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Archive for September, 2013

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If you haven’t heard of Danganronpa you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past year or so. Or just don’t pay attention to quirky, dark murder mystery PSP visual novels, but whatever. It’s a game wherein you play as Naegi, a young teenage boy, who has just entered high school, only to wake up one day in a classroom, with all the windows covered in steel plates, cameras monitoring everything, and doors locked and sealed everywhere. He has been trapped in Hope’s Peak Academy along with 14 other students, whereupon they are assembled together through the school’s PA into the gym by a mysterious bear known as Monokuma. There, they are told that the only way to escape the school is to murder a classmate, and get away with it. If, during a so-called “Classroom Trial” after a murder takes place, the murderer is correctly identified, the murderer is ‘punished’. If incorrectly identified, the murderer walks free and everyone else is ‘punished’. Tension and despair ensue, all amidst the deepening mystery that is Hope’s Peak Academy itself.

Arguably best known in the west through an absurdly popular Let’s Play that was posted on the Something Awful forums. Can’t say I’ve read it myself (nor played the game), so this review obviously comes from the perspective of totally unfamiliarity with the story. Let’s find out if this adaptation lives up to the hype surrounding the game!

Spoiler alert: it doesn't

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t

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Servant x Service

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From the mangaka who brought us Working!! comes Servant x Service, a series about a bunch of eccentric individuals working together at the same job, with all the comedic shenanigans and awkward romances that come with it!

…ok so the mangaka has a niche and is sticking with it, but that is by no means a bad thing! I mean, yes, when you get down to it the premise is borderline identical, but there are a few key differences between the two of them that helps make Servant x Service very much its own entity, and not just “Working!! with a different coat of paint”. For a start, instead of being about a bunch of part-time high school aged workers Servant x Service follows a bunch of full-time young adults working in a ward office – that is, they’re public sector employees. With older characters and a completely different set of professional responsibilities comes a slew of completely new shenanigans for them to get involved in. And beyond that, well, there just aren’t any analogous characters between Servant x Service and Working!!.

But enough of what makes Servant x Service different from Working!!; what is it that makes it just as good?

Wait - I have to do actual work?!

Wait – we have to do actual work?!

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Free!

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Y’know, KyoAni’s shtick of ridiculously cute girls doing ridiculously cute things while being ridiculously well animated is getting a little tired. Hahaha, just kidding, that shit will never get old for me, but let’s just pretend that that is the case, that they need to have some sort of meaningful innovation to stay relevant, to stay interesting. What do you think would be there best course of action?

That’s right.

Ridiculously cute boys doing ridiculous cute things while being ridiculously well animated.

Well, less “cute boys” and more “hot as fuck boys” (and also p. cute), and less “cute things” and more “swim things” (and also p. cute things).

That is Free! in a nutshell.

Seriously though it’s legit fantastic.

The glamorous life of competitive swimming

Replete with super exciting swimming action

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FUCKING OWWWWWWWW

This show is fucking painful.

So. Watamote. Well, for a start its full name is Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! (something about it being your fault I’m not popular, no matter how you look at it) but fuck that noise. Watamote is the heartwarming story of a wallflower who was experiencing growing pains in middle school, but since starting high school she’s starting blossoming into a kind, outgoing, popular young woman who enjoys her day to day life with all of her friends and especially her loving boyfriend, and the fun and troubling times they all get through together.

Haha, just kidding! It’s about a delusional, self-absorbed, depressed and asocial loner who expected her life to magically turn around once entering high school, but it didn’t because her life (ironically!) isn’t a slice-of-life high school based anime and so instead she just goes around embarrassing herself in increasingly terrible ways.

The cringe. The cringe. It hurts so much.

basically me irl

all of us irl

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So if you’re unfamiliar with the The World God Only Knows (or Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai) franchise, the short of it is that a bunch of runaways spirits escaped from hell, and have taken to hiding inside the hearts of women on earth. A squad of devils (who are all apparently cute girls for some reason?) have been tasked with recapturing these spirits, each working with a ‘buddy’ – a random human chosen to help them. A particularly incompetent devil named Elsie finds out about the ‘Capturing God’ Katsuragi Keima, and buddies with him. Turns out he’s actually a ‘God’ of capturing the hearts of girls… in dating sims. Which he plays constantly to the exclusion of any other activity. Together they capture spirits by basically treating girls with runaway spirits in them as dating sim conquests, freeing the spirits from their hearts through the power of faking being in love with them. Despite the somewhat creepy premise (Keima is basically a PUA) it’s pretty damn funny, thanks to the fast-paced, energetic humour, and the way it plays with harm/dating sim tropes and clichés.

The World God Only Knows: Goddesses Arc, the third season of The World God Only Knows, is something of a departure from the formula present in the earlier ones. Instead of taking a “monster of the week” structure (well, “girl of the 2-4 episodes”) it opts for a more focused, over-arching story for its duration (but still retaining a certain degree of “girl of the 2-4 episodes”). This time around, some rebellious forces known as Vintage seek to revive ‘Old Hell’, which would plunge Earth into the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell. The only things that can stop them are the Goddesses, who reside in the hearts of some of Keima’s previous conquests (see the two episode OVA that came before this season, The World God Only Knows: Tenri Arc, which sets up the first Goddess Diana). So Keima now has to go back and conquest his previous conquests. Shenanigans and fighting ensue.

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Enjoy your gaming while you still can, Keima

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Hey, remember when light novel adaptations were something to actually be interested in? When they were something more than stories about your sister inexplicably wanting your dick/a harem of teenaged girls inexplicably wanting your dick/your sister in addition to a harem of teenaged girls inexplicably wanting your dick? Remember series like Kino’s Journey, Spice and Wolf, and heck, even The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya? Well to be fair I don’t actually remember that time, as that was a little before my time as an anime fan (and even if I was I certainly didn’t know what a light novel was), but I know of it! I know that there was a brief period where light novels were interesting and original! But alas, no more.

Or so you might have thought, but along came Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (AKA The Sunday Without God), looking and sounding interesting and original! On a Sunday 15 years ago, God abandoned the world. As a result, nobody can die or reproduce – or rather they can die, but continue to live normally, deteriorating all the while. The only people who can give the walking dead their eternal rest are the Gravekeepers, an enigmatic group of people whose powers and shovels can bury the dead for good. Ai Astin, our protagonist and focal character, is a young girl raised in a small village, who is unique in the short history of this era in that she’s the only half-human/half-gravekeeper.

Could this be the series that proves light novels still have potential as a medium?

Just a heads up: mild spoilers ahead

Just a heads up: mild spoilers ahead

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Kiniro Mosaic

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Ah, England. Land of tea, crumpets and cynical cunts moaning about the weather. But did you know it is also full of cute, young, blonde teenage girls? Who are innocent and moe as all fuck? Because Japan does! And Japan has decided to give this burgeoning demographic a proper animated tribute in the form of Kiniro Mosaic!

Some of the above might be a bit of a lie. I know I certainly don’t have crumpets all that often. But it’s certainly true that Kiniro Mosaic is a cute-girls-doing-cute-things slice-of-life with the twist of two of the five girls being English transfer students! And they both have hair as golden as the sun!

And it’s really, really, really cute!

Kami-sama save our gracious Queens

Kami-sama save our gracious Queens

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Silver Spoon

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Silver Spoon (or Gin no Saji if you’re so inclined) what was met with a bit of an incredulous reaction when it was announced. A series about a teenaged boy attending an agricultural high school? By the mangaka of Fullmetal Alchemist?!? Not exactly the follow up anyone was expecting! But it’s apparently inspired and informed by Hiromu Arakawa’s childhood being raised on a dairy farm, so we could at least expect a fairly accurate depiction of farm life. But with even that aside, there were still some worries lurking. The premise is surprisingly similar to Moyashimon, another noitaminA series about life at agricultural school (well, university) and it wasn’t too long ago that we were burned by its sequel, Moyashimon Returns (which was boring).

Fortunately, I can safely say that Silver Spoon is pretty great. The premise of a city dwelling teenage boy choosing and moving to an agricultural high school makes for a ton of hilarious fish-out-of-water shenanigans, gives us a relatable perspective on such a culture, and allows for some really interesting questions to be asked and discussed regarding how people perceive food and farm animals.

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Farm animals perceive Hachiken as food

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Tamayura: Hitotose was really quite a lovely series, about a young girl moving back to her late father’s birth town, making friends and taking photos. While it struggled during the first half to really find its footing, failing to be laid back and peaceful enough to be iyashikei and not being funny enough to be pure sitcom, once it settled in the second half the warmth of the characters and the small stories it told about them proved to be wonderful. The turning point was episode 7, which I still rank as one of the most perfect episodes of anything, easily as good as most any episode of the director’s previous work, ARIA. While it was never able to reach that height again, Tamayura: Hitotose did successfully carry the same general tone and approach for the rest of its run, and it is this lead that Tamayura: More Aggressive follows on from.

I’m just going to take this opportunity to mention how amusing and cute it is that the sequel to a relaxing, gentle, peaceful series about cute girls doing cute things promises to be more aggressive. It’s just… it’s just so adorably charming and stupid and oh god I love it. We’re kicking it hardcore this time!

Let's photo!

Let’s photo!

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Fall 2013 Plans

HOW GOOD HAS THE SUMMER SEASON BEEN?!? Seriously! There have been so many above-average to excellent series, at a much higher proportion than usual! No solstice season has any right to be this good.

But it has to come to an end, and with its end comes the new Fall (or Autumn, if you’re British like me) season. It’s… it’s looking alright. A lot of sequels to stuff I have watched, a lot of sequels to stuff I haven’t, a bunch of shitty light novel adaptations, but some stuff to be genuinely super excited for.

Oh, and if you haven’t watched airing anime before, but want to, you should check out my guide for getting into it! It’s mostly just common sense but I think there’s some useful stuff in there regardless.

Anyway, here’s my list of pickups for the season:

Green = definitely, orange = sure, why not, red = lolnope

Green = definitely, orange = sure, why not, red = lolnope. Chart courtesy of atxpieces

  • Super Seisyun Brothers
  • Kyoukai no Kanata
  • Kyousogiga TV
  • Nagi no Asukara
  • Phi Brain S3
  • Yowamushi Pedal
  • Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova
  • Non Non Biyori
  • Galileo Donna
  • Samurai Flamenco
  • Magi S2
  • Neppu Kairiku Bushi Road
  • Golden Time
  • Little Busters! ~Refrain~
  • White Album 2
  • Coppelion
  • Kill la Kill
  • pupa

Some thoughts and discussion:

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