Episode One: It’s the Circle of Life~ And it Moooooves Us All

Episode One: It’s the Circle of Life~ And it Moooooves Us All

83518This is, first and foremost, a kids show. So Its not going to be anything too mind blowing. No hidden themes, no breathtaking story twists or anything else of that nature, but in terms of kids shows, I feel like its a much, much better alternative to, say, Dora the Explorer or Teletubbies. Not hard bars to clear, certainly, but still deserves to be mentioned.

This story exists to teach kids about animals and how, even though we squishy humans can’t fly like birds or climb good like cats, but even you have amazing talents. Like the ability to make paper planes! That’s an amazing skill that can save the day, we swear!

So, what kicks off the story? Well, a young Serval Girl (And they’re all cute girls, so whatever) runs into a new “friend”, a young girl who doesn’t know who, what or where she is.

So, they journey out from the Savannah together, Serval and the newly dubbed Bag-Chan, to the great library beyond the jungle area, to find out just what kind of animal she is.

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Gotta be It.

On their way to the jungle area, they learn about the mysterious Ceruleans, who aren’t Friends, and are the only threat in this world (Because apparently carnivores don’t exist or don’t follow their instincts, I guess?) and meet Friend thicc-gurl Hippo who is a thundering bitch.

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Thundering.

From there, they go onto the Jungle Area’s gate, where they fight a giant EYE with paper planes, and finally cross into the jungle, one step closer to the Park’s Library and one step closer to finding out what kind of Friend Bag-Chan is.

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Well, I’ve got no fucking clue what she could be. 7/10, this isn’t made for me, but as a kids show its fine. The CG is bad though, which is a shame because I do really like the character designs.

-/-

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Idol Jihen Episode One: Political Pop

Idol Jihen Episode One: Political Pop

83624Idol shows like to think that they are their own little thing, but ultimately they are just another version of the cute girls doing cute things formula, only with more singing, which is fine. That’s perfectly fine, but it just helps me stress that this kind of thing isn’t usually my cup of tea, and when I say that, I mean I actually kind of hate Love Love and others of its ilk, to the point of parody.

Which I guess makes it strange that I kind of just watched the first episode of this and went, “Eh.”

The basic premise of this show is that in a time of economic ruin and other such issues, when suddenly they were saved by Goddesses descended from on high, the Idol Dietwoman, (I’m not entirely sure of that translation) who it seems are a Political party, which, kay. Sure, that is exactly who we need running this supposedly  poverty stricken Japan. (Not that we ever really see evidence of that.)

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I suppose like all other Idol shows, nothing particularly matters up until the episodes music scene, which is good, nice song, decent enough choreography if you’re willing to overlook some choppy CG and magical Aura powers, you know standard stuff.

But what keeps weirding me out about this, is they keep dropping in these hints of plot, while insisting that these Idol Diet Woman are going to help bring Japan back into an economic stability. (Though I see no evidence to support this throughout the episode, if anything the opposite seems to be true)

They even go so far as to drop in foreshadowing of an actual, hand-to-god, villain. I wasn’t aware Idol Shows were allowed to have those.

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So with all these little hints towards building a plot beyond, “There’s this thing we need to preform at to save our school or whatever” you need to actually have some substance to the rest of your silly Idol Show beyond the musical money shot. But nope, none of that on show whatsoever.

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Sorry, I bit my tongue. 4/10, Pretty Milk Toast but not offensive and I did like the song at the end, even if one song makes for a pretty shitty concert.

-/-

Episode One: Good CG in My Anime?

Episode One: Good CG in My Anime?

83395Being derivative doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Human Beings as a species have been around a long time and have been telling stories to each other for just as long.

So when I say that Hand Shakers takes a lot of its cues from the Fate/Series, I don’t want that to come off as insulting. Even though the similarities between both Shirou Emiya and Tazuna, our Main Character here in HS, are incredibly stark, right down to the visual cues of their abilities, I still think Handshakers does enough differently to differentiate itself from Fate/.

The primary thing is that I think Studio GoHands has finally managed to crack the code on making CG in anime look good, and by good I mean, holy shit I wasn’t aware a human person could drool this much and not dehydrate themselves.

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Oh, right. The bowling balls.

Look, I have nothing against fan service, I mean Jesse C. on a Goddamn Tree, Keijo was one of my favourite things of last year and both Kill la Kill and the Monogatari Series will forever circle around the top of my favourite anime of all time list, but here the boobs are just so ridiculous, in a story that is very much supposed to be taken as serious. Which isn’t something I can do when the chesticles are bouncing around like we’re they were animated in a Dead or Alive Physics engine.

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I don’t know how that isn’t supposed to take me out of it, because these character models are goddamn gorgeous. The clothes and accessories all lovingly detailed, and you’re losing yourself in the art and the fantastically trippy visuals and then, oh look, she’s stomping on her crotch to, I guess summon more magical power from her as she orgasms deeply.

The fuck of it is that its such a small part of the episode, probably only about 10% all said and done, but what is there is so jarring, I can’t really get over it, which is sad. Because everything else about this (Besudes Tazuna himself) is so effective, the visuals are stunning, nailing the CG aesthetic, making Berserk (2016) look even worse than we thought it could be. The audio is minimal, but every time it swells in is evocative as all hell, nailing the emotional arrow straight into my cold, deadened heart, and carrying on from ACCA, the camera work on display is phenomenal, framing every single shot with skilled precision.

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Each one of those Monitors is Individually Animated. Do you understand how hard that is to pull off in a non-static image? *Sploosh*

What I’m saying here is that this is a really good show, and if you can get past the ridiculous tit physics on display (Rititulous, you could say) this is genuinely a very strong show, but for me, those boobs really bounce my immersion, and I can’t get past the non-diegetic nature of them.

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We Called it Unlimited Blade Works. 7/10 my hang ups are knocking this down a whole point, which is disappointing, but is what it is I suppose. On the other flip of the dick, Berserk 2017 has no excuses to look anything but good now. 

-/-

(So. Damned. Pretty)

Episode One: CSI – Bird Country

Episode One: CSI – Bird Country

Okay, quick detour, but before we get into the nitty gritty of this, can we take a moment to appreciate just how great this opening is?

From the visuals to the music, everything just syncs up so pleasingly, I can’t help but love it. Hell, if the entire show had just been garbage after this, I would have been upset sure, but I could have gotten over it if only for the existence of this OP.

Luckily, I don’t have to get over anything, because this show is really good, with the potential to be great.

83776ACCA 13 takes place in the fictional country of Dowa, which just so happens to be shaped like a bird. (and isn’t that just adorable) The show focuses on Jean Otus, the Second in Command of, what essentially, seems to be an Internal Affairs office that covers all facets of the Dowa government.

The challenge here, one needs to assume, is in how it goes about establishing its world, and for the first 2 minutes, it does such a good job. Little tidbits are simply mentioned as asides, Jean’s title as “Cigarette Peddler Jean” and a random citizen making note that smoking is a rich person past time as Jean lights up in the middle of a crowd. It’s all really organic, and then it shoots itself in the foot by dropping the line “As you know…”

Plenty of people before me have railed against the “As you know” method of exposition, and I’m hardly original in the statement that it’s an absolutely godawful way of giving your audience information, but regardless, the show picks itself back up after the fall and continues on to be a really damn charming watch.

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“Oh Snap, Our Department’s Getting Closed? Better Cake Pose”

And as charming as the rest of this show is, which is not something I thought I’d ever be saying about a show focussing on an Internal Affairs focussed show, that initial exposition dump is disappointing because everything else has show of the season painted about it, but off of this one episode, I can’t reasonably say that. You know what I can say though? This show has some great character design, cribbing from the Fullmetal Alchemist school of character design, even the background characters have a striking (If not memorable) appearance, which helps really drive home just how good the main and supporting cast looks.

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Speaking of FMA, Hello there, Green Haired Hughes

Also the cinematography is really well done, although I suppose that’s to be expected being that this is Studio Madhouse, and if there’s one thing Madhouse knows how to do well, it’s setting a shot. Two in particular really stand out, the first is a slow pan off of our main dude, Jean, talking to one of the Section Chiefs during an audit. He’s opened a briefcase to show off a whole bunch of catalogues to this guy, and I guess that the internet is used completely differently in this universe as it seems these catalogues are to be a gift.

But while these two are talking, the camera slowly pulls back from the two, through the clear glass of the bosses office to reveal his own Second in Command looking into the office just as baffled as we are, and I really, really dig that kind of shit.

With zero dialogue, the show establishes that no, this isn’t just a quirk of the universe, a gag for the sake of having a gag, everyone else finds this just as weird as you do and its more involved in character building than in anything else. Which I just love.

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Simple and Clean often times can make for some of the BEST shots.

The second is a lot more simple, Jean gets home and goes to light up a cigarette, at which point his sister says to go outside and smoke.

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Majestic Bird Boy is Majestic

So he goes up to the roof, lights up and while the shot is simply him centred in the shot, with a grey sky above him. Nothing too impressive, but its the fact that for as long as they keep him on the roof, he’s wearing a poncho and for the majority of the 10 second scene, its mostly wide shots, showing Jean at a distance, and the poncho is meticulously animated in each shot. Even when they go in for the single close shot, they keep the animation going on the poncho and it’s just, the best thing.

Although I want to gush a little harder about everything in this show, I don’t particularly want to spoil it, because I do think that this is one of the better shows on offer this season and a strong contender for show of the season if it stays as strong as it did outside of that god awful exposition dump at the beginning.

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Did I mention the gorgeous animation? Because daddy, yes! 8/10, We would have been looking at my first 9/10 for the season if not for that exposition dump.

C’mon Episode 2, Be Better, Please.

-/-

Episode One: I Am Fire, I Am Death

Episode One: I Am Fire, I Am Death

138919For these little write ups, I’m jotting down notes as I go. I don’t use everything I’ve written down in them, to do so would mean adding significantly more words to the write up and, in turn, morphing what is, ultimately, an immediate reactions post into a full up review, which is not what I want out of these shitty little pieces about the Japanimes.

But, just for Kobayashi, I want to share my notes, because, as far as I’m concerned, they represent a wonderful little microcosm of just how I feel about this show.

Fun game, try to see if you can’t spot exactly where my frustration bubbles over into full blown rage.

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Spoiler Warning, I don’t particularly like this show

A dragon lands at a Salary-Woman’s front door one morning, claiming that she wants to be her maid, but that isn’t important, because the whole damn thing is simply here to play everyone’s favourite game, Pander to the Otakus at all costs. Sense, character, plot? Nah, fuck ’em, this dragon is in love with this human because… She saved her life?

No, fuck it. I’m doing that thing where I throw more thought into a property than even the creators did and this show is not worth it, because there’s nothing to it. No substance, all sugar, except it isn’t good sugar. It’s black liquorice, and it tastes like tar.

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Undermining Yourself does not Make You Good

Really, what else is there to say at this point, there is nothing redeeming about this show, there are no likeable characters whatsoever and when they try to inject something resembling plot into the mix, I’m just reminded about what kind of show this is and the dissonance is so great I can feel it as my neck cracks. I suppose, if nothing else, this show doesn’t offend me, so points there I guess?

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See, now I just want to read up on my Norse Mythology. 0/10 There is absolutely nothing redeeming to be found here and I’ve signed up to watch the entire show.

Why do I do things?

-/- 

Episode One: Fuuka me? Fuuka you!

Episode One: Fuuka me? Fuuka you!

186209There is a lot to be said for how you introduce your characters. If you fumble the initial introduction, it could be enough to get someone to drop your show before it goes anywhere.

It’s part of why I dropped Watamote, the introduction to the main character wasn’t great and then there was really nothing else to show growth of her as a character, and I feel like I probably would have abandoned Fuuka within a hot minute after the introduction of our main girl alone.

I get it, really I do. You’re embarrassed and more than a little offended at the idea that some rando off the streets has gone and taken a panty shot of you, it makes sense, yeah? So at this point, in front of a whole lot of witnesses, you ask for the phone and check the photo gallery. See if that indeed did happen, delete the photo, hand back the phone and slap a bitch.

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Reason, what is that and why would I want to exercise it?

So yes, in a fit of impulsive rage, she simply snatches the phone and Lonely Islands it straight into the ground.

vlcsnap-2017-01-13-17h37m36s369It happens again the next day, although this time he actually took a photo, not so much focussed on up-skirt so much as it was on a tranquil moment (And I’ll be Billy Bass, if it isn’t a well framed shot) he just happened to catch a flash of white on the breeze, so this time, when she’s reasonable about the affair and demands to see the phone, as opposed to just going full nutso again, he’s just as unwilling to hand the phone over.

So shenanigans ensue, she chases him to the edge of the school roof, and my suspension of disbelief is completely shattered, as the phone is dropped at least 5 stories and, the next day, shows up completely intact.

I’m sorry show, but that is not how smart phones work.

Admittedly, once these two scenes finished, I started actually getting into it. The date was, all said and done, kind of charming (Although the shit antics in front of the Dog Statue were very much shit antics) and the last minute of banter between Main Dude and Fuuka are straight up endearing.

So yeah, fuck it, this show isn’t breaking any new ground and it really did a piss poor job of introducing the main girl, but I’ll give it the bear minimum of a second chance and see where we go from here.

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Me too Fuuka, me too. 6/10 I’m giving this a second chance to get me invested, don’t let me down.

-/-

Episode One: Arabian Nights (BECAUSE ITS A HAREM SHOW! GEDDIT?!)

Episode One: Arabian Nights (BECAUSE ITS A HAREM SHOW! GEDDIT?!)

83471The only thing I dislike more than Cute Girls doing Cute Things tends to be base fan-service shows (Just go and make porn, christ) and Harem shows, where a million girls circle around 1 guy, as if if his dick holds the secret sauce of immortality itself.

It doesn’t help that, for the most part, the comedy either falls flat or is simply old jokes, thrown into the mix because these are the gags that harem shows have, right?

So it’s with that in mind that, I kind of found myself liking Seiren in spite of myself.

Now don’t get wrong here, that’s not to say that Seiren is amazing, game changing or that its story is even interesting, because haha, no. But what it seems to be pulling off fairly well is its gags, the comedy is pretty solid and the way that the characters play off of each other has given me some of the biggest laughs outside of Keijo!!!!!!!! in the last few months.

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Said Every MOBA Player Ever

But the story is ultimately predictable as the heat death of the universe. I already know that Tsuneki is going to be the main girl at the end of it. Maybe the sister character will swerve and not be in love with her brother, as Japan is so fond of writing that particular character, but I only say that because she’s a Big Sister as opposed to a Little one. (Thanks for popularising that trope OreImo) Also they are actually blood related, so lots more issues with that then the usual handwaved “Oh, but we’re not blood related so its okay.”

Main Character Dude is about as Milk Toast as they come and, at the very beginning of the episode, I was getting a very strong Shirou Emiya vibe from him.

“So you want to do something that makes people happy?”

“Ayup” Nothing wrong with that, but it was just a bit jarring is all. Actually, speaking of Fate/Stay Night, much like the Studio Deen adaptation of that show, Seiren’s Visual Novel roots come through pretty starkly in a couple of scenes, which is fine, I suppose. Its not like this is an action show, so it can get away with that.

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Butts, because its a Harem Show. 7/10, not bad actually, for what it is. Solid jokes make up for a lacklustre amount of original thought. Go give it a watch.

-/-