48 CommentsMonthly Roundups / By Scamp /

January Roundup

I suppose the closest thing we got to BIG NEWSU~ is Funimation suing 1337 pirates who downloaded One Piece in what is probably meant to be a show of strength but comes off as more a show of stupidity. I’ve generally found it wise to ignore what goes on with Funimation anyway and simply wait for whatever UK company decides to bring over whatever they’ve dubbed. It’s not like I can watch any of their streams anyway.

Quick note: Some of these movies may have been released before this month. However this was the first month that I knew subs existed. At the very least, including them here should help draw more attention because some of these movies have been overlooked by anime fandom.

A Grade

Nada

B Grade

B+ Trigun: Badlands Rumble

That was awesome! Liberal doses of everything that made Trigun good, along with a couple of the things that held it back, except for one key point: the animation quality. Trigun is a good series with a cool style to it, but the animation quality is dreadful, even for it’s time. Badlands Rumble’s animation quality was so good it almost made me cry that Trigun had to be made back when Madhouse had no budget. It’s actually quite similar to Madhouse’s other recent movie, Redline. Redline wins on the animation and style front, but Trigun has the characters to back up the style. Badlands Rumble is ultimately lacking in weight due to being a simple spin off, but more than makes up for it with style and fun alone. Highly recommended, even for those who haven’t seen the TV series. Just assume everyone knows each other and that’s all you need to know going in.

B+ Madoka Magica

Episodes 1-4

If there’s one complaint I could level at Madoka Magica, it’s that the characters are boring. One thing Legend of Black Heaven did well is the characters were both representations of ideals while also being real people. The story needs to work on both a surface level and underlying one. Madoka Magica only has the characters as representations of ideals and I don’t think it has it in its repertoire to actually give these lot proper personalities. That said, everything else about this show gets better every episode. Pacing is bang on, story is perfectly constructed and the whole thing is intense and genuinely frightening. Plus the ‘girls being insufferably nice to each other‘ quota has dropped each episode to the point that it almost doesn’t exist anymore. That can only be a good thing in my book.

B King of Thorn

OK, I enjoyed that a lot. This movie has rather fallen under the radar of anime fandom and the few reviews I’ve read haven’t been all that favourable, even if many were from butthurt manga fans who I’m inclined to ignore. King of Thorn is a survival horror anime with ambitions well above its station. The story really throws you through several loops throughout its course, although having watched Adolescence of Utena the night before, King of Thorn’s plot was no where near as difficult to comprehend. I think I got it, but it might require another viewing. Sorry, I’m being awfully vague here. Do give this a shot. Just remember to keep your brain switched on and expect a metric ton of plot twists and some really bad CGI.

B- Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Trail

Episode 3

Massive improvement on the dreadfully boring second episode at least, albeit still not the quality I was hoping from Black Lagoon. The first half of the episode was a bunch of American soldiers shooting people in an abandoned shanty town. So basically it was like watching other people play Call of Duty, not particularly exciting. It improved thankfully, albeit in a rather shocking manner in the tone only Black Lagoon knows how to use. I know this show always had a sadistic side, but in no way was I prepared for the sound effects of the second half 0_0

B- Level E

Episodes 1-3

Don’t get me wrong, Level E is a damn good show. It’s just something is holding it back. I really should be enjoying this more than I currently am. It’s probably the lack of budget. Or maybe that’s just an easy target. Something isn’t quite clicking, budget for the anime is clearly low, blame the the lack of finance. The real thing holding this back is my window repair man. He visited me right when episode 3 was in the middle of its grand reveal and by the time I’d seen him through, I’d totally forgotten what was going on in the episode.

B- Fractale

Episodes 1-3

This, Madoka Magica and Level E are all I need to consider this season worthwhile. 3 decent anime during an solstice season is my minimum requirement. The rest of anime fandom would do well to remember that system of measurement for whether a season is quality or not. As for Fractale, it’s proving to be a classic adventure type series, albeit one that is definitely a product of its time. I’m not quite sure if it’s worthy of its Noitamina timeslot tag though, especially considering I should be right in this shows target audience bracket (unlike poor old Wandering Son). Plus there’s the slight worry of mine that it will trip over in its attempts to convey a powerful message, but that’s all worries for further down the line.

C Grade

C Loups=Garous

I’ve come to respect this anime a bit more after having been given a week or two to mull it over. The story is essentially a ‘big brother watches you‘ dystopia with a bunch of teenage girls overthrowing the regime. But lordy me, this should have been a TV series, not have been a movie. Animation was boring by movie standards. Pacing was totally off and plot felt totally disconnected at times. Scenes that were meant to have impact were rushed over and it was just generally a mess. There were some good ideas in here though, and I absolutely fucking loved the final scene with the Big Bad Boss, but ultimately it was too messy and incoherent to recommend.

C Wandering Son

Episodes 1-3

Wandering Son has one trick it does very well. The undercurrent of unease surrounding each characters interaction with each other is incredibly subtle and well done. It’s got a wry, almost cynical sense of humour, needling in these little lines that you know are going to seriously upset the character they’re said to. It’s a shame that it doesn’t focus on that part though. Every episode so far I’ve found something new to complain about. The drama confrontations are eye-roll inducing and solved in lame ways. The fluffiness is still as annoying as it was in episode 1 and they’ve even added in doses of ‘people being insufferably nice to each other’. It’s almost like this anime is trying to isolate its target audience, eh~?

C Bak­u­man

Epis­odes 13-17

Times have been dark for Bakuman these past few months. But this terrible era look to be coming to an end. The romance has been set aside. The love interest has been moved to another setting. The mangaka have increased in numbers. Are we finally seeing the story that we were promised from the start? It’s too little too late for this season of Bakuman, but does this mean the upcoming second season will actually be something worthwhile? Will this season set the base for next season to rock? Will they bring in a director who knows what to do with this material? Probably not on that last point, but one can hope.

D Grade

D Gosick

Episodes 1-3

I don’t really want to hate on this series, but Gosick just isn’t any good. The animation is dull, the mysteries are dumb and, as psgels points out, are solved less through actual logic and more through Victorique having access to the script. The only thing Gosick has going for it is Victorique and even her character is handled poorly. There’s the aforementioned lame way she solves mysteries, but even her cute parts come out feeling manufactured. Poorly written, poorly animated and poorly directed, which kinda leaves me with nothing left to watch for. Dropped.

E Grade

E- Mazinkaizer SKL

Episode 1

I think I finally get what fans see in the Mazinger franchise. Sorta. Give them robots beating each other up and they’re brain capacities are sufficiently small enough to consider this entertainment. For gods sake though, it’s not. Mazinkaizer is dumb, which it knows and tries to play to. The problem is that it doesn’t realise how dumb it is which makes it trip over itself even further. The fights are stupid with no connection to each other. The action is lame and throws in moves that make no sense given earlier moves other robots pulled off. Characters are meant to be cool but come off as retarded. It’s just a dreadful anime. Fuck Go Nagai,  fuck the Mazinger franchise and fuck the stupid oldfags who lap this crap up.

E- Yuri-Seijin Naoka-san

While I did laugh at the line about the molester coming from the Molestarian race, the fact remains that this is a 10 minute OVA making light-hearted jokes about child molestation. I can’t be the only one feeling just a little uneasy about that now, can I?

F Grade

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48 Comments

  1. Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    “1337 pirates”. Tee hee.

    Surprisingly the solstice seasons haven’t been too bad in recent years. Sure, Summer 2010 was an utter atrocity, but Winter 09 and Winter 10 were reasonable, bordering on good, and Summer 09 was one of the best seasons in recent memory. Winter 11 is shaping up to be a more than commendable season to date. Other than Infinite Stratos and Onii-chan no Koto, there’s nothing I’ve seen in it that’s been irredeemable.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Winter 09? Err, lemme check that one…

      Shows I actually liked come down to RideBack, Hetalia, Natsume 2 and Minami-ke 3. None of which are exactly that great though, but I suppose having 4 watchable shows is something. Still won’t forgive that season for the crap Brains Base and Sunrise put out that season. Or Shaft for making me sit through the entirety of Maria Holic. Damnit, why did I do that again?

      • Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        Kemono no Souja Erin was really good, too, although I’m not sure you’d like it.

  2. Posted February 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    In Scamp’s perfect anime, no one is ever nice to anyone. *Looks at Death Note* Yep.

    I’ve made my peace with super robots. They’re comfort anime, made for a crowd that grew up watching them. If in your heart of hearts you don’t already love improbably sized, primary colored colossi of metal, most of the modern super robot shows are going to be inaccessible. Exceptions are Gainax super robots, where over-the-top meets garish style and the winking knowledge of an otaku staff, which make them stand on appeals beyond the robots themselves.

    • mcm38
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Black Lagoon is da stuff, yeaaaaaaaaahhh! |\(^o^)/|

      I think Code Geass mecha is still accesible for everyone. The code geass mecha keep leveling up, dakara da.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      My super robot knowledge is limited to Gurren Lagann, first ep of Shin Mazinger Z, first ep of Mazinkaizer and a Time Bokan OVA (don’t ask), so I’m wary of making too many wide ranging statements of the genre. I have firmly decided I don’t like Mazinger though

      • mcm38
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        Huh, what? Super robot is not included in Mecha?

      • Scamp
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        Super Robot is a sub-genre of mecha. The vague line drawn would be Super Robot (Gurren Lagann, Mazinger), Real Robot (Break Blade, Gundam) and I guess Mecha Musume (Strike Witches, Sora Kake Girl). I get the feeling I’m missing a genre. The mindfuck mecha genre? As in Evangelion and RahXephon?

        But anyway, my point is super robot does not equal mecha

  3. Posted February 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Gosick is basically everything that annoys me about mystery series. Dropped that shit.

    Badlands Rumble was plenty fun. Made me want to rewatch Trigun, which I haven’t seen in years.

    Yeah, the first half of the Black Lagoon OVA was a bit too much “let’s just shoot a bunch of shit” (though the bit with Rotton is hilarious, as always), but the second half with Roberta … yeahhhhhh. Those sex noises will haunt my nightmares.

    I don’t think you’re being too hard on Mazinkaiser (I enjoyed it in a dumb way, but not quite as much as other people), but you’re being too hard on Shin Mazinger Z. It’s the same situation as Baccano! — first episode that totally alienates anyone who wasn’t already predisposed to watching it, but after that, the show goes along just fine.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      But the first episode was just too bad. I understand what people are getting at, but it’s still one of the single most dreadful things in anime I have ever seen. It’s F- territory through and through. I simply can’t comprehend how the series could redeem itself after that

      • Magus
        Posted February 2, 2011 at 4:06 am | Permalink

        I guess you’re just stubborn.

        And while that first episode didn’t really make any sense, there are far worse things in anime than stuff not making sense while explosions, robot fighting, and such go on for 20 minutes.

      • Posted February 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        Giant robots and stuff aside, I do think it is a legitimately good series with a legitimately good story. Even Baka-Raptor liked it, and the guy’s not really a mecha fan at all, if I recall.

  4. Posted February 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Since you said in your bit about Loups=Garous that there were some interesting ideas in there, and it sounded overall more like your issue was with the execution, I would recommend checking out the novel itself. It has been licensed and released in English by Viz’s Haika Soru imprint, and it is available in the British market. I’m working my way through it right now and its interesting. I can’t say exactly whether its good or not yet, but at the very least its got a lot more room to flesh out the story than the movie does. I am enjoying it thus far, though, for whatever that’s worth.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Oh silly Day~!

      Surely you know by now Scamp rarely consumes any form of entertainment that isn’t anime. My Light Novel consumption currently boils down to that Death Note spin off novel and 10 pages of the dreadful Shakugan no Shana novel. If I was going to go wild and actually buy a book, it would have to be off something I actually enjoyed. Like Spice and Wolf

      • Duelit
        Posted February 3, 2011 at 3:41 am | Permalink

        :D I’m glad someone else actually reads the novels. I have yet to meet anyone who reads the short novels anymore ^^

  5. Posted February 1, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    … your Level E grade makes me wanna rage. Look at the characters! The troll prince! It’s hilarious!
    Yeah, but aside from that, the other scores are pretty fitting. For some reason, I almost fell asleep during Wandering Son.
    ‘people being insuf­fer­ably nice to each other’… when that happens, I often suspect the characters in question to be stepford smilers. I watched too much Higurashi.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Don’t blame me, blame the window repair man!

  6. fathomlessblue
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m also loving Kore wa Zombie desu ka, KnT and Dreameater Merry, although I can’t imagine youenjoying any of those shows.

    I kinda see what you mean about Level E. I love it, but it’s style at times reminds me too much of western programs rather than an anime; the “Men in Black” style comedy for example, or the thriller/horror plot twists that keep popping up. I’d still consider my fave new show of the season, but I can’t help but feel it would be better as a live-action tv series, rather than an anime.

    • mcm38
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      Truly Kore wa zombie is worth it. The mahou shoujo shounen lead is quite the rofl.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      Merry: No real opinion. Might have given it more chances if I was in a more forgiving mood.

      KnT: Stereotypical shojo. Think I’ve said enough about my feelings towards that genre by now.

      Zombie: I’ve kept most of my raging against that series confined to twitter and comments on other blogs. Basically, it is a symbol of the inward looking, otaku-centric, self referential crap that will kill the industry

      • mcm38
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

        XD You realy dont hold back against self ref do ya? Lol, why would ya anyway?
        But newcomers to the anime world like me don’t always see what you mean.

  7. Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Not surprised that King of Thorn is up there. It’s really the bad CGI holding it back, huh?

  8. luffyluffy
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, I guess Break Blade 3 falls under February?

    I’ve considered this Winter to be a failure, at least for me. I mean, the only things from this season alone that I’m still enjoying are Madoka and fucking Rio.

    That’s not good.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      Fractale has a great third episode. One more shot? Otherwise, may I suggest you watch Legend of Black Heaven and Roujin Z.

      I figured there was enough movies in here without adding in Break Blade too. Plus, I only finished downloading it =P

      • luffyluffy
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        naw, I was forcing myself through episode 1 anyway D:

        Say, go and watch Afterschool Pleiades already! it’s delicious GAINAX magical girls. And it’s 4 six minute episodes. So do it.

        And those two shows will have to get stuffed onto the to watch list. You see, I fucked myself over with Doctor Who and Sherlock, so my attention it split between mai waifu, David Tennant, and Martin Freeman, to the point where I was dropping shows left and right this season, not because they were shit, but because they were all the same to me. I promised my girlfriend I’d watch Busou Renkin and Noein, and I’ll probably do that after I slog though the last 6 episodes of Chobits~

      • Scamp
        Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        I’ve got that Gainax thing downloaded simply because I heard it had brooms that made revving sounds.

        Hurrah for watching Chobits I suppose. I’d be more thrilled that you were watching it if it wasn’t for the word ‘slog’ being used. I watched about 16-18 episodes of Chobits in one sitting when I first watched it, which was hardly a slog…

      • luffyluffy
        Posted February 3, 2011 at 12:59 am | Permalink

        I finished it today~ Lemme say though, I liked it A LOT more before Shinbo ran off with Miss.Shimizu, that was the point where I just felt like it had died and lost a lot of the fun in it.

  9. Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m sortof a fan of the mazinger franchise, but that is entirely because of Shin Mazinger, which did just about everything I hoped an over the top action series to be.

    Mazinkaizer SKL was pretty bad though, I agree with about that.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      I should give Shin Mazinger another go beyond episode 1. But man, that first episode -_-

  10. smallish
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Okay, so Madoka Magica, Level E, and Fractale. Will give them a go once my computer’s all better. :)

  11. Tuskus
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Your first mistake was trying to make sense of a super robot show. Yes, they are dumb, but they aren’t going for deep meaning or anything. They’re all about showing you crazy and stupid shit that you won’t see anywhere else. And at least Mazinkaiser doesn’t come off as pretentious or fail at what it sets out to do coughevengelioncough

    • Scamp
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      My knowledge of super robot is, as I said, limited, and if it was just Mazinger I’d put it down to me not understanding the genre. But I’ve seen and love Gurren Lagann. So I’m less inclined to hold back on Mazinger. It has no point, no purpose, no direction and no intelligence. I fail to see the appeal.

  12. Edvardaz
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    What is “nada” supposed to mean ( in the A grade part)? Is it for the spanish word for nothing?

    • Scamp
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      yup

  13. Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    Madoka’s only fault is its catering to the angsty teenager demographic. I mean you can probably construct a dark story without the characters getting all emotional like they were riding a mobile suit, but now that I think back on other Urobuchi Gen stories like Phantom… Oh great. -_-

  14. Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Light-hearted jokes about child molestation?

    I’ll go back to the incest kthx.

    And I already really hate the incest.

  15. Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    im watching more anime this season then i’ve ever watched during any season, surprisingly. and i wanna pick one more up. i think this is a bad sign.

  16. Posted February 2, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    The thing with Mazinkaiser SKL is that in a way it’s both indicative of super robots and not representative of them at all.

    To understand, we have to go back to the origin of just plain Mazinkaiser, minus skulls. Mazinkaiser was created specificaly for the Super Robot Wars franchise of crossover robot strategy rpgs because as more and more robots were added (your Gunbusters and the like), original Mazinger Z was looking less and less powerful. “How could we do that to THE original super robot pilot, Kabuto Kouji?” they asked.

    Their answer was to give him MAZINKAISER, the most powerful Mazinger EVER, and this being the 1990s meant that the super robot aesthetics veered towards excess. In this case they gave Mazinkaiser the build of a professional weightlifter and spikes everywhere. It’s cool and all, but somewhat of a dated design result, far more than even the original Mazinger. The Mazinkaiser OVAs reflect this, and they’re meant more for people who were already in love with the super robot concept.

    Now Mazinkaiser SKL is a step above that, created when they decided Mazinkaiser wasn’t extreme ENOUGH. It is patently ridiculous, and the kind of thing that is best watched because you enjoy excess to the point that it stops making sense. Of course a beefy robot like that doing spins on the floor is absurd, and so is having an island of warring robot factions. But just keep in mind that it knows it’s being excessive.

    If you want to get a good idea of Go Nagai’s influence, I suggest reading the Devilman manga. It’s short!

    As for super robots, I think you have to understand that the origin of the genre is “kids’ stuff,” and part of it is the simple joy of watching the hero beat the bad guys. It doesn’t mean you have to sit through 100 monster of the week episodes, and it doesn’t mean that these shows can’t do more with their stories or characters, but that’s the foundation.

    So in conclusion, Zambot 3, Godannar.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      That sounds like such an utterly ridiculous string of events to make an anime. Imagine if you replaced all the references to robots with moe. Like if Azumanga realised everything else was out-moeing it so it recreated itself to be far moe-er to the point that it stopped making sense…and then went and got even moe-er. Bleh

      Will stick Zambot 3 and Godannar on the to-watch list anyway

  17. Posted February 3, 2011 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    I’m shocked that you could sit through Yuri-Seijin Naoka-san XD

    While you may not like Mazinger at all I personally can’t wait to start up that franchise journey this year XD I may hate it I may love it but either way it’ll be super fun to watch.

  18. Duelit
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    O.o Gosick only got a D? Maybe a B- but a D? Roberta’s Blood Trail should have been a D. Black Lagoon was always a favorite, but I can’t help but think that RBT was a poor shadow of Hellsing Ultimate. It feels they want the same effect, but I thought the presentation was a liitle shallow. Plus, when has the United States ever been a threat to the Lagoon Company? They’ve battled Neo-Nazis, Triads, Mafias, and Rock’s inability to think without cigs. I did enjoy how Rock was able to the the entire city back a couple hundred cigs and mess up the walls of his room with broken english though ^^ Still early for Gosick, and I hope the same for RBT, but the last 2 episodes were lacking. -_- Also, Scamp, have you ever read Deadman Wonderland?

    • Duelit
      Posted February 3, 2011 at 4:24 am | Permalink

      Actually, my friend just pointed out that the third episodes subbed and I just watched. I take back the first part ^^. Rock has still depleted the world of cigs, but at least the 3rd episode made it worth it. (And saving millions from cancer) :D

  19. Posted February 3, 2011 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    I think this is the first time I’ve been in complete agreement with you in regards to what I’m watching for a season. Level E, Madoka, and Fractale are the only things I’ve been following from this season at all. Everything else I dropped after one episode.

    As for Madoka’s characters being boring, I can’t help but think that this has been done somewhat on purpose with the characters acting as blank stereotyped canvasses on which the artistry of the series paints its images. Then again, as you mentioned, there have been other series that have pulled this off while also having interesting, realistic characters. Out of all the Madoka characters Sayaka definitely has the most potential. I don’t find her boring at all.

  20. ~xxx
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    how can an entity sue 1337 pirates from different parts of the world?
    beats my logic…

    • mcm38
      Posted February 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      With magic and imagination!

    • Duelit
      Posted February 4, 2011 at 2:38 am | Permalink

      With 1337 Ninjas

  21. OHEMGEE
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Haha, I dropped Gosick part way through the first episode.
    Glad I ignored those demanding I give it a second chance.

    I adore Madoka Magica, some part of me wishes it could become a true psychological and horror anime.
    It won’t.
    Something like that, though, would turn it into an instant favorite.

    Wan­der­ing Son, I watched 2 episodes, i like it but i just can’t get myself pumped up enough to watch 3 and 4.
    i jumped right on board when I heard what this was about.
    Since i am apart of a transgender-homosexual circle, i guess “clique”, at school. (i’m a lesbian)
    I feel kinda.. grwgslhfq3Ieuw
    for finding it boring, even though i enjoy the show when i watch it.
    Doesn’t make sense. Probably the stupid drama.

  22. Erstin
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I actually kind of like Gosick. I’m not too sure why but Kujo is amusing.
    Yumekui Merry, Madoka Magica, Dragon Crisis, Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu! and Kore wa Zombie Desuka? are my favorites though.

    And I quit half way through the first episode of Level E.

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