Tag Archives: review

The Choujo

The Choujo is a part of the Rumik World series of OVAs, none of which I’ve seen. It came out in 1986 from Studio Pierrot. Yes, the same studio that worked on Yu Yu Hakusho & Osomatsu-san. So, how does this compare to their other works I’ve seen?

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Story:

We open with Maris, a survivor from an extinct planet, beating the shit out of some bad guys as part of her duty for the Intergalactic Space Patrol. She goes on vacation and tries to earn some extra money, as her parents break things constantly. That’s when she’s given a big, important job to rescue a kidnapped heir. She sees it as an opportunity to marry into money. Lady, just take out an ad. You’ve got super strength and good looks (by the standards of the art style), I’d bet some wealthy heir or heiress would accept you as a trophy bride. In any case, she goes off to confront the kidnapper and rescue the rich twit.

The biggest problem with this series is just that it’s pretty damn boring. The humour is stale with very predictable jokes. There are also long chunks of the OVA where nothing happens. You want a long scene that’s supposed to be funny where we just watch random shit on the beach? That’s in this. And I’m sure it’s totally not a flimsy excuse to see some ladies in bikinis. Because this series just puts its main characters, protagonist & antagonist, in bikinis any way. There’s just nothing compelling to it. Maybe there was some novelty value to be had back in 1986, but I’ve seen some other anime from that era and I kind of doubt it.

Characters:

Here’s where the real issues come in. This is one of those series that should be relying on quirky characters to make its humour work, but they range from dull to actively annoying. With the major characters gravitating towards the latter. Maris herself is just obnoxiously vapid. The same is true for Sue. They’re just physically powerful ladies, who have a vague “hate being poor” schtick going for them. But, you know, they dress in battle bikinis so we can call that character development, if we want to use dumb old memes. Then we have the heir. Think of Andy from Cowboy Bebop if he had no interesting or redeeming traits and was just shit. That’s pretty much Koganemaru.

Art:

Even for the mid 80s, this looks bad. The animation is really slow and choppy, a lot of the artwork is just lazy. In terms of its weirder, theoretically comedic, imagery, it’s not exactly Yellow Submarine. This might have actually benefited from being more stony, to be honest. About the best I can say is that it’s easy enough to follow and not a huge mess. Just a bit of one.

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Sound:

Koyama Mami & Shimamoto Sumi are both decent enough in this, considering the script. Yeah, not gonna lie it comes across as a bit lacklustre. The music is fine too. Not the best in the world, but it works.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any. The only bits of romance we see are vapid ladies pining over a bored rich boy.

Final Thoughts:

The Choujo is a bit rubbish, actually. With a completely trite narrative, weak humour, annoying major characters, poor artwork and sound that’s just okay (but still the best element in the piece.) Ultimately, I give it a 3/10 and probably should have left it floating in the septic tank instead of fishing it out just because I was curious. Someone put it in the tank for a reason. Next week I’ll look at Makai Senki Disgaea. I just hope the anime is as good as the game.

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D-frag: Just shift the lead a bit and…

D-Frag is an ongoing comedic manga by Haruno Tomoya. In 2014, Brain’s Base (yes the studio behind Baccano, Ixion Saga DT & OreGairu) aired a twelve episode adaptation. I’ll be covering both that and the one episode OVA that was bundled with a special edition for the manga.

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Story:

Our protagonist, Kazama, is a delinquent. One day he and his fellow skivers find themselves running afoul of the Game Creation club. To their surprise, they’re handily beaten by the girls in the club. This swiftly results in Kazama being recruited to join the club. This, naturally, leads to shenanigans.

The humour in this is pretty hit and miss. It has some very funny moments. The types of weird games the club comes up with can be really funny. A lot of the gags referencing games are also quite well done. The series is also good at coming up with crazy scenarios that have a lot of comedic potential. The OVA is a great example. The characters get involved in a race for special limited edition water and there are a lot of comedic possibilities with that as your premise. It wouldn’t work as a long, full length anime but for one episode it’s a perfect concept.

On the other side of things, you have the jokes about masochism which just get really repetitive and predictable very quickly, thereby losing most of their impact. The series manages a few scenes that work with it but for every time it works there are three where it doesn’t. It doesn’t help that the series gives us two characters who have masochism as their main spiel. The same major issue holds true for the bulk of the love triangle japes. Kazama finds himself of interest to two different girls in a way that’s so obvious even I wouldn’t be oblivious to it if I were in that situation. And I once thought a young woman wrote her phone number on something she handed me by accident. And this dude seems completely oblivious. But that’s not the issue with these jokes. The problem is that they’re basically the same thing every time. The buxom girl gets embarrassed and acts cringey, while Roka is just completely forthright and Kazama plays the oblivious straight man. They can be funny sometimes but they’re usually just cringe-worthy.

I will give the series credit, though. Its comedy does work well more often than it falls flat, by a pretty strong margin.

Characters:

All in all, the cast works fine in a comedic context. If this were a serious series, they wouldn’t. But as is, the only real complaint I have is that Kazama is kind of dull. His one job is to react to all the crazy shit everyone else does, and get dragged into it. Some might argue that you need the more “serious” character to help emphasise the craziness and respond to it but Galaxy Angel has an entire cast of bizarre, quirky characters and it is a superior comedy to this. Same with Muteki Kanban Musume.

I’m not saying that no comedies should ever have that type of reaction character, but they aren’t exactly interesting &, honestly, they shouldn’t be put in the lead role. The mostly uninspired and uninteresting love triangle interactions don’t help make a case for him either.

Art:

The animation is decent enough. Kind of standard but the designs work, the movements are smooth and the series does use comedic stylistic shifts and expressions pretty effectively.

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Sound:

Hanazawa Kana, Takahashi Mikako, Saito Chiwa & Ueda Kana make for a thoroughly solid cast. About the worst I can say is that the series may be excessive with its use of exaggerated reactions and it results in a lot of yelling that can get quite trite. I bet Konishi Katsuyuki really shredded his voice doing that since he gets the worst of it. Chamomile tea is good for that, Mate. The music… I wasn’t fond of the theme tunes in this one. It goes for that super hyperactive, noticeably auto-tuned aesthetic you get with some comedies. The incidental music was perfectly fine. Not the best I’ve heard from Matsuda Akito, but decent enough.

Ho-yay:

There’s a bit. One of the masochist characters seems to want some polyamory involving Kazama. The OVA gets some homo-erotic moments between Sakura and Noe.

Final Thoughts:

D-Frag has a good amount of funny moments and some characters with strong quirks to carry it. I would go so far as to say that it is a good comedy. But it also suffers from putting a rather standard, dull character in the lead role and from some comedic bits that just get played out way before they stop using them. So, I can’t call it great. Final rating, a solid 7/10. Next week, The Choujo.

Cowboy Bebop: See You, Space Cowboy

Cowboy Bebop is a hugely influential anime from the late 90s. It was brought to us by Sunrise. Yes, them again. You’d think they’d been around since the 70s and had done a tonne of works. But yes, the Dirty Pair, Gundam, Love Live & Witch Hunter Robin studio is back. Now, I have seen Cowboy Bebop before so I won’t be going into it blind. Rather, it’ll be one of those series I re-watch. I will say that I remember it being quite good but it’s possible that that’ll change since it’s been about a decade since I saw it last. Let’s find out.

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Story:

we open with our heroes, Spike & Jet in a state of financial trouble. Fortunately for them, they have a plan to get some credits to their name. They just have to go out and hunt some bounties. This is one of those series where there’s not much in terms of an underlying story. Most of the episodes deal with the Bebop crew going on various missions to hunt bounties and they follow a linear path with certain missions very clearly taking place after others.

One of the most impressive elements in the series is the way it handles tone. Cowboy Bebop has some more comedic portions. It also has some dark and depressing moments and it handles all of them, and the transitions betwixt them, very well. A big part of that is simply that it doesn’t go too extreme with either. Its comedic moments are more of the “life can be weird & fun” variety. It avoids the over the top zany type of comedy. And its dark scenes aren’t the super dark “we’re trying far too hard to be edgy and extreme” type and are more subdued. And that’s what the success with tone comes down to, Cowboy Bebop excels at having scenes that feel pretty true to life. In spite of involving a crew of bounty hunters travelling in a space ship and, in a couple cases, science derived super powers. The emotional crux of the scenes, whether jovial or tragic, still feels very relatable

Let’s go into a bit more detail about the episodic nature of the series. Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows that has a lot of ideas for its episodes and does them all really well. There isn’t a single episode that I can point to and say “that one wasn’t very good.” There’s not even one I can point to and say “that one was just good, not great but good.” Then again, this was written by Nobumoto Keiko, who also wrote Wolf’s Rain & worked on the script for Tokyo Godfathers. The series also has some interesting, subtle things that are symbolically important. Including Spike’s heterochromia which gets brought up fairly early and comes into play for the finale. Incidentally, the finale is absolutely phenomenal. I also really like the way the series does chase sequences. They can be kind of absurd but they hit that sweet spot where they have just the right levels of absurdity & intensity to be amazing.

Characters:

Let’s begin our discussion with the most divisive character in the series, Edward. There are quite a few people in the fan base who don’t much care for her because she’s a bit childish, weird & generally a high energy “space case.” And you’re probably thinking I’m one of those since I don’t like children in general but I actually like her quite a bit. I find her to be a pretty delightful character. And I appreciate that she has complexity to her. There are elements to her back story that explain why she is the way she is and she is, in many ways, a prodigy but in others she acts her age. There aren’t a lot of child prodigy characters who are still allowed to be children. They’re usually shown as prodigies by being far more mature than anyone their age should be. So, I can appreciate this kind of take on it.

The rest of the characters get similar treatment. They have very well developed back stories that you get glimpses of in various missions, eventually having them come into the spotlight for big character moments. These past events also explain a lot of the stranger facets of their personalities and they do have complex, developed personalties. And it’s not just the major characters who are multi-faceted & compelling. The major characters they encounter in various missions get the same kind of treatment. To a lesser extent, for obvious reasons but they are brilliantly written characters.

Art:

I know I’d normally criticise the fan-service outfits, but I can’t really in this case. See, they do play up Faye’s sexiness a bit with her outfit and such, but they do it in ways that actually suit her character and they do show restraint even in the most risqué scenes. So, I can’t really complain about it. Because Faye isn’t a practical minded woman so you don’t really expect her to dress in practical attire. It’s not often I encounter a series that manages to have fan-service elements but makes them work and shows class with them.

The backgrounds and sci-fi dressings are fantastic. The action sequences, particularly in the last episode are phenomenal and the character designs are memorable for all the right reasons. And Ein is absolutely adorable. I want to pat his furry little head.

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Sound:

If a certain other popular sci-fi series gave us Hayashibara Megumi’s worst performance, this easily gives us one of her best. And it’s not just her. Tada Aoi, Yamadera Kouichi, Ishizuka Unshou, Wakamoto Norio and many, many actors for side characters are all fantastic in this.

This series also has some of the best music I’ve heard in an anime. And not jut because the beats are thoroughly solid but because it’s very good at using its incidental music to add that perfect final touch to any given action sequence. There are times where you’re watching the action get started and the music kicks in at just the right time to elevate the scene beyond what it could possibly achieve with visuals alone. In fact, it happens a lot.

Ho-yay:

There’s a little bit. They encounter some gay guys during missions. I have to say, I appreciate that Spike’s reaction to a man hitting on him is just an awkward disinterest in the dude. There are too many things that play up an exaggerated disgust in that kind of situation instead of having the character handle it like an adult.

Final Thoughts:

Those of you who are familiar with my work know that I won’t praise something solely because it’s popular. In this case, I am going to join with the majority and sing the praises of this series. It’s easily among the best science fiction works I’ve seen.. It just does everything really damn well and with very little room for improvement. For my final rating, I have to go with a full 10/10. Next week, D-Frag.

June Bonus review- Avengers: United They Stand

About a year ago, I did a bonus review over Spider-man: Unlimited. It was not the wall crawler’s best moment, but at least it wasn’t One More Day or that comic where he gave birth to himself or Civil War. Why do terrible writers like to muck about with Spidey? Why can’t they just stick to writing Squirrel Girl & Bendis’ Mary Sue? In any case, I made the point that the late 90s were a bad time for Marvel cartoons in general and this was one of the ones I brought up that flopped hard. So, where exactly did they go wrong with Earth’s mightiest heroes? Let’s take a look, True Believers.

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Story: 

We open with the Avengers preparing to meet the President, who stands poised to recognise their great achievements, and probably take credit for them. Unfortunately for them, a  ne-er do well named Ultron is afoot and plotting the demises of both the President & Ant Man. In typical Marvel fashion, this results in a public outcry against the team with the President tweeting that “they’re possibly the biggest mess of a team. Gone downhill so much thanks to the last administration letting that immigrant mutant on the team. Sad.” Actually, it’s a totally different President and he blames Hawkeye because… Hawkeye had him duck and then shot arrows at the attacking robots and… he should have picked him up and run thereby leaving them both open to attack from behind? Seriously, you see none of the other Avengers around during this sequence. It’s not like they had Wonder Man paired with Hawkeye to draw the hostile fire or something. This is immediately stupid. And that’s our introduction to the team in action.

Moments of sheer stupidity like that aren’t even the biggest narrative problem in this series. They divide their main focus between Ultron & the Zodiac, thereby not giving them time to resolve anything with either big bad and ending on a cliff hanger because no one was watching this. They also love to introduce the idea of back story for them without actually showing anything substantial. Like Ultron being a creation of Pym’s who was destroyed, but they’ll never show what the deal with that is or the Zodiac having been foiled by the Avengers in scenes we’ll never see. And there’s a big focus on Wonder Man being kidnapped… after he’s been missing for, like, six episodes. Yeah, they pretty much bring it up in passing like it’s not that big of a deal and then they start acting like it’s the most important thing ever for no apparent reason. There’s also the bloody stupid love triangle. Frankly, all the romances in this are really bad. You just start out with characters in a relationship and they never give you any reason to care. Remember when the mid 90s X-men cartoon had Scott & Jean in a relationship at the start and then they had the Captive Hearts episode to give you, the viewer, cause to be invested in that? This one can’t be bothered. Let’s also bring up “holy fucking shit he’s a ‘perfect’ machine”  Ultron. We’re supposed to buy this dude as a credible threat for our team but he’s a freaking moron, even for a cartoon villain. Take one of his early plans. He sends his robots to draw out the Avengers, except Ant Man, so that he can mount a full assault against Pym because Ultron is actually very anti- domestic violence and he wants to see Pym stopped. But then the robots immediately shut down when the Avengers arrive instead of putting up any kind of fight that could  have, I don’t know, delayed them without rousing their suspicions. Why not just have them beat the bots aster than anticipated? You could still have them arrive in time and it would be a lot less stupid.

Characters:

This is a big issue with this cartoon. The cast they chose. Let’s pretend, just for a second, that Pym being a bride battering brute doesn’t matter because they don’t want any of the kids who watch this to ever read the comics. And I know that’s a stretch, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend the comics don’t matter. He’s still a  terrible choice to lead the team. Why? Because there are a lot of options with better costumes, more interesting powers and who are just better liked. The show itself brings it up talking about Thor, Iron Man & Captain America but it argues that he helped found the Avengers and, therefore, he’s just as qualified. But this is a show for kids and you know kids are going to want to see the “cool” characters. No kid cares about freaking Ant Man. Wonder Man is a pretty bad choice too, since he’s basically just a Mary Sue in this. Hell, why not take out the Falcon too and bring in the Black Panther? Even before the films, the Panther was a better known character and his costume is definitely superior. And it doesn’t help that they do nothing with this cast to make them interesting. They’re just a bland group.

Art:

There are three big problems with the artwork. The first is the costumes. A lot of the films screw up the costumes by trying to tone them down and making them just boring. This series goes the opposite route & tries to make things more “extreme” by giving most of the Avengers special armour that they put on through transformation sequences and it just ends up looking terrible. Especially with Hawkeye, the Wasp & the Falcon who take the brunt of it. It’s just ostentatious is what it is. The second issue is the transformation sequences themselves. It feels like they’re trying to capture a sentai or magical girl vibe with them but without any finesse and with an end result that looks awful. The third is that the animation is frequently slow and choppy.

Sound: 

The acting isn’t the worst ever, but it’s pretty bad. You get some performances that are all right like Stavroula Logothetttis or Tony Daniels but the majority of them seem like the actors can’t be bothered to put in any effort. Not that I would either if I was handed this script. The theme tune is similar to the one from the COPS cartoon, in that it has a good beat but is weakened by the repetition of the title.

Final Thoughts:

There are, certainly, worse comic adaptations than this. There are also worse things that the Avengers have been in. This is still a bad cartoon. With a team that has some of the best characters in the Marvel universe as potential members, they chose their core cast poorly. Why would you ever have Hank Pym as the leader in a work for children? With the story, they couldn’t just focus on one villain arc and ended up making a right mess of things. They couldn’t even get a lot of the basics right. In the end, I have to give this the same score as Spider-man Unlimited. United They Stand earns a disappointing 3/10.

Oh, and let’s take a quick peek at our big hero we’re all supposed to love.

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Elf wo Karu Mono-Tachi: yet another fetish series

Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi is an anime based off of a Yagami Yu manga. The anime adaptation was handled by Group TAC. Yes, the studio behind Arashi n Yoru ni & Shinigami no Ballad. It came out in the mid 90s and has been largely forgotten. I’ve actually seen this one before and, from what I recall, there’s a good reason for that. So, I’ll re-watch it and go over the tawdry details.

those who hunt elves

Story:

Our tale takes place in a fantasy world where a trio from our world, Ritsuko the high school girl with a bunch of gun, karate maniac Junpei & the actress Airi. After a ritual to get them home fails, they find themselves looking for the fragments which have made their way to the bodies of various elves. Naturally, this means they have to strip attractive elven ladies to search for them. Because class is something completely foreign to this series.

Now, I could point out the obvious flaws with the narrative. Like that they know a respected elf elder and could easily organise a non-obtrusive screening to find the fragments or that Ritsuko shouldn’t have a bunch of guns and tank since she’s Japanese, not American and the Japanese don’t sell that shit at the nearest Wal-mart for “hunting varmints.” But it’s a comedy and the obvious response to that would be “who cares if it’s funny?” Therein lies the problem. This series isn’t funny. It’s humour is based around three things. Yagami indulging his fetish for elves being stripped, rampant stupidity & lamp shading the tropes that they use that are characteristic of terribly written fantasy. The first just comes across as juvenile & crass. The second as juvenile and the third is just terrible writing. Lamp shading can work when it’s paired with some kind of intelligent critique or strong parody but this series wouldn’t know intelligence if it danced in its face and its parody aspect is, at best, the vague “this is a thing that gets used sometimes” type. Consequently, it fails at that variety of humour as well.

Characters:

The cast in this is just a bunch of dull, one-dimensional archetypes. Which, to be fair, could work for a comedy if they meshed well together for comedic purposes. Unfortunately, this series can’t be bothered. Their interactions mostly consist of “how do we strip this elf?” “let’s do this thing” and some petty bickering that’s not entertaining.

Art:

The obvious issue with the artwork is the heavy emphasis on Yagami’s fetish. That, however, isn’t the only issue. The action sequences are slow and boring. The attempts at exaggerated comedic expression are just obvious and over done. I guess I can give it some credit for the character designs being decent, but that’s about it.

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Sound:

The series did get some good actors. Mitsuishi Kotono, Tomizawa Michie, Miyamura Yuko & Seki Tomokazu are the major characters. So, we’ve got Moon & Mars. But their performances in this are decidedly of the “barely competent” variety. Which, to be fair to the actors, is kind of inevitable when you have characters who just have nothing to them and the direction demands comedic exaggeration for humourless drivel. Then we have the music. This is the one area where I can give the series some actual praise. The opening and ending theme tunes are genuinely good. The incidental music is just mediocre but those theme tunes are worth checking out by themselves.

Ho-yay:

There’s one scene where an elf thinks that Ritsuko & Airi are trying to hit on her because they’re checking her out in a bath house but that’s about it.

Final Thoughts:

Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi is trite rubbish. It’s designed to appeal to young, heterosexual teenage boys who don’t know any better and people who have an elf fetish and can use the supposed comedy as an excuse to indulge it. If neither of those describes you, I can’t recommend it. Just look up the theme tunes. I give it a wag of my finger and a 2/10. Next week, Cowboy Bebop.

Tetsuwan Birdy Decode: Guest Starring Anime Shyamalan

Tetsuwan Birdy Decode is an anime from late 08 based off of a manga from the mid to late 80s. It was originally written by Yuuki Masami. The anime was handled by A-1. Yes, them again. And this one came out before Kuroshitsuji too. Which will officially make it the earliest A-1 anime I’ve reviewed. I don’t know what to expect since their quality is so variable. Let’s have a look.

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Story:

We open with our titular Birdy in pursuit of some criminals. Turns out she’s a federation security agent and yet she doesn’t wear gold. In any case, she captures their getaway driver but they scarper. Cut to some time later, Birdy and her squid friend have tracked the criminals to Earth. Because of course you have to set things on Earth instead of an alien civilisation. It just makes things so much more interesting when we see the usual scenery. Also, much easier than developing an alien culture. Any way, they manage to confront one of the crooks only to have him play operation human shield with a random civilian, thereby getting said civilian sliced in half. They transfer his consciousness into Birdy’s body while they fix his and the misadventures of these two swapping places and clashing begins.

Let’s start with the biggest narrative problem, the aesthetic. This series takes itself pretty seriously while including some really goofy content that’s actually impossible to take seriously. For example, the main characters sharing a body and having to swap control and forms, because I guess Birdy can shape shift. That’s an element you’d expect to see used for goofy sitcom style shenanigans, but this series largely tries to use it for drama. Including having situations where people die or get hurt because these two find themselves in an awkward predicament. Then we have one of the major antagonists, Shyamalan. This dude looks like he’s intended as a stand in for M Night Shyamalan & happens to completely unsubtly have the same family name. Again, this is something that could be great in a comedy. A criminal Shyamalan parody who sets up dumb twists for his crimes. Robs a bank while taking hostages, turns out the small children in the crowd are his accomplices and they pull out comically large weapons that would only be legal to buy in America. He hijacks a plane but it turns out that he owns the air line and he’s technically allowed to have one of the planes go somewhere else, it’s just terrible customer service. That could be hilarious. But this series just plays him as a subdued, narcissist and tries to have some serious scenes with him that you can’t actually take seriously because he’s a fucking M Night Shyamalan stand in.

There are also a lot of little plot details that don’t go anywhere. The undercover modelling career Birdy has for, like, an episode and then doesn’t get mentioned again. The whole issue where Tsutomu’s mind might envelop hers but it never really becomes an issue. But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on these in general since there is a second series. Maybe that one actually does something with them.

With that being said, the series does have some interesting stuff. What little we actually see of the alien society is pretty neat. The narrative has enough intrigue to keep it compelling, even if impossible to take seriously. To be honest, I am kind of interested in seeing the second series. The big climax has some strong moments and I do appreciate that they resolve the major conflict of the series and leave a more minor thing that crops up as the sequel bait.

Characters:

The characters in this, at least the major and important secondary ones, are largely pretty decent. Shyamalan is kind of your generic “I am super important and therefore can do what I wish for my goals” types of villains & a lot of the class mate characters are pretty dull too. There are also the “mysterious” characters who may get some development in the second series but are just vaguely cryptic in this one. Our main pair has some complexity to them. I appreciate that the series doesn’t push a romance with them, giving Tsutomu a different girl he likes. Because it’s just really stupid when a series goes “we pushed these two characters together with some contrivances. Now they’re in love.” Hayamiya is interesting. Tuto has his moments. I kind of like that he puts on the guise of super flamboyance and seems to enjoy himself doing it but has significantly more to him. There are too many characters out there who are just flamboyant.

Art:

The artwork is nothing spectacular. In general, it looks fine and the stylistic way they do action for it can really work but the characters look a bit plain and the backgrounds are just functional and kind of bland. Like Mito, the aliens are largely just animal people but this series does put considerably more effort into making them look interesting. I actually kind of like the alien designs, when they don’t just look human. Pity you see so little of them.

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Sound:

There are some good performances from Chiba Saeko, Sakamoto Maaya, Irino Miyu, Itou Kanae & Kawada Shinji. Even the actors who voice less than interesting characters do pretty darn well in their roles. The music from Kanno Yugo is quite good.

Ho-yay:

Tuto is, I’m pretty certain, not straight. Him aside, none of the other characters really come across as being romantically interested in anyone of the same sex. It’s like the exact opposite of the stories I write in that regard.

Final Thoughts:

Tetsuwan Birdy Decode has some pretty severe problems. It has elements that would only work as comedic but played far too seriously. Its characters range from mundane to pretty good and its art has a lot of meh to it. Overall, it’s not a bad anime by any stretch but I can’t call it a good one either. It’s an average work that had the potential to be so much more with some effort and thought. So, I give it a 5/10. Next week, I’ll go back to Wednesday reviews. Starting with Pokemon: Mewtwo no Gyakushuu.

Witch Hunter Robin: Solomon is basically run by Genosha.

Witch Hunter Robin was a 2002 Sunrise anime. Yes, the same studio that brought us Gundam (the good and the bad), Code Geass, Dirty Pair and many more. What’s that, you want to know why this review is late? Well, I had some Internet troubles and the technician just fixed the situation. You know, the usual boring life stuff.

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Story:

We open with a witch hunting organisation, STN-J, anticipating their new recruit. They quickly meet her, the titular Robin, as fire craft user with an improbable hair style. Which just proves that she’s the protagonist. From there, we watch as Robin and her team go up against witches of various kinds and bring them in. But there’s something amiss with STN-J. Where are they taking the witches they capture and what is this mysterious Orbo substance that protects them from a witch’s powers?

The biggest narrative problem with the series has to do with the set up. So, we’ve got these Seeds who are born with mysterious powers that may or may not awaken. If they awaken they’re either recruited by the Solomon organisation, STN-J’s parent company, or they’re hunted as witches. So, they’re basically Marvel mutants if the Xavier institute aggressively went after every mutant who didn’t join an X-team. The problem is, how did this organisation get formed and why do mutants join up with them instead of fighting back? We know Orbo is a new invention and that normal humans can’t use it without complications. That’s a major plot point. So, how exactly do they get people to cooperate with them? There’s never an explanation. It’s just the way it is. I guess their world needs a Magneto.

On the positive side, the series is interesting. It has quite a few mysterious elements that get built up throughout and, ultimately, do have pretty satisfying conclusions. So, there is quite a bit of investment to be had. I also do appreciate the way a lot of early events that don’t seem particularly significant do ultimately play a more substantial role than you might think.

Characters:

This is where the series has its most significant problem. Namely, some of the major character dynamics come across as under-developed and contrived. You’ll have certain characters who show no interest in one another outside of business matters or where one does but the other doesn’t. Then the plot needs them to have a closer dynamic and they will as if by magic. Who knows, maybe a witch is manipulating the script. Probably the same witch who completely changed Squall’s characterisation in the last disc, except this series isn’t nearly that egregious. How interesting a character is also varies a lot. And this isn’t a series where the split is based on a character’s importance. You can have a major character like Amon who’s a bog standard, stick up his arse serious dude while some more secondary characters like Michael and Karasuma actually get complexity and some interesting traits.

Art:

Sunrise’s art in this has a fair few problems. First of all, the character expressions are frequently just vacant. Secondly, some of the action sequences can be really slow and even kind of tedious. With that out of the way, the series does have an interesting aesthetic and when they get their action sequences right, they’re really damn good.

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Sound:

This is another element that varies a bit. They got a lot of talented people like Watanabe Akeno, Yuuki Hiro, Fukuyama Jun and others. But some of them, like Fukuyama, got saddled with dull characters while others, for narrative reasons, spend a lot of the series trying to sound unaffected, rather like they don’t care. Which doesn’t exactly lead to the most impactive performances. The musical score is pretty good.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any.

Final Thoughts:

Witch Hunter Robin has quite a few problems. As well as some things that could have been done better. That being said, it is an interesting series with enough strong characters to exonerate it, mostly, for the bland ones. If you want something with supernatural action, and you’ve already seen Yami No Matsuei, it’s a good choice. Final rating, 7/10. Next week, Tetsuwan Birdy Decode.