Winter 2014 – Week 4 Anime Review

space_dandy-04-zombies-nurses-blood-horror-boobies-cleavage-fanservice-black_comedyThis week: how the subject of ‘change’ has resulted in no change or progress with Nagi no Asukara, why the disappointing fights mean a disappointing anime overall with Nobunagun,  the pleasant but subtle details of food in Wizard Barristers – Benmashi Cecil, and why zombie Dandy is smarter than regular Dandy in Space Dandy.

Best episode of the week: Space Dandy

Anime trending up this week: Noragami

Anime trending down this week: Sekai Seifuku – Bouryaku no Zvezda

 

Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren (Episode 4)

chuunibyou_demo_koi_ga_shitai!_ren-04-dekomori-nibutani-yuuta-boke-tsukkomi-comedy_duo-funny_guy-straight_man-bang_headsWhat’s fun about the comedy in Chuunibyou Ren is that there are some characters you feel bad for and there are others you don’t.  Usually in comedies, there’s only one tsukkomi/‘straight’ character while the rest are loony or goofy or insane.  Or you have one boke/‘funny’ guy who takes over all the humor at the expense of the other characters.  But with Chuunibyou Ren, you have a pair of tsukkomi (who even play off each other from time to time) and pretty much an equal amount of humor from the boke characters, like Rikka, Demomori and Kumin.  The result is a well-balanced comedy act that never tires a topic or character out or depends solely on someone’s crazy antics.  Rather, the chemistry and relationships in Chuunibyou are ideal as they are, which is a strength of the writing for an anime like this.  Furthermore, Satone’s brief appearances have had an amusing effect too, particularly when Rikka is fluttered and flustered over her behaviors around Yuuta.  And considering that the comedy is my favorite aspect of Chuunibyou S1, I’m thrilled to see the humor and entertainment remain delighting in Chuunibyou Ren.

chuunibyou_demo_koi_ga_shitai!_ren-04-nibutani-tsukkomi-straight_man-comedy-serious chuunibyou_demo_koi_ga_shitai!_ren-04-dekomori-boke-funny_guy-silly-happy_go_lucky-comedy-smile

 

Hamatora (Episode 4)

hamatora-04-nice-sonic_minimum-hero-superpowers-private_investigatorSo let me get this straight.  Pretty much everyone with superpowers in Hamatora are either lazy, underemployed detectives that struggle to even make a penny or are criminals?  The only exception to this rule is that Honey and Three seem to do freelance work and Ratio who is a doctor, but you wonder how people with such extraordinary powers and brilliant minds would find themselves in such a situation.  Take Nice as a perfect example with his Sonic Minimum, and think about all the possible careers he could pursue.  He would be a phenomenal first responder, whether it be in the field of police, firefighting or EMS (emergency medical services) and use his ability to save lives.  If he really wanted to be a PI, he could do that as a side job considering he spends most of his day worrying about his uninhabited wallet.  Murasaki could find himself a handsome position in construction or something similar considering his ability.  And Honey, with her ability to see into the future, would make a killing playing the stock market or at a casino or anywhere really.  So why all these characters aren’t wealthy and successful is beyond me.  Then again, I often forget that I think about these things much more than the original authors do, so maybe the anime is intended to be about PIs with superpowers and nothing more.

hamatora-04-murasaki-angry-yelling-glasses-minimum_holder hamatora-04-honey-precious-hug-love-minimum_holder

 

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (Episode 3)

inari_konkon_koi_iroha-03-ootoshi_no_kami-inari-transformation-doppelganger-comedy-serious-nervous-cute-adorableWell, that was unexpected.  Considering the novelty and sacredness of Inari’s transformation ability, who would’ve guessed we’d see another shapeshifter as soon as the beginning of episode 3?  What’s more, who would’ve thought we’d see someone transform into Inari and use her body to hit on girls, peep on girls changing and cause great embarrassment to Inari.  We had already prepared ourselves for Inari to transform into other people and use her ability to change, reshape or simply affect the lives of others but I never expected to see someone turn themselves into Inari.  And to top it off, the scene was both hilarious, a perfect opportunity to capitalize on an unexpected twist with genuinely funny comedy at the expense of our protagonist, Inari.  What an outstanding sequence that was.  And to finish the episode with Inari beginning to understand and appreciate the power that Uka bestowed upon her gave the episode some meaning and progress to go along with the amusement and entertainment from the first half.  The more of this anime I see, the more impressed I am with Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha.

inari_konkon_koi_iroha-03-ootoshi_no_kami-grain_god-shinto-transformation-japanese_background inari_konkon_koi_iroha-03-miya-oomiyanome_no_kami-business_prosperity_god-miko-shrine_maiden-happy-friendly-normal

 

KILL la KILL (Episode 16)

kill_la_kill-16-ryuuko-different_art_style-shaded-dramatic-thinking-awesomeIsn’t it amusing, or maybe even amazing, that the fight between Ryuuko and Satsuki traces its origins back to when Ryuuko’s father, Isshin, rebelled against Satsuki’s mother, Ragyuou and the Life Fibers?  Although the motives are different, it was Isshin’s departure and subsequent research against Life Fibers that drew the interest of Nui who, under Ragyou, assassinated Isshin.  It was with that murder that drove Ryuuko to find her father’s killer which eventually led her to Satsuki in search of information.  And with Satsuki knowing the identity of the murderer, it began a secondary fight between the Matois and Kiryuuins that outclasses and outmatches the first.  Or it could be a transition, with the fight falling down one generation with Isshin no longer able to stand up against the Kiryuuin family.  So as we gear up and get ready for the School Festival arc, it’s worth noting the relationship between Ryuuko and Satsuki is an intertwined and complex bond that began when their parents began to oppose each other.  Or that is to say, it’s their destiny to finish the fight that their parents started.

kill_la_kill-16-isshin-ryuuko's_father-scientist-beard-pervert-sunglasses kill_la_kill-16-ragyou-satsuki's_mother-rainbow_hair-villain-antagonist-crazy_eyes-light-speech

 

Nagi no Asukara (Episode 17)

nagi_no_asukara-17-sayu-miuna-grown_up-time_skip-middle_school-uniforms-friends-arguement-blushAlthough I’m still enamored with the whole time skip, especially with the fact that some characters aged 5 years and two of the male leads did not, I find myself growing weary and becoming apathetic over the whole subject of ‘change’.  Yeah, I understand that ‘change’ was a significant subject in the first half of Nagi no Asukara with the main quartet wanting to stay together and enjoy their lives without change but bringing it up at every opportunity has really stagnated the series in this second season.  Rather than moving the story along, pushing the characters forward and forcing them to develop further, Nagi no Asukara seems content to focus on the past with each episode and how some characters have changed and how others haven’t.  And while that’s fine for an episode or two, it seems to be the sole subject these past three episodes without any significant progress besides Miuna’s pleasant surprise.  I hope that with Kaname’s awakening that the series will finally begin to move forward, but I’m concerned that it’ll be his turn to overanalyze his perception of change for the next three episodes.  Or until he decides to assault Tsumugu for living with Chisaki for five years because you know that’ll happen eventually.

nagi_no_asukara-17-sayu-grown_up-time_skip-romance-troubled-emotional-stressed-pressure-anxiety nagi_no_asukara-17-manaka-time_skip-smile-friendly-romance-change-difficult

 

Nobunagun (Episode 4)

nobunagun-04-capa-shio-gun-fightingWhat’s lacking in Nobunagun are the fights.  The series features a good lead character, a decent secondary cast, a suitable scenario for an anime and a distinct array of superpowers based on historical figures.  So based on that, the anime sounds alright.  But with that said, you realize that with a story like this and different combat abilities that the fights are an integral component to the success of the anime.  And that’s where you realize Nobunagun is a disappointment.  There have only been two fights (three if you count the montage training session) in Nobunagun and neither have been impressive.  The action has been portrayed poorly, often with Shio firing away at opponents with little to no movement or creativity.  There’s nothing exciting about watching someone sit in one place and fire away at an opponent.  There needs to be some movement, some engagement to be interesting.  Additionally, all the monsters are dead in one hit.  And while that’s ideal when playing a video game, it makes for a poor story.  Why not have the monsters take damage, fight back and create a struggle.  It isn’t very interesting when all you have is an opponent that just flies in a hurricane and drops eggs.  There’s really no danger or exhilaration to be gained when your opponent is as harmless as garbage bag in a windstorm that might spill its contents.  Really, Nobunagun needs to improve significantly on its fights and those previous assertions are measures for which to monitor progress and improvement.

nobunagun-04-adam-jack_the_ripper-fighting-attack nobunagun-04-galileo-googles-armor

 

Noragami (Episode 4)

noragami-04-yukine-yato-hiyori-yuusuke-falling_off_tall_building-comedy-hilarious-long_fall-holding_skirt_downWhat I find most endearing about Noragami is its charming and engaging comedy.  Although most anime contain some elements or traces of comedy, Noragami uses it predominantly in its downtime or anytime the anime is moving slowly.  Not only does it mitigate these disadvantages inherent with any story, but it turns these scenes into advantages with some entertainment value to go along with its character building or storytelling.  It turns something simple like meeting Kofuku into something enjoyable and makes the whole sequence with Yuusuke (the guy jumping off the tall, tall building) into easily the funniest scene this entire anime season.  Really, not even the dedicated comedy anime can compete with that gold.  It really adds a whole new layer to everything going on in Noragami, especially when it’s incorporated into events like these that would otherwise be mundane or boring without this intense infusion of fun.  And while I do expect the comedy to drop as the anime progresses and moves toward its climax, I feel reassured that the comedy is an integral part to Noragami and won’t disappear or diminish any time soon.  And considering how phenomenal the comedy has been, this bodes well for Noragami to be one of the top anime of the season depending on how the story turns out.

noragami-04-kofuku-yato-god_of_poverty-god_of_war-major_god-minor_god-shinto-couple-comedy-romance noragami-04-yukine-hiyori-comedy-reaction-blank_stare-dumbfounded-speechless

 

Silver Spoon S2 (Episode 4)

silver_spoon_2-04-hachiken-equestrian-horseback_riding-jumping-sports-nervousWhen did Silver Spoon become a sports anime?  Although the new season is rather young, it seems the only major topics presented in this sequel are baseball and equestrian events.  And with this episode’s focus entirely on the Equestrian Club’s first competition, it’s about time to highlight this significant change in content within Silver Spoon.  I would’ve figured that these two subjects would be spread a little more evenly throughout, but I do suppose the series is at a time when Spring has arrive, the Hokkaido snows have thawed and everyone is excited to do something fun outdoors.  But this used to be an anime about an agricultural school and Yugo developing in such a unique setting.  Then again, the baseball and equestrian teams are related to the school, so it’s not so much that this isn’t a school anime, but it’s less about agriculture and lessons and more about fastballs and finish lines.  Then again again, this is probably what agricultural schools focus on when they’re not busy learning about animal husbandry and business economics.  Without much in the way of entertainment and activities in these rural communities, maybe it is sports that keep them entertained during their free-time.  Still, Silver Spoon has transitioned into a sports anime from a school anime rather suddenly.  And it’s not like I’m complaining since sports anime are typically better than school anime.  That and I’m enjoying these episodes more than the normal school ones.

silver_spoon_2-04-minamikujou-west_shimizu_high-equestrian-rich-snobby-snooty-pride silver_spoon_2-04-mikage-equestrian-horseback_riding-jumping-competition-uniform-helmet-she_is_so_hot_in_that_outfit_and_that_smile

 

Space Dandy (Episode 4)

space_dandy-04-dandy-zombie-blank_stare-emotionless-smarter-comedyDid anyone else notice that Zombie Dandy got all the brains?  No, no, I’m not talking about Zombie Dandy eating brains or anything stereotypical like that but rather that he became smarter as a zombie.  Think about it.  Dandy isn’t known for his cunning and clever nature and hardly takes care of himself or others.  But when he became a zombie, his life began to change… in more ways than one.  He began to question the emptiness in his purpose and sought out help from others.  The Dandy we’ve grown to know and love would never do either of those things, unless of course it involved Boobies or boobies.  And his answer was rather insightful, especially for a character that lacks emotion and discernible, coherent speech patterns.  Zombie Dandy began to take care of himself better, especially when switching from meat to yogurt.  He even found a better way to make money than his current methods and enjoyed his life with his friends rather than being selfish and greedy and keeping it all to himself.  Furthermore, Dandy didn’t get himself killed while he was a zombie, which is certainly a first for this series.  And when you add all these details up, there’s no question that Zombie Dandy is smarter and more resourceful than regular Dandy.  Kinda makes you feel bad for the guy when you realize that the best times in his life were when he was a mindless zombie…

space_dandy-04-meow-zombie-blood-horror-scary-mouth_open space_dandy-04-qt-zombie-robot-funny_face-comedy-cute

 

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta (Episode 4)

toaru_hikuushi_e_no_koiuta-04-claire-pilot-goggles-uniform-rays_of_light-clouds-sunset-romantic-happyToaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta has relied heavily on flashbacks as a means of explaining and exploring the characters through their rich backstories, and this is an underrated method of storytelling that I extremely, extremely adore.  Flashbacks like these have their advantages and disadvantages with the disadvantages mainly being attributed to breaking up the continuity of the series and being somewhat distracting.  However, with The Pilot’s Love Song, these flashbacks are incorporated at slow moments where it’s appropriate for the characters to explain something.  And with any visual media… “show, don’t tell”.  Pilot’s Love Song does exactly that with showing us these stories rather than having a character read some lines and show some slow pans across character faces.  It’s a beautiful method of storytelling and is being utilized to its advantages.  Furthermore the flashbacks in Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta have really helped explore the complexity and depth these characters possess without requiring them to prove it in the present.  It fits the setting and storytelling to have these traits and qualities explored through flashbacks instead of trying to unite details of their past with events in the present.  It’s not like we need to prove Karl had a traumatic childhood by showing him become upset when hearing how his country was overthrown and his parents killed… and when presented with that opportunity, we witnessed the resolve and pressure he’s under by laughing it off, only to observe these sequences at a later point during a flashback.  Really, Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta has a gorgeous and engaging method of storytelling which is why the anime is one of my favorite this season.  As long as this continues and the story develops appropriate, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends with the second highest grade of the season (obviously behind KILL la KILL).

toaru_hikuushi_e_no_koiuta-04-karl-flashback-memories-childhood-flying-sky-clouds-copilot toaru_hikuushi_e_no_koiuta-04-ariel-flashback-memories-childhood-younger

 

Wizard Barristers – Benmashi Cecil (Episode 3)

wizard_barristers_benmashi_cecil-03-cecil-itadakimasu-hands_together-saying_grace-eatingFood is always interesting in anime and seems to be a particularly omnipresent in Wizard Barristers.  Whether it’s Moyo’s absurd appetite, Nanajinyi cooking dinner for Cecil (and let’s not forget his sexy lunch complete with naked anime babe), or the characters chit-chatting over lunch in a restaurant or tea in the office, the episodes always seem to revolve around food in one way or another.  I believe every episode has had at least two meal/snack times with this one reaching as high as six.  That’s quite a bit more food/drinks than you see in most other anime… and it’s a welcome change for anime with Wizard Barristers taking this unique approach.  It’s always nice to see the characters do something when they’re talking and munching away on food is always a good option to use.  The food doesn’t have to take the focus of the scene or be the subject of discussion (unless you’re eating with Moyo), but it’s an activity for the characters to do that beats walking and talking, sitting at school desk and talking or riding in a car/on a bike/on a train/etc. and talking.  And it’s not like this minor detail is anything imperative or essential besides a joke or two, but it’s a pleasant detail to include nonetheless.

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  1. #1 by Artemis on February 9, 2014 - 6:44 AM

    I feel as though a lot of other people are expressing disappointment in Noragami for being billed as an action show, when in fact it has such a relatively large amount of downtime and seemingly random comedy scattered liberally throughout. I on the other hand am relieved that it hasn’t turned out to be a generic shounen battle show and is showing a lot more genuinely entertaining fare rather than what I had expected from the synopsis.

    • #2 by avvesione on February 24, 2014 - 4:01 AM

      I’m actually really happy that Noragami has developed into a story about its characters and not a generic shounen battle show. Thanks to that, it’s amusing characters and some rather enjoyable comedy, Noragami is one of my favorite anime of the season. That being said, I’m surprised to see the word ‘disappointment’ associated with it. While I can understand if people were expecting a lot more action and fighting with it, I figured people would enjoy the other aspects that it’s been offering more.

      The one problem I do have with the anime is that it’s been rather slow in developing its story.

      Also, I apologize about answering the post so late.

      • #3 by Artemis on February 24, 2014 - 4:53 AM

        I completely agree. Personally, I’m not surprised to see the word ‘disappointed’ being tossed about in relation to Noragami, but I feel exactly the opposite.

        And no problem – late replies when it comes to blogging don’t bother me.

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