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Archive for the ‘Fall 2013’ Category

Kill la Kill

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So, Trigger. You may have heard of them. Remember Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, and how they gave Gainax a reputation for crazy awesome and gratuitously good fun original series after a few years of largely unremarkable work? Remember how they followed them up with fucking nothing like that, and the quality of their output bombed and now they’re a bit of a joke? Well, those two series were helmed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, and for ~reasons~ he left and took all the talent with him to form Studio Trigger. Well, the talent that didn’t leave to form Studio Khara with Anno to make more Evangelion, that is.

Unsurprisingly, Trigger almost immediately had tons of hype and anticipation behind them. They were quiet for a while, doing a bit of outsourced work for other products, before releasing their first original work… Inferno Cop. Ok, it was short and cheap as hell and nonsensical but Christ was it fun and you could tell that Imaishi hadn’t lost his touch. They followed this up with their entry for Anime Mirai 2013, Little Witch Academia, which was fucking awesome. But this was just an OVA – we still had not seen any full-length, proper series from them yet.

And then they announced Kill la Kill. And the hype train accelerated up to hitherto unknown speeds.

Let's do this

Let’s do this

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Phi Brain S3

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Phi Brain, the premier puzzle-solving anime, somehow got a second season. And it was good. And then it somehow got a third season. Which is this. How? Why?!

Who cares, Phi Brain is fucking excellent. I’ve reviewed both previous seasons of it, and once it got over the uncertainty at the start of the first season it was able to consistently deliver its trademark mix of goofy seriousness and wonderful characters all within a world where puzzles are consistently the most serious fucking thing ever. It’s always been an utterly moronic premise but damn if the execution hasn’t been spectacular.

And now we have a third season of it. What’s new this time around? Well, where the first season involved Kaito puzzle-fighting against an evil group led by a white-haired pretty boy and the second season involved Kaito puzzle-fighting against an evil group led by a white-haired pretty boy, this third season involves… Kaito puzzle fighting against an evil group led by a pink-haired pretty girl!!

A girl! A competent and antagonistic one! In Phi Brain! My whole word has been turned upside-down!

It's puzzle time! ...for the last time ;_;

It’s puzzle time! …for the last time ;_;

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White Album 2

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Romance visual novels are not a rare thing. As in, they are literally all visual novels ever. However, romance visual novels that aren’t “every girl wants to fuck me” or “every girl has a tragic past and is crying (and also wants to fuck me)” are. Where are the romantic dramas about a small number of fairly normal, relatable people who don’t have anything too out of the ordinary happen to them who get into love-triangles and misunderstandings and whatnot? Oh yeah, it’s because those are much fucking harder to write and make interesting.

Can you guess what White Album 2 attempts to do?

One could go so far as to even call it daring. Visual novel adaptations have fallen out of favour in the anime industry these days, as light novels accomplish essentially the same thing and don’t have branching narratives to deal with, so for a visual novel to be adapted that is not a harem, is not a big ol’ melodrama, and does not contain a semicolon in the title is a little unusual!

Oh, and for the record White Album 2 is not a sequel to White Album; it’s set in the same continuity but has an entirely different cast, although there are apparently a few (minor, inconsequential) references to the first one.

I guess it's true what they say; guitarists get all the girls

I guess it’s true when they say “guitarists get all the girls”

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When Little Busters!: Refrain started airing, I was torn. After having been so sorely disappointed by [the first series], would it really be worth my time to pick up the sequel? JC Staff botched the adaptation of Little Busters! in a fundamental way; the direction, the pacing, the production values and anything else you could care to mention that wasn’t the music were all a bit crap. Determining whether the issues were entirely their fault or if the source material just wasn’t that good was difficult, considering I had never played the visual novel. I had plenty of good reasons to consider Refrain a waste of time and could justifiably give it a skip. But I picked it up regardless.

Why? Many people who played the visual novel had nothing but fantastic things to say about the Refrain arc(s), even going so far as to describe it as being to Little Busters! what After Story was to Clannad. I have seen Clannad: After Story – and I utterly adored it – so hearing that from people I trust piqued my interest to say the least. And on top of that, I still caught glimpses of the Key magic that made Air, Kanon and Clannad so enjoyable for me in Little Busters!, albeit only briefly and rarely. While I didn’t have much, I still nurtured some hope that Little Busters!: Refrain could be good; it certainly wouldn’t be difficult to at least be better.

All I’ll say for now is that I am so fucking glad I picked it up.

Yeah, I think I was about this excited

Yeah, I think I was about this excited

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Kyousou Giga

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In the December of 2011, the Kyousou Giga ONA was released. By all accounts it was 25 minutes of colourful, interesting and imaginative confusion and borderline nonsense. I wouldn’t know though; I didn’t watch it. Why not? It was only ever made available in low-definition streaming quality, and as a result looked like ass. For what seemed like a one-off, it didn’t seem worth the trouble for me. But some people were quite intrigued by it, because while it was incomprehensible, it seemed like there was definitely some sort of story there waiting to be told, if only it had more time to do so. And come the following year, a series of shorter ONAs were released showing more of the world from the original ONA as well as some wacky shenanigans and whatnot. It was clearly not the proper story, and it was also only released in eyecancer quality so I skipped over them as well. Still, this little project was generating a lot of buzz, so I was very curious to see what could come out of it.

Flash forward to this year, and Kyousou Giga finally gets a proper TV series! With full-length episodes in real visual quality and everything! Naturally, I took this opportunity to jump into it, and was greeted by a strange, inspired and original story about family, love and rebirth.

Still a little confusing though.

Once upon a time, there existed many realms, and the line between man and god was ill-defined.

Once upon a time, there existed many realms, and the line between man and god was ill-defined.

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Non Non Biyori

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‘Iyashikei’ is one of my favourite subgenres of anime. If you’re unaware, it’s a type of slice-of-life that’s typically more slow-paced, more contemplative, quieter, more peaceful and rife with scenery porn. It’s also often referred to as “healing anime”, which is a fairly accurate description – the point of such shows is to relax the viewer and make them feel more positive and put them into a more optimistic and peaceful state of mind. It can be a bit of a divisive subgenre, as some find the slow pace boring or that the purposeful lack of meaningful conflict renders it pointless, but I myself love it. Non Non Biyori is the latest iyashikei anime to air, and it’s suitably pleasant.

Hotaru is a fifth grade elementary school girl (but looks a fair bit older thanks to her height) who has to move to the countryside due to her father’s work, transferring into the ‘local’ school. Turns out said school literally has a single class, comprising five students – Hotaru herself, the first through third year middle school student siblings Natsumi, Komari and Suguru, and finally the first grade elementary school girl (and sister of the teacher) Renge, otherwise known as Ren-chon. Together (well, mostly without Suguru) they hang out, have fun, and generally enjoy the little things that the countryside has to offer.

Welcome to the middle of nowhere, population: joy

Welcome to the middle of nowhere, population: joy

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Galilei Donna

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No review of a noitaminA series is complete without a discussion about the perceived declining quality in its programming in recent years, is it? Starting with Fractale, there have been more and more series on the timeslot that have not only been mediocre or uninspired, but even outright terrible! Black Rock Shooter and Guilty Crown are easily the worst offenders, but there’s been plenty that just… don’t feel like noitaminA series? Not in the way series during the ‘classic’ era of noitaminA were, at any rate. Psycho-Pass, Robotics;Notes and Silver Spoon are some notable recent examples of shows that, frankly, could have been on any timeslot regardless of how good they may have been; there was nothing that made them feel like a noitaminA show. The most recent season that fits the bill would probably be spring 2012, with the fantastic double whammy of Tsuritama and Kids on the Slope.

2013 in particular had been a pretty concerning year for the previously esteemed timeslot – the winter season was just the second halves of autumn season shows, spring was dedicated to a Katanagatari reairing of all things, and summer only had Silver Spoon (as excellent as it was). But the autumn season inspired some hope that maybe things could change – two completely original series, with imaginative premises and some interesting promo art. One of which was Galilei Donna, a story about the three Ferrari sisters, who are all descendants of Galileo Galilei and end up on international wanted lists quite early on.

Now that feels like a return to the good ol’ days of noitaminA! That said…

Spoilers ahead and why is there a goldfish?

Spoilers ahead and why is there a goldfish?

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