Tag Archives: So Ra No Wo To

Ktulu’s 6th Annual Awards & Shaming Ceremony

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

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

The Worst in Bonus:

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

The Best in Bonus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Splash Star film

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grand Blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Worst of the Year:

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

#5: Godzilla Kaijuu Wakusei

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

#4: Bio Hunter

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

#3: Elf-wo Karu Mono-Tachi

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

#2: Tiger & Bunny

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

#1: Grand Blue

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

Five Best of the year:

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

#5: Yuru Camp

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

#4: Flying Witch

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

#3: So Ra No Wo To

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

#2: Galaxy Angel 2

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

#1: Cowboy Bebop

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

So Ra No Wo To: How is this from the same writer as Vampire Bund?

So Ra No Wo To is an original anime brought to us by A-1 Pictures. Yes, the studio behind Kuroshitsuji, Uchuu Kyoudai, Sword Art Online & Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin is back. Or, more accurately, I’m looking at one of their works again. Thus far, my experience with them as a studio has varied a lot. With Uchuu Kyoudai being at the high end and Sword Art Online on the low, because it’s shit. This particular series is from 2010 and was relatively early in terms of their productions. It was written by Yoshino Hiroyuki, speaking of people I have mixed experiences with. Yeah, this bloke also wrote Shuumatsu no Izetta, which was a great series and Dance in the Vampire Bund, which will always be remembered as utter rubbish. So, this one is a gamble. I’d give it about 50-50 odds.

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Story:

In the far distant future, humanity seems to be running out of habitable land (now we know how all those species we’ve fucked over to build cities feel) and a lot of old technology has been lost. It’s in this future that the country of Helvetia and the new Roman Empire are on the brink of war. We follow a young garrison on the border of No Man’s land as they mostly faff about.

The only real criticism I have about the narrative is that the build up to the climax could have been handled better. It’s largely relegated to the last few episodes with small bit beforehand that give very small hints and we’re talking very basic like Rio’s identity being obvious by the time she plays her role or the threat of war being omnipresent throughout.

I do really like the way the series mixes a kind of standard slice of life style with the whole war scenario (Sort of like how he melded cutesy yuri romance with a war scenario in Izetta). It allows it to have that sense of fun and enjoyment while also leaving room for more serious, dramatic stuff and it never feels dissonant. The world building is really interesting and executed in a fully organic way. We don’t just know the broad stroke details, we know very trivial everyday things like how life in Kanata’s little village differs from life in the city of Seize (I know, not a subtle city name) because of geographical variations within the same nation. Which is a fascinating detail. The series has a good sense of humour as well. Filicia’s way of confirming whether or not their visitor speaks their language is hilarious but it also makes sense. The whole episode where they all get pissed, save one, is really funny. There are good dramatic scenes too. Noël & Filicia both have some real tragedy to their back stories. Rio & Kureha have some as well but Kureha’s plays less of a role and Rio’s is kept a bit vague because they don’t want to show the actual details and spoil the climax. Then we have the epic Amazing Grace scene. Those are words I never thought I’d string together, but it’s a part of the climax and it’s a superb scene. It’s also interesting the way Helvetia and the Roman Empire have similar legends, but different takes on them.

Characters:

I quite like the cast in this series. They have enough complexity to carry the more dramatic scenes as well as enough quirkiness to make the humour strong. Which is something Gintama couldn’t manage with over fourteen times the number of episodes. This is only a fourteen episode series and that’s counting the two special episodes. I also appreciate the way the series connects the characters through most of the main cast having formative meetings with a certain person of note. He fleshes out their back stories enough to give them a sense of completion while also building up their dynamics with one another. Those dynamics are very nice too.

Art:

The animation is well done. It moves smoothly and just generally does a good job at holding any given tone. I love some of the mechanical designs, especially the old tank that Noël spends a good portion of the series working on. I appreciate that the girls are given proper uniforms instead of going full GI Joe solely for the sake of having variety. But, in all fairness, GI Joe has a bunch of similar looking characters while this has characters with distinctive appearances.

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Sound:

Our major characters are voiced by Yuuki Aoi, Kanemoto Hisako, Kobayashi Yuu, Endou Aya & Kitamura Eri. They’re all absolutely fantastic. The side characters have good acting as well with the talents of Fukuen Misato, Yasokawa Mayuno, Ishizuka Unshou (don’t be surprised if he asks whether you’re a boy or girl) and others. Oshima Michiru’s sound track is fantastic. Even the Amazing Grace motif and I’m saying that as someone who doesn’t generally like that song.

Ho-yay:

There’s a fair amount. This is one of those series where all the girls seem interested in one another. It’s especially true at the point where they talk about their dreams. I don’t want to spoil anything too specific since that episode takes place after the climax, but putting it in vague terms, one girl wants to be a bride. And I’m fairly certain she wants to marry the other girl she’s been writing to, based on their dynamic and interactions. Another girl wants to stay with yet another female character forever and her expression along with the flush on her face when she says it indicates that she’s thinking of tribadism and cunning linguistics. Plus the two of them are incredibly homo-erotic throughout.

Final Thoughts:

How the hell did Yoshino write this, then write something as bad as Dance in the Vampire Bund directly after? Because this is a fantastic anime. Virtually everything about it works and works really well whereas that’s practically the opposite. Is Yoshino actually twin brothers who take turns turning in what they’ve been working on with one being a complete knob and the other skilled? Does he lose all writing ability when exposed to indigo kryptonite? Is the studio working with both him and his goatee sporting counterpart from an evil opposite universe? Is it just  that he was doing his best to adapt a really shit manga? Whatever the case, I’ll give this series a 9/10. Next week, Fortune Quest: Yo ni mo Shiawase na Boukensha-tachi.