Anime Review

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Anime Review #013 – Tenchi Muyo! Mihoshi Special

Published May 31, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

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Review:

This special is boring from start to finish.  It features the animated debut of Kiyone and Pretty Sammy, and that is about the extent of its worth.  It starts with a weird intro focusing on Mihoshi, the character of little value shoe-horned into the first set of Ryo-Ohki OVAs with little consequence, and then the actual story starts.  Everyone calls out Mihoshi for being a worthless character, so she begins telling the the story of her most infamous case as a detective.  Despite them having no connection to it, she replaces all of the characters in her story with the characters of the series.  Mihoshi tells a tale of generic space criminals trying to destroy everything.  Towards the end, Sasami transforms into Pretty Sammy, a magical girl.  The in-between is mediocre harem in-fighting between Ryoko and Ayeka.

Unless you just really want to see Kiyone’s animated debut or you REALLY love Pretty Sammy, I cannot recommend watching this to anyone.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 4/10
  • Animation: 7/10
  • English Voice Acting: 7/10
  • Overall: 5/10

Information:

Title: Tenchi Muyo! Mihoshi Special (Galaxy Police Mihoshi’s Space Adventure)

Released: March 1994 (1 OVA)

Director: Kazuhiro Ozawa

Written By: Ryoe Tsukimura

Studio: AIC

Licensed By: Pioneer (Former)

External Links:

ANN Encyclopedia

Wikipedia

MyAnimeList

Anime Review #012 – Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (Series 1)

Published May 30, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

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Prologue:

This review covers the first set of OVAs for the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki series (6 episodes) and the special, The Night Before the Carnival.

Review:

The first thing that struck me when I started was the quality. Everything was detailed, the colors deep, and almost none of the animation looked rushed.  I will say that some of the digital effects do not look the best, but I have only watched this on BD, so it may be a fault with the remastering process and could very well look fine on the original release.  Even so, the digital effects are very well done for what they are; they do not stick out too much.

The plot is not as good as the animation, unfortunately.  It starts out as a standard adventure-supernatural fantasy story, unlocking demons, etc… and quickly devolves into a harem with little buildup.  The story arc resolves itself rather uneventfully.  The special brings the series’ harem elements to the forefront, and is one of the first examples of blatant harem “fighting-for-first” scenarios that have become commonplace in most harem anime produced in the past 10 – 20 years.

The English dub is . . . there.  This was Pioneer’s first outing, so I can understand any slips, but it is still hard to listen to sometimes.  It is not so much that the sound quality (I doubt Pioneer would produce anything with low-quality audio) or script is bad, but that the acting and some of the voices themselves just do not work well.  From what I have been told, many of the voices remain the same throughout the most of the metaseries, some changing every now and then, which gives me hope for an improved experience the more of it that I watch.

This first set is pretty standard (animation quality aside), but my feelings on that are most likely tainted by having seen 24 years worth of anime that came afterwards imitating and (attempting to) polish its formula.  I can definitely recommend this to watch.  Even if it sounds like it will not be worth it, it is only 6 episodes and a special. There is no reason to not spend 4 hours watching all of it; I know you have spent more time on worse things.

Scoring:

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

Information:

Title: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (First Series)

Released: September 1992 – March 1993 (Special: September 1993) – 6 OVAs + 1 Special

Director: Hiroki Hayashi

Creators: Hiroki Hayashi, Masaki Kajishima

Studio: AIC

Licensed By: Funimation (Former: Pioneer)

External Links:

ANN Encylopedia  (Special)

Wikipedia

MyAnimeList (Special)

Anime Review #011 – Nyan Koi!

Published May 23, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

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Review:

If you were expecting anything exceptional from Nyan Koi!, I am sorry.  As far as comedic ecchi harem anime go, it’s definitely above average, but anything more than that would be an overstatement.  The story centers around Jyunpei Kousaka, a 2nd-year high school student in love.  He accidentally breaks a cat statue and now he’s cursed, doomed to serve a set number of wishes to cats before the curse will be lifted.  Unfortunately for him, he is allergic to cats.  Oh, and most of the females in the show want him, but he wants the one that is trying the least (initially) to be with him. Standard harem shenanigans ensue.

The show does a good job of defining each other the protagonist’s potential suitors, but they are, for the most part, just as generic as the next.

  • Kaede Mizuno: Jyunpei’s love interest.  They met before the opening ceremony on their first day of high school.  She is (initially) oblivious to his feelings, and he spends the entire series trying to find his chance to tell her how he feels.
  • Kanako Sumiyoshi: Jyunpei’s childhood friend. Kaede’s friend.  Loud. Aggressive.  Tsundere.  The oppai character.
  • Nagi Ichinose: Jyunpei’s senior. Kaede’s track captain.  Heir of a powerful Kyoto Yakuza family.  Eccentric.
  • Kotone Kirishima: Jyunpei’s junior. Daughter of monk in charge of the shrine hosting the cat statue Jyunpei broke.  Sadistic. Has a fetish for misfortune.
  • Akari Kirishima: Jyunpei’s junior, Kotone’s twin sister.  100% Tsun.
  • Chizuru Mochizuki: Local mail carrier and 3rd-year university student.  The “older than main character to point that relationship is obviously not going to happen, but sexual tension exists and it’s a reason for larger breasts on a character than ones that already exists (Sumiyoshi in this case)” character.

While Jyunpei is trying to ward off approaches from Sumiyoshi and the others in order to spend alone time with Kaede, he is bombarded with requests from local cats.  Some of the cats get time to develop their characters too, but most of that stops at a point as a sacrifice to the development of the human characters.  The thought put into the cats was more than expected, to say the least.  Each cat’s personality definitely fits its role.

To fit all of these characters in, given them all some decent character development, and not drop the cat-quests plotline, all in 12 episodes, the series did much better than expected.  Some parts, especially towards the end, felt more rushed than others, but everything went over pretty well.   The ending was left open to continue with the manga into a season two (that the ending repeatedly mentions), but one has not materialized in the subsequent eight years.

For an ecchi harem series that wasn’t breaking records or getting incredible reviews for the manga, it is surprising to see the quality of the anime’s animation.  There isn’t really anything outstanding about it, but the quality is consistent.  It is definitely above-average in the quality department, and the fact that it did not drop was impressive.

For every cheap, unoriginal, low-quality harem anime I have seen get sequel after sequel, season after season, I am surprised that one “above-the-bar” like Nyan Koi! has not gotten its second season.  Shame.

Scoring:

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

Information:

Title: Nyan Koi! ANN MAL Wikipedia

Released: Autumn 2009 – TV Series (12 Episodes)

Director: Keiichiro Kawaguchi

Original Story: Sato Fujiwara

Studio: AIC

Licensed By: Sentai Filmworks

Anime Review #010 – The Empire of Corpses

Published February 22, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

Characters:

1. John Watson – “corpse engineer” and medical student.  Name referencing the character from Sherlock Holmes

2. Friday (Noble Savage 007) – Watson’s re-animated companion. Name referencing the character from Robinson Crusoe with the codename referring to James Bond.

3. Hadaly (Later, Irene Adler) – President Grant’s personal secretary.  Name change refers to the character from Sherlock Holmes, original name refers character from The Future Eve.

4. Burnaby – The soldier assigned to accompany Watson. Name referencing a real British Army officer of the time.

 

Review:

The first thing I should say: Yes, all of the main characters are named after famous people both real and fictional. Do not spend too much time worrying about that, it is almost completely irrelevant.

The Empire of Corpses takes place in an alternate version of the late 19th century, where, apparently, Frankenstein is real . . . and so is his research and experiments.  The first part of the movie revolves around the advancement of “corpse technology,” the use of re-animated corpses as laborers, and the main character’s (John Watson) quest of defining what exactly is the human soul.  The latter part of the film deals with the ethics behind the use of human remains for tools, whether or not a human even contains a soul, and the “People can’t be sad if they aren’t people anymore” ideology.

The changing focus of the movie resulted in some “jumps.”  After the cast reaches their first goal, the movie almost comes to a standstill, before the reveal that sets up the setup for the rest of the movie. After reaching their second goal, ANOTHER reveal happens, and the cast sets out again.  After reaching Hadaly’s safehouse, the plot becomes eerily similar to the ending scenario for Shrek 2, and that is uncomfortable to think about.  There is an after-credits scene, so make sure to watch through the credits for it.

The animation quality is high.  I expected the quality be slipshod and drop greatly outside of key action scenes, like Attack on Titan, but Wit Studio really did a great job on this one.

Scoring:

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

Information:

Title: The Empire of Corpses  ANN Wikipedia

Released: October 2015 – Movie

Director: Ryoutarou Makihara

Original Story: Project Itoh and Toh EnJoe

Studio: Wit Studio

Licensed By: Funimation

Anime Review #009 – Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Published December 24, 2016 by GravediggerNALK

Preface: This is a review of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG. This is not of the same continuity as the original manga series by Masamune Shirow, the movie series by Mamoru Oshii, the Arise canon, the 1997 PlayStation One video game (that I still haven’t finished), or the 2017 American live action movie.

Review:

The characters in Stand Alone Complex are, in my opinion, the best iteration of the metaseries.  Using Major Kusanagi as the prime example, she is the perfect mix of her childish and mischievous manga counterpart and the stoic and cold Oshii version.  The characters act like you would expect them to, given their backgrounds.  It is unfortunate that some characters aren’t given much background until 2nd GIG, namely Saito and Pazu, but you really get to know the characters as the series progresses. Even the Tachikomas develop distinct personalities (which is a plot point), that you can follow through the series.  As far as character focus goes, the series still centers on Major Kusanagi following the antagonist, with secondary jumps to Togusa, with the occasional episode or two dedicated to one of the other members of Section 9.

The first season’s overarching focus is The Laughing Man case, which ultimately ends in the titular Stand Alone Complex2nd GIG centers on the Individual Eleven case. Throughout the series, Section 9 is forced to deal with the unfortunate day-to-day immorality of politics which eventually leads them to begin questioning their own reasons for joining Section 9.  As with previous Ghost in the Shell works, the series is permeated by themes of existentialism, humanity, self-worth, and morality.  Episodically, the series follows the day-to-day operations of the main team at Section 9.  Some episodes are stand-alone (no pun intended), while others are part of the links feeding directly in to the main plot.

From about 9 minutes into the last episode to the half-way commercial break, I cried the first time I saw it.  Not from sadness or grief, but from feeling characters love each other. Characters that I had never thought that would be important to me, brought forth tears.

The music is, as to be expected from something with Yoko Kanno attached to it, immaculate.  It all fits.  Every track fits and melds with the vibes from the show.

The animation quality was variable.  Some of it was movie quality animation that I whole-heartily believe that the series deserves, and then there are scenes where faces are nothing more than a couple of dots on a skin-colored circle.  I understand that it is a television series, but it would have been nice to see those scenes fixed on the home video release.  It does not really detract from the series, but it is noticeable.  Astonishingly, the series’ use of CGI, mainly for the Tachikomas, looks good.  There are episodes, especially in 2nd GIG, that have weather effects (mainly snow) that did not look as good as I had hoped when the series was re-released on bluray, but a little blur never hurt anyone.

It is truly an anime classic.  Almost nothing would please me more than for Kamiyama’s constant teasing to finally result in a 3rd GIG.  If Shirow’s Appleseed ever got half of the love that was put into Stand Alone Complex for Ghost in the Shell, I would never ask for anything ever again . . . maybe for Ishikawa to become my very own live-in grandpa, but that’s clearly impossible.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 10/10
  • Animation: 8/10
  • Japanese Voice Acting: 10/10
  • English Voice Acting: 10/10
  • Overall: 9.5/10

Information:

Title: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Released: October 2002 – January 2005  – 52 Episodes – TV series

Director: Kenji Kamiyama

Original Story: Masamune Shirow

Music: Yoko Kanno

Studio: Production I.G.

Licensed by: Bandai Entertainment, Manga Entertainment

Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment

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Anime Review #008 – Fate/Zero

Published July 3, 2016 by GravediggerNALK

Preface: This series is prequel to Fate/stay night, and was made with the intention of it being watched after it.  I definitely recommend watching/playing Fate/stay night or, at the very least, watching Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works before watching Fate/Zero. Watching Fate/Zero before pretty much ruins Fate/stay night. Even the countdown timer present in the title card for each episode of Fate/Zero shows this; the timers aren’t counting down to Fate/Zero‘s climax or the ending, but to the “beginning” of the Fate/stay night story.

Please do not be a buster: Watch Fate/Zero after finishing Fate/stay night in some way or another.

Review:

It needs to be said: this series is a different genre from Fate/stay night. This is usually what causes the shock for people going from one to another (besides, you know, watching this first like a heathen). While Fate/stay night is a romance fantasy series with bits of action, this series is more like an “action tragedy with fantasy elements.” Fans familiar with writer Gen Urobuchi’s recent work on Psycho-Pass will probably feel the similarities between the two than with Fate/stay night.

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The story is really a “how did we get here?” prequel for Fate/stay night more than anything. What is the Einzbern’s goal? What is the story between the Tohsakas and the Matous? Who is Kiritsugu Emiya? Why is Rin the way she is? What happened in the Fourth Holy Grail War to cause the abnormalities in the Fifth Holy Grail War (Fate/stay night)?  Without seeing Fate/stay night first, it’s a bit hard to care about many of the characters since Fate/Zero gives the audience no reason to care about them.

The story mainly focuses around Kiritsugu Emiya, his hunt for the grail, his past, and his ideals, and Kirei Kotomine, his search for his own self, and his new obsession with Emiya. Entwined in all of this, is Gilgamesh’s story prior to Fate/stay night, Rin’s motivations to be a mage, Saber’s coming-to-terms with her past, and a young mage Waver Velvet finding meaning in his life with the help of his servant Rider.

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Knowing that Shirou Emiya’s drive comes from Kiritsugu, among other things revealed in this series, Fate/Zero does a fine job setting up the Shirou/Rin/Saber vs Kotomine/Gilgamesh conflict from Fate/stay night using Kiritsugu and Kotomine’s conflict to understand each other and themselves.

The animation is definitely a step-up from that of Studio Deen’s Fate/stay night, but is not quite as nice as Ufotable’s later TV adaptation of Unlimited Blade Works. That being said, the CGI for cars and other vehicles looks much better than UBW, albeit not that great overall. Other than Saber’s motorcycle and Rider’s chariot, Ufotable’s vehicle CG seems to be stuck in 2006.

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Scoring:

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

Information:

Title: Fate/Zero

Released: October 2011 – June 2012 – 25 Episodes – TV series

Director: Ei Aoki

Original Story: Gen Urobuchi/Type-Moon

Studio: Ufotable

Licensed by: Aniplex of America

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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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