33 CommentsMonthly Roundups / By Scamp /

March Roundup

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 Grade

A Madoka Magica

Epis­odes 9-10

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 Grade

B+ Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Trail

Episode 4

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.

B- Tailenders

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.

B-Supernatural

Episodes 1-10

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

Episode 2

SECOND SEASON WHERE!!!

B- Wan­der­ing Son

Epis­odes 7-10

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 Grade

C+ Level E

Epis­odes 8-12

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.

C+ Bak­u­man

Epis­odes 22-25

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

Episode 13

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

Episode 2

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.

C Nichijou

Episode 0

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 Grade

D Break Blade

Epis­ode 4

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

Epis­odes 5-6

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.

E Grade

E+ Fractale

Epis­odes 7-11

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 Grade

F Rio Rain­bow Gate

Epis­odes 9-12

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.

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33 Comments

  1. Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    One could say, you’re supposed to watch Fractale in………fractions.

    That didn’t make sense.

  2. Mad
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Haters will hate!

    • Scamp
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      u mad?

      *looks at name*

      ah yes, u are indeed mad

      • mcm38
        Posted April 1, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

        XD

        Lovers will love!

        Trollers will troll!

        Bloggers will blogg!

  3. Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I love Rio. I would seriously watch a second season, even though it would probably be legitimately horrible and lose all the awful magic of the first season.

    Also, yeah, Level E has slipped a bit near the end, unfortunately. Hopefully the finale is at least a worthy ending.

  4. Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Nice rating system :D

    Madoka was great really addictive after episode three, for me anyway glad to see it kept peoples attention.

    Fractale could have been better I lost interest halfway through I really only watched the rest for Nessa but actually enjoyed the last four episodes.

    Level E I need to watch some more of, took a break around six or so.

  5. mcm38
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    I hope this is not the last we’l get of Black Lagoon. It’s the only anime that can lessen the badass shooting thirst in me.

  6. Hogart
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    >> per­fectly con­struc­ted plot
    >> one of the greatest stor­ies told in anime up until this point.

    Troll on, brotha. April Fool’s only comes around once a year, after all :)

    • Scamp
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      See second comment this post got

  7. luffyluffy
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Cool, you finally got an F!

    Also, Supernatural animu fucking where. Being a Tumblrfag that I am, I’m actually intwertwinted pretty deeply into the Doctor Who fandom there. Of course, that bled into Sherlock, and Life on Mars, and now I’m actually trying to prevent myself bleeding out into Merlin, Glee, and you guessed it, Supernatural.

    Also, Destial > Wincest

    • Scamp
      Posted April 3, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      I’ve had an F before. It was a one-shot OVA called Meguiru Sekai or something like that. It was awful

  8. Anonymous
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    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.

    I disagree with you on this a lot. For one, there are no actual villains in the show. Every character in the show has moments that you should frown at them for.

    Doi is introduced as that boy who used to bully Shu, but has grown out of that mostly and sees that as the past. He is shown to also struggle with his emotions and growing up. However to the other characters his bullying is a defining aspect of him in their perception. For Doi all that is in the past, and like in real life, he likely has not the smallest clue of how painful his bullying has been to his victims who in turn will have a very difficult time with forgiving him. This is very evident from the scene you so aptly chose to pick a screenshot from. In that scene Shu is most definitely the villain and not Doi. His reaction is even “Damn it [I fucked it up.]” with a hint of regret since he didn’t intent what has happened to happen.

    So yes, I disagree with you Scamps. Doi is a very human character. Like every other one in the show, but being a side-character that is there to support the emotional growth of the main character(s), we learn and see less of him.

  9. alexvoda
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    WOW

    The first F grade.
    Go Rio!!
    We should celebrate this in some way.

    • mcm38
      Posted April 2, 2011 at 2:43 am | Permalink

      Campai!

    • Posted April 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      *toasts her boots*

      • luffyluffy
        Posted April 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

        no leah get your boots out of the toaster

        boots don’t go in there

        you’re going to burn the house down

      • Posted April 3, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        But I like fire! :<

  10. Nop
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    No, Sir, I don’t think the anime wanted us to hate Doi, he would have been portrayed much worse then. It was more down to Nitori being a pussy and Takatsuki (as well as cute little Sasa-chan) being too damn overprotective.
    He was probably an ass in the first four volumes of the manga we were supposed to have read though.

    No one hates you, Scampu-kun~

    • Posted April 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Doi’s not a bad guy. He doesn’t realize how horribly insensitive he is and his personality doesn’t mesh with the rest of the class, but his heart is in the right place. At least that’s my impression from 90-ish chapters of manga.

      So yeah, Scamp and Doi are like teddy bears that make jokes about how ugly you are.

  11. Posted April 2, 2011 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry, one of these days there’ll be another Potato Blight and we’ll all step on eggshells on your account when that happens. No jocularity from us!

  12. Posted April 2, 2011 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    wow an F for Rio. Glad I didn’t watch that. Or am I? Now I’m curious Dammnit.

  13. Rowsdower
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    I’d like a little bit of context on Madoka and maybe you can provide it. Since I’ve liked a dark magical girl series before (Revolutionary Girl Utena is extremely surreal and troubling by its final arc and it’s my #2 anime of all time), I’m kind of interested. However, I have never, ever liked anything by Shaft or Shinbo.

    The main thing keeping me from giving Madoka a whirl is that the last time I’ve seen the fandom gush so heavily about a show, it was Bakemonogatari. And, as implied by the first paragraph, I completely despised that show.

    Are my concerns completely unfounded? Is the show really, truly, as good as you say? Basically, will it convert someone like me who’s dubious of Shaft?

    • Posted April 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      #1 rule of thumb, if an anime is hyped, no matter how good is it, it won’t live up to the hype.

      • Rowsdower
        Posted April 2, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        True. That kind of happened with me and Bakemonogatari. I started watching it before the hype got REALLY out of hand, didn’t like the first few episodes that I saw, but decided to keep on with it because so many people ahead of me just kept fawning all over it. I eventually did cry, “Fuck this!” and dropped it like a hot potato after my ever-mounting disgust reached a head, though.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Madoka is a totally different type of story from Bakemonogatari but has the same Shaft indispensability when it comes to approaching the series direction. It depends on what you disliked about Bakemono. The Shaftyness? Then maybe no Madoka for you. The dialogue and characters? Then that’s just Nision, go on and give Madoka a go.

      Just do give Madoka 2-3 episodes. First one is kinda misleading

      • Rowsdower
        Posted April 3, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        The direction didn’t bother me at all (I love Kuchuu Buranko, Mononoke, and pretty much everything Masaaki Yuasa has touched, so you can probably even say that I really like atypical direction). It really was the characters, dialogue, and overarching story that killed Bakemonogatari for me. So many people insisted it was so incredibly intelligent and original, when really it was just another show about some guy who has to intervene and save girls who can’t get their own shit together. It was basically every annoying Key anime ever, only DARKER and EDGIER and OOH SO WITTY AND SATIRICAL because the characters blather on and on about the stupid tropes they’re adhering to like fucking superglue.

        I’m glad to hear Madoka doesn’t share the story mechanics that pissed me off so much, then. Does Shinbo stay away from his loli fanservice tendencies? Because that is also a major deal-breaker (the gross snake girl episode was the point I kicked Bakemonogatari to the curb). If that’s also not an issue, then I will definitely give Madoka a try and thank you for your advice.

  14. Posted April 2, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    i disagree that doi is really the villian of the story as you feel. i mean, we are talking about a slice-of-life series here; there are no villains. i havent read this far in the manga, but i bet in the next ep or two doi will redeem himself somehow and shu will realize he was blaming his troubles on a catalyst, not the cause. who knows, maybe we’re all supposed to sympathize with doi and not understand why everyone hates him ;D

    i’d like to have your optimism about madoka’s ending, but this delay has made me…skeptical. for some reason. lol, i have no idea why i have a bad feeling about it <_<

  15. Posted April 2, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I thought for sure Fractale was going to be your first F. XD You are much more generous to it then I am at this point.

    Funny thing is, I’ve had my share of Dois. To no one’s surprise, I was a prime target for being picked on until 8th grade when I started fighting back physically. Then I went from being an easy target to considered crazy. >.>

    But one topic. I ended up in college prep class with a handful of my previous bullies together, and while I never thought I’d forgive them, when they treated me differently and it was clear they were different people, it was really easy to. And I’m the queen of holding grudges. But while we didn’t become close friends, after all, we were vastly different people, we actually ended up on good terms with each others. In life overall, the ‘Dois’ are the easiest for me to forgive. People make mistakes, they work to make-up for those mistakes, and they earn their forgiveness.

    It’s the truly awful people that I don’t know what to do about–I’ve had a week of finding of the reason why someone didn’t want to be friends with me is someone else had made up me saying and trying to do things, and that someone was former friends BFF, so she had no reason to doubt her. That’s the cruelty in people that I don’t understand.

  16. Posted April 2, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    How Wandering Son handled the Doi character I thought was one of the most realistic things about the story. Here’s someone who, we infer, was a bit of a prick to Nitori some years before. He’s matured and is trying to mend his way, though unsure how to do so, but people’s opinions of him don’t change overnight. I think when you see the last episode, if you already haven’t, you’ll see Doi’s persistence earn NItori’s trust in the end.

  17. Posted April 3, 2011 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Supernatural the Not Animation is so ho yay-tastic it is kind of astounding. Even the writers joke that the show is just a love story between Sam and Dean.

    I feel compelled to mention at this juncture that in Supernatural the Not Animation Dean is pretty fucking hot.

  18. hikaru
    Posted April 3, 2011 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Oooh a “F”…

    Hey, I like Doi! And I never hated him, even before he started trying to be friends with Nitori. So…if you were like Doi when you were a kid does that mean you had dead-fish eyes like him too? =P (dead-fish eyes = gintama = awesome)

  19. Scamp
    Posted April 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Re: Doi

    OK, I’m having a bit of change of heart on this one. I got pissed because I felt that scene was a deliberate kick out at me. In retrospect, that was kinda what it was aiming at, and it’s only because of how well they constructed his character in the first place that I was invested enough to get such a reaction.

  20. Taka
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    If you don’t mind me adding my two cents after the fact I’d like to say my impressions of that scene.

    On one hand I agree with everyone that Doi has seemingly good intentions in mind. No idea why he does, but he clearly seems hurt when Nitori says he hates him. He also certainly appears to have trouble expressing himself in regards to his past and current interactions with Nitori.

    On the other hand I feel it is a change in Nitori that allows him to say those words to Doi. Up until then I had the feeling Nitori was mostly thinking them, but was trying to be open to Doi. However when he took Doi’s suggestion to cross-dress at school seriously and it had such a painful impact (and Doi didn’t appear remorseful) it crossed the line where Nitori could say what he had probably been feeling when Doi first approached him.

    Without the scene it may not have been possible for Nitori to feel some measure of respect for Doi in the final episode. The “i hate you” is Nitori’s version of wiping the slate clean. It is quite painful for Doi but that could be because he knew on some level that’s what Nitori felt all along, and that it was his fault. I interpreted it as something Nitori had to get off his chest.

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