On March 11th, Japan was hit by a 9.0 earthquake. The actual earthquake itself caused rather minimal damage due to the crazy abilities of the builders there, but the resulting tsunami devastated the north east coast. It was a bit surreal watching the news updates, with headlines like ‘Entire Town of 10,000 Goes Missing’ and ‘Nuclear Reactor Fears Meltdown’. From a personal point of view, there was the original near-voyeuristic horror of watching the catastrophe on news sites, followed by a quick check to see if those I knew in Japan were all right. Thank you twitter and facebook. One simple update is all it took to find out that these people were all right. From an anime perspective, none of the studios were particularly damaged directly by the quake, but rolling blackouts in Tokyo (where most animation studios are based) and time slots being taken over by news coverage has led to a lot of delays, most notably with Madoka Magica’s final two episodes being delayed until god only knows when.
Some people suggested at the time that we shouldn’t cover anime at the time of the disaster, because of respect or something dumb like that. Wouldn’t the worst thing to do, in light of the economic hit the country will take, is to stop covering their exports? Even so, the reason we have a connection to Japan in the first place is because of anime. There were some pretty crazy drives by anime bloggers to raise funds, which was cool to see. I didn’t donate any money myself because I have none, but it did prompt me to
sell my body to the vampires donate blood for the first time, which was a fucking weird experience. One thing I did notice was the total lack of a sense of humour amongst most people talking about the incident. Say anything that wasn’t “our deepest condolences” would cause some people got all worked up about showing respect. I guess I’ll have to chalk this down to cultural differences, for I’m the sort of person who’d crack a joke about a tsunami charging towards my house, let alone the other side of the world. It’s rather ironic that the British and Irish culture of joking about everything is placed in area of the planet with the least natural disasters.
A Madoka Magica
There’s something almost poetic about the delay for the final two episodes of Madoka Magica. As I said before, Madoka currently hinges on it’s ending. The final two episodes really are make or break as to whether this perfectly constructed plot comes off in the end. What better than to delay those final two episodes in classic Shaft style, possibly to air them on the real Walpurgis night at the end of April. Please do that Shaft. Please have a Madoka double bill on Walpurgis Night. And please please please make this ending fit what has been one of the greatest stories told in anime up until this point. Madoka deserves it.
B+ Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Trail
Now that’s more like it. This is the Black Lagoon we know and love. Well, not quite. This was Black Lagoon: Character Exploration Addition, which we don’t see all that often. Normally we just get the Crazy Awesome Edition or the Ceep And Dreepy Edition. It’s been interesting delving more into the psyche of what makes Balalaika such a mad women or why Revy clings just that little bit onto Rock. Or does she? That was what made her discussion with the chibi maid interesting, because I wasn’t quite sure which side to believe. Roberta’s Trail is finally all coming together. I just wish that crappy second episode didn’t exist.
I went into this expecting a massively watered down version of Redline. Which is exactly what it was, but it was still pretty enjoyable regardless. I liked the world design a lot, such as how they drove through crazy clockwork structures, without quite giving us the exact reason why these things exist. It was fun to come up with my own theories why the terraforming machines created the land as such, or what the terraforming machine even was. I was kinda similar to Pale Cocoon in that humanity spent so much time running away they weren’t even sure what the original world looked like anymore. Not that it was handled as well as Pale Cocoon, nor as bombastically entertaining as Redline, but it was one of the better animation shorts I’ve seen.
Proof Madhouse can make good anime out of USian material…sort of. I’m wary of heaping too much praise on Supernatural. The overlying plot is rather dumb and gets in the way of a good episodic show. Plus some of the depictions of couples in this show are eye-rollingly dumb. But it does have a lot of good aspects to it as well. As an episodic show, it’s one of the only decent ones I’ve seen in recent years, sort of like what Psychic Detective Yakumo was trying to be. I’m often not able to predict the twists in each episode, even when I think the answer is obvious. The animation style is unique too, albeit it does have the similar problem to Wandering Son except instead of bright lights shining on everybody’s heads, everyone in Supernatural appears to have black shadows over halfof their faces most of the time. Most of all though, it has the lead two characters. Sam and Dean are great fun to watch as their personalities bounce off each other. The interactions between those two carry this show. It’s pretty easy to see why the live-action has such a large fangirl following. Those two are, like, totally in love with each other kyaa~
B- Durarara Specials
B- Wandering Son
If someone wants to ask why I never really fell for Wandering Son, I’d tell them it’s because I am as far removed from the target audience as you can get. If they asked me to elaborate further, I would point them towards the character of Doi. Doi was me when I was that age. A bit of a smart-alec who had since grown up from his younger years and is trying to be friends with those he may not have been very nice to in the past. Doi was made out quite blatently to be the villain. We were meant to hate Doi and take delight when whathisface shunned him. Basically, that was Wandering Son telling me that I could never be forgiven. Up until that, I had really enjoyed this months episodes of Wandering Son. It finished that dumb Romeo and Juliet arc and proved it had direction and character development all along. But that scene with Doi was such a kick in the gut for me.
C+ Level E
I can see why Level E only ran for 3 volumes. It has no real idea what it wants to do, beyond show us just how big a prick Prince Baka is. This leaves the show with very little heart carrying it through. It’s decently funny and some of the characters are great, but no purpose leaves it floundering a bit. It’s just too hit or miss for me to really enjoy the show. I liked the first Colour Rangers and the first arc a lot, but the Love Alien and Colour Rangers 2 didn’t impress me much. I’m glad the final arc went back to our punk-ass Yukitaka and his Love Hina-esque hole in the wall. Ex-delinquent characters plus some foil for the Prince beyond Craft really help this show shine.
In amongst the rage against the shitty females characters, the gradual but devastating collapse of the animation and the supreme insufferability of Mashiro, somehow Bakuman has managed to become a more enjoyable anime again. Yeah really. Somewhere in there the story got back to being about dreams. Watching the development of the various side characters and peeks into their more vulnerable sides has really helped this anime improve. I’m still going to mark this season down as a failure, yet I’m not nearly as unenthusiastic about the sequel as I was this time two months ago.
C+ Ore no Imouto True Route OVA
Kuroneko featuring in her own spin-off series with no Kirino whatsoever? My prayers have been answered! Ultimately the core of Ore no Imouto is too rotten for me ever to heap praise upon. At least, not on any part of the show whose name doesn’t start with a K and end with an O and like
Code Geass Maschera as much as I do. It still stumbled about, tripping over quite poorly with the OTT reaction of the fujioshi, sprawled over the table, declaring her dreams of poor little shotas getting gang-raped. But hey, it had Kuroneko and no Kirino. Credit where credit is due.
C+ Young Animator Training Project
Episode 1: Oji-san no Lamp
Part of the Young Animators Training Project. Honestly, I’m surprised this even got subbed, but I’m glad it did. Not that I have anything particularly interesting to say about this. Story was original and competently told but without anything truly memorable. Animation was clean and did what it was meant to do without much fuss or artistic variances. It was good, but instantly forgettable. My bets is that these Young Animatior Training Project pieces will merely serve as an otaku nerding out session in the future. The next great director in animation could come from these projects, so you’ll get to nerd out by saying “yeah, this guy first directed Oji-san no Lamp. You guys probably haven’t heard of it but I have because my otaku powah level is so much higher than yours mwahaha”.
C Hen Zemi OVA
Still way more watchable than it has any right to be. Not that that’s exactly a ringing endorsement, because by all rights Hen Zemi should be horrible. Show about perversion by Xebec? Instead though, we get something oddly entertaining, albeit in an extremely squeamish sort of way. It’s almost a relief to have an anime be so honest and straightfoward about discussing nipple slips, vibrating eggs and a mans defeated libido when he’s finished masturbating and not just say “haha boobs” and leave it at that. Shame this director isn’t directing the TV series. Instead they’ve put the director of Rainbow Gate on. This show is doomed.
Damnit KyoAni, I should have expected this. Give them an absurdist manga and somehow they will still focus on the cutesy angle. It was still all right, mainly the talking cat being awesome, but they need to get back to the absurdism and away from all that blasted cuteness. Not that they’re going to do that though, are they? This is KyoAni we’re speaking about. Oh well, we’ll have to wait until the TV series airs to see which part they focus on, but if they stick to the formula of this preview, then it could get old very quickly.
D Break Blade
What the hell happened here? Where has my beautifully choreographed clunky robots duking it out in a desert setting gone? Now Break Blade has turned into over-powered mecha spam. Introducing a dozen new characters at the halfway point is never a good idea, and it doesn’t help when they’re all trying to be cool but come off as lame and cliche. It was just a massive disappointment compared to the previous awesome 3 episodes. Hopefully Break Blade episode 4 was just a blip, like Roberta’s Trail episode 2, and the rest of the series will go back to being awesome. Mind you, there’s a niggly little voice in my head that tells this this won’t be the case and we’re in for a very disappointing finale.
D– Suite Precure
Suite Precure is just too dumb to care for. The attempts at drama are incredibly lame and none of the characters ever do anything to endear themselves to the audience. Any attempts at depth in the characters fall flat and it’s generally just not good fun, as a kids show should be. The real killing point was at episode 6 where I watched the bitchin’ transformation sequence and it didn’t do anything for me. Considering that was the sole reason I kept watching the show in the first place, that was a pretty damning sign.
Is an E grade just a bit harsh? Maybe. But Fractale insulted the storytelling lover inside me. Fractale produced an anime that had a lot of elements but never considered what connected them together. It tried to create depth without a purpose. An overlying plot without a story. Fractale liked to pretend it knew what it was doing, and at the start it appeared like it did. But the end came and it finally became clear that this show had not a fucking clue what it wanted to do the entire way through. So Yamakan. Are you going to retire now?
F Rio Rainbow Gate
Rio is extraordinary. Have you ever for a second considered what must be going through the creators minds as they constructed this piece. How much of this awfulness are they doing intentionally. Some of the ‘so bad it’s good’ scenes you might consider the work of a mad genius, but the attempts at drama and character interaction between Rio and Rina stink of such seriousness you really have to wonder what exactly were the script-writers thinking. I am going to miss Rainbow Gate though. It lives in a world that cannot be achieved by the more traditional bad anime like Fractale or Suite Precure. Rainbow Gate lives in the land of the Terribad. A true F grade, through and through.