Oh, GOSICK, how far you have fallen. Not all that far, actually, since you never managed to climb very high in the first place. It’s been like scurrying up onto a small fence and then toppling over backwards off a cliff. Poorly written similes aside, this show is becoming enjoyable on a level much different than I would have ever expected. It’s like a mix of Detective Conan and Commando at this point. With the right mindset, that has amazing potential.
So let’s dive into episodes four and five of the best unintentional comedy anime of the season.
Sometimes, you just need to think like a teenage girl.
I’ve been meaning to start watching PreCure after Sailor Moonintroduced me to the wonders of magical girls last year. Like its predecessor, PreCure is one of those shows that everybody has heard of but nobody has seen. In Japan, it’s a hugely popular merchandising juggernaut aimed at little girls, much like My Little Pony in the United States. Perhaps because of its target audience, it has never received much attention in the Western otaku community. Regardless, with a new PreCure show just starting up, I figured it was the perfect time to see what this franchise is all about. This review covers the first two episodes.
From the very first scene, Suite PreCure dives headfirst a Power Rangers style black-and-white moral morass. Mephisto, the evil ruler of the musically themed Minor Land, is trying to steal the notes of the Melody of Happiness in order to transform it into a Melody of Sorrow. When the queen of Major Land scatters the notes all around Earth, Mephisto sends his transforming cat/girl minion Siren to retrieve them. However, Major Land’s adorable mascot Hummy manages to thwart Siren by transforming two girls, Hibiki and Kanade, into Cure Melody and Cure Rhythm. Thus begins the musical battle against the forces of sadness!
Well, this season of anime was certainly a pleasant surprise. After the lackluster summer season, everyone at Project Haruhi felt that our prospects for the fall weren’t all that great. Fortunately, a few standout series managed to rise above the typical fare and keep us entertained. Foremost among them was Squid Girl, which we all agree was the best show of the season. Sadly, that’s pretty much the ONLY thing we agreed on.
While recording our weekly reviews on Bakacast, a number of disagreements sprung up. Dusty and Glen are huge fans of Star Driver, whereas I found it too boring to watch past four episodes. Alternatively, I’ve been quite the Panty & Stocking apologist, but Glen and Dusty find it marginally entertaining at best. And we all enjoyed hating on OreImo, one of the most reviled shows of the season… except for Glen, who actually enjoyed it quite a bit. Even our opinions of Iron Man tended to vary.
For the purposes of these reviews, I’ve tried to assign each show to the person who enjoyed it the most. The exceptions are Samurai Girls, which NOBODY liked, and Iron Man, which Dusty gets because he’s our resident comic book nerd. Hopefully, that will make these reviews more than just one unending stream of negativity. No promises, though.
Our in-depth reviews are below the break. Beware the sacrilege! Oh, and the spoilers too.
The Transformers franchise has been in shambles lately, thanks in no small part to the crude machinations of poop-flinging man child Michael Bay. We’re all familiar with the universally reviled film Revenge of the Fallen, which reduced the rich mythos of Transformers to an endless string of racist caricatures and scatological humor. Hasbro is equally concerned about the future of their flagship toy franchise, as evidenced by their willingness to take a more hands-on approach in recent years. Although they can’t stop Michael Bay from making yet another disastrous film, they can forge an entirely new continuity to carry the franchise into the next decade and beyond. And with the help of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the writers who successfully rebooted Star Trek, they’ve created what may be the best American giant robot cartoon since the legendary Beast Wars.
This guest review was written by Scott Spaziani of the Otaku in Review blog. Check out his site here, and subscribe to his podcast here.
Sora No Woto is a series that attempted to unite the two feuding cults of anime fans by combining traditional moe elements with a serious and compelling storyline. The result is a story about a young girl, Kanata, who joins the army in order to learn to play music. She is assigned to a post in the most remote part of the nation and ends up living a life of leisure in a world that has been decimated by war.
Although the production values of Sora No Woto are extremely high overall, the show doesn’t have a single original idea. This is a show crafted by committee and it shows in the most obvious places. The character designs and personality types of the main cast seem to be lifted from other popular moe shows. The main character, Kanata, looks and acts like K-ON!‘s Yui Hirasawa, and even has same musical affinity. The technically inclined but soft-spoken and shy Noël Kannagi is, in personality and character design, an obvious rip off of Haruhi’s Yuki Nagato. There elements give the show an artificial feel and are an obvious attempt at pandering to moe fans.
When I first heard there was going to be a Railgun OVA, I was disappointed. Yeah, you read that right. Unlike other fans, I was not looking forward to this. Ever since episode thirteen of the original series, I’ve been waiting impatiently for J.C. Staff to cut the filler crap and move ahead with the actual story, as laid out in the manga. The last thing Railgun needs right now is more pointless fluff. Being the pessimist that I am, I was steeling myself for more holodeck swimsuit antics and Pizza Hut product placement. Fortunately, I was wrong.
In a nutshell, this OVA was exactly like one of the better episodes of the TV series. There were lightning-lesbian antics, an urban legend-based mystery that needed solving, a personal crisis for Mikoto and the Power of Friendship™ to help save the day. Hell, you could stick this in the middle of the show itself, and it would be nigh-indistinguishable from a regular episode. This is both a good and bad thing; although this OVA is guaranteed to entertain the hardcore Railgun fans like myself, it also suffers from all the same flaws that made the original show such a hard sell for more casual viewers. This half-hour of Mikoto-filled goodness encapsulates everything that is right and wrong with the franchise as a whole.
Do you see that look on Maya’s face? That expression of disappointment and contempt, mixed with just a hint of anger? Yeah, that’s how I feel right now.
Look, I wanted to like Occult Academy, I really did. Back in the early days of the summer season, I called this show “messianic,” a gift from the heavens destined to drive back the forces of mediocrity and darkness. Here, at long last, was an anime that had a plot beyond “cute girls drinking tea,” characters with more depth and originality than tired archetypes like “twintailed tsundere,” and humor more sophisticated than “LOL BOOBIES.” In other words, this was exactly the kind of thoughtful, original show we needed to counter the ever-increasing tide of fanservice and moe garbage that’s been swamping the airwaves. Sadly, it was unable to live up to those high expectations.
Here we are at the tail end of the Summer 2010 season, with hardly anything worthwhile to watch. As Bakacast listeners know, we at Project Haruhi are having a hard time finding things to like in the anime we review each week. It’s getting pretty desperate here, such that we no longer care if the flat, uninteresting characters in shows like Highschool of the Dead live or die. Thankfully that is where Working!! comes in. This lifeline of hope was thrown to me by a friend who knew my despair. “This should help! This is moe as we remember!” she said as I sobbed into her arms about my lack of faith in moe. I remember her smile was like a ray of sunshine, boosting my confidence. Happily, she turned out to be bang-on correct. Read on to learn why she was right!
In case you’re unfamiliar, Black Rock Shooter was originally a character designed by the Japanese artist Huke, which the band Supercell adapted into a wildly popular Hatsune Miku music video. The video itself doesn’t feature much plot; it’s just the titular protagonist travelling around a post-apocalyptic world, looking all emo and angsty. That means when Yutaka Yamamoto and Studio Ordet decided to make a full-length original video animation from this concept for their first independent project, they had their work cut out for them. Not only did they have to prove their little startup studio could produce quality anime, they had to create an entire universe and mythology for Black Rock Shooter from scratch.
So, did they succeed? Did Studio Ordet prove it could hold its own against the older, larger and better-funded anime studios? Sadly, no. This OVA was a disappointment on nearly every level. It’s a pity, since there’s a really interesting concept here. Unfortunately, it was dragged down by poor animation, badly paced storytelling and low production values.
This is totally crazy, I know. This is the show everyone in the interwebs is drooling over. Surely I must have caught some rogue virus that rots away the parts of the brain that enjoy moe anime. I mean, I don’t like K-ON!! either, so just what is wrong with me? You’d think since I enjoyed Clannad so much this new offering from the same writer would be just as good, or at least have the same amount of impact as its predescessor, right?
Looking back at previous Key series, it turns out I didn’t like Air or Kanon very much, so it should hardly seem surprising that Angel Beats! ended up on the disappointing end of the scale with the rest of them. Why is that? The tried and tested formulas were there: mysterious afterlife world, highschool setting, girls with guns, a bit of fun thrown in the mix with emotional reefs to run aground on, etc etc etc. Oh, and a lead female protagonist who looks like Haruhi. Yup, all the key ingredients were there to satisfy my brain, and by all accounts Angel Beats! should have been win… yet it wasn’t.