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[In which I review] New anime, Summer 2013

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I can't wait for an entire season of people calling this a Madoka ripoff when it's looking much more like a Black Rock Shooter ripoff.
I've seen this said elsewhere, and I don't get it. What's iconic about Black Rock Shooter are the superb fight scenes happening in a completely different plane from the "real-world" melodrama. None of this here, and it certainly doesn't share any aesthetics.

I mean, sure, any resemblances with Madoka are very superficial and remote, but at least you can see them if you squint (innocent pastel-coloured, big-headed girl get dragged into a war between magical girls and otherworldly abominations that possess people ; also there are hints of time-fuckery or reality-warping being in action). It's got absolutely nothing of what made Madoka interesting and distinctive, so it's a terrible comparison point, but I can rationalize it being made.

Man, it's like you're the anti-me. The bright colors and unusual* character-design style were the best parts.
I wouldn't call this palette "bright" : the pastel-ish tones are terrible for contrast here and make this look more washed out that anything else.
But sure, the artstyle is the least of this series' problems.

*possibly not the best choice of words, it looks like Lucky Star cosplaying as Touhou
Without the personality or the distinctiveness of either.

but I guess given the opening credits real boys will never been seen in the show.
You mean, aside from those two in the opening skit that introduced Riko ?

I wouldn't be surprised if those two guys kept making cameos without ever managing to get close to Maki.



And now, time for something a bit weird...


Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya
(10 episodes)

What's it about ?

A comedy spin-off of Fate/stay night with Illya as a magical girl.

Characters

Illya, our prepubescent heroine, who lives in a weird parallel universe where the von Einzberg family is all happy, and especially her mother is stated not to be dead (although she's on a business trip or something). She's also got a random older sister, as well as Taiga acting as housekeeper and "cousin" Shirou living with them. Er, sure.

It turns out it was Rin who was originally given the magical girl powers, but since she kept using them to feud with her new rival Luvia (a haughty noble cliché) instead of their nominal goal of hunting "Class cards", bother their power artifacts got fed up with them and left. (While they were battling in the sky. Ouch.)

Magical Ruby, Rin's wand, has a LOT of personality (the same for Magical Sapphire, Luvia's, but it gets less screentime). Unfortunately, when it stumbles onto Illya while looking for a replacement for Rin, that makes it sounds fishier than Kyubey having just binged on salmon. Ruby is a very nasty bugger who isn't above tricking Illya if that suits its purposes.

The OP sequence makes it look like there's going to be an age-appropriate rival for Illya (presumably powered by Sapphire), but that's for future episodes.

Production Values

Well, it's a bit hard to tell since the streamed pre-air had a lot of nasty blocking whenever there's a little action, but this looks quite good indeed.

Overall Impression

Well, I'll give it that : it's funny, and you really don't need to know anything about the Fate/ series to understand it. Let's be honest : those are very shallow versions of the characters, put into new roles for comedic effect. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Well, except that I don't see the joke carrying 10 episodes ; and the genre-parody at work here is a bit too bad-natured for me to tolerate too long. It's nasty for the sake of being nasty, and I can only laugh at that for so long.

If you're a die-hard fan of the franchise, you'll probably get more out of this than I do ; there are tons of easter eggs and it's as good as such a comedy spin-off can be. But I already have a lot on my plate this season, and I can do without this one.
 

Ikselam

may one day be worthy of your grace
Validated User
I've seen this said elsewhere, and I don't get it. What's iconic about Black Rock Shooter are the superb fight scenes happening in a completely different plane from the "real-world" melodrama. None of this here, and it certainly doesn't share any aesthetics.
[...]
I wouldn't call this palette "bright" : the pastel-ish tones are terrible for contrast here and make this look more washed out that anything else.
But sure, the artstyle is the least of this series' problems.
[...]
Without the personality or the distinctiveness of either.
I think we're just going to have to disagree on this, since from the sound of things we literally watched two different shows.
 

Old Toby

Least Known Dog on the Net
Validated User
We've all been waiting for a Madoka clone that completely misses the point, haven't we ?
You mean Vividred Operation? ;)

Though I'm pretty sure Vividred deliberately missed the point... Which, in a strange way, is actually hitting the point...

Old Toby
Least Known Dog on the Net
 

HeWhoSpeaksOfDarkness

New member
Banned
Nah Vividred is pretty cure made for pervy scifi geeks. The only thing it shares with Madoka is high quality visuals. And even there while both are much more detailed then normal and use bright colors...madoka is a feaver dream, and vividred is the experience of a vivid summer day.
 
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Ikselam

may one day be worthy of your grace
Validated User
Nah Vividred is pretty cure made for pervy scifi geeks. The only thing it shares with Madoka is high quality visuals.
Well, that and NotHomu (who turned out to be more of a NotFate, but it balances out because ActualHomu looked an awful lot like a NotFate for the first half of her series).
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Wow, lots of shows tonight. A few more reviews later, but let's get started with a couple of early ones...


Yellow Mosaic (Kiniro Mosaic)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a 4-panel gag manga about an English girl transfering to Japan. (Except the first 15 minutes in this episode are a flashback that explains why she'd do that.)

Characters

Shinobu, our initial point-of-view character. A few years ago, she spent a week of vacation in England at some friends of her parents' country house. (Good thing they were fluent in Japanese, because she can't speak English to save her life.) By all appearances, everyone had a great time.

Alice, the daughter of said family, was very shy and reluctant to approach Shinobu at first, but by the end of the week they were BFF. And this was such an important encounter for her that a few years later, she transfered to Shinobu's high school after learning the language. And she's staying at her home, too.

There are a couple of Shinobu's school friends (the nice one and the sarcastic one, respectively, in contrast with Shinobu's ditzy ways) that look like they're going to be part of the main cast. The OP sequence (shown near the end here) also makes it look like Alice's best friend in England is also going to be prominently featured, which is a bit problematic, as it'd kinda dilute the uniqueness of this blonde foreigner in Japan (which is what the series takes its name from, after all).

Production Values

Gorgeous backgrounds, although the CG landscape during the train ride is a bit of a misfire. Still, this is quite nice to look at.

I'm really not sure about the score, which makes damn sure to underscore that Shinobu's original trip was an Epic Adventure and plays up the sense of wonder up to eleven. It works, but it's a bit heavy-handed when the events are so mundane.

Overall Impression

Il was all ready to dismiss this one quickly, but you know what ? This is actually quite pleasant to watch. We're all used to foreigners randomly attending anime schools (often rationalized as half-Japanese or whatever), but this commits all the way into re-establishing the novelty factor of it and having fun with the cultural differences. Having all the English characters talking English (with subtitles) when they should helps quite a lot, too (although the voice actors seem to struggle more than a bit with the accent.) I'm less thrilled with how quaint England looks, but it's not too distracting.

I also quite like the relationship between Alice & Shinobu, especially how once in a while Shinobu will absent-mindedly do something ditzy that's very scary for Alice. Comedy gold, there.

It's more than a bit rough around the edges, and I'm not sure the joke can sustain 12 episodes. But I'm willing to give it a bit of rope, which I didn't expect coming in.

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The Eccentric Family (Uchouten Kazoku)
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Did you know that in modern-day Kyoto, there's a three-way deadlock in power under the surface between the humans, the tanuki & the tengu ? Nope, me neither.

(Adapted from a novel.)

Characters

Yasaburo, our protagonist, is a tanuki. As a trickster and talented shapeshifter, he laughs at your narrow conception of gender and spends the whole episode looking like a high school girl. I like him : he's fun and has a nice, snarky sense of humour. And he's a protagonist that actually does stuff ! How novel !

Pr Akadama is an old tengu and used to be Yasaburo's mentor ; he's but a shadow of his older self ever since he broke his back in an ill-fated prank. Nowadays, Yasaburo still looks after him because he feels guilty about said prank, but he's just about the only one who still cares about the old geezer. Except maybe for...

"Benten", aka Satomi Suzuki, was Pr Akadama's other pupil. She's a normal human, but that hasn't stopped her from learning how to walk on air from the old master. It's more than heavily hinted that there was something romantic between the two of them, but he clearly hasn't worked out. The crowd she freys with right now sound like bad news, but she's still the scariest person in the room at any time. She's entirely unapologetic about having suggested the prank to Yasaburo at the time, but it's clear she regrets it. Not that she'll ever admit it.

It looks like further episodes in the series may explore a bit more Yasaburo's siblings and family, but so far they've just been cameos. (Younger brother is cute ; older brother doesn't approve of Yasaburo's antics.)

Production Values

Very nice : this Kyoto is bursting with life. There's a lot of care to adjust the body language of each character to their true nature, and that without taking into account Benten, who owns every shot she's in. I also love the initial camera trick of zooming in and out on the city to comically make a point about what's happening in it.

Overall Impression

I expected this to be semi-inpenetrable to someone who doesn't know much about Japanese folklore (wait, tengu are crow spirits ? Why didn't I notice that before ?), but this turns out to be perfectly accessible to the uninitiated. It's basically a love triangle that ended very poorly for everyone involved, but the episode succeeds in making clear that there's a lot left unsaid and to be explored. Kyoto feels like City of Adventure where anything can happen and factions secretly and discreetly feud against each other. (Surely there's an interesting reason why Akadama was having both a tanuki and a human as students, given how the three groups don't usually mingle ? What the heck was he up to ?)

This is reminding me of Durarara!!, minus any apparently boring character around. This can't be a bad thing, right ? Definitely following this one.
 

Coyote's Own

Former ACME QA Tester.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
(wait, tengu are crow spirits ? Why didn't I notice that before ?)
Well they are crow-like.
Karasu-Tengu, the lesser tengu are to more crow like:


Dai-Tengu are the ones we usually think when talking about Tengu:


But both have Corvid wings. And as you probably know Tengu teaching people isn't that unusual in folklore. Tengu were suppose to have taught their trik to Ninja and Miyamoto Yoshitsune was suppose to have been taugth swordsmanship by Tengu king of mount Kurama.

But you probably knew much of this anyway.
:eek:
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
But you probably knew much of this anyway. :eek:
Nope. As I said before, I know very little about Japanese folklore. (The type of anime I watch very rarely dwell on it, and it's not a field I have much interest in anyway.) Frankly, the only things I knew about tengu were the name and the basic design.


And now for this week's final batch of series...
(Still seven more across next week, including some heavy hitters.)


Blood Lad
(10 episodes)

What's it about ?

Comedy about vampires that don't bite anyone.

Characters

Staz, the vampire ruler of a section of Hell. Except he has no interest in sucking the blood of humans, as he's very grateful for them creating all this delightful pop-culture. Basically a gaijin otaku stereotype.

Deku, his beleaguered second-in-command, who's baffled by this boss who barely ever gets out of his room and shows no interest in vampiring or conquering more territory. But still beats any other boss wannabe, especially this asshole who's just showed up with his stupid people-eating plants.

Yanagi, an ordinary Japanese high school girl who's stumbled into Hell (without any clue how) and should consider herself very lucky to be in Staz's territory, all things considered. Well, except she gets eaten by one of those darn plants halfway through the episode, so she's a ghost now. But Staz is totally going to restore her to life ! (Given how he takes his inspiration in Dra-Gunbol manga, I wouldn't keep my hopes up...)

Other members of the supporting cast include a mysterious traveller whose dimensional door is probably responsible for this mess ; a three-eyed bar owner (and her humanoid symbiote or whatever) who's not much help with figuring what can be done ; and a meek shapeshifter who joins Staz just at the time he needs a decoy while going off in the human world to buy more popculture stuff escort Yanagi back.

Production Values

This looks quite cheap indeed ; there's some nice effects where the camera shakes around a bit to make the storytelling feel more hip, but that's not enough to hide the lackluster budget.

Also, the camera never lets you forget that Yanagi has big boobs.

Overall Impression

It's decent, I guess ? There are some good jokes (and a good deal that fall flat), I like some of the deadpan snark being thrown around, and the various hell creatures are fun.

But let's be honest : the only reason I haven't dropped it yet is that it's only 10 episodes, and thus there's a reduced risk of it running out of ideas and stopping being mildly funny in such a short runtime. I don't trust it to go anywhere anyway (especially with a still-ongoing manga), but hopefully the joke won't get stale too quickly.

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Fantasista Doll
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

It can't be a real anime season without a card game show.

Characters

Uzume, our middle-school protagonist. She used to be good at card games in elementary school, even winning a tournament, but that's pretty much behind her now. Well, at least until someone slips in her bag a special card-reading-device and a few cards during train rush-hour. She's then tricked into activating her account (with way too much personal data), which summons...

Sasara, a card-generated warrior who can materialize to defend her from attackers... well, provided Uzume combines her card with some actual equipment cards, otherwise she just shows up nearly naked. Oops. Once that's dealt with, she's quite powerful.

Uzume's opponent in this battle, obviously wanting to get those super-special cards, uses a ninja warrior and has lines like "I won't forget this ! Next time I won't hold back !" Urgh.

There are four other card-beings in the lot Uzume got, all with different one-note personalities (the motherly one, the barely-speaks one, etc.). They're outraged when Uzume asks them to do her chores, declaring her the worst master ever. Oh, come on.

I'm pretty sure the scientist-dude stalking Uzume in one scene is the same guy who shows up later wearing a fancy uniform and a cape, standing ontop a lamppost outside her room at night, to declare her worthy of the Dolls.

There are tons of other members of the supporting cast that don't really get much depth, such as Uzume's bossy little sister, her "big sister" figure who seems to be in high school, and her various school friends.

Production Values

Decent. There's one cute design idea : having the Dolls appear as flat ghosts on transparent surfaces. It's barely used at all in the show proper, though.

Overall Impression

Sigh. There are a few okay jokes here, but there's no escaping that this is an obvious toy commercial (at least, I hope that's the idea) with a generic plot and flat characters.

I'm very tempted to give it a bit more of a chance, as it's sometimes funny, but it's too lackluster to make the cut in such a busy season.

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Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Demon summoning is totally real. Even in Victorian England.

Characters

William Twining, our protagonist. He's one of the most promising youth of his generation, bright and coming from a rich family... wait, scratch that, his uncle (and legal guardian) has just gone bankrupt and disappeared, leaving our hero unable to pay for his tuition. Farewell to his dream of being part of the elite... But maybe he could search the family house (the only thing not repossessed yet) for something worth money. And in a hidden basement, he stumbles on a magic circle, with which he accidentally summons...

Dantalion, one of the leading contenders to Hell's throne during the interim period where Lucifer is busy sleeping. It turns out that William is the descendant of the guy who can decide such things (mostly by beating everyone else up back in the day), so Dantalion tries his best convince him to do so. The problem is that Willian is a staunch rationalist and won't believe in demons whatever happens. Could you annoying cosplayer get off his lawn already ?

Obviously, everyone in Hell is bound to want a piece of William once they learn how much he matters.

The supporting cast is rounded up by William's butler (who's sticked around because he still believes Willian will get rich and powerful eventually), and the very annoying young Isaac Newton, who believes in tons of supernatural stuff.

Also, Dantalion transfers into William's school (and it looks a lot like he's the one who paid for his tuition somehow), which can only lead to crazy hijinks.

Production Values

Perfectly alright.

Overall Impression

I was kinda on board with this until William's repeated denial of the occult (despite everything that happens around him) got very annoying. After a while, his rationalism just stops making any sense and becomes bloody aggravating. Which is a shame, since there are some decent jokes in this... But if it gets tiring now already, I doubt I can withstand 12 episodes of it. Especially as I get the nagging suspicion there's going to be a tournament of some sort.

Nice try, but no thanks.
 

Rabbit

Registered User
Validated User
Yellow Mosaic: If it follows the Manga then Shinobu spent much longer than a week in England (something like 6 months, certainly enough for her to teach Alice basic Japanese.) It's a running gag that Alice does better at Japanese than Shinobu does at English.

It's on my watch list for no better reason than it seems to have a lot of cultural stuff in it that tends to be missed by other Mangas and I confess I find that interesting.
 
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