I know there's at least one other fan of anime on this board, and perhaps more, so I thought I'd do a review of some of the anime I've watched. I'm hoping others will do the same.

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The recently completed Gundam Unicorn on Adult Swim was pretty good.

Even if anime is starting to "cut corners" and "curb expenses" like American animation, it's still the story as much as the visuals that make a compelling production.

But I would love to see some of the classics like Star Blazers/Space Cruiser Yamoto or Robotech air again, just for the sake of seeing them again if nothing else.

Title: Amagi Brilliant Park

Episodes: 13 episodes

Category:  Comedy

 

Plot:  Seiya Kanie is forced at gunpoint to accompany Isuzu Sento to a run down amusement park. After their “date” she asks him for his opinion about the park, and he tells her it’s terrible. She then convinces him to become manager of the park, as they need to attract 500,000 visitors by a certain date. Oh, and did I mention that most of the attractions and performers at the park are from a fairy dimension?

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What's good: For the most part, this is pretty damned hilarious. Kanie’s predicament is made even worse by some of the performers he inherits, notably park mascots Moffle, Macaron and Tiramy. Each of them look cute and loveable, but are anything but, as they love to drink, Tiramy is a complete pervert, and Moffle loves to fight, especially park guests.

 

Most of the characters in the show are nicely realized, in fact. Kanie is a good protagonist, as for all his good qualities he’s also tremendously arrogant. Sento is the overbearing caretaker of the park with no management skills. There are a number of other, secondary characters that add a great deal to the cast and the interactions as well. One of my favorite episodes—and one I can relate to quite easily—is one where the park is attacked by pirates from the fairy dimension, and all of the guests assume it’s just part of the show.

 

There are no particular surprises plot-wise, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

 

What doesn't work: There are a handful of characters that really don’t work so well. For instance, there’s a princess whose life is tied to the popularity of the park, and while she’s inoffensive enough, there’s little else to say about her. Also, the ending feels a tad rushed. The last episode also seems tacked on or out of place, as it likely should have taken place before the ending episodes.

 

Additionally, there’s a plot point involving Kanie that’s not really elaborated on enough in that he used to be a child star. We sort of get an impression of why he stopped, but I would have liked to have seen it better explored.

 

Fanservice Level: Moderate. It’s there, but it’s not in your face.

 

Final Thoughts: It’s quite funny, and an enjoyable romp. Like I said, the plot isn’t anything new really, but it does suck you in.

 

My rating: 8/10

 

Yeah, there are some old ones I've been thinking about re-watching myself, notably Yu-Yu Hakusho.

Lee Houston, Junior said:

The recently completed Gundam Unicorn on Adult Swim was pretty good.

Even if anime is starting to "cut corners" and "curb expenses" like American animation, it's still the story as much as the visuals that make a compelling production.

But I would love to see some of the classics like Star Blazers/Space Cruiser Yamoto or Robotech air again, just for the sake of seeing them again if nothing else.

Title: My Hero Academia

Episodes: 36+ episodes (ongoing)

Category:  Shonen/Action

 

Plot:  In a world where almost everyone has a super power or “quirk”, young Isuzu Midoriya--aka “Deku”—does not. However, his desire to become a hero is strong, and one day he’s noticed by the country’s greatest super hero All Might. All Might takes young Deku under his wing, gives him his own power “One For All” and helps him get admitted to UA High School, a high school for budding professional super heroes.

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What's good: Despite this being a shonen anime, it doesn’t really feel like one for the most part. Sure, most of the time is spent on Deku, but there’s plenty of screen time and back story given to the other characters, in some cases to the point that you’re not sure who the lead character is for a while. As a result the supporting characters are more than just the usual stereotypes. Having the time to focus on their ambitions, hopes and motivations rounds them all out quite nicely.

 

I think a lot of that is because, once again, despite being a shonen, the emphasis really isn’t on fighting. Sure, there are some fairly intense situations with single villains or gangs of villains, but there’s just as much focus on their daily lives. Their daily lives do involve a lot of fighting, mind you, but that’s to be expected.

 

Speaking of the fights, they’re nicely rendered and generally pretty exciting. Fun to watch.

 

Something else I enjoyed were the character designs and “quirks” exhibited. Many of the characters don’t look human anymore, and while there are some staples with the quirks, there’s a lot of lesser utilized ones as well that adds a lot to the mix.

 

Finally, I have to comment on the relationship between Deku and All Might. It’s a really nice mentor/student relationship and works nicely, especially given that All Might is training Deku to replace him given that

 

SPOILERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Might is rapidly losing his powers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END SPOILERS

 

What doesn't work: The second season begins with a tournament arc that doesn’t work quite as well as the creators hoped, I imagine. It wasn’t terrible, but it did seems to steal the momentum. There’s also a recap episode that can be safely skipped.

 

Another issue is the relationship between Deku and his childhood “friend” Bakugo. I can accept that Bakugo is proud and ultra-competitive and even fairly angry a lot, but his relationship with Deku fails because there’s never any feeling that they were actually friends at any point in time. In fact, I’d say their relationship is worse than the one of Peter Parker and Flash Thompson in high school, except that Deku likes Bakugo for some reason. Now

 

 

 

SPOILERS

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve heard that Bakugo does not turn into a super villain eventually

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END SPOILERS

 

so I’m unsure as to why he’s written in such a fashion.

 

Fanservice Level: Moderate. There’s a little, and some of the heroines use it as a strategy at times. However, you’re generally not hit in the face with it.

 

Perverted Character: There is one, but he’s tolerable (although I though he was a she for most of the anime).

 

Final Thoughts: I could go on talking about this show for quite some time, but I think I’ll give it a rest now. You should check it out.

 

My rating: 8/10

 

I haven't seen the anime, but I've been enjoying the manga.

Title: The Seven Deadly Sins
Episodes: 24 Episodes
Category:  Shonen/Action/Fantasy

Plot:  Once upon a time in the kingdom of Britannia, there were a group of knights known as the Seven Deadly Sins, and they were the nation’s strongest military asset. However, one day they were accused of slaughtering all of the kingdom’s holy knights and attempting a coup. Thwarted, they disappeared. Now, the Holy Knights are abusing their powers, and Princess Elizabeth goes searching for the Sins to combat the problem.
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What's good: This is one of those anime that just works. I can’t say the characters are the best—although they’re all fine for the most part.  The plot is certainly nothing new—yet you’re engrossed. It’s not incredibly visually striking, but it works nicely. It’s just well executed.

The characters are a mixed bag. Some are much more interesting than others, many get more screen time and examination of their motivations than the lead. Some are considered highly annoying by some, and endearing by others.

Of the primary characters—namely the Sins—most are given a fair amount of screen time to develop who they are and what they’re all about, and many of them are fairly complex, which makes thiswork. The Sins Ban and King (Greed and Sloth, respectively) are particularly interesting.  Others, however, are left with much untold about their back stories, namely the lead Melodias (Wrath) and Gowther (Lust). You get a little of an idea of what makes Melodias tick, but next to nothing about Gowther. However, in some ways I think this helps, as there are things shrouded in mystery that don’t necessarily need to be unraveled.

What doesn't work: Some of the characters aren’t as strong as you’d like—for instance, Princess Elizabeth is mostly a damsel in distress throughout. I also mentioned a character that many will find annoying, that of Hawk, the talking pig. I liked him and he turns out to be essential in many ways, but I can also see why some might not enjoy his presence.

There are also the usual Shonen tropes, although since the anime is only 24 episodes it never really wears you down. Still, they are there and if you get annoyed by such things, you may not enjoy this anime.

Fanservice Level: It’s definitely there, primarily from Princess Elizabeth. There aren’t the clichéd panty shots—well, not many anyway—but there’s plenty of bouncing boobs and exposed flesh. It’s not the focus, but it is there.

Perverted Character: The lead character, Melodias, spends a lot of time fondling Elizabeth, and it’s not terrible (she seems to enjoy it), but it does feel forced, as if the animators just felt they had to throw it in.

Final Thoughts: Initially, I was going to watch this in 2-3 episode chunks, and that worked for a bit, but eventually I broke down and marathoned the last 12. I guess that says something about the entertainment value.

My rating: 8/10


Title:  Lucky Star

Episodes: 24

Category:  High School Comedy

Plot:  Four high school girls and their pals go about their daily lives at home and school. The series has been famously compared to Seinfeld, mostly because it's not "about" anything, as such. A typical episode involves the girls dealing with mundane issues, and discussing such non-weighty issues as how to eat a pastry. I've only ever seen one episode of  Seinfeld, so I can't say how justified the comparison is.  I've read the first eight volumes of the original manga by Kagami Yoshimizu, but I'll mostly only be discussing the anime here. (There are two later volumes that haven't been translated owing to rights issues.)The anime covers only a part of the manga. In the later volumes, the older girls start college, and the focus shifts to a degree to the younger girls.

The Four Girls:

  • Konata Izumi:   The ultimate fangirl, obsessed with anime, manga and video games. She is an especial fan of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and in particular, voice actress Aya Hirano, who voices Haruhi. The joke is that Hirano voices Konata, so she's playing a character who's a big fan of herself. A poor student, due more to lack of application than lack of intelligence.  She is constantly trying to copy Kagami's homework, a common anime/manga trope. Her mother died when she was quite young.  Konata eventually gets a job as a cosplay cafe to support her otaku habits.  She is a natural athlete who makes no use of her gifts.
  • Kagami Hiiragi: The serious, responsible girl, the tsukkomi  to Konata's boke.  She is something of a tsundere, and you do occasionally wonder why she puts up with Konata. However, if you watch carefully, you do get occasional hints that she envies Konata's free-spirtedness.
  • Tsukasa Hiiragi:  Kagami's younger non-identical twin sister. Genial and good-natured, she is a bit of a ditz and a poor student. She lacks Konata's cleverness or her sister's ability to concentrate. She is, however, an excellent cook.  A chronic over-sleeper, another common anime trope. (There are two older Hiiragi sisters, but they and their parents are largely background characters. The Hiiragi family runs a Shinto shrine, another common trope as it gives an excuse to show the girls dressed as miko.)
  • Miyuki Takara: A quiet, intelligent girl from a rich family. (These kinds of stories always seem to have at least one girl from a well-off family, a role filled by Chiyo Mihama in Azumanga Daioh.).  She is clumsy and a bit spacey, qualities which Konata regards as admirably moe. She has a great fear of the dentist.

Main Adult Characters:

  • Soujirou Izumi:  Konata's widowed father. Obsessed with young girls. A writer who works out of his home.  More about him under "Problematical Elements".
  • Yui Narumi:  Konata's older cousin, a traffic cop. She gets married offscreen early on, but her husband is away on business, so she shows up at the Izumis' a lot. She is a terrible driver in the Yukari Tanizaki vein, and a big drinker. Another example of the "irresponsible adult" trope.
  • Nanako Kuroi:  Konata and Tsukasa's homeroom teacher. She also drinks a lot and stays up late playing on-line games.  She is a huge baseball fan.
  • Yukari Takara: Miyuki's mother. Her daughter inherited her spaciness honestly.
  • Kanata Izumi: Konata's deceased mother. A small, child-like woman, she greatly resembled her daughter. She appears in one episode as a ghost, visiting her family at the Bon Festival.

The Other Girls:

(These characters appear in the opening credits from Episode One, but don't start to appear until Episode Fourteen.)

  • Yutaka Kobayakawa:  Yui's kid sister and Konata's cousin. She begins attending Ryou-ou Academy during the older girls' third (and final) year there.* She is a small, frail girl who is out sick frequently (another common trope). She comes to live with the Izumis when she starts high school.
  • Minami Iwasaki: A tall, quiet girl who becomes Yutaka's best friend. Their relationship is very similar to that of Chiyo Mihama and Sakaki in Azumanga Daioh
  • Misao Kusakabe:  One of Kagami's friends from her own homeroom. She is a genial smartass, a poor student who is a bit of a tomboy.  She's a counterpart to Konata,and in  the manga, when the two meet, they initially compete for Kagami's attention.
  • Ayano Minegishi: Another of Kagami's friends from her homeroom. Shy and girly, she is a counterpart to Miyuki, and Misao's childhood.  In the later volumes of the manga, she begins dating Misao's brother, making her the only character in the story to have a boyfriend.
  • Patricia Martin: An American exchange student, and classmate of Yutaka and Minami. A hardcore otaku, she is a parody of American fans. She also works at the cosplay cafe with Konata. In the later volumes of the manga, she comes to live with the Izumis.
  • Hiyori Tamura:  A would-be manga artist, and classmate of Yutaka,Minami, and Patricia. She likes to 'ship Yutaka and Minami.

Lucky Channel Characters:

(Most episodes end with a Lucky Channel segment, in which the host characters are supposed to discuss the main segment.)

  • Akira Kogami: A fourteen year-old (and eleven year showbiz veteran) idol singer.  She vacillates between being a bubbly little girl and a bitter, jealous old showbiz hack with a hair-trigger temper.
  • Minoru Shiraishi: Akira's assistant (voiced by voice actor Minoru Shiraishi), who tries to control the erratic Akira.  He also appears int  he main story as one of the few male students who speak to the girls.

Fanservice Level: There's a fairly tame beach episode, but not a lot of nudity otherwise, and no sex.

Good Elements:

It's a fun show,  with entertaining characters and amusing situations. the animation art is good, and true to the manga.

Problematic Elements:

  • The main "problematic element" is Soujirou Izumi. His obsession with young girls is creepy. He's not usually as bad as Mister Kimura in Azumanga Daioh, but his behavior does occasionally verge into the actionable.  His clinginess towards his daughter creeps out even the usually unflappable (and pretty etchi herself) Konata. This reaches its apex in the above-mentioned "ghost" episode, when Soujirou proclaims that he's glad that Konata resembles her mother, as hugging her gets his heart racing. This freaks out both Konata and Kanata's ghost.  The fact that a character like this appears in what is otherwise a "family-friendly" story seems to indicate an element of Japanese culture that I don't understand. Soujirou isn't enough of a presence to kill the story for me, but it is occasionally a bit off-putting.  I can't thinking that if this was a drama, it would all end very badly. As it is, I sometimes suspect that Yui's frequent visits are something in the way of a silent reminder to Soujirou as to what will happen to him if her ever scandalizes Yutaka while she's living under his roof.
  • Hiyori's daydreaming about a romance between Yutaka and Minami, and her apparently orgasmic reactions (and immediate self-loathing counter-reactions to same)  can get a little bit weird, too

Overall:  The above problematic elements notwithstanding, I quite enjoy watching this, and think it would be worth taking a look if you haven't seen it.

Note: Apparently, there's spin-off series that I haven't seen called The Miyakawa Family's Hunger, which shows what the otaku lifestyle can cost if you don't have the Luckies' charmed lives. It features two background characters from the main series, the orphaned Miyakawa sisters, Hinata and Hikage.  The adult Hinata must support her younger sister  on her own. Hinata, however, is a Konata-level otaku, and has a tendency to spend money they need to survive on her fangirl habits, much to her more sensible younger sister's exasperation.  It certainly sounds like an interesting counterpoint to the original series.

 

*Japanese schooling typically follows a 6-3-3 pattern: Six years of elementary school, three years of middle school and three years of high school. Thus, a high school first-year is a tenth grader.

Thanks for the review Baron.I wasn't planning on watching Lucky Star but I may now after your review.

Title: HAGANAI/HAGANAI Next

Episodes: 24 Episodes + OVA

Category:  Harem/Comedy/Slice of Life

 

Plot:  

Kadoka Hasegawa is a new transfer student to St. Chronica’s Academy. For various reasons related to his appearance (his mother was English so he has blond hair) and his demeanor, everyone thinks he’s a delinquent and shuns him. Friendless, one day he runs into one of his classmates, Yozora Mikazuki talking to someone in the classroom. It turns out she’s talking with an imaginary friend. They compare notes and realize that neither of them has any friends nor knows how to make any. As a solution, they form the Neighbors Club, a club dedicated to making friends. However, the first person to join is Sena Kashiwazaki, one of the most popular girls in school.

 

Characters:

The main characters are as follows:

 

Kodaka – the main protagonist. He’s a fairly laid back guy who does want a level of popularity. Despite his appearance, he’s a pretty good guy and a very good big brother as well (several of the female characters besides his sister end up referring to him as Onii-Chan during the show).

 

Yozora – she’s the President of the Neighbors Club. Very intelligent, clever, manipulative and Sena’s rival.

 

Sena – she’s the daughter of the principal of the school who is also ridiculously wealthy. Extremely attractive, intelligent, athletic and spoiled. She thinks of herself as a princess and tends to act as such. While she’s usually followed by a coterie of boys, she has no respect for them, and the girls hate her. She also tends to perceive the world only within her own purview. She does have an extremely gullible side and is frequently manipulated by Yozora, who she also argues with constantly.

 

Rika – she’s a genius level scientist who actually doesn’t have to go to classes and has her own lab at the school. She’s generally cheerful but is obsessed with eroticism, particularly yaoi and mecha-on-mecha sex.

 

Yukimura – Yukimura is a gender-conflicted student who looks up to Kodaka and wants to be a very manly man. Yozora convinces Yukimura that the best way to be a very manly man is to cross-dress, which Yukimura does.

 

Kobato – Kodaka’s little sister, she likes to cosplay as a Gothic vampire character from her favorite anime, Necromancer.

 

Maria – she’s a 10 year old prodigy who teaches at the school, and also the faculty adviser for the Neighbors Club. She talks about poop a lot.

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What's good:

 

Why can't real conversations have choices and save points?

 - Sena Kashiwazaki

 

So yes, this is a harem comedy. However, it manages to avoid most of the tropes inherent to that genre in favor of strong characterization.

 

To explain further, I have to explain the difference between the two shows, even though it’s a continuation of the same plotlines.

 

HAGANAI (which is an abbreviation of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai or “I Don’t Have Many Friends”) is a slice of life, episodic romp. HAGANAI Next, on the other hand, is more linear and has an overarching storyline throughout. Each season has it’s strengths and weaknesses. The first season is generally funnier, using the interactions of the characters in fairly familiar situations to generate the humor. There isn’t the usual reliance on male characters walking in on female characters naked and being sent flying for being perverts. Season two focuses more on character growth, but still retains a lot of the humor and generates it from the same source.

 

I would say the true strength of the show, however, is the characters. When you meet them, you understand why they don’t have friends, as the show moves forward and you get to know them better, you feel for their failures. Some of their character traits are quite outlandish, but there’s more to all of them than what’s on the surface, which is a large part of what the series as a whole is about. Kodaka looks like a delinquent, but he’s really quite nice. Yukimura—well, I’d be spoiling things, but Yukumura is Yukimura. Rika acts exceptionally perverted, but really isn’t (in fact, by show’s end she’s likely my favorite character). So on and so forth.

 

What doesn't work:

 

It’s a good thing there are two seasons, because if you only watched season one, you’d probably end up really disliking some of the characters, particularly Yozora, who comes off as a mean-spirited bully. That’s evened out a little bit in season two, but it’s still troubling.

 

Another issue is the fanservice. In season one, it’s mostly limited to the bumpers, but in season two the upskirt shots are ramped up to 11. It’s sad too, as this series doesn’t need the fanservice to be effective. It’s used occasionally in a way that works, but mostly it’s distracting.

 

Fanservice Level:

 

Fairly high, especially in season two. Lots of upskirt camera angles, and really unnecessary ones at that.

 

There’s also some nudity, but within the context of the story it fits, for the most part.

 

Perverted Character:

 

Rika says many perverted things throughout, but it’s more cute than disturbing.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

I really enjoyed this show and would recommend it highly. I’ve seen a number of others dismiss it as just another harem comedy, but I think there’s a lot more depth than that indicates.

 

My rating: 9/10

 

Title: Shirobako

Episodes: 24 Episodes

Category:  Drama/Slice of Life

 

Plot:  

 

Five high school girls are members of an animation club in high school. After making a short film, they decide they’d all like to work making anime in the future. Fast forward a few years, and some of them are dealing with the realities of their decision

 

Characters:

 

There’s a massive cast of characters, but here are some of the ones that dominate the show:

 

Aoi Miyamori – The story mainly revolves around her. She’s landed a job as a production assistant at a mid-level animation house in Tokyo. Unlike many of the other characters, she’s unsure as to why she’s doing what she’s doing.

 

Ema Yasuhara – Ema’s dream is to become an animator, and she draws a lot. She’s landed work at the same company as Aoi doing just that job, but she’s not very confident.

 

Shizuka Sakaki – Shizuka wants to be a seiyu, a Japanese voice-over actor. Unfortunately for her, it’s hard to get work when nobody knows who you are. She works part-time ass a waitress in a bar.

 

Misa Tōdō – She also wants to work in anime as an animator, but unlike Ema, she chose to study CG graphics. She’s working for an animation company, but she’s really not doing what she’d like to do.

 

Midori Imai – Younger than the other girls, she’s still in college. She wants to be a script writer, but has no idea where to start.

 

Mimuji and Roro – Respectively, a female pirate doll and a Teddy Bear. They represent Aoi’s inner thoughts, and are also frequently used for both comic relief and to explain some technical aspects.

 

What's good:

 

When I started watching this, the plan was to watch two or three episodes, decide if I wanted to continue watching, then space it out over a few days.

 

I ended up watching 13 episodes one evening, then finishing it off the next.

 

So essentially, this is an anime about making anime. The main story follows Aoi and the other people she works with as they produce two separate animes, dealing with any number of problems such as time delays, difficult creative types, non-communicative mangaka (manga artists) and their editors, not to mention in-fighting between departments with different agendas (there’s a sequence where they’re casting voice actors for one of the shows that’s absolutely hirlarious). I suppose that sounds pretty boring—except it’s not.

 

If you’ve ever worked in a collaborative creative environment on a team, you know there’s an excitement that pushes you forward as you near the end of the work and you’re ready to put on your show.Shiobako does a great job of capturing that excitement—indeead, I was swept along in the energy as it moved forward. It reminded me so much of my days in theatre and the parts that I miss.

 

The main strength of the show, however, is the characters. I know I only outlined a handful, but there are more than 30 fleshed out characters in the show, from the badass office manager to the sometimes lazy but determined director to the character designer who dresses like a gothic Lolita character to all sorts of characters in between. Many of these characters were designed based on people who actually work in anime, and some of them even voiced their own characters. The result is a truly strong sense of both the teamwork and the bickering that goes along with doing such work.  Also, all of the characters are not kind and perfect—you’ll hate some of them, but also get a feeling for who they are at a later time that changes your opinion of them—at least slightly.

 

The driving theme of the show is dreams and goals, and quite frankly why all of these characters put themselves through what they deal with every day despite all of the rough spots. This is particularly evident in terms of Aoi, who struggles from the first episode with what exactly her dream might be.

 

What doesn't work:

 

There’s not a whole lot to complain about. Mimuji and Roro do get a little tiresome in the latter episodes as they explain things, and it does stretch credibility sometimes, but otherwise this is rock solid.

 

Fanservice Level:

 

None, that I can recall.

 

Perverted Character:

 

There really isn’t one. One of the production assistants occasionally says mildly lewd things, but it’s very much in character and fairly realistic as well.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

This may not be for everyone. It’s possible that some of the technical jargon will make it impenetrable for some, although I didn’t find that to be the case. I personally felt it was one of the best anime I’ve ever seen. I really, really enjoyed it.

 

My rating: 9/10

 

Interesting. Another one I've never heard of.

If you or anyone else watches any of the shows I've reviewed I'd love to hear what you have to think.

The Baron said:

Interesting. Another one I've never heard of.

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