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.
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.
Battle Can Can
Kitty Media/Media Blasters
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
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
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
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!!
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
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:
Do you agree with my list? Have your own worst? Cast your vote!
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
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
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: 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
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
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:
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!
[DISCLAIMER: As of April 6th 2014, only one episode of Daimidaler: Prince vs. Penguin Empire has been broadcast. As such, this review will be extended once more episodes become available.]
I hoped to wait a little bit before reviewing the anime of the Spring 2014 season to allow the new series a chance to get a few episodes out of the door and at least begin to establish their respective universes. Not only is this fair on a narrative level, but also on a critical level. However, with this show, I’m going to make an exception. Kenzen Robo Daimidaler is a mess. A tale of a guy who wants to use his powerful arsenal to conquer all…as well as pilot a giant robot.
From the outset, Daimidaler is meant to be a light-hearted tale of a penguin-inspired race trying to take over the world and the only force that is able to fight back is that of the Daimidaler and the Prince Beauty Parlor Organization with the main female character Kyoko aiming to recruit our male lead Kouichi to join them. He is chosen because he has a huge amount of Hi-ERO particles [this universe’s midicholrians/power level/messiah-o-meter] and is able to control the Type-2 robot which is PRINCE’s strongest robot. The thing is though, these particles are only activated when Kouichi is aroused and the groping of Kyoko’s chest is the most-used tactic to unleash the awesome power. When he’s not charged, Kouichi is a weakling lusting after woman like some kind of grade school troublemaker.
I’m sorry, what? His power is derived by groping? Granted, I’ve seen similar examples of a male character gaining power from sexual actions but those were portrayed as comedic or daft or in a manner which was meant to not be taken seriously, but this; this is just awkward and confirms to us all that as of now Kouichi is a complete and utter jerk. He doesn’t have a morally just bone in his body. He’s only piloting the robot because he finally has a chance to touch a woman’s bust. That nugget of fanservice is not the only time that that rears its ugly, curvy head. The show is peppered with them and each are equally bad. Then at one point he just walks off and doesn’t seem to care that the world is in danger; he gets why he’s needed but he STILL walks away from proceedings. Talk about a loser! In this episode, the focus is on Kouichi discovering his innate power and a chance to introduce the show’s giant robot. There’s one problem here though; Daimidaler is AWFUL.
This robot sums up the show’s quality in my opinion. It’s sub-par, early noughties trash which has little to no effort put into it. There’s a lack of consistency between character designs, particularly with Kouichi and the female cast members. He looks like he’s from a completely different show; a throwback to the nineties aesthetic of pumped-up, virile young hotheads which populated anime at the time. It’s an utter mess which leaves me dumbfounded at the sheer mediocrity. Giant robot series, even the spoofs, are meant to impute a feeling of ‘YEAH! AWESOME!’ especially with the robot; I don’t get that here. The above picture shows the lead bot and it’s a shambles. The colour is unappealing, the hair is useless, the arms are totally uneven and the frame looks an Optimus Prime reject! It’s probably one of the worst robot designs I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen Protectors of Universe! I’m left struggling to wonder why this show is so shoddy when it comes to its presentation and then I look at the credits and spot Studio TNK. Where have I heard that name before? School Days. SCHOOL DAYS. One of my most hated anime ever and these guys made it. I remembered that having lacklustre animation and that speaks volumes. Then I spot that the creative team behind Kenzen Robo Daimidaler is the same team that was behind High School DxD. That explains the fanservice but not the animation; High School DxD wasn’t GREAT but it was good…this isn’t. What happened?!
Then we get to the above beauty. A CG car driven by Kyoko to get to the scene of the final battle and we get a ‘brilliant’ two-minute car sequence with this car being centre stage and looking both entirely out-of-place and poorly animated. It looks so odd and its movement contrasts with the rest of the setting. I get that hand-drawn animation and CGI differ in style but framerates can be matched and sometimes the car doesn’t seem to want to follow the anime it’s been pasted into. It’s laughably bad. Fourteen minutes in, go check it.
Who are Kouchi and Kyoko fighting though? The Evil Penguin Empire, that’s who. Humanoid penguins with front tails to which they are most proud of. They are also pretty perverted after raiding Kouichi’s home and his pornography collection. They are meant to be, especially the minions, the comic villain from another world who are supposed to be completely off-the-wall and indeed alien to our ways. They do that, that’s for sure! Despite their daftness and their suitability for a spoof series, I’m left unsettled and weirded out by these figures instead of being accepting and indeed amused by their sexually suggestive appearance.
In the end, Kenzen Robo Daimidaler’s first outing is a travesty. Usually the first episode is meant to have the best animation, to lure people in and secure an audience. This show doesn’t do that, it does the opposite. It’s tragic to watch an anime bomb so spectacularly when it comes to artwork. How are we supposed to accept this level of quality when we’ve been given the delights of Captain Earth and No Game, No Life to look forward to? This show is an embarrassing trainwreck. The plot is mediocre and the characters are repellent so there’s little hope of this show getting back on its robotic feet. Only watch this if you want a good example of how NOT to make an anime. I shall update this review after watching the second episode and include my findings from that as well.
Kenzen Robo Daimidaler is available to stream on Funimation. [WHY?!]
RATING: CANCEL [A sad beginning to one of anime’s biggest duds.]
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