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[In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014

Wolfwood2

Registered User
Validated User
Riddle Story of Devil (Akuma no Riddle)
(13 episodes)

Mr "Dice" Kaiba, her handler, has had her transferred to this Academy's "Black Classroom" so that she can kill the one student there who isn't also an assassin. This dude is a complete dick, played with obvious glee by Tomokazu Sugita. I love the way he chews scenery.
I'll be interested to see why this isn't like, a five minute job. Is it a Dangan Ronpa type scenario where the assassins can't allow anyone to know they are the killer? Because otherwise why not just grab Haru, toss her out a window, and job done?
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
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I presume they're waiting for confirmation that Haru is indeed the target, as killing someone else would be dreadfully gauche. After all, some of the class members have yet to show up.


SEQUEL WATCH !

Mushishi is the same as it always was. Great mood piece, intriguing world-building, and nothing much for me to actually say about it. Well, except that this first episode is way less depressing than average.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Stardust Crusaders is a whole different kind of awesome. This is a textbook example of how to animate bigger-than-life characters. It seems to have gotten a budget upgrade too, which isn't unwelcome. (Although really, part of the charm of the 2012 series is how they used colour and framing to compensate for the lack of animation.)

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Daimidaler the Sound Robot (Kenzen Robo Daimidaler)
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of an mecha/sentai ecchi manga.

Characters

Kouichi, our protagonist, straight on loan from the 80s, i.e. wearing a rakugan instead of his high school's more modern uniform. His core personality is that he's a pervert ; his standard daily routine includes standing below stairs to check out what underwear girls are wearing.

Kyouko, an agent from the PRINCE organization, which is tasked with handling attacks from the evil extraterrestrial Penguin Empire. He mission was to scout Kouichi, as he can generate a high level of Hi-ERO energy. You've guessed it : he can power his mecha up by doing something perverted, such as fondling her.

For now, the Penguin Empire are mostly represented by a few of those low-level masked underlings that are so common in sentai ; this is the kind of series that finds it very funny for them to have a front "tail".

Production Values

Decent, I guess. The Daimidaler mecha has a very peculiar old-school design that at least makes it look distinctive.

Be warned, this is a very fanservice-heavy show. And not just because of Kouichi's antics ; the camera is just as perverted as him.

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. The kindest thing I can say about this is that it's neither bland nor forgettable ; unfortunately, its sense of humour starts at tedious and then goes downhill. It's dreadfully unfunny, and watching more than five minutes of it was a chore.

No thanks.

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Dragonar Academy (Seikoku no Dragonar)
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

As the title implies, this adapts a light novel about an academy in fantasy-land where the students train with their dragon familiars.

Characters

Ash, our protagonist. Wait, how many origin stories does this guy need ? There's an opening prologue where as a kid he helped a girl (his sister ?) do something in an ominous location, and lost his arm for it ; leading to a dragon restoring his arm out of pity and giving it some cool tattoos. That's fine. And then there's a modern scene of him getting raped by a succubus-like woman that I really doubt is truly a nightmare. And then there's this episode's events, where he finally gets a familiar. That's a bit overkill. Anyway, he's got a generic Nice Guy personality, aside whenever someone badmouths his familiar (or lack of any), which makes him flip out. Obviously, he's got a terrible reputation as a troublemaker.

Raymond, his perverted best friend. Aside from being an endless supply of exposition and gossip, his core purpose so far is to lend out his familiar to Ash, who's one of the rare few people who can actually use others'. Of course he is.

Silvia, a princess from a neighbour country, with an attitude to match. She seems even more hated than Ash, which is saying something. They quickly start bickering over nothing, leading to a challenge to outmatch each other at the next dragon-riding race. Which he loses conclusively, but he's had enough fun helping her out against bullies that he doesn't mind.

Milgauss, an agent from the enemy country nearby (Ash : "wait, isn't there a ceasefire ?"), who's investigating some random relic when Ash inadvertently crosses his path. After gloating for a bit, he orders his teenage ninja girl to get rid of the witness. She's not very good at it, to the point that Ash actually prevents her from falling down a ravine... only for him to stumble down in her place. Oops.

Story's not over, though : that's the moment his familiar chooses to finally manifest. Except it's some girl instead of a dragon.

Production Values

Perfectly adequate, and it's got some decent designs for the dragons, but it's all functional rather than imaginative.

Overall Impression

Oh dear gods, the script. In better hands, this might have worked ; but the dialogue and narration are so consistently awful that it drags the whole show down as a result. The worldbuilding is marred by cumbersome exposition that buries everything else down. It's not helped by trite jargon that merely sounds pretentious. And it's just impossible to take seriously this protagonist who has to rediscover every aspect of his daily life all the time.

I'm not the audience for this kind of wish-fulfilment light novels anyway, but the level of writing in this adaptation is so terrible that there's no chance I'll bother with watching a second episode.

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Kindaichi's Case Files RETURNS (Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo R)
(26 episodes)

What's it about ?

This is the revival of a well-regarded 1997-2000 TV series, which itself adapted a long-running manga. (I'm not sure whether this new series directly adapts some of the manga or involves original material. The plot does involve smartphones, after all.)

The gimmick is that this is a fairplay whodunnit mystery series, with each arc mostly self-contained.

Characters

Kindaichi, our protagonist, is the archetypal "brilliant but lazy" high-school protagonist. He's the grandson of a famous (fictional) detective, whom this series can't actually name because of a lawsuit from the original author. Ahem. Anyway, he's himself a great amateur detective, which is very useful as he can't make two steps without stumbling into a new murder case.

Miyuki, his childhood friend who's always hanging around him, hint hint nudge nudge. This arc's plot involves her getting scouted by a model agency because she looks just like a fashion model who's just disappeared, which should have rung some alarm bells. So the pair of them are invited to a fashion show in Hong Kong.

There are half a dozen suspects for the inevitable murder that ensues, helpfully introduced one by one by the script. Usually they start dropping like flies until only half are left and Kindaichi unmasks the culprit.

The location move to Hong Kong prevents most of the usual (sparse) supporting cast from showing up, although there's a game attempt by Saki, an underclassman of the duo, who conveniently happens to be visiting Hong Kong with his parents. You don't say.

Production Values

There's been a fresh coat of paint to update the series to modern standards, but it's still more than a bit old-fashioned. It still has all the signature gimmicks (such as the suspect grid where they're crossed out one by one as they die), and even the music's a rearrangement of the old tunes.

Overall Impression

I can't be objective with this one. I'm a mystery nut in general, and I've always enjoyed what little of the original series I could lay my hands on. This is basically more of the same ; self-contained enough to be accessible, but I'm not sure how appealing it can be for a modern audience.

Still, I'm obviously going to watch this for as long as it lasts.
 

redwulf25_ci

Clown Pope of Wushu
Validated User
I'll be interested to see why this isn't like, a five minute job. Is it a Dangan Ronpa type scenario where the assassins can't allow anyone to know they are the killer? Because otherwise why not just grab Haru, toss her out a window, and job done?
For now they've all been instructed to wait. When someone hits the go button on the mission and reveals that yes Haru is the target little miss "I fell in love with my assassination target at first sight" is going to be protecting her.
 

DrunkenGrognard

Exile to the godforsaken reaches of the North
RPGnet Member
Validated User
For now they've all been instructed to wait. When someone hits the go button on the mission and reveals that yes Haru is the target little miss "I fell in love with my assassination target at first sight" is going to be protecting her.
Which ought to be entertaining - and who knows; they might throw even more wrinkles into this. Perhaps little miss helpless is only pretending; and gets to go all badass herself.
 

redwulf25_ci

Clown Pope of Wushu
Validated User
Which ought to be entertaining - and who knows; they might throw even more wrinkles into this. Perhaps little miss helpless is only pretending; and gets to go all badass herself.
I am wondering about those scars on her legs. It looks like she lost her legs at some point and had them surgically reattached. It looks like there's some near future tech going on so it's possible she's packing a very realistic looking pair of cyberlegs.
 

Stryke

Bang and a Boom
Validated User
Which ought to be entertaining - and who knows; they might throw even more wrinkles into this. Perhaps little miss helpless is only pretending; and gets to go all badass herself.
Going by her monologue when main character girl is asleep I'd say that's almost a certainty.
 

Mejiro

I think I'm a Drow now
Validated User
I am wondering about those scars on her legs. It looks like she lost her legs at some point and had them surgically reattached. It looks like there's some near future tech going on so it's possible she's packing a very realistic looking pair of cyberlegs.
The scars seemed to go all the way around her legs, so it looked like more damage than 'just' someone slashing up her thighs. She definitely has something going on, it just depends what, and how willing she is to use it (I'm assuming that she's trying to be nice and normal and perky, due to fucked up backstory reasons, and will only use her inevitable uber-killer skills under duress, i.e. when main girl is about to get killed protecting her). It seems kinda Noir-ish (the show, now the genre) although hopefully with a slightly faster moving plot, and less nested flashbacks. I'm intrigued enough to watch the next few, at least.

I also watched soul and blade - nice artwork, but the lead seems to be a completely blank slate, and I really don't care enough to find out what happens next. There will probably be some cool AMVs made from the fight scenes, but that's not enough to tempt me to watch the next episode.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
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The Irregular at Magic High School (Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei)
(26 episodes)

What's it about ?

The novelty is going to blow your mind : it's the adaptation of a light novel centering on a high-school where students learn tech-assisted magic ! With an extensive female cast surrounding a special snowflake male protagonist !

Characters

Tatsuya, our main character. He's got an actual personality, which is a plus. (Thank you, Yuuichi Nakamura, for conveying so much within so little dialogue.) He's not constantly narrating his every thought at us, which is appreciated. Especially as he's obviously got an agenda, and it's to the show's credit that it lets us piece it together progressively.

The idea here is that despite being a hard worker, he's been consistently been put down by society. His parents would rather him aim lower. The Magic High School puts him among the second-rank students, and he should be lucky to even have been accepted. His answer has been to put up a front of accepting it, and overcompensate by training himself even harder in his strengths. Which are many : he's an accomplished martial artist, and while he's not that good at actual magic, he can achieve a lot through quick-witted analysis. But he's careful not to let it show too much ; it's too early to reveal his hand yet, so he'll bide his time for now.

Miyuki, his younger sister, is a good contrast : she's a genuine magical prodigy and thus gets to be a first-rank student, but she believes she doesn't deserve any of it, and would rather HE get all the honours. I'm less thrilled by her worship going a bit too far, but he's careful to keep it at a reasonable level : she's his precious little sister and he enjoys the attention, but that's it.

We meet a few classmates of Tatsuya's : Mizuki the shy one, Erika the tomboy, and Leonhart the lecherous dude. With the last two being a bit hotheaded (and obviously at stage one of the tsundere romance), it's no surprise that they don't take kindly to the arrogance of the first-class students.

Mayumi, the Student Council President, breaks up the fight before it escalates too far. Interestingly, Tatsuya goes out of his way to downplay it as horseplay ; now's not the moment to make waves. She's not fooled, and is going to keep an eye on him.

Production Values

Budget ! The animation here is sumptuous, with very well-directed fight scenes. Tons of scenery porn too, and there's many neat touches with the magic effects.

I'm not entirely sure what's going on with the female uniforms (what are the colours supposed to be about ? Magic types ?), but they must be a PITA to animate and still look as good as this.

And of course, I'd be remiss not to mention the Taku Iwasaki soundtrack, which is as engaging as ever.

Overall Impression

It's taken a long time, but finally I've found a wish-fulfilment light novel adaptation I'm actually enjoying watching. Oh, sure, it helps that it's got impressive production values, a snazzy soundtrack, and some good world-building ; but the real success here is in building an actual protagonist, who looks like he actually wants to do stuff instead of just bumbling through life and having everything handed down to him. This isn't a clueless nice guy ; he's a calculating bastard who's faking every and each of his social interactions.

I'm optimistic about this one, which is more than I could say going in.

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Kamigami no Asobi: Ludere deorum
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

An adaptation of a female-targeted visual novel, with a male harem to romance. You know the drill.

The hook here is that, aside from the player-insert protagonist, they're all gods.

Characters

Yui, the stand-in for the audience. She's from a shrine family, and good at fencing ; she stumbles on the plot while investigating the storeroom in the back, and touching the shiny glowing sword. She's immediately transported to a parallel world.

Zeus is the one who organized all of this. He's picked up a few gods from each of the struggling old pantheons, and Yui's going to teach them about humanity. Why her ? Well, she found the sword. Let's be honest, Zeus is a complete dick here.

So cue many prettyboy gods. Clueless Baldr and devious Loki. Angsty loner Hades and obviously-main-guy Appolon. And others. They all become a bit same-y after a while.

Production Values

Quite nice ; the flowery backgrounds as each god gets introduced might be a bit overkill, but they're a staple of the genre, and I do get the impression we're reaching self-parody.

The ED sequence dispels any doubts about this being anything else than an excuse to display juicy manflesh.

Overall Impression

This first episode is quite alright : it's decently paced, it's got a sense of humour about itself, and Yui has more of a clue and a backbone than average for her archetype.

But I have no confidence that this isn't going to quickly devolve into standard harem hijinks, and I'm not the target audience anyway. I'll pass.

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Captain Earth, Still, the World is Beautiful, and a ton of sports shows tomorrow, when I've had some sleep.
 

ru

temporary avatar
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The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior (Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou)
what will make this or kill it for me will be ehwther there's any actual romantic progress - if it settles into relationship limbo then I won't bother. The fact it's adapted from a manga (rather than a game) is a bad sign in this regard, and manga by their nature tend to drag things out forever.


Blade & Soul
wow, the voice acting is *terrible*. Has decent fight choreography though, for which I can forgive quite a lot.

Hey, an heroic-fantasy show that doesn't suck ! But that's not enough to make it much good, though : it feels very soulless and by-the-numbers. I mean, it's hard to make it any more cliché than a burnt down starting village, eh ? None of the characters get to display much personality, and nearly all the villagers who do, die horribly without any chance to defend themselves.
This show is squarely in the "girls with weapons" genre, and nothing made this more obvious than the village slaughter. I was literally laughing out loud when all the male characters got wiped out in the space of thirty seconds. "Y chromosome? you are not required in this story."


The Irregular at Magic High School (Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei)
A word of warning, I read about three of the LNs (or six, depending how you count it as each one is in two parts), and the main character's Marty Sue-ness gets cranked up and up and up, until it finally became intolerable.
 
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