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Archive for the ‘Spring 2013’ Category

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Attack on Titan. Shingeki no Kyojin, if you’d prefer. Kind of a big deal. The manga was obscenely popular, and this anime adaptation was hotly anticipated. It was also obscenely popular, attracting over 150,000 watchers during its run on MyAnimeList alone (basically the only metric I can be bothered to look up). Odds are that if you’re reading this blog, you’ve at least heard of it before.

But let’s pretend that you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the past half a year (and then some) and have no idea what Attack on Titan is about. Well, the short of it is that humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction thanks to the eponymous Titans, which are huge, inscrutable, humanoid giants that like eating people. Their origin is a mystery. Their goal is a mystery. The reason they only target humans is a mystery. And before humanity knew it, it was pushed back to a single, fortified city, the three layers of gargantuan walls preventing the Titans from proceeding any further. Humanity and Titan are kept in a stalemate. Until one fateful day, when shit hits the fan. Hard.

On that day, mankind received a grim reminder...

On that day, mankind received a grim reminder…

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I thought that the anime industry was basically done with making Neon Genesis Evangelion rip-offs about 10 to 15 years ago, but here we are in 2013 with Devil Survivor 2 The Animation.

It starts with a high-school boy and his friend enjoying their time after a practice exam, whereupon they get murdered by a train. That’s not a spoiler by the way, that’s like the first 10 minutes. After that, demons appear, god has apparently said “fuck the world”, and he’s sent angels Septentriones to destroy everyone. A white-haired pretty boy named Kaworu Alcor gets awfully close to our main character (and isn’t all that he seems!) and Gendou another white-haired pretty boy named Yamato also says “fuck the world” in pursuit of his own selfish ideal. There’s also a giant weapon kinda hanging out. Daichi can be Asuka or something, who even cares.

Point is, Devil Survivor 2 The Animation has taken a fair few cues from everyone’s favourite get-in-the-fucking-robot-Shinji anime, mercifully without the angst. Despite all the similarities, it’s not without some originality and worth of its own.

Let's survive

Let’s survive

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This is going to be a PRETTY SHORT review. Why? I’ve already explained why I loved the first series, and this is basically more of the same. If you think this is a bad thing, you don’t fully grasp the implications in “more Chihayafuru”.

Long story short: yessssssssssssssss it is so good. We’ve got wonderful, memorable and truly engaging characters and exciting, tense card games about old poetry. EXCEPT MORE: TWO new core characters, and more card games in the form of the entire series basically being one long tournament arc. And it’s not just the gang playing the game that makes it so great – it’s seeing all the effort they put in bearing fruit, seeing them make mistakes and learn from it in a real, tangible way. The sense of progression in their karuta play is phenomenal, not only from the previous season but from match-to-match. It’s an exciting and intense experience, and the change in perspective the two new characters bring (in particular with Sumire, being completely new to the game as she is) gives us as the audience a chance to see just how powerful and passionate Chihaya, Taichi and everyone else really are. The matches are on top form from the very start, and only get better and better as the series progresses.

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“Snap!”

That said, there are issues with Chihayafuru 2. Or rather, one major area in which it lacks. It’s not all that noticeable when you’re wrapped up in the round-to-round flurry of the tournaments, but once you lose engagement and investment with the outcome (say, by being spoiled for the finale), the missing element is absolutely glaring:

There’s basically no character or relationship development outside of karuta, and outside of their skills as players.

One of the absolute best parts of the first season was the amazing characterisation and development of the cast, and their relationships and feelings towards each other. I was choking up a little at the end of the childhood arc, and that was barely a handful of episodes in! The people of Chihayafuru were always the core of my enjoyment; the card games were merely the icing on the cake. It’s a shame that this side was neglected in favour of focusing so much on them as sportspeople, because while doing so certainly wasn’t bad and unenjoyable, it just wasn’t as satisfying. It’s telling that I remember the last two episodes – after all the tournaments, when it did focus on the characters as people – far more fondly than the episodes preceding it.

Karuta as She is played

Karuta as She is played

It’s a relatively minor gripe in the grand scheme of things, but given that my enjoyment of the meat of this sequel season was impacted by spoilers, it does become more prominent. But regardless, this is fantastic and worthy sequel to an absolutely incredible series. If you haven’t watched Chihayafuru 2 yet, go watch it. If you haven’t watched Chihayafuru, watch it, and then immediately watch Chihayafuru 2. Neither of those are suggestions. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t, frankly.

9/10

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Mermaids don’t have enough presence in anime. Especially not loud, foul-mouthed mermaids with a drinking problem. Thankfully, Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san is here to save the day! The eponymous Muromi, along with her gang of mythical and eccentric friends, harass the rather bland fishing nerd/regular human Takurou, for each of the 11 minute episodes.

Well, it’s a bit different from the usual at least.

sweet catch

sweet catch

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Hey, remember Haiyore! Nyaruko-san? It was that rom-com about a bland boy with a high voice and the Lovecraftian eldritch abomination Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, the God of a Thousand Forms, except as a loud, energetic, young girl who is also a massive otaku. There were hijinks and some nice moments and like a metric fuckton of obscure geek references every minute. I thought it was pretty funny and entertaining, and as a result quite liked it.

It got a sequel! It’s called Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W! It’s… more or less more of the same. But not as good.

Huh. That sucks.

\(・ω・\) SAN値!( /・ω・)/ピンチ!

\(・ω・\) SAN値!( /・ω・)/ピンチ!

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Yuyushiki

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Sometimes, it really feels like the whole ‘cute-girl-doing-cute-things’ formula is getting a little played out and tired. Given that this little sub-genre’s idea of innovation is ‘cute-girls-doing-cute-things WITH X’ where ‘X’ is something ever so slightly different to what has come before. The preferred staple is to have ‘X’ be some sort of after-school club, and even then it’s getting utterly banal. A bunch of girls in a light-music club! A bunch of girls in a club where they ostensibly cheer up other students! A bunch of girls in a club just amusing themselves doing whatever the fuck they want! And now comes Yuyushiki, and what does it bring to the table?

A bunch of girls in a data-processing club!

Riiiiight.

But Yuyushiki is not done laughing at its less-imaginative peers! For it has yet more ground-breaking, bar-raising innovations to make:

There are only 3 main girls!

Seriously though, Yuyushiki is fucking fantastic.

Super fucking fantastic

Super fucking fantastic

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RDG: Red Data Girl

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Traditional Shinto mysticism, tradition and spirituality is an unsurprisingly oft-plunged source and inspiration for fiction in Japan, and as a result is frequent in anime as well. It’s hard to find series set in Japan that doesn’t incorporate Shinto or Shinto-Buddhist elements in some fashion, but usually it’s only through shrine visits for luck or some sort of festival. When it gets more involved with the story, when fantastical plots based on the beliefs and myths of the religion are created, I have a tendency to enjoy them. It’s a form and style of fantasy quite foreign to someone who’s only ever lived in a western, predominantly Christian-based society, so there’s always a level of unfamiliarity, of originality to be found for me within them. With that said, it’s not too difficult to pick up on the recurring themes, elements and devices amongst such pieces, and a certain amount of predictability and familiarity does result; despite being far removed from the culture and the traditional stories, if a series bases itself on that without attempting anything new or interesting with it, it will most likely strike me as unoriginal and possibly uninspired.

RDG: Red Data Girl does something new and interesting with it! Well, at least the premise does. Suzuhara Izumiko is a 15 year old girl, raised in a shrine in the mountains. Not only is she a little socially awkward for being so sheltered, she also has the habit of accidentally destroying any electrical devices she touches. Cue her coping and learning to live in the modern world as her guardian, Sagara Yukimasa, encourages her to go to a high-school in Tokyo and forces his son Miyuki to serve her for life, as she discovers her duty and fate. Well, you’d think it’d be like that.

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You’d be mistaken

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