Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi (last thoughts)

Final impression – decent enough 6/10

Spring 2011 (Alternate title – A Bridge to the Starry Skies)

Kazuma Hoshino and his family are moving back to the countryside from the city.  His parents send him and his little brother ahead so they can start the new school term.  As he begins to get settled, he starts renewing old friendships from his childhood, such as the fun but ditzy Ui and the cute but serious Madoka.  New relationships form as Kazuma settles in, like the tomboy Ibuki, the reserved Hina and the gentle Tsumugi.  High school is fun times with club activities, study sessions and town festivals.  As a former city kid, Kazuma is encouraged to participate in everything, which serves to raise his popularity.  In the midst of these events, the girls surrounding Kazuma have realized that he’s pretty cool.  But who’s going to get Kazuma to fall in love with them may require a committee decision.

Yeah, so I’m one of those weirdoes who likes h-games that have been turned into non-h animes.  Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi isn’t a very good example of this type of transformation done well, but it’s somewhat respectable.  There’s a decent balance between all the girls and their stories flow nicely to create a cohesive story.  The art style and music are nothing to write home about, but I’ll forgive Hoshizora because it has some fun moments that exemplify how h-game anime can be clever.  A good example is when one of the girls points out that there’s nothing strange or embarrassing about bloomers being part of the girls’ gym uniform because women wear far less clothing in public when they go to the beach.  The ending is quite dramatic as well and gives a nice feeling of completion that a lot of anime seem to be lacking lately.  While the story is a little corny at times and predictable, the satisfaction of Hoshizora’s completeness makes it a small success.

Deadman Wonderland (last thoughts)

Final impression – poorly executed 4/10

Spring 2011

It’s just an ordinary day at school for Ganta Igarashi, when the frightening Red Man flies into his class and murders everyone around him.  After being accused of the murders himself and a farce of a trial that leaves Ganta public enemy number one, he ends up in the infamous spectacle prison, Deadman Wonderland.  Here, prisoners are forced to engage in deadly games for a bloodthirsty audience.  But there’s at least a small glimmer of hope.  He meets his long lost childhood friend, the albino girl Shiro, who also happens to be imprisoned with him.

Shortly after being placed in this dangerous minefield of a jail, Ganta encounters a life-or-death situation and he finds out his surviving the attack with the Red Man gave him superpowers called the branches of sin.  He’s now capable of turning his own blood into deadly projectiles.  Filled with hatred, depression, disgust and indignation for his unbelievable series of misfortunes, when it’s revealed to him that the Red Man is also imprisoned in the Deadman Wonderland, there’s only one goal on his mind – revenge.

Deadman Wonderland had a good idea, but didn’t implement it very well.  The falsely accused prisoner sentenced to death row is a very compelling story hook because it makes the viewer want to know how the protagonist is going to escape his upcoming fate.  Additionally, a curse that grants double-edged superpowers creates terrific tension during fight sequences.  The final gimmick that pulls you into this anime is the macabre setting of a prison where the inmates are forced to put on grisly shows for hooting spectators begging for blood.  However, this gets really watered down when Deadman Wonderland injects way too much hope into a plot that was just begging to be dark.  Despite Ganta’s extreme misfortune and his very low lows, he has way too many victories to offset his depression.  Why should an ordinary kid have so many friends in a prison?  But the most egregious problem is the huge plot hole of having an army of superhuman characters unable to make any effective progress at a coup.  While the guards carry effective “kryptonite”-style weapons to keep the deadmen from running wild, it seems far too ineffective a hindrance to truly keep the prisoners in check.  In the end, Deadman Wonderland is just poorly written.

A-Channel (last thoughts)

Final impression – moe comedy at its finest 10/10

Spring 2011

Run the spaz, Yuko the beauty, Nagi the nerd, and Touru the attitude.  Combine them to make a four high school girl mix-up of misadventures and hilarity.

I know the moe sub-genre is not well received by everyone.  But if you are one of those people who avoids moe like the plague, I really encourage you to set aside your prejudices and give A-Channel a good-natured chance to tickle your funny bone and work its charm on your heart.  There are so many moments in A-Channel that I think a lot of people can relate to, especially our desires to acquire the best attributes of our friends.  In this way, there are also some good life lessons to receive as well.  In the end, we all need to remember to be ourselves, celebrate our differences, and simply enjoy each other’s company.

The first anime most people think of when you mention the word “moe,” is usually going to be Lucky Star.  Other titles you’re likely to hear will include The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, K-ON!, Working!! and Ichigo Marshmallow but those have a bit more than just moe going for them.  During the history of this sub-genre, there have been many more downs than ups, but A-Channel has made its legacy proud and really set the bar high for future moe anime.  It’s also worth mentioning A-Channel’s great opening and ending tracks as well as the theme songs that accompany each episode to add a little extra to the experience.  A fresh art style, a varied cast with an amazingly constructed web of relationships between the four girls has resulted in what is the best comedy anime so far for the year of 2011.

Hidan no Aria (last thoughts)

Final Impression – Not for everyone 6/10

Spring 2011 (Alternate title – Aria the Scarlet Ammo)

Kinji is a student at a butei high school in Tokyo – a training and licensing center for worldly bounty hunters.  He used to be top of his class, but circumstances changed and as his second year starts he’s thinking of calling it quits as a butei.  However, this isn’t his lucky day.  When his bike gets rigged with a bomb, he needs the help of the butei genious Aria Kanzaki to save him from a grisly death.  After witnessing his courage in a life or death situation, Aria wants to know why Kinji’s butei rank has dropped so low in such a short period of time.  As it turns out, Kinji has a secret he’s not proud of.  When he gets aroused by a girl, he goes into hysteria mode and gains superhuman reflexes and a gentleman’s demeanor.

Aria is working as a butei to clear her mother’s good name of a false criminal record, so she’s been searching for an appropriate partner to help her fulfill that goal.  Kinji might be able to fill that role if his childhood friend and fellow butei, Shirayuki doesn’t kill Aria for trying to steal her crush.  But Aria’s biggest threat comes from the EU, the very criminal organization that framed her mother.  She needs to be more careful than she realizes, because an agent of the EU has entered the butei academy and is much closer to her than she suspects.

Aria the Scarlet Ammo is one of those anime that you really want to like, but when you’re honest with yourself, you just have to admit that it really wasn’t that good.  The amazing opening music by May’n sends you in on a high note and the equally captivating ending lets you down easy, but there’s just no excuse for the content to be this mediocre.  While I was a little sad to see Rie Kugimiya relocated to an anime unbefitting of her talent, in the end there’s probably no other voice actress who could have pulled off the necessary tsundere of Aria’s character.  Ironically enough, the voice acting is probably Hidan no Aria’s most redeeming feature.  With a bizarrely arranged cast all claiming to be the descendants of legendary or literary characters, superpowers we’re expected to accept without explanation, and copious amounts of misplaced fan service, everything about the anime is pretty weak.  The fight sequences occasionally have a bit of cleverness to them, but all in all J.C. Staff came out with something just barely above average.

Summer 2011 Anime Summary

Having watched all the releases and ongoing shows for summer 2011, here’s my recommendations in order from most recommended to least recommended (or “best to worst” if you prefer I be direct).  Summer 2011 is a pretty average season in my opinion.  There’s nothing much that stands out but nothing terribly offensive, either.  But it is summer, so I think it’s understandable we’re not seeing any blockbusters.  For now, this will be my last word on many of these anime until they conclude in 10 more weeks.  Until then, please keep checking back as I begin to write my reviews of last season’s anime.  You can stay up to date with my new posts as they get released by following me on my Twitter account.  I’ll continue to move into the past reviewing anime with the eventual goal of having at least one post about every anime I’ve watched over the past eight years.

1. Kamisama no Memochou

1. Kamisama no Memochou – colorful (J.C. Staff)

2. No. 6

2. No. 6 – atmospheric (Bones)

3. Dantalian no Shoka

3. Dantalian no Shoka – dramatic (Gainax)

4. Mayo Chiki

4. Mayo Chiki! – best comedy of summer 2011

5. Blue Exorcist – awesome action

6. Hanasaku Iroha – mellow drama…melodrama?

7. Ikoku Meiro no Croisée – interesting development

8. Blood-C – fine action (CLAMP)

9. Kamisama Dolls – interesting concept

10. Yuru Yuri – moe comedy

11. Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi – romance

12. Ro-Kyu-Bu! – sports loli

13. The iDOLM@STER – variety

14. Usagi Drop – unsure (not bad)

15. Uta no Prince-sama – underdeveloped

16. Mawaru Penguindrum – confusing

17. R-15 – misplaced ecchi

18. Nekogami Yaoyorozu – simple

19. Sacred Seven – bland (Sunrise)

20. Manyuu Hikenchou – borderline hentai

21. Twin Angel: Twinkle Paradise – boring

Blue Exorcist (ongoing)

Impression – vigorous

Rin Okumura never had an inkling of the terrible secrets his past held.  Considering his foster father is the world’s greatest exorcist, it came as a total shock to find out he’s the spawn of Satan himself.  But he’s not fully demonic, because his mother was human.  When Satan possesses his old man during a moment of weakness, he must choose which side he’s going to fight for.  Knowing the love his adoptive father gave him is more than enough for him to decide to become an exorcist himself.  But there are those who doubt Rin’s resolve, as he’s constantly tempted to use his demon powers rather than rely on his own strength.  If he doesn’t keep himself under control, rather than worrying about Satan, Rin may end up being his own worst enemy.

The action sequences and demon-slaying theme of Blue Exorcist (Ao no Exorcist in Japanese) compare and contrast nicely with the early days of Bleach.  Similar to Ichigo, Rin gets put into a tough situation where he’s forced to fight monsters or watch his friends die.  The plot grows as a strong support cast comes out to support the overzealous protagonist.  However, unlike Bleach, which just went willy-nilly wherever the winds carried it, Blue Exorcist seems to be planned out much better and is shaping itself up for a great ending come the conclusion at episode 25.  The fight sequences are well done and the comedic moments are well timed.  For now, this is 2011’s definitive shounen anime.

Hanasaku Iroha (ongoing)

Impression – delightful

When Ohana’s mother decides to elope with her boyfriend, she sends Ohana to live with her estranged grandmother who owns a hot-spring inn.  Her life is turned upside down even more as reality reveals a much harsher situation than Ohana could even imagine.  Ohana’s carefree lifestyle is over.  She’s working for her strict grandmother, cleaning rooms, serving meals, having insults thrown at her mother, and sharing a room with the ornery cook-in-training Minko.  In spite of this sudden hardship or perhaps because of it, Ohana feels she’s growing as a person in valuable ways that could never have happened without otherwise.  As she adapts, friends begin to emerge in fellow waitress Nako, and even Minko’s cold personality begins to melt.  But when hardships begin to appear at the inn, Ohana’s unconventional thinking might be the solution everyone is hoping for.

Hanasaku Iroha is a real rollercoaster of emotions, going from some really deep lows only to be punctuated by high points that make the experience all worth it.  This anime does a great job developing its characters and making everyone count in some meaningful way.  Halfway through the series, I’m feeling great connections with Ohana and how she manages to use her outgoing personality to get all the other characters motivated.  If you haven’t checked out Hanasaku Iroha yet, you’re missing out on a great drama.

The iDOLM@STER Ep 2

Impression – progressing nicely

For the idols of Studio 765, this month is pretty harsh.  Nobody was able to get a job this month, so resources are running low.  The producer thinks maybe the lack of jobs can be blamed on some poorly done promotion photos that Studio 765 had taken before he arrived.  Thus, by his recommendation, the staff is going to retake them.  Most of the girls know what kind of image they want to portray, but the four youngest, Ami, Mami, Irori, and Yayoi, have trouble deciding on a theme that suits them best.  After failing to portray a more mature look, they start a brainstorming session to decide what look works best to give them individuality.

The iDOLM@STER is certainly entertaining, even if it lacks any big potential.  With a cast this big, it’s certainly hard to fit everyone in and give equal time, which is a bit disappointing because each character brings a considerable amount of pep and variety.  There are some very fun, relatable moments in episode 2 that give you a nice smile.  While there have been many anime that feature idols as a side diversion, seeing a “behind the scenes” portrayal is a refreshing take on the concept.  Another idol anime that comes to mind is White Album, but the tone of The iDOLM@STER is much more fun and colorful.  With only twelve episodes, I have a sinking feeling that everything is going to feel rushed, but all things considered, I’m not discouraged.

Twin Angel: Twinkle Paradise Ep 1

Initial impression – boring and formulaic

Haruka and Aoi are the magic girl heroine duo Twin Angel.  During the day they’re just normal jr. high school students, but at night when evildoers come out, they transform into Twin Angel and save the day.  Tomorrow, their school is hosting the presentation of a mystical tiara at the campus museum.  But thief and mecha designer Salome has been given the mission to steal the ancient relic.  While battling Salome’s robot the following night, she transforms the magic girls into cat girls using a noxious gas.  But when all hope seems lost, Misty Knight arrives to free them from a cat girl life because the gas only works on females.  After defeating Salome’s robot, she flies off in a hot air balloon and the tiara is safe.

There’s really just no contest against other magic girl shows when Twin Angel gets measured up against the recent genre-breaker Madoka Magica or hit classic My-HiME.  So yeah, Twin Angel has taken the magic girl genre and followed the formula to the letter.  With moe, loli characters, transformation sequences, a secret identity, questionably explained superpowers, a backup support network, and an evil organization to be the fall guys who manage to avoid capture after every conflict, there’s nothing original here to speak of.  They even brought in Yukari Tamura of Magic Girl Lyrical Nanoha fame to do the voice for Haruka.  Aoi gets graced with another voice talent Mamiko Noto, whose fabulous career is too long to include here.  So Twin Angel not only fails to deviate the slightest bit from the established magic girl formula, it also leaves a bad taste in the mouth hearing such voice actress’s talents being wasted on what’s possibly the worst show of summer 2011.

Sacred Seven Ep 2

Alma and RuriFinal impression – unimpressed

Meteorites called the Sacred Seven fell to Earth many years ago containing strange matter that can mutate DNA to create superbeings.  Alma can use the powers of one of the Sacred Seven to fight a new wave of meteorites called the Dark Stones that threaten civilization.  But if it wasn’t for Ruri’s Sacred Seven, he wouldn’t be able to control his powers.  When a Dark Stone destroys a military transport aircraft and absorbs its explosive cargo, Japan is threatened by an incarnation of a dragon.  After some persuading, Alma reluctantly agrees to help destroy the monster before it can threaten more lives.

Sunrise has had a great history of making some really fun action anime.  The list of success(es) include My-HiME, My-Otome, Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo, and oldie but goodie Escaflowne.  So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself not having fun with Sacred Seven.  I think the main problem is the characters are just unlikeable.  Ruri and Kagami are just using Alma to make up for their lack of power; either bribing him or guilt tripping him to fit their goals.  And Alma is just cold and apathetic.  He doesn’t seem to care about being the protagonist, which would be fine if there was some other motive for him to pursue.  He’s just a one-dimensional blunt instrument beating up the enemy.  I’m disappointed – I expected better from this anime.

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