Happy new year and all that jazz. Quiet month again in regards to anime related news, so no pissing about and onto the ratings.
Looking back at Un-Go, I can see exactly what it was trying to do with each of the mysteries. They were all tying into this overall story about how nationalist governments during and post war censor for the good of the people. It usually flourished when it was allowed more space for the mystery of the episode to breath, as the final few episodes did. It would have been better if either it had more episodes, or simply had been more focused on 3-4 mysteries rather than trying to cram a whole story into a single episode. But ultimately, Un-go actually succeeded in delivering its story, where other ambitious Noitamina anime like No.6 and [C] didn’t quite manage. Fantastic series, highly recommended, although it might be worth skipping to episodes 3 and 4 first, then going back to 1 and 2.
B Persona 4
Persona 4 is incredibly unrefined. The animation is shockingly awful at times, and some of the dialogue comes off as stilted and unnatural. But I really like what it’s trying to do. That surreal scene where Narukami slipped into a dream where all his friends left him, leaving his stats totally bare in the midway eyecatch, leaving you slightly confused as to whether they had simply edited the episode incorrectly. Or how about Teddy’s grand revelation of his desire to search for a non-existent purpose and meaning to his life, with his life apparently now meaning chatting up middle-aged women in department stores. I wish Persona 4 had the polish of the likes of Last Exile or Guilty Crown, because I much prefer the stuff it’s doing.
B Future Diary
Again Future Diary flip flops its week between bombastically amazing to kinda stupid, although at least this week the stupid episodes weren’t quite so bad. Thankfully any episode is helped by my increasing fascination with Yuno. Her emotions switch as frequently as the quality shifts in Future Diary, and I love picking out the points when she flips sides. Plus the other characters continue to shine, each of them being unique in their own ways, yet all having similar driving forces behind their ideals that caused them to end up in this game. Like Persona 4, it lacks the polish of many of its peers, but makes up for it with great characterisation and the occasional bit of clever directing.
OK fine Fate/Zero. I’ll give you a B this month. I still find almost every conversation that doesn’t directly involve Rider to be incredibly dull because of their insistence with keeping their emotions hidden, but there was easily enough Rider action to keep me happy this month. Particularly his battle of ideals over wine with Saber and Gilgamesh and resulting stampede of heroes against Assassin, that was quite the sight. But probably the reason Fate/Zero is elevated this month is there was a non-Rider segment that was actually good. The ‘filler’ episode with Rin was effective tense horror, because it went against the usual Fate/Zero train and focused on a character who was incredibly weak, which made her encounters far more tense. It almost made me want to see what happens to her when she got older, but then I remembered I didn’t want to sit through either that overly wordy bullshit visual novel nor the laughably badly directed anime adaptation.
B- Lupin III Blood Seal ~Eternal Mermaid~
Eternal Mermaid was clearly trying to capture the feeling of Cagliostro again. You could tell by animation style and character designs, although the resulting look came off looking more like Fractale. Not a bad look, I have to stress, and I think I prefer whimsical Lupin to mysterious Lupin anyway. Unlike many others who watched this, I actually liked the teenage girl sidekick. She was ballsy and energetic without being irritating because she didn’t screech her demands like many of her pretenders. Plot wasn’t up to much, but since when was the plot in Lupin ever up to much. It was still a fun movie and all, but it’s not a good sign that, when I went to write this paragraph, I realised I couldn’t remember a single bloody thing that happened. Again, if you’ve never watched Lupin before, just stick to Cagliostro. But if you want more Lupin after that, this is definitely one of the stronger ones I’ve seen.
C+ Mawaru PenguinDrum
I honestly enjoyed episodes 21-23 this month, because it felt like it was tying the plot threads together and bringing everything to a satisfying conclusion. The concurrent plot threads of Sanetoshi and fighting fate, Ringo’s desire to be her own person and no longer strive to be Momoka, Kanba’s fight against Himari’s fate. It was all finally coming together. Which is why the final episode being a load of nonsensical metaphor bullshit had even more of a downer effect on me. I saw it coming. Off course it was coming. Ikuhara does this. But in its final moments, PenguinDrum totally lost sight of the tangible story and delved into a world of metaphor that completely baffled me. Still enjoyed the show overall, but that was not a good ending.
C+ Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing
Whoever is in charge of writing this new version of Last Exile isn’t very clever. Sure it has a sheen to it that Persona 4 or Future Diary don’t have. This leads to the scenes where they leave the visuals to be the spectacle being the best of the series. Episode 8 was utterly fantastic stuff. But the downtime moments between characters are just not good. This is mainly down to Fam being about as interesting as a piece of paper, and with about as much depth too. You can’t develop these stupid genki characters because the show already assumes that this juvenile idiotic energy is a Good Thing. Then there’s the latest political developments which serve a rather nice contrast to Un-Go. Un-Go treated nationalism with care, looking at what sacrifices occur as a result of this mindset. In Last Exile Fam? Our country is becoming part of a commonwealth to prevent further fighting? Clearly this is a bad thing, and we shall demonstrate this by making the empire kill everyone. OK, I’m letting my personal beliefs sway my feelings towards a series, but it’s hardly handled in the most intelligent manner.
C- Invasion Squid Girl
Squid Girl makes the exact same mistake it made last season by deciding the best way to wrap things up was to include a completely out-of-place melodrama scene in an anime that is usually a comedy so light you could use it as a floatation device. At least it didn’t pretend it was going to develop Squid Girls story before pulling a pathetic Deus Ex Machina like last season did, but it doesn’t change how bad the episode was. Sure, I got my laughs out of Squid Girl, but it’s such inconsequential fluff that I’m not sure if I can be bothered watching anymore if they make another season. Even the mini-squid girl segments are starting to lose their charm.
C- Hunter X Hunter
I did quite like the arc where the characters faced off the convicts in the dungeon. That was a battle based off a battle of wits, competing with knowledge we already knew, which made them actually interesting to watch. But strip that back for a second, after 13 episodes I still don’t care about any of the characters. I don’t care about the plot, nor the world they inhabit. It has yet to get me emotionally invested in any way, shape or form, and if they haven’t done that in 13 episodes, I don’t really see how they can do it at all. If Hunter X Hunter dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t even notice it went.
D Toradora OVA
Sometimes when these extra episodes to anime get released a few years after their original airing run, watching them can suddenly challenge what I originally thought about the series. I remember when Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody was released for the second season of Haruhi and being shocked at how clever and well-directed it was (although we all know what happened after that). I was never big on Toradora when it originally aired, even though I watched it through to the end, but maybe a new episode could challenge my opinion, forcing me to re-evaluate the series? Short answer: No, it didn’t.
E Guilty Crown
Something finally snapped in me after this episode. Why was I giving Guilty Crown the time of day? This was brainless, shallow, soulless crap, yet somehow I was still here after 8 episodes. Why am I still here? Guilty Crown is like a spoiled child. It’s only doing this so you pay it attention. If we stop, it will just go away. Stop watching Guilty Crown guys. Please? For me? You will be much happier for it, trust me on this.