First Impressions- Fall 2017 Anime (Part 2)

The fall anime rollout continues as a pile of new premieres comes out of the woodwork. So far the season’s been off to a pretty solid start with a couple of standouts, some decent looking stuff and only a couple of real stinkers. Now let’s see how well it can keep up that momentum

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

  • All series synopsis from Anime Planet                                                                                      ———————————————————————————————–

Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth

Synopsis: I want you to touch me. I want to feel your warmth. Claudia is a girl who possesses a toxin that melts everything she touches. Feared as a monster, she spent her days in isolation. One night, just as she is about to be captured by the British army, she meets a man who calls himself the gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin. She arrives at London, where she meets many people and experiences many things. In her adventures with Lupin, she comes close to discovering the truth about her body and her missing memories. What is the truth that this so-called “monster” of a girl finds?

First Impressions: This show is our second otome game adaption of the season, but where Sengoku Night Blood felt a little too auto-piloty and dull for how goofy it’s premise could have been, this one seems thankfully seems to be trying a little harder. The premise this time centers around the protagonists from classic British novels teaming up to protect a mysterious waif from the government and some nebulous evil organization, and the show properly capitalizes on that goofiness with Arsene Lupin being a showboat tsundere and Victor Frankenstein publicly regarded as a terrorist despite apparently being a sweetheart. Aside from those crazy asides there’s not a whole ton to this one, but it kept me relatively entertaining, and the female lead feels a bit less like an insert character compared to Night Blood so there’s at least the hope the story might try to build some actual chemistry between her and her harem. The direction also leans in favor of this one making an attempt to sell some kind of story so all in all it feels like a pretty workable premiere. How long I stick with this probably depends on how much mileage they can get out of the novel character inserts, but for the time being, I can give it a few more episodes

Rating: Good

Two Car

Synopsis: Yuri Miyata and Megumi Meguro are two girls who enter the world of competitive motorcycle sidecar racing on Miyake Island. While they are the complete opposites of each other, and often butt heads, they complement each other well during races. The team will fight other motorcycle sidecar teams from all over Japan, each with their own opposing traits, such as honor student and working student, sadist and masochist, and a funny man and straight man.

First Impressions: Slapping moe on top of different genres has been a trick that anime’s been pulling quite a lot recently, and this isn’t even the first time it’s been racing related. However while I haven’t seen any of the other moe racing titles, the general reception has been pretty negative so I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this one. What I actually got was pleasantly surprising as the first episode managed to capture all of the appeal of a good sports anime, and makes the racing feel as exciting as possible despite some of the obvious visual limitations. It helps that the episode also does a solid job of introducing us to our two heroines and does a great job of selling their dysfunctional friendship and making the dynamic between them feel totally believable. So far the rest of the racer girls just feel like a checklist of popular archetypes from goth lolis to mature lesbians, but hopefully the show will manage to expand on them as it goes further in, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one as much as I ultimately did, but it was a pretty pleasant premiere and I’m certainly up for more of it.

Rating: Good

The Ancient Magus’s Bride

Synopsis: Chise Hatori has lived a life full of neglect and abuse, devoid of anything resembling love. Far from the warmth of family, she has had her share of troubles and pitfalls. Just when all hope seems lost, a fateful encounter awaits her. When a man with the head of a beast, wielding strange powers, obtains her through a slave auction, Chise’s life will never be the same again.

First Impressions: I’ll be blunt here. There pretty much wasn’t any way I wasn’t going to like this show. The manga’s come highly recommended by folks whose opinions I generally trust, and I recall really enjoying the bits of it I skimmed through a few years ago back when I used to read scanlations. The real question is how MUCH I was going to like this show, and the answer is quite a lot. The premiere does a wonderful job of introducing us to our depressed heroine Chise, and while we’re never given any specific details as to how she ends up in her current situation, we’re given just enough information to get an idea of how rough her life was before giving herself away to Elias, and I’m already looking forward to learning more about her. That of course speaks nothing for the show’s fantasy world which is of course going to be the biggest draw for most people. Admittedly even without being that familiar with the source material I was a bit apprehensive about Wit Studio handling this given that this seemed like it could really use a fantastical visual aesthetic, and their stuff generally looks too clean to properly handle that sort of thing. I can’t say this premiere completely removed those feelings as some parts of it looked a little too anime for what I was hoping to get (looking at you fairies) but the overall presentation creates a solid sense of atmosphere and sells the fantastical nature of its setting as both beautiful and dangerous. All in all this premiere was pretty much what I was hoping I’d get and while I’m a little nitpicky on how this is being drawn, everything about it works so well that it’s really hard not to get sucked in. I’m in this one for the long haul

Rating: Great

 

Anime Gataris

Synopsis: Just as soon as she enters Sakaneko Private High School, Asagadani Minoa is dragged into the anime club by her classmate, Kamiigusa Arisu, even though she knows next to nothing about anime. A classmate, Kouenji Miko, along with other anime-loving senpais, quickly turn her into an anime fan. Fighting off the incessant shut-down threats of the student council, and completely oblivious to the coming apocalypse, the anime club talks about anime in the club, at Akihabara, at anime Meccas, and at hot springs.

First Impressions: A lot of international fans tend to make this mistake, but anime isn’t really as big in Japan as you’d think. They’re certainly surrounded by it more, but outside of household stuff that everyone knows like One Piece or Sazae-san, it’s a niche thing the same way it is in the rest of the world. Given that, a series about a girl with only an extremely casual interest in anime suddenly finding herself thrust into an anime club sounds like a pretty fun premise, and while the show seems to have a bit too much anime style wackiness for how grounded of a premise this should be (did we really need super flamboyant teacher man?), and wasn’t as funny as I’d hope something like this could be it seems amusing enough to at least have a bit of fun with this idea. All of this…is what I would like to say but the the last 3 minutes or so of the show suddenly shifts gears by introducing a talking cat and some kind of magical beret that can stop time. It comes off as pretty weird, even on top of some of the out of place wackiness that was already in there to begin with, and I left unsure of exactly what kind of show this is going to be. At the same time though, it’s so out of left field that it did leave me genuinely wanting answers as to why it’d suddenly pull this sort of stunt, so I guess much like MMO Junkie, I’ll be giving this another episode if only to see what the heck the actual show will be.

Rating: ???

 

A Sister’s All You Need

Synopsis: Itsuki is a novelist and “modern day Pygmalion” who works day in and day out to create the ultimate younger sister. He’s surrounded by various other characters: a beautiful genius writer who loves him, his big-sisterly classmate from college, a fellow male writer, a sadistic tax accountant, and his editor. They’re all looked after by Itsuki’s perfect younger step-brother, Chihiro, who has a serious secret.

First Impressions: I’ve been a hardcore anime fan for roughly 12 years, and in that time I’m come across my share of irredeemable trash. In all that time however, I’ve never seen a show actually attempt to stockholm syndrome the audience into accepting it until now. The first 90 seconds of this premiere is the comprised of the grossest “imouto/little sister” fantasies imaginable, and to the point where I’m sure even real life creepers would cringe a little. It’s all mercifully revealed to be something of a bizarre fakeout though, as we then transition to a less gross, but still kinda gross story about a light novel writer with an extreme imouto fetish and his fellow author friends, one of which happens to include his jokes around about wanting to get in his pants . Admittedly her antics and the semi-decent conversation the group has while just lazing around with each other was almost tolerable enough to trick me into getting over those first 90 seconds, but then the show reveals the MC’s junior is horny to the point of acting sniffing his dirty undies, and the show has the gall to immediately try and shift into being a “sincere” romance between the two of them. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a level of whiplash this fierce but this show certainly accomplished it, and while that might seem like an endorsement to at least watch this first episode before checking out. Do yourself a favor and don’t. Transitioning from the quality of the show from the  lowest circle of Hades to purgatory was a clever ploy, but even with that in mind, this isn’t worth giving the time of day. I need some brain bleach.

Rating: WELCOME TO PURGATORY

 

Evil or Live

Synopsis: In this modern society, a new kind of “illness” is striking young boys and girls; Loneliness, disbelief and outrage push this generation to get more or more attached to Internet and technologies. The experts called those symptom “Net Addiction”. To prevent that, a certain Rehabilitation Facility has been set up to “Lead the young man back to the right path”. Enrolled to treat is addiction, Hibiki had no idea that this Rehabilitation Facility is nothing more than a prison. In this place where it’s not permitted to escape, how will Hibiki challenge despair in this hell?

First Impressions: And to close on my fall show impressions, we have our obligatory Chinese co-production of the season. As always I approach these with a sense of dread since with the exception of A Centaur’s Life (which never quite lived up to its premise) they’ve generally been pretty awful. This show however is truly special. And when I say “special” I mean this may well be the single most pretentious anime I’ve ever seen, and given I’ve seen upwards of 500 shows, that’s saying a heck of a lot. This series is based off the wonderfully archaic premise of young people being so addicted to the internet that they can barely function and have to be sent to a special facility to be rehabilitated. If this sounds like a 50-60 year old man’s idea of “edgy social commentary” rest assured that this plays out exactly like that, and I could almost literally feel the author yelling “these young people and their gosh darn internet!” though my screen.

To “add” to all of this, we have the show’s visual direction, which is shot in letter-boxed format for whatever reason and occasionally incorporates shots from real world environments and some other crazy visual cues, which feels like it’s supposed to give the show a look to match the weight of it’s “message” but it just makes the show seem even more full of itself than the writing already does, and these tricks don’t do much to match the low-end character designs and choppy animation that continually plagues every chinese co-production that’s come out to this day. All of this comes together to result in a show that’s convinced it’s the smartest thing ever made, and in the face of such bold stupidity I couldn’t help but be amused. Everything about this premiere is dumb and terrible, but it’s ridiculous that I’m genuinely curious to see how far it’ll go in it’s soapboxing and it’s certainly entertaining if nothing else. It’s rare that any of these chinese co-productions leaves me genuinely  wanting for more but this is such a unique brand of bad, that I can’t help but be curious about where it’s headed. I’ll probably regret strapping myself in for this one, but you’ve won me over . Evil or Live. I look forward to mocking you for weeks to come

Rating: A-MAZ-ING


And that’s it for my first impressions this season. I was honestly ready to write off 2017 as the weakest year of anime I’ve seen since I started keeping up with seasonal stuff, but fall might really be able to turn it around. There’s a lot of extremely promising stuff this time, and I’ve only really come across a couple of things that really rubbed me the wrong way. It feels like it’s been a long time since I started off an anime season with this positive of an outlook but it really seems like they’ve got all the bases covered this time, and if even half of these shows manage to avoid imploding on themselves, this could turn out to be an extremely memorable one. Only time will tell how it all pans out so till then, stay animated.

 

First Impressions- Fall 2017 Anime

The fall season has finally arrived and it’s looking to be packed to the gills with anime. There’s a ton of cool sequels coming out, and some potentially exciting new stuff as well so it seems like it could be a season with something for just about everyone. Let’s get started.

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Black Clover

Synopsis: In a world where magic is everything, Asta and Yuno are both found abandoned at a church on the same day. While Yuno is gifted with exceptional magical powers, Asta is the only one in this world without any. At the age of fifteen, both receive grimoires, magic books that amplify their holder’s magic. Asta’s is a rare Grimoire of Anti-Magic that negates and repels his opponent’s spells. Being opposite but good rivals, Yuno and Asta are ready for the hardest of challenges to achieve their common dream: to be the Wizard King. Giving up is never an option!

First Impressions: *sigh* Of course we’d start off with this show first. So if you’ve been following my Twitter feed for the last year or so you’ve probably seen me ranting about the Black Clover manga, and dreading the fact that it lived long enough to see an anime adaption. Ideally I would steered clear of said anime adaption for my sanity, but for reasons I can’t yet disclose I’m obligated to watch it for at least a little while so here we are. This first episode features the exploits of Naru- I mean Asta who wants to be the Hoka- err… “Wizard King” and has an introverted rival named Sas- I mean Yuno. Asta is constantly made fun of for his inability to use magic and the big dreams he has in spite of that. On the day he’s supposed to receive his magical grimore which signifies he’s become a mage, he fails and falls into despair, but it turns out there’s a bit of a technicality there because he does have a grimore: an evil one, hosting a demon inside of Asta.

Does any of this ring any bells? It should because outside of a few setting details these are almost all of the basic beats of the beginning of Naruto with the exception of the Sasuke knockoff appearing in the first episode rather than later on. To the anime’s credit, it does it’s best to try and tone down some of the beats that were literally ripped straight from Naruto’s first chapter, but even with that it still feels like an incredibly auto-piloty battle shonen, Asta is an archetype we’ve seen a million times before (not to mention having read the manga I know he only gets worse as a character, not better)  and done to better effect, and the show does a pretty lazy job of getting the audience invested in his dynamic with Yuno (which looks to be spread out into the next episode) or its universe, and both elements come off more as a checklist of obligatory tropes than something heartfelt, which is kind of a dealbreaker for me with any shonen thing. Combine all this with the fact that the show looks like a pretty rushed production (complete with blatant CG towards the end), and there’s not a whole ton of appeal here for newcomers. I suppose if you’re new to anime, and you’re looking for a new battle shonen to seek your teeth into you can always do worse, but if you’re looking for one with a bit more originally or heart, I’d recommend My Hero Academia, or Boruto, since even the latter doesn’t pull as much from Naruto despite being an actual spinoff of that franchise. Again this show is far from the worst thing out there, but as offering anything new as a shonen, it definitely doesn’t leave a good first impression

Rating: Decent

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War

Synopsis: For one wish, they’ll risk it all. The time has come for the Twelve Tournament—held every twelve years. For twelve proud warriors, each baring a name from the Chinese Zodiac, they’ll prepare to fight in a bloody battle royal. The victor gets any one wish they desire, but they’ll have to do whatever it takes to earn it. Blood and tears will flow on this battlefield—who will be the lone survivor?

First Impressions: Nishioshin is a pretty notable name in the Japanese creators sphere, and his work on Bakemonogatari and to a lesser extent, Medaka Box, have been generally well regarded material. The latter happens to be one of my favorite manga ever made, so needless to say that the prospect of him doing his own weird spin on the Fate franchise seemed like it could be a pretty good time. This episode certainly delivered on that promise as it was a rip roaring ride from start to finish. The show looks downright fantastic and now that director Naoto Hosoda (best known for 2011’s Future Diary) can stretch his wings, on a better scheduled production, he really makes the most of it, and the opener delivers on some fantastic action sequences that I’m slightly worried it won’t be able to maintain. The actual story itself is a pretty straightforward tournament thing, but direction does a great job of explaining everything through natural dialogue rather forced exposition, and the cast of bizarre killers all seem like they’ll each be entertaining in their own right. My only real point of concern here is that material might go a little overboard on the edge factor and risk harming the broader level of appeal this could deliver on, but Nishioshin’s track record is consistent enough that I’m not too worried about that, and I’m curious to see just how strange some of these character’s backstories can get. There’s still plenty of new stuff to check out this season, but this one’s certainly off to a promising start, and very much worth a peek

Rating: Great

Sengoku Night Blood

Synopsis: One day, Yuzuki is enveloped by a mysterious light suddenly emanating from her cell phone and finds herself in an unfamiliar place. The scenery spread out before her almost resembles Sengoku period Japan– But this is another world known as “Shinga” where non-human creatures such as vampires and werewolves reside. Long ago, the various tribes of Shinga lived together peacefully under the protection of the Himemiko who possessed special blood. However, one day the Himemiko suddenly vanished. With the protection of the Himemiko gone, the world has fallen into a period of strife.

First Impressions: And here’s our otome game adaption of the season. Sengoku era stuff generally bores me to tears unless someone puts a really fun spin on it, and otome adaptions generally aren’t my cup of tea either, but the premise of figures like Totomi Hideyoshi or Nobunaga being vampires sounded like enough of a dumb fun idea to be worth a peek. Unfortunately the show doesn’t really seem interested in fully capitalizing on that and instead just focuses on showing off the boys and awkwardly tossing in the female-insert who they’re all meant to faun over. Needless to say I didn’t have a particularly good time with this one, and found myself checking the runttime counter halfway through it. That’s okay though, because I’m not really the target audience for this kind of thing, and I’m sure those who are interested will get their mileage out of it. As for me, it’s a pass.

Rating: Decent

Infini-T Force

Synopsis: The story of the original manga begins when a girl named Emi uses a pencil that can grant any wish. Emi gets caught up in the robbery of a convenience store, and her life is in danger. She uses the pencil to wish for a “hero that will save everyone.” Four heroes appear in response to Emi’s wish to change the course of the future.

First Impressions: Tatsunoko superhero properties have been a staple of anime for decades, but they’ve always been pretty obscure in the west, with the closest to any significant level of relevance being Casshern Sins and to a lesser extent Gatchaman Crowds. With all that in mind, a Justice League esque team up of their most iconic heroes seems like as good an introduction as any and as far as that goes this is off to a pretty okay start. The biggest point of note here would be the show’s 3DCG animation which looks surprisingly solid compared to 90% of its anime contemporaries, and a lot of the action sequences actually managed to look pretty cool. It helps that the character designs lean more towards actual CG models than trying to emulate the 2D anime look and while it’s still a bit choppy in a few places, this is probably the best implementation of it I’ve seen on a TV budget production. Storywise things are a bit more of a question mark with things involving a few rumblings of a mysterious villain who wants to destroy other dimensions for some unknown reason, but it’s not too difficult to follow, and the personalities of the individual heroes seem interesting enough that I’m sure we’ll get to know them beyond their costumed personas. For now, I’m mostly just in this for the prospect of watching a CG anime that actually looks like a proper CG production, but hopefully this’ll evolve into something interesting

Rating: Decent

Urahara

Synopsis: Harajuku… The place where culture, kawaii, and fashion come together. Three high school girls Rito, Mari, and Kotoko are planning to open a temporary store called Park. One day, aliens from space come to Earth to take away the culture of humans. That’s when a mysterious girl who calls herself Misa appears. Now, in order to protect the Harajuku that they love, these three girls must be prepared for anything!

First Impressions: I recall skimming through the manga (?) to this a while back on CR’s manga app and thinking it was pretty weird, but while cute girls doing cute things can be something of a mixed bag in execution this seemed like the sort of thing that could be amusing in animated form. It certainly still feels weird in animated form, but not necessarily in a good way. The show’s animation is…limited to say the least and the direction feels kind of maniac with transitions that make things feel more like a motion comic than a show, and combined with the intentionally scribbled looking backgrounds, it didn’t feel as energetic as it was clearly meant to. It doesn’t help that for a cute girls doing cute things esque show, the girls don’t feel particularly endearing in any major sense, and the seiyuu performances felt kind of dull, which sort of seems like it’d defeat the purpose here. The one saving grace of this whole thing is the wonderfully cartoonish premise of aliens who literally suck up other cultures, but the overall aesthetic weirdly serves to hamper rather than elevate the fun to be had, and it all left me feeling rather cold. If you’re down for moe for moe’s sake, maybe you’ll enjoy this, but I think I’m gonna move on.

Rating: Bad

King’s Game: The Animation 

Synopsis: Kanazawa Nobuaki has transferred to a high school far from where he used to live. Due to an incident at his old school, Nobuaki is afraid of getting close to his new classmates and keeps himself at a distance, but he starts opening up because of a sports day inter-class relay. Then, a single text message from someone calling themselves the “King” is sent to everyone in class. Nobuaki’s classmates think it’s a simple prank, and don’t take it seriously but Nobuaki knows that a death game is about to begin, and struggles to oppose it…

First Impressions: So with Juni Taisen out to fulfill everyone’s needs for a crazy over the top battle royale thriller, this show comes off as the unfortunate other of the season. Though where Juni Taisen manages to impress as high quality trash, what we get here is pretty boilerplate and bar the course for this sort of thing. Loner MC who knows how this all goes down and fears the inevitable? Check? Everyone quickly turning on each other? Check. Girlfriend who’s clearly meant to be stuffed in the fridge as “motivation” for our MC? Checkity, check, check. Stupid as this all was though (and boy howdy is it stupid) it certainly wasn’t boring, and the execution is so incredibly off the walls that it all came off as unintentionally hilarious and Mamoru Miyano delivering his finest quality ham as the MC of this show only served to add to the silliness. If it had more to compete with I’d probably give it the boot right here, but I’m pretty sparse on Thursday shows for the moment, and if this show can maintain it’s level of a “quality” for the remainder of it’s run I can at least have a few good laughs if nothing else.

Rating: Decent

 

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Synopsis: Morioka Moriko (♀) is 30, single, and a NEET. She has dropped out of the real world. Searching for a safe place, the place she ended up… is the online world!! In this online game, Moriko starts a new life as a handsome young man with silky hair named Hayashi. However, she’s an obvious noob and ends up dying numerous times when a lovely girl named “Lily” lends her a helping hand. Meanwhile IRL, she ends up having a shocking encounter with a mysterious handsome salaryman named Sakurai Yuta. After meeting him, the real world starts to change and starts affecting her online world as well?!

First Impressions: I was kind of wary about checking this one out as everything about its premise was giving me PTSD flashbacks to spring 2015’s Netoge, and that show was…problematic to say the least. Far as this show goes though its…really hard to say just exactly what its goals are. The episode partially introduces to our heroine who seems to have quit her office job to become a NEET, but the majority of its runttime is spent building up a romance between her male avatar, and a female avatar she befriends through an MMO. The obvious twist here is that the female avatar belongs to a guy (and given our heroine seemed to be really into the idea of romancing “her” I’m kind of curious what her reaction will be when we get there) but it’s hard to say if the show’s going to use this for something cute, or potentially meanspirited. The developments between the two are handled well enough that I don’t think it’ll opt for the latter, but Netoge exists and the cynic in my heart can’t help but be worried this could turn into something weird and gross. Either way there’s not really enough to make any kind of serious guess about its future so I suppose its earned another episode from me.

Rating: Decent

 

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World

Synopsis: In an imperfect world, the stories make it beautiful. Meet Kino, a traveler exploring beyond her boundaries into unknown mystical places! With only her guns and talking motorcycle Hermes by her side, she learns about unique people and their customs through the fascinating stories they weave. But to see everything, she can only spare three days to each land before moving on to the next adventure.

First Impressions: Throughout my years as an anime fan, Kino’s Journey is a title I’ve often heard celebrated as a beloved classic but one I’ve never had the opportunity to get around to. Now that the show’s been “rebooted” in a sense, now’s as good a time as any to check it out, and the first episode impressed. Going off of my understanding of the show’s premise, the story follows a young traveler named Kino who travels to different countries in order to observe their lifestyles, with each one centering around some sort of theme or philosophical debate. This first episode starts with Kino going into a country where murder isn’t prohibited by the law, and where I could have seen this story easily diverge into over the top silliness, the way it handles the concept, and the last minute twist regarding how this law actually works is all handled well enough that I walked away from this with quite a bit to think about, and this is apparently something that happens quite a lot in this show.

Even putting aside it’s interesting philosophical intrigue, the show itself looks incredibly gorgeous. While Twin Star Exorcists was a very uneven show to say the least I’d always thought that Tomohisa Taguchi’s visual direction really stood out in spite of the show’s scripting problems, and he really gets to show a lot of his full capabilities here as the show’s backgrounds really help to create a wonderful sense of atmosphere that makes the world feel real, and the more maniac camera movements towards the end do a lot to sell the tension of the episode’s twist, and it all comes together to create something that can feel as haunting as it does pretty. All in all this was an impressive premiere, and while I’m a newcomer to Kino’s Journey, this certainly helped to make me a fan.

Rating: Great

 

Dies Irae

Synopsis: At the start of a great war, an important leader in the German security bureau takes on a mission to fight supernatural mutants himself.

First Impressions: This was another show I was kind of wary of for a couple of reasons. Firstly that it involves the literal Nazis and secondly that it’s apparently so self-indulgent, it can give the Fate franchise a run for it’s money. Still I figured I should give it a fair shot, but I mostly walked away from this episode feeling…confused more than anything. It seemed like this episode was supposed to be centering around some perfect definition of a supreme Aryan Nazi deciding he wants to be an evil overlord, but this got shuffled between a couple of out of place characters duking it out for some unexplained reason, and mountains of meaningless prose. Goung by the fact that this was titled episode 0, I can only assume this was meant to be a prologue of sorts but even then it felt unnecessarily jumbled and the fact that has the visual aesthetic of an low-end early 00’s anime doesn’t help much either. I suppose the one bright spot here is that I didn’t walk away from this feeling disgusted (which is what I was expecting) but I sure wouldn’t call this an entertaining experience. In a weaker season I’d give slight consideration to giving this another episode, but there’s already enough interesting looking material that there’s honestly no real need. Pass

Rating: Bad

 

GARO: Vanishing Line

Synopsis: Highly advanced town – Russel City. While people enjoy its prosperity in the town, there is a huge conspiracy secretly going on which will shake the world. Sword, a man who notices its movement determines to throw himself into battles and reveal the conspiracy, but only to find a clue – “Eldorado”. At that time, Sword happens to meet a girl Sophie who has been looking for the meaning of “Eldorado”, a message left by her missing brother. These two, attracted by the word “Eldorado”, somehow feel invisible ties each other and start to act together. Their journey with mixed feelings now begins.

First Impressions: When Vanishing Line was first announced a few months ago, it seemed like it could be interesting, but didn’t particularly grab my attention as something to be excited about. However when it was later confirmed that this was going to be the newest GARO anime, my interest piqued significantly. While GARO’s pretty popular as a tokusatsu series in Japan, the anime versions have been a little more troubled. The first anime had cool aesthetic and some solid writing but didn’t particular stand out in the season it debuted in while the second anime Crimson Moon, was a dumpster fire that tried to make GARO a little more “anime” but felt all over place, and looked pretty ugly. It seems the third time might be the charm though, because everything about this premiere comes out of the gate full throttle (and given the biker motifs this probably won’t be the last pun I make about this) with some great looking character designs, stellar animation, and an overall aesthetic that pretty much screams western appeal. We’ve got everything from a beefcake protagonist with a love of bikes and pretty girls, to a super jazzy soundtrack and while this first episode doesn’t offer much in the way of setting up the story, the amount of flair in brings is more than enough of a hook to draw in interest. Given MAPPA’s current workload it’s hard to say how much they’ll be able to keep this up, but given the director, was responsible for the best episode of the first GARO anime, I’m at least sure it’ll cram in as much visual spectacle as it can in the meantime. With how packed this anime season is, it’s anyone’s guess if this’ll get looked over the same way the first anime did, but it’s definitely got a better aesthetic going for it as far as drawing in bigger crowds goes, and however this turns out, I’m certainly ready to go along for the ride

Rating: Great

Review: Voltron Legendary Defender Season 3- Quick on the Draw

Synopsis: Long ago the leader of the Galra race, Emperor Zarkon began his conquest of the universe, and the extermination of the Alteans. The only force capable of stopping him was a weapon known as Voltron, but it was sealed away along with the Altean princess, Allura. 10,000 years later, a group of young space pilots from Earth stumble upon one of the robot lions that form Voltron, along with Allura but soon discover that Zarkon is still alive, and has already seized control over most of the known universe. Now these pilots must become the new Paladins of Voltron and use it’s power to defeat Zarkon once and for all.

The Review

And so after a…surprisingly short hiatus Voltron: Legendary Defender is back with it’s third season. Given that the second season debuted earlier this year, I was honestly shocked to see this one coming down the pipeline so fast, and even more to learn the fourth season is already planned for later this year. All that surprise was suddenly made clear when it turned out that this season is noticeably shorter than either of the previous two, only totaling in at seven episodes, and the fourth season may end up turning out the same way. Needless to say that made things a little disappointing, and with the episode count being so low, I was able to burn through the whole thing in pretty much a single morning even while having other stuff to do. Of course, annoying as the shorter run time is, new Voltron is still new Voltron, so how it’s time to see exactly how well it stacks up to the first two seasons.

I suppose that first and foremost we should talk about the most interesting thing this season: the introduction of Prince Lotor. While I’m pretty ignorant on most things related to the original version of Voltron, I do know that he was a pretty important presence there, and was about as significant a villain as Zarkon himself. As far as this version goes, he’s certainly a welcome presence as he’s by far the most interesting antagonist the show has offered so far. Even though season two did more to flesh out the Galra as a whole, Zarkon and Haggar themselves were still pretty one-note as far as villainy goes. Lotor on the other hand is a much more charismatic figure, knowing how to stay one step ahead of the Paladins by exploiting their weaknesses, and playing both sides of the conflict to his advantage. Given the history of the people penning this show, it’s pretty easy to see him as something of a male counterpart to Princess Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender, but so far he seems a lot more composed and unlike Azula who was pretty loyal to her father, Lotor’s true motives remain a mystery even by the end of the season.

In comparison I’d have to say that his four female generals are kind of a bit boring, and despite being given clear character archetypes to work off of, they feel pretty interchangeable and didn’t leave much of an impression. It’s a shame since I really like the idea of them kind of functioning as a foil to the Paladins so I’m really hoping they’ll be given more to do in later seasons. On the bright side, the season’s finale does a lot to flesh out our two biggest baddies as we’re given more information on the history between Zarkon and Allura’s father as well as Haggar’s real identity. It’s an interesting bit of backstory that does quite a bit to explain Zarkon and Haggar’s origins, and while it doesn’t totally humanize them, it certainly gives them a lot more to work with than either of the previous seasons did and paints them with at least a few shades of grey (albeit very dark ones). It’s another area where I’ll be curious to see exactly where the show takes things, and I’m happy to see the show doing more with its antagonists.

Unfortunately the downsides to this season mostly come from the Paladins and it’s a shame since they’re generally the best part of the show. The best character arcs of the season involve Lance having to come to terms with the fact that he’s just not leader material and having to humbly accept Keith taking the position, as well as Allura managing to come into her own as a Paladin. However the big issue here comes down to the incredibly short time gap between Shiro’s disappearance and Keith’s taking his position, and Shiro’s official return to the team. While there was pretty much zero room to doubt that Shiro had actually died last season, (and I appreciate the show not talking down to its audience enough to think that kids would either) bringing him back into the fold so quickly feels like a waste. We do get a few episodes in the beginning dealing with Keith’s hotheaded nature being a poor match for leadership but parts of that new team dynamic coming together feel rushed, and by the time Shiro returns it doesn’t feel like the team has been without him long enough to have truly accepted Keith as their new leader. It’s possible this is intentional given that the one episode we do get with Keith and Shiro together shows a pretty clear wedge in the group’s ability to get things done but for right now it feels kind of awkward and I can’t help but think that the show would have benefited from keeping Shiro away from the group for at least half another season.

On a technical standpoint the show looks as sharp as ever, in terms of both action sequences and mecha design and there’s a few cool sequences mixed in here. However the shorter timestamp for this season means that there aren’t as many opportunities for it to show that stuff off, and what we get isn’t nearly enough to compensate. As a plus though, I can at least say that out of all of the character designs I’ve seen for the show thus far, Lotor’s is definitely the one that feels the most “anime” inspired and I’m always happy to see the show get closer to that general aesthetic since that’s clearly what it’s aiming

As a whole a lot of what feels off about this season partially comes down to how short it is, and even with the significance its supposed finale offers, it’s pretty hard to escape the feeling that this is merely half a season that was divided because someone at Netflix thought it was a good idea. I doubt it ended up affecting much in terms of actual content, but it does make things here feel kind of incomplete even with the big cliffhangers the last two seasons ended on. There’s enough solid material sprinkled through this season to work, and the weaker parts don’t yet feel like they’ll be enough to hinder the show’s current momentum, but I’m really hoping that season four will feel a bit more balanced that what we ended up getting this time around.

Overall: 7.9/10

Available on Netflix

Toon Talk- Attack on Netflix: Is Netflix “Killing” Anime?

Woo boy. This is a topic I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while now but also one that I’ve kind of dreaded talking about at full length because of how visceral the discussions around it have been. However over the recent months, and more specifically some of the events of the past week, its grown far too big not to say something about so I guess it’s finally time for me to address the 100 million pound elephant in the room: Netflix. Netflix rolled onto the anime scene a couple of years back with their acquisition of Knights of Sidonia and while their approach of withholding the show until after it’s broadcast and launching it all at once was mostly just something of a nuisance at the time, the outcries against them have grown increasingly louder as they’ve gone after “bigger” titles like Little Witch Academia and The Seven Deadly Sins. Now if you’ve followed me on Twitter for any decent amount of time, then you’ll know my stance has generally been that of the “lesser of two evils” variety when compared to Amazon’s Anime Strike service, but even the lesser of two evils (depending on which you view as the “lesser evil” I guess) is still evil so it’s time to dive into an important question: Is Netflix truly “killing” anime?

On a surface level this seems like a pretty one and done argument. Netflix refuses to simulcast their anime licenses outside of Japan, despite simulcasts being the general standard for the hardcore anime market nowadays. The lack of a simulcast harms discussion for their shows, and even worse makes a lot of people more likely to pirate stuff. The reality of the situation however, is a little more complicated and requires touching upon a subject that a lot of hardcore anime fans are hesitant to admit to: the hardcore anime base that keeps up with seasonal anime and simulcasts and anime is not the majority of the audience that watches anime.

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Now this isn’t to say that the hardcore market isn’t a significant one. After all if it wasn’t, Crunchyroll wouldn’t currently be sitting at over a million subscribers and we wouldn’t have the far greater misfortune of Amazon strong-arming their way into the industry with a cruddy service that keeps stuff behind an insane paywall. But even with all that in mind the truth of the matter is that most people who watch anime do so on a much more irregular schedule and generally tend to come across shows by chance or word of mouth rather than actively combing for the newest stuff the same way folks like myself have gotten used to. Even for Crunchyroll, who pretty much pioneered the simulcast market as it exists today, many of its most well known and popular titles are things that finished ages ago, and they put just as much pride in simulcasts as they do having an extensive catalog of titles that stretches back for decades.

While seasonal fans like us might lament having to wait X amount of months to watch a new show, and may move on in the meantime, there are many more who’ll come across stuff later down the line and won’t even know something was delayed to begin with. Netflix knows this for better or worse, which is partially why they aren’t likely to adjust their current model anytime soon as the amount of hardcore eyeballs they’re losing is probably outweighed by the amount who are just happening to come across something for the first time. Heck the very fact that they’ve continued to push further and further into the market is a pretty clear sign that their anime pickups are hitting whatever numbers they’re currently looking for. So when fans talk about Netflix “killing” anime, they’re primarily talking in terms of their darling show of the season not getting the same amount of attention as other stuff, which granted sucks, and I can totally sympathize with that, but isn’t quite what I’d call death. Especially since the effects that these titles being held out on has on the amount of buzz they get is somewhat debatable. As much outcry as I’ve seen over Netflix supposedly destroying any chance of Little Witch Academia finding an audience, that show was still pretty much everywhere in terms of anime circles while it was airing (which sucked for me since I waited for the Netflix stream but I digress) and I’d have a hard time imagining most people who keep up with this stuff regularly wouldn’t know it exists. The seasonal anime fandom is as such that the argument of anything falling completely under the radar for reasons other than not being all that remarkable is kind of a false one, and even if its not necessarily through legal means, if there’s a hot new show out there worth getting excited about, you can bet the word will spread somehow or another.

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So now that I’ve talked a little bit about the somewhat exaggerated death of anime by Netflix, it’s probably about time to talk about some of the service’s actual benefits as there are a actually a few. Diving into one of them requires once again looking at something most hardcore fans don’t really like discuss at length which is the need to cater to the more casual anime market. Casual audiences are a source of both mockery and dread for pretty much any fandom, and anime fans in particular can get pretty prickly about them but they are a vital part of the industry. After all no one’s really born a fan of anything, and just about everyone starts off casually before going deeper into stuff. However reaching this market typically requires making stuff accessible to them in places they’re likely to find them, and that’s been an ongoing battle within the industry. In the old days, TV deals were pretty much the most surefire way to reach a broader, younger audience, but even with the Toonami block still managing to stay on the air, and being relatively successful, television isn’t really the preferred viewing method for young people anymore. It’s streaming, and at the moment there isn’t really any dedicated streaming service on the planet bigger than Netflix.

The service currently sits at around 100 million subscribers and if even 3-5% of that audience has at least a casual interest in anime (which granted might be an overestimation, but it’s probably impossible to gauge exactly how many people on the planet actually care about anime), that’s still several times the supposed maximum audience Crunchyroll is currently reaching. Couple that with the the fact that the service has a wider reach and offers multi-language dubs for several countries and it’s not really hard to put together which service has the greater potential to create new anime fans. Speaking from personal experienced I’ve talked to quite a few kids who aren’t super into anime, but have gotten interested in shows like The Seven Deadly Sins or Hunter x Hunter because they were easily available on Netflix, and with Little Witch Academia currently available on both the main site and it’s kids show section, it could possibly end up finding an audience with young girls in addition to the 20-30 somethings like me who were probably going to watch it no matter what. In that respect I think Netflix could do a lot to give anime a bit more presence when it comes to reaching out beyond the hardcore sphere, and if some of these titles can end up finding brand new audiences and drawing more people into the fandom then I’m pretty much all for it.

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Going a bit more into the actual industry side of things it’s equally worth mentioning that the reception to the service has been pretty positive on their end. While the amount of money Netflix likely offers for their acquisitions is undoubtedly a contributing factor in that, studios like Trigger have mentioned that they’re a lot easier to deal with than the usual Japanese television networks, and Netflix’s recently announced slew of titles that are being produced exclusively for the service could be a real game changer. Without the initial hassle of a television broadcast these shows don’t have to deal as much with the usual constrictions of things like strict episode runttimes, censorship and most significantly: scheduling. The weekly anime production schedule has long been a merciless problem for the industry and one that’s affected not only the quality of the shows, but the health of the people who work on them. Being able to work on this stuff on a more flexible schedule would be an absolute boon for the industry and one that would frankly be better for just about everyone involved, including fans since unlike their acquired titles, we’re all getting this stuff streamed at the same time, Japan included. It’s hard to say how much Netflix will push this particular initiative and for how long but I really hope that it ends up becoming their basic standard for dealing with anime, because (for the time being at least) it offers nothing but positives.

Having said all that though, it’s worth pointing out that pretty much nothing I’ve said here really negates the fact that the problems currently surrounding Netflix’s form of anime streaming are well…problems. By holding onto their acquired titles until they’ve finished their broadcast run in Japan, they’re undoubtedly encouraging piracy on the behalf of the hardcore fandom and that fact is inescapable. Even more than helping to shape the simulcast market into what it is today, one of Crunchyroll’s (and to a lesser extent Funimation’s) biggest contributions to the industry has been in helping to make piracy less convenient by offering things faster than pirates can keep up with, and giving us just about everything any given season of anime has to offer. Seeing that undermined in any capacity is incredibly frustrating to folks who’ve tried to remain loyal to the industry, and with how long self-justified piracy has been an issue for anime, anything that lends more fuel to that is harmful.

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Additionally while I do think the effects of buzz from hardcore fans are a bit overstated in terms of how much it helps some of these titles, it’s still pretty effective in giving stuff attention in a market that’s flooded with a nigh endless amount of things to watch. Unless you’re dealing with a really massive, somewhat pre-established title, withholding it until the season’s passed WILL hurt interest, and with how quickly new shows come out, it’s extremely difficult for most things to get a second wind when it comes to the hardcore audience. These issues are particularly frustrating because they can easily fixed by Netflix simply choosing to simulcast anime internationally the same way they do select TV shows in the US, and anime in Japan. Sure they might lose some casual viewers by not being able to offer dubs right off the bat (this is almost undoubtedly the main reason they choose to withhold stuff) but if hit shows like Attack on Titan and One-Punch Man (granted they don’t actually own these titles but I doubt their licencors would say no to offering their dubs if they were offered enough money) can thrive on the service with just a sub-only option, there’s no real reason they can’t take a risk with stuff that’s obviously more niche like Kakeguri and throw the hardcore side of the market a bone. These are things that need to be more properly addressed and so long as they aren’t there’s harm in Netflix being a part of this industry and that’s something I’d ideally prefer not to say about any of the companies that are legally providing anime for us.

So is Netflix “killing” anime? Well I suppose that really depends on your exact point of view. There’s a lot of potential long term benefits to their entry into the market like the chance of expanding the audience for their titles, and ligtening some of the burdens when it comes to actual anime production, but the short-term issues they bring to the table by refusing to simulcast their titles are real ones, and the fact that they’re so easily fixable makes them all the more annoying. I don’t expect for anything I’ve said here to convince anyone to stop complaining about Netflix, nor would I want anyone to. After all if they weren’t so stubborn about their binge strategy I could be watching Kakeguri right now (and I REALLY want to watch Kakeguri for uh…reasons) and the only chance anyone has of convincing them to adjust their current strategy is by continuing to speak to them about it. What I do hope though, is that more people take the time to look the benefits Netflix does and can offer (moreso if they actually do choose to listen) for the industry, because they do exist and looking at this purely in terms of the immediate problems feels a little shortsighted. So in the end I’m pretty much starting this the same way I began: that Netflix is at best, the lesser of two evils when compared to Anime Strike whose mere existence is nothing but a nuisance in it’s current form. Unlike Strike however, I do genuinely believe that with time, Netflix could end up becoming a force for good.

 

First Impressions- Summer 2017 Anime (Part 2)

The summer rollouts are still going steady, and there’s plenty more stuff to go through. I didn’t have much time to check out stuff yesterday thanks to some 4th of July distractions, but it’s time to keep trudging through this season and hopefully find a few more worthwhile entries.

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Aho Girl

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Synopsis: She is Hanabatake Yoshiko, and she’s an idiot through and through. She loves bananas, and she loves her childhood friend Akkun.

First Impressions: I was dreading to check this one out because it’s premise gave the impression that it could be gross, mean-spirited or some combination of the two. Still I figured it was only right to give it a fair shake and…yeah it was pretty much exactly what I figured it would be. The heroine is an unlikable idiot who’s constantly “reigned in” by her douche of a best friend (who she’s also in love with because anime) and that’s basically the joke. It doesn’t help that much of the comedy is done through slapstick at the former’s expense and while I’m pretty okay with female characters falling victim to slapstick if characters of both genders are considered expendable targets, that’s definitely not the case here, and it makes most of the jokes feel abusive rather than funny. The sole saving grace here is that the comedy is rapid-fire enough that something is probably bound to make you chuckle at least once, but too much of the show’s other aspects bother me for that to make it worthwhile. Definitely a nope from me.

Rating: Bad

 

Netsuzou Trap- NTR

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Synopsis: Yuma and Hotaru have been friends since childhood. It is only natural that when Yuma is nervous about her new boyfriend, she asks Hotaru and her boyfriend along for a double date. But when Hotaru offers herself to Yuma as “practice”, both girls realize that they’re more interested in each other than they are in their own boyfriends. With boyfriends in the foreground but a secret, passionate tryst in the background, will Yuma and Hotaru try to forget what happened between them or have they fallen into a trap of true love and betrayal?

First Impressions: So being perfectly honest, this is probably only the third yuri title I’ve ever checked out (the others being Yurikuma Arashi and Revolutionary Girl Utena though being Ikuhara projects means they exactly conventional genre shows). This is mainly because the general impression I seem to get from this stuff is that they’re generally as fetish based as most yaoi titles are, and I’m just personally only interested in purely same-sex stories if they’re taking the subject matter seriously. However this one happened to come out in a season where I don’t have much of anything I’m particularly excited for so I was willing to check it out. So far it seems to mostly be what I expected in that the concept of the two main girls cheating on their boyfriends is done from more of a fetish angle than a serious one, and the fact that one of them comes off as a but predatory doesn’t help much either. That said, it at least managed to hold my attention for the whole way through, and the fact that it’s being done through shorts (which seems like odd for this kind of show but eh) means that it’s not exactly a gigantic time investment as far as seeing where it goes. I’m not entirely sure how strongly I feel about it one way or the other yet, but I figure it’s at least worth one more episode, and with any luck, maybe there’ll be a chance that it handles it’s subject matter better than I’m expecting.

Rating: ???

 

Tsuredure Children

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Synopsis: To those of you out there who never could say “I love you” — This story is about ordinary highschoolers and how love makes them fired up, shaken, laugh, cry, and hurt. Whether things go well or not, this story of adolescence and romance will show you how they spend their precious youth. Every character is the main character here, and you’re sure to find one you can sympathize with.

First Impressions: I was pretty interested in taking a peek at this one since it’s premise sounded like it had the potential to be a cute comedy, and it certainly succeeded in that area. A series about awkward high school love confessions is something I can certainly relate to (and I’m probably not alone on that one) and when combined with some solid comic timing, it makes for a pretty enjoyable time. It’s possible this could end up wearing thin if done over the course of full length episodes, but the fact that it’s a series of shorts means that it has enough opportunities to try out as many jokes as it can while not wearing out it’s welcome. I haven’t been too impressed with the shorts I’ve seen so far for this season, but this one is a definite winner and seems like a perfect afternoon distraction.

Rating: Great

 

Fastest Fingers First

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Synopsis: Bunzou High School is welcoming its new first-year students. One of them, Koshiyama Shiki, is chosen to participate against his will in an impromptu fast-buzzing quiz meet by the president of the Quiz Bowl Circle. As a quiet boy who loves reading and doesn’t want to stand out, Shiki is overwhelmed, but his classmate, Fukami Mari, is able to hit the buzzer and answer questions before the full question is given. As he watches her, Shiki realizes that there’s a point in each question where the answer becomes certain.

First Impressions: This is another show I didn’t know anything about going in but with a localization title as ridiculous as this one, it was pretty much impossible to resist checking it out. What I ended up getting here is a pretty basic setup for a sports show, but one that’s way more my speed than the awkward sports show/bishie comedy hybrid that was Aoyama-kun. The story of an introvert learning to expand his horizons through a sport is a pretty common one at this point, but to it’s credit that sort of thing almost never fails to strike some kind of cord with me, and the same can be said this time around as the first episode does a fair job of setting up Shiki as a protagonist. Although with all that said, the most interesting thing about this show besides it’s silly title is probably the sport itself as quiz based stuff definitely isn’t something I’ve ever really seen in a sports anime, and it seems like something that could be kind of neat to learn about. My only real negative point so far is that the Japanese voice actress for Mari sounds distractingly amateurish and that could possibly hurt the show later on if she doesn’t improve, but I suppose of this ends up getting a Funimation simuldub I can always watch it that way. Considering that I mostly came into this one just off the title alone, I have to say that this turned out to be a pretty welcome surprise, and if it can manage to stay consistent then this seems like a pretty safe pick for my sports show of the season

Rating: Great

 

18if

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Synopsis: After going to sleep like normal, Haruto Tsukishiro wakes up to discover something unbelievable—he’s stuck in dream world! Here, witches plague the dreamscape and are more than dreamy figments—they’re the trapped souls of young women who’ve rejected reality and are afflicted by the “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.” As he searches for a way out, Haruto will face the witches and their terrifying powers.

First Impressions: This show is here to remind us all that Gonzo is not yet completely dead, and this one serves as their second video game adaption in recent memory. Unlike Akiba’s Strip which was more along the lines of zany over the top antics, this one appears to be a bit more on the serious side and feels very transparently like the prologue to some kind of visual novel. Much like Akiba’s Strip though, this mostly just feels like a thing that exists and it didn’t leave me with any particularly strong feelings one way or the other. The premise of exploring a literal dreamworld, and the maniac visual direction that follows are kind of neat, but neither is really enough to overcome how phoned in the execution feels and it doesn’t help that the protagonist is a pretty obvious self-insert and doesn’t display any semblance of personality or motivation. This show also happened to be ahead enough in production for Funimation to put out a same day simuldub for it, and while it’s certainly not one of Funimation’s strongest efforts, it felt totally fine for what it was attached to, and should serve as a good way to stay caught up with the show for those who are interested. As for me, I’m probably gonna end up pressing X to skip unless I really can’t find enough shows to keep up with.

Rating: Decent

 

A Centaur’s Life

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Synopsis: Being a teenager is never easy… especially for a centaur! Himeno is a sweet, shy girl, who like many teens her age, struggles with the trials and tribulations of attending high school. The difference is she’s a centaur; but she’s not alone. In fact, all of her classmates are supernatural creatures, sporting either horns, wings, tails, halos, or some other unearthly body appendage. Yet despite their fantastical natures, Himeno and her best friends-the dragon-winged Nozomi, and Kyoko with her spiraled horns-are down-to-earth, fun-loving teenagers who grapple with issues of life and love in a mostly normal daily school setting.

First Impressions: So between Monster Musume and Interviews With Monster Girls, it’s pretty much safe to say that shows about demihuman or monster girls is a genre that I can totally get behind. That made this show one of the few things from this season that I was really curious about and it didn’t disappoint. While this one is definitely a lot more on the fanservice side compared to Interviews With Monster Girls, it does a pretty solid job of getting across how the different races of it’s world operate without getting too heavy-handed, and it seems like it’ll dive into exploring the same bits of unintentional discrimination as that series did. What’s really interesting here though, is that there’s a few strong hints that the characters are living in some kind of dystopian society that cracks down on anything that could be seen as discriminatory or detrimental to racial harmony which has the potential to either be really fascinating or really gross depending on how the show spins it. Even putting that bit of deeper thought aside for the time being, everything so far seems pretty pleasant and the characters seem likable enough if not particularly interesting as of yet, so even if it doesn’t make full use of it’s potential it’ll at least be relaxing to watch if nothing else. I haven’t been all that impressed with this season’s offerings so far, but show is definitely the first one that’s made me really curious to see where it goes, and that makes it a winner in my book

Rating: Great

 

Chronos Ruler

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Synopsis: The story centers on “Chronos Rulers,” those who fight the time-eating demons that appear when people wish they could turn back time. The Chronos Rulers fight a time-manipulation battle against these demons.

First Impressions: So I didn’t really know much about this one going in but what I did know was that it’s pretty much CR’s only other new action show offering for the season besides Touken Ranbu, and that it’s scripted by good old Hiroyuki Yoshino who has brought us such lovely works as Guilty Crown and more recently Izetta: The Last Witch. With that last factor in mind I pretty much expected this one to be a potential trainwreck going in but I wasn’t prepared for exactly how much of a trainwreck it was going to be. The show gives off warning bells as soon as it’s opening scene as it features an action sequence that looks like it was ripped from a PS2 game cutscene and used some of the most bizarre camera work this side of Hand Shakers. In fact Hand Shakers is a pretty strong comparison for this show’s overall visual aesthetic as it churns out a variety of awkward visual overlays, bad camera motion and bad looking CG in an attempt to look as unique as possible while pretty much failing at every turn. I can kind of understand the desperation though because when it’s not doing that, the show otherwise looks like something from the mid 00’s and barely has much in the way of animation.

That’s not even getting into the show’s actual storytelling which is pretty much just as bad. The main plot is a bunch of nonsense about time stealing monsters, and it’s attempts at being dramatic by diving into the heroine’s loss of her brother or the weird situation of the two male protagonists fall completely flat and just mostly come across as trying too hard. On top of that the show has what’s straight up some of the worst “anime” comedy I’ve seen in a long time, and poorly timed at that as it has a strange tendency to mix it into “serious” scenes and subsequently remove any decent chance at storytelling it might have had. I honestly wasn’t expecting to come across another Hand Shakers level trainwreck in the exact same year Hand Shakers came out but here we are and I’m still in total awe of just how bad this was. However for all the above complaints I can definitely say that I wasn’t bored watching it and it’s for that reason alone that I’ll probably keep up with this as my hatewatch of the season and see how much more ridiculous it can get. I certainly can’t recommend this one in good faith, but if you’re in need of something to mock this season, look no further.

Rating: ALL ABOARD THE TRAINWRECK

In Another World With My Smartphone

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Synopsis: After dying as a result of God’s mistake, the main character finds himself in a parallel world, where he begins his second life. His only possessions are the body that God gave back to him and a smartphone that works even in this new world. As he meets all kinds of new people and forges new friendships, he ends up learning the secret to this world. He inherits the legacy of an ancient civilization and works together with the kings of some very laid-back countries on his carefree travels through this new world.

First Impressions: So from the title alone it was obvious this one would be pretty stupid, and after watching the first episode I can confirm that it is indeed silly, albeit not entirely in ways that could have been fun. The show literally starts with our MC having a chat with God, who apparently accidentally struck him with lightning and now has to bring him back to life in an entirely different world. MC-kun takes all of this in stride and requests only that he be allowed to take his smartphone with him, and God decides to sweeten the deal by giving him the full Gary-Stu package and making him super strong, incredibly durable and able to use all forms of magic that exist in the world he’s being sent to. From there the rest of the episode is pretty much MC-kun using his newfound Gary Stu powers to feel his way around his newfound world, and the entire time I couldn’t help but think to myself that this could have been a significantly more interesting story had MC-kun turned out to be some horrible prick and used his God given abilties for evil. Instead what we got was the usual bland RPG nonsense that tend to come with these lower end fantasy worlds and MC-kun’s main accomplishments for the episode are figuring out the extent of his powers and giving the world ice cream. There’s not really anything of interest to this one when it comes to execution but I guess if nothing else I at least had a good time making fun of the first 10 minutes or so, and it seems pretty harmless if nothing else. I have my doubts that I’ll watch this one any further, but this season’s pretty weak for me as is, so it could end up as a morning distraction if nothing else.

Rating: Decent

 

Magical Circle Guru Guru

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Synopsis: The story takes place in a world gripped by hero mania after a proclamation was sent out for heroes to gather to defeat the demon king. A boy named Nike is half-forced by his parents to go on a journey. As part of his town’s custom, he visits an old witch’s house on the outskirts of town before he sets off. There, he sees a girl named Kukuri who uses a magical circle. The old witch tells Nike that Kukuri is the last descendent of the Migumigu tribe, which can use the magical circles. Thus begins the adventure of the frivolous small hero and the naive magician girl.

First Impressions: So I was gonna skip looking at this one because I’ve gone through a ton of stuff as is, but I felt a strange compulsion to give it a shot. That impulse turned out to be to my benefit because this was probably the best comedy premiere I’ve seen all season. This isn’t to say that the show is particularly amazing since it’s pretty transparently a kid’s show and has all the jokes I’ve come to expect from a kid’s anime, but something about it’s aesthetic just clicked with me and it made me laugh more than any of the other premieres I’ve sat through. RPG parodies aren’t a particularly new thing for anime, but I really appreciated how much this show decided to roll with it from the occasional 8-bit backgrounds, to gags about item equipment and while not every one of it’s gags worked, enough of them did to keep me amused for a full 24-minutes. Like with Fastest Fingers it’s highly likely I’m just giving this one too much credit because of how weal the rest of this season’s been in comparison for me, but dang it I’m probably gonna keep watching the RPG parody for kids. Fight me.

Rating: Good

 

My First Girlfriend is a Gal

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Synopsis: A new school term begins, as does the season of new encounters. As he surveys his class full of couples, Hashiba Jun’ichi’s mind is filled with distress as he asks himself, “Why am I still a virgin?!” Having heard from his friends that the easiest way to fulfill his long-standing desire to graduate from the fellowship of virgins is to kowtow to a gal, Jun’ichi does exactly that and asks his classmate Yukana out. And unbelievably, she actually agrees to date him. What will become of Jun’ichi from now on?

First Impressions: Well I thought I had reached the bottom of the barrel with Chronos Rulers, but that was just setting me up for the actual worst show this season: My First Girlfriend is a Gal. Of all the anime girl archetypes that exist, gyarus are very rarely in the spotlight for whatever reason, and with last year’s Please Tell me, Galko-chan! turning out to be a surprisingly pleasant show, I was all primed up for another series with a gyaru heroine. That was a mistake as this is pretty much just a low level trashy fanservice/harem series, and even by harem show standards this one’s pretty awful. We spend a good 20 minutes with the main character’s friends lamenting that they can’t get a date while simultaneously being perverted douchebags and while that’s clearly supposed to be “funny” I mostly just wanted to see all of them get punched square in the face (and the lolicon jokes didn’t help either). The main character himself isn’t much better as while he’s not openly as much of a prick as these guys, he only asks out the show’s heroine for the explicit purpose of getting laid, and is ultimately rewarded for it. If there’s one saving grace here it’s that the heroine herself actually seems like a pretty alright character, and sees through his crap the entire time, but since she’s clearly just going to end up boning him at some point anyway, it mostly wrings hollow. I’m not even surprised that something this bad made it into existance, but it’s still a wonder to behold something with pretty much nothing redeeming about it. I suppose if you as masochistic as me this might make a decent hatewatch (and even then that’s reeeeeaaaaaallly stretching it) but otherwise, I reccomend not to go anywhere near this one with a 10-foot pole

Rating: H-O-T GARBAGE


And that’s it for me and first impressions this season. I know there’s still a few more premieres left in the season, and I’ll likely check those out, but between other stuff to deal with and My First Girlfriend is a Gal nearly sucking away my will to live, I don’t have the energy to do a write up for every show. All in all this is looking to be another one of the weakest seasons I’ve seen, and quite possibly THE weakest since I’ve only come across a couple of things I genuinely liked but who knows? Maybe something will impress me later on and I’ll feel more positive by the end of this season but until then, stay animated.

First Impression- Summer 2017 Anime (Part 1)

The summer season is upon is, and things have already heated up in regards to the competition between streaming services and where folks can expect to watch stuff. I got pretty riled up about that myself and thanks to they-who-shall-not-be-named, I’ve found myself with a lot potentially interesting stuff to check out, in a season that didn’t seem terribly strong to begin with. Still I’ll try to stay at least semi-positive here, and hopefully I’ll be able to come across at least a couple of diamonds in the rough

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Fox Spirit Matchmaker

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Synopsis: In a world where Spirits and Humans coexist and can fall in love with each other, the Spirits’s life expectancy being far superior to the Human’s one can only see their loved one dying before them. Even when that human is reborn, the previous memories of his past life is erased from his memory. However, it is said among Spirits that a certain “service” is spreading. This“service” is provided by the “Fox Spirit Matchmakers” who can revive the lost memories of their former lover. When the Spirits lose their lover, they can purchase the “service” of the “Fox Spirit Matchmakers” so that they could attempt to regain their former lover memories and start over a new love story. This story follows a young Fox Spirit Matchmaker who tries her best to restore lost memories and spread love.

First Impressions: At this point I’ve pretty much learned to come into these chinese co-productions with the impression that they’ll be terrible as their track record has been consistently awful. Even so, I never thought I’d come across one quite THIS bad. From the moment I saw the show’s opening theme song I knew I was in for a rough ride since the song they picked, didn’t match the visuals used for it at all, and the show itself is even less incoherent/ Despite having wasted a good 22 minutes of my life watching it, I couldn’t really tell you what it’s even about, but what I was able to parse together involves something about, exorcists fights, yokai clans and a little fox spirit girl whose told she has to marry some 30 year old dude (it’s said in the beginning he’s a teenager but the show’s so all over the place it’s hard to even tell if he was lying about his age) who seems to be your standard jerkhat overpowered protagonist. Needless to say it’s all incredibly stupid, but that last bit elevates it from trash to a gross dumpster fire since I don’t even want to consider all the implications if the guy actually IS 30 (and his inner monologues seem to support that so…eww). With this much nonsense going in, you’d figure it’d at least be a good show to make fun of, but it’s not even hilariously bad it’s just…nonsense. Maybe someday one of these chinese co-productions will be good, but if this isn’t the absolute bottom of the barrel, I’m terrified of how much worse they can get.

Rating: Bad

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

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Synopsis: The year is 1863 as the tumultuous samurai era is coming to an end, Japan is split between the pro-shogunate and anti-shogunate factions. The fate of the world is threatened as an army of historical revisionists are sent from the future to alter the course of history. In order to bring these forces down and protect the real history, two sword warriors, spirits who are swords brought to life by Saniwa (sage), rush to Edo. The polite and thoughtful Horikawa Kunihiro and the short tempered yet skillful Izuminokami Kanesada, who served the same master, confront the invading army along with a lively gang of other warriors including Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki, Yagen Toushirou, Tombokiri, and Tsurumaru Kuninaga.

First Impressions: This was one of the few hotly anticipated titles of the Summer seasons, and I was of two different minds about it going in. I saw it’s spinoff, Touken Ranbu Hanamaru a few seasons back and the first episode of that bored me to tears enough to drop it entirely and while this one was reportedly going to have a more serious tone, I wasn’t sure how much it would actually gel with me. As of the first episode of this one my feelings are that it’s…okay so far. Visually it’s as impressive as what we’ve come to expect from Ufotable at this point, as their ability to integrate post-production visual effects into animation is still a technique that rarely fails to work, and the actual animation itself is pretty solid. Story wise I’m a little more unsure since this starts off in media-res and while it’s not particularly difficult to follow, a few more plot details would have helped a lot. The basic idea here seems to revolve around time travel which is usually a pretty fun concept when done right, and one of the things that did strike me as particularly interesting about the premiere here is the idea of the characters having to sit back and let certain tragedies unfold in order keep history on the right track, and if they play with that angle enough it could give this show a little more punch than these stories usually tend to go for. I wouldn’t exactly say this one wowed me, but enough of it worked that I’m willing to give it a few more episodes, and since that’s more than I can say for it’s spinoff, I suppose that’s as good a sign as any.

Rating: Good

 

Battle Girl High School

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Synopsis: In the year 2045, the world has been contaminated by Irousu (mysterious invaders who suddenly appeared), and humans find themselves restricted and contained. Standing boldly against these invaders are ordinary girls everywhere, without a powerful army or even weapons. The Shinjugamine Girls Academy is a school for these “Hoshimori” (Star Guardians) destined to fight the Irousu.

First Impressions: So I figured right away this wasn’t going to be my type of thing, but since it’s HiDive’s one and only simulcast for the season, and I recently subscribed to it, I figured I might as well give it a look. It’s more or less what I expected it to be as it’s a series that mixes the “cute girls doing cute things” genre with a few minor bits of magical girl and action stuff tossed in for good measure. Unsurprisingly the focus is more on the “cute girls” bit than anything else meaning that it’s by and large not for me, and the show crams so many girls into the first episode that I’d have a hard time imagining anyone getting attached to them even if this is they’re sort of thing. When all is said and done though it’s perfectly harmless and while nothing about it thrilled me in any real capacity, there was nothing really offensive about this either, and those who do enjoy this sort of thing should likely get some millage out of it. As for me though, it’s almost certainly a pass unless this season ends up being really barren.

Rating: Decent

 

Knight’s & Magic

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Synopsis: A genius programmer and hardcore robot otaku is reborn into a world of knights and magic, where huge robots called Silhouette Knights roar across the land! Now reborn as Ernesti Echevalier, he uses his vast knowledge of machines and programming talents to begin to make his ultimate robot.  But his actions have unexpected results…?! The dreams of a robot otaku will change the world!

First Impressions: Bizarre lack of proper grammar aside, this seemed like it could be one of the more interesting offerings of CR’s summer lineup so far since both hi-fantasy and robots are things that typically gel with me, and combining them together even more so. Even with all that I can’t say this was a particularly remarkable premiere but it’s one that worked out pretty well for the most part. Reincarnation seems to be the hot new thing for LN-based anime lately, and while it’s generally a neat concept, in this case I can’t help but be slightly disappointed we couldn’t have gotten the working adult the MC used to be in his former life as our actual protagonist since throwing that kind of character into a fantasy world with robots would be something of a fresher take. Still, 20 minutes of watching his new self be totally dorky about wanting to ride a giant robot was pretty entertaining in it’s own right and it’s kind of interesting that we actually get to see some of his childhood instead of just jumping immediately to when he’s old to pilot one, and it does more to make his sense of enthusiasm endearing rather than a just a convenient excuse for him to be overpowered later on. Unfortunately all this skipping around means that this episode doesn’t really do much to establish the other characters or the actual setting of the series, but it at least manages to avoid feeling slow, and the 3DCG used for the robots proper seems workable enough (the giant monsters less so but we’ll have to see how that goes I guess). While I can’t really say this premiere did much to elevate itself as a genre thing, I had a pretty good time with it, and even though I’m mostly just in it for the aforementioned genre stuff for the time being, it seems like it’ll be okay enough at that to warrant a few more episodes.

Rating: Good

 

Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun

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Synopsis: Aoyama kun is a hot, young soccer prodigy who plays midfielder for the National U-16 Soccer Team. But he’s also an extreme germaphobe!

First Impressions: So at first glance this seemed like it would be up my alley. Sports shows are generally a pretty reliable source of entertainment and the character designs seemed clean enough to give the impression this would be a semi-polished production. In execution however…I was left feeling cold. Unlike most sports shows the series starts off with Aoyama already being an established member of the team and a presumably skilled player which immediately kills most of it’s potential as a sports show since those are almost always about the progression of the protagonist as a player or the bonds they form with their team. Instead this gives off more of the impression of a gag series with plenty of pretty boys to gawk at, but it doesn’t quite work well on that end either since the episode has but only the one joke about Aoyama refusing to do things that will get him dirty, and it doesn’t really spin that well enough to produce any decent laughs, and it all fell pretty flat for me. On top of those problems it also features some of the heaviest animation shortcuts I’ve ever seen from a sports anime, and while the show at least makes the attempt to disguise them with good visual direction, it’s never quite sharp enough to work, and since the first episode of a show is usually supposed to be among it’s most well-animated I only see this getting worse from here. I really wanted to like this one, but nothing about it clicked with me and by the time I saw myself staring at the run-time I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I guess this might work for folks into bishonen comedies, but I came in expecting a sports show and left with something that felt like a lackluster mesh of those genres.

Rating: Bad

 

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life 

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Synopsis: Yushi Inaba is forced into an awkward living situation at his uncle’s house after his parents pass away. He decides that when he goes to high school, he’s going to live on his own, and finds an ultra-cheap apartment named Kotobuki-so. But it was a monster apartment, filled with monsters, humans, and ghosts! At first, Yuki doesn’t know how to deal with these eerie monsters, but after spending time with these strange creatures his closed heart gradually begins to open…

First Impressions: This one was completely off my radar going in so I had no real clue what to expect here but I actually ended up digging this one. The whole wacky roomates bit is a staple that’s pretty exhausted at this point, and the same can especially be said for wacky yokai stuff, but the execution here was a lot more grounded than I would have expected from it’s premise. While Yushi isn’t exactly a stand out protagonist I appreciate that the first episode actually took the time to dive into his situation and it did a lot to make him endearing. The other residents introduced so far are also pretty likable and while I have no doubt the show’s sense of comedy will get zanier at some point, I’m glad the first episode decided to keep things relatively simple and charming. I might be giving this one too much praise but since I wasn’t really expecting much of anything, it’s hard to complain much about a mostly welcome surprise. While there’s still plenty of room for this one to turn into something a bit more sluggish for now I’m certainly happy to give more of it a go.

Rating: Good

 

Restaurant to Another World

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Synopsis: There is a certain restaurant in the first basement level of a multi-tenant building in one corner of a shopping street near the office district. The historical 70-year-old restaurant, marked by a sign with a picture of a cat, is called “Western Cuisine Nekoya.” This restaurant looks completely normal through the week, but on Saturdays, it opens in secret exclusively to some very unique guests. During these hours, doors in various areas of a parallel world open to allow customers of many different races and cultures into the restaurant.

First Impressions: While I can’t say I was super excited for this show, everything about it’s basic premise seemed like a pretty safe bet for me. I like slice-of-life stories about demihumans and monsters, and I like food, so a show that combines those two elements together is something I can certainly get behind. Right off the bat, one of the single most appealing aspects of this show is how good it makes the food look. Anime about cooking is generally good in that respect but the amount of detail that goes into the look of each dish displayed is enough to leave you feeling totally hungry afterwards. As far as it’s slice-of-life elements go though, the focus is clearly more on the atmosphere than the characters so far, and we’re only explicitly introduced to our heroine halfway through the episode, but the overall aesthetic is enough to compensate so far, and I don’t have too much room to doubt that the show will flesh the cast out later on. For now though, I’m fully willing to admit that I’m just watching this because of how good the food looks, and if that’s to be my crime, I’ll be more than willing to bear it for the time being.

Rating: Good

Review: The Vision of Escaflowne- A Heavenly Vision

Synopsis: Teenage-girl Hitomi is known by her friends for her incredibly accurate fortune-telling skills and is in love with her school’s track team star, Amano. After finding out that he’s moving away soon, Hitomi decides to confess her feelings but gets interrupted when a boy named Van appears from a portal of light, and ends up taking her to strange world called Gaia. Now stuck in Gaia, Hitomi soon finds herself wrapped in a conflict between the powerful Empire of Zaibach and the mysterious giant mech known as Escaflowne, and her fortune telling skills may just prove to be the only key to controlling the latter

The Review

I’ve been watching anime in some capacity ever since I was a little kid growing up in the late 90’s/early 00’s and I’ve been into the hardcore anime scene for well over a decade now. In that time I’ve consumed a lot of anime both new and old, but despite the amount of stuff I’ve seen there’s always been one series that I somehow never managed to get around to: Escaflowne. It wasn’t necessarily for any lack of interest. I’ve heard pretty nothing about good things about it, and it’s been long held up by anime fandom as a beloved classic, but between the weird things I’ve heard about the Fox Kids dub, and the lack of a convenient means to watch it, it remained in my backlog for a long time. Thankfully Funi’s recent re-release and subsequent streaming of the show finally gave me an excuse to sit down and watch it, and it turned out to be quite an interesting experience.

Right out of the gate it’s pretty easy to see why the show has managed to stand the test of time for the last two decades. Fantasy is a pretty common genre for anime, and fantasy with shojo trappings even more so, but the show’s execution is so solid that if it had came out today in the exact same style, you’d never be able to detect even a hint of age to it. The series’s basic premise is a simple one as the story of a girl being transported to another world has been done dozens of times before, but the writing is sharp enough to keep things from ever feeling rote and it stays pretty consistent. Things progress at a very comfortable pace, giving the series ample time to develop both it’s world and it’s characters, and while some of it’s lore can get a little convoluted at times it’s never too difficult to follow and everything about the show’s atmosphere is so well-crafted that’s really easy to get sucked in.

It helps that the show has a cast of very familiar, but ultimately likable characters. Hitomi is a great heroine and one who’s really easy to root for as her strong sense of empathy serves as the show’s core. Van on the other hand is the standard angry prince who’s usually at the center of these kinds of shojo stories but the show does a great job of making his character understandable, and keeps him grounded enough to avoid making those traits unbearable. The best of the bunch though, is Allan who rounds out the show’s primary love triangle as the knightly prince archetype, but is slowly revealed to have the most complicated past of the show’s primary cast, and seeing him have to come to terms with a lot of it is an interesting story all on it’s own. The cast as a whole is fleshed out pretty well, and the story does a fantastic job of giving all of them clear motivations behind their actions, making them all pretty compelling, if not always original.

The show also looks surprisingly gorgeous in spite of it’s age. 90’s animation can be something of a mixed bag in terms of consistent visual quality, but this was definitely one of the stronger productions of the era as the character designs and animation are both pretty impressive in their own right, and work together to give the show a nearly timeless look that holds up really well under the high-definition remaster that was provided for the new release. It also has some fantastic music, with the show’s score having been composed by Hajime Mizoguichi alongside the legendary Yoko Kanno of Cowboy Bebop fame, and while I’m not used to hearing purely orchestral music from the latter, it certainly works here, and feels as though it’s aged as gracefully as the rest of the production. Yoko Kanno also lent her talents to scoring the show’s opening theme “No Need for Promises” with the vocals provided by Hitomi’s Japanese actress, Maaya Sakamoto making for a combination that serves as one of the best anime openings I’ve ever heard, and one that never gets tiring to listen to.

If there’s one thing that was a little strange to me, it’s that for how well structured it is, the show generally doesn’t evolve too much past being a genre thing. The last few episodes toss around a few vague ideas about humans overcoming destiny through willpower, and whether or not humanity’s ability to love is enough to triumph over our base desires for conflict, but these concepts are crammed in so tightly that it doesn’t really feel like they go enough of anywhere to proclaim them as the show’s primary themes. Ultimately though, this is more an issue of me having figured the show would be a lot more profound given it’s reputation rather than an actual complaint. I found myself enjoying the story from beginning to end regardless and it’s not really something that I’d seriously hold against the series since it does pretty much everything else it sets out to, so this is more of a nitpick than anything.

I decided to watch the series through Funimation’s new dub, since I was curious to see how it turned out given all the controversy with their release, and I was really blown away with how it sounded. Sonny Strait’s return to voice directing in the last couple of years got off to a pretty rocky start but this is easily some of the best work I’ve seen from him. Caitlin Glass’s Hitomi does a great job of making the character feel endearing, and I was equally impressed with Aaron Dismuke’s Van as he plays the role of the angry teenager pretty well and it makes for one of the best performances I’ve heard from him since he hit puberty after the original Fullmetal Alchemist dub. I was also pretty enamored with Vic Migongia’s performance as Volken despite the controversy concerning the casting choice, and while I haven’t seen the JP track or the old Ocean dub to compare it to, it’s distinct enough from a lot of his past work to leave a lasting impression, and it did a lot to sell me on the character. Out of the entire cast though, my hat definitely goes off to Sonny Strait himself as Allan as it’s a role that’s vastly different from the wackier characters that he usually plays and he plays it to perfection, giving off a level of grace and maturity that’s unlike anything else I’ve ever heard from him. I was kind of worried that the dub might end up sounding a bit too modern given how a lot of Funimation’s recent dubs have turned out, but everything from the performances to the script meshes perfectly with the show’s atmosphere, and it definitely feels like a lot of love was poured into it.

So having finally gotten around to Escaflowne, I can say that it was both more and less than what I thought it would be. I came into the series expecting something a lot meatier than a basic genre story, but the execution and visual aesthetics of it were so strong that by the time I walked away from the show, I hardly cared and it was an enjoyable experience from start to finish. There isn’t really anything about Escaflowne that stands out from the stuff that’s come after it, but just about everything in it has aged gracefully, which really speaks to how timeless of a series it is, and with that going for it, I have no doubt that it’ll continue to stand the test of time for many years to come.

Overall: 9/10

First Impressions- Spring 2017 Anime (Part 2)

The spring season rollout is still bearing down upon us, but between real life responsibilities and Persona 5, getting through the premieres might take me a bit longer than usual. Still I’m determined to plow through as many as these as possible so with all that said and done, let’s keep going

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Kado: The Right Answer

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Synopsis: Koujiro Shindo is a highly-skilled negotiator working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As his plane at Haneda airport prepares to take off, a huge mysterious cube appears from the sky. “It” expands rapidly, and absorbs the passenger plane and its 252 passengers. The cube’s name is “Kado”. A strange being called Yaha-kui zaShunina appears from within Kado and tries to make contact with humanity. Shindou, who has been absorbed by Kado, ends up taking on the role of mediator between Yaha-kui zaShunina and humanity. Who is Yaha-kui zaShunina? What does he want?

First Impressions: This is looking to be a good season for sci-fi anime as there’s quite a few titles from the genre coming out of the woodwork (though thanks to Anime Strike I won’t be watching Atom the Beginning anytime soon). Out of all of them though, this was the one that looked like the one that was gearing the most towards the hard sci-fi angle and while the first part of this two episode premiere helps to establish the main character as an expert negotiator a lot of the material here is mostly procedural stuff and technobabble meaning the actual show itself isn’t really going to kick off till next week. Though what has me the most fascinated about the show so far is that it’s coming from Toei of all studios who are the last ones I’d expect doing a hard-edged sci-fi show, and with the director also being one of the minds behind Gargantia on The Verdeous Planet, I was curious to see how it’d turn out. Of course the most noticeable thing here is that the show is a 2D/3DCG hybrid much like the unfortunate Berserk 2016 anime, but unlike that show the CG here is a lot more passable and the 2D animation, while not great is used well enough to avoid some of the bigger pitfalls that CG stuff tends to run into. As I said before though it’s pretty clear that the actual show itself is still another week off, so aside from the visuals it’s hard to form much of a real opinion yet but I guess that also means it’s at least won the privilege of making want to see what the heck it actually does next week.

Rating: ???

 

Love Tyrant

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Synopsis: A beautiful girl named Guri, who has a mysterious item that forces two random people to kiss and turns them into couples, appears in front high school student, Aino Seiji. Despite being dressed up as a shinigami, she’s actually cupid. Suddenly, Guri tries to kiss Seiji, and then… Unavoidable and uncontrollable. A forceful love comedy that starts with an angel and a kiss!!

First Impressions: So I vaguely recall having skimmed through some of the manga for this way back when and being somewhat amused by the Death Note parodies, so I figured this might be good for a few chuckles. What I actually watched though appeared to be the equivalent of someone on staff hitting the fast-forward button for 24 minutes, because from the everything from very beginning of the episode right through to the end, seems to be a very big hurry to get through the show’s basic set-up and things happen so fast that there’s barely anytime to process one event before it’s moved onto the next. The basic set-up here is pretty much just a harem rom-com with the twist that it’s parodying Death Note in having a notebook that forces people to kiss each other, and while that could be amusing in it’s own right, this first episode runs though the majority of it’s gags so quickly that it’s hard to laugh at them, and the few jokes that do stand out are largely outdated humor about BL and yuri. I suppose this is what I get for relying on my past-self to guide my viewing decisions, but I guess it wasn’t boring at least. Depending on the rest of this season’s outlook it’s possible this might end-up being my go to trash show for the season since I suppose it might at least be amusing to mock but otherwise it’s probably a skip

Rating: Bad

 

Clockwork Planet

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Synopsis: Earth died a thousand years ago, and a legendary clockmaker known only as “Y” rebuilt it using clockwork. Naoto Miura, a failing high school student, encounters RyuZU, an automaton that “Y” left behind, and the genius clockmaker Marie. When the abilities of these three come together, the gears of fate begin to turn. The cycle of failure and success repeats endlessly as the three of them work to repair the endangered “Clockwork Planet” in this clockpunk fantasy!

First Impressions: Continuing the trend of sci-fi shows for the season, we of course have to have one based off a light novel, and Clockwork Planet is the one looking to fill that “void”. The first episode was an…interesting experience, mainly because the show both looks and feels like it stepped straight out of 2007 and somehow time warped into 2017. From such classic tropes as a girl literally falling from the sky to waifu-bots everything here feels like tropes that anime has since improved or moved on from, and even the way it handles it’s few bits of fanservice feels a little outdated (except the finger sucking scene, that was just…weird). Given all that there’s nothing here that’s particularly of note outside of the setting of a world made of gears which is kinda neat if nothing else. On the bright side though, nothing here is particularly offensive either, and if you’re in the mood for a mid 00’s anime flavor with sci-fi thrown in then it’s at least watchable. Even putting aside my own tastes though this one ultimately just feels like it came a decade too late, and I’m not even sure how much of an audience there is for these crusty old anime tropes but I guess we’ll have to see. As for me I’m likely signing off here.

Rating: Decent

 

Tsugumomo

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Synopsis: Kazuya Kagami’s most treasured possession in the world is the obi left to him by his late mother. The scent of cherry-blossoms infused into it helps him through his day – but he never expected it to save his life, becoming a beautiful kimono-clad girl who calls herself an “artifact spirit.” Her name is Kiriha, tsukumogami of the sash, who naturally moves in with him, as he is her “owner.” Throw in Chisato, his bespectacled friend, an overprotective older sister who wants to take baths with him, a busty priestess, a seductive sorceress named Kokuyoura, and Kazuya’s life has just gotten a lot more…interesting.

First Impressions: Speaking of things that somehow hopped on a time machine from 2007 into the present we have Tsugumomo which about as standard as a mid-late 00’s harem show can get. We have our bland blank slate of a protagonist, we have the tsundere childhood friend (who also doubles as the obligatory girl with glasses), we have the raunchy magic girlfriend, and even the onee-san character, who seems weirdly determined to get in her brother’s pants, all wrapped into a pretty generic supernatural setting. Long story short if you’ve seen pretty much any harem show from that time period then odds are pretty good you’ve seen this one, and quite possibly done better meaning that it doesn’t really offer anything of real interest and I personally had to struggle to stay awake through it’s dual episode premiere. If on the other hand you haven’t seen any of those or you’re really nostalgic for them for whatever reason then I suppose you could do worse, and to it’s credit, while the character designs certainly look like something from a decade ago, the production values look pretty decent and there’s even some surprisingly okay looking 3DCG in the second episode. Still, it’s hard to get past the fact that this one’s pretty bland and while I can be pretty okay with dumb fanservice shows if they’re silly enough, the execution here is so sleepy that virtually nothing grabbed me. All in all it’s a definite skip for me, but for anyone else, it’s harmless enough I guess.

Rating: Decent

What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?

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Synopsis: The fleeting and sad story about little girls known as fairy weapons and an associate hero that survived. This is a world after it was attacked by unidentified monsters known as beasts and many of the species in the world, including humans, had been destroyed. The species that had managed to survived left the ground and were living on a floating island called Regal Ele. Willem Kumesh, wakes up above the clouds 500 years later and couldn’t protect the ones who he wanted to protect. Actually, he was living in despair because he was the only survivor. He then ends up meeting a group of girls while starting an unexpected weapon management job.

First Impressions: Well it was only a matter of time  I suppose. It was pretty much inevitable that at some point we’d end up with an light novel based show whose name alone is almost an entire paragraph. I have no idea what why these LN writers have such a weird fixation on trying to fit their entire premise into the title, but I guess it’s amusing if nothing else. So stupidly long name aside, this show seems to be a relatively low-key fantasy fare taking place in a world where some kind of apocalypse resulted in humanity being wiped out and replaced with all manner of humanoid looking monsters. Fantasy settings where humans are uncommon tend to grab my attention by default so I was fairly amused by that aspect of it, but the story itself seems pretty alright too, albeit a bit vague in this opener. Apparently the protagonist ends up taking on a job involving being the caretaker for a bunch of girls who happen to be living weapons, but it takes till the end of the episode to flesh out that premise, so the show mostly just has atmosphere going for it right now. The big thing that grabbed my attention is that the main character was apparently a foster dad at some point, and he clearly sees the girls he’s been put in charge of as just kids which is a somewhat refreshing change of pace from what this sort of premise normally involves, and if it actually does turn out to be fantasy adventures in parenting that could be pretty neat. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this one, and especially with it’s ridiculous title, but it was certainly more interesting than I thought it’d be so I’ll likely stick with it for the time being.

Rating: Good


And that’s it for me and spring titles. Sorry this one took so long to get around to, but the allure of Persona 5 was too difficult to resist. Unfortunately though, between that and the amount of stuff locked behind Anime Strike this season is looking to be a bit weaker than I was expecting it to be. As always though there’s enough potential good stuff to probably last through the next few months, and hopefully it won’t take too long for things to brighten. Until then, stay animated.

First Impressions- Spring 2017 Anime (Part 1)

Spring is here and it’s looking to be a pretty hefty season for anime as there’s a ton a few content coming out of the woodwork as well as a few big sequels. Unfortunately the most recent divide in terms of legal streaming means that some of the stuff I was the most interested in checking out has been more or less cut off from me for the time being, but even with all that gloom in the air there’s still likely to be plenty to watch. Now it’s time to see how much of it’s any good.

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .


Granblue Fantasy

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Synopsis: This is a world of the skies, where many islands drift in the sky. A boy named Gran and a speaking winged lizard named Vyrn lived in Zinkenstill, an island which yields mysteries. One day, they come across a girl named Lyria. Lyria had escaped from the Erste Empire, a military government that is trying to rule over this world using powerful military prowess. Gran and Lyria, in order to escape from the Empire, head out into the vast skies, holding the letter Gran’s father left behind – which said, “I will be waiting at Estalucia, Island of the Astrals”

First Impressions: At this point mobile game adaptions have replaced magic high school shows as the new thing to expect from every season by default, but outside of Rage of Bahamut, they haven’t exactly had the best track record. However with this one having been produced by Cygames who were the ones behind Bahamut, as well as this series having been planned for a whopping 48 episodes I was kind of curious to check it out. What I ultimately got though was an extremely by the numbers fantasy romp similar to last year’s super forgettable Endride and almost everything in it’s first two episodes feels like a giant checklist of generic JRPG tropes with everything from a amnesiac heroine to a protagonist with a missing dad. It’s only real standout feature at the moment is it’s visual presentation, which while making the characters look more like drawings than an actual part of the world their in, helped to keep my attention more than anything else the show had to offer. The actual animation quality seems pretty solid too for the most part, so if nothing else, the show at least has it’s look going for it. Aside from that there really isn’t anything else of note here but it also didn’t do much of anything that felt offensive either so I may give it a bit more of my time, and hope it’s not another Endride.

Rating: Decent

 

Alice & Zouroku

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Synopsis: A group of young girls possesses a mysterious power which gives them the ability to materialize their thoughts. Detained and experimented upon, these youths are locked away in secret until one of them manages to escape. Her name is Sana—a girl with the power to ignore the very laws of physics. When this wilful powerhouse crosses paths with a stubborn old man named Zouroku, his carefully-ordered life will never be the same again!

First Impressions: I didn’t really know anything about this one going in but just going off of most of the preview images I had seen before hand, this looked like it would be a cute slice of life story about an old man and a little girl. Needless to say I was pretty surprised when I actually watched this and it turned out the be a sci-fi show about an old man and a little girl, and one that’s framed along the lines of something you’d see in a live action TV drama from the west. The basic plot beats so far are pretty straightforward as we’re introduced to our two protagonists and the likely government sponsored experiments that surround one of them, but the execution is solid and manages to keep things just interesting enough to keep it from feeling a bit too procedural. It helps that the leads themselves seem pretty endearing so far, and the show does an excellent job of setting up the dynamic thing without feeling like it’s forcing it’s hand too much. I’m particularly fascinated by Zouroku since it’s something of a rarity to have adult protagonists in anime much less an old man, and his down to earth attitude really gives the impression of someone who’s seen enough in life not to be fazed when things take a turn for the strange. About the only real complaint I have here (and one that I imagine pretty much everyone will) is the super dated CG that looks like it stepped out of the backside of the early 00’s, but if the show can cut that down to a minimum it’ll likely be a good time. I’m certainly up for more.

Rating: Great

 

The Laughing Salesman NEW

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Synopsis: My name is Fukuzou Moguro, and people call me the Laughing Salesman. I am no ordinary salesman. The merchandise I sell is the human soul itself. Hooo-ho-ho-ho… All people in this world, young and old, male and female, are lonely. I am here to fill the emptiness in all of their souls. No, I won’t accept a single coin in return. As long as my customer is satisfied, that’s all the payment I need. Now, I wonder what sort of customer I’ll serve today… Hooo-ho-ho-ho-ho…

First Impressions: This is another one that I went into pretty blind, but it wasn’t too hard to guess from the title of the show and the look of the main character what this would be about. In effect it’s basically the shenanigans of a “salesman” who’s pretty obviously Satan or some other kind of demonic entity who “helps” people with their problems only to screw them over when they get too self-indulgent. That’s…pretty much the entire joke of the show and pretty much everything about it’s opening shorts was a clear cut case of what you see is what you get. To it’s credit though it was pretty entertaining and while both ending punchlines were predictable, I still got a couple of chuckles out of it, and it also features what may well be the most stylish looking anime opening this season will have to offer. It’s hard to say how quickly this show’s one joke will wear thin, but it did enough for me that this will probably make for a good Monday afternoon distraction

Rating: Good

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor

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Synopsis: The Alzano Imperial Magic Academy is located in the southern part of the Alzano Empire,and is among most prominent magic schools in the world, where students can learn the highest forms of magic. All those who strive to learn magic dream of studying at this academy, and its students as well as its teachers are proud to be a part of its 400-year history. Glenn Radars is a new instructor who has suddenly been appointed to teach part-time at this highly respected academy. The previously unheard-of lessons of this man known as a good-for-nothing bastard are about to begin.

First Impressions: *sigh* Ya know I never realized how good we’ve had it the last couple of seasons. While there’s been plenty of ups and downs in terms of quality programming it at least seemed as if Magic High School Light Novel Adaptions had finally been banished to the 9th circle of anime hell, and the industry found other forms of rote material to torture us with. Unfortunately this show has arrived from beyond the grave to hit us with those sad old tropes one last time, and even by the incredibly low standards these shows tend to run on, this one was really awful. The main joke of the show is that the protagonist is a dirtbag and the episode spends literally it’s entire run-time selling us on that fact. I was expecting it to at least at some point pull out the card of him somehow being ridiculously over powered and special (but I can’t imagine that won’t happen later on anyway) which while stupid, would have at least given the episode more than just one thing to work with, but he’s just a shallow, lazy waste of human skin for it’s entirety and while I guess we’re supposed to find this “funny”, I found myself wondering how anyone could tolerate even being in the same room as him. The members of his eventual harem that we’re introduced to here are pretty one-note as well and while the production doesn’t look outright bad, there’s nothing that really stands out about it either. These Magic High School LN adaptions pretty much always function on autopilot but this one is particularly soulless and aside from a couple of okay-fanservice bits I honestly for the life of me couldn’t even tell you what the appeal of this is supposed to be. It’s reminded me how glad I am that this kind of show has been on the verge of death over the last year or so, and if this is the kind of “quality” we’re going to get from the stragglers, I hope they stay that way.

Rating: BAD

 

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

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Synopsis: The life of the shinobi is beginning to change. Boruto Uzumaki, son of Seventh Hokage Naruto Uzumaki, has enrolled in the Ninja Academy to learn the ways of the ninja. Now, as a series of mysterious events unfolds, Boruto’s story is about to begin!

First Impressions: My feelings towards the Naruto franchise have grown complicated over the years as the last third or so of the manga really went off the rails, and soured my experience. For the most part though, I’ve found myself enjoying some of the post-manga content and the Boruto movie was one of them so I figured that something in the same vein could be pretty enjoyable, and with this one having some solid staff members behind it, I was at least curious to check it out. This first episode more or less did what I expected to as it briefly introduces us to Boruto and the whole inter-generational conflict the show is going for, and while the basic beats of the episode are pretty straightforward as it involves him helping a bullied kid, it;s workable enough not to feel like it’s dragging it’s heels and the production values, while not perfect, already look to be a lot sharper than what Naruto Shippuden had, and there’s some nice character animation on display here. My biggest concern at the moment though has less to do with the content of this episode and more along the lines of whether or not it’s going to try staying behind of the Boruto manga (which as of this moment isn’t even 3 volumes long) or overtake it/go it’s own route ala Dragonball Super. I’m really hoping it’s the latter and I can’t imagine they’d have gone ahead with it this quickly otherwise, but with Studio Pierrot’s rather infamous reputation for filler, part of me can’t help but be skeptical about how well planned out this little venture was. For now though, the show’s off to a pretty decent start, and if it can avoid some of the issues of it’s predecessor (mostly boiling down to over indulgent lore and repetitive themes) it could be a fun ride.

Rating: Great

 

Sakura Quest

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Synopsis: Five young women have one thing in common—the careers they planned for themselves weren’t working out. Job dissatisfaction, trying to make ends meet, and personal insecurities lead each of them to start working at a local tourism bureau where their lives become intertwined. As the girls experience their first year on the job, they learn a lot about their town, their industry, and themselves.

First Impressions: Since I still haven’t quite managed to get around to Kuromukuro, it’s been a while since I’d last seen an original project from P.A. Works and after giving us the sheer brilliance that was Shirobako, I’m more or less down for anything they have to offer. Of course since Shirobako was such a huge hit in Japan it’s not too surprising that this show ends up taking quite a few cues from it rather a story about the animation industry, this one is all about tourism and revitalizing a forgotten town in the countryside. In that respect the basic setup here is pretty predictable as we’re treated to the old tale of a someone from the big city being forced into the countryside and learning to appreciate the quiet life, but the writing’s thankfully sharp enough to keep it from feeling a little too cliche and Yoshino’s struggles in facing constant rejection trying to work her way through the job market feels a lot more relateable than I’d care to admit. The ending twist of the town being the same one as Yoshino’s most prized childhood memory felt a bit too on the nose, but aside from that everything here flows pretty smoothly, and the comedy, while not laugh out loud funny, is amusing enough to keep things from getting slow. All in all it’s a solid premiere and while only time will tell if this show just ends up being Shirobako with tourism, that’s an okay enough proposition to keep this on my watchlist for a while.

Rating: Great

Your Brain on Toons- What Makes Anime Adaptions Work? (Part II)

When Does An Anime Adaption “Fail”?

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Well we since we established in the previous article that an anime adaption succeeds when it’s a decent standalone product and pays some kind of tribute to its source material, then it’s safe to say that most anime adaptions fail when they don’t feel strong enough on their own and/or misunderstand what made the original material work in the first place. There’s a few ways adaptions can fail at that first one. While I said earlier that most anime adaptions wrapping up without much of an actual conclusion isn’t a negative in and of itself (they are meant to be commercials after all) being too inconclusive can result in the opposite of the desired effect, and turn people off from it. Summer 2015’s Gangsta for instance, ended right smack dab in the middle of a story arc without even attempting to give anime-only viewers a decent entry point to jump into the manga, instead simply coming to an abrupt stop and taking the reputation of the series with it. Pacing can be a big issue as well as going through the available material either too fast or too slow (and potentially resulting in “filler” for either scenario) can really take away from a show in the long run. Most notably however, is the issue of an adaption being plagued with bad production values and you need look no further than the negative reactions to the first season of Sailor Moon Crystal and more recently, Berserk 2016, to see how badly they can hurt even established franchises.

Something that often gets overlooked though, is when adaptions get a little too reliant on their source material, and end up isolating new viewers in the process. Video game adaptions tend to suffer the most from this kind of problem, such as the recent Tales of Zestria anime, making the decision to start off with a prologue that frankly wouldn’t make any kind of sense to those not already familiar with the game, and later pausing the story for a couple of episodes to promote the Tales of Bestria game, both of which felt pretty jarring. Even adaptions that mostly function well on their own can still run into this kind of problem, like the rather divisive ending to Clannad: After Story, which loses most of its impact (and frankly doesn’t make any sense) without the game mechanics from the visual novel that helped to lead up to it. While anime adaptions do primarily exist for the sake of promotion, ideally they should never feel like they’re punishing newcomers for not having already read/played whatever it’s based on, and while some can still manage a decent level of success regardless, it’s really hard to win audiences back once that line has been crossed.

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Worse than all of the above however, is running into an adaption that completely fails to highlight or understand its source material. Taken to its most extreme are things such as the OVA, Rurouni Kenshin: Reflections in which the director Kazuhiro Furuhashi created an epilogue to the original manga that not only negated the manga’s ending for Kenshin’s character arc and its subsequent view on redemption, but ran so thematically opposite of those things in favor of tragedy, that it almost feels like it couldn’t have possibly come from the same source and comes off as an utter betrayal of it. There’s also stuff like Rosario + Vampire and the original Negima anime whose manga counterparts both functioned as battle shonen/harem comedy hybrids while their respective anime adaptions removed nearly all aspects of the battle shonen components in favor of making them pure harem comedies, and thus limited some of their appeal as a result.

Although while it’s easy to point out the extreme examples, it’s just as important to note that even the “faithful” adaptions can sometimes run into this problem. The Toriko anime for example, was a pretty straight adaption of the manga, and paced well enough to avoid filler for most of its run, but in an effort to make it more kid friendly (and easier to air on children’s networks in western markets), Toei Animation censored and removed pretty much all of the 80’s style machismo and ultra-violence that comprised a big chunk of the manga. The result was an incredibly watered down product that failed to be as cool or fun as its manga counterpart, and it subsequently failed to reach the lofty expectations Toei and Shueisha had for it. A more recent and infamous example of this kind of thing though, would be last year’s Ace Attorney anime which also strived to be a fairly straight adaption of its source material but ultimately lacked much of the charm and Saturday morning cartoon style antics that made the games so fun (and the fact that it mostly looked like butt didn’t help things either) to the point where its best episodes were ironically the ones where it deviated the most from the games. No one really wins when it comes to these kinds of adaptions and while they aren’t always damaging enough to take the popularity of their source material down with them, they generally don’t enjoy much in the way of any long-term success, and can be pretty crippling in the long run.

 

Final Thoughts

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There’s a lot of anime adaptions out there, and a whole lot of good and bad that comes with them. The exact measures by which they can succeed or fail tend to vary depending on the circumstances surrounding them, and while I might have covered the broader aspects of those areas, there’s still a ton of other factors that have to be taken into account in determining how well an adaption will turn out. Still, I think that by taking a little bit of time to understand some of the things that can make these anime work, it’s a whole lot easier to appreciate the ones that actually succeed.


And that’s it for me on this subject. I’m glad I finally got around to writing about it and hopefully someone managed to get a little something out of this. Until next time, stay animated.