Tag Archives: Gundam Iron blooded orphans

Ktulu’s 5th Annual Awards & Shaming Ceremony

All right, Everybody. It’s this time of year again. Time to go over the best and worst of the works I’ve reviewed from February 15th of 2017 right up to last week’s review of Trinity Blood. Now, last year I didn’t do anything based off of the bonus reviews since those only became a thing starting in December. So, there weren’t may to choose from. This year, we’re going to have two simple awards for those based on the best and worst things I’ve done bonus reviews of.

I’ll start with the best and worst in show for the bonus reviews and our list of contestants is as follows: Blackest Night, Civil War, DC vs Marvel, Doctor Who- The First Doctor, Dragon Quest VII, Frosty the Snowman, Gravity Falls, Jem and the Holograms volume one, Justice League- Crisis on Two Earths, Miitopia, Mortal Kombat- Defenders of the Realm, Muppet Fairy Tales, Ohimesama no Himitsu, Secret Wars, Spider-man Unlimited, Tiny Toons- Night Ghoulery

The Worst In Bonus:

Honestly, there were two big contenders for this one. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm & Civil War. But only one can be the worst and this year that one is Civil War.

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There are two big reasons that Civil War takes the title. The first is that it, ultimately, had a greater impact. Defenders is barely remembered and the franchise certainly isn’t going to try and make anything from it canon. Civil War, in contrast, led directly to a lot of other horrendous things. The One More Day event, the second Ultimate Alliance game being a load of wank, a sequel that was almost certainly also shit and factored into several other bad Marvel decisions. The second is that Civil War is bad in more egregious ways. Defenders is bad in the manner of a lazy cartoon where the premise wasn’t going to work and no one gave a shit. Civil War had a premise with potential but did everything wrong. And some of it in ways that say really bad things about the creative team.

The Best in Bonus:

This one was a lot harder to pick. I’ve reviewed some phenomenal works as part of the bonus reviews this year. Dragon Quest VII. Gravity Falls, Jem, Secret Wars & Ohimesama no Himitsu are all superb works and I have a lot of affection for every single one of them. But, ultimately, the award goes to Ohimesama no Himitsu. Because out of all the minor problems I had with all of these, it had the most minor. It’s damn close to being the perfect romance work.

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Onto the anime awards. The potential contestants are: AD Police, Arion, Ayakashi, Azumanga Daioh, Bakemono no Ko, Bishoujo Yuugekitai Battle Skipper, Chocolate Underground, Dennou Sentai Voogie’s Angel, Devil May Cry, Dragonball- Legend of Shenron, Drifters, Elfen Lied, Final Fantasy Unlimited, Futari wa Precure- Max Heart film 1, Futari wa Precure- Max Heart film 2, Futari wa Precure- Splash Star, gdgd Faeries, Girls und Panzer der film, Green Legend Ran, Gyo, Harmonie, Hunter x Hunter 2011, Idol Project, Iria- Zeiram, Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken- Diamond Wa Kudakenai, Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken- Stardust Crusaders 2, Karas, Kaze Tachinu, Kemono Friends, Kill me Baby, Koe no Katachi, Kowabon, Love Stage, Mob Psycho 100, Mobile Suit Gundam- Iron-Blooded Orphans, Mononoke, Nanbaka, Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, Osomatsu-san, Palme no Ki, Phantasy Star Online II, Rose of Versailles, Rurouni Kenshin, Sakamichi no Apollon, Shuumatsu no Izetta, Stranger- Mukou Hadan, Street Fighter Alpha, Tales of Eternia, Tales of Zestiria the X, Trinity Blood, Tsuritama, Twilight Q, Vivid Strike, Warau Salesman New, Windaria, Wizardry, Wolf Guy, Youjo Senki

So, there’s our stable of contestants. Let’s move on to the awards.

The Moffat Award for most horrendous writing in a supposedly serious series or OVA. Our previous hall of shamers include such piles of rubbish as Dansi Bunri no Crime Edge, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Madhouse’s X-men & Brain Powerd. This year the big stand outs were Wolf Guy & Elfen Lied. Either one of which deserves recognition but there can be only one “winner” and this year that’s Elfen Lied.

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Not only is there more of Elfen Lied to hate, with about twice the content, but there’s also what the series were going for. Wolf Guy was a dumb action work that was trying to be a dumb action work. Elfen Lied was trying to be psychological, mature & filled with horror. None of which worked because the writing was roughly equivalent to a twelve year old who’s trying way too hard to show how mature they are.

The Simone Award for excellent writing in a mostly serious series or OVA. Our prior winners were Psycho Pass, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS & El Cazador de La Bruja. This year’s tough. I gave out a lot of 8s, but not much above that. The two big contenders end up being Mononoke & Vivid Strike. Ultimately, the Simone Award is going to Mononoke.

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So, why Mononoke? While both these series are very much worthy, I ultimately feel that Mononoke is a little bit more solid. Because setting up new characters with interesting facets to them and a compelling new scenario for every arc is a little more challenging than telling a really good story about two friends reconnecting over martial arts.

The Abrams Award for worst writing in a film. Our previous hall of shame consists of End of Evangelion, Metropolis, Hetalia: Paint it White & Hanare Toride no Yonna. This year I reviewed quite a few films and the worst, by a good margin, was Arion.

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Who would’ve thought that a film ostensibly about mythology that doesn’t understand said mythology, has a confused aesthetic and that thinks a rousing speech is the protagonist complaining that he just killed his father and wants to bone his sister, would turn out to be such an absolute mess? Besides Everybody.

The Miyazaki Award for film writing excellence. Our prior winners were Nausicaa, Kara no Kyoukai 4, Spirited Away & Mononoke Hime. This one was harder to choose. I saw some very solid films this year. But the award ultimately goes to Koe no Katachi.

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This one touches on some very real challenges and actually tells a really strong redemption all while keeping things largely realistic.

The Macfarlane Award for shittiest comedy. Our previous winners were OreImo, Kill la Kill, Sunabouzu & Kashimashi. Now that’s company you want to stand upwind from. This year there was a clear winner and that’s Idol Project.

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Yes, the comedy where random nonsense is used as a substitute for actual jokes and where the under-developed characters aren’t even used for comedic possibilities. All in all, a failure.

The Pratchett Award for best comedic elements. Our prior winners are Bottle Fairy, Doki Doki PreCure, Yuru Yuri San Hai & Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka 2. This year the bell of fortune tolls for Azumanga Daioh.

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This was a tough one because I’ve seen a good number of enjoyable, consistently funny comedies. But, ultimately, Azumanga Daioh is the one that stands above the others.

The Meyer Award for worst romantic elements. Our prior anal leakings of amore were OreImo, Mawaru Penguindrum, Love Hina Again & Dance in the Vampire Bund. This year the series that showcases the worst idea of what love is is Wolf Guy.

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Yeah, the series where our “romance” consists of our protagonist not letting the woman he supposedly loves abort her rapist’s baby even though giving birth is going to kill her because she’s had her mind destroyed and can’t make that decision. This also takes place in a fucked up world where, apparently, this piece of shit is the best one to make the decision for her.

The Kanemaki Award for strongest romance. Our 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). This year was actually really difficult to pick a winner. On one hand, we have the Finé/ Izetta romance from Shuumatsu no Izetta and it’s beautiful. On the other hand, we have the Fuuka/ Rinne relationship from Vivid Strike. Which is also lovely. These two dynamics are kind of similar too, both being about old friends reconnecting as their love blossoms. The big difference is that Finé/ Izetta work together and have to overcome outside obstacles while Fuuka/ Rinne have to overcome those elements which caused a falling out betwixt them. Ultimately, I think one of those does lead to a slightly stronger romantic dynamic and that’s why the award goes to Shuumatsu no Izetta.

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In the end, we just see more moments of these two as a couple while Vivid Strike is more about the hesitation brought on by past events that’s getting in the way of them coming together. Which gives us more time to spend with Finé & Izetta as a pair and more really sweet moments betwixt the two. And that’s why they edge out the competition and emerge as the better couple.

The Anno Award for the shittiest cast of characters. Our former winners were End of Evangelion, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Love Hina Again & Kashimashi. All terribly obnoxious groups of characters with no complexity to be found. This year they’re joined by a series that fits right in, Elfen Lied.

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Yes, a series with annoying, trope characters. Some of whom have tragic back stories that end up contributing nothing.

The Moore Award for strongest cast of characters. Our prior winners have been Sailor Moon, Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin, Death Parade & Sailor Moon S. As a general rule, I prefer to give this one to a series that has well written characters and a good sized cast of them. This year the series that best fits those criteria is Hunter x Hunter 2011.

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This series has a large cast of compelling characters, all of whom possess verisimilitude. In terms of personality, at least. Not so much with their super powers. It also has some of the best written antagonists I’ve ever seen in a shounen action series.

The Bendis Award for the worst major conflict in a series. Our previous piss stains of poor plotting were From Up On Poppy Hill, Sword Art Online, Ice & Sword Art Online II. This was a tough choice because there were several series that legitimately deserved this. But, ultimately, I’m giving the award to AD Police.

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Yes, the series wherein we learn that all major conflicts are caused by over-sexed women. And we can’t bring ourselves to remotely care about any of it because the writing is shite.

The Claremont Award for the greatest major conflict. Our preceding powerhouses of plotting were Psycho Pass, Shingeki no Kyojin, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha As & Haibane Renmei. This year Vivid Strike will be joining their ranks.

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Vivid Strike’s poignant conflict of a pair of old friends trying to reconnect while also delving into the mistakes that were made on both sides is really engrossing and the added romantic tension between the girls just gives their falling out all the more punch.

The Liefeld Award for worst visuals. Our former ocular atrocities in the series category were Aku no Hana, Amada Anime Series: Super Mario Brothers, Corpse Party: Tortured Souls & Byston Well Monogatari: Garzey no Tsubasa. The film category awards have gone to DBZ: Fusion Reborn & Hanare Toride no Yonna. This year our vomit inducing visuals were found in Elfen Lied & Arion.

Arion should come as no surprise but you might be wondering how Elfen Lied won over series like gdgd Faeries where the artwork looks generally like bad cg. Well, the ultimate reason is that gdgd Faeries has bad artwork, but it’s artwork that doesn’t detract from anything the series is doing. Elfen Lied, in contrast, is trying to incorporate subtle, psychological elements. It fails completely, but it’s trying to. And when you’re trying to incorporate subtle psychological elements, having overblown, ridiculous violence and nudity undermines that aspect. Even if the series hadn’t been really terribly written the visuals would hurt it. And that’s why it’s the worst.

The Urbino Award for vivacious visuals. Our prior comely chieftains were (series) Mushishi & Stand Alone Complex 2nd gig and (film) Nausicaa, Tokyo Godfathers, Spirited Away & Mononoke Hime. This year they’re joined by Kaze Tachinu & Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.

A film that was just okay but with the lovely visual elements of most Ghibli films and a series where the art was stellar.

The Spencer Award for scrub-tier acting. Our previous grade school theatre productions were the English dub of Sailor Moon, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ice & Kashimashi. This year it goes to Wolf Guy.

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Like most of the winners, this one had some good actors. It just had good actors who sounded terrible due to writing and direction that demanded dreadful performances.

The Sir Stewart Award for amazing acting. Our preceding pinnacle performances came from Black Rock Shooter (OVA), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Glass no Kamen & Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. This was really tough to choose since a lot of the more average series I’ve reviewed have still managed to have good acting. But this year they’re being joined by Hunter x Hunter 2011.

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This series has a lot of excellent performances and it, ultimately, deserves to be recognised for it.

The Perry Award for malodorous music. Our former ear beatings were the English dub of Sailor Moon, Street Fighter II, Mars of Destruction & Kagewani. This year it goes to Arion.

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Yes, the film where the lousy sound mixing damages music that actually did come from a good composer. Even if it is probably was his worst composition work even without the balancing problems.

The Kloss Award for magnificent melodies. Our previous cherished compositions came from Slayers Perfect, K-on the film, Love Live series 2 & Love Live the School Idol film. This year they’re joined by Michiru’s prominent OST work on Shuumatsu no Izetta.

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There were some other strong candidates but none as consistently good, musically, as this. It’s a superb soundtrack, period.

That’s it for this year’s awards. Thank you all for reading my snark-laden reviews another year. I’ve enjoyed all of your comments. You’re a fantastic bunch of readers. Tomorrow I’ll post the Junjou Romantica review. So, there’s that to look forward to.

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Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: Dark, but not needlessly so.

I’ve talked about the Gundam franchise once before with the sub-par 00. Honestly, it’s a franchise I’m not super familiar with even though it’s incredibly famous. I’ve seen bits and pieces of some others but the only other one I’ve watched all the way through was Wing, which I have a lot of praise for. None of the others have really grabbed my attention, though. Enter Iron-Blooded Orphans, which just finished its second series in April. I haven’t seen anything of this one. I’ve heard some positive things but I can’t say whether or not I agree with them. One thing that interests me is that it was written by Okada Mari. She’s written some anime adaptations we’ve looked at before like Toradora & Kuroshitsuji. We also have her to thank for writing Canaan, Black Rock Shooter TV & AnoHana, the original novel, anime & manga. She doesn’t have the world’s best track record with me (The late Sir Terry Pratchett holds that distinction) but she does have a pretty solid one. Especially when it comes to non-adaptation works. And, with Gundam, the anime and manga were basically released simultaneously. This may be another Gundam series I can be really positive about, but let’s watch through it before making that judgement. After all, we all remember that time Ikuhara Kunihiko disappointed me even though I usually like his work. Keep in mind, this review is going to cover both series of Iron-Blooded Orphans.

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Story:

We open on Mars with a company called CGS. They’re hired by a young activist, Kudelia Aina Bernstein, to escort her to Earth so that she can try to push for some changes to benefit Mars. Things go south quickly. The powerful military organisation, Gjallarhorn, sends troops to demand that CGS turn over the young lady. This results in the older member scarpering and the child soldiers taking advantage of the situation to take control of the company, after using a Gundam Frame to repel the initial attack. Under the leadership of Itsuka Orga, they change the name to Tekkadan. Their first mission, finish the escort job that CGS started. Thus begins their legend.

The biggest flaw with IBO is that there are some plot points that rely on some pretty contrived stretches. In the first series, our heroes arrive at a colony where there’s a group that’s been heavily inspired by Kudelia & she’s still being chased by Gjallarhorn. Both groups mistake Tekkadan’s chef, Atra, for her. Now, let me get this straight, Kudelia is a public figure who’s appeared on television stations and the like, but these groups don’t know what she looks like? Gjallarhorn couldn’t pull up a stock photo for their goon squad to look at? The group inspired by her speeches and ideas never bothered to actually watch them? What makes this even dumber is that we know they have access to them. There’s a point where she’s recognised by a member of the group who saw her on the news. But we’re expected to believe that this major public figure who’s inspired all these people is only recognised by this one person? Is literally everyone else in the group named Matt Murdock?

The second series gives us another with a character who was shown pretty definitively dying in the first series turning up alive and well. You’ll know them when you see them, they try to hide the identity but it’s really obvious. Then again, this is Gundam, maybe he was just replaced by his identical younger brother. No, I’m not sick of mocking that bit from 00 yet. A more minor issue is with the romances. There are some characters who end up together even though they’ve just exchanged a few lines and never shown any chemistry. Fortunately, the romance is just a side thing and has very little impact.

The death scenes are a bit of a mix. On one hand, the series generally does do a good job of illustrating why a character matters before we see them die. Unfortunately, this has the side effect of making the major character deaths incredibly predictable. Most of the time you’ll get five minutes into an episode where a major character dies and you’ll know it’s coming. Now, there are ways to write a strong character death when it’s obviously coming. Beast Wars managed it as did A Prayer for Owen Meany. The difference between those and this is that one started delivering hints for a good dozen episodes in advance and the other was a fairly long novel where most of it was dedicated to showing why the character mattered. It doesn’t work as well when you try to cram all of that into fifteen minutes or so. Especially when it comes to less prominent characters who haven’t had all that much of a role.

There are plenty of positives to the narrative. I appreciate that the series takes risks. There are quite a few major characters who don’t make it. There are times the antagonists win major victories. The ending is very bittersweet. The series also has a good amount of subtlety in its portrayal of the conflicts. There’s rarely a side that’s just abhorrent, rather, you’ll get two sides coming into conflict and you’ll have an understanding of why each one is fighting. And chances are they’ll both fight dirty. You’ll probably favour one side over the other but you can understand both. The series is also good at handling its darker content like slavery, arranged marriage involving characters who are far too young or child soldiers in a way that doesn’t shy away from showing or discussing the darker aspects. The content isn’t just there in an attempt to be edgy or dark, it’s actually relevant. Sadly, that’s not common.

Characters:

One thing that’s kind of inevitable when you’ve got a cast this big is that some characters are better developed than others. You’ll have some characters who are largely relegated to the background, others who are big supporting characters & the core group. I will say, the characters you spend any amount of time with do have decent levels of verisimilitude. They’re fleshed out enough to make them compelling. The major characters get even more development, mostly. Then we have Mikazuki. In some ways, he’s kind of like your typical, emotionally stunted protagonist. He has a perpetual thousand yard stare, speaks pretty monotonously and follows his orders. He is shown to have some emotions, mostly violent, but he’s still kind of dull. I do appreciate that our antagonists are given proper motivations and fleshed out too.

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Art:

One thing that Sunrise is pretty consistently good at is artwork & this series is no exception. The backgrounds, mechs, space ships, & character designs are all really strong. A lot of the characters even have noticeable non-verbal tics. Which adds some realism to them since we all have things like that that we do without even thinking about it. The action flows well and a lot of the battles are absolutely brutal. The artwork is also really effective at setting tone. The worst I can say about it is that a lot of the major characters have shounen hair. You know what I’m talking about. Ridiculous looking hair styles that probably involve entire tubes of gel every day but the characters have them because they stand out.

Sound:

There are plenty of strong performances. To name a few of the more prominent ones, we’ve got Terasaki Yuka, Kanemoto Hisako, Takumi Yasuaki, Sakurai Takahiro (stop following me, Cloud), & Hosoya Yoshimasa. There aren’t any poor performances in this. About the worst you get are the minor characters who never get to demonstrate any kind of range. Even then the few lines they get are capably delivered. The music is really good too. The theme tunes are nicely done & the music within the episodes is used, effectively, to enhance the atmosphere.

Ho-yay:

IBO has a lot of characters who read as bisexual and a few who take things a step further. Mikazuki likes to talk about how Orga gave him his life and he’ll do anything for him. Although he also has female love interests. Speaking of, Atra & Kudelia both seem to be as interested in one another as they are in Mikazuki. Especially Atra who likes to fantasise about a world where the three of them are all together. In the second series, Takaki seems to have a thing for Aston. We also have Yamagi who wants to Trowa Shino’s Quatre.

Final Thoughts:

Iron-Blooded Orphans has some flaws. It has some really noticeable contrivances, romances that are mediocre at best & the main protagonist is just okay. Still, it’s a really good series with positive aspects that far outweigh those issues. My final rating is going to be an 8/10. Next week I’ll look at Koe no Katachi.