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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.

Arion1

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.

Idol Project1

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.

Wolf Guy

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.

AD Police

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.

Wolf Guy1

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.

Arion

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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Ktulu’s Fourth Annual Awards & Shaming Ceremony

For those of you who haven’t been following my blog for as long, allow me to explain. This is the time of year where I take every single series I’ve reviewed from February 15th of 2016 to the very last review I did, in this case Natsume Yuujinchou, and I praise the best while demeaning the worst. With every positive reward having a negative counterpart. Like last year I’m not going to bother giving you nominees. It’s not like I’m going to break for adverts and reveal the winners after the breaks or like I’m going to rent a stadium and invite all the nominees to wear fancy dress and accept trophies. Even if I had the euros to waste, I guarantee all those people have better things to do. So, let’s keep things to the point. I also won’t be including the bonus reviews. Maybe next year when I have more than five I’ll give them their own awards. Like last year, I’ll list off the eligible series in alphabetical order first.

This year the anime reviewed were:

91 Days, Ajin, Binbougami Ga, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon S, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan series 2, Brain Powerd, Byston Well Monogatari: Garzey no Tsubasa, Charlotte, Code Geass R2, Coppelion, Dance in the Vampire Bund, Danganronpa 3: Mirai Hen, Danganronpa 3: Zetsubou Hen, El Cazador de la Bruja, El Hazard: The Magnificent World, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Gangsta, Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig, Ginga Ojou-sama Densetsu Yuna Shin’en no Fairy, Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka series 2, Golgo 13, Gravitation, Gunsmith Cats, Haibane Renmei, Hanare Toride no Yonna, Ixion Saga DT, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders, Kagewani, Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin, Kashimashi, Komori-san wa Kotowarenai, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, Kuuchuu Buranko, Love Live: The School Idol Film, Magic Tree House, Mononoke Hime, Mouryou no Hako, Natsume Yuujinchou, Noir, Non Non Biyori, One Punch Man, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, Rokka no Yuusha, Rurouni Kenshin: Meji Kenkaku Romantan- Tsuiokuhen, Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata, Sansha Sanyou, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, SKET Dance, Sword Art Online II, Terra Formars, Terra Formars Revenge, Toradora, Totsuzen Neko no Kuni Banipal, Triangle Heart Sweet Songs Forever, Upotte, & Yuri Kuma Arashi

So, with our contestants firmly established let’s begin announcing the winners.

The Moffat award for unbearably awful writing in a mostly serious anime or OVA. Our previous winners were Dansi Bunri no Crime Edge, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Madhouse’s take on one of my absolute favourite super hero teams, the X-men. This year we had some stiff competition. The big contenders were Garzey no Tsubasa, Kagewani & Brain Powerd. In the end the winner is Brain Powerd.

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Here’s the thing that sets this one apart from the other two. The other two are unintentionally kind of enjoyable. While Brain Powerd also has some moments that are funny in their incompetence, it’s also much longer and those moments are farther between.

The Simone award for stellar writing in a mostly serious series or OVA. Previous winners were Psycho Pass, Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. While I did watch several fantastic series this year, the winner probably won’t surprise anyone since I only gave one series a ten and the rest of the really strong ones got eights and nines. The winner is El Cazador de la Bruja.

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A fantastically written story about two ladies on a journey, meeting interesting characters and strengthening their bond. I absolutely adored this series.

The Abrams award for worst writing in a film. The prior winners were End of Evangelion, Metropolis & Hetalia: Paint it White. This year we had a very clear winner and that film was: Hanare Toride no Yonna.

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Yes, it was an ugly film with a nonsensical narrative and the best thing I could say about it was that it was over quickly.

The Miyazaki award for best writing in a film. Our previous winners were Nausicaa, Kara no Kyoukai 4 & Spirited Away. This year’s winner is probably kind of obvious. The award goes to Mononoke Hime.

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One of Ghibli’s finest and definitely a worthy winner.

The Macfarlane award for worst attempt at comedy. Our previous winners were OreImo, Kill la Kill & Sunabouzu. This year was a bit difficult since I watched two really horrendous comedies that were roughly on par but this year’s recipient is Kashimashi.

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While Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan series 2 was a real contender, Kashimashi featured “jokes” about the main lead’s father acting like an incestuous pervert.Which is worse than anything from Bokusatsu Tenshi.

The Pratchett award for best comedic elements. The prior winners were Bottle Fairy, Doki Doki Precure & Yuru Yuri San Hai. This year it goes to Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka series 2.

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It’s a cutesy, endearing series and the funniest I’ve watched this year.

The Meyer award for the worst romantic elements. Our previous winners were OreImo, Mawaru Penguindrum & Love Hina Again. This year’s anime that gave love a bad name is Dance in the Vampire Bund.

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It was pretty difficult to choose between this and Kashimashi, the supposedly yuri (but not really) series that goes to absurd extremes to try and justify two girls liking one another. In the end, though, the series where both the major and secondary romance have paedophilic aspects has to be worse.

The Kanemaki award for best romantic elements. Our previous winners were Btooom (for the Himiko/ Ryouta romance), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS With both of those winning for the NanoFate. This year’s winner is probably obvious. The winner is El Cazador de la Bruja.

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Ellis and Nadie are such a superb couple. If Bee Train made an anime that was just the two of them doing mundane things like going to the cinema, grocery shopping, buying a chihuahua & getting married in their matching gowns, I’d watch it. As long as they were in character I’d absolutely love it too. Because when you’ve got a couple this superb, even the mundane things they do are compelling.

The Anno award for the worst cast of characters. Previous winners were End of Evangelion, Neon Genesis Evangelion & Love Hina Again. Joining them this year is Kashimashi.

Kashimashi

Yes, Kashimashi. It has some bland side characters and a whole lot of annoying ones. Notably the main cast.

The Moore award for best cast of characters. Our previous winners were Sailor Moon, Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin & Death Parade. This year it goes to Sailor Moon S.

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This was one of the hardest picks of the year. There were seven other anime that I really considered giving it to. In the end, however, I chose S just because it wins in terms of sheer numbers. In the end, it has more characters that I have a deep fondness for than any of the other series I considered. With most of them having three or four and S having close to ten.

The Bendis award for worst major conflict. The previous sultans of suckage were From Up on Poppy Hill, Sword Art Online & Ice. This year they’re going to be joined by Sword Art Online II.

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While there were some other series with lousy conflicts, Sword Art Online II surpassed them by having three. The plot hole riddled conflict where Blandon has more trouble cleaning up after the incompetence of the authorities than actually dealing with the threat. The whole thing where they’re just doing a lousy quest in an online game and there are no stakes and Blanda being a whiny, obnoxious pile of shite because her mum is slightly domineering.

The Claremont award for most compelling conflict. Previous winners were Psycho Pass, Shingeki no Kyojin & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha As. This year it’s going to Haibane Renmei.

haibane-renmei

With a heavily psychological conflict where the stakes boil down to the life of a character we’ve gotten to know and love. It really is masterful.

The Liefeld award for worst visuals. Previous winners were Aku no Hana, Amada anime series: Super Mario Brothers & last year I did something different by giving out two categories of this award. One for films and the other for series. The winners were Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn & Corpse Party: Tortured Souls. This year I’ll be giving out two again, but this time we have a film that truly has awful art instead of passable art that suffers from weak action scenes. The awards go to Hanare Toride noYonna in the film category and Byston Well Monogatari: Garzey no Tsubasa in the series category.

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Both of these were outright ugly with bizarre proportions. Garzey no Tsubasa may, at least, have unintentionally hilarious art but that’s only because it’s so incompetent.

The Urbino award for excellent visuals. This is another one where I started giving out two last year, but I didn’t in the prior years. With that in mind the winners have been Nausicaa, Tokyo Godfathers, Spirited Away & Mushishi. This year the winner for the film category is Mononoke Hime. The winner for the series category is Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig.

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These ones were very difficult. For films it came down to Mononoke Hime and Advent Children, both of which have stunning visuals. For the series category, it was even harder. There were a good number of series I watched this year that just had superb artwork with really unique aesthetics. But, in the end, these two came out on top.

The Spencer award for acting incompetence. Our previous winners were the English dub of Sailor Moon (which will be the only dub I ever review), Neon Genesis Evangelion & Ice. This year it has to go to Kashimashi.

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Yes, Kashimashi. A series that took talented actors and made them sound like they don’t give a shit, except in a few notable cases where they sounded downright dreadful.

The Sir Stewart award for acting excellence. Our past winners were Black Rock Shooter (OVA), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha & Glass no Kamen. This one is always harder to decide than the Spencer award, since even bad anime tend to have passable performances. So, the really wretched ones stand out. But this year the title of best goes to Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.

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This was a series with a lot of drama, but also a lot of heart. It’s a series where the performances were subtle, nuanced and brilliant. Out of all the fantastic vocal performances I’ve heard this year, it definitely stands out.

The Perry award for worst music in a series. Previous winners were the English dub of Sailor Moon, Street Fighter II & Mars of Destruction. This year it goes to Kagewani.

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While not terrible, the music in it is really weak.

The Kloss award for best music. Our previous winners were Slayers Perfect, K-on the movie & Love Live series 2. This year it’s going to go to Love Live: The School Idol Film.

Love Live film2

This film has phenomenal music. The singing was superb. The composition was excellent. All in all, it’s a film where they needed good music for the premise and they nailed it.

That’s it for this year’s awards. Who knows what awaits us this year in terms of what’s going to be reviewed. This upcoming weekend I’ll post February’s bonus review. It’s covering the graphic novel DC Versus Marvel Comics. So, there’s that to look forward to. Tomorrow I’ll post my review of Love Stage and a special thanks to all of you who have been reading my reviews throughout the year and also those of you who started reading at some point during the year. I always love reading your comments and hearing what you thought of the various series I’ve reviewed. You’re all fantastic. Feel free to leave a comment telling me which of the eligible series you thought should have been shamed or awarded.

Five Changes I’d like to see in Fire Emblem

So, Fire Emblem Fates finally released two weeks ago. At least it did in the EU. The American version’s been out for months. The Japanese version’s been around for close to a year. Anyway, I’ve managed to ply through both routes and I’ll play the third when that comes out in the 9th. Overall, I quite liked it. I like some of its new concepts, liked the story and it had some strong characters. That being said, there are some things I think could or should be done a bit better. So, here’s my list of those. As is my usual, they’re in no particular order, except with some points coming earlier because they’ll factor into later things I discuss. 

1. An Improved A+ rank.

I actually really like the idea of assigning your characters “best friends” with the whole A+ thing. However, I also think it could be done better. For one thing, I’d like to see some support conversations to go with it, actually elevate it above the A rank in a more meaningful way. For another, I’d like to see some potential male/female A+ ranks. Not every possible permutation of a male/female pair has romantic chemistry but they always go S-rank with the possible options anyway, unless they’re related. So, why not forget about trying to force romantic chemistry and just have them be friends instead? There are certainly plenty of best friend pairs like that in real life, including ones where both people involved are straight. 

2. On the Subject of support log unlocks… 

In both Awakening & Fates, you have an avatar character who can be male or female. And, in both games, the support conversations for most of the characters are the same regardless, except regarding who you can reach S-rank with. It’s always been strange to me that 1. you have to unlock these support logs separately when the only differences are whether you can reach S-rank at the end and whether they use feminine or masculine terms to refer to you. 2. That there’s somehow potential romantic chemistry in one case but not the other. If Gaius, Tharja or anyone else has the exact same conversation with your avatar regardless, why does your avatar being the opposite gender suddenly give it romantic potential? 

That brings me to what I’d like to see. First off, I’d like to see the support conversation unlock in the library’s viewer for both the male and female avatar in cases where it’s the same, regardless of which one you actually unlock it with. On the positive side, it would make things much easier for completionists. And, if one of these characters is romance-able, I’d like to see them be romance-able regardless because if one of these conversations illustrates potential chemistry, then they both do. As they are the same conversation. 

3. Group Activities

One addition to Fates I actually really liked is that you can invite a character to your avatar’s “quarters” to interact with them and build your support conversation in a more relaxed environment, as opposed to having them just bond on the battlefield. However, I think this could be expanded on. I think the series could, in fact, really benefit from giving you the occasional option to invite two different characters to spend time with your avatar and have the support ranks go up all around. It would make it much more viable to try and unlock the supports for your other allies without necessarily having to join them at the hip during battles. It would be especially helpful for routes like the Nohr one where you don’t get random encounters and the amount of time you have to get those supports up is very limited. 

4. No more child characters. 

Here’s the thing about having your S-rank characters’ children join your party and fight alongside you. It worked just fine in Awakening when the story was about that. However, in the Fates routes it seems really contrived. Almost like it’s only there because it worked in Awakening. It’s not even necessary since you can beat the game without having a single S-rank couple, or while having your only S-rank couple be male Corrin & Zero/Niles. So, I’d like to see them not keep coming up with flimsy justifications for the children of your characters to show up. 

That being said, the missions to unlock these characters are kind of a big part of the game. So, what do I suggest, besides just having more missions in the story? Well, I’d actually suggest having an apprenticeship system. Have certain characters who, once they reach a certain number of kills, or unlock a certain number of supports or whatever, take on an apprentice. You can have whoever that character is S-rank, or A+ rank if they don’t have an S-rank support, with help them out, hence resulting in a unit with both their skills. On the positive side, it would be a more compelling explanation for the shared skills than them somehow being inherited. Plus, it would provide more potential for interesting skill combination sets. 

5. About the Avatar’s Romance Options…

There’s actually a good reason some people call the newer Fire Emblem titles “waifu simulators.” Your avatar character can marry anyone of the opposite sex and, in two cases for Fates, some characters of the same sex. Including your siblings in Fates because Nintendo & Intelligent designs are a bit fucked up like that. Yeah, that’s actually my biggest criticism of Fates.

Frankly, there are two possible ways I’d like to see this changed. The first is for them to just let your avatar character marry anyone they aren’t related to, regardless. Here’s the thing, if you’re going to just open it up for basically all the romance options, you might as well just open it up for all romance options. It doesn’t make sense to say “Oh, anyone of the opposite sex is fine but when it comes to same sex options, those have to make sense. Gotta have those strict standards.” Clearly, you have no standards as far as that’s concerned. Might as well embrace it and have all the yaoi/yuri/het your players could want. And if this was combined with the second point I made it wouldn’t even be harder for completionists. So, that’s good. 

The second possible thing I’d like to see happen, and the one I’d honestly prefer, is to have a more limited number of romance options but have them all well developed and make sense. Have some characters your avatar can only be friends with and a limited number that they can marry. Preferably with some being same sex or het only and others being available regardless. Because, frankly, in some of the cases where the support conversation is different based on the avatar’s gender, it’s not the opposite sex one that has romantic chemistry. 

So, that’s my list of things I’d like to see in upcoming Fire Emblem titles. On the off chance that someone from Nintendo or Intelligent Designs reads this, feel free to steal any and all of these ideas. If you have your own ideas for the franchise or berate me for my eccentricities, feel free to leave a comment. I’m going to get back to my second Nohr play through. I’m really close to getting Corrin and Peri up to S-rank.

Captain America: Agent of Hydra?

I don’t normally talk about Western comics on here, but with the recent reveal that Steve Rogers aka Captain America aka the personification of truth, justice and all things paragon was revealed to be a long time double agent of the Nazi organisation, Hydra.

Naturally, fans were not happy and were quick to point out all the ways in which this is out of character, made no sense in continuity and was just an egregiously stupid decision on Marvel’s part. Which it is, certainly. However, it’s also not surprising from a meta perspective. 

This isn’t the first time Marvel has done their utmost to absolutely ruin one of their characters. Remember when Tony Stark was revealed to be a sleeper agent for Kang the Conqueror and he ended up getting replaced by his teenage self? Many comic fans remember it as the second worst thing to happen to his character after Civil War. How about when Spidey sold his marriage to the devil so that his old, sickly aunt could live for another week before natural causes caught up with her? (Yes, I know that Aunt May is still alive, I was being facetious.)

How about when Jubilee became a vampire? When Scarlet Witch had a breakdown and her power to affect probability somehow reconstructed the universe into one where Magneto rules and she had babies that were implied to also be her brother’s? When Magneto ceased being a complex character who did morally questionable things for the sake of safeguarding his people and became one-dimensionally evil for the evils? When Cyclops had sex on his wife’s gravestone? When Bishop saw the first signs of the future he was trying to prevent surface with a registration act and decided that it sounded like a good idea?

There are many, many other examples of horrendous characterisation. Some of which ultimately got retconned and some of which are, unfortunately, still part of the Marvel universe. Honestly, that whole pattern of shitty writing is a big part of the reason I stopped buying Marvel comics. Because they do this kind of thing all the time. 

So, why does it happen? Well, part of it is a way to regress characters in age. After all, these are characters who have existed in comics as adults since the 60s, 70s or 80s. If they aged up along with the times, they’d almost all be retiring to make room for new, younger heroes. 

Part of it is just that they don’t always hire the best writers and Joe Quesada was a completely inept chief editor. His replacement, Axel Alonso, doesn’t seem to be doing a better job. Judging by the Captain America thing. You’ll notice that most of these events happened during one of their watches. In fact, some of them, like Spidey’s marriage getting eliminated in a stupid way, were mandated. The combination of incompetent editorial oversight and writers who aren’t that great at writing results in some characters just getting screwed up. 

There’s a third reason too. Mainly, it makes a good publicity stunt. These large-scale character butcherings usually get a lot of attention for the company. If it’s bad enough, they may very well undo the damage and wait for the praise to be piled on them for fixing their own stupid mistakes. Either way, they can rekindle a lot of interest in the book. At least on a temporary basis. It’s a lot easier of a method than actually writing good stories and letting the word spread. 

So, what can we do about it? About the best we can do is, if you hear about something like this happening, don’t buy any comics related to it and send them an e-mail explaining yourself. If it really hurts them financially, they’ll undo it. as for stopping it from happening at all, that’s not going to happen. Just on a realistic level. Characters will keep getting dragged away from people who understand them for crappy company wide crossover events or being given to people who don’t really know the characters or who aren’t very good writers. 

As for the Captain America thing, I don’t think it’ll last. There are just too many rightfully outraged people. 

Combining games for fun and profit

Lately, we’ve seen quite a few games released that combine the mechanics of two different games. Dynasty Warriors with both Zelda & Dragon Quest. Etrian Odyssey with Mystery Dungeon & Persona. Tekken with Pokémon. And that’s just to name a few. On one hand, it’s easy to understand why this happens. It’s an easy way to do something new with a franchise while also using game mechanics that are tried and true, even if they are such for a completely different game franchise. It’s also undoubtedly true that some of these combination games have been really good, melding elements of the two games for something that manages to be, strangely enough, unique.

Yeah, I’m not going to slag off the practice itself. Instead, I’m going to give you a list of five game combinations I’d like to see. Sorted by the one I’d like to see the least to the one I’d like the most.

5. Pokémon & Endless Ocean.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Endless Ocean, the idea is that you’re a diver mucking about underwater in various areas, interacting with marine life to learn about them including feeding and petting them. You even get dolphin friends to swim around with you. It’s a very relaxing game. Imagine how perfect that format would be for a game where you take the role of a Pokémon professor. You could explore various environments, not just the ocean but the forest, mountains and such, while studying wild Pokémon and gaining information for your Pokédex in the most world-building Pokémon game to date with an emphasis on exploration and environment rather than on battling. It wouldn’t be for every Pokémon fan but I’d certainly buy and sink hours of time into it.

4. Metroid & Borderlands

It’s no secret that I love most of the Metroid franchise, except that one game that basically nobody liked where Samus had Daddy issues for some reason. The games are about exploration and making your way through hostile worlds. However, one thing they haven’t really taken advantage of is the fact that Samus is a bounty hunter. Which is why I think it could benefit from taking some cues from Borderlands. Giving us a Metroid game with city hubs and quests. They could even adapt the gold rewards system to have Samus unlock armour, missile and weapon upgrades instead of just having her lose her power-ups and have to relocate them, usually attached to random statues.

3. Dragon Quest & Dissidia

Having a Final Fantasy based fighting game, that isn’t Ehrgeiz or anything like Ehrgeiz, was a brilliant move on Square-Enix’s part. And I’d love to see the same kind of treatment given to their other big RPG franchise, Dragon Quest. just tweak the mechanics a bit to be more suitable for the franchise and you’d almost certainly have a hit.

2. Persona & X-men Legends

The great thing about this combination is that it would work either way. You could have a more action-oriented Persona game where you can switch between characters readily and summon your personae for special attacks or a more traditional X-men RPG with an emphasis on the character dynamics. Which would also have the benefit of letting characters who don’t really work with the Legends style of gameplay, characters like Shadowcat, Mirage & Karma, take active roles in the party.

1. Fire Emblem & Neptunia

I know, I’m weird. That being said, I would love to see a more action-RPG style Fire Emblem game  where enemy soldiers are scattered throughout a map and you can avoid or engage them while making your way through the map. Where scavenging for materials is a big deal. With a female cast and where the Support conversation system is combined with Neptunia’s Lily rank system for a bit more of an involved dynamic when your ladies reach C, B, A or S-rank. Honestly, it could easily replace Blazing Sword as my favourite Fire Emblem title if it had characters and a narrative on par with it. Even if it couldn’t really include perma-death with a more Neptunia style battle system.

There you have it, some game combinations I, in all my eccentricity, would personally like to see. Feel free to leave your own ideas for cool combinations that haven’t been done yet in the comments.

My Review Process & Philosophy.

Hello, Everyone. I thought I’d take a moment to discuss my process and philosophy towards reviews. 

My process is pretty simple. I take a lot of requests and try to watch and review those anime as quickly as I can. Right now my request queue, not including One Punch Man since it’s coming this week, is: Golgo 13, Code Geass R2, Ixion Saga DT, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka series 2, Sket Dance, Toradora, Charlotte, Rakudai kishi no Cavalry, Sword Art Online 2 (really not looking forward to that one given that the first series was horrendous) & Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. 

If you ever have an anime you’d like me to review, you’re welcome to leave a comment. Just keep in mind that I’ll review the Japanese version and I don’t review hentai, the reason being that the primary purpose of hentai is sexual stimulation and I’m sure most of you don’t need to hear about what stimulates me or, for that matter, to hear me complain about the story or characterisation in a hentai being weak because that’s really not the point. 

I will, occasionally just review something because I want to see it or review something short at random between reviews of longer series just to give me more time to watch the longer series. Before I even start watching a series, I’ll do some basic research and write out the opening paragraph, sometimes including a prediction about the series and I have been surprised on occasion when I do that. Sometimes pleasantly. 

After I watch a series I’ll wait at least a day before writing out the review so that I have time to mull over my thoughts and I just find that that helps me be clearer and more concise when I go to actually type the review out. 

My review philosophy is actually fairly simple. I have two main principles I follow. The first is honesty. The second is clarity. 

I always tell you guys exactly what I think even if the majority of people disagree with me. Because, honestly, it’s fine to have a minority opinion. It’s perfectly valid and we all have things that we’re like that about. Furthermore, I think those of you who follow me and read my reviews regularly are mature enough to accept it when my opinions don’t coincide with yours. Even when I get a bit snarky about expressing myself. 

I know some reviewers like to do things like take it easy on popular series, in spite of their personal feelings. The opposite is also true. Some reviewers like to go the hipster route and always go contrary to popular opinion. If that’s what someone wants to do, that’s fine but it’s not for me. If I feel like an anime deserves a “1” I don’t care if it’s popular, unpopular or most people are unaware of it’s existence, I’ll give it the score that I personally feel it deserves. And I think my reviewing history pretty thoroughly illustrates that. 

When it comes to clarity, it really means two things. The first is that I’m going to do my level best to explicate on the flaws I found in a series and the things I liked about it and I’m going to explain that as well as I can.

It also translates to me expressing my views very bluntly. I know that some people, when they know their opinion isn’t popular, like to try and mitigate any backlash they might get by trying to phrase their criticisms nicely or by trying to phrase their praise in a subdued way. Which, again, is fine if someone wants to do that. But I’ll just come out and say exactly what I think or I’ll give something criticism but do it in a really snarky way that makes it readily apparent that I’m actually insulting it. Because I think you’re all great readers and that you can handle that level of honesty. 

I’m thinking about doing a Q&A post on the 27th. So, in closing this little post about why I do things the way I do, I’ll just ask you all to leave any questions you may have in the comments. I’ll answer those for you, assuming they’re questions I actually can answer. I hope you all have a great week and I hope you enjoy the One Punch Man review when it goes up on Wednesday. 

First Annual Reader Awards: And the Votes say…

Okay, everyone. Two weeks ago I said that I’d put up your choices for the awards. So, this week I’m doing that. Keep in mind, those people who did vote didn’t see all the anime I reviewed. So, these are going to lean pretty heavily towards the better known anime that I watched.Now, let’s look at your choices. Whether I agree with them or not.

Moffat Award for worst series/OVA: Corpse Party: Tortured Souls. 

Yeah, this one is bad. As a work of horror, it fails pretty badly, being funny more often than frightening. Not my pick, but I can see why it was yours.

Simone Award for best serious series/OVA: Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch.

This is another one I can understand. Code Geass did a lot right and gave us a compelling story. Incidentally, I will be reviewing the second series in either late March or early April. So, that’ll be fun for all of us.

Abrams Award for worst film: Hetalia: Paint it White.

Here’s one we agreed on. This film was just bad with all of its good scenes being lazily lifted from the main series.

Miyazaki Award for best film: Spirited Away

Here’s another one we completely agree on. This film gave us a grand adventure with strong characters and was just Studio Ghibli at their best.

Macfarlane award for worst comedy: Hetalia: Paint it White.

I guess you guys disliked that film a lot more than I did, because I can think of a couple worse comedies I watched, but this is all about you and your choice was Paint it White.

Pratchett Award for best comedy: Gintama

I can’t really agree on this one. Gintama is not my type of comedy. But, at the same time, this choice isn’t surprising, since the series is popular.

Meyer Award for worst romance: Love Hina.

This one doesn’t really surprise me either. After all, it’s very close to my own pick.

Kanemaki Award for best romance: Yuru Yuri: San Hai.

I’m not really sure which pairing you all liked the most from this series. Maybe it was Sakurako & Himawari. Maybe it was Chinatsu & Yui. Maybe it was a poly-amorous coven. Whatever the case, San Hai was your choice for best romance.

Anno Award for worst cast: Hetalia: Paint it White.

On one hand, I don’t think this series has a bad cast at all. But, on the other hand, the film does kind of make it look like it does. either way, this is your choice I had mine two weeks ago.

Moore Award for best cast: Gintama

Well then… I guess that’s a thing.

Bendis Award for worst conflict: Corpse Party: Tortured Souls. 

In terms of execution, this conflict is pretty bad. I can see why you picked it.

Claremont Award for best conflict: Code Geass Hangyaku no Lelouch

I can understand this one too. Code Geass was really good about setting up both a conflict of ideals and one of this small resistance force against a major power.

Liefeld Award for worst visuals: Corpse Party: Tortured Souls

This was one of my two choices too. With overblown gore effects that are exaggerated to the point of silliness and ridiculous monsters. It just looks bad. Glad we agree on that.

Urbino Award for best visuals: Spirited Away.

Again, we agree. Also one of my choices this year. The visuals in this are Studio Ghibli at their finest. Beautiful details and a fantastically designed world.

Spencer Award for worst acting: Corpse Party: Tortured Souls.

I don’t disagree about this being badly done. These characters were bland and the actors, though they do their best, can’t really make them sound compelling.

Sir Stewart Award for best acting: Yahari ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru.

The series does have some strong performances. Can’t really fault you for picking it.

Perry Award for worst music: Corpse Party: Tortured Souls

This one got a lot of the negative reader awards this year.

Kloss Award for best music: Gintama.

I’m just not going to say anything on this one. After all, this is about your picks.

So, there’s how you all voted. I guess you really liked Gintama, Spirited Away & Code Geass and really hated Corpse Party & Hetalia: Paint it white. I can largely agree on four of those.