more time for the characters who matter. Frankly, they could’ve given us scenes of the dog playing around and those would have been better. At least the dog’s cute and interacts with the main cast. Maybe Yonemura thought it would be interesting to get an outsider’s perspective (it’s not) or maybe he had plans that didn’t pan out. Still, ultimately, all the time we spend with this guy is completely pointless.

With that gripe out of the way, there are a lot of positive aspects to the plot. It melds the sci-fi monster hunting aspect with more personal, day to day life drama really well. There are stakes for both elements and there are points where there are problems trying to balance them or where things that happen in one will cause issues with the other. I appreciate that the trained adults can get help from Tsubasa and Hikaru while still coming across as capable in their own right, occasionally even battling the creatures by themselves. That’s not something you see often in this type of narrative and it’s not something that’s easy to pull off. Then we have the ending. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a strong bitter-sweet ending. Which works phenomenally in no small part due to the way it foreshadows the tragic elements. And the tragic elements may have made me tear up… a lot.

Characters:

One of the significant reasons that the marriage of daily life drama and monster hunting works so well is because the characters are so strong. So much of this series is dedicated to Tsubasa’s personal growth. Not just as a reluctant heroine who has to come into her own but as an individual learning to cope with things like loss, loneliness and how to tap into her strength. Hikaru is a superb character as well. The “twins” are handled in a semi-complementary way with each one having strengths the other lacks but they also have aspects to their personalities that are very similar. And after the sheer number of twin characters I’ve seen who are basically one character, this is a refreshing take.

They also have a strong dynamic in spite of them both knowing they aren’t actually twins. Normally, I would say that it’s unrealistic for them to bond so quickly but Figure 17 makes it work by showing us what Tsubasa’s life is like before all of this happens and showing us how isolated she feels. So, it makes sense for her to latch onto a girl who opens up to her and treats her as family.

The side characters also get a good amount of complexity to their characters. Sakura may be one of the strongest representations of those aspects of adolescence that make teenagers difficult to deal with while also showcasing those parts of life that are hard for teenagers which makes her come across as pretty relatable. Even the pointless reporter has depth to him. It’s part of the reason his segments waste so much time.

The only things that don’t have complexity are the Maguar. We basically learn that they’re artificially created but they don’t seem to have sentience. They just kind of want to feed and spread.

Art:

The character design is pretty nice. It’s interesting the way some minor changes between the twins make it readily obvious which one you’re looking at even when they’re wearing the same outfit. That’s a good touch. The armoured Riberus forms are interesting looking. The alien technology is neat looking. The Maguar themselves have some interesting designs. At least, they do at first. After a while, they kind of gave up and started giving you a bunch that basically look the same. To be fair, there is an explanation for it.

The action is pretty well animated, although some of the motion blur and such can be a bit over-used. There’s also an action sequence near the end that takes place in tunnels where everything has a red tint. Which was a bit hard on the eyes and not that good looking. When we got to see the tunnels from inside the Riberus and they had normal colours, they looked great. But, unfortunately, most of it is spent with the redness.

Figure 171

Sound:

The performances are great. Orikasa Fumiko & Yajima Akiko pull off the leads really well. There are also particularly good performances from Koyama Rikiya, Horie Yui & Inoue Kikuko. Although all of the performances are good. The music works quite nicely with the action on screen.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any. The crushes we do see among the children are hetero-normative. Although I do appreciate that they’re presented subtly.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Cut out the Reporter Segments. This is definitely the most obvious thing, and for good reason. These parts do nothing. I’d honestly replace them with segments giving some spotlight to the side characters who actually spend time with our heroines.
  2. Colours for the tunnel scene. I mentioned this a bit when I talked about the artwork, but I’d show the tunnel scene the way you see it from the Riberus perspective instead of with that awful red filter.
  3. The Hikaru Question. One thing that comes up in the series is that no Riberus has ever done what Hikaru did. IE: take on a physical form like that. I’d like to see DD and Oldina discuss it from a scientific perspective and from a philosophical perspective. They don’t really touch on it that much in the series proper, which seems a bit weird.

Final Thoughts:

The young man who requested this review said this was one of his favourite anime of all time, and I understand why. While it has some problems, most notably those pointless segments, it is a bloody good series. It has a fantastic sense of character, a compelling story, strong acting and artwork. It might not be one of my favourites, but I can respect it and what it does. Personally, I’ll give it a solid 8/10.