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Anime Review #007 – Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV)

Published June 23, 2016 by GravediggerNALK

Preface: This series is an adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works route of the Fate/stay night visual novel. I would definitely recommend watching the original anime adaptation of the visual novel, Fate/stay night, before this. This series makes minute references to information from Fate/Zero, but in a way that I would still recommend watching Fate/Zero after the completion of this series.

The majority of the English voice actors are different between all of the series and spin-offs (Fate/Zero & Unlimited Blade Works (TV) have the most similar English cast of any two), so, if absolute consistency is necessary for you, I’d recommend watching it in Japanese.

This review assumes that you have seen the original anime or played the main route of the visual novel (Fate/stay night), since this is an adaptation of an alternate route. Comparisons will be made to the other series. For a small tid-bit on the characters and other information, see a previous review.

To get the setup out of the way, the first episode (numbered 0) serves as a prologue to quickly catch you up to where the story begins without going through the same motions as Fate/stay night.

Review:

From the beginning, the animation is clearly miles ahead of the original series. Barring some jarring cheap CGI (mainly vehicles) and some noticeable quality deterioration, albeit a step-down to a still amazing quality, towards the ending of the second season, the animation is damned-near perfect. The action scenes, the scenery, the movement of the characters, everything . . . everything seems to have been gone over without fail to ensure a high quality end-product.[USS]_Fate_stay_night_[Unlimited_Blade_Works]_(2015)_-_16_[BD_1080p_H264_AC3]_[D58501CA].mkv_snapshot_13.43_[2016.06.22_04.26.54]

Rin Tohsaka’s facial expressions are noticeably done in more detail than the rest of the cast’s, and I can only assume that it is because she is this route’s heroine.

And, like last time, you know exactly why I am here:[USS]_Fate_stay_night_[Unlimited_Blade_Works]_(2015)_-_13_[BD_1080p_H264_AC3]_[D8F2768D].mkv_snapshot_08.47_[2016.06.22_03.09.12].png

Where Unlimited Blade Works lacks is in its focus on characters other than Shirou and Rin. Souichirou Kuzuki, Caster’s master, and Illyasviel von Einzbern, Berserker’s master, receive minute, unfinished backstories shoehorned into the episodes leading up to the climax that ultimately just help setup Shirou’s coming-to-terms; the characters becoming the lambs-to-slaughter for Shirou’s closure.  Admittedly, this route is supposed to be more about Shirou’s struggle to realize his own life’s dream . . . with that in mind, the series does an pretty good job. It is still vague about what is to become of him, and offhandedly references what would usually be called parallel universes or alternate timelines, but, with Fate/stay night in mind, it closes up Shirou’s own personality struggle nicely.

The story’s resolution is much like that of the Fate route, but with Rin as the heroine. The ending is modeled after the True Ending of the route, with the final episode expanding on it . . .[USS]_Fate_stay_night_[Unlimited_Blade_Works]_(2015)_-_25_[BD_1080p_H264_AC3]_[6DF267C3].mkv_snapshot_04.01_[2016.06.22_07.34.28]

There is also an OVA short, only about 9 minutes in length, that is modeled after the Good Ending to the route.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 8/10
  • Animation: 9/10
  • Japanese Voice Acting: 8/10
  • English Voice Acting: 8/10
  • Overall: 8/10

Information:

Title: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Released: October 2014 – June 2015 – 26 Episodes + 1 OVA – TV series with an OVA alternate ending

Director: Takahiro Miura

Original Story: Kinoko Nasu/Type-Moon

Studio: Ufotable

Licensed by: Aniplex of America

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Anime Review #006 – Fate/stay night

Published June 16, 2016 by GravediggerNALK

Preface: This series is mostly an adaptation of the Fate route (i.e. the main route) of the visual novel of the same name. If you’re not a goddamned heathen, you’d watch this (or play the visual novel) before Fate/Zero (The prequel made to be watched after this). The majority of the English voice actors are different between all of the series and spin-offs (Fate/Zero & Unlimited Blade Works (TV) have the most similar English cast of any two), so, if absolute consistency is necessary for you, I’d recommend watching it in Japanese.

Review:

The show starts out like a lot of series; the protagonist is a standard high school male with some quirk that makes him anime-protag. material. In Shirou’s case, it’s magic. As a character, he has a backstory that has been copied so many times over the past decade, that it was almost painful to sit through the explanation, and it didn’t help that they brought it up twice-an-episode every episode at minimum. He gets unwillingly put into “The Holy Grail War,” a battle (that doesn’t have to be to the death, but why the hell not; we are human) between magi and their familiars,  who are actually “resurrected” heroes from through-out time, to obtain the Holy Grail and have (a) wish(es) granted. When the question is raised about whether or not the Holy Grail in question is the actual Holy Grail, the response is essentially, “With the kind of power it has, who are we to ask questions?” The magi are known as “Masters,” while their familiars are known as “Servants.” The servants are called by their “class,” such as “Berserker,” “Archer,” “Lancer,” etc…

Joining Shirou in the fight is:

  • Rin Tohsaka, a fellow magi, who might be my favorite tsundere of the 2000’s (I refuse to admit that it’s the thigh-highs, but you know why I am here).
  • Saber, Shirou’s servant, a blond European swordsman. Shirou’s accidental summon of her is what causes his inclusion in the Holy Grail War. In a weird way, she is the “moe through helplessness” character.
  • Archer, Rin’s servant, a sword-wielding archer whose real identity remains unclear in this route. He is a large, muscular tsundere man that gives advice that is cryptic only to Shirou.
  • Sakura Matou, the childhood friend character. Spoilers: She gets her own route, and it is not this one.
  • Taiga Fujimura, Shirou’s schoolteacher, guardian(?), and the granddaughter of Shiro’s dad’s friend who holds the land Shirou’s home is on. She is Azumanga Daioh’s Yukari Tanizaki, but with short hair and a scooter.

Shirou’s tragic past *cue MGS2 Raiden levels of whining about tragic pasts* gives him reason to want to end the Holy Grail War with as few casualties as possible, and, if he can, destroy the Holy Grail . . . shenanigans/human’s-natural-power-lust follows.

The fighting, waifus, world-building, and character development of everyone except for Shirou are all genuinely good. I make Shirou sound awful, but ten years of every generic harem protagonist doing what Shirou does did not help when it came to watching this back. In the end, the show really is a classic worth seeing. The ending made me cry a little bit, and my only solace is the special epilogue in the re-releases of the visual novel.

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Scoring:

  • Plot: 9/10
  • Animation: 7/10
  • Japanese Voice Acting: 8/10
  • English Voice Acting: 8/10
  • Overall: 9/10

Information:

Title: Fate/stay night

Released: January-June 2006 – 24 Episodes – TV series

Director: Yuji Yamaguchi

Original Story: Kinoko Nasu/Type-Moon

Studio: Studio Deen

Licensed by: Sentai Filmworks

 

Anime Review #005 – Psycho-Pass: The Movie

Published June 7, 2016 by GravediggerNALK

Disclaimer: It is worth noting that the movie (and this review) assumes you have seen the first season of the TV series, and alludes to things that take place in the second season, though not to the point of necessarily needing to have seen it to understand the movie. The characterization of a couple of characters differ, some reflecting themselves at the start of season two/end of season one, while others definitely acting only as they did at the end of the season two. My opinion? Go watch both seasons before the movie . . . they are pretty good, so it will be worth it.

Review:

The animation in the film is amazing. It is not going to blow you away, but it is exactly what you would hope it would be: the first season’s animation with a nice big budget injection. There is a long shot of Tsunemori’s face during which her hair is obviously just repeating a short loop, but everything else in the movie, that I noticed, was cinema-quality.

Funimation’s English dub for this is just like it was for both seasons of the TV series: Damned-near perfect. Most people comment about how Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex have the pinnacle English dubs, and I believe that Funimation’s work with Psycho-Pass matches them. I cannot comment on the Japanese voice acting, since I only watched the English dub.

The “moral of the story” [in my opinion] is whether or not people should have “utopia” forced upon them for their own good, or if the people should be allowed to make that decision themselves. As is usual for the series, the movie is full of political and philosophical quotes, questions, and struggles.

The story initially seems like it is one big tie-up for Tsunemori’s relationship with Kogami, but it isn’t. While some movies-from-series feel like they expand a story written for an episode or two and flesh it out, like Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, others, like this one, feel like they condense an entire arc or season into two hours. If you have seen both seasons of the TV series, this movie, especially the last 20 minutes, will make you feel like this is a compilation film, with payoff not much unlike the two TV seasons. The movie, if you are a fan of the series, is definitely worth the watch.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 8/10
  • Animation: 9/10
  • Music: 9/10
  • Japanese Voice Acting: N/A (did not watch)
  • English Voice Acting: 10/10
  • Overall: 9/10

Movieposter_2

Information:

Title: Psycho-Pass: The Movie

Released: January 2015 – 113 Minutes – Movie

Director: Naoyoshi Shiotani

Original Story: Gen Urobuchi

Studio: Production I.G.

Licensed by: Funimation (TV series also licensed)

Anime Review #004 – Triage X

Published June 7, 2016 by GravediggerNALK

Disclaimer: This is a repost of a review I wrote for another, now inactive, blog.

Prologue:
The creator of Triage X is Shouji Sato, who you may already know as the character designer and illustrator of Highschool of the Dead. Triage X is his own work, where he writes the story in addition to illustrating it. If you are completely turned off by female breasts bouncing around and defying the laws of both physics and human anatomy, or if you were unable to enjoy Highschool of the Dead’s plot due to the aforementioned breasts, then this show is probably not for you. Like Highschool of the Dead, Triage X has an action-oriented story full of characters that have mostly interesting personal histories hidden behind their large mammaries. I enjoy the plot hidden behind the titties included in both the anime and the manga of Highschool of the Dead and Triage X, and only hope that you can too.  Now that the boob-disclaimer-paragraph is finished, let us actually talk about the show.

Story:
The main cast of characters are a group of assassins, known as Black Label, that carry out vigilante justice at the request of their leader, Masamune Mochizuki. Their “base” is Mochizuki General Hospital. Most of the protagonist-group members are legitimate medical professionals that spend their days tending to the sick and injured. Apart from the hospital staff, Black Label includes the main male character, the highschooler named Arashi Mikami, his senior, noted as the main female character, Mikoto Kiba, and a 14-year old idol and explosives expert named Oriha Nashida.

Mochizuki’s intent, AKA Black Label’s intent, is to cure the so-called “cancers of society,” which are the people that have spread chaos, corruption, and oppression throughout the city.

Black Label isn’t the only party in the city with similar goals, however. Another organization exists that seems to have a goal not unlike Black Label and continues to butt heads with Black Label members during missions. Also, Detective Isoroku Tatara, with his “well-endowed” partner Konomi Suzue at his side, is attempting to wage his own war on corruption in Tobioka City and put an end to the vigilante justice performed by Black Label, but he finds that trying to settle things lawfully is hard to do when bound by the law.

Review:
This first season is one that they are really going to be able to build off of if the anime adaptation is green-lit to continue. The backstories to many of the characters have been detailed or at least touched upon, and the main story has been started with its own backstory explained, at least from the viewpoint of Dr. Mochizuki. With what it gets accomplished in those areas, a second season should be able to go full throttle.

All of that being said, the season feels very short, though a big part of that is due to the season only being 10 episodes.  Almost half of the season is dedicated to the motivations and relationships of the Black Label members, which is good for character and world building, but it leaves a lot to be desired, though that may be intentionally, leaving the audience wanting more.

Admittedly, Arashi and Mikoto are a bit generic. Arashi’s past makes him question his existence. He has a co-worker or two that have feelings for him, he has a classmate that does not know about his life as an assassin that has feelings for him, and he doesn’t seem to be very aware about any of them.  Mikoto comes to develop intimate feeling for her partner, but, despite being the beautiful, clean upperclassman at school or the brash, energetic tomboy at work, she just gets too flustered to say anything to him about it.  Each character, despite the previously mentioned generic harem-series-traits of Arashi and Mikoto, have personalities and fighting styles all of their own, which I hope continues to develop as the series continues.

Much like Highschool of the Dead, the antagonists tend to be misogynistic enough to make me start to stop enjoying the show when they start their “playing,” but the scenes only last for brief moments and I definitely get the feeling that those that end up surviving will eventually meet brutal fates.

Recap:
Overall, I am going to say that the first season of the Triage X anime is one worth watching. It is far more than average, and hopefully a continuation will only improve upon what has been laid down so far.  If you do not take the opening and ending credits into account, the series can be “marathoned” in around three hours; If any of this sounded interesting, you have no excuse not to go give it a try.

Grade: B-

Info:

Title: Triage X (JPN:  トリアージX )
Format: TV series
Length: 10 episodes (approx. 23 minutes per episode)
Director(s): Akio Takami, Takao Kato
Original Story: Shouji Satou
Studio: Xebec
Anime Licensed in USA by: Sentai Filmworks
Anime Streamed in USA by: Crunchyroll
Manga Published in USA by: Yen Press
Genre(s): Action, Ecchi
Date: April 9, 2015 – June 11, 2015

Anime Review #003 – Seitokai Yakuindomo

Published June 7, 2016 by GravediggerNALK

Disclaimer: This is a repost of a review I wrote for another, now inactive, blog.

Prologue:
The original material for this show is an ongoing (as the time of writing) manga by Tozen Ujiie and published by Kodansha. Unfortunately, the manga is not currently being published in English. Much like the manga, the anime adaptation is not currently officially available in English with the exception of the second TV season, which is available on Crunchyroll with subtitles of … questionable quality.

Before I begin describing the setting, characters, “story,” etc… of Seitokai Yakuindomo, I will issue a disclaimer. This series jams more sexual jokes, puns, innuendos, imagery, references, and quite frankly anything else that you can think of into every episode EXCEPT actual explicit sexual activity.  If you are offended by the mere mention of anything that could possibly cause sexual arousal in another human being, this series is not for you. In fact, there will be a number of anime that I review here that may not be for you, but that is a bridge that you can choose whether you should cross or not when we come to it.
Story:
You meet the main character of the story, Takatoshi Tsuda, as an incoming first-year at Ousai Academy, a high school that is in its first year as a co-ed school … you can probably guess that it use to be an all-girl school. Unlike most characters you meet in this situation that have chosen their school like this to be able to meet girls, he chooses to attend Ousai because it is close to his home. On his first day, he is forced into being the new vice-president for the student council.

Student Council President Shino Amakusa and Student Council Secretary Aria Shichijo are the two characters that you will be receiving most of your puns and innuendos from. Shino is diligent, academically successful, and an absolute pervert. Aria is second only to Shino when it comes to academics, a pampered only-child from an affluent family, an airhead, and perverted to the point where she can hardly hear most sentences correctly unless she is focusing.

The fourth and final member of the student council, the treasurer, is Suzu Hagimura. She is 16-years old, just like Tsuda … she is also the same height as most 10-year olds.  Suzu, who used to study abroad, has an IQ of 180, is fluent in multiple languages, goes into a rage whenever her height is mentioned, and is often not shown on screen with the other characters, but noted with a caption and arrows showing her approximate location.
The other Ousai students and staff, Tsuda’s sister, and a handful of other characters make appearances, with varying degrees of perverted-ness.

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Review:
Seitokai Yakuindomo does not fail to meet any expectations set by the first episode.

The animation is usually nothing out of the ordinary, but you will come to find that the animation budget is the only thing in the show that actually gets blown. The unbelievable quality of some of the scenes in the series are on-par with what one would expect from high budget OVA series, but do not expect to see that all of time, every episode.

Each character has its own personality. Shino and Aria are both perverts, but they are distinct in how they act and how they handle their perverted-ness. Tsuda and Suzu both play the straight-man role in the student council room, but they have their own distinct reactions and style as to how to handle everything. The student council members have a chemistry together that drive most of the show, and it just works well.

The show evolves as it goes on. It starts off as an almost generic “4-koma-turned-anime” but it evolves quickly.  The relationships between the characters and how they handle each other develop. The student council’s chemistry works to the show’s advantage as the story progresses and the characters go different places and do different things.
A few of the segments tend to drag, but those are usually the recurring segments that appear few and far between.

Do not expect some large, overarching plot. The show takes place in segments, and generally follows the student council through the school year(s). The show is a comedy, so the short plot lines and lack of long-term arcs works to the show’s benefit.

Recap:
The show is fun. If you want something fun to watch and laugh about with your friends at some ungodly hour of the night, this is the show. If you want to watch this on a large screen in room and have people walk in on you, see it, and wonder what the hell you are watching, this is the show for you (Personal experience). If you want to watch a show with some cheap pops and likeable characters, this is the show for you.

If you want a drama, a romcom, or anything serious, then you are out of luck.   If you are easily offended by “mild language,” then this show is not for you.   If you think that sexual jokes are beneath you, then this show is the last thing that you should ever watch.

The show does not take itself seriously. It uses animation to develop the jokes and characters in ways that manga does not allow.  The show’s animation quality is wonderful and definitely higher than any other shows of the same genres.

Grade: A-

 

Info:

Title: Seitokai Yakuindomo (JPN: 生徒会役員共 ) (Literally: Student Council Officers)
Format: TV series
Length: 13 episodes (approx. 23 minutes per episode)
Director: Hiromitsu Kanazawa
Original Story:   Tozen Ujiie
Studio: GoHands
Anime Licensed in USA by: None
Anime Streamed in USA by: None (Crunchyroll DID stream Season 2, albeit with many of the jokes misunderstood/mistranslated)
Manga Published in USA by: None
Genre: Comedy, Slice-of-Life, School life
Date: July 4, 2010 – September 26, 2010

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Anime Review #002 – My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!

Published June 7, 2016 by GravediggerNALK

Disclaimer: This is a repost of a review I wrote for another, now inactive, blog.

Prologue:

NOTICE: THIS IS A REVIEW OF A SEQUEL (Specifically, season 2). For those that watched the first season, the first thing that needs to be mentioned is that the animation studio changed, and so did the art style. For this season, feel. is heading up the animation instead of last season’s studio, Brain’s Base. You will notice that the designs are … more detailed(?) than last season, with different things being emphasized in each character’s design than last season. Since this is a sequel, it will be expected that you have seen the first season or read the novel series.

Story:

This season centers on Hachiman, Yui, and Yukino’s relationships with one another, their futures together and for the rest of their lives, and their own self-identities.  As with the previous season, much of the main cast’s self-discovery is done through the observation of their classmates and each other.  8man discovers that his actions, however effective they may be at solving the problems at hand, negatively affect those that care about him when he chooses to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others.

A large portion of the season focuses on Iroha Isshiki, one of Hachiman’s kouhai. Rather, a large part of the season has her and her problems in it.  Due to her incompetence, Hachiman is left to clean up after her in her new role as student council president. The first order of business is a Christmas event co-produced by another school. The second school’s representatives are … well, where the characters that the main cast usually help are characters that have personal conflicts that get resolved through expressions of their feelings and “soul-searching,” the characters from the other school are a group that spouts key words and phrases over and over in attempt to put off their problems. This causes good ol’ 8man to try and find a new strategy, since his opponents are essentially anthropomorphic parrots.

In my opinion, the ending point chosen is excellent; It sets up the series to continue on while not doing so in some awkward mid-arc forced climax.

Also, Saika Totsuka returns.

[Commie] Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku - My Teenage RomCom SNAFU TOO! - 12 [5AB97946].mkv_snapshot_16.14_[2015.06.21_04.09.52]

Review:

This season picks up right where the first season left off.  This season builds upon the characters’ frustrations and inability to to cope with their own feelings. Really, I could not ask for any more of a second season for this series than this one.

Without going too much into the way of plot points, since anything I can attempt to say will probably spoil it and maybe even season one, I will say that the series continued forward with much of what was enjoyable, at least for me anyway, of the first season. The story felt a bit rushed, probably due to so many novel volumes being condensed for this season, but nothing feels lost.

Recap:

I enjoyed watching this season. If the animation style had not changed, it would have felt as if the first season had never ended.

If you enjoyed watching the first season, definitely watch season two.  If you want to watch a show that can make you look at yourself and the people around you, definitely watch this series from the beginning.

Without asking for a direct, paragraph-by-paragraph adaptation of the novels, this season is as good as I could have asked for.

I cannot think of a negative thing to say about this season of OreGairu; Anything negative to be said about this season applies directly to the series itself.

Grade: A

Information:

Title: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO! (JPN:  Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru. Zoku ; やはり俺の青春ラブコメはまちがっている。続)

Format: TV series

Length: 13 episodes (approx. 24 minutes per episode)

Director:  Kei Oikawa

Original Story: Wataru Watari

Studio: feel.

Anime Licensed in USA by: Sentai Filmworks (also licensed the first season)

Anime Streamed in USA by: Crunchyroll (Season one is also streamed at this link).

Novels Published in USA by: None

Genre: Drama

Date: April 3, 2015 – June 26, 2015

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