Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Tag Archives: 3/10

Alfheim Online (review)

Kirito wakes upFinal impression – what a letdown (3/10)

Fall 2012 (11 episodes) (SAO Review)

After waking up from the gorgeous nightmare of Sword Art Online, Kazuto’s first action is not to attend to his own atrophied body, but to immediately begin to seek out Asuna, his in-game wife who he promised to find after they escaped.  He finds her, but there’s a problem.  Despite clearing the game and majority of players having returned to the real world, Asuna remains trapped in her NerveGear. Filled with the pain of helplessness for being unable to save her, Kazuto attempts to return to his old life displaced by over two years while remaining by her side for support.

But when a friend from Aincrad (the world of SAO) shows him a screenshot of Asuna trapped in a birdcage, he dons his own NerveGear once again and dives into the world of Alfhiem Online to rescue her from the new prison she’s found herself in.  But he has to hurry because within a week, Asuna is going to be ushered into an arranged marriage with one of her father’s business partners.  Read more of this post

Love Live! School Idol Project Ep. 1

Honoka, Kotori and Umi danceInitial impression – low budget, low brow (3/10)

Winter 2013 (13 episodes) (more info)

Inevitably, Love Live is going to get compared to both K-ON and The iDOLM@STER, so I’m going to just get that out of the way.  Combining the concept of a school music club with young ladies pursuing careers as idol singers in theory shouldn’t be too preposterous a setup.  However, in execution it’s a real flop.  At the core of this overlap is music, and the bread and butter of any music anime is that the music needs to be good.  The two series it’s borrowing ideas from have that area covered, but Love Live is definitely not up to par.

There’s also the hard-to-swallow plot point about how our heroines have the harebrained idea that they’re going to attract new students to their school that’s suffering from declining enrollment in just a year or two by competing with established idol clubs at other local schools.  There’s a level of cheesiness to it that makes me want to smack someone for even suggesting the idea.  Combined with some really intrusive CGI-animated scenes when the girls start dancing, there’s nothing to praise about Love Live.  I even think there’s room to speculate that this was the product of some money-grubbing committee who saw the success of the aforementioned titles and decided to frankenstein them together into something guaranteed to appeal to both audiences, but really shouldn’t appeal to anyone.

Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de Ep. 1

Initial impression – too obvious (3/10)

Autumn 2012 (?? episodes) (title literal translation – In the Center of the Blue World)  (more info)

There’s really no hope for this anime.  I like to use more sophisticated terms to voice my opinions, but as a parody of the console wars, Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de is just lame.  I don’t even have the patience to conceal the names of the completely transparent empires named after game companies.  Basically, Nintendo (complete with Mario as a major general) is the big bad-guy empire that’s trampling everyone and a young man named Gear—as in Game Gear—is the new hero who is going to save the land.  Unfortunately, because we all know how the console wars really went down, this anime reeks of fanboy pandering to what is ultimately a lost cause.  Unless the hero and the Sega nation fall and Nintendo’s true rivals Sony and Microsoft appear on the scene, it’s just a silly alternate history with some awful writing.

Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne Ep. 1

Initial impression – if you’re looking for a harem anime, stick to Love Hina (3/10)

Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – I Love Him, and It Doesn’t Matter If He’s My Brother, alternate title – OniAi) (more info)

Making the lustful character of your series female doesn’t suddenly make it a more acceptable trait.  It may certainly be different from the stereotypical male character in a harem anime who is either terribly shy or uncontrollably lecherous after having been inserted into an all-female environment.  But OniAi makes it worse since hero and heroine are brother and sister—not even stepbrother/stepsister or adopted or cousins.  They’re full blood relatives born of the same parents, turning the degree of perversion up to an uncomfortable level.  It doesn’t even have the stylistic restraint or pretext that Yosuga no Sora showed when that series dealt with this topic.  It’s just in-your-face and says, “this is what this series is going to be about.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, halfway through the first episode is a time skip that’s about as logically placed if OniAi had ended and just started over from scratch.  There’s no reason the student council couldn’t have been introduced in a logical manner and how they came to live together should have been woven into the story over at least another episode.  I don’t know what went through the writers’ minds for them to think this was a good idea.  Even if the girls’ arrivals are revealed via flashbacks that’s just dodging the issue of how out-of-order events are proceeding.  So there.  OniAi is a weird, twisted, badly written harem series and I’m washing my hands of it.

Ebiten: Kouritsu Ebisugawa Koukou Tenmonbu Ep. 1

Initial impression – a random lack of focus (3/10)

Summer 2012 (?? episodes – ONA) (title literal translation – Ebisugawa Public High School “Astronomical” Club) (more info)

While I like the fansub group [Staircase]’s creativity in changing the Astronomy Club’s name to the Asstronomy Club (a euphemism for Assing Around) I’m starting to get sick of these anime whose central premise is a club for being lazy.  I’d think that true laziness would just be going home and skipping the whole complicated club business altogether.

Ebiten’s theme is all over the place and while I appreciate its energy it feels like a total waste of time.  It takes a whole episode for the prospective club member, Itsuki Noya to finally be accepted after being put through a torturous series of “entry tests.”  During the whole sequence none of the other members are particularly enthusiastic about their roles; leaving me wondering why I should be, either.  All the while the thick new girl hasn’t picked up that this isn’t actually the astronomy club despite nothing about these girls having anything to do with stargazing.

It even throws in a token ecchi sequence with some chibi S&M elements that is completely pointless and doesn’t even do a good job of being particularly titillating.  It’s really quite perplexing why this series exists and who it was even made for.  Ebiten isn’t strictly bad in spirit, but it’s such a hodgepodge of ideas from too many semi-popular anime over the past few years with some conspicuous moe sugar blended into the mix of randomness that it leaves itself with nothing distinguishing to offer.

Other than a group of girls trying to keep their personal relaxation club from being disbanded, I can’t made heads or tails of what the overarching story is in this series.  I think Ebiten is just another one of those insubstantial messes that’s shooting in the dark, hoping to hit some kind of nerve in the masses of the anime culture that will turn it into an explosive hit; let down by the fact that it’s firing blanks.

Oda Nobuna no Yabou Ep. 1

Initial impression – been there, done that, moving on (3/10)

Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – The Ambition of Oda Nobuna) (more info)

Oda Nobuna gives me this weird impression that some narcissistic Japanese history buff wrote himself into his own historical fan fiction and managed to pass it off as the script for an anime.  Yet another of Japan’s idiosyncrasies is on full display—gender bending.  Following in the footsteps of such anime as Sengoku Collection, Samurai Girls and Sengoku Paradox; as it turns out, most of Japan’s historical generals were actually women.

Finding himself 450 years in the past, protagonist and RTS aficionado Yoshiharu just rolls with his new circumstances—giving the impression that the time traveling rules in this series are, “if you go back in time, you were meant to so that you can shape the future.”  It’s nothing new or exciting.  And naturally hero and heroine have some hollow chemistry between them that just has to be there by default because they’re the main characters and it’s what people would expect.  Pretty much all aspects of the premise can just be written off as playing mix and match with ideas that have already been done before and better by other anime.

So Oda Nobuna is a historical fiction that’s so crumblingly insubstantial I can’t think of anything more meaningful to say about it.  If you’re into ridiculous anime that feature female warriors in classical Asian settings and watching them do battle I say stick with Koihime Musou so at least you can get a few good laughs and don’t have to put up with half-baked romance.

Binbougami ga! Ep. 1

Initial impression – weird and scatterbrained (3/10)

Summer 2012 (13 episodes) (title literal translation – The God Of Poverty is!) (more info)

I’m fine with anime making references to other anime for comedic effect.  Hayate no Gotoku, Lucky Star and Pani Poni Dash did wonderfully with that method of humor.  But Binbougami seems to be throwing in references haphazardly and with such rapid succession I can’t get my head around the joke it’s trying to tell.

Ichiko flits between arrogant, whiny and magnanimous far too easily.

It’s almost as if this series is a sort of anti-Ah My Goddess where main character Ichiko is visited by the spirit of misfortune Momiji all for the sake of restoring the good luck she has accumulated throughout her life to a more normal level.  I’m sure a jaded misanthrope will find this premise of bringing down those who have experienced a large amount of success down to their level appealing to his or her sensibilities, but it’s not a very happy or even funny topic to use as the central premise for a comedy anime.  While it’s good to push the envelope and try to find new, exciting ideas, you’re bound to hit a few snags along the way and Binbougami is definitely one of those.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, talk about an art style that’s all over the place.  Maybe I’m just being overly superficial, but I think this anime is ugly.  I’m serious.  I don’t want to look at another second of this series filled with such unattractive people (some purporting to be blessed with good looks far exceeding the average person).  I’m sure there’s a crowd for this kind of random weirdness, and if you’ve read to the end of this review all the while calling me a snob in the back of your mind I imagine Binbougami will probably appeal to you.

Please Teacher! (review)

Impression – priority-one bad (3/10)

Winter 2002 (12 episodes)

Kei Kusanagi is a high school student who was affected by a strange disorder that literally stopped his time a few years ago.  Falling into a coma-like state, he didn’t even age as the rest of the world passed him by.  Mizuho Kazami is an alien who is on a mission to conduct field research by posing as a teacher at his rural high school. When Kei inadvertently discovers the truth about her, he is forced to marry her to cover up the misleading circumstances that lead to her mistake and to ensure that he keeps her secret from the rest of the world.  What follows is the tenuous relationship between the two of them that slowly evolves into an awkward romance.

I’ve heard people call this anime a classic—a throwback to an older time when anime was younger and simpler.  I think these people have some pretty big nostalgia blinders on because not only has Please Teacher aged very poorly by every metric you could think of, it doesn’t even compare very favorably to other anime of its own era. This is a romance anime that makes Love Hina look like it was written by Shakespeare.

Most anime that are bad come right out and own up to their awfulness in a way that lets you know it was created with the intention of just having fun and providing something brainless for you to kill segments of your life in twenty-three minute packets.  But I’m having trouble thinking of another anime that is bad in the same way as Please Teacher because it has a tone of seriousness that gives the impression that its creators actually believed they were making something deep and worthwhile.  It throws around stereotypical tropes such as the alien girlfriend, unexplained supernatural tragedies affecting the lives of the main characters, a romantic rivalry with a childhood friend and a spineless male protagonist that manages to barely grow a little cartilage by the end of the series.  Traps bad romance anime still fall into even to this day.

If that wasn’t bad enough the voice actors sound less enthusiastic than the intentional bad-acting in Adventures of Mikuru Asahina (the purposefully amateurish first episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) and Mizuho and her mother and sister have this overused one-liner that wears you out like you’re reading a glossy cardboard-paged picturebook to a one-year-old.  The only good I can possibly think coming out of this anime was the result of popularizing Pocky in America, but that’s no reason to give this series the venerated status of a genre-defining work.

Personally, I’d very much like to get back the time I wasted watching and rewatching this series in order to recall all the references Ano Natsu makes to Please Teacher (as it turns out, not that many).  My recommendation?  Only watch this series if you’re really, REALLY interested in the small amount of trivia that ties it together with the vastly superior Ano Natsu or if you want to experience a piece of anime history that is  probably worth forgetting.

Upotte!! Ep. 1

Initial impression – a difficult premise (3/10)

Spring 2012 (more info)

Where Hetalia is the personification of countries and The Sacred Blacksmith is the personification of swords, Upotte!! is the personification of guns.  I want to reinforce this idea that most of the characters in this series are literally guns in human form and their personality types are based on the features of their mechanical references.  Being quite knowledgeable about firearms myself I can see what this anime is trying to do, but I’m pretty sure most of the jokes are going to fly right over the heads of most viewers.  To compensate for this sort of murky comedy, Upotte!! depicts main character Funko as a sexually excited junior high girl who keeps fantasizing about being “handled,” by her new teacher who happens to be a gun expert.  I’m not sure how to adequately convey this new concept of ecchi because I’ve never seen an anime that manages to keep its fetishes limited to its writing while visually maintaining its innocence.  Upotte!! is trying to be unique and original, but maybe it’s just trying too hard because I can’t see how its concept is going to be anything more than incomprehensibly goofy.

Natsuiro Kiseki Ep. 1

Initial impression – I don’t follow (3/10)

Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Summer-Colored Miracle) (more info)

Natsuiro Kiseki is yet another anime this spring season that can’t tell the viewers what it’s going to be about after the first episode.  A group of junior high school girls with a nice assortment of personalities who have been friends since elementary school are having an overly-dramatic crisis because one of them is moving to Tokyo so they gather together to make a wish on a big rock and they all end up floating in the sky for a few minutes in a daze before they go back to their former personalities and their separate ways.  Yeah, if it wasn’t for Natsuiro’s sharp, colorful art style I don’t think I could really find any redeeming features for this series’ opener because that’s one of the most disjointed sequences of events I’ve watched in a while.  I want to feel for these characters, to get involved in helping them solve their problems and to hope they can stay friends, but I’m much too baffled by what I’ve seen to care.  Mostly I’m having a hard time believing they were ever friends because despite being so close they don’t act very kindly toward one another.  In order to make their relationships more convincing I think there should have been a flashback episode to get everyone introduced properly before jumping right into the main conflict.  Whether Natsuiro is suffering from a rushed story, poor character concepts or simply a serious lack of focus, all I know is that I’m too confused to bother with it.

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