Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
karmaburn.com karmaburn.com

Dated 4 December 2017: Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shō remembers that Shimada Mayu is first among equals

Shiho and Mayu
In unrelated news, I'm pretty stoked Shiho is in this too.

I can't remember where I first heard Wake Up, Girls! characterized as "failure moé," but the term has stuck with me as a fairly apt way of describing the franchise, notably for its upward swings from being the underdog as the only idol show without a Sunrise affiliation, to achieving solid triumphant moments, including what was reportedly a stunning performance at Anime Expo 2017 in Los Angeles (which I missed). Unfortunately, the current season of the anime, Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter, has fared woefully from an animation standpoint, giving the impression that the WUGs have taken a couple steps backwards. The Yamakan-helmed first season had its own problems at times, but nothing anywhere near this dire. Through seven episodes, extensive use of stills and slow pans turn much of the show into a radio drama, and it's obvious quite a bit of daylight separates reality and desire when it comes to production efforts. Problems plague even the official subtitles, which continue to display an incorrect name for one of the main characters in the opening credits even now.

(more…)

Dated 29 November 2015: Amagi Brilliant Park is a warning to pay your mercenaries

Kanye and Latifah
Princess Latifah and her knight, I guess.

I finally finished watching Amagi Brilliant Park after putting it on hold last year because I was watching too many shows at the time. It's an all right anime, but frankly nothing to get excited about. (I did enjoy Kawasumi Ayako as Moffle; that's a different sort of character for her.) It should surprise no one that the primary plot about the theme park's flagging attendance wraps up favorably. No, the fairies don't all wither and die. However, there was a subplot I didn't anticipate. Naturally, spoilers fill the rest of this entry.

(more…)

Dated 29 October 2015: It turns out Inou-Battle is a pretty successful harem comedy

Tomoyo and Jurai
15-love.

I put Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de (When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace) on hold halfway through the autumn 2014 season to watch different shows, but I came back to it and finished it off a year later. There wasn't anything particularly bad about the series when I put it on the shelf last year, except I felt it was a rather unremarkable effort by Studio Trigger, a company better known for KILL la KILL and the Little Witch Academia movies. But now that I've finished Inou-Battle, I believe it is a excellent show—not relative to anime in general, mind you—relative to other harem comedies. You see, harem comedies tend to be mediocre at best and typically cursed with one or both of the following typical flaws: (1) Uninteresting harem candidates, or (2) an unlikable male lead.

(more…)

Dated 13 January 2015: Qualified praise for Akatsuki no Yona

Hak and Yona
There's also a lot of this sort of thing.

Akatsuki no Yona is really good for sufficiently broad definitions of good. This is a backhanded compliment, but I do admit it's not for everyone. Now in its second cour, this anime adaptation remains true to the original shoujo fantasy manga. Fans of the manga will likely enjoy the anime a great deal, but neither the tonal shifts nor the reverse-harem cast will likely appeal to anime fans who may have expected a more typical princess-in-distress series of canned adventures. Viewers don't need to be primed for squealing, KYAA! BISHIES! in order to enjoy the show, but they'll be better off if they at least aren't put off when more and more spikey-haired boys with large hands keep joining the cast.

Yona
Back away from the princess and nobody gets hurt.

That cast does keep getting bigger, though. An entire cour has passed and Akatsuki no Yona still hasn't finished introducing characters. I hope the anime isn't set to conclude with this second cour, because it's just getting started in relation to the manga. It really is a good adaptation, though. Saito Chiwa is perfect as Yona, and the anime communicates all the emerging fire-hair staredowns perfectly. That's the real reason to watch Akatsuki no Yona. Yona's transformation from a spoiled helpless fugitive princess to a leader of warriors is quite satisfying. I just hope the anime runs long enough to cover it all.

Dated 7 January 2015: People die when there are ga KILLED! P.S. Spoilers

Esdeath
It's a pity she won't live. Then again, who does?

I should probably write more about Akame ga KILL!, seeing as how it finished in the number two spot among the shows I watched during autumn 2014. However, I don't especially have a lot to say about it aside from acknowledging that I enjoyed it a great deal. That's significant in and of itself because I don't typically enjoy shounen fighting anime, but I like how Akame ga KILL! did it, even though it rushed the ending a bit after diverging from the manga.

Mine
It's a pity she won't live. Then again, who does?

The divergence was necessary because the manga hasn't ended yet. Without at least another cour, the anime would have had to trail off if it didn't pursue a different track. This also gave the anime an excuse to be less harsh than the manga, which has (for example) a lot more rape and lots more bad things happening to good people. Nevertheless, the anime still has a substantial body count, as a reasonable viewer should probably expect after becoming familiar with the general tenor of the title. Pretty much nobody is safe except for Akame. Her name is in the title, after all.

Dated 23 December 2014: Two voices

Sento
It sort of bugs me there are no sights on that weapon.

I first noticed Kakuma Ai because of her Aldnoah.Zero supporting character. She voices Nina, the schoolgirl refugee who nearly collided a ship with a giant obstacle the instant they let her steer. There's not much to the character that really stands out, but her panicky cries as she nearly wrecks the boat were pretty amusing. But then I noticed she's also in Amagi Brilliant Park, voicing Sento who sounds completely different than Nina. Sento didn't do any panicky yammering in the episodes I watched, but I did like the way she said "brilllyant paahk." I'm not particularly familiar with the rest of her work, but given the contrast between Nina and Sento and their aforementioned highlights, I'm encouraged to pay more attention to her in the future.

Emi
Emi's piano? Also a weapon.

Hayami Saori, who voices Emi from Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso caught my attention for the same reason I really enjoy Ito Kanae: She speaks with a normal voice. I find artificially squeaky "anime" voices a bit tiresome at times, and perhaps moreso when that fake-sounding anime voice is one the seiyuu uses as her "real" voice. Hayami Saori, on the other hand, sounds like a genuine person to me, which contributes a great deal towards my positive impressions of her character. Emi, if you don't know, is pathologically passionate about piano in such a way that would be sort of grating if I hadn't fully bought into her character. Emi's success in this regard speaks volumes to Hayami Saori's contribution to the show. It turns out I've also liked her in a few of her previous works, so she's another seiyuu to keep an ear out for, as it were.

Dated 17 December 2014: It's all right, we can always get more Chaikas

Chaika and Chaika
Speak no evil.

I didn't finish writing my introduction to the second season of Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle before it finished airing. I haven't read the light novels, so I don't know if the anime ending diverged from the books. I don't believe the light novel series themselves end for a few more months, so there's a good possibility there are some differences, despite how much Japan loves spoilers. I guess there's also the possibility the anime and the books have never been anything alike, and I wouldn't even know. (The Scrapped Princess novels by the same author are significantly different from the anime adaptation.)

(more…)

Dated 9 December 2014: ufotable's Fate/stay night would be a lot better if it wasn't for Fate/stay night

Saber
Saber works better as a supporting character than as a lead.

I'm not entirely convinced Fate/stay night needed a remake. Whipping boy Studio DEEN's first adapted this TYPE-MOON game in 2006 with the Saber-centric "Fate" route, followed by a 2010 movie based on the Rin-tastic "Unlimited Blade Works" route. Logically, the Sakura-suffering "Heaven's Feel" route should be next, but it appears ufotable plans on adapting it (as a movie) after animating their own "Unlimited Blade Works" project, this time as a television series that sort of succeeds ufotable's 2011 Fate/Zero prequel.

(more…)