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Posts Tagged ‘action’

Gundam AGE Episodes 1, 2, and 3 – The Next Generation

November 1, 2011 2 comments

It’s difficult to just talk about a Gundam series absent any deeper context. As one of the two most venerable mecha franchises in anime history (the other being Macross), there were Gundam episodes coming out before I was even alive. And although Sunrise has been willing to effectively reboot the series on more than one occasion, there are certain tropes that always seem to apply to any show with “Gundam” in the title somewhere.

Gundam AGE is another reboot, with no acknowledged ties between it and any of the predecessor series beyond the bare minimum: the name Gundam for the hero’s “mobile suit,” the usual mecha designs, and the annoying spherical robot named Haru (see above). In fact, there are enough differences, at least in the opening episodes, that I feel an initial review is warranted, even though my pledge to cover every new show this season didn’t extend to kids’ series.
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Maken-Ki! Episodes 1 and 2 – Worst of All Possible Worlds

When I got down to looking over the offerings for this fall season, there were three works in particular that I singled out as pathetic pieces of trash that wouldn’t even be worth one episode to watch through. Those series were C3, Mashiroiro Symphony, and Maken-Ki! As it happens, I was wrong about the first two; neither would qualify as high art, but C3 is far more effective in its drama and Mashiroiro Symphony is far less offensive in content than I was expecting.

By contrast, Maken-ki! was exactly what I was expecting: non-stop, unmitigated perversion. It’s pretty upfront about being as trashy as possible, such that I don’t even know if this review will do justice to how disgusting it is. To do that, I’d need to break my own personal rules about what was acceptable to include as a screen cap.
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C3: Cube x Cursed x Curious Episodes 1, 2, and 3 – Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

For reasons I might explain in a later post, I made a pledge to myself to cover every series debuting this season, with the exception of obvious kid stuff and Hunter x Hunter. (I’ll let other people have a flame war over whether I just repeated myself.) That did not get me out of reviewing C3, even though it was a show I didn’t even want to waste my time watching. The basic outline sounded suspiciously similar to last season’s The Dark Rabbit has Seven Lives: a contemporary fantasy harem show whose pretensions to horror would be promptly deflated by harem antics and absurd amounts of panty flashing.

I was not wrong about the harem problem, or about the fanservice. Where I was wrong was in thinking that these elements would overwhelm the show, keeping it from succeeding at the darker content inherent in the show’s premise. Because, when C3 decides it does want to be serious, it pulls that off far better than it has any right to.
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Future Diary Episodes 1 and 2 – My Own Worst Enemy

Two seasons ago, Deadman Wonderland gave an example of a traditional shounen action show being taken in an extremely dark direction, while still maintaining the core concepts of its inspiration. Last season, Kamisama Dolls took that same type of story and modified it for the seinen demographic: not just aging up the cast, but also subtly subverting and challenging the basic themes of an overused plotline.

Future Diary predates both of those works, but almost feels like a combination of the two. Like Deadman Wonderland, it’s far darker and more lurid than your standard shounen fare. Like Kamisama Dolls, it takes a story type traditionally used for one demographic and targets it at a a different one. But Future Diary ages down rather than up, taking traditionally seinen plot tropes from series like Battle Royale and Death Note while changing the age of the lead to something shockingly low.

The end result is a series that is high on concept and perhaps a little low in its execution. Taken purely as a shounen show, however, it’s looking to be far more interesting than Deadman Wonderland was.
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Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing Episode 1 – Stalled Flight

October 20, 2011 1 comment

Last Exile is a famous and iconic anime series from the once venerable Gonzo Studios, which has struggled over the past half-decade to produce anything decent. But once upon a time, Gonzo was the map for cutting edge use of CG animation combined with traditional hand-drawn work, and Last Exile was the shining star of that portfolio. So when Gonzo announced they were finally doing a sequel series, set two years after the end of Last Exile, longtime anime fans immediately started salivating at the prospect.

Those fans would include yours truly: Last Exile was the first anime series I ever bought. While it probably doesn’t make my top ten list now, I still recognize it as a quality series which has stood the test of time. The only question was whether the new series could possibly live up to the standards set by the previous series. The answer, of course, is that it does not.
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Ben-To Episodes 1 and 2 – You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Discounts

At antiotaku we’ve spent a great deal of time complaining about the encroachment of harem tropes into action, comedy, and even drama series, making every loser protagonist the anime world can come up with a chick magnet despite all the odds against it. We’ve warned about the constant temptation to use female characters as sex bait. And we’ve noted in despair how often plot lines or characters lack even the appearance of common sense, much less internal consistency.

Ben-To, objectively, should qualify for condemnation under each of those categories. It’s clearly taken a page from the harem genre, as its protagonist is surrounded by lovely women, and the only main male character aside from him looks to be an antagonist (at least if the opening is any indication). It’s willing to be sexually suggestive with its cast, from their basic character designs to the choice of camera angles in documenting them. And the basic concept is so ridiculous that, even without the science-fiction or fantasy elements of many of the other series airing this fall, the series is still in the running for being most unrealistic.

Ben-To is, on paper, a show I should hate. So why I am enjoying it so much?
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Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls Episodes 1 and 2 – Random Acts of Violence

I made a pledge to myself this season that I would review every single new series starting up this October. I have no doubt I will regret that by the time the month is out, and this show is as good of a place as any to explain why. Ordinarily, I can take a look at a show’s promo material and maybe a trailer or two, and immediately get a feel for which shows I’m just not going to like. Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls (marketed in Japan as Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!! or “Love me seriously!!”) is yet another harem game turned into a anime, with a ridiculous cast and equally ridiculous concept—and in this case, a cliched ridiculous concept.

One problem with visual novels, particular harem visual novels with adult content (that is, most of them), is that they never bother investing any energy into side characters, a background setting, or anything other the idealized portrayal of a set of 2D girls to be romanced. Majikoi avoids that problem by going in the opposite direction: It’s so filled with random crap that it’s hard to remember what the show is ostensibly about.
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