joiedecombat: (Hakuouki)

For an anime adaptation of a romance game, Hakuouki really has very little romance in it. This is not really surprising since the visual novel it's based on, for all that it is a romance game, is much, much more about Japanese history and samurai politics and philosophy than it is about romance. There's romance in it - although my first pass through, I somehow managed to avoid all of it - but it's really not at all the point.

The point instead is mostly this: a handful of farmers' sons and other rejects and misfits collected around a dirt-poor dojo devote themselves to becoming warriors, forming themselves into a fighting force with the intention of earning recognition and attaining their culture's samurai ideal, and to hell with anyone who says they can't. They claw themselves up from the bottom, get within spitting distance of their goal...

...only for the times to change. The cultural goalposts get moved on them; the skills and the way of life they devoted everything to become obsolete, and the goal they sought to achieve is suddenly meaningless. The government they served loses its power and collapses, throwing them under the proverbial bus of a war that can't be won.

So, you know, what do you do?

'I am not going to battle to win. With the Tokugawa government about to collapse, it would be a disgrace if no one is willing to go down with it. That is why I must go. I will fight the best battle of my life to die for the country.' -- the actual historical Hijikata Toshizo, to Dr. Matsumoto Ryoujun, according to Wikipedia )

All of this Bakumatsu period stuff may inspire me to finally get around to watching Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto. We'll see!
joiedecombat: (music)
This show gets its own post, because it's an anime about jazz music, directed by Shinichiro "Cowboy Bebop" Watanabe and with music by Yoko "everything good about anime music" Kanno. It is not another Cowboy Bebop by any means, but - judging by the first two episodes, at least - it's shaping up to be a really, really good show.

Now that I have set your expectations appropriately high... )

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joiedecombat: (stoic)
Accel World: Nerdy teenager finds solace from the real world in futuristic VR cyberspace. Then a mysterious girl gives him the ability to access an "accelerated world" via a program that "speeds up his brainwaves" until it's as though time stands still. Remains to be seen if this is going to stay interesting or degenerate into a shounen tournament series, but Haruyuki's VR pig avatar is adorable.

Another: New student transfers to a high school which appears to be haunted: his classmates are strangely secretive, and there's a mysterious girl in his class who only he seems to be aware of. Then people start dying. Gruesomely. Might be worth a look if you like horror and ghost stories; it does pretty well at creating a creepy atmosphere and I find the nature of the haunting interesting. We're a good few episodes into it and taking bets as to who's going to die next.

Bodacious Space Pirates: A teenage schoolgirl discovers that her father was a famous space pirate, and since he's recently died she's the only one who can inherit his Letter of Marque and take over as captain of his ship, the Bentenmaru. Adventures in space piracy ensue - thus far, the "piracy" the Bentenmaru engages in appears to be more along the lines of creating a live onboard show for fancy space cruises, but the show implies there's some serious business on the rise as well.

Hiiro no Kakera: Teenage girl is summoned by her grandmother back to a small town where she learns that she has a mystical heritage and it's time for her to learn to step up and keep the world protected, with the help of a bunch of quirky bishonen. Based on a visual novel. Very pretty, but the prettyboys are a little goofier than I like in my sparkly shoujo anime. I might watch a few more episodes and see if I warm up to it, though.

Jormungand: The adventures of an arms dealer and a child soldier who hates weapons and arms dealers because his family got killed. We were not able to find a single solitary likeable character in the first episode, which mostly consisted of the arms dealer shooting up a bunch of people for trying to hold up her weapons shipment in Customs.

Ozuma: By Leiji "Captain Harlock" Matsumoto. Post-apocalyptic desert world! Ships that submerge under the sand! Pirates! A mysterious girl! Ladies with fabulous eyelashes! Sand whales! Worth a look, especially as it's only like six episodes long.

Sankarea: Boy with a zombie fetish tries to bring his dead cat back to life and meets an upper-class girl with enough issues of her own that she's willing to volunteer to test his zombie formula. Not sure where this is going, not sure I'm interested in finding out.

Shirokuma Cafe: AKA Polar Bear Cafe. Slice-of-life comedy about a lazy panda and a cafe run by a polar bear. Although Polar Bear serves coffee and Panda is forced to get a job (as "part-time panda" at a local zoo) by his mother's ongoing threat of sucking him up with her vaccuum cleaner, all of the animals are drawn with surprising realism, which just makes it that much cuter. Only seen one episode so far, but it's really kind of charming.

Tasogare Otome X Amnesia: AKA Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. Another haunted high school story, but this one's not horror; the ghost is president of a paranormal investigation club (her body is buried under the club room) and, with the help of a student who's able to see and interact with her, appears to be trying to find out the circumstances of her death. The premise is kind of interesting, but the execution leaves something to be desired; the first ten minutes of the first episode are shown from the point of view of someone who can't see the ghost, and then replayed shot-for-shot with the ghost's presence included, in a way that was clearly going for a "once more with clarity" kind of thing but was mostly just unnecessary.

tsuritama: Boy who struggles with social anxiety and panic attacks moves to an island town, where a kooky boy who claims to be an alien invites himself into the first boy's home, takes him fishing, and derails a couple of his panic attacks by shooting him in the face with a squirt gun which seems to have mind-control properties. There's no way for me to convey in a summary how cute this is, but it's very cute, and full of bright, bright colors.

Upotte!: Just when I think I've gotten a handle of the Japanese tendency for weirdness, they pull something new. For instance, this show. I wasn't thrown by the idea of a slice-of-life comedy show about a school for moe anthropomorphic guns - I'm not sure why someone would think of this as an idea for a show, but whatever, it's Japan. But then the first episode uses the premise primarily as a vehicle for metaphors about sex, and I just don't know what to make of that at all.

Zetman: From what I can tell from the first episode: highly inethical corporation created experimental monsters and used them as pit-fighters to entertain the rich elite, until the "players" revolted, killed a lot of people, and escaped. The one scientist not quite as inethical as the others rescued a child from the project before the company could exterminate their remaining specimens, and ran off with him to live as a hobo and try to raise him as a human despite his superpowers, an effort complicated by the fact that the corporation is still looking for him and the "players" are still out there as well. Or, to sum up still further: homeless teenage superhero? The animation is really pretty and the characters seem interesting - I plan to watch more.

And then there's Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope), which deserves its own post.
joiedecombat: (random chance)
The new fall anime is out, so animenite is trying out a bunch of new series again:

Chihayafuru: Will probably not last at animenite, as it seems to be primarily a slice of life / romance series about a pretty but socially awkward girl with a passion for a very Japanese card game called karuta, and her two childhood friends who used to play it with her. Seems cute, and the art style is pretty, although I don't know if I'm interested enough to watch it on my own time.

Fate/Zero: Prequel to Fate/stay night, of which I have neither played the game nor watched the anime, but I've osmosed some details thanks to others I know being into it, enough to know that this is guaranteed to go nowhere good. We've seen two episodes so far and people are already losing their damn minds. In particular, Caster invoking Cthulhu made it a big hit with the animenite crowd, which makes me a little worried about this bunch.

Kimi to Boku: Slice of life about four high school boys who've been friends since childhood. Not sure what theme they're going for; the first episode was about the uptight one's efforts to get one of the two apathetic twins to join a school club, any school club. Apparently they had almost no budget for animation, as a surprising amount of the episode was only barely what you'd call animated. We spent most of the episode trying to convince Billy that yes, all four of those characters are boys. My overall reaction is pretty much "meh."

Kyoukai Senjou No Horizon: The file actually broke halfway through the episode, but nobody was too broken up about it owing to we couldn't tell what was supposed to be going on and the character designs are ridiculous. Special mention to a number of female characters who looked like they had fully-inflated helium balloons taped to their chests in place of breasts. Something about training for battle was all I got out of the episode itself; investigating online provides some further backstory about Earth being destroyed, an "upper world" which was also destroyed, the laws of causation breaking down, and... yeah, I don't know either, and I'm not sure I care too much.

Mawaru Penguindrum: Actually from the summer season, but I don't think I mentioned it before now and we're still watching it, so I might as well include it. From the mind of the guy who brought us Revolutionary Girl Utena, and it shows: two brothers take their ill sister to the aquarium, whereupon she drops dead, and is brought back to life by the penguin hat they bought her as a souvenir. The entity of the hat possesses the girl and commands her brothers to "find the Penguindrum," and crazy ensues in copious amounts. This is one of those shows where we're twelve episodes in and still nobody has any clue what's going on.

Phi Brain: Proving once again that the Japanese can make an action series about anything. This time it's puzzle-solving, which is not that far off the wall as compared to the action series about economics and the tournament sports series about baking bread. Our hero is an obsessive puzzle-solver who, in the first episode, solves a labyrinth which results in his forming "the contract of Orpheus", gaining a funky-looking gold armband and the ability to "use a hundred percent of his brain." The art style kind of bothers me. Third anime of the night to feature an appearance from Koyasu Takehito, who is once again in every damn thing (in this case, he's also in Kyoukai Senjou No Horizon and Mawaru Penguindrum).

Persona 4 the Animation: I already tl;dr'ed about this one. It seems to have caught the group's interest so hopefully we'll stick with it. I have gotten around to actually playing the game as well, up to slightly past the point covered by the first episode, which turns out to have indeed greatly condensed things, probably for the better. Thus far, in spite of some reordering of events which I think works better in the episode format (specifically, the protagonist summons Izanagi during the first visit to the TV world), it's a remarkably close adaptation. We'll see how it goes from here.
joiedecombat: (persona 3 portable)
Like so.

This will be an interesting experience, since while I've played Persona 3 and am familiar with the series through it (although I take it that the main themes are rather different, what with the copious suicide imagery of P3 being replaced in P4 by... glasses?) - and have been spoiled for a lot of the major points of the game - I have not actually played Persona 4 yet.

I gather from reactions elsewhere on the interwebs that the first episode trims down the game's prologue considerably, but it didn't read to me as particularly rushed, even though it did launch pretty promptly into crazy what with the dead body hanging from the TV antenna and people getting sucked into televisions. In any case, we have our basic premise - new transfer student! murders! strange happenings on midnight TV! - and I'm interested enough to keep watching.

I'm amused at how many artifacts of the game seem to have made it in, from the ingame calendar progression, Yu's stats being displayed in the eyecatch, alertness-blinks and sweatdrops and, apparently a good bit of the game's actual soundtrack. Yu has very little personality through most of the episode, but since his social stats are (the eyecatch helpfully informs us) all at 0, we can hope that the guiding hand of character development will help him become more of a presence in the plot once there's more to do than watch Chie harass Yousuke all the time. At the very least, he certainly takes a level in something in the last scene...

I don't think the episode really hit its stride until right at the end, but the last scene was definitely an attention-grabber. I'm willing to suppose that it's a Persona tradition for the protagonist to seem simultaneously badass and kind of creepy when they awaken to their Persona for the first time; if so, Yu is living up to his source material like a champ. I have nothing invested in the original game and I still got a thrill.

Dammit, why can't P3 get an anime like this, instead of Trinity Soul?

...oh, copious suicide imagery. Right.
joiedecombat: (bombarded)
"Full of Courtesy, Full of Craft," or: "Oh crap oh crap oh crap."

Read more... )
joiedecombat: (D:)
"There's No Way Out" - very aptly titled. It was sort of like watching a slow, very gradual, completely unavoidable train wreck.

Read more... )

Six more episodes. I'll just... leave this here as a tension-breaker:

(Oh, Kotetsu, this is why Kaede will never think you're cool.)
joiedecombat: (let's believe)
"Ignorance Is Bliss," which in this case actually means "yeah, remember the breather we gave you last episode? Hope you enjoyed that while it lasted."

Read more... )
joiedecombat: (wild tiger)
This was a restful episode compared to last week's punch-in-the-face, so yay for that.

Read more... )
joiedecombat: (let's believe)
So it turns out what "Truth lies at the bottom of a well" really means is "I did not see that coming."

Read more... )
joiedecombat: (confident)
The general plan for this episode seems to have been "hey, the past few episodes were pretty tense, huh? time for some balls-out ridiculousness."

Read more... )
joiedecombat: (confident)
Not related to the episode, but I am finding myself so entertained by this. Explanation: basically, from a blink-and-you-miss-it screenshot, someone out there in the fandom concluded that Kotetsu wears Kenzo Pour Homme cologne.

And the fans started buying it.

Apparently in significant numbers.

I'd be entertained by this regardless, but the fact that it's happening in the fandom of a show about corporate-sponsored product placement superheroes - complete with shameless product placement for real-world companies - is cracking me right up. I've heard rumors that the same thing is happening with Brooks Wines.

...Of course, I laugh, but I'm severely tempted to shell out the money for a Wild Tiger t-shirt. And if I could find the Hero TV Staff shirt on a site that had English-language ordering I'd definitely buy one. (It has a tiny hidden Origami Cyclone on it! This is the best thing ever.)

But getting on to the actual episode... )
joiedecombat: (let's believe)
I said I would, so here's some Tiger & Bunny fanart links.

Read more... )
joiedecombat: (lounging)
Someday soon I'll shut up about Tiger & Bunny.

Today is not that day.

TL;DR spoilers for episode 12. )

I was going to do some picspam in this post, too - this fandom is generating some epic fanart - but that got a little long. Maybe I'll do a separate post for it.
joiedecombat: (bunny-chan)
Haven't done one of these in a while, so why not?

What I'm Watching: Tiger & Bunny

Tiger & Bunny is sort of Japan's take on what would happen if superheroes started emerging in the modern world. The answer, if you were curious, is a reality tv show starring coporate-sponsored heroes.

I can't wait for a commercial in this situation! )
joiedecombat: (Default)
A break from the shipping meme! Animenite is trying out some new fall anime series. So far:

Bakuman: Potentially interesting, although it seems like they can't quite decide how seriously they want to take themselves. So far it's looking like a slice-of-life about two high school guys who decide to become a manga team - one as the writer, one as the artist. The artist's crush wants to be a voice actress, and there's this whole promise that they'll try to get a manga turned into an anime so she can voice the lead, and then she and the artist will get married. There are some obvious problems with this plan, starting with the fact that his crush has said they can't see each other at all until this happens.

MM!: Something about a masochist joining a high school volunteer club to try to not be so much of a masochist. This is a plot that would work better if the art style weren't the kind that makes all the female characters look five years old. Also I'm really not sure what the point is beyond the male lead getting abused a lot. Pass.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: Art like Powerpuff Girls. Content not so much. I'm not exactly clear on what's up with this one either; it appears to be about a pair of "angels" who are contracted to fight monsters with weapons created from their undergarments, but then again the whole second half of the episode I saw was about retrieving every copy of a porn movie that Panty starred in to prevent her image from being ruined. So, whatever.

Hyakka Ryoran Samurai Girls: Another completely incomprehensible show, this one involving super-powered female samurai with historical names, and the wide-eyed, large-breasted, frequently-naked mental five-year-old kind of anime heroine I'm really learning to hate. Meh.

Psychic Detective Yakumo: This one, I liked. The title character is a bit of a jerk, always a plus for me; he can see and talk to the spirits of the dead, and also makes some spare cash on the side faking other psychic powers he doesn't actually have. The female lead prevails upon him to help after several of her friends end up possessed and/or dead, kicking off the plot. The female lead bears a suspicious resemblance to Shuichi from Gravitation, but is not voiced by Tomokazu Seki and is probably actually female.

The World God Only Knows: A cool title wasted on its plot, which is about a guy who claims he's only interested in girls in dating sims, not in real life, and is almost immediately shanghaied into driving evil spirits out of girls' hearts by making them fall in love with him. This one makes me kind of uncomfortable: the main character seems like he's set up for a lesson about how real relationships are both more complicated and more rewarding than video game ones, and that being a dating sim expert doesn't mean he's in any way equipped to win girls over. What actually happens, meanwhile, is that (some initial screwups aside) he succeeds in setting up dating sim cliches and winning girls over with them, and then once the evil spirits are driven out, the girls are made to forget the whole thing. So yeah.

Kuragehime: The winner of the evening, about an apartment complex inhabited by female otaku - most prominently a jellyfish enthusiast - and a gorgeous, stylish cross-dresser who will probably be moving in with them.

Otome Yokai Zakuro: Some kind of alternate historical Japan in which four "half-spirit" girls (read: catgirls) team up with three soldiers to combat spirits. Mostly focuses not on the combatting but on the fact that one of the girls is tsundere and one of the soldiers is terrified of spirits and is way too prone to sparkles and random roses for any character who's not actually in the Ouran Host Club.

Squid Girl: The other winner of the evening. Cute squid girl (read: girl with cute tentacles for hair) emerges from the sea to take over the world and punish humanity for polluting the ocean. She has no idea how to do this and ends up pressed into service as a waitress in a beachside cafe to pay them back for putting a hole in their wall. Pure comedy.

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes: Another victim of the art style that makes every girl look five years old. Plot is a mess involving a detective academy, magical powers called "toys," and a team of "gentleman thieves" with some really annoying character tics. Totally vetoed.
joiedecombat: (Default)
A few more new anime:

High School of the Dead: Zombie Apocalypse Japan! Notable for jumping directly to full-on zombie apocalypse with minimal buildup (it actually starts with a zombie mob and backtracks only slightly to show the zombies first arriving at the main characters' high school and their initial reactions) and for having a main character who's very on the ball regarding the fact that he's in the middle of a zombie apocalypse (the moment he sees the first attack and resulting victim zombification - which happens within a few seconds; the zombies in this one Do Not Mess Around - he barges straight into his not-girlfriend's classroom, grabs her, and announces that they're running for it. Then they make a quick pitstop at a storage closet for weapons). A good bit of gore, and a lot of fanservice (and fan disservice, considering the number of shots of people being eaten). Might be too dark for me, but I'm kind of interested.

Occult Academy: Teenaged girl with a chip on her shoulder returns to the academy her occult-obsessed father founded to attend his funeral, just in time to deal with the evil spirit that possesses his corpse and runs amok on campus. All the while insisting it's staged, because she hates the occult (since her father neglected her in favor of studying it). Also, a naked guy descends from the sky in a pillar of light. No clue where this is going.

Black Butler II: Same premise, new kid, new butler. This one tap-dances on balcony railings. And the kid is batshit insane. And the butler from the first one is still around and toting the original main character with him in a trunk. Um, okay.

Kimi ni Todoke: The most adorable thing since Chii's Sweet Home. Slice-of-life high school drama in which a socially awkward girl gradually makes friends, opens up to others, and falls in love with the nicest "most popular boy in school" you ever saw. It's like an inversion of that romance plot I talked about back in my "guilty fandom secrets" post, where instead of one of the characters being inscrutable because he's socially retarded and actually in love with the other party, he's actually behaving more or less reasonably, she's just too naive and socially inexperienced to catch on. The really neat thing about this one, though, is that there's no makeover or dramatic change to who Sawako is and how she behaves, just her being encouraged to make the effort to talk to people and gradually learning to better navigate social interactions without having to fake anything.

It's a little reminiscent of Fruits Basket, minus the supernatural aspects.


joiedecombat: (Default)

August 2012

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