I have been waiting for this for quite a while now. I waited in anticipation and I watched in anticipation. I really wanted this anime to be good. I didn’t want to be disappointed. I didn’t want to hype myself up. I would have cried if this anime turned out to be rubbish – the anime mystery/psychological thriller genre has been too bland for too long and the prospects of a new show which actually looked half decent filled me with hope and joy. Suffice to say, it didn’t let me down. We’ve had all sorts of anime in the Winter 2012 season, so far. We’ve had the token boobies anime, we’ve had the I’ll destroy everyone else anime, the Harem of the season, the mind-rape of the season, the consistently average yet still amusing one and the “wtf, its absurd but I still love it” – we were still in desperate need of a serious, intelligent and well thought out plot anime. The prestigious title went to Steins; Gate last season for me, and this season it looks like the only considerable contestant for it is Another. Its styled, it looks set to have a pretty well laid out story, it has atmosphere and most of all – its mysterious; ruddy mysterious. (Will anyone get that reference? ). The reasons I was filled with hope by the first episode are three fold:
ART & PRESENTATION
There is a sort of Serial Experiment Lain art where a lot of the scenery is decayed or seems to be spotted red – whether intentionally for atmosphere or just for general theme, I quite liked it. The colouring and textures in this anime is general quite thick, the production was obviously done in two modes of thought. One for beauty of presentation and one for atmospheric art. I was surprised at how quality a lot of the shots were, the characters were animated very well and there seemed to be pretty good detail – though, one could argue also, a lot of the scenery is static so it is easier to mould high quality shots, either way though, it look great. They made it vibrant and clean. The other mode of production, is for atmosphere – here the colours fade, a lot of the hue’s decay and we get a more flat or monochrome set. This certainly isn’t a bad thing though – we get a great atmosphere. A lot of the shots in the anime are of dolls, the lighting is purposefully fixed in certain angles and the colours are distorted to give them a much more serene but also haughty look at the same time but the picture quality is arguably dropped. The production was clearly planned to give maximal impact where necessary but still look good the rest of the time. The result is that we get a variable amount of scenery, it doesn’t feel like a depressing anime 24/7 and at the same time, when a dramatic scene appears, it has more impact when in contrast to its other shots. So overall, the art in this show was pretty good for me. It felt just oblique enough to be pretty odd but not so much so or so dramatised that it just looked boring. Overall, quality of animation was high.
Another seems to be quite a simple anime at first glance. It starts with a cliché narration about the death of someone who now seems to be haunting the classroom. Everyone in the class seems to be able to see this popular, pretty, smart girl who was supposed to be dead but it doesn’t seem to appear to the rest of the school. It then switched over to our main protagonist, Sakakibara Kouichi who has just moved to the town where the aforementioned situation occurred and appears to be still occurring. It really didn’t seem to be anything particularly special in terms of the premise of the anime. However, the thing that makes Another so interesting is not that it appears to have an extremely complex story line which is completely unbeknown to the viewers, rather it makes obvious the general plan of action and sets the scene for a story to unfold ever so slowly and ever so subtly… *shudder*. The “neo-orthodox” horror novelist Ayatsuji Yukito isn’t trying to hide anything in the opening episode – everything feels wrong, everything feels eerie and everything feels so out of place that the whole scene may crumble if you were to even try to disturb the perversity of the atmosphere. The story doesn’t start subtle, it moves subtly. What we get here is a gothic, romantic tale. It is obvious where the anime is heading, but the path it took is completely unknown and the path is beaten into obscurity. We get so little from the anime that all you do is wonder what the hell is going on. The story really looks set to not be overly gory or a huge horror, but more of a distinct bloody anime (horror in character) with major mystery elements. It isn’t hard to see that this anime is ruddy mysterious and its only going to get ruddy good. I have no idea what to make even of what I have learnt. Kouichi can obviously see Mei but he clearly isn’t supposed to. Can the class see her too? They are aware of her “existence” yet deny her any partake in the class. Are they pretending, lying? We are told they are closest to the horrible truth. We are told they alone do PE without any other groups but other classes team up. The aged desk of Mei is still there yet it seems like no one notices it. I just want to know more – everything about this anime is such that nothing is ever truly answered. Even Kouichi’s direct questions are answered with “You’ll know soon enough”. This may sound like a put off but honestly, this is paced so well that I want it to be drawn out. I have an epic feeling for the story in this and if it turns out anything like I hope, Steins; Gate may have some serious heat for contender of epic storylines.
STYLE OF DELIVER
So many lines are styled in this anime, its hard to keep up. Its really is like a visual novel (not the anime kind, the 10,000 page kind). The well placed crows with Mei, Mei’s dolls, the flashing of the various dolls throughout the show. The BGM is chilling and I honestly had some goosebumps. The way we only ever hear but not see Kouichi’s grandparents, the supposed “Golden rules” of the school. The way the dad is away tied up with something to do with Kouichi’s deceased mother (I’m guessing its the dad’s wife hence husband but there is no explicit reference). I’m assuming they are linked in to this story and this creates this line of time stretching through the story. The silence of the students at times. The silence isn’t gaps in speech, its put in to have an effect. I feel like I’m watching Evangelion again, every line has meaning and the anime is stirred with motifs. Why does Kouichi ask for who Mei is written? Mei: From the Kanji for “sing” but also “sympathy” and for “scream” – could this be more explicit yet subtle at the same time? The anime is visually stunning but at the same time it looks delapadated and it feels like it is wrong. We have a serious psychological horror/mystery here. I really, really want it to pan out. The first episode has me completely sold.
Nothing else needs to be said really. First episode was awesome. I want more. It fulfilled my expectations and I hope it will only continue to surpass them. It left me curious as ever and made me more excited than I’ve been for a long time at the prospect of such a meaningful anime. Its based on a critically acclaimed novel, the quality is superb, a solid story and great stylization. What more could we ask for? I see no reason why this (if it continues its trend from ep 01) isn’t set to be one of the best shows of the 2012 year – and for that, Another, gets the first 9/10 of the 2012 year from me.
|Likelihood I’ll be watching: Definite!||Likelihood I’ll be blogging: Definite!|
Moretsu Pirates. Its an anime about a far off future in which we have colonised other planets and solar systems and technology has evolved greatly. On a newly colonised planet, war erupts with neighbouring residents of the system and due to a lack of military power, they issue a bill which means that pirates are now legal, if they served the cause. A group championing a ship called the Bentenmaru carrying the Moretsu Pirates engage and they manage to win over the opposing space vessels. Years later, the once partner to the leader of the pirates, is now a mother to Marika Kato – our young protagonist. Marika is in line to take over the Bentenmaru as the new captain since her father, the previous leader whom she knew nothing about, has just died. The rest of the show is her going to school, new characters being introduced and a little laser show at the end. There are three things I want to discuss:
ANIMATION & CG
Now, Moretsu Pirates is animated pretty well, it looks very clean, everyone is a wash with colour and light and generally, it does give the whole show a very nice look. There is numerous shots which are very highly detailed and its quite clear that production values for this show are going to be pretty high – well, relatively high for a new anime. But I guess, the show doesn’t need to concern itself with holding back as there wasn’t a whole lot to animate, its not like there was a huge amount of movement or anything particularly flashy at points. Where Moretsu Pirates did stand out, was the CG. I’m not sure what to make of the CG. Normally, I don’t like CG as it looks out of place and sometimes, isn’t even very crisp however I cannot deny that it really did fit in with Moretsu Pirates and the picture was very sharp. However, at the same time, I just wonder what the need for it was. Perhaps they were trying to enhance the whole futuristic feel or perhaps its because its easier to CG something as large and dynamic as the spaceships and space stations rather than animate. I would go with the former, seeing as Satelite produced this. Either way, I think it gave them a plus. The facial detail and apparel did tend to simplify when there was a large group like the classroom but, that is to be expected and it still looked nice enough.So in terms of presentation, I can’t fault this show much.
I’m not that sold on the characters however. Yes, they look nice but I’m more concerned with what they are like. Marika seems like a very naive, empty and generally, devoid of a strong personality. This sounds really bad but I do not mean to insult the character, its just that, she just walked around looking very confused the whole episode and not really telling us anything about herself or her feelings. She seems like a typical, eccentric high schooler who (due to her parents) loves to fly or whatever. I took a liking to her but that is because there is nothing to dislike as opposed to having great features. So she isn’t a great character but I think she is decent. Nothing deep, nothing particularly strong in her personality to make us love the character but hopefully they will expand on her more as we go. As for the other characters, I didn’t really know what to make of them. They felt a lot like how I felt for Marika – nothing wrong with them but at the same time, nothing great about them. There was a space pirate medic, a helmsman and Marika’s mother. None of them apart from Marika’s mother seemed to stand out to me. I guess though, they all seemed to have a very… ‘pleasant’ and ‘fun’ feel about them. Moretsu Pirates doesn’t actually seem like a show with serious piracy, its not going to be a show about conquering and having large fights – it seems more like a less gruesome version of Cowboy Bebop – they sail around and they have fun and they have gun fights, but without the blood, serious action or serious message. All I got from the characters was that they were… fun. Whether that’s enough, is up to the individual I guess.
I’m sorry but, the story is just random. Marika calls her mother by her first name, the mother never tells Marika about her Piracy days (nor even anything about her father – why would she never ask? She seemed surprised to hear she had a father.), when they’re told the captain had died, Marika’s mother just laughs (why would you laugh at the death of your husband and father to your child?) and Marika hardly reacts – its almost as if you’d just told her she’d been a bit heavy when she was born; her reaction is very matter of fact. The whole legal pirates thing is also just random. The war was over a hundred years ago, why are the pirates still legal, considering they aren’t doing any good? I just found myself piling on more and more questions. What are they going to do once they recruit Marika? Why do people want to kill her anyway, she isn’t going to do anything. Who are all these Yakuza type looking men in the cafe? Friend or foe? If friend, surely they’d have said something? If foe, surely they’d have done something? If she is, then why are they allowed to get away with it as legal? Why are there no police? Why. Why. Why. That is all I got from this anime’s story. It basically sets up a random situation that allows it to go in all sorts of directions but doesn’t actually give us any indication as to the reasons. I had a smile whilst watching it and did laugh a couple times but that is it, the rest of the time I was just going with it or I was just baffled by the story or character reactions? I can’t seem to understand it and yet I found myself enjoying it. So for the story, I am not sold but despite my better judgement, I still find myself looking for more. But lets finish, I’ve written more than I wanted.
This show pretty much just has that like factor but, if you’re expecting a nice narrative or a rich space pirate yarn, then you’ll be disappointed with Moretsu. Moretsu isn’t going to be the next big thing, neither does it try to act like it will. Its very simple. A bit of fun. That is the best way to describe it. I wasn’t bored but I wasn’t excited but I definitely… had fun. Apologies for the poor lack phrasing but that is all I can think of. So Moretsu wasn’t spectacular nor what I thought it would be (I was hoping for a more mellowed out, less action packed but still as fun, space One Piece ) however, it was still enjoyable. I’m not sure why, but I enjoyed it. Vague, I know. I do want to see how this plays out though, as I think it could be quite an relaxed and enjoyable anime to pursue. So, Moretsu gets an enjoyable 7.5/10 from me.
|Likelihood I’ll be watching: Probable||Likelihood I’ll be blogging: Decent|
High School DxD… There really isn’t all that much to say about this anime, I’m pretty sure from the images above and below, you can guess what it is all about and probably predict generally, what happened in the episode without even watching it. Well, firstly, what is the name about? High School is self-explanatory but what is the DxD part? Hmm, I hope this actually has some kind of explanation as opposed to it just trying to sound “cool”. In any case, High School DxD follows Hyodo and his friends who are basically extremely sexually charged teenagers at a school, surrounded by lots of bishoujo – it used to be a girl’s school, now turned co-ed. From the first half of the show, its pretty much just Hyodo and his friends taking part in some lascivious behaviour. And for the last part, its about some demons and fallen angels – oh and there is nakedness throughout the whole show, so if you’re not a fan of almost full body nudity in anime, this anime is not for you – nor for the faint of heart really. Its just teeming with over-exaggerated ecchi, like all the women having gigantic breasts that bounce up and down more than a slinky on a staircase.
Actually, just going by the cover, you probably knew exactly, what was in this show (I’m looking at all the guys) so if you came here by accident looking for some nude pics, then I’m sorry to disappoint but, you could always just watch the episode for that fair share. I knew it would be ecchi but, though I should have guessed by the air time, I had a wide eyed look of sheer surprise when people started getting naked. In any case, I think the obscenity is partly to cover up for the lack of a detailed story line. I’m pretty sure that this anime will end up degrading into a comedy anime following Hyodo as he stumbles and bumbles into all kinds of situations where people get nude and generally try to hook up with, the female protagonist (perhaps protagonist isn’t the right word seeing as she is a demon), Rias. As I’ve said in my About section, I really don’t like decadent or gratuitous anime when it comes to fan service, and sadly to say, this anime falls into that category. Its only within the last few minutes that we actually find out anything that even mildly resembles a plot and Rias just seemed like quite a shallow character – very stereotypical and quite overdone. I mean, why would the master (Rias) heal her servant (Hyodo), then sleep naked with him?! Nonsensical – just an excuse for the character to be naked. All in all, the show didn’t seem to take itself too seriously. I can anticipate that there will probably be some very flashy and very fleshy (word play) fights between these Demons and fallen angels and whatever the heck Hyodo is but, I doubt it will be that great. More likely it will be aesthetic than entertaining. Now, I’m not asking for the show to have hugely spectacular fights nor do I even think it needs a solid plot line, the show could probably be passed off as a comedy – though all the comedy is obviously suited towards the boys – I just wonder what the copious amounts of ecchi is for. Some anime are made purely for the lewdness e.g. To Love-Ru but in others, it feels like there are other things happening in the anime however, aren’t potent enough to carry it on its own, so its reverts to using sexual appeal. I don’t mind some ecchi in anime, its largely overlook-able however, in High School DxD, so much of the show relies on it, that if you removed it, you’d have a rather short episode composed of Hyodo getting stabbed a few times by some fallen angels and him and his friends watching some pornography. I’m interested to see what the scope of this darker world that is going to unravel is, but at the same time, I’m not that curious as its clearly not going to be anything substantial.
The show does have quite a bit of blood, Hyodo gets repeatedly stabbed – I felt quite bad for him – and there are some fallen angels wielding lances of light. Rias does confront them (as a demon) but this doesn’t lead to much and he just scurries off warning her to be wary of meeting again or else – its damn obvious they will, so why not just end it then and there? So basically, the action was just Hyodo getting stabbed and angels in lewd costumes. However, I must admit, the animation in this show is very nice – the colours are vibrant, the lines are quite sharp most of the time and the show isn’t afraid to show off some crystal colours. There is a lot of appeal in this for me and this show clearly knows how to make a scene. That said, this is also used to exemplify the nudity in the anime, so whether that is good or bad, depends on how you want to see it. There is a lot of red in this show as well, which I’m guessing is to do with Rias. Aka this and Akai kami that, there is a lot of hub-bub about red and about Rias’ red hair. I don’t think there is any meaning to it, it just seems to be a theme they’ve got going on, it does make the anime stand out, admittedly. So what do I think? Simply, this show comes down to the humour. As I said, I don’t have much love for excessive fan service or nudity however, the laughs in this anime (despite all being about boobs) are pretty good. Seeing Hyodo and his friends lusting after all the girls around them but being hopelessly unattractive, is hilarious and it did genuinely make me like the show – heck, maybe even want to watch some more. The way they behave, the facial expressions and just the general desperate topic of conversation creates a lot of lol moments.
The image above essentially sums up the whole anime. Its about three extremely desperate boys, there is a lot of talk about boobs, their days revolve around said boobs and even the action scenes have a lot of boobs. One of the first lines in the anime, sums up the entire anime. I can’t decide whether I like this show or not. Whilst I find the thought of having to have melons jiggling in my face every ten seconds of the show tiresome and shallow, I also find myself loving the hilarity of the three boys. So I have mixed feelings on this show. Anyhow, High School DxD I can see being very popular and and entertaining to a certain niche of audience but I don’t think I am part of that niche – I prefer solid stories and character development as opposed to episodic nonsense with lots of nudity. The show did succeed on a few levels; comedy and art, but where it really counts, I think DxD falls short, in my personal opinion. Therefore, I’m going to give this show a simple 7 – simply because I laughed quite a lot, and I’m a sucker for comedy.
|Likelihood I’ll be watching: Uncertain||Likelihood I’ll be blogging: Unlikely|
Win! Seeing as Amagami SS was my favourite romance anime of 2010, I can certainly say I was looking forward to this episode, and it didn’t disappoint. Amagami SS for those who did not watch the first series – which I would highly recommend, especially if you intend to pick this up – is a romance anime with copious amounts of comedy – I was literally rolling around laughing at the Sae arc in the first season. Now, whilst might look like your typical bishoujo harem anime, it has several features which make it stand out from such a dry label. Firstly and most distinctly, Amagami uses small arcs – 4 episodes in the first series – per female protagonist, to tell the story of Junichi Tachibana who has been suffering from being stood up two years prior to the story, who now meets new a new girl and we see their relationship develop. Each arc was told pretty well and all the female characters were quite likeable. Another thing which was always interesting, was seeing how the girls from previous arcs acted around Junichi, when it was another girl’s arc. This sounds confusing and probably a bit complex for the writer, but actually, its really easy to follow and it also meant there were varying jokes, atmosphere and we didn’t fall into a nauseating harem. Anyway, lets jump into it.
One thing I quite liked was that they decided to start with Ayatsuji this time, when in the last season, she was left until last. As arguably the most interesting arc from the previous season, I was definitely looking forward to seeing how they would continue her story. From the start of this episode, I already felt like I was back watching the first season with the opening scene being Junichi dreaming about bathing with Ayatsuji. Despite the way this anime looks, the ecchi nature of this anime isn’t that gratuitous, its actually rather funny but above all; realistic. Amagami is very well written in that it makes Junichi feel so much like a real teenager, like that friend that we all have and know. From his constant ‘book’ swapping with his best friend, to his extremely ‘imaginative’ mind, he seemed like your run of the mill, hormonal teenager who does tend to have genuine feelings but wasn’t typecast as an unrealistically, innocent boy. That is one of the reasons Amagami stands out so much, it doesn’t try to be especially grande in its character personalities, but this normality is what allows us to empathise with them so well. That said, a lot of the scenarios they end up in, are not all that normal – which in contrast to what I just said, is (oddly) also what makes it very interesting. I’m sure running for student council president is common in Japan, and I’m sure rallying support is pretty common too, however, doing so in a swimsuit or coordinating a large scale sabotage effort, is not. Amagami manages to take the absurd and make it the norm. I never felt as if I was watching something quite abnormal or unrealistic (As an anime fan, I’m aware of the irony in that remark) but actually I found myself engaging quite a bit with what was happening. The scenarios are never boring, and the characters are always refreshing.
Whilst watching this, I couldn’t keep a smirk off my face. I normally do not care for high school class nonsense such as the school council elections however, as I have already said, Amagami isn’t your typical school life romance. One thing I didn’t like from Ayatsuji’s arc in the last season was the whole Founder’s Festival organisation malarky, as I said, I’m honestly have no patience to sit through a whole episode about fictional school festival planning, but Amagami made it interesting! Ayatsuji’s sabotage of the only male contestant by planning it so loads of porn falls out of his bag in this episode, was just hilarious – student council elections are serious business, by the looks of it, in Japan. Just seeing Ayatsuji doing her whole good side-bad side thing, was very amusing but also, seeing Junichi wearing the trousers for once e.g during the photo shoot – where did he get professional photo equipment anyway? – was quite nice. I felt far enough away to laugh in safety, though not quite the same could be said for Junichi. His perverted nature often seems to be in contrast with his quite timid nature, especially when Ayatsuji handles him like a boss. It was great though seeing Junichi not brooding over his trauma from two years ago – don’t get me wrong, it was a clever mechanism to push the plot along in the first season but, after seeing him go through it 6 times, its effects wore – but now living life. In this episode though, we saw Junichi take some control and saw him act like a man, a rarity – trust me, especially if you saw the the Morishima arc from the first season.
It was good. It was funny, it was animated well, there was nice music and overall, I’m loving how they’ve taken the stories further from the first season. The only thing I was slightly disappointed about was the OP and ED theme, the first season had great OP music, it really fitted the anime, and there was an individual ED for each character arc which really gave it that diverse flavour. But I guess, we can’t have it all. Anyway, there was speculation as to whether this was going to be a 1-cour per character season but by the looks of it, deservedly, the show is getting a full season. I can’t wait. So for me, Amagami SS+ Plus epsisode 01, gets a solid 8. I can only anticipate this will only get better as the season continues.
|Likelihood I’ll be watching: Definite!||Likelihood I’ll be blogging: Definite!|