Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bamboo Blade - Completed Review

What is it?

A high school kendo club, inspired by the arrival of a talented freshman, aims at tournament glory. This is one of those typical "let's sweat our youth away together in a sports club" themed series.

What's good about it?

Good characters and character designs. Well-plotted with good pacing. Animation is above-average. All in all a good production.

What's bad about it?

The whole series was a little too vanilla for me. The jokes were nothing much, the problems they faced were either not that impressive or never really amounted to anything important and the subject matter as a whole didn't really push the enveloppe in terms of intellectual content. By the first couple episodes I was already sick of the whole "DAN-KUN!!" and "MIYA-MIYA!!" thing.

Final Verdict

All the cute characters and decent entertainment value probably won't stop me from forgetting about Bamboo Blade a few years from now. It just doesn't have any really strong points to focus on. Despite that, Bamboo Blade remains a good watch and a decent all-around series.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Monthly Anime Ranking - May '08

1. Code Geass R2
2. Kurenai
3. Soul Eater
4. xxxHOLIC kei
5. Allison to Lillia
6. Real Drive
7. Kanokon
8. Library Wars
9. Kyouran Kazoku Nikki
10. Nabari no Ou
11. Wagaya no Oinari-sama
12. Vampire Knight
13. To Love-Ru
14. Itazura na Kiss

The purpose of the monthly rankings is more to denote trends in terms of quality during the life of a series. It won't necessarily reflect the rating of the completed review. Some shows start or end strongly but I try and look at it as a whole when making the completed review. The monthly review will reflect how the series is faring at the moment. I'll name a biggest winner and biggest loser for the month. This will be determined by my opinion and not necessarily in the number of ranking spots changes. Lastly, I'll make observations about how trends are developing in some series.

FYI- If I have failed to see any(or not enough) episodes for a series since the last month - be it because of a failure to release episodes by fansubbing group or a personal choice on my part- the series will be highlighted in green and it will not change in ranking opinion for that month (it may be passed or pass another in ranking position if I determined a series I did watch has surpassed it during that month or vice versa).

Friday, May 09, 2008

First Impressions - Spring Anime Season (Part 2)

I'm very proud of myself. I've watched at least 3 episodes of every single show on my spring anime list. I usually fall quite short of that. I'll put it down to good show scouting on my part. Oh, and since I'll be premiering my monthly anime ranking soon, I won't bother writing these in any particular order.

Vampire Knight: Vampires and humans attend the same school(unknowingly for the humans), though at different times of the day, in an experiment of unity between the two groups. Anyways, at lot of vampire stuff happens with a bunch of vampire related flashbacks and intrigue surrounding, you guessed it, the vampires!
Early Impressions: Not very entertaining(as of yet) angst-filled vampire tale.

Kyouran Kazoku Nikki: A newly-formed family that includes, among others- a lion, a cyborg, an octopus, a god and an effeminate yakuza- attempt at living a normal family life together. Over-the-top in both story setting and pacing, KKN is shaping up as a good comedy.
Early Impressions: Crazy cast of characters try being normal. Ok so far.

Allison to Lillia: A great action/adventure series starring a pair of childhood friends. One being a rash, decisive pilot and the other being a talented student with a thirst for knowledge. So far it's been a fast paced ride with an old school type production. Good character development too.
Early Impressions: A strong adventure series.

Kurenai: A high school student/professional mediator is given the task of guarding a little girl who was previously leading a sheltered life in a wealthy family. This is probably one of the strongest series of the new season. It has a great setting with interesting and likeable characters. There's also some great action scenes spread in there.
Early Impressions: Great start to a potentially great show.

Wagaya no Oinari-sama: A carefree guardian spirit (a fox spirit again!?!!) to two young brothers protects them from spirits who wish to eat them. A lot of the comedy is that the fox (and the priestess also protecting them) are unfamiliar with regular modern life (the fox having the excuse of having been sealed away for many years). Elemental-themed battles versus spirits take place every episode. Not the strongest series so far. Characters are kind of dull so far.
Early Impressions: An average fantasy/comedy/slice of life show.

Soul eater: A fun series about Death God's minions, who are trying to catch souls in order to become his weapon. The characters are diverse and funny. The artwork is strange and intriguing. The fighting is entertaining and creative. One of the stronger efforts so far.
Early Impressions: An amusing fighting-comedy type series.

Real Drive: A futuristic setting where people use their consciousness to dive into the virtual world. The story is interesting but the pacing is a little slow. The characters are likeable but simplistic. This series reminds me a bit of Ghost in the Shell in that it should be great but is tiresome to watch at times.
Early Impressions: Good futuristic/fantasy show with pacing issues.

Library Wars: Libraries have armed themselves in an effort to fight the risen tide of government and private censorship efforts. Good characters with heavy development. Really more of an urban military type setting then of a librarians with guns versus terrorists type (I wish!). Slow pacing at times. Repetitive plotlines hurt. For example, the main character is taken lightly and force to prove herself and be recognized, only to be taken lightly again the next week and forced to prove herself all over again.
Early Impressions: Decent military/action type series.

Nabari No Ou: A modern-day ninja series revolving around a boy carrying a special power sought after by the big bad ninja clan. The good guy ninjas swarm around him and try to protect him and free him from his fate. The early great comedic success by the main character totally disappears after the first few episodes when the plot turned suddenly more serious. Its hard to say if that's temporary or not. It could go a long way in my enjoyement since I'm so sick of ninjas(samurai are cooler!).
Early Impressions: More ninja fighting.

Well that's it! Man I'm bushed. I feel like the quality of my writing really took a nosedive after the first few reviews but I'm too tired to care about that now. I'll write up the rankings tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

They Are My Noble Masters - Completed Review

What is it?

Incredibly, it's ANOTHER butler themed anime. This time with a brother-sister duo serving a group of 3 "noble" sisters.

What's good about it?

Some really nice character designs. (I've noticed I start a lot of reviews with character designs. It may not seem that important but in these types of shows, that is the harem-comedy genre, a lot of the draw and the comedic impact depends on how likeable the characters are, and the designs have a sizeable impact on that. In fact, I believe I would have been less annoyed with the pink-haired sister(the only one I didn't like) if her design wasn't so lame and unoriginal. Anyways, I digress.) Decent character development for a 13 episode show with more than 13 characters.

What's bad about it?

Besides the amazingly over-used butler theme and the annoyingly long title, TAMNM (forced to anagram) doesn't have many glaring weaknesses. The flipside however, is that it has almost nothing original or creative to offer.

Final Verdict

If your not a hardcore student of anime like myself who feels he has to see most significant series that comes out, you can go without seeing They Are My Noble Masters. It is an ok series with little originality in both concept and material. If you really like the specific genre, that being the butler themed series(there must be some fans since they make so many of them), it might be worth your time.


Clannad - Completed Review

What is it?
A bitter delinquent with a heart of gold decides to put his entire energy into building up a complete stranger's dream, the theater club, and along the way they are constantly distracted by other strangers in need and stop everything to help these newcomers. After their "arc" is completed, that person throws their lot in with the theatre club's efforts.
What's good about it?
High production values coupled with, at times, witty dialogue and funny comic gags. Secondary characters offer a strong showing.
What's bad about it?
I don't care at all for the character designs. The plot is incredibly formulaic and the outcomes are quite predictable. The comedy bits are winners, but the series remains a drama at heart and those parts can be excrutiating. The attempts at romance were so pitiful it was laughable. The two main characters only start going out in the very last episode and they blush and freeze up at the thought of holding hands or even calling their boyfriend/girlfriend by their first name. Grow a spine. No one is like that these days (or have ever been like that).
Final Verdict
Alas, the parents of the main female character can't save this series (I loved the bit about the mother's breadmaking skills) because like the other successful characters, they only have side-roles unlike their daughter who is quasi-unbearably lame. That is more proof of the show failure at drama than of miscasting. Characters unattached to the plot are more likely to be there for comic support, which is where the show does ok. The main characters are forced to get serious to advance the storyline, which leads you to want to strangle them. (It's ok to feel that way). There are better series out there. Don't bother with this one.
FYI- Here's what on tap for the rest of the week:
They are my noble masters! - Completed review
Bamboo Blade - Completed Review
First Impressions - Spring anime Season (Part 2)
Monthly anime ranking - May 2008 *(new segment)
I hope to have at least 3/4 of those done by next week. Stay tuned.