Anifile’s Worst 5 Anime of Spring 2014


The Spring 2014 season has had it share of good anime as seen in my top five list, now let’s see what made its way onto the bottom five. This season, like the top five, was a hard one when it came to choosing a list of the five anime I liked the least. Most of the anime I saw were only mediocre or mildly annoying; of course there are some exceptions but the lower half of the list was harder for sure! Like I mentioned in my previous list, I didn’t get to see about ten anime from last season. I will therefore include a small list of the anime I wasn’t sure of when I mentioned them in my preview posts. With that acknowledged, let’s get to the list!

————–

#5 – Mischief of the Gods

kamigami_1

FULL REVIEW

I knew exactly what I was getting myself into with this one. A thinly veiled reverse harem anime which is framed like a dating sim filled with pretty boys who just so happen to be gods from different religions and time periods. Not only does it feel as flimsy as a soggy piece of paper but it is also laughably ridiculous! When you first meet the gods, flowers blossom before them and show how pretty they are and clearly states that brains are not required…for the most part. I will give kudos to the writers for doing a little research before creating these characters and retaining certain character traits from history but it doesn’t fully pardon this show from making the list. Its vapid nature is not for me. I know it’s aimed for women but that shouldn’t make a difference. Men and women alike want something with substance…you know substance that doesn’t feel like a wet dishrag.

#4 – Blade and Soul

bladesoul_1

FULL REVIEW

An example of an unnecessary anime adaptation. Based on a Korean MMO, Blade and Soul tries to envoke the feelings of the game to a Japanese audience which came out not long after the anime started airing. It’s hard to adapt such a massive universe into a linear story; MMOs are meant to be totally non-linear and unique to the player. Instead we got a boring assassin named Alka who got on my nerves with how bland she was. I understand she may have seen some serious stuff growing up but there should still be some personality lingering around, surely! Paired with an unlikeable main cast, overly busty characters and flawed presentation – this show is not worth watching. Play the game. THAT looks cool.

#3 – Dragonar Academy

dragonar_1

FULL REVIEW

Oh boy, here’s when the list becomes easier to quantify. Dragonar Academy is this season’s Magical Warfare. How? IT’S UNORIGINAL AS HELL! It’s like any other magic school that we’ve seen before and doesn’t even tell THAT well. It feels so stock you could make a broth with it! Not only that but it takes the awesome might of a dragon and turns them into lumbering horse-like animals who look like they need to go on a diet. The main duo are also tired facsimilies of characters that we have long since grown tired of; the angry diminutive magical girl and the ‘hero’ guy. Yeah. I’ll stick to Record of Lodoss War or Slayers thank you very much! Remember, kids! Blandness kills.

#2 – Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutarou!!

matsutarou_1

FULL REVIEW

What could make this show end up so high on this list? A lot of things, but the biggest crime is that of being a crushing disappointment. I expected something akin to Wreck-It Ralph in that the angry hulk is a timid soul who simply wants recognition…instead we got a hulk who was mean, uncouth and lewd to everybody for the first few episodes; enough to put off even the most forgiving anime enthusiast. It made me feel so dirty after watching it. How could I find hope in such a thing? It didn’t help that Toei’s recent decline in animation quality for anything not Dragonball or Toriko or anything popular is rather distressing and made itself evident with this production. I was shocked with how such a studio could put out something so shoddy both in animation and writing. I understand that Matsutarou is set in the 1970s where things were less refined than today when it comes to gender equality and etiquette for a country bumpkin like our lead, but kindness is timeless. It feels like an anime adaptation that was twenty years too late. Pass.

#1 – Daimidaler: Prince vs Penguin Empire

daimidaler_1

FULL REVIEW

Yes. This is the worst. I get that there are two ways you can look at Daimidaler. Firstly, you can look at it as a spoof of all mecha anime and how things can get pretty ridiculous; or there’s the feeling that it’s gone past parody and just become offensive and sickening. I fall in that category. The parody element flew past me and all I saw was something strange, sexist and mean-spirited not to mention be animated so poorly. I was flabbergasted with how poor it was. Studio TNK, the animators of the series, should be disappointed with their ‘work’. The whole notion that a woman’s place is in the cockpit serving the sexual requirements of the male pilot for the good of mankind is enough to drive me to despair. Sick.

——————–

MISSING IN ACTION

As before, here are the shows which I didn’t think much of which I never got around to reviewing fully:

Hero Bank and Dai Shogun – Great Revolution

——————-

Do you agree with my list? Have your own worst? Cast your vote!

Advertisements

Con Report: San Japanderful Times in Texas


After only day back from Finland, it was time to head out again. This time, my girlfriend and I were off across the Atlantic to sunny Texas. VERY sunny Texas. This hasn’t been my first time in Texas this year, but it was my first time exploring a different region of the state – San Antonio. A place where it’s hotter and the culture is distinctly more in keeping with its Mexican connection. The convention: San Japan. One of the conventions which many of my acquaintances had recommended over the last few months when I got a request from the con chair to join LittleKuriboh and the rest of the TeamFourStar posse. How could I say no? I had heard good stuff about this event and that stuff was pretty accurate!

sanjapan_1

San Japan has been around in some shape or form since 2005 with its first event two years later. Since then, it has steadily grown in size peaking at over fourteen thousand attendees this year. When I arrived on the Wednesday night prior to the event I was greeted by the head of guest relations, Ken, who drove us from the airport to the Grand Hyatt in downtown San Antonio. We were both tired but we were happy to see him and chat a little before being even happier with the sight of a bed. The Thursday was spent to some light sightseeing of the famous Riverwalk which is located right by the hotel where the convention is situated as well as greeting the rest of the TeamFourStar gang as they trickled in later that day. I also got to properly meet Uncle Yo after briefly seeing him at Otakon the year before and he was a cool bloke; really got on with him as we hung out in the green room and walked past one another during the weekend. One of the highlights was a boat ride on the Riverwalk laid on for the guests at night – it’s a very beautiful and calming experience. If you are going to do the boat ride while you’re in the city, do it at night. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Suffice to say, the choices of things to do around the convention site are long and numerous – you will not be bored!

sanjapan_3

As for the con itself, I was worked pretty hard! I was planning to stay a few days after the con and in return I agreed to do some more panels and help judge the AMV contest on the Saturday which did mean missing a TeamFourStar autograph session but it couldn’t be helped! I always give autographs if people ask for them. My duties included laying on a voice acting panel, joining LittleKuriboh on his panel to add a distinct British flavour to the Texan menu, judging the AMV contest as well as the autograph signings, main panels and VIP sessions which the rest of the TeamFourStar crew were doing. It meant that I wasn’t bored in the slightest but I was pretty tired – a good kind of tired though. The type of tired which comes when you know you’ve done a good job. Most of these panels went by very well and I was happy to be with my friends on these panels well-received by thousands of congoers. The voice acting panel in particular was neat. I had honestly forgotten about agreeing to do it and I quickly had to think about stuff to talk about but thankfully I had a receptive audience who had plenty of questions to ask regarding the medium. It was great to see such an enthusiastic bunch wanting to get into the field. One girl in particular was taking notes with a fervoured expression and came up to me afterwards asking for clarification like her life depended on it! Several people came up to me afterwards actually – it was nice to have a gang of people asking for more. I definitely have to thank Dave [the con chair of San Japan] for getting me back into doing AVA [amateur voice acting] panels!

You know how I said that most of the panels went by OK? Well..the AMV contest – oh dear. For an event that was meant to be three hours, simply show AMVs and judge the best, it was a logistical mess. The group that had been asked to conduct it on behalf of San Japan were friendly when things weren’t so frantic, but when the problems with playback of the videos and the wiring of the computers kept haunting the group things started to get very tense and tempers frayed; it left me feeling me a little awkward as the crowd filtered out. A solution to the problem? Just plug a laptop in and make a playlist, let it run and judge them as they play. Simple! Why all the faff of carrying a heavy PC onto the stage as well as a printer and two monitors? Oh well! Lessons learned for next year. One thing to point out that the convention itself did the best they could with assisting the outside group in terms of getting wires and holding dodgy cables in place for up to twenty minutes at a time. Other than that blemish, the con staff and panels went by swimmingly.

sanjapan_2When it comes to an anime convention, there has to be an artist alley and dealer’s hall. San Japan had that and they were HUGE. Not only huge, but also diverse. All sorts of things to see, admire, buy, dream of buying and talk about with friends. I was able to find some cool stuff as well as some rare stuff like a copy of Dragonball Z: Sagas for the Gamecube [quite possibly one of the worst DBZ games ever] and a couple of hard to find Nadesico prints and cutouts from magazines which were vintage 1997. I was happy! The artist alley too was impressive with loads of talented people showing their works including one booth which sold a wonderful Toothless pendant I got for my girlfriend. So cute! Next to the artist alley was a special area for LARPing [live-action role playing] and foam samurai battles which looked like fun but I didn’t pluck up the courage to try it myself. All these activities came together to make a brilliant whole where you can easily spend a couple of hours trawling for some unusual wares and things to do. The gaming area next door too was plentiful with offerings including numerous Smash Brothers booths, DDR machines as well as a Para Para machine which is one of my favourites [the one where you move your hands in rhythm], such fun. There was even a Virtual ON machine! Happy days! The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Centre, which hosted San Japan, was a vast venue with large rooms and airy social spaces but it was a little confusing to get used to initially; I did end up getting lost for the first day or two! However, you quickly acclimatise to the building and you start not running into empty halls. It was also able to host multiple events such as sports coach conferences as well as a teacher conference; how these people managed to cope with us awesome anime folk!

sanjapan_5

In terms of guest duties’, I experienced my first VIP brunch with some attendees who had bought gold passes for San Japan. They joined the guests in a delicious brunch laid on by the Hyatt. I was placed on my own table as were the rest of the TeamFourStar gang and managed to fill half the table with some fans who wanted to eat and chat with me; I got some really cool people and it filled the two hour session nicely; I’d do it again! A surprise appearance was the music star TheLivingTombstone. He arrived on the Sunday morning and my girlfriend and I walked him around the con and helped him secure a decent meal and room for the night. He also got to meet some shocked fans of his who didn’t expect him to be there. I had known Tombstone for a while online but this surprise meeting was a welcome one.

sanjapan_4

 

Was San Japan able to live up to the hype that preceded it? You bet! It was a blast! The Texas heat didn’t stop me from enjoying this charming convention and friendly staff who were always around to help make sure I got to my events on time and safely. Not only that, but I got to say hello to some of my voice acting heroes such as Lisa Ortiz and Chris Ayers; awesome! My big and warm thanks to Dave, Darcy, Molly and the countless tech staff who helped out on our panels – you guys made this convention special and I can thoroughly recommend this convention to anyone interested in anime. It has a lot of heart, a ferocious drive [it has plans for its development going through to 2018!!] and a focused staff. Big up to all the green shirts!

For more information about the convention, go to San Japan’s website or follow them on Twitter!

ADDITIONAL: Check out the size of the convention badges given to guests and staff – they were enormous! I included a pound coin for reference.

sanjapan_6

ADDITIONAL ADDITIONAL: Thank you so much to the fans who made these awesome gifts for me and the rest of the TeamFourStar bros. Team COAS-TAR!

sanjapan_7

 

Anifile’s Top 5 Anime of Spring 2014


So the Spring 2014 season has finished and with it the end of some more series of anime. Some have been good, most have been decent and some have been pretty dire. It’s been a mixed bag and some surprises have cropped up. There were shows which surprised me and others which disappointed. This top five list for the season of Spring 2014 was pretty tough as there were shows which I wanted to put on such as No Game, No Life and Captain Earth but I can only have five and I wanted to be true to my opinion instead of following the consensus. Note that there have been some anime which I didn’t get to see due to a busy convention schedule and as such I shall list the anime which I summarised initially and still think have potential at the end of this post. So let’s spring into action, shall we?

———-

#5 – Baby Steps

BabySteps_1

FULL REVIEW

I’m not much of a sports person, but when I watched this show for the first time I was curious about tennis. There was something about Eiichiro which I liked; he was a methodical individual who wanted to understand every single detail about tennis and use it in a logical manner to better his game. His drive is not from passion which has been seen many times, but through deduction. It makes the audience get behind Eiichiro and feel for him as he struggles to understand the sport both on and off the court. It’s not the most beautiful anime out there, but it’s still good. Baby Steps has a touch of realism about it and feels like a drama that could be easily made into a live-action film or special with little friction. This was probably one of the bigger surprises of the season in my eye; for that it managed to edge out No Game, No Life for the last spot on the top five. It also confirmed that slice-of-life is my favourite genre of anime.

#4 – If Her Flag Breaks

ifherflag_1

FULL REVIEW

The biggest surprise from the season goes to If Her Flag Breaks. Why? Well, it made me laugh! Also it’s cute. Usually comedy anime tend to disappoint me and I rarely break out a smirk when I watch something which is meant to be funny which hails from Japan. When I watched Souta beginning to thaw and warm up to his new found friends, it was a touching moment. He had suffered a traumatic ordeal of losing his family and then was bestowed with a power to read people in the form of cutely decorated flags. He uses this power to his advantage and it makes for a cute story about Souta changing the fates of himself and his friends whilst throwing in some dorm room action and cheeky comedy for good measure. There is quite a twist later on in the show which helps the show stay fresher than most would in the second half of a run. All in all, I’d say this was a turn up for the books!

#3 – Chaika: The Coffin Princess

chaika_1

FULL REVIEW

Chaika: The Coffin Princess was a fun ride. It had a certain something about it which made me think that this show is going to be a hit with anime fans everywhere. With the studio which brought to you Fullmetal Alchemist and Soul Eater, Chaika and her crew have the same endearment level as well as ‘cosplayability’ in the form of the leading lady. Its narrative was easy to understand and the magical ecosystem was not a complete mess which requires a masters degree to comprehend. Put simply, magical sniper rifle rules all! With the help of Tohru, Akari and Frederika the quartet feel like a true team and one that has potential to be a lasting squad going into an upcoming second season this autumn. This show has got a lot of heart and that heart will be pumping strong for years to come thanks to a English release by Sentai Filmworks! Woo!

#2 – One Week Friends

oneweek_1

FULL REVIEW

You know how I said I like shows with charm and heart? Yep, I think you know where this is going. Prepare the tissues, people! One Week Friends is about a girl who has had suffered severe mental trauma which results in weekly memory loss; she can’t make friends. Literally. She’ll forget them each and every Monday. How sad. One boy though tries to help her overcome her affliction by writing down a diary and slowly but surely it works. Yuki and Kaori are beacons in the world of anime in that nothing sexual is alluded. It’s all about one boy trying to make a friend where before it was impossible to do so. A simple story with a beautiful colour palette is something to behold and cherish. If you ever needed a good example of why anime is so special, this anime is a prime candidate.

#1 – Knights of Sidonia

sidonia_1

FULL REVIEW

Oh yeah, you knew this was going to be here. It was no contest. Knights of Sidonia is a landmark anime which marks a turning point in how anime is made. Three-dimensional, cel-shaded models aren’t new to the creative world but it has rarely been used to such an effect than in this show. Tsutomu Nihei’s art style lends itself to the clean lines of the third dimension making the non-mecha moments feel more organic, especially in the latter half of the first season. True, the animation was a little rusty at first but it improved quickly and by the end of the season it was on the mark! Then when you get to the mecha sequences; it’s gorgeous and a spectacle for my spectacles! Nagate Tanikaze’s ascendency to the world of mecha piloting was an awesome ride; the amount of plot points which impressed me were numerous [such as Nagate not being a hothead towards his ‘rival’ Kunato and the whole Izana/Hoshijiro love triangle]. The soundtrack is the icing on the cake with one of the best anime intro themes of recent memory. Its similarity to Attack of Titan should mean that lovers of Eren Jaeger’s adventures would get a kick from Knights of Sidonia but I strongly recommend it over the former. It is, in my opinion, way better. Does it beat my favourite anime of all time, Martian Successor Nadesico? Keep an eye out on my all-time top ten in the coming months. Also, there is a second season and I intend to buy the manga; I’m that stoked about this show!

—————-

Missing In Action 

Due to my hectic schedule in June and July of this year, it meant that there were some shows which I didn’t get around to seeing after previewing them. There were shows which appealed to me and would suggest checking out despite my lack of review for them. They are as follows:

Ping Pong: The Animation , Even So The World is Beautiful , Nanana Ryugajo’s Buried Treasure & The Kawai Complex Guide To Manors and Hostel Behaviour

—————-

That’s it for the prime beef of this season! Next time, we check out the off-cuts and tripe in my worst five anime of spring 2014.

What did you guys think? Cast your vote now for your favourite from this season!

Con Report: Anime near the Arctic


When I first went to this convention, I was curious to see how anime was received in a European country. Anime in Europe has a longer history than in the UK or the USA and as such it has a far more engrained integration with people. This was self evident and I was blown away with the refinement of the Finnish convention, Animecon…despite being unable to understand most of its offerings!

animecon_1

Refined – that’s one word that I’d describe Animecon of being. It’s a refined experience and surprisingly big! Bigger than conventions in my home country and it has ten times the general population than Finland! Clearly, anime is big in the Fennoscandia region. This year marked my second outing and this time I was on my own. The previous time [in 2012] saw me joined by fellow TeamFourStar members KaiserNeko and LittleKuriboh; now I was flying solo as the sole representative and had a packed schedule. Three panels with my name on them – I’ll get to those later. The main thing I want to get across is that this con is amazing and so friendly.

animecon_4

Over three thousand people descended on the town of Kuopio, over two hundred miles northeast of Helsinki. That’s a big number to fit in the town’s music school; but they did just that! The school is just a few minutes walk from the town’s main square where there is a packed market and a rich selection of restaurants and shops to kill time between panels and events. For those seeking a little more nature, the lake surrounding the town is visible from the venue and you can easily get a nice walk in with plenty of chances for pictures if you want to get a good backdrop for your cosplay portfolio. Speaking of cosplay, the Finns take it very seriously and yet there’s no drama. People cosplay for fun and not for success; they just like to put time and effort into their attire and enjoy themselves. I loved that simplicity and good nature. The entire convention emanated good nature and fun; even ‘The Yaoi Guy’ was on top form! The dealer’s hall was spread over two areas; the main part in the central area of the school and the other part on the first floor landing. It contained the usual anime convention mix of manga, anime, plushies, badges and merch but it also had Viking-based steampunk wares which I was really tempted in getting but my wallet had other ideas. That’s one thing I was saddened by – the price of stuff in the dealer’s market. I know it’s not the con’s fault; it’s more of an intrinsic problem in Finland. Things are more expensive there and from an outsider’s perspective it’s off-putting but it’s how things are in the country and thusly you can’t do much about it other than overthrowing the government…something tells me a group of cosplayers aren’t going to march on Helsinki anytime soon though!

animecon_3

During the weekend, I had my trusty handler Teme providing an ad-hoc commentary on certain events such as the opening ceremony and certain panels which were naturally conducted in Finnish. He was a brilliant handler and now a good friend. My thanks go to him for making mine and my girlfriend’s time in Kuopio a hassle-free experience. Fortunately, the education system in Finland meant that everybody I came into contact with understood and spoke English so it meant little chance of things getting lost in translation. My three panels were the only panels in English so they stood out quite a bit! I also got to meet up with some of my friends from my last visit; Pasi, Rosa, Violetta and the con chair Lassi were happy to see me and I was happy to see them. They made my stay the first time so much fun and did the same again this year! I felt very well catered for. The other guest on the bill was the famous manga artist Kaoru Mori. I got to meet her and her entourage during the weekend and found them to be very friendly and keen to talk to myself and my girlfriend at evening meals. Of course they got more attention than I did but I had no problem with that since they needed it as this was their first time in the country and I was more versed with Kuopio’s layout and could look after myself if need be; I felt good with proceedings!

animecon_5On to my panels. I had three – an Anifile-themed panel, a fanfiction reading session and a playthrough of a dating sim…of the feathered kind. Naturally that last one filled the room and over two hundred people laughed at my antics playing the game ‘Hatoful Boyfriend’ with my character titled ‘Awesome Kuopio’. Sadly the game crashed on me after an hour but I was about to run out of time anyway so it wasn’t a disaster; people had fun all the same. The Anifile panel played host to a first screening of my review of School Days as well as showings of some of my recently produced episodes which went down quite well and led to some enquiries about the website. Finally, was the fanfiction panel which was fantastic! Probably one of the best I’ve ever done. It consisted of me reading bad fanfiction for an hour with laughs aplenty from both myself and the audience. All the audience members were polite and enthusiastic but a little shy as is the Finnish way. I was so nervous about how my panels would be received but I needn’t have worried; they were all successes. Yay!

animecon_6

Finally, there was the convention’s star attraction – the Saturday night concert. The town’s orchestra as well as a famous Finnish opera singer came together and performed a selection of anime tunes to the delight of the crowd. I consider this as the con’s party piece and what makes it special. Hearing a forty-plus orchestra serenade its way through a rendition of My Neighbour Totoro’s soundtrack was a joyous occasion. There’s something inspirational about hearing music live. It sent shivers up my spine! A truly wonderful experience.

animecon_2Animecon is a Finnish convention mainly for Finnish anime fans but despite this language barrier, I didn’t feel lost or isolated at all. People I met and conversed with were hospitable and keen to chat. I had a lot of fun and would not say no about returning next year! The convention gives off a smart and sophisticated air and makes it stand out with its selection of guests and events. I would recommend this as a convention which is well-run, loveable and brilliant. Of course if you don’t speak Finnish you won’t get the maximum from it but you can still have fun and scout out some rare finds in the dealer’s den as most of the content are English imports!

Big thanks and love to Lassi, Teme, Pasi, Rosa, Violetta and Juhani!

For more information, click here for a link to the con’s website.

School Days REVIEW


Support Anifile’s Patreon campaign to increase its reach and content: http://www.patreon.com/MasakoX

So yeah…one of anime’s most notorious productions; and probably one of the most enraging! It’s one of Masako’s most hated series and he explains why as he reviews School Days.

ADDITIONAL INFO:

Name
School Days

Created by
0verflow

Animated by
Studio TNK

Published
2007

SPECIAL THANKS TO MY PATREON BACKERS!
Phyllida, David D, Darren180233, Luis V, James H, Dawn S, Alex W, Eric G, Vaati, Jack, Mahan, Brandon B, Griffin, Teitur, Eric W, Matthew D, Aeon, Charles G, Jayro Z, Tim M, Joshua R, Benjamin M-D, Lightuke, Alesha F, Alex S, Jack D, D’Metrius S, Anthony C Poe, Veronica B, Malcolm T, Furst, Alexander and Sean!