anime review

All reviews written since I moved the blog to the wordpress platform. Default category.


The main male protagonist.

It has been nearly 8 months since I wrote the last entry in this blog, and the delay can be attributed to several reasons. The first one would be bad luck and unforeseen circumstances in real-life last year (spending Christmas and the New Year warded in the hospital is not exactly what I have in store back then). Another contributing factor is me procrastinating (I changed the theme of this blog during the intervening period but I don’t even write one review). Yeah, that’s also a pretty hefty contribution to my tardiness. But, the final, and the major reason, of the 7-month delay is the idiosyncrasies of this anime, and which would be explained in detail below.

This anime is a 2012 title, but it will not replace the current holder of this blog’s ‘Anime of the Year 2012’ anytime soon.


In this anime, BETA only eats people, and nothing else.

Story:-
In the sixties, humankind encounters extraterrestrial alien life called BETA on Mars. Unfortunately for humanity, those BETAs considers humans as good enough for their breakfast, lunch and dinner (this anime wisely did not elaborate about other things they do to female humans that is exposed in the game version), therefore a war between Earth and the aliens is inevitable. To fight against the BETA, humanity repurposed currently available military hardware into giant robots. This anime mainly revolves on the developments of those robots, plus side plots to go with it.

Unfortunately, the war against the BETA has been relegated to a third-class side plot in this anime, and this is this anime’s first weakness. This anime has the same concept as TERRAFORMARS, but the latter do focus to the crux at hand (fighting aliens) better than this anime does. There are simply not enough plot where BETA tramples upon humanity with reckless abandon, and even fewer scenes where the ‘cutesy’ Laser class BETA aliens incinerates humans and mechas alike from huge distances.

What this anime focused upon instead is the (futile?) development of mechas that is supposed to be used against the BETA. Due to the multi-national nature of the development efforts, this anime’s plot then also revolves more upon conflicts between nations and groups. TERRAFORMARS also has this element, and despite its presentation problems, managed to balance out the human-alien conflicts plot with human-human conflicts better.

Actually, the two main plots mentioned above actually starts very well. Not only that, the decent quality of the plots actually holds steady, peppered with some BETA conflicts, up until the ending arc. That massive drop of quality in the ending arc is the second weakness this anime has. The transition to the final arc from the previous one is poor, there are some parts of the arc that are not explained at all (like the big hole in TERRAFORMARS’s ending arc) and of course, lack of BETA (the invading BETA are largely wiped out by the Americans, offscreen).


This is the point where the anime start to go down the crapper in quality.

Of course, due of this anime’s heritage, it will be wrong for me not to discuss about the romance in this anime. Romance in this anime are mainly just a sub-plot just like the BETA is, but with considerably more attention paid to it. There are no dynamics in the relationships between the main male protagonist with the main female protagonist and also the older Russian pilot; the former being so dense, the female main protagonist being a coward and the latter (apparently the winner) being naïve and somewhat indecisive. Only the comedic relief Chinese pilot salvages this side plot somewhat, with her overt directness that is even reluctantly acknowledged by the main male protagonist.

The pacing of this anime’s storyline is also uneven; the anime starts with a few episodes of flashbacks featuring the main female protagonist, with a pace too fast for my liking. Then the real story and the main male protagonist comes around, and the pacing slowed down a bit, which is better. Then the ending arc arrives, and the pacing slowed down slightly, which dropped it slightly below what I considered acceptable. The flow of the storyline is largely seamless, except for the transition into the final arc I mentioned above. Flashbacks are handled much better here compared to TERRAFORMARS.

Character development in this anime is also spotty just like the pacing is. The best character in the series, the main male protagonist is the only character that can be said to have extensive character developments. The development for the main female protagonist is nowhere as good; her best moments lies mainly in the early flashback episodes. The older female Russian pilot has much better development compared to her, but not as good as the main male protagonist. Other people, such as the main male protagonist’s teammates, his former teammates, the younger Russian pilot, the Chinese pilot are pretty much glacial, development-wise.

As of writing, there are no news of a sequel coming out for this anime, despite the inconclusive ending. but instead it already has a prequel. As of now, I have no plan to watch it anytime soon.


Japan has the tendency to give mecha suits to people with questionable mental states.

Character Design:-
The character designs in this anime is so mind-numbingly average and conservative, I have nothing else to say about it. Except maybe the character designers put more efforts on designing female characters, even the ones that only has 10 minutes airtime before eating BETA lasers. Definitely not going to affect this anime’s rating positively, or negatively.

Voice Acting:-
The main female protagonist maybe is a one-dimensional indecisive character that is going to lose to the Russian, but her excellent voice acting gig is one of the few positives this anime has. Other characters such as the Chinese pilot, younger Russian pilot and the main male protagonist has good voice acting gigs, but they are completely overshadowed by her. I’ll give one point alone to this anime ratings just because of that.

Music:-
Forgettable OP and ED themes, but this anime has good OST, with powerful scores especially in action scenes. Probably this anime should pull an Umineko and used the game OST in this anime instead.


The CGI looks so fake here it makes Unbreakable Machine Doll looks good.

Animation:-
Unlike the previous anime title reviewed here before, this anime still use traditional 2D animation most of the time. The quality is good, for both character and general animations. Maybe this is because I watch the Blu-ray version of this anime. Integration between 2D and CGI is largely seamless, but cases like the above screenshot do happen.

The only complain I have about this anime in this section is the lazy character composition, which make a character to barely look like themselves. I can probably ignore this if I am watching a TV rip, but not for a Blu-ray rip.


Even for a Blu-ray version, the production value is at the same level as Strike the Blood TV version.

Conclusion:-
7 out of 10.
Strong performance by the main female protagonist’s voice actress really helps.


What’s with that banner?

Shortlink: https://wp.me/prgSo-Jq

Spending my available free time mostly (still) playing The Witcher games trilogy the first one is good, the second one regressed quite a bit and I’ll see in the future what the finale goes) and reading some manga and light novels, my anime watching time understandable decreased. Only now, I have finished watching an anime title, titled Unbreakable Machine Doll, which I picked sorely because I’ve seen it aired in Animax Asia.

A 2013 title, this anime will not be able to dethrone the current ‘Anime of the Year 2013 title holder, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru. At least, this anime is still better than Strike the Blood though. If you want to know how much better, you should continue the rest of the review below. This review is also one of those that do not have any screenshots at all, I’m just lazy to take any.

There is one important change that will be made to anime reviews here, starting today onwards. The anime’s director performance will also be reviewed in the story section, instead of being grouped with the animation evaluations. Should make things easy for me onwards.

Story:-
In a fictional 19th century European setting, our main male protagonist and his automata doll (a.k.a. the main female protagonist) enrolls in a special school in England (presumably) where students are taught how to use those said dolls for various purposes. The main male protagonist does not come to the school for learning anything though, instead he was there for revenge against the strongest student of the said school that has murdered his whole family.

The first thing I noticed when watching this anime is the terrifyingly fast pacing in the first episode. So many events and expositions were crammed into a single episode; the first episode can give the first season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series a run for its money. More interestingly, this anime can actually gets away with that fast pacing, unlike the aforementioned first season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and others, like the second season of Nodame Cantabile. The director (who had also directed a fair number of hentai titles) really has done well in this regard.

At first, I think the fast pacing will continue in the subsequent episodes, which would be bad for this anime, but fortunately it doesn’t. The pacing gradually slowed down to a rate I find acceptable for the multi-arc plots that this anime has. This continues until the end of the anime of course. The pacing does sometimes dropped below acceptable rate in the final arc, but I think I will gloss over that one for once.

The storyline in this anime is good, especially the first arc. With only 13 episodes, there are only two story arcs in this anime after the whirlwind introductory first episode. This means this anime has less chances to screw up story-wise, and this is very helpful at keeping this anime from descending to Strike the Blood’s level.

What does not help this anime’s cause is the weak main characters, specifically the two main protagonists. If compared to a similarly themed Rozen Maiden series that has a somewhat decent main male protagonist and far more interesting dolls, the difference is stark. In this anime, the doll has a one-dimensional character, a weakness that really drags her characterization down. Meanwhile, for a character that is hell-bent on revenge, he is surprisingly indecisive and has some problems when it comes to decision making, a problem that manifested itself more often in the final arc, less so in the first one.

Therefore, this anime can be said to be more story-driven instead of being reliant of characters’ strength, because there are no outstanding character(s) here. For example, character developments for the two main protagonists is practically nil. The main male protagonist’s state at the end of the anime is basically the same seen in the very first scene of the first episode. The main female protagonist fare barely better. In fact, the silver-haired big-breasted character who owned a lot of dogs that is prominent in the first arc has more character developments than them.

The presentation aspects in this anime is good. As mentioned above, this anime actually gets away with the fast pacing in the first episode and successfully transitioned into more reasonable pace in latter episodes. The flow of the storyline is also good, whether within the arcs themselves or between arcs. A definite advantage over Strike the Blood for sure. In this anime that features extensive CGI animations, the director did not take advantage of the technology to use any over-the-top unconventional camera works and scene compositions, unlike what I have seen in this year’s 3D-only God Eater that is better at utilizing it. In this anime full of action scenes, the quality of choreography is mixed bag; some scenes has good action sequences, others doesn’t.

This anime ends with the main premise still unfinished, and I suspect there are still plenty of plots still waiting to be presented. But even after 2 years, there are still no news for a second season, and I suspected again that this anime will not get one. I do not think this anime deserved one either.

Character Design:-
Character designs in this CGI-dominated world is actually very good, the only exception would be the main male protagonist. This anime is a promising proof that character designs will not suffer even when the industry transitions away from traditional 2D animation. A positive aspect for this anime.

Voice Acting:-
Unlike the animations and character designs, voice acting in this anime is solid but conservative. This at least prevents the major mistake seen in Strike the Blood, but consequently there are no outstanding voice acting gigs in here.

Music:-
This is an aspect of this anime where nothing really go well. The OST and the ED theme is forgettable; the former being that way is really a drawback for this anime. Only the OP theme is better, but only then only average in quality by my standards.

Animation:-
As implied by what I have said above, this anime is primarily done via CGI, with little bits of 2D traditional animation sequences, but a lot of static backgrounds not unlike Princess Lover! Character animations needs a lot of work though; CGI character animations in this anime is smooth but too lackadaisical in movement speed. Integration between those CGI and 2D animations, when available, is not seamless though.

Conclusion:-
7 out of 10.
One of the pioneers of anime titles that used mostly CGI as the method of animation. This is not exactly a bad thing, especially if animation studios can fix the zombie-like character movements. Although I vastly prefer computer-generated 2D animations techniques that couple of anime titles reviewed here have used.

Shortlink: https://wp.me/prgSo-Hn

The main male protagonist.
The main male protagonist.

This blog’s ‘Anime of the Year 2014’ audition ends today with the review of TERRAFORMARS. Actually, I have already finished watching this Starship Trooper-esque anime last month, but only today I managed to write this blog entry. Technically speaking, this anime has a better storyline than the front-runner in the audition so far, but a certain weakness means that the winner of the audition has already been decided.

Story:-
Sometime in the far future, where interplanetary space travel is already achievable on Earth, our main male protagonist become the world’s strongest man after defeating a huge bear in a cage match. Right after that, he was offered a chance to become Mars’ strongest man by fighting that planet’s native inhabitants – bipedal cockroaches, and he took the new challenge immediately.

This anime has, for quite some time since watching Ga Rei -Zero-, makes me open DomDomSoft Manga Downloader and download the source manga at Batoto. Then I read the manga all the way until I reach the same point as the ending of the anime. And from what I read, this anime is going to pay for issues I have identified in it, some of them spotted even before I read the source manga.

For me, this anime’s main overarching problem is its flashback management. For clarity, this anime has more flashbacks than the four previously reviewed anime titles in the audition combined. The amount of time where I exclaimed ‘Fuck You Flashback’ when yet another flashback interrupts the ‘Man vs Cockroach’ battles is uncountable. The huge amount of poor placement of flashbacks then has cascading effects that will then cause other problems for this anime down the road.

In this anime, there are two kinds of flashbacks scenes; the first one is flashbacks in the anime that is also flashbacks in the manga, and the second one is flashbacks in the anime but are normal scenes in the manga. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to guess which kind of flashbacks negatively affects this anime the most. Well, for those who are dense like your typical harem protagonist, that would be the second one.

The failure rate of the flashbacks of the second type is high; my estimation would be at least 90%. The failure of the first type of flashbacks is far lower, 20% at best. The decision by the director or writer for this anime; to not only present real-time scenes as flashbacks, but to also start the anime at volume two of the manga, failed spectacularly. No prize will be given for correctly guessing where the contents of the first volume of the manga has gone. Hint: It starts with ‘f’ and ends with ‘lashbacks’.

The massive failure in flashback executions also affect the presentation aspects of this anime, as you may expect. Due to the inappropriately placed flashbacks, the flow of the storyline is never smooth. This flashbacks problems also partially affects the pacing negatively; the pacing is slow for an anime title of this genre. I say ‘partially’ because some directorial decisions also contributes to this pacing problem. A good example would be the drawn-out arc for the electrifying German officer guy, where the same arc in the manga doesn’t seem as long as the one in this anime.

The main male protagonist and one of his colleagues.
The main male protagonist and one of his colleagues.

Ignoring all those presentation problems, the storyline in this all-action anime title is quite good. I’ll say that it is even better than, let’s say, Shingeki no Kyoujin that has its own presentation problems. The few comedies in this anime is actually done quite well. The ending arc has several problems that preceding arcs does not have though. The plot of the ending is fragmented all over the place, with some key scenes in the manga removed. For example, the ending arc starts with a couple of Team 1 members stuck in a huge hole. The manga explained why they are there and how the hole formed. This anime did not bother to do that, as if the director is running out of time to flesh the ending arc properly.

The ending is written to accommodate a second season though, and from the amount of manga chapters remaining that I do not read, there should be enough material for one. This anime badly need one too, more than Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance deserves. As of writing, there is no news about one though.

If there is one thing this anime benefits from those huge amount of flashbacks, that would be character developments. While the flashbacks failed when it comes to advancing the story, it instead works fairly successfully for characters’ introductions and developments in this anime that has huge cast numbers and enormous amount of churn. Those characters introductions and developments are still done fairly well too in the manga, without using too many flashbacks. Therefore the director’s success of doing the same thing using flashbacks in the anime version of this series is probably the only positive aspect this anime has.

Anyway, it is hard for me to say who is the best character in this anime, mainly because despite of its numerous problems, this anime is more story-driven than character-driven. Maybe the German officer dude? Mainly because of his drawn-out last-man-standing battle arc, where many of its flashbacks actually made sense?

Character Design:-
Character designs in this anime that is quite similar to what you can see in Shingeki no Kyoujin are equally below average. But not as unoriginal as the latter though, with distinctive designs for at least the major characters. Or at least what I think who is the major ones anyway. Color distributions for hairs is surprisingly even, matching nicely with the futuristic set up and the diverse background of the characters.

Voice Acting:-
My biggest complaint in this section is directed to the main female protagonist, whose voice actress has the most inconsistent gig in this anime. At her best, her character performed decent enough in quality, but when she doesn’t, like in one of the flashbacks at the ending arc about the boxer, I started to think whether she is voicing a lady in her 20s or a 12-year old girl. Other characters in this anime are far more consistent than her, and I do not notice any flaw in their performances. There are no outstanding voice acting gigs here though.

Music:-
This anime has done very well in this section. The OP and ED themes are great, and the OST fits well with this anime’s themes of violence (and slice-of-life too).

Is this CGI or transplant of a real-life footage?
Is this CGI or transplant of a real-life footage?

Animation/Direction:-
Animation quality in this anime is good, whether for general of character animations. Also there is no problem in character compositions. This anime’s failed though when it comes to integrations of CGI and 2D animations; not very many of those integrations are seamless. As for the director, I think most of my complaints has already been aired at the story section above.

Conclusion:-
6 out of 10.
The weakest entry in the audition. Therefore, the surprise winner of this blog’s ‘Anime of the Year 2014’ is Cardfight!! Vanguard – Legion Mate-Hen, and frankly speaking, I didn’t see this one coming especially after the performance of its previous three seasons. This will also make it that there are no perfect score winners for 3 years straight.

Shortlink: https://wp.me/prgSo-Gh