Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Tag Archives: super power

Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo? Ep. 1

The Black Rabbit is caughtInitial impression – rough-edged, but good-hearted heros

Winter 2013 (10 episodes) (more info) (title literal translation – The Troublemakers Are Coming From Another World, Right?)

When someone is stuck between a rock and a hard place, it’s good anime logic to call for heroes from other dimensions.  Mondaiji-tachi is still in the early stages, but is showing plenty of the traits associated with a good action / adventure with a worthy cause.  The cast is full of colorful characters with superpowers of suspect origin, but they have enough flexibility to be put to some creative uses.  My biggest complaint about the series so far is the fanservicey design behind the orchestrator of this setup, the Black Rabbit who happens to be a literal bunny girl.  She feels very much like an unnecessary cry for attention from a series that is actually interesting enough in its own right.  Like many series before it, I wish writers would have more confidence in their work to not devalue it with characters like this.  But as she’s the only issue I’m having with this series thus far, I can overlook her and enjoy the battles that may not be keeping me on the edge of my seat, but still have excellent flow.

Code:Breaker Ep. 1

Initial impression – overly simple (4/10)

Autumn 2012 (13 episodes) (more info)

Code:Breaker is one of those anime that’s just trying too hard.  It’s got this gritty, edgy attitude pushing a punishing level of violence that feels out of place with its art style that resembles a series geared towards a younger audience.  It has potential because the story so far is showing good pacing; meshing a little mystery with misdirection.  Then there’s Rei, the male lead who is feeling very much the antihero—believing death to be both just and merciful.

However, the female lead, Sakura, is showing signs of poor characterization between her hot/cold personality that’s both tenacious while at the same time tending to give up too easily.  Misunderstandings about her interest in Rei inevitably can only go in one direction—presumed romance, leading to a comedic relationship—possibly with the heroine exhibiting tsundere traits—that ultimately leads to a real romance.  The stink of cheese isn’t too bad, but it’s strong enough for me to comfortably send Code:Breaker to the recycle bin.

K Ep. 1

Initial impression – fast action, slow story (4/10)

Autumn 2012 (13 episodes) (more info)

You can go ahead and accuse me of having a short attention span if you happened to watch more and reach a different conclusion, but I’ve learned to trust my instincts when it comes to series that cannot encapsulate the heart of the story in the first episode.  Yes, K looks really nice—the tall and skinny character designs and pretty boys are reminiscent of Clamp (even though this isn’t a Clamp work).  It’s ok to leave some details up in the air to reveal later, but I need more than K has offered so far in order to get invested.  I don’t like being left hanging to such a degree that I’m confused or simply left in the mood, “So that’s it, huh?”

There’s certainly an interesting mystery as to why the main character Yashiro is being hunted by multiple parties and yet doesn’t seem to know why, but the pie that is K has too much icing and not enough filling.  It really lollygags on plot development in its first episode compensating— unsuccessfully—by filling itself with overly dramatic fights and chases that would make a Final Fantasy fan proud.  And while that may be enough for some, I’ve seen enough of K to let it go here.

Medaka Box Abnormal Ep. 1

Initial impression – mostly the same, but a little different

Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (more info)

Picking up exactly where it left off in season one, Medaka Box Abnormal is showing signs of making a big deviation from the storytelling methods it used during its previous iteration.  Where the first season was very episodic and jumped between a terrific variety of colorful characters, the start of Abnormal seems very focused on Medaka to the detriment of the rest of the cast.

Changing things up is not always a bad thing—using previous set pieces as a stepping stone for a new idea can work wonders to put energy into a tired series—but if too much gets mixed up, then can you still call it the continuation of the same story?  The thing is, the first twelve episodes of Medaka Box always kept things fresh enough that I never felt the concept needed to be expanded upon.  It’s kind of like how The World God Only Knows introduced a new major character in its second season when there was still plenty of material to work with using the formula that made it interesting in the first place.  And that’s what I’m fearing will happen to Medaka Box.

This unnecessary change of pace could be distracting and I worry it might devalue the series as a whole.  I’ll continue to watch Medaka Box Abnormal, but I’m going to be biting my lip in apprehension.

Hagure Yuusha no Estetica Ep. 1

Initial impression – a good idea that’s not on a solid foundation

Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Aesthetics of a Rogue Hero) (more info)

From what I can glean from Hagure Yuusha’s first episode, people are being taken from our world to another dimension where they are put to the task of fighting a war for the denizens of that realm.  Part of this process involves giving normal humans superpowers and naturally some people want to use their new abilities to find their way back home, as Akatsuki Ousawa has successfully accomplished.  Returners like our main character retain their abilities and are put through a training program called Babel to put their powers to use here on Earth.

Again, Hagure Yuusha is one of those anime with an interesting premise, decent writing and generally agreeable characters that messes itself up with unnecessary ecchi.  Akatsuki brings a naked girl back from the other realm in his backpack for as-of-yet undisclosed reasons and he has the ability to remove women’s will to fight by stripping them of their lingerie without removing their rest of their clothes.

Thankfully, I don’t have to pretend to enjoy this series too much in spite of its ecchi because it’s already starting to establish a typical list of character archetypes—the perverted protagonist, confused victim-girl who is posing as his little sister, arrogant student council president.  Cue blank stare as I sarcastically marvel at this list of revolutionary thinking.

If it could have taken itself more seriously and the creators had been more confident about their work, I’d be much more willing to like Hagure Yuusha.  As it currently stands I find myself trapped between a cool story and too much ecchi; disappointed at how many times I’ve had to concede that flaw over the years.

Dog Days 2 Ep. 1

Initial impression – more of the same with more characters

Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (more info)

Dog Days 2 takes place a few months after season one’s ending.  Now Shinku has returned presumably for the purpose of just having fun playing the tournament-like war games that shape the culture of Flonyard—as opposed to being Biscotti’s last-ditch trump card hero to bring them back from the brink.  He’s also brought two friends along, childhood friend Rebecca and his kind-hearted cousin and fellow rival athlete, Nanami who is quickly adopted by Galette as their own hero.

As in the first season, this is a series that is pretty mediocre all around.  The end of season one wrapped things up so nicely, so I’m dubious that this sequel is necessary. Bringing along Shiku’s friends and adding them to the mix feels lacking imagination and I can almost feel the desperation to find something for everyone to do. Early signs are this series is going to be a mirror image of season one with additional characters added to the mix.  It even continues the unnecessary little habit of having the female characters’ clothes fly off in the middle of battle for no other reason than facepalmingly pitiful fanservice (you don’t even get to see anything approaching risqué).  Really the only reason I’m watching this series is to listen to the skilled voice acting and singing of Yui Horie.

Whether some big crisis is going to befall the land like it did in season one remains to be seen at this early stage, but I wouldn’t put it past this anime to once again centralize on the theme of rivals/enemies putting aside their differences for the sake of saving the day—probably something that’s a bit too standard, childish and cliché for most people’s tastes.

As an annoying afterthought, Working!! 2 started this pattern, but I think it’s worth saying again that adding an ‘ at the end your anime’s title is a terrible way of denoting that it’s a sequel.  Has just using a 2 or the roman numeral II simply gone out of fashion?  What happens if you decide to do a third season?  Is the title going to have ‘’ ?

Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai Ep. 1

Initial impression – surprisingly not so bad

Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – So, I Can’t do H) (more info)

Is it just my own personal preference, or does red hair and red eyes immediately make a girl that much sexier?  I’m happy to see that H ga Dekinai realizes every woman doesn’t have massive boobies so some credit goes to the character designers who realize other body types exist.   It also finds ways to be creative with its ecchi—using some really hilarious imagery to tell a few clever jokes.

After trying to sneak a peek at Risara’s underwear, Ryosuke finds himself in a sea of red grass.

The concept of perversion being used as an energy source is hardly original, but all in all the plot thus far is not overtly offensive and doesn’t make me loathe myself for liking it.  Main character Ryoksuke, though quite lecherous, isn’t overbearingly crude or misogynistic.  Instead he exudes pride in being a man, claiming that women are treasures to be loved rather than objects to be enjoyed (even if he doesn’t perfectly practice what he preaches, it’s still a modicum of honesty and a little chivalry).  It’s a refreshing take on your typical ecchi anime and while I doubt anything particularly intelligent will come of it, if you’re looking for a fun diversion that isn’t utterly brainless, at least a small measure of enjoyment can be derived from this series.

As far as ecchi goes, you could do worse than H ga Dekinai.  If nothing else, it’s better than the oddly-mismatched combination of religion and ecchi as seen in Ah! My Buddha, doesn’t have the implications of slavery and female obedience in Heaven’s Lost Property and the story premise and character designs are better than High School DxD.

Arcana Famiglia Ep. 1

Initial impression – the cards say that things look good

Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation from Italian – Arcana Family) (more info)

Having played Persona 3 & 4 extensively and studying a lot of the mythos in those games I’ve become quite familiar with tarot.  It usually doesn’t get the service due for its complexity the way Persona gave it, so I’m interested to see if Arcana Famiglia can do something similarly respectable with its source material.

Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic about it because right off the bat this appears to be an anime that’s going to be centralized on a tournament to determine the successor to this mafia-style family.  Back when Naruto was young and Flame of Recca wasn’t ancient history, I made the discovery that pretty much any anime whose plot becomes entangled in a tournament has run out of ideas.  To lead in with that sort of catch as the story’s driving force isn’t encouraging to me.

The cast is already pretty big, but if there are presumably twenty-two or more characters, (one for each of the major arcana and side characters) I fear things will be spread too thin before long.  So far it has a style that is showing some well-planned fight sequences and the powers granted by each major arcana—while sometimes a bit too obvious—are being used creatively enough so that it doesn’t feel too drab.

The soft-spoken but authoritative voice of Mamiko Noto is a great fit for Felicita.

Putting the story’s heroine in a situation where she needs saving, but has the potential to save herself rather than having to rely on the two young men who have pledged themselves to her is fresh and reassuring.  It indicates to me that everyone is going to have a strong role to play, which ought to keep things interesting.

Campione! Ep. 1

Initial impression – it has my attention…now it has to hold it

Summer 2012 (?? episodes) (title literal translation from Italian – Champion) (more info)

Campione is the story of Godou Kusanagi, an ordinary boy who gets thrown into a crazy, supernatural situation because of some ancient artifact he’s obtained and is expected to perform his role as the destined hero.  As is usually true of these sorts of anime, the first episode isn’t very easy to follow.  It wavers between realistic logistical problems for the protagonist (such as a young Japanese man in Italy being unable to speak the language), followed by a mildly ecchi scene in which the heroine, Erica Blandelli, gets intoxicated and needs his assistance, to having him suddenly be able to control the power of the gods so that he can protect the land.

But despite how standard this kind setup is, Campione isn’t committing too many missteps.  The art style fits nicely with the European setting and the writing and character design shows potential when Godou has some convincingly improvisational moments in which he must negotiate with beings not accustomed to lowering themselves to being a human’s bodyguard.  I don’t expect Campione to be any kind of masterpiece, but this first episode has caught my interest because I can see the definite beginnings of something that looks like it’s going to go somewhere.

Fate/Zero (review)

Impression – a gilded clod (4/10)

Fall 2011 and spring 2012 (25 episodes)

I think by now I’ve started to solidify my status as the alternative opinion among anime bloggers, but this review of Fate/Zero may be my most controversial so far.  Voicing my opinion at critical times like this is a big part of the reason I started this blog in the first place. I’ve prepared for this by writing at length and in detail the points of contention I have with this series.   Here we go.

Kiritsugu Emiya is a magus who has seen far too much suffering and injustice in the world.  He dreams of being the hero who can rid the world of war and violence and he believes he has found a way to do it.  By entering the Holy Grail War he can pit his skills as a modern assassin against six other magi who are also pursuing the holy relic that can grant the wish of the person who obtains it.  To do this, he must ally himself with a heroic spirit that will fight by his side and share his victory (as must the other participants in this survival game).  With the intention of summoning the spirit of the greatest avatar of justice, King Arthur, Kiritsugu throws his hat into the ring.  But the person who heeds his summons isn’t what he expected.

Inevitably, Fate/Zero has to be compared to Fate/Stay Night since this is a canonical prequel to that story.  And I’m going to be very clear and say that I did not have the same experience with Zero as many other people seem to have had.  The only thing I can see that Zero has going for it is its production values.  Everything else was done much better in Stay Night.

One of my biggest complaints is that the battles are poorly conceived.  Nearly every fight always comes down to some sort of matching of wills pushing towards whoever can level up more, meaning every battle was always a forgone conclusion, possessing nothing dynamic.  Let me compare the action in Fate/Zero to two other recent action series that actually know how to make a fight scene exciting—Shakugan no Shana III and Accel World.  Both of these series understand how to deliver suspense by including strategy that is accomplished either via exploiting weaknesses in the enemy’s plans, or psychological attacks to demoralize the opponent into just giving up.  This kind of intellectual action sequence doesn’t need flashy spectacle to keep your attention because you’re too caught up in the twists of the progression of events to get bored.

There’s two points in this series that solidified for me that the majority of this anime does nothing more than pander to the fans.  The first is in the episode devoted entirely to young Rin that feels completely out of place and ultimately goes absolutely nowhere.  I know Rin is well-liked, but that’s not a good enough reason to just toss her into a filler episode because you know it’ll make people happy.  If you absolutely must do something like that, put it in a bonus episode tucked away on the DVD where it won’t clutter up the main story.

The second point is near the end of the series when Saber chases Rider while riding a motorcycle that she magically enhances to catch up with him.   All I could do during that scene was shake my head and say, “isn’t that something that should have been Rider’s domain?”  There are way too many liberties with what constitutes flavorful powers that needed to be unique to each class.  Otherwise why bother even having them if you’re just going to make the characters’ skills ultimately all up for grabs depending on whatever will tickle the fans?  These beautiful, but empty shenanigans and complete lack of pace that dominate much of the second half could have easily been substituted with watching Saber jump hurtles and taking breaks every once in a while to shoot her sword lasers and miss.

In the absence of Ryuunosuke and Caster, the only two good episodes in Zero are the flashbacks to when Kiritsugu was a child.  Here we are treated to a spectacularly dramatic…or maybe traumatic…procession of unfortunate dilemmas where Kiritsugu must choose between those he loves and respects, or protecting innocent strangers who could never comprehend the danger that he averted or the sacrifice he made to keep them safe.

And as hard as it is to accept (I actually caught myself getting a little choked up) there’s really no room for debate that given the circumstances he made the best decision he possibly could, which serves to only sharpen the pain.  To have Kiritsugu back away from this investment at the final moment, feels completely out of character and devalues everything he had worked for.  Not to mention that you don’t have to watch more than two episodes of Stay Night to see that several key events in the last episode of Zero don’t match.  There’s just no excuse for this kind of oversight from a company that’s in the business of writing stories.  Swiss cheese that’s been blasted with a shotgun has fewer holes in it than Fate/Zero’s conclusion.  Frankly, it’s just disgusting.

To think that Gen Urobachi wrote both the incredible, gritty epic that is Madoka Magica and the teaspoon shallow, sparkling flop that is Fate/Zero is a sad state of affairs. I would never have guessed these two series to have been written by the same person.  I’m going to throw at least some of the blame on Type-Moon for probably restricting his creativity to follow whatever happened in the visual novel this series took its source from.

All things considered, the heavily weighted majority of Fate/Zero is nothing more than a string of uninvested deepities punctuated by some very nice-looking, substanceless spectacle. Unless you’re the kind of person who gets easily distracted by shiny objects, stick with Fate/Stay Night and don’t ruin your experience with this spoiled, vacuous prequel.  Probably the most I’ve ever been disappointed by an anime.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers