Sunday, 27 December 2015

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk Review

A-1 Pictures has been a hit and miss anime productions studio. They have given us gems like Your Lie in April, The Flower We Saw That Day, Space Brothers, Gate Thus the JSDF Fought There!, Ao No Exorcist and arguably SAO. But they have also given us duds like  Denpa Kyoushi, SAO II, Occult Academy, Fractale, Uta no Prince Sama and sadly Gakusen Toshi Asterisk. While the list of A-1 anime is varied, the one thing that you can generally expect from an A-1 Pictures anime is good towards excellent art and animation. However every season the question you always have to ask is if the premise, plot and characters live up to that same standard.


Let me first start of by addressing a certain problem I hope does not become a trend in anime. Before going into this anime it is important to note that there is a second season due out in April 2016. In this same season we got the second season of the harem series Shinmai Maou no Testament. The first season ended at this boss fight and the main crux of the story was never resolved. I haven’t watched the second season but I’ll assume it gets closer to having a real ending. In the past there have been harem anime with sequels. I’m thinking of Highschool DxD, Zero no Tsukaima, Rosario no Vampire, Heaven’s Lost Property, The World God Only Knows, Sekirei, Date A Live. Say what you will about these anime but the one thing I personally can say about them is that I feel as though they can stand on their own without needing a sequel.
Unfortunately Asterisk feels like a 3 legged chair, incomplete and uncomfortably so. From the premise I was under the impression that this would be a tournament style anime. There is a tournament called The Phoenix Festa but that only begins on episode 9 out of 12. Therefore I assume season 2 will be all about this tournament and mostly all of season 1 was really just set up for it. There are 4 girls in the harem so really the first 8 episodes was just about getting to know the girls as well as learning more about the protagonist. There were also the standard harem cliches which felt like a checklist of things that had to be in there. I do wonder if it would have been smarter for the tournament to begin earlier and we could have somehow learned more about the girls as the tournament went on. I get that the purpose was so that we would feel more for the characters when the tournament began, but to be honest the matches in season 1 are only the preliminary rounds so I felt no sense of danger for any of the characters. In comparison to Maou no Testament the last episode didn’t even feel like a boss battle, it felt like a normal episode. So what we are left with is a action anime season where the audience feels nothing because there is no sense of stakes and there has so far been no real sense of danger to the characters. It really does feel as though season 2 should have been part of season 1. I really hope harem anime splitting into 2 seasons and having the 2nd season released 6 months later doesn’t become a trend. If Shakespeare can write plays without a needed intermission I’m sure a tournament style harem doesn’t need one either.


You got the main tsundere girl who's a princess, the shy/timid girl, the flat chested stoic girl and the voluptuous older blonde president. So yes everyone is a trope and to be honest I wasn’t interested in anyone except the blond president Claudia who is obviously not the main girl. To me good characters have to be more than one note, they can’t be 2 dimensional characters (pun intended). Yes every girl has this spontaneous and unexplained love for the protagonist but with Claudia there were these moments where you can just tell that there is more than meets the eye. That this girl is suffering and her cheerfulness is just a facade to hide the darkness inside her. Perhaps her interest in the protagonist is more out of a need to have someone to confide in. The problem is that season 1 didn’t really explain any of it but just gave hints about it. I might watch season 2 just to learn more about her. The female main love interest seems honorable and noble (again pun intended because she’s princess), but in no way is she interesting but simply transparent. In many ways she is Claudia’s foil, where the main girl is usually on screen while Claudia rarely is. Finally about the male protagonist, I get that some people find him annoying and say he’s the typical harem lead. However i would say that a typical harem lead is oblivious, that is something I wouldn’t say of this protagonist. You can tell by the subtle ways the protagonist interacts with the girls that he thinks of some as love interests but others as friends or the little sister type. Also he isn’t dumb either, in battle he is shown to be quite strategic and level headed. He isn’t overpowered due to a concept known as a “limiter” (which hasn’t been fully explained) where his power is restricted. Therefore I would say he is a decent towards good harem protagonist. The only issue I have so far is that as with many other harem protagonists, he as person is not very interesting and always does the right thing. In many ways both the male and female leads of the show are similar in a most uninteresting way.


This is probably the one reason to watch the show. Just watch the opening and listen to the ending of the show to get an idea on the art, sound and animation. Everything is just so bright and vibrant, crisp and clean. The score of this anime is very fitting for whatever scene it is in. It uses subtle sound effects in certain places to enhances certain sensations which affects how you feel and interpret a scene. You have minor arpeggio scales on the piano for mystery or suspense, upbeat synth tracks that fit the setting of this high tech world, a snazzy jazz track for some humour. In fact it is rare to have empty spaces where there is no background music in a scene. I feel like it’s important to talk about the battles in this anime. They are by no means the best I’ve ever seen in terms of strategy but they sure are impressive to look at. In a battle there is not just one battle theme, the anime uses different tracks depending on the situation in battle. In battle there were some tracks that sounded like they were from final fantasy, but my favorites were the ones that used synths and techno beats. In terms of visuals, the action flows effortlessly with no drops in frame rate. I was particularly impressed by the use of lighting which made certain sequences seem to glow in surrounding darkness affecting the tone of battle. With the change in lighting they even made sure to effectively include shadow in battle. A scene that comes to mind was when a character is about to meet their end and you see their shadow against the ground representing their doom. There is so much detail, you see sparks, light particles change in air dynamics. I find it amazing that they were able to put so much detail in battle without sacrificing the overall look of the rest of the show. Lastly I want to talk about the weapons in the show. By the end of the series you realize that the weapons themselves are characters in their own right. The weapons are representative of it’s wielder. There is particular care and thought placed into the weapons from their design, colour, sound effects, even the angle at which they are drawn in. Early on I found the scene when the protagonist first obtains his weapon to be downright scary. The vibrating sounds the weapon made were menacing and dangerous like hearing an electric saw inches away from your head. You begin the realize that the weapons themselves seem to harbour certain feelings, they can be joyous or noble, but others can be malice or evil. I commend the anime for using the art and animation to enhance the story.

Final Thoughts

Story: 3/10
Characters: 4/10
Art/Animation: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Enjoyment: 5/10
Overall 5/10 (Note I deducted a 0.5 due to the lacklustre ending)

Four episodes into the anime I gave it a 6.5/10. In my impressions I wrote
“In recent years similar shows to this series are decent and fine at best but this series could actually be good. I wonder if this concept has been rehashed to such a degree that the imperfections have diminished. Analogous to a chemist purifying or concentrating a certain solution. Perhaps so, perhaps not.”

Looking back I’m not sure why I was so optimistic, perhaps I was blinded by the gorgeous visuals and didn’t put enough weight onto the characters. I was enamored by the setting and wanted to learn more about the high tech society. However by the ending of this season I have not really learned anything new about the world itself. Infact I have more questions now then I did at the start. That is the frustrating thing about this anime, there was opportunity to be better than it is. However the story is told in such an uninteresting way with mostly bland characters. I continuously have to ask and remind myself what the stakes of this anime were. Sure characters have their own motives for winning the tournament, purpose, money, reputation, discovery. The problem is that many of these motives/stakes are glossed over and we are never reminded of the stakes until the very end. The anime fails to follow up on the motives and fails to explain why these motives exist which limits the world building of the show. This makes the anime less engaging. The lack of interesting characters hurts the harem aspect of the show and the lack of emphasis on the stakes hurts the storytelling. So what you are left with is mindless action. However the tournament doesn’t begin until episode 9. So for 8 episodes you have an anime that doesn’t really excel at anything save for the few action sequences and some moe/kawaii scenes if that’s what interests you. This is what I call popcorn anime, anime that is pretty to look at but serves little to no other function. If you are a fan of harems you may be able to get over the tropes and may even fall in love with some of the girls. Personally I’m one of these fans, I come home from school and just want to mindlessly watch something that’s cute, sometimes funny, and pretty to look at while I eat dinner. But for non harem fans, it is a waste of time, equivalent to staring at dynamic/animated wallpaper for a few hours. But hey, at least it’s not static wallpaper.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk Impressions

Note this is a first impressions based on the first 4 episodes.

I was told not to watch this series. I was told it had nothing to offer. I was told wrong. This series has a lot going for it if you are a fan of the harem genre and can get over the standard tropes. The most glaring aspect of the show is its art and animation. The show is drop dead gorgeous. The action sequences flow effortlessly and it’s a joy to watch. Just take a look at the opening of the show to get an idea of the art. Speaking of which the show has one of the best opening and endings of the season. Therefore in terms of production the show is at a extremely high level.

A negative I have with the show is the story. In recent years there have been an influx of shows with the same type of story and characters. A variety of shows I can think of with a similar storyline and feel is “Absolute Duo”, “Freezing” and “Infinite Stratos”. I have also been told another show this year called “Rakudai Kishi no Cavalay” is copy and paste of Asterisk. The show also suffers from an overpowered protagonist. This is another trope that has been increasingly popular particularly in light novels where so many of these anime are based on. Therefore my gripe is not of the show specifically but more of the Anime industry as a whole. With this amount of production and quality you have to wonder if the money could have been used for a more creative and unique series.

While the show’s story may be copy and paste from previous shows there are hints of it being superior to its predecessors besides the improved art and animation. The concept of a world ruled by companies is intriguing as massive conglomerates tend to be corrupt. In today’s world companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are having increasingly more power and influence to the point of many countries relying on the business of these companies to stimulate and elongate economic growth. Ursula K. Le Guin (Nebula and Hugo award winning author) stated that “Science Fiction is descriptive not predictive.” Therefore the concept is exactly what good science fiction should be. The issue is that there has so far only been passing mention of this concept. There has not been any great detail or implications shown which is worrying considering I’m 4 episodes in and the show is only 12 episodes long. Another positive is that the protagonist does have a weakness (possibly multiple weaknesses if you are paying attention), I hope these weaknesses get exploited to combat the trope of an overpowered MC.

Lastly I feel there are two sides to the protagonist. There are times where he acts like the stereotypical dumb harem protagonist however there are times where he uses diplomacy/speech in order to get out of a potential conflict. This frankly is a breath of fresh air in the genre. In battle he is able to analyze and understand strategy showing that he isn’t as dumb as he looks. This is a side I want to see more off.

Therefore I feel as though this show could turn into something that might not be great but might be at the top tier of its category. In recent years similar shows to this series are decent and fine at best, but this series could actually be good. I wonder if this concept has been rehashed to such a degree that the imperfections have diminished. Analogous to a chemist purifying or concentrating a certain solution. Perhaps so, perhaps not.

6.5/10 (so far)

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

Ore Monogatari!! Review

The first shoujo anime I ever watched was Sailor Moon. I was around 6 and I would watch the show with my older sister every Saturday morning. I didn’t understand plot elements, the romance, all the jokes, but I do remember having a great time and it being a fond memory. I will admit that since childhood, I have not watched many shoujo anime. In fact I have a tendency to avoid shoujo anime. The esoteric world of shoujo, with it’s soft color pastels, large eyes, bishounen protagonists are all foreign to me. I often find I get bored, busy, or drop the show in favour of a show I find more interesting. However Ore Monogatari has proven to be an exception. Every Wednesday I searched for the subbed episode and found myself watching Ore Monogatari before all other anime. In the shower I would sing the protagonist’s catch phrase, “I love her” in the style of “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson. I would chat on skype and other formats expressing my love for the show. The show just felt so different, so fresh to many of us. However one day I spoke to an anime fan who has seen a great deal of shoujo, she admitted that she didn’t understand my fascination with the show. She stated that the show may not be as groundbreaking and different that I thought it was. I wrote this review as a way to explore my own opinions and thoughts about this series, I hope it is a benefit both to you and me.


The reason why I felt this anime was so different was because of the protagonist, Gouda Takeo. In the opening of the show there is a scene of Takeo atop the Empire State Building, an allusion to King Kong. Takeo is similar to King Kong in that he is enormous, his size causes others to fear him and to misunderstand him, but beneath that scary exterior lies a heart of gold. It is only when people get to know Takeo better, do they start to realize how great of a person he is. Going back to the Sailor Moon reference, the male lead Tuxedo Mask is a handsome, mysterious, bishounen type character, everything Takeo is not which I found refreshing. There is a complaint that Takeo is far too simplistic of a character. Some find this annoying, but others like myself find it endearing. No matter how many times Takeo said “I love her,” I never once found it annoying because I felt the character was being genuine to himself.

Besides Takeo the other main leads are Yamato and Suna. Suna is Takeo’s good looking best friend and Yamato is the girl Takeo loves. The three characters have great chemistry with one another. Perhaps some of the best moments are when Suna and Takeo play off one another. The two complement each other so well with Takeo being very blunt and direct while Suna being more reserved and laid back. The anime spent time to show their history in the form of flashbacks. Usually I am not a fan of flashbacks but some of these flashbacks were so funny and cute that they were a joy to watch. The flashbacks also helped to make these characters feel more real and genuine. I would classify Yamato as being a “girly girl” who is very cute and reminds me of a rabbit with large eyes. As a love interest she would be any person’s ideal. However as a stand alone character she is far less interesting. The only thing I know about her that is not related to Takeo is she is a good at making desserts. With so much time and emphasis being placed on exploring the background of Takeo and Suna, I would have liked to have learned more about the female lead.


This is where Ore Monogatari falls flat. I have begrudgingly acknowledged that aside from Takeo not being a bishounen lead, Ore Monogatari appears to follow the standard shoujo format I have come to expect. The male leads saves the female lead from being groped on a train, romance ensues. It is always Takeo who saves the day with Yamato or her friends being a damsel in distress. The conflict of whether Takeo gets the girl, gets resolved very early in the series. This is a 24 episode series, after that initial conflict nothing much if anything happens. Instead the show begins to shift focus on secondary characters and simple misunderstandings between the leads. I did enjoy some of these shifts in focus, but in a 24 episode series I would expect more focus to be placed on the leads themselves. Especially when this anime is named “My Love Story!!”.

I feel the main problem with the leads are that they are too perfect. Takeo may not be the ideal boyfriend but he always does the right thing and Yamato is the perfect girlfriend. This makes the show fairly predictable even in the finale. However in a real relationship people are not always perfect, they fight, they argue. Simple misunderstandings tend to evolve into something more serious. It can be argued that this romance anime is meant to portray young, teenage love and that the two have not reached a sour point in their relationship. That is fine, however the fact remains that this is a 24 episode series, there is opportunity for more than just budding love.

Ore Monogatari reminds me of a one shot romance manga. For those unfamiliar, a one shot manga is a manga with only one chapter. I make this comparison because I feel as though Ore Monogatari does not have enough substance to warrant it being a 24 episode series, it could have easily been cut down to 12. Lastly I will say that I strongly identified with Takeo’s struggles of having a low self esteem, thinking you are worthless, placing others ahead of one’s self. It was one of the reasons why I first loved this anime. However this theme is only brought up in the beginning and ending of this anime, this theme is so strong that I wish they would have brought it up more. This and other dark moments of the show are when I felt the most engaged. However the show brushes off many of these moments and never addresses them again.


The style very much follows the standard art conventions of shoujo anime. Soft colour palette, characters with large eyes, Suna looking like the typical bishounen character. I would be lying if I said there was anything extraordinary or different when it comes to art and animation. I will say it is all very fitting, the whole point of this artstyle is to give a sense of warmth and feeling of Kawaii, and that is exactly what it gave me. The cutest parts are the inner monologues some characters have, where their thoughts and feelings get physically manifested by cute little drawings. The artstyle is noticeably simplistic, and some scenes feel washed out.  It is almost as though the show is run through one filter when some scenes would do better without it. In regards to the characters designs, Takeo is huge and Yamato is petite. When the two are together their physical characteristics are highlighted. For example when Takeo and Yamato hold hands, her hand looks at though it were a baby’s hand next to his. There was a joke made by one of Yamato’s friends about how they would kiss. When I picture it in my head I can’t help but laugh, I keep picturing Takeo’s enormous lips and I wonder how exactly it would work. My point is, I wonder if the character designs inhibits the anime from being taken very seriously. I get that Takeo is drawn this way to play up the laughs, but perhaps it is a double edged sword.


I feel as though this is Ore Monogatari’s most overlooked aspect. I would describe the musical score as being subtle and whimsical with a soundtrack that at times can be flat out gorgeous. The group responsible for the musical score and soundtrack is S.E.N.S, the duo also did the music for Kimi Ni Todoke which has a similar feel to this series. However I would say this is a vast improvement mainly due to the added orchestral elements to this soundtrack. Often a track starts with a simple melody on the piano or guitar but then orchestral instruments like the violin, harp and flute fill in the empty spaces. Many tracks like “Story of Mind”, swell to a climax that allows the listener to succumb to a state of euphoria. The issue is that the musical score for this anime mostly uses that first thirty seconds in a track where it is often fairly simplistic. There are tracks like “Hurry Up” and “Dull” where I had to take off my headphones and make sure I was listening to the right soundtrack. At a certain point songs can get very complex with many underlying tones. I understand that the score has to fit the anime and the producers wanted the show to have a warm simplistic feel, however I do feel bad for S.E.N.S. because it feels as though many of their efforts had gone to waste. There must have been a better way of incorporating this beautiful soundtrack into the score.

This is a romantic comedy and S.E.N.S were able to make the comedic score not sound juvenile by using Takeo’s physical and mental characteristics. An example of this is the song “Eye of the TAKEO” which is an allusion to Eye of the Tiger from Rocky III, however sounds more like Rocky’s theme from the original Rocky film. Takeo is often compared to a gorilla and S.E.N.S play this up by producing tracks like “Clumsy” and “Health First” that sound like they could come from a Donkey Kong video game; they even subtly incorporate 8 bit music to the track. The one aspect I wish the soundtrack and score used more of were jazz tracks which I thought would complement the tone of the show perfectly.

The voice acting was very fitting however I will say that some voices can be polarizing. What can seem very cute and sweet to one person can sound very annoying to another. An example of this is Yamato’s high toned voice that has a very distinct accent. I would like to give a special hand to Takuya Eguchi who is the voice of Takeo as well as Hachiman from Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy. These two characters couldn’t be more different both in voice and characteristics which helps to emphasize Eguchi’s range as a voice actor.  


Characters: 6/10
Story: 4/10
Art/Animation: 6/10
Sound: 7/10 (Would be higher if they could have used the soundtrack better)
Enjoyment: 8/10
Overall: 6/10

While Takeo is looked down upon by many females of the show, every male character who meets Takeo loves him. Takeo is manly, great at sports, all the girls don’t fawn over him, honest, loyal and always has your back. Someone you want to be friends with. I think that is why so many guys I have talked to, including me, fell in love with this show. We do not want to see some pretty boy have all the girls fall in love with him and also get the female lead. We relate to Takeo’s struggles of self esteem, not being incredibly handsome and being awkward around girls. That is why I feel that Ore Monogatari is a great introduction to shoujo for many male fans who like me were initially wary of the genre. I have heard of other great shoujo shows and now I want to explore the genre more. I think this show is perfect for couples out there to watch together. I see tons of articles like “Chick Flicks Your Boyfriend Will Love”, I feel this would be the anime equivalent of a movie on that list. The show does have it’s faults, flat characters, lack of plot progression, repetitiveness, reliance on tropes, however the characters are so endearing that many of these faults can be overlooked. That being said endearment can be polarizing, if you don’t enjoy this anime 3 episode in I would recommend you to drop it.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Gate Episode 7 Review

Hello master, would you like some tea, a shoulder massage, or maybe a snack? After being tortured to the point of unconsciousness, Itami found himself in a comfy bed surrounded by a collection of anthropomorphic maids. This scene was straight out of a Japanese maid cafe, complete with hot tea, photo sessions and lively conversation. The only thing missing was a plate of omelette rice with my name written in ketchup. As shown in the previous episode, monster girls exist in the New World. The previous owner was said to be quite “liberal” in having monster girls as maids for his household. A noble class system and hierarchy exists in the New World, is the beast race considered inferior and of low class?

The episode introduced one of Princess Pina Co Lada’s subordinates, Bozes Co Palesti. Palesti appears to share many of the traits of her princess; short tempered, proud and quick to fall to conclusions. I hope the two characters progress in different ways throughout the series because at this point they both feel one and the same.

Much of the humour stems from the Princess’s attempts to rectify her mistakes in order to maintain the newfound treaty. Every time she tries to make things better she only manages to make the situation worse, leading to Itami actively trying to avoid her. At this point the Princess and her Rose Knights appear to be utterly useless and incompetent, exposing their lack of experience, political diplomacy and organization. As shown by the training montages, the Rose Knights pale in comparison to the well oiled Japanese JSDF. The real worry is the Princess and Palesti both going to Japan, what would happen if they had another political mishap? Would this force Japan to play a new hand in how they deal with the world beyond the gate?

The female sage Lelena is proving to be an integral intermediary between the two nations. It begs the question as to why Lelena is acting as the translator instead of a member of the JSDF? We have already seen Itami’s party communicate with people of the New World without the need of a translator. Is there really a need for Lelena to overwork herself or be a security liability in a negotiation between two warring nations?

The reaction from the New World inhabitants to the technologically superior JSDF never gets old. In this episode you see both the Princess and Palesti hesitantly enter an automobile and visibility are taken aback by the vibrations of the vehicle. It is interesting to see how these characters make sense of what they are seeing, for example Lelena believes that the guns shoot bullets because of an enchantment to the gun’s cylinder.

Next episode the inhabitants of the New World pass through the gate and into Japan. Luna remarked on having to wear warm clothes because it is Winter in Japan. Is being cold the least of their worries? Will they die from, or bring some sort of disease? How will Japan, the world and specifically the victims of the Gate attack react to them? And perhaps the biggest question of all, how will otakus around the world handle seeing a goth lolitta from another world?

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Date A Live Review

This series is the anime equivalent of The Bachelor. The Bachelor is a tv show where a guy dates a pool of women all vying for his affection. Throughout the show the girls often get jealous of one another and get into fights. By the end of a date or an episode the bachelor presents the lucky few with a rose, anyone who does not receive a rose is eliminated. Much like The Bachelor, Date A Live focuses around a high schooler named Shidou, who must date a collection of girls. The girls are humanoid beings called Spirits who come to Earth and in the process of doing so cause massive earthquakes than can destroy entire populations of people. In order to stop these tremors, Shidou must seal the powers of these Spirits by making them fall in love with him. Therefore instead of dating to become famous like in The Bachelor, or dating to get married in real life, the purpose of dating in Date A Live is to save the world. Yes, as corny and convoluted as that sounds this is essentially what the show is about.


One of the fundamental differences between The Bachelor and Date A Live, is that the concept of elimination through the process of a rose ceremony is lost in Date A Live. If Shidou stops dating or makes the girls upset, the girls will regain their powers thereby being a danger to society. The purpose of this review is not to question the morality of either show, but you have to admit that in real life most guys do not openly date multiple women at the same time unless they are polygamous mormons. The obvious reason for this is because people get jealous, jealous people get angry, anger causes discord in relationships thereby ruining them. The show addresses this in a serious manner at first but eventually becomes a running gag as though it was conveniently brushed aside. This unsolvable flaw is eventually address by a deus ex machina solution of having the girls believe that Shidou is “saving them” which makes everything all ok. However the issue still remains, if Shidou ever develops truly romantic feeling for one girl, the other girls will eventually get upset and unintentionally destroy the world.

But this is not real life, this is a god damn harem anime. There are 2 types of harem anime, the first type is where the protagonist eventually or will eventually choose a girl, the second type is when essentially all the girls are chosen, a harem ending. Part of the fun in a harem anime is rooting for your favourite girl or rooting for the harem ending. However in Date A Live because Shidou can’t ever choose a girl, the anime limits itself to the harem ending. Therefore upon reflection, I felt part of the fun to be lost due to the plot.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This is a theme that was brought up with particular emphasis in the second half of the season. I found this to be the most interesting and something I wished could have been explored further.


The characters in general are very cute and have their own little quirks. In a sense, this very fact is a double edged sword. The majority of the cast has been written to be very one dimensional in order draw a sense of endearment from the audience. For example, the first spirit Shidou encounters is a girl named Tooka. Tooka’s is written to be dumb, she constantly thinks about food, likes having her head scratched, acts like a child, naive to a point of believing anything that’s been said. Tooka encounters some heartbreaking moments where I really felt bad for her, however her reaction towards these events felt artificial, fake and contrived in order to keep with this kawaii persona.

The protagonist Shidou really bothered me. In the anime he constantly tells girls that he wants to save them, that they will be together forever, etc. However when one of the girls gets angry at him for dating or kissing someone else, there were many instances where Shidou looked baffled as though he couldn’t understand why these girls felt this way. One of the most basic facets of being human is the ability to relate to one another. Shidou seems to lack this, he never once looked at the situation from the girl’s point of view. This leads to a heartbreaking realization, every girl does fall in love with Shidou, however Shidou never truly loves them back at a romantic level.

A character I really enjoyed was the primary antagonist, Kurumi. Of the characters she is definitely the dark horse. Her actions are not just evil, they are downright demonic and at times terrifying. So much of the show is cute and happy that the audience forgets the weight of what is actually going on. People are dying and not in a honorable or romantic way, but instead in a most violent, bloody and painful manner. Kurumi’s presence brought a shocking realization of this fact that I found to be quite effective.

Art, Animation and Sound

Here is where the series truly shines. Each girl has their own colour palette and real thought was placed into their attire and appearances. The characters designs perfectly fit the personalities of the characters. However besides the main characters I did notice small lapses where for instance background characters all had the same face. The animators were smart in having what I call “moe” scenes, where the art style completely changes into a less detailed cute style allowing them to cut corners. The animation is fluid, there are some intense action sequences where I never noticed any dropped frames. My favourite piece of artwork from this series was the over the top view of the city, the city is covered with craters which showed where the attacks and earthquakes took place.

The music in this anime was beautiful and very fitting. Simply listen to the opening of the show to get an idea of what to expect. The battle music took advantage of string instruments like the violin, scenes filled with warmth were accompanied by uplifting piano arrangements, comedic scenes had appropriate effects to suit the mood. Besides the music I have to praise the voice actors for this show, I wouldn’t make any changes.

Final Thoughts

Story: 4/10
Characters: 5/10
Art/Animation: 8/10
Sound: 8/10
Enjoyment: 8.5/10
Overall: 6.5/10

Date A Live is like your summer blockbuster movie, where a lot of money is put into production, you have a great time while watching the film however after seeing the movie you start to realize that many of the plot element didn’t make much sense. The reason why this happened is because the show tries it’s best to be lighthearted and cute but at the same time deals with dark themes and concepts. At the end of the season I still had many questions that were left unanswered, which I’m assuming was intentional because there is a sequel, Date A Live II. At this point some of you might be asking why the high score? Yes, I had many complaints about the show, but the bottom line is that this is a harem anime about dating multiple girls in order to save the world. People who enjoy harem anime will definitely enjoy this, I know I sure did.  If there weren’t so many unanswered questions and unresolved conflicts I might actually give this show an 7.5/10 because I know harem fans will love it. Therefore have fun, enjoy the ride, but please do not think too hard about it.  I know I did and my head is still ringing.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

God Eater First Impressions Ep 1-4

One of the most hyped up shows of Summer 2015, but does it live up to expectations? 

The show is about a group of hunters called God Eaters who hunt monsters called Aragami. The concept is fairly simple and quite frankly generic by today’s standards. It’s the classic theme of mankind bringing it’s own ruin via technology. In terms of setting Attack on Titan comes to mind, where a walled city is protected by an eclectic band of heros from monsters. You have the protagonist who wants to save everybody, the mysterious european beauty with an excessively long name, the new recruit, a carefree leader, the bad boy and a strict commanding officer. Nothing in this series in terms of plot and characters screams unique. This is completely fine by me, being generic doesn’t mean it’s bad, it all depends on execution.

The biggest issue with this series is pacing. A comparable series from a previous season is Terra Formars. It was a show many had high hopes for, besides the awful sensors, one of my biggest complaint was the pacing. The show felt extremely slow, this largely had to do with the amount of exposition even though it was an action show. God eaters has been known to have some production issues, with change of hands in production, episodes getting delayed etc. The slow pace of this series so far is reflective of the production problems this show has been having. It is as though the producers had to slow down the pace in order to keep up with production. Like Terra Formars, screens seem to take a few seconds too long, you have times when no one is talking and the camera is set at a particular character posing or staring off into empty space. As a personal preference action anime should be fairly fast paced; heavy exposition, slow plot progression, long setup are all unwanted.

The saving grace of this series is the beautiful art and animation. The cell shaded art style can be polarizing at first but there are certain scenes where it all seems worth it. A scene that comes to mind is when the protagonist is aboard a plane and sees a gigantic aragami emerging from sun kissed clouds and diving back in like a whale emerging from the waters of the ocean. Also the action sequences are gorgeous, you can perfectly see how the sequences work, what is going on, everything seems crisp and clear. The 2 main types of weapons are swords and guns, what I hope is that new weapons are introduced or existing ones evolve to bring more diversity in terms of action.

Taking everything into account, I would say the show is very average at the moment. Setup up to this point has taken too long making the pacing seem too slow. I think i’m going to start liking the series more as the action starts to pick up. The only value of this series so far is it’s art and animation which again is polarizing and takes some time to get used to.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Grisaia no Kajitsu Impressions

Three episodes into Grisaia and I still have no idea what is going on. So far what has happened is that a male transfer student has arrived at an all girls school where there are only a handful of students and a principal. For some odd reason the teachers are never shown yet we know the classroom is a place of learning because of the textbooks that are brought to class. Is there a teacher, is it self study, does it even matter? Besides the feeling of bewilderment Grisaia has left me with questions upon questions. Each of the girls in the school each have fulfilled the typical anime tropes, the lolli, the pervert, miss twin tails, maid. Obviously things or not what they seem. Episode 1 foreshadowed that the one called Amane, the horny one, is not what she seems, it is implied that she suffered through a major traffic accident. By episode three a concept that arises is that no one at that school is normal. Therefore I am expecting this anime to be a deconstruction of character tropes. The protagonist is cold and as stated by other character sounds “pompous and arrogant”. He is an orphan who was taken in and I assume he is some sort of hitman.
The real question I have is if this series is worth continuing? I have heard that this adaptation is horrible but I have also heard that the next season is great. I have never played a visual novel before but many of the scenes do feel like one, from the ubiquitous panty shots, anime trope characters. At the moment nothing is very interesting yet the tone of the show does feel eerie as if the very world itself is a fabrication. This brings the concept which I find the most interesting and what I believe resonates with many people. There is a line by the protagonist where he states that he doesn't feel like he is actually a student, but instead playing the part of a student. Constantly I ask myself, if this is the real me, am I just acting this way for the sake of others? Perhaps it is the most socially awkward and distant among us who can relate most with this anime.

Highschool DxD BorN Review

Knockers, juicy mangos, mounds, marshmallows, bazookas, cupcakes, twins, rack, warheads are all less than stellar innuendos to the embodiment of what High School DxD has come to be known for… Breasts, breasts and more breasts. High School DxD BorN is the third season of High School DxD, a franchise that has securely found it’s place in otaku culture. If you do not know the story by now this is not the review for you.


Following the events of season 2, Issei and company travel to the underworld to compete in a tournament between promising young devils. This tournament is what has become a staple of the franchise, a rating game. A rating game is an opportunity for devils to gain esteem and fame in the underworld as well as to gain ranks in the devil hierarchy. However events do not go as planned, the Gremory family get involved and as usual have to save the day.

Besides the fanservice what I find the most interesting about the franchise is the mechanics of the underworld and the hierarchy that exists. There is surprisingly a large amount of detail and depth put into the rankings, the families, strategy all of which can be pretty overwhelming. What bothered me this season was that there was little to no mention of these mechanics because the tournament that was supposed to happen, never really happens but instead gets rudely interrupted.

This season introduces Norse Mythology to the series. Recently I have been watching a tv show called Vikings on History and have become infatuated with all things Norse. I was happy to see how certain plot elements were taken from Norse mythology, albeit with an anime twist. Who knows, you might learn something. Head count, we now have Devils, Angels, Fallen Angels, norse gods and... cat girls? Yes I said it, nyaa!


This season in particular puts particular emphasis on the other females in Issei’s harem, Koneko, Akeno and Asia. Of the three I felt that Koneko’s was more interesting because it introduced backstory to the character similar to Kiba in season 2. Speaking of which I always wondered how Kiba feels about having every female member of his family fawning over Issei. There are hints of a possible love interest for Kiba, so have fun looking for it because it only lasts a second. Koneko attitude towards Issei somewhat takes a complete 180, instead of acting tsundere Koneko now wears her feelings on her sleeve for him. Looking back I still do not feel that this was not deserved and only served to satisfy a certain anthropomorphic trope.

Many new characters are introduced to the show adding to the intrigue. One character that I didn’t understand why was even introduced was a valkyrie called Rossweisee. Rossweisee serves Odin, is incredibly beautiful and constantly complains about not having a boyfriend. She has no purpose to the story and as of yet has no relationship to Issei.

Issei this season is his usual overpowered, oppai loving self. What I found interesting early on was Issei recollection of a certain painful event that occurred during the first episode of the franchise. It answers the question as to why Issei doesn’t choose one girl, perhaps why his relationship with Rias never goes anywhere further. The conclusion of the season addresses this plot point, Issei recognizes this fault, however Rias and the other girls of the harem seem to have no idea so it is never fully resolved.

Animation and Sound

Despite being a show filled with demons and fallen angels, Highschool DxD always finds a way to visually pop off the screen with it’s contrasting color palette and art style. There is a noticeable lack of quality this season as compared to season 2. This is typical of a series in it’s 3rd season and is to be expected. It’s not a deal breaker so long as you keep your expectations low.
The music this season is largely a disappointment. The words forgettable, boring, typical comes to mind. I found myself constantly skipping the opening and ending. Nothing this season particularly stands to mind.

Final Verdict
Story: 6/10
Characters: 6/10
Art: 5/10
Sound: 4/10
Fanservice: infinity /10
Overall: 6.5/10

Of the three seasons so far, High School DxD BorN is by far the weakest. However I was able to watch the entire series in 1 weekend, therefore I still enjoyed the show despite it’s faults. If you have seen the first 2 seasons, I would say you should watch BorN but with the caveat of keeping your expectations low. The fanservice and comedy is abundant, yet the plot especially towards to end of the series drags. The plot drags to such a degree that much of the drama introduced never gets fully resolved. The whole season feels as though it’s filler or set up for possible future seasons.

As a final note, I first started watching this season when it was first airing and stopped due to all the censors (for obvious reasons). It has been less than 2 months since the series stopped airing and I was able to watch the entire season uncensored. Don’t worry, I didn’t faint from loss of blood due to excess nosebleeds.