Tag Archives: action

World Break: Aria of Curse For A Holy Swordsman REVIEW


Anime about magic academies have not worked as of late with the exception of shows like Witch Craft Works. Last year’s Magical Warfare or Dragonar Academy screamed ‘poorly constructed and generic magic Harry Potter clone thingy’. It’s safe to say that this type of story is very prone to poor writing and being shovelled full of fanservice. Does World Break: Aria of Curse For A Holy Swordsman break this mould? Well…not quite.

worldbreak_6The story takes place in a world where magical demons terrorise shopping malls near conveniently placed lakes and magical academies exist all over the world to harness the power of the Light and suppress the Dark Arts [check]. Our main character, Moroha, is an average student with a tendency to be way too relaxed about stuff but somehow possesses a hidden power inside his soul [check]. We have a flash forward to denote that character progression DOES happen but we have to sit through three months of angst to get to that point again [check]. Oh, we have girls vying for his affection and pants [CHECK]. Suffice to say, World Break ticks all the boxes of a harem anime with nuanced magical traits [well I say nuanced, more like BLATANT]. Moroha and his friends Satsuki and Shizuno are remnants of his past lives who found themselves reunited. All the students at this academy [#4930] are here because they have memories of their past lives where they had powerful abilities and it’s the school’s job to tap these resources. Naturally Moroha and pals have above average skill [in fact Satsuki and Moroha were once siblings and have a strong affinity which boosts each others’ powers] and so initiates them into the school’s Strikers brigade. It’s all rather convenient but are you REALLY surprised? REALLY?

worldbreak_4World Break ISN’T TERRIBLE. However, it’s furiously generic with tons of things we’ve seen from different magically orientated series which are sadly done better. The fanservice is LITERALLY shoved in our faces a couple of times in the first episode alone when Satsuki and Shizuno spat about their busts and Moroha then throwing out the ‘tactful’ comment that Satsuki is too bony. Nice. It fortunately doesn’t go further than that, the number of awkward falls and gropes are kept at a bearable amount but the vapidness of Satsuki is hard to ignore; but at least she’s good at what she does albeit being arrogant…and annoying. I think what got me more was the questionable voice acting and comedic visuals. There’s one scene where Moroha is comically shaking his head but it looks really odd and it’s accompanied with a bemusing sound byte which made me triple-take. Yeah. Then the Big Bad of the episode’s voice was WEIRD and it didn’t suit his body type which jarred the fight scenes. It all leads to a disappointing first episode.

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What makes Moroha different from most is that he can remember ANOTHER life; back from a different time when he and Shizuno were powerful dark magicians. This connects them as well as he and Satsuki from a future time. It’s this connection with Shizuno which keeps me watching; I like Shizuno. No it’s not because of her frontage; it’s because she’s a more complex character then she is first given credit for. Her family owns the school [her brother is the president] and she was taught dark magic from an early age [an unfair advantage] so she can be a guaranteed leader, she is merely a tool in the family’s master plan. Until Moroha came along she had no freedom or drive and found solace only in dreams; it may sound sappy to some but it moved me. I felt sorry and wanted her and Moroha to buddy up; but her brother tries to stop it by ‘bestowing’ an S rank on Moroha giving him the best pay and prestige in the land…at the cost of his freedom and rights. He would become a weapon, not a person. Yeah, it’s all well and good to be super powerful but when the government treats you like some kind of nuke instead of a human being, what good is that? It’s plot points like the two mentioned just now that gave me faith that this show has potential to be alright; it’s not going to be amazing or even very good, but it could be decent. I have hope.

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The magic elements of the show are pretty cool too! It has a cool calligraphy vibe with a ghostly incantation which evokes strength and eerieness [and for those thinking that standing still chanting whilst monsters are attacking is stupid, don’t worry, the anime has thought of that!] which is a lot more original than examples I’ve seen recently. I really dug the first four minutes of this show but because of the fanservice and harem elements it quickly began to fall down my pecking order. The animation quality is very inconsistent but mostly lands in the good bin. Diomedea did an alright job in the end but there are times where the drawings look oddly proportioned or a breast is oddly triangular [image three]. It mars the quality of the show somewhat but I’ve seen worse shows in my time so it passes sort of.worldbreak_3

World Break is a better iteration of the magical academy harem anime. It’s not the best or even a good example but it’s passable. Despite this being the third lowest anime on my readers’ poll, I rate this higher for the fact that it tries to be clever with its characters. It’s not a powerhouse of plot but it’s something that you could possibly watch if there was nothing else on or you REALLY wanted to watch some magical harem stuff. I’ll stick with this and see if it holds up but I don’t expect greatness.

World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CAUTION [Not great, but it’s a reasonable romp mostly.]

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Terraformars REVIEW


The Fall 2014 reviews begin today with one of the first series to feature on the calendar. The world that humanity once called home is looking to broaden its reach to its nearest habitable world, Mars. In the late twenty-first century, man sent samples of algae and cockroaches [one of the hardiest creatures on Earth] to Mars in a hopes that these could terraform the planet [generate air and plant-life] so humans can move in the future. Five hundred years later, this mission has worked. Sort of. The mission’s head didn’t anticipate the cockroaches transforming into super-strong humanoid cockroaches that can break a man in half as if it were rice paper. Terraformars is about humanity claiming back the world of Mars with tons of blood and guts…if you could actually see them!

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The show takes place in the early twenty-seventh century when a young man named Akari is the subject of great interest of the United Space Agency (U-NASA) after his wife is the victim of a new virus which is believed to have originated from space. This strain of disease has the potential to wipe out humanity and the team have no leads; except one. That planet that they tried to colonise centuries ago…what was it called again? MARS. This is what you get when you play god! In an attempt to not only gain a foothold in the fight against this new virus but to eliminate the threat that destroyed two previous expeditions, Akari and dozens of other recruits are offered special treatment to prepare them for combat and Martian life. Led by the survivors of the previous mission, BUGS 2, the team of Annex I aim to eradicate the threat of the Terraformars and discover an antidote for the biological threat that is looming closer. This sounds like a pretty threatening premise…if you weren’t thwarted by black bars which take up most of the screen.

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I’m going to go onto this very quickly because this problem is a HUGE one. Black bars. Censorship in anime these days is fairly common when you have more risque and violent series; you usually find it done very cleverly or subtly (i.e. as rays of sunlight next to a window or dark shadows in a dingy room). Recent laws have required this to happen and most creators have adapted smoothly, or as smoothly as they can. Terraformars doesn’t do that. All of the blood, all of the shock, all of the immersion is ruined when you are greeted with censor bars which, at times, take up eighty percent of the viewable space. Some move jerkily around if gory material is being shaken about; or heads are blacked out if they’ve been crushed. I have never seen censorship in a mainstream anime go this far; it’s ridiculous and unnecessary. It is also cheap – a blatant tactic on the part of Liden Films (the makers of the show) to generate sales of the uncensored Blu-ray and DVD release in the months ahead. You might think that because the content is so violent and that this is going out on Japanese TV that you would need to adhere to this kind of censorship; I don’t agree. For starters, the show goes out at 12.30am. This is at a time where any kind of watershed will be long expired. Also, there’s the fact that another equally gory anime, Parasyte, is airing with very little or NO censorship whatsoever AT 1.30AM! If this was a consensus amongst all broadcasters, both anime would be equally censored; but it’s not. Instead, we have an anime which is compromised. Extremely.

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So what do we have when things aren’t censored? Well, we have a bit of a narrative mess, especially at the beginning. The first two episodes covering the initial recruitment of the characters, including Akari, is in actuality covering the first TWO VOLUMES of the manga. The writers have compressed three hundred pages of content into forty-five minutes of screen time. As a consequence, the plot is severely rushed and stripped clean. The first episode especially left me confused as most of it involved Akari fighting a bear in some kind of freak show for rich people. I had no idea what was going on. Presentation-wise, it’s a little pretentious. Jaunty angles and epic camera pans are thrusting the idea that Terraformars is another Attack on Titan. How? The epic camera swooshes, the overpowered Akari and executive officers being the only hope, the RIDICULOUSLY strong Terraformars themselves and humanity being under threat by them. This show wants to be the latter but it fails because it’s mostly dull; characters talking about corruption and sundry matters. The genre is meant to be action, so make it action-packed more often.

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The Terraformars though are pretty menacing. For the first couple of episodes, they are portrayed as silent and brutal killers with no idea of emotion. Hyper intelligent, fast, strong and scary. Sounds like a perfect monster; you’re left wondering about how you can tackle a being like that. Well, you have to make a medicine to help level the playing field; but they’re onto that. Episode two has a moment which made me perk up and upped the stakes tremendously regarding the Terraformars. When they opened their mouths though and yelled, it sort of diminished their fear factor but they are still frightening; you wouldn’t want to meet one in a dark alley…or anywhere for that matter. The way they are presented, including the animation itself is respectable, if a little stiff. There are grand shots, mass action and detailed backdrops; but the animation of the characters is a little lacking and lazy. One example is one scene when the executive officers are fighting the monsters and then we cut to another scene; we return and the Terraformars are dead, most of them killed off screen. Great. Are we supposed to be impressed by IMPLIED strength? Maybe, but I want to see bugs being smashed; especially since we don’t see anything else remotely gory.

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I think Terraformars has potential to be pretty good in terms of pure action. One of those sci-fi properties like the original Total Recall or Alien where there’s tons of over-the-top action and bags of character. However, I cannot excuse the censorship rife in this show. It taints the show for me and I cannot recommend the show because of it. Crunchyroll has recently announced that, for one day only, they would stream the first three episodes uncensored; probably as a response to the mass criticism or merely as another marketing exercise. It’s hard to tell but all this hiding behind black bars has overshadowed this anime entirely.

TERRAFORMARS is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CANCEL [With regret – this cheap ploy for disc sales negates the potential that this series has.]

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Fall 2014: Action


Summer’s gone and Autumn [or Fall] has taken its place.  The anime is still coming by the boatload though and on Anifile we are delighted to be able to continue with the previews for the shows coming up. Like in the spring, we are separating shows into different categories based on their primary genre. There are thirty anime eligible for review on this site [As usual, I don’t count sequel seasons of series such as the two new Gundam series] and instead focus on the brand new franchises and see if they’re worth your time. Let’s begin with some action!

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Akatsuki no Yona
(Yona of the Dawn)

Animation Studio: Pierrot
Origin:  Manga [Kusanagi]
Date of Premiere: October 7th

Summary
On her sixteenth birthday, the only princess of Kouka [Yona] is greeted with the sight of her dead father at the hands of her cousin and love interest Soo-won. Before he can kill Yona, her servant Hak rescues her and takes her to an old monk who teaches them about four legendary dragons which can save the kingdom from the tyranny of Soo-won’s faction.

Initial Thoughts
Upon first glance, it’s a decent looking show with average visuals and some grandiose battle sequences thrown in. The plot is somewhat samey with the whole love interest angle despite the fact that one of the subjects killed the other subject’s father; kind of makes things awkward. It seems like a good show overall though but it’s not novel enough to bring to the front of the queue.

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: Medium

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Donten ni Warau
(The Cloudy Laugh)

Animation Studio: Dogakobo
Origin:  Manga [Karakara]
Date of Premiere: October 3rd

Summary
In the Meiji era, the age of the samurai was starting to fade away into the history books. Carrying swords was made illegal, but crime spiked as a result. In response, the government created a huge island prison where the only way in or out is via boat. Three brothers from the Kumo family man the vessels as they transport convicts to the island. However, from first glance, it seems that things aren’t quite as straightforward as you might think.

Initial Thoughts
The last hurrah of the samurai is a hugely significant part of Japanese history and to focus on it in an anime is somewhat refreshing. It’s like how the Western genre revelled in the dying days of the cowboy in the 1880s. It’s the same thing! These trio of samurai-born warriors have a cool look about them and clearly show prowess in different ways. I’m intrigued with how this will pan out as it’s clear that the story goes far beyond simply ferrying prisoners. Let’s see!

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: Medium-High

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Garo: Honou no Kokuin
(Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames)

Animation Studio: MAPPA
Origin:  GARO Tokusatsu franchise
Date of Premiere: October 3rd

Summary
The Valiante Kingdom has begun a massive search for wielders of Maki, both priests and knights. In the resulting purge, the art of Makai is brought to a near extinction. One man, Leon Luis, returns to the Valiante Kingdom at the request of the king’s son when his throne is taken from him by his former advisor. Leon wields the power of the Golden Knight Garo and only its power can help the land be restored to its rightful owner.

Initial Thoughts
Two thoughts came to mind. Knights transforming and ‘The past will come back to haunt you!’ This adaptation of the famous Garo tokusatsu series is a curious retelling of the concept. Unrelated to the live-action series, the anime plans to take a grander approach to the idea of knights with sentai-like powers. This show carries a lot of weight behind it and seems to look pretty cool too!

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: Medium-High

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Kiseijuu
(Parasyte)

Animation Studio: Madhouse
Origin:  Manga [Iwaaki]
Date of Premiere: October 8th

Summary
In this world, Japan has been besieged by intergalactic parasites known as…Parasites. These aliens invade the population not with lasers but by burrowing into humans and animals through their noses or ears taking them over – in VERY disturbing ways. One boy named Shinichi is spared such a fate, or at least for the most part, because he was wearing headphones. He is still infected but only his right arm is infected; it develops a personality and together they fight other Parasites whilst using each other to survive and prosper.

Initial Thoughts
Wow. I thought Terra Formars was going to be the shocker of the season; this probably will give it a run for its money. It is a REALLY scary idea; parasites taking over your body without you knowing it and turning you into some kind of monster that likes eating other people. Even dogs aren’t safe! In any case, I really want to see where this goes and how Shinichi and his partner, Migi [Japanese for right as the parasite takes over his right hand] interact and help one another!

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: High

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World Trigger

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Animation Studio: Toei Animation
Origin:  Manga [Ashihara]
Date of Premiere: October 5th

Summary
The city of Mikado is home to some of the worst Neighbors you’ve ever seen. From another dimension, these beings destroy Mikado and have been for about four years before the story proper begins. The Border group meet this challenge with a brand new class of weaponised young kids, Triggers. Thanks to these Triggers, the city is brought back to a relative peace until a Black Trigger appears and threatens to disrupt the newly formed status quo.

Initial Thoughts
I don’t know. I’m not overwhelmed with the initial premise. I’ve seen this before and I reckon I’ll see this again in the future – demons appearing which cannot be stopped by regular weaponry and as such NEW weapons need to be made. Fortunately, the show in its entirety seems to be quite light-hearted and characterful with a neat main duo. My main concern is that Toei will skimp on the animation [which is somewhat evident IN THE PREVIEW] like it has done with recent shows that aren’t Dragonball or One Piece. If it can give this show a good animation budget then things should be OK, otherwise the look won’t match the feel.

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: Medium-Low

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So we have five action-packed productions in the work. What else do we have? Well, we got twenty-five other anime to cover and seven of them are comedies which we will look at next time!

RETRO REVIEW: Persona 4 The Animation


Back from 2011 once again for another retro review. The famous PSP/PS2 franchise gets its own anime adaptation and proves to worm its way into this reviewer’s spectrum. A must-see.

(NSFW) RETRO REVIEW: The XXX Files


ADULTS ONLY. Masako delves into the world of XXX anime thanks to a ‘present’ from Benzaie back in 2011. This present being a hentai; and not a good one. The infamous movie Battle Can Can.

ADDITIONAL INFO

Name
Battle Can Can

Distributed by
Kitty Media/Media Blasters

Produced in
1987