I don't think saying the Ghost Stories dub took liberties with the script quite underscores how many liberties they actually took. We might not quite be talking about the Samurai Pizza Cats level of rewrites, but by damn it was trying to get there!
I finally found the time to watch the first episode of the Ghost Stories dub, and holy rewrites, Batman ! The dub writers have indeed done a lot to "spice up" the dialogue, with random moves such as turning Momoko into a fundie or Reo Jewish. It's mildly amusing, but strikes me more as a desperate attempt to make the show edgier (and somehow more juvenile). The mildly homophobic jokes here and there don't help.
So thanks, but no thanks : when I get around to watching it, it'll be with the Japanese soundtrack.
But the show I actually watched and wanted to talk about was Sakura Wars. It turned out to be quite a disappointment.
At the time of the review, I was actually quite pleased by the absence of an obvious player character avatar dude. Well, he shows up in episode #4, and is very bland indeed. He's not even mucking the series up by romancing the girls or anything like that : he's just a generic competent field commander with the charisma of a cardboard cutout.
No, the real issue I have with the series is that it completely ignores the potential of its intriguing setting. The elite mecha unit somehow doubling as a Takarazuka Revue-style theatre troupe ? Never really explained, aside from some lip service as "concentration" training. It's just the thing the girls do whenever the main plot is on hold. But at least this part of the show is mildly entertaining, if mostly irrelevant aside from the team dynamics.
What really brings it down, though, are the villains. The awful, boring, cliché villains. Including a femme fatale who doesn't get to do much, a groaning strong dude with no personality, and a creepy annoying kid with mind-control powers that allow him to slaughter redshirts by the dozen. (And of course he's voiced by Akira Ishida on autopilot self-parody.) You just stop caring by the first time they're randomly resurrected (and lose any personality or plot relevance they showed before.) Worse than all of them combined, though, is the "main villain", the turncoat who betrayed humanity 5 years ago for barely explained reasons. I might have cared about the connected characters' angst about his betrayal if the guy wasn't just a one-dimensional evil dude who smirks a lot and never shows a hint of depth. (He even unironically calls himself "Blue Satan" ! Seriously ?)
This just doesn't work. The antagonists are just this traitor, a few zombie generals he keeps reviving, and tons of monstrous mooks. At first it looked like the enemy was slowly crossing over from another dimension, but after a while it turns out that nope, this is all of them. No clash with a parallel world : once the Big Bad is disposed of, that's it. It's like all the world building was flushed down the toilet.
At this point I must ask : are the various strings of OVAs (which are set in a parallel continuity, as far as I can see) any better ? I'm not exactly looking forward to trying them out...
Aria: One of my favorite animes of all time. This is one of the most "feel good" anime in the world. There's barely any conflict, and villains are non-existent. The appeal is mostly character interactions and little mysteries, as well as the sheer beauty of it.
Given my love of Tamayura you'd think I'd love this (and its been pushed on me enough because of it) but for some reason when I tried it never clicked. Never got past episode 1. And I'm not sure why.
Shuffle: The series that pretty much chronicles the moment where harem went wrong. The original visual novel is still well received, but certain changes made to the characters in the anime made it extremely divisive.
When I started watching anime a few years ago, this was my very first harem. Not sure why. Given my limited knowledge at the time about anime it was pretty eye opening. It is one of those few anime where I prefer the dub...maybe simply because of first exposure I'm not sure.