Monday, February 29, 2016

Itazura Na Kiss: A Good Kind of Cliché [MAJOR SPOILERS]

Hey guys. I'm late again. As always. Sigh. My schedule is a bit haywire these few weeks because I move between states. On a weekly basis at that. So yeah. And then there's also me being lazy.

P/S: I apologize for the lack of pictures. *dogeza bow*


Okay. Enough about that. Itazura Na Kiss or in english, Playful/Prank Kiss. Yeah yeah some of you might say "hey this is similar to Naughty Kiss the korean drama" and I curse you for thinking that. The koreans made a live action adaptation of this perfectly fine example of a shoujo romance anime and turned it into a disgrace.

What's So Playful?

So the anime is about a very imperfect girl with no brains and mediocre looks (she's not ugly. Just not goddamn beautiful) who fell in love with this perfect guy and confessed to him. But wait. That's just one minute into the anime. After that the anime goes through the cliche' plot of the girl trying to win the boy's heart despite being utterly despised by the boy. What's so playful about that? Well I don't know. It makes the title sound catchy I guess?

A hint as to why its a playful kiss. (taken from skyogenic.deviantart.com)

What's so special?

So the summary above does tell you that the anime is going to be cliché right? Well it is. The one thing that I really like about this show though is how Kotoko (the girl) works her hardest to try and win Irie's (the guy) heart. It should have been annoying for most people but because of her naiveté and well... Her funny antics, you don't see her clinging acts as annoying as its supposed to be.

(taken from www.fanpop.com)

Fine, the jokes are old but it will leave you giggling as it gets you through this predictable anime ending. Trust me. We are talking about an old anime here, so don't you dare complain "oh but I've seen lots of these kind of settings and jokes elsewhere" because it is widely used. I'm not denying that. This type of storyline is very generic. However the feel (not sad feels. I meant atmosphere) that this anime brings just makes you want to continue watching.

What? That's it?

Well no that's not it. Believe me or not, that's just halfway through the anime. Unlike MOST OTHER SHOUJO ROMANCE that reaaaaally like to friggin drag the storyline, this anime doesn't (despite being an old anime because we all know how old animes like to drag stuff on).

Oh. Before I continue.

Yes the 'girl chase boy' thing ended halfway through the anime. You know what happened? THEY GOT MARRIED. So the second half of the anime tells you about how Kotoko and Irie spent their married lives together. NOW TELL ME. ANY OTHER ANIME EVER DID THAT? TELL ME NOW? (Yeah CLANNAD but we all know where that leads to)

This is where the anime gets really fluffy and happy and sugary sweet and all that. You can have diabetes watching the second half. Sure there are conflicts about them and the people surrounding them but hey, what's sugar without a bit of coffee, am I right? Its cute but it doesn't have death and life waiting around the corner (unlike CLANNAD). Plus, Kotoko is still as funny as she was during the first half of the show.

What's not to like?

The art in this anime is mediocre at best if you're judging by today's standard and that's a given because I've said it a thousand times ITS AN OLD ANIME. Other than that, this anime is really really nice in the romance category. It has a catchy opening theme, an R&B second ending theme (which is in my permanent playlist), a lighthearted storyline and a bunch of humor. Fine, Irie isn't the perfect macho bro that is Gouda Takeo but it doesn't mean that he's not worth watching.

In essence, if you're looking for a way to relax your vanilla romance heart, this is the one for you (because damn Takeo comes too strong [but handsomely] for people to relax watching Oremonogatari).


Kaoru Tada (middle) (taken from de.itazura.wikia.com)

A moment of silence to Kaoru Tada sensei. Kaoru Tada wrote and illustrated the original Itazura Na Kiss shoujo manga. She died in an unexpected house accident and didn't get to finish the manga. According to the author's widower, the planned finale for the manga was conceptualized in the anime. The anime script also followed the late author's planned ending.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk review

If I had to choose which is the worst fantasy school battle anime for this season, it's probably this one. Generic, confusing story, mediocre character with no clear goals, makes this anime fall behind despite its great art and sound quality. The good news is that it serve more as an opening and build up for the upcoming second season.

Long, long ago, an epic catastrophe, known as Invertia, caused a complete change in the world's power balance. In the years following this disaster, a group known as the Integrated Enterprise Foundation rose to power. In addition to this massive change, a new breed of humans born with amazing physical skills known as Genestella also emerged and joined the ranks of humanity. Gakusen Toshi Asterisk follows the story of Ayato Amagiri, a student who has just transferred into one of the six most elite schools for Genestella students in the world—Seidoukan Academy—where students learn to control their powers and duel against each other in entertainment battles known as festas. Unfortunately, Ayato gets off to a rough start. When trying to return a lost handkerchief to a female classmate, he accidentally sees her changing which leads to her challenging him to a duel. What most people don't realize however, is that Ayato has no real interest in festas and instead has an alternative motive for joining this prestigious school. What is Ayato's big secret? Will he be able to keep up his act when surrounded by some of the greatest Genestella in the world? (Source: MyAnimeList)

The story start of as generic as one would expect; the main protagonist transfers into a new school and walks in on the tsundere female lead in her underwear within 3 minutes of the first episode and 'accidentally' grabs her breasts afterward. He then meets his new classmates and immediately becomes surrounded by a bunch of girls who fall in love with him for whatever reason while given a powerful magic sword which he just so happened to be the 'chosen one' to wield and thus becomes super overpowered. The first few episode is so generic that it becomes really painful to watch. There is not so much motivation or backstory on how and why each character entered the school and later on the tournament. The anime does pick up afterward, right before the start of the tournament when they introduced characters like Kirin which fortunately have some backstory on her. And after about 9 episodes or so, they finally begin the tournament arc, with one major battle for the main protagonist before they ended the first cour. In term of pacing, it is between super rushed and extremely slow; fast as in little or no explanation on the world setting or backstory for most characters, and slow in term of the overall story, where they took their time to slowly develop the main school fighting arc and serve mostly as an opening course before the real story on the second cour, hopefully. There is no actual goal indicated by the main protagonist himself, except for winning the tournament but to what extent is unknown to the viewer. Considering the number of heroines this anime had to offer, there is only 1 or 2 that has an actual backstory like mentioned earlier, while the other got left out for most of the part. As for fanservice, it is not too excessive but neither relevant or necessary. The way the protagonist treat them however, makes it really annoying and makes viewers ask the question if he is indeed a homosexual? The way this anime shine however, is the way they execute the duels, with fancy special effect and decent visuals. While it is not the best, it is satisfying to say the least.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk features your usual familiar characters with the same copy paste formula; plain main character with hidden latent power, tsundere red-haired princess, loli deadpan childhood friend, busty attractive 'ara ara' blond senpai and shy cute little kouhai. Ayato, the main character is as boring as a main character you could get. He is too nice, entered the school for find someone, have super hidden power that he could use for a short time just to serve as a plot armour and end most duels and have every single girls head over hell for him. There is nothing much to say for him other than being bland protagonist. The girls however, have some varieties that is all but recognizable. Julis being your main female character which she acted like a tsundere at the show from the start. She shows some motivation as of why she was participating in the events in the first place, but a rather cliche and ridiculous one; to gain money to save an orphanage considering she herself is a princess? Her relationship with the main character is hit and miss. It only got developed once and remain static for the rest of the anime. Saya is an interesting character. Despite being a kuudere with mostly deadpan face and serve mostly as a walking advertisement for her father weapons, she does spout out hilarious comment from time to time which I found really enjoyable to watch. Kirin are your stereotypical busty shy loli character. She is really powerful individually and had an actual, interesting backstory that was told in the anime. The other girl Claudia doesn’t really become presented or relevant most of the time in the first season and she only appears in some scenarios (mostly as fanservice); it’s quite a sort of disappointment. The supporting cast are quite forgettable with the exception at the moment for Irene since she did got a backstory at the final episodes and which was kind of an awkward move. Everyone seemed used as some sort of characters just for the sake to be there, unless they make them more relevant in the second cour of the anime series. all in all the characters are overall mediocre to be honest. 

The art and animation are actually really decent. The colour palette used are bright and have a futuristic, glowing neon feeling on it. For its background art it looks nice enough that it also fits with the designs of the characters. Also, hexagons, and lots of it. The animation are also mostly fluid, with dynamic camera angle for fast paced battle scene. As for the sounds, the anime features great OP and ED. For the Opening it gives a catchy J-Pop vibe and the tone of the OP fits with the show, as for the ED it gives a harmonic in a sense feel when hearing it, and the English sounds right. The OST has a mix of techno and a bit of instrumental at times at the fights, where it seems really enjoyable and catchy at time. Both the art and sound could be said to be the strongest part of the show itself in all honesty.

Would I recommend this show? This all depends on your taste on anime actually, or the genres in itself. If you want at least a show that buildups the events bit by bit without caring too much on the details you can give the show a shot.  However I wouldn’t recommend it to people that do not like anything related with fantasy battle school series with a slice of harem and ecchi on it.It is enjoyable at time, but the story as for now barely make sense and the range of characters are just mediocre at best. Until the second cour, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai review

It's time for another fantasy school battle anime for this season. Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai
used the same copy paste formula; a dense protagonist with his own harem, heroines with recognizable traits, element of fantasy and school tournament at some point. The good thing about this anime is its unique setting, where a bunch of high schoolers hunting down witches with considerably darker tone in it. However, it turned out to be tad disappointing; it fails to execute given theme and setting properly, with convoluted plot and really rushed story as a whole.

The 35th Test Platoon of Antimagic Academy is one of the squads enrolled at an academy specializing in raising the witch hunters, whose job is to find and neutralize any magical threats! Unfortunately, they're a group of failures nicknamed the "Small Fry Platoon", a platoon formed from a bunch of self-centered people who have personality problems and can't cooperate. Will they manage to overcome their weaknesses and shine as the strongest platoon? (Source: Baka-Tsuki, edited)

The story started off promising, with a scene out of a battle zone giving you a sense of upcoming epic war that could potentially come afterward. However, the viewer was later on got cut off by your typical ecchi harem scene and pointless fanservice. As the storytelling is handled by arcs, each of these arcs consists of a set of episodes that focuses on a problem and specifically about a girl. It is mostly predictable as any generic writing when Takeru attempts to save them from whatever problem they have.  While it initially handles the buildup and emotional appeals well, it quickly dies out as an arc is wrapped up with rushed conclusion before moving on to the next one. Some of the writing and dialogue sounded really cool, but repeated again and again making them to fell rather redundant. There are some funny and comedic moments between the arcs that are really enjoyable to watch, but again, most of them are just pointless. New characters keep popping out from each arc, but most of them appear just for the sake of making into the show, with no explanation as in what and why are they doing so. The only saving graces of this anime is the action scene which is really cool at time with beautiful choreography coupled with fluid animation. The ending left the viewer with so many questions, only to promote the source material itself.

This anime features the same generic anime archetype you could found in every fantasy battle anime. Up first we have Kusanagi Takeru, the main protagonist of the Antimagic series. As the main protagonist of a harem series, he has the 'nice' quality that almost every one of those dense protagonist up to date have. As a wielder of the Kusanagi sword arts, Takeru spends most of the series on missions to aid the girls in his Platoon of their problems and does so with promise to share half of their burden, building up legion of potential wives along the way. The rest of his squad members are also girls and throughout the show, their relationship with him ventures into the harem-esque territory. We got Ouka Ootori, a token tsundere with a hate for witches and cold personality. As time goes on, she develops unrecognized feelings for Takeru and stay like that for the most of the story. Her rivalry with Mari Nikadou, a witch formerly affiliated with Valhalla, also gets personal and irritating to watch as time drags on. Mari however are much more likable since she can be really dependable at time. Then, there Usagi Saionji, a shy yet emotional girl with some lack of common sense and desire to marry Takeru. Being a busty loli, she is easy to tease and is quite the wimp. Her background story is not pretty despite her high-class family status. Ikaruga Suginami, the genius and professional hacker of the group is also well known for making suggestive and often sexual jokes towards her teammates while being really carefree about everything else. Finally, the show had to include a kuudere character to fill in the void so they include Lapis, a relic eater with gothic loli appearance and "lack of emotions" personalities. The rest of the side casts are not really worthy to be mentioned, mostly due to lack of screentime or irrelevant to the overall storyline.

The art and animation are above average, and the quality are kept constant throughout the story. The general usage of bright colour during the day and darker tone when an incident ensued  makes it look really nice. The usage of variety of special effects especially for the magical parts, from colourful spell to fancy spellcircle makes it visually attractive. The detail on weapons, power suits, mechs, and the like are spectacular, but the usage of 3DCG gives a really awkward feeling at time. The technological aspect of the setting also looks solid despite the shallow backgrounds. Animation are fluid especially during battle scene. As for the music, the OP and ED while not really stellar, are enjoyable to listen to.  The soundtrack is surprisingly well crafted. With the stereo beat and fast paced cinematics, it correlates effectively with the action.

Should you consider to watch this anime? I would say not really, and you would miss nothing by not watching it. Some people might enjoy it for the light comedy and heavy action without caring too much about the story. But really, besides the action and soundtrack, this show is more like an advertisement for the light novel. If you are interested more in the story, then do feel free take a look at the light novel review and decide for yourself to give it a read or not. With its heavy rushing and lack of characterization, there’s hardly any time to craft a consistent story. In the end, it’s a waste potential.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry review

The fantasy school battle anime; one type of anime that keeps popping out at least twice or more in every single season. Heck, we have 3 of them in this season. This show however, stands out from the rest of the other similar show by having the best romance development, bit by bit between the hero and heroines as the story goes on. It does have the same formula copy pasted, but the way the story is executed makes the anime to exceed my expectation.

The "school sword action" story revolves around Magic Knights, modern magic-users who fight with weapons converted from their souls. Ikki Kurogane goes to a school for these Magic Knights, but he is the "Failed Knight" or "Worst One" who is failing because he has no magical skills. However, one day, he is challenged to a duel by Stella, a foreign princess and the "Number One" student. In this duel, "the loser must be obedient for life." (Source: ANN)

The story is plain and simple, just what you would expect from a fantasy school battle anime. We have the protagonist, having his own issue and try to make his way to the top while meeting several heroines along the way. At first glance, you might expect that it is probably just your average ecchi harem anime. The first episode even showed the same cliche that we all have seen before; like for example when the protagonist entered a room where the heroine trying to change. One particular differences is in how they execute the cliche in a refreshing way. Instead of the protagonist being really dense and the heroine slapping him afterwards, we have the protagonist trying to achieve equality by taking off his own clothes instead for example. This subtle differences is what makes me really love this show. The main aspect that really makes the anime stands out however is the romance between the hero and heroines. Instead of having a protagonist who is dense and indecisive, this anime offers one that actually stick to one route until the end. The relationship was also not straight forward rather build bit by bit for each episode which I really think is a nice touch. It gives some sort of realistic approach and direction towards their relationship which seems rather more natural with its own pacing. While the romance itself is not like one of the best out there, it does a very good job executing it for a fantasy school battle anime which I have not experience for a long time. The chemistry on this genre is very suitable and well done in terms of the story department, which is points going forward for the series. Other than that, the overall story itself is nothing special; simple and straightforward. I does not have a complex story to tell, but the general feel to the whole story is satisfying. Even the finale ended up in spectacular way. Just give this show a chance instead of dropping it at first few episodes just because of its generic theme and setting.

The cast of characters in this anime are not really original, since they are all basically your basic archetype characters. However, the way they were established and portrayed in personalities wise and the relationship between each of them is done really well in this case. They all act in a mature way and some of the important characters have nice character development. Most of the cast of characters have a motivation to fight and their strengths can be shown throughout the episodes. The main character Ikki Kurogane is not your usual dense harem protagonist. He is strong in his own way, and does not afraid to show his affection towards other. He is technically the most mature character of the series; in most situation he shows a tolerable, patient and very knowledgeable side. He is full of determination, especially when it comes to love. Stella Vermillion is your tsundere, red hair with twin tails, with fire magic and princess archetype. Th best thing about her is that she is not an annoyingly tsun character and goes dere  more than halfway through the story. She is really likable, and become the main support for the protagonist himself. Although my only complaint about her is nothing too personal, but I personally would want to see more of her fights with others in a full fight in a way. Both Ikki and Stella, as I stated before in this review; their relationship with each other feels very dynamic and nicely done, which makes them even more loveable in my personal opinion as a whole between the two. the other supporting characters also have some development in them and generally likable.

The art and animation is mostly above average. Some of the battle animation however was executed really nicely, and really captures the strength for the characters. The color palette has some sort of pop into the anime that it looks actually very good and it is nicely done, mostly fits with the overall tone of the show. The character designs also look very appealing and the backgrounds art are of no issue at all. The music however might need some improvement. It is really bland sometime. The OP for example have nice animation, but the song in itself is not something you could always enjoy unless by hearing it repeatedly until you are getting used to it. By contrast, the ED animation is not really creative, with down scrolling credit sequence but it does have a nice song to go with it. The OST could be more epic to match up with the scene and makes the anime better, but it is fine as it is.

Overall, this is one of the fantasy battle anime that I really recommended to watch. It has generic and simple story but nicely executed. The romance are done really fantastic in this anime, and I enjoyed every single bit of it. It exceeded the expectations I never thought I could find in this type of trope of anime, and in my personal opinion, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry got towards the absolute potential with its own identity. (tldr: watch this instead of the other fantasy school battle anime).

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Starter Kit For Hori-san and Miyamura-kun

Hey guys. Miss me? Its been a bit hectic these two weeks that I haven't really been able to post (plus my own inconsistencies) so now I'm high on coffee and trying to write stuff that actually makes sense.

Before I lose all these words from my jittery brain, I'll start by saying that this isn't a review. Yeah well you might have guessed it from the title. Shocker really. This is the second non-review post I'm writing. Take it as a crash course to this very lovely rom-com slice of life series called Hori-san to Miyamura-kun. The reason why I did not do a review for this one is going to be explained, no worries.

Sorry the quality isn't good. really I'm squinting to read myself

So first of all, this series started as a four-panel comic (or 4koma for short) which was later made into an anime and also a spinoff serialization that is still ongoing until today. For those who are too lazy to read and prefer watching stuff can go check out the anime. Its only three episodes as it is based off the four-panel comics so think of it as killing two birds with one stone. You watch the anime, you also kind of read the 4koma as well.

See. Its simple and cute.

A lot of people complained about the anime, saying that it was ugly, that it was as if its a fan made anime. I would like to say otherwise. Sure, the animations and the art seem simplistic and not very detailed, but that is what makes the anime so much more colorful. If you friggin compare the anime to the manga, then yes the manga hands down have the better everything. But remember. I specifically said the anime was a 4koma adaptation. So just please. Enjoy the anime as you will a four friggin panel comic. Trust me. The story and the adorable HoriMiya couple will keep you entertained all the way to episode three (and then you'll beg for more).

(As stated above, I took this from mangafox) This is the manga equivalent of the 4koma earlier

After watching the anime, then you decide by yourself whether you should read the spinoff manga or just plain stay lazy and go watch other animes and miss a good rom-com manga (its ranked 9th on mangafox. So yeah) I've read the manga a little bit and yes of course it is a lot better than the anime and its better illustrated and etcetera etcetera. I still want it in anime form though. One thing about the manga is that its more shoujofied (no its not a word) but it still retains that funny foolish look that the characters have in the anime (if not enhanced). Check it out, really.

Yeah that's... Miyamura after haircut.

Oh right. The reason why I didn't want to review the Hori-san to Miyamura-kun anime. It has only three episodes. The most I could give is... the summary of the first episode. And even that is really short. Maybe if they made another anime based on the manga spinoff, I'd do a full review then.

p/s: Everyone who knows about HoriMiya demands another anime adaptation. I'm sure you will too.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?? review

Moe. One thing that makes eastern anime to be different from its western counterpart. The concept of moe is really hard to grasp; it is sufficient enough to say that it is a feeling of attraction towards something really cute or pure that makes your heart goes hnghh and your blood sugar level rise. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka is the anime that manages to nail the moe concept so effectively, to the point that I have to go to the hospital next day just to get an insulin injection for diabetes because of the amount of sweet sugary cuteness this anime had to offer.

Cocoa arrives at the cafe Rabbit House one day, excited for rabbits. She actually all but lives in that cafe. She meets lots of different girls there, including a tiny and cool girl named Chino, a tough and soldier-esque girl named Rize, a spacey and quintessentially Japanese girl named Chiyo, and the ordinary but dignified Sharo. (Source: ANN)

For a moe-blob anime, it has no specific plot and episodic. There is however some character development that we could see as each episode pass, mainly in term of their relationship with each other. For a slice of life anime that focuses on friendship as its main theme, it done it job exeptionally well. Watching the girls helping each other and enjoying every single moment of their live however small soothe the heart. There is also recurring theme about family love, not only between Cocoa and Chino but also the new introduced character, Mocha who is Cocoa big sister. Their antique on how they strive really hard to be an older sister figure is just lovely, and Chino reaction towards them are a sight to behold. There is also bigger emphasis on Chino's friends, Megumi and Maya than in season 1 which is really delightful since the show does not downright ignore the supporting cast. The pacing in general is steady and relaxing which is fine for moe esque slice of life anime. The comedy are good and fun, not too over the top yet can put a big smile on your face afterwards. The anime overall manages to emphasise moe when it does really matter in every scene. This include the usage of quick chibi quip with the right timing or using hilarious facial expression to make this cute moe anime charming. As a result, the viewer will surely get attached to the characters, spewing the word 'moe' over and over again.

The characters in the second season are pretty much the same as the one in the first season. The girls are about as cute and cuddle worthy that you might literally get asphyxiated by the amount of kawaii essence that pervades the atmosphere. The cute catchphrases all the girls repeat and their unique quirks offer a wide variety of charm that captivates you to watch more of these girls say funny and cute dialogue. There is some new side that we could see from these characters, such as how Rize bashfully act when hugged by Cocoa older sister, drunk little sister Chino, and Cocoa dependable and mature side. The character interaction remained good and constant, but sometimes could get out of hand when all characters appear one after another in a single scene. The voice acting for each character keeps them to appear lively and playful, drawing audience to enjoy each scene.

The art and animation are above average, but compensated by the usage of vivid, bright colour and happy tone. It's been a while since I've watched the first season, but I could say they manage to keep up the quality to be good and constant, as it should be. Every little design are made to be cute and classical, a peculiar combination but what made it really engaging as a whole. The backgrounds are really amazing; using gorgeous European style architecture for the buildings down to classy furniture inside. The OST are charming in their own way, with classical piece and with cheerful music to accompany each scene. The OP are also happy and cheerful just like the first season, giving the vibe of cute bunny-like theme. The main highlight however is the ED song, which is pure diabetes. The amount of moe being put into the ED, along with delightful music puts it one of the best ED song this season. I'm not a lolicon myself but having seen the ED makes me to think otherwise; just to put into perspective on how great the ED is.

This is a perfect anime for those who enjoy watching moe-blob anime. While it is not an anime with hilarious comedy scene, or great storyline considering it is a slice of life anime, the amount of moe being put in this anime is dangerously high and can cause happiness for weeks.  Sometimes, something as simple as Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?? is more than enough to cheer me up  after a rough day and makes me feel all warm inside, before going to bed. It is simple, but that what makes it so great and charming.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dragon picture gallery

Dragons are an epic mythical creature; a symbol of might and power. People view dragon as a creature of great respect, fear or majesty. Some breathe fire and have huge bat-like wings, while others have long slender body and made ocean as its domain. Some have sharp spiky horns, and some other have golden scales tougher than any weapons. Be it a single dragon guarding valuable treasures, used as a dragoon ride, as a pet or a terrifying final boss; a dragon is a force to reckon with.

“If the sky could dream, it would dream of dragons.” 

All pictures/images/artworks belong to their respective owner/creators.


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