Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fall 2015 anime review

Fall, something feels like  a second spring when every leaf is a flower. It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon. Even the anime offered for this season is as sweet; from cute little girls doing cute things to yuri galore and even a bunch of sweet harem anime. Speaking of harem anime, it is usually synonymous with fantasy school battle theme, and for those who never get tired of it, have 3 anime to choose from. There is also an abundant amount of mystery themed anime, something that is really rare in a season, but nevertheless refreshing to say the least. Most of the anime are adapted from light novels, so an anime original ending or cliffhanger is expected. The star of this season is of course, one of the best shounen (parody) anime of all time; One Punch Man, and it's hard to miss it. Without wasting any time, let's go!

Fall 2015 anime

  • Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka??

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.

The second season of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Kokoa is still living and working at cafe Rabbit House. This anime follows her and the friends 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.

  • Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry

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).

  • Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai

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 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. 

  • Gakusen Toshi Asterisk

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.

  • Ore ga Ojou-sama Gakkou ni "Shomin Sample" Toshite Gets-Sareta Ken

Shomin Sample is one of those rare ecchi harems which actually feels genuinely original and refreshing to watch. Not just because the setting is somewhat unusual, but it has a likable harem protagonist for once, and that it's actually really funny. Buried under the pile of fantasy school battle + harem ecchi, this one is truely a hidden gem.

In a hidden school surrounded by mountains, young ladies of good families are taught everything a high class lady needs to know. They are also completely cut off from the outside world, keeping them sheltered and innocent; however, a problem has come up recently—more and more graduates are failing to cope with the modern world after graduation. To deal with this problem, they've decided to kidnap a male commoner student, and enroll him as a student. They hope that this will be a gentle way to introduce the girls to the outside world. Kagurazaka Kimito is chosen for this dubious honor, mostly because he seems utterly average; however, the school leaders also seem to have concluded he's a homosexual with a muscle fetish. When Kimito hears that the alternative may be castration (to protect the girls' purity), he eagerly plays along with this misconception. Now he'll just have to survive the attention of many high class young ladies that are completely out of touch with the world! (Source: MangaHelpers)

The story seems utterly ridiculous and makes no total sense. But being a comedy anime at its core, common sense is not really something to be bothered about. The idea of having an all-girls high school for rich young ladies and then letting a lone male student transfer into it is indeed nothing new, happened frequently in so many anime. But for the ladies to be completely and utterly clueless about how the world of ordinary citizens works, and for them to have a misconception that the protagonist is actually gay and has a serious fetish for muscle men; that one is unheard of. Instead of heading towards the more ecchi and fanservice esque route, this series chooses to focus more on the development of the relationship between characters. As for the comedy, it manages to done a really good job by offering a wide variety of different kind of jokes; from your normal rom-com, to making real life references to muscle fetish jokes. I can't help but laugh at how aesthetically the protagonist trying to describe his thigh fetish like it was some kind of modern art; it was a moment to savour. The pacing feels somewhat rushed, especially when it's heading toward the end. The ending itself makes the viewer crave for more, since there is so much story yet to be told. The whole premise of the anime itself feels more like a promotion to its original sources, but all the hilarious comedy and wacky characters made it worth it.

The cast features generic yet likable characters overall. The protagonist is a breath of fresh air; Kimito Kagurazaka is not really your average dense and goody two shoes characters you often see in harem anime. He actually has my sympathy for being forced into a school and get labelled as someone with raging homosexual with a muscle fetish just because misinterpretation of his normal everyday life. Because of that, he has to put up with all of the other characters who have attached themselves to him all while hoping he'll still get to keep his precious asset in his pants or get snipped if found guilty. He can be a huge troll sometimes; since the girls are not only clueless but also about as gullible as it gets, he time and time again tricks them into learning things about commoners which are complete nonsense, and then watches them make fools out of themselves before springing the truth upon them a bit later on. It might be considered rude, but it's done in a very light-hearted and comedic fashion, and it rarely fails to make you laugh as a result. But I'll have to give him some credit in that he's actually rather nice and helpful to the girls and doesn't ogle them—usually; this is because he has a thigh fetish, so most of his ogling is focused on the thighs and going on monologues about them. Of course seeing as this is a harem, the anime still hinges on the likability of the main heroines. First we have Aika, the so-called "Tsun-pure" girl of the series. She is a loner who has a very hard time making friends with the other students, but desperately wants to be popular on the inside. She is also mind-bogglingly easy to trick as she believes literally anything Kimito tells her without a second thought. Secondly there's Reiko, one of the most respected ladies in the school and pretty much your stereotypical Ojou-sama character, albeit a lot less haughty. Thirdly we have Karen, a beautiful black-haired woman who carries around a katana. She's also a pretty hardcore lolicon of all things, which becomes very noticeable in the presence of the fourth girl: Hakua. She is the emotionless loli of the series who is supposedly 14 years old but looks quite a lot younger than that. She's also a genius who has her own laboratory in the school where she helps resolve serious issues in the fields of math, science and engineering. And fifth, there is the school's head maid: Miyuki. She is quite emotionless as far as her facial expression goes, but on the other hand the words coming out of her mouth are incredibly blunt and rude, with reason I suppose. There's also a sixth girl called Eri who is Kimito's childhood friend, but we don't get to see her too much in the anime as she is not a student in the school, however she works as a voice actress and you can see Kimito playing games starring her sometimes. None of the characters are perfect. They all have their own fair share of flaws and problems which made them cute and likeable.

In term of art and animation, it is mediocre at best. It is not great, but not too bad. There is some sloppy art, and blocky animation here and there, but not enough to actually hinders the experience of enjoying the anime itself. The colour palette used is colourful enough all the background scene drawn are decent. Nothing special or too bad about it really. In term of music, the OP is really catchy and have my attention with all the wacky randomness and manly muscle man appearing here and there, while the ED is much less upbeat yet not too bad either. The OST used in most of the scene fits with the situation, and all the sound effects are decent if not mediocre.

Overall, Shomin Sample sample is actually a decent and fun comedy anime despite its mediocre art, animation and sound. Should you watch it? Well, it is not that bad, and it is a fun change of air among all the other action-heavy anime in the current season. You won't miss anything at all from not watching it, but it is worth a shot. It's funny, it's cute, it's original and it doesn't feel forced at all. And for an anime of this type, that's about as much as you can ever ask for.

  • Hacka Doll: The Animation

Hacka Doll is a surprisingly fun anime, if you are the right kind of person for it. Full of otaku culture parodies; from anime and games references to the otaku lifestyle in general, it is guaranteed to make you chuckled if you can get the references. As the anime itself is rather brief, I will try to make the review short.

Hacka Doll app delivers a customized feed of news for each user. The user answers some simple questions when launching the app for the first time, and then the app will filter the news that caters to the user's personal interests. With daily use, the app automatically analyzes and learns which news articles the user reads and recommends to further personalize the feed. The anime personifies the app's customization engine as three "Hacka Dolls" — the personal entertainment AI and main navigator Hacka Doll #1, the anime expert Hacka Doll #2, and the knowledgeable otaku Hacka Doll #3. (Source: ANN)

The story revolves around the 3 Hacka Dolls, as they are sent to aid various people with their various problems - with each episode being a standalone story. While it has no particular plot to follow on, each episodes revolves around one parody of the otaku culture in itself. The main attraction of this anime is the comedy it had to offer; it is whacky, fast paced and enjoyable for the most part. Some of them are familiar and can be rather dull, whilst other are fresh and unexpected. One episode incorporate the parody of Shirobako as a whole and really taken me aback. Even the last episodes copies the whole fight choreography from a certain anime if you pay enough attention.

The characters in this anime is the basic, copy and paste archetype you could found anywhere in most anime nowadays. Hacka Doll #1 is the cheerful twintail blond that is always fun to watch at until the point you get bored with it fast. Hacka Doll #2 is the busty sisterly figure that is there mostly for fanservice. Hacka Doll #3 however, a deadpan but is actually more than meets the eye. (S)he kind of surprised me halfway after I just realised I've fallen into a trap. Boss Hacka Doll, Hacka Doll #0 is the bossy, delicious brown matured lady voiced by Kiryuuin Satsuki herself. Idiot Hackadoll #4 is there just because we need an idiot, expendable character as a gag. Overall, the cast are decent for comedy standard, but generic at best.

On the technical front, mainly the art and animation, Hacka Doll is a pretty competent show. The characters look decent, and the visual are both vivid and colourful. The animation is limited but not awful. The music is okay for what it is. The OP is catchy, but the ED is a mistake; they used some kind of MMD program for the terrible 3D dance credit. Generally it's a standard production for a short anime.

Ultimately Hacka Doll is an decent short comedy where your enjoyment is most likely going to be based mainly if you like otaku humour in general or if you can understand the reference and parody. This show was a good way to blow ~6 minutes  with some lighthearted, goofy humor and a bit of parody of some recognizable series. If you want a breath of fresh air from all those heavy action anime, and you want to laugh, even for a small bit, this might be the right anime is for you.  It's a pretty safe & standard show that doesn't do anything to make it noteworthy, but at the same time is not completely reliant on recycled jokes from other shows.

  • Hidan no Aria AA

When they first announced a new Aria anime I assumed we might be getting a sequel to the original Hidan no Aria, which to be honest I enjoyed so much back then. However instead of a sequel, we got Hidan no Aria AA (pronounced Double-A) a spin off series that takes place around the same time. At first I was skeptic on how it will turn out, when I realised the main character is no longer Kinji, the male protagonist from the original story. Turn out I was right; the lack of male character as a whole replaced by yuri fanservice and terrible fight scene despite the amazing art, animation and music placed this anime way behind its predecessor.

A young girl idolizes the world-renowned S-ranked butei Kanzaki H. Aria and plans to follow in her footsteps; however, her test grades turn out as only an E-rank! All is not lost, however, as Aria agrees to give her some pointers. Can Aria help this newcomer become a first-rate butei? (Source: MAL)

For starters Hidan no Aria AA can pretty much be watched even without seeing the original as it has no ties with it(As far as the anime is concerned), Previous knowledge of the series just gives you a little more insight into Aria's character and you'll recognize some of the older characters who make cameo appearances and of course knowledge of the Hidan no Aria world which they do explain in the beginning of AA as well.

The story is a trainwreck if I must describe it. Half of the episodes follows the main protagonist, Mamiya Akari as she try her best to follow her beloved senpai Aria footsteps and fawned over her again and again. As such, she undergoes training along with her friend to prove that she can be Aria mentee. The story seems fine and simple at first, with little to no progression with some episodes sidetracked and tell the story from the viewpoint of other characters before focusing back on Akari. Most of them however are just yuri fanservice with characters fawning over each other; from senior to junior, mentor to mentee and rival to rival yuri relationship. At first it was fine and all, but after a while it get old really fast, making you wonder what is actually the point of putting so much yuri element in the first place. Then the story shifted back to a more serious tone near the end, with a sudden, ridiculous plot twist that makes the story to become more than some sort of joke. The serious part comes out as forced, with rushed pacing. The premise of having the main character to become suddenly so powerful and developed some sort of superpower at the end despite not showing it earlier is a total nonsense, but nevertheless you just had to accept it. Story aside, the fight scene for the most part are just plain bad. While the animation itself looks really good, the way they choreograph and execute it is just a total mess. As a whole, compared to the original story in itself, Double-A is just a trainwreck of an anime.

As for the characters, we have a cast of uninteresting and forgetful characters ranging from generic archetype to boring, plain personalities. The main character, Mamiya Akari is your generic, cheerful girl that makes everyone around her to be happy, at least until she herself fall into some sort of depression at time. Despite being clumsy, she does not, or don't want to show her true ability despite wanting to be a peer to her mentor, Aria. That in itself is ridiculous, since her ideal of not wanting to kill or hurt someone contradicts her job as a butei. Kanzaki Aria, the returning character from the original series, looks much more boring and stuck-up in this spin-off. She acted way to high and mighty at time, but can be too nice and understanding with her junior. The tsundere badass heroine Aria we know is gone, replaced with a more pathetic version of her. As for the other characters, there are not much worth mentioning since most of them are just plain flat in term of characters and personalities. Their character development is little to none as the story progress, replaced by repetitive yuri action and characters fawning with each other. Other original characters of the series do make appearance, but mostly as cameo which is really a shame.

The art and animation are the strongest point of the show. The usage of variety of colour palettes, from vivid, colourful tone of their daily high school life to a much darker, intense tone to signify a more serious, action packed scene really gives a huge contrast. The characters are drawn really nicely to accentuate their appeal and the way their emotion are portrayed by various nicely drawn expression takes the viewer attention towards the character. The background are shown really nicely, with  clean, sharp art. The usage of variety camera angle to portray each scene was also a nice touch. The animation is fluid and smooth, making the action to look really impressive, visually. The usage of different kind of special effects also makes the animation to stand out more; from bullets, to electric to explosions. As for the sound, the OP uses rock music that fits in with the theme of the series, which is really enjoyable to hear. The ED has a more relaxed, sweet music, which sometimes works if the episode ended in a nice, happy tone. The OST as a whole are really enjoyable to hear, ranging from techno, rock or classical music for a faster paced scene to cheerful, happy music for a more relaxed scene.

Do I enjoy this anime? To a certain extent, I actually enjoyed the anime despite the below average story and lack of original casts. There is a certain charm that makes me wanting to watch this anime every week, like some sort of drugs. You know it's bad, but you can't stop watching it. Do I recommend this anime? If you are a fan of the original series, you might want to try watching this, but don't expect too much however. If you are not, you can still watch it as a standalone, or safely avoid it without missing too much.

  • Yuru Yuri San☆Hai!

The third season of Yuru Yuri continues following four girls who take over the former room of a tea ceremony club for their own amusement. This time however, there are noticeable changes compared from the last 2 seasons, mainly because the change of the studio itself; from Doga Kobo to TYO Animation studio. Well, then time to review Yuru Yuri San☆Hai!, the third season of our beloved slice of life anime. Haii~ Yuru Yuri, haji mare yo!!

Taking place at the fictional Nanamori Middle School in Takaoka, Toyama, the series revolves around the daily lives of the Amusement Club, consisting of Akari Akaza, her childhood friends, Kyoko Toshino and Yui Funami, and her classmate, Chinatsu Yoshikawa; along with the school's Student Council which is made up of its own set of unique characters. 

The story still follows the basic setting from the previous season, with the same casts. The main differences however, is that this time the show is a lot more toned down in term of crazy, whacky comedy compared to its predecessor. Most of the old, favourite antique; from Akarin lack of presence, her detachable hairbuns, Chinatsu supernatural swallowing hairs and even Chitose yuri fantasizing were cut off. Instead, there is more focus on more relaxing, somehow matured atmosphere surrounding the between the cast now. That being said, even if the third season is a lot more 'normal' in comparison, it still works in a way. This is primarily because although some good things may have been lost, some good things have also been gained in the process. The amount of sweet yuri elements between the characters for example, are more pronounced this season. The characters get some truly heartwarming moments together and it's a treat to see. The pacing is just right. No episode seems to be a filler in the sense that personal development or development of at least one relationship is not occurring for a substantial part of it. To sum it up; the quality of the show itself hasn't changed, but the focal point has. Instead of the wacky comedy that it used to be, it is now more of a shoujo ai slice of life anime.

As for the characters, all of the previous casts are back, with the same voice actor no less. The characters personalities remain unchanged. We still have the main four girls, Akari, Kyouko, Yui, and Chinatsu. The good thing about this season is that they expanded the focus not only on the amusement club members, but also the student council; Ayano, Himawari, Sakurako, and Chitose, along with their family and friends. My only complaint is that some side characters have little to no screentime at all, which is really a shame. Some of the side characters are actually what makes Yuru Yuri more unique, and as such should be given a fair amount of screentime as well. The character development however signifcantly improved, showing how some of them matured and become much closer together than ever. Overall, there aren't much to say for the characters if you're familiar with them as they are more or less the same from previous season personality-wise. It is how they interacrt with each other that should become the subject matter now.

In term of art and animation, there is little to no differences in quality compared to previous 2 season, despite the change in studio. The only subtle difference is the toned down colour palette, perhaps to complement with the less whacky comedy the new season had to offer. For the music, the OP is really catchy and decent, but as not as memorable from the previous Yuru Yuri OP. The ED is okay, but not as good as the OP itself so to speak. The OST is appropriate, but it does not stand out much. Considering it is a slice of life anime however, it is neglilible.

To conclude, Yuru Yuri San Hai is an example of a successful formula which does not need to be overhauled. It is simple, light-hearted and fun, with some wackiness and yuri element added into it. Growth and other changes relating to character development and relationships are fine and even expected for an anime that spans for three season no less. Nevertheless, Yuru Yuri San Hai is quite different from what we've seen from Yuru Yuri in the past, but as for whether it's any better or worse, that probably depends on who you ask. Either version works for me at least, albeit for different reasons, and despite everything it is still an incredibly entertaining anime, and that is the most important thing of all.

  • Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen

Previously, I've made a short review on the first season of Owari no Seraph, and complained on how mediocre it is despite its popularity. I was hoping that the second season will somehow become much, much better. But sadly, this was not the case at all. It continues to become a mediocre anime, with questionable plot and unsatisfying ending. Indeed, that the whole Owari no Seraph francise itself is the living proof that you need much more than just successful anime tropes and clichés mashed together in order to make things actually work.

Yuuichirou has reunited with Mikaela at the Shinjuku Battle. But Mikaela was turned into a vampire... To save the "family," and to protect his fellow members, Yuuichirou needed to gain knowledge and power. He searched for ways to bring back vampire to human beings, and at the same time, trained hard working on the Cursed Gear. Meanwhile, Kureto calls Guren and tells him a shocking truth. That in one month, the main unit of the vampire will start attacking Tokyo. To get a head start against vampires, Kureto orders Guren to go to Nagoya. The noble extermination mission is about to open fire! (Source: Official website)

Again, a quick flashback of my previous review for Owari no Seraph; it is a mess that tries to bring up successful formulas and narrative devices all at once, in an attempt to pander to multiple demographics. You have an amalgamation of various setting; vampire, viruses, demon, angel, monsters all thrown into a post-apocalyptic world to fight against each other. It may looks cool on paper, but the lack of coherency and poor execution makes the plot to feel subpar even after 24 episodes in total. The second cour focuses on the climatic battle in Nagoya, hence the title. The story starts off  really fast, picking up from the conclusion  of previous season. There are main conflicts; both inner and outer between the characters and faction involved. Each characters had their own motivations to add in the story, but the execution is poorly done. Most of them either lost halfway through the story, never to be seen again or so ridiculously bad you can't even feel connected anymore. There are simply too many mysteries and plot holes in the story; with more keep coming up the longer you watch. With no answers to solve the past questions you just end up lost in what is going on. The ending are really cringeworthy; rushed, convoluted and just doesn't make sense anymore. In the end, the story simply end up as mindless human versus vampire action with elements like demon mixed up. Speaking about fight scene however, it is well executed with good looking choreograph and fairly smooth animation. While it is questionable most of the time, for example why can't vampires use regular firearms and bombs instead of swords and whips since it is impractical in modern setting especially during war; it does look cool if you can mindlessly enjoy it without thinking too much into it.

As for the characters, the anime features a huge, different varieties of cast from both the human and vampire factions. 90% of the cast however, are forgettable and mostly serve as a plot device. The only notable characters that are worth to mention are the protagonist, Yuichiro Hyakuya along with his 'family' member Mikaela Hyakuya, his comrade Shinoa Hiragi and his mentor Guren Ichinose. Yuichiro developed considerably in the new season, become a lot matured in a sense that he is less annoying and throw less tantrum. He cares a lot more towards his teammates, treating them like an actual human being and also shows respect towards his superior. However, in the season finale, everything about his development and progress as a character is crushed to the ground, once again. Mikaela, compared to previous season show some more screentime, but mostly to play the tragic role of a person who stuck in a dilemma of choosing between the two sides. His hesitation in spilling the beans about the dreaded 'Seraph of the End' experiment is probably one of the most annoying traits of his almost non-existent personality. The relationship between both Yuichiro and Mikaela stands between fujoshi bait and two 'family' members that trusted each other beyond saving. Shino stays a consistent character throughout the series, but there is no room for her to actually develop his background story which is really a shame. Guren, along with Shinya Hiragi are my favourite dynamic duo of the series; suffering from a blatant lack of good writing but their scenes were dynamic and they acted pragmatically most of the time. As for the other characters; Yuichiro and Shinoa group members shows less screentime and play less, important roles other than to add on to the action scene. Guren team members could also be said the same. Makoto Narumi and his crew is probably one of the most unnecessary additions to the cast and the plot overall, serving no other function other than to gives a third point of view towards the others. The vampires faction are less important, acting as one-sided antagonist; scheming but never shown what their ultimate goal really is. Overall, the characters in Owari no Seraph are mostly forgettable, mainly because the lack of characters development given the overwhelming amount of casts.

The art and animation are above average at best. The character design are decent, despite the fancy looking uniform that aids little to none in actual combat and over the top weapon design. The background used are hit and miss; while it is beautiful, with its watercolour like painting, it feels redundant at time and does not fit too much with the post-apocalyptic world setting. The animation are mostly good, especially when it is concerning the fast paced fight scene. The only notable problem however, is when the characters are far from the camera, their movements become funnily stationary and lose considerably amount of major details. As for the sound, the OP and ED sound are actually really decent, and the OST used are fairly good for the most part, albeit forgettable. It is mediocre to say the least.

Overall, the whole Owari no Seraph series serves nothing more than a jumbled up cliche with hollow story and its only saving grace is the decent action scene. Do I enjoy it? To some degree, I actually enjoyed it since it is genuinely fun. However, for one to actually enjoy it themselves is to not thinking too much into it and watch it for the sake of watching. I could not recommend it for people who had watched a lot of decent anime with great storyline, but it is a suitable choice for those who are still enjoying generic cliche and are in just for fun.

  • Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider

Mystery genre is one of the genre that is very hard to do, or in this case, to adapt. Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider is no exception; in a way it delivers a classic mystery theme complimented with modern setting. It is hard to actually do a satisfying review for this anime: you either hate this anime because of its long-winded, redundant and boring writing or enjoy it for its engaging slow paced, single in-depth mystery theme. Nevertheless, I will try my best to do the review for this anime while avoiding potential spoiler.

Genius programmer Shiki Magata has been living in isolation at a research facility on a solitary island since she was a girl. Nagono University associate professor Souhei Saikawa and Moe Nishinosono wish to meet Shiki in person, so they visit the facility but get caught up in a murderous game. (Source: Fuji Creative)

The story features a classic 'locked room' problem, where the victim in this story get killed in a room where no one could be seen entering or exiting the crime scene until the victim's (severed) body was found, in a rather horrific way. While the premise is simple enough, the execution was frustratingly slow. It takes a fair amount of scenes for the case to actually start, and for the protagonist to  piece the puzzle together.  Indeed, the story suffers from a very slow pacing, considering that it takes almost 10 episodes for a single case to finally resolve. While it is good in a way that it helps the viewer to take their time to engage in the story itself and figuring out what happened without rushing too much, it can be really boring for the most part. One of the main reason that such thing happen is the amount of heavy dialogue spouted by the characters on every single scene, which is really redundant and for the most part does not makes any sense at all. For starter, I'm not a philosopher and here to enjoy the mystery instead of pondering about the meaning of life. This is indeed a very 'talky' show. While some people may say that long-winded, 'high quality' writing that features in-depth hidden meaning as a good writing, I found it not enjoyable at all. For starter, anime is a medium that uses its animation as its selling point to convey the story to the reader, instead of long string of words that may get lost in translation; a book or novel is a better medium for that. I do understand that the anime itself is an adaptation of series of novels, but for better or worse it is a not so good of an attempt at doing so. As far as the mystery concerned, it was decent for the most part, especially in the earlier part where it seems logical, but get ridiculous later on when element such as AI and psychology was being put into the fray. When things that help to speed up solving the mystery randomly appear out of nowhere, it is usually a sign that the writing will go downhill afterward. As for the ending, whilst the mystery itself is solved, the story that follows up afterward to tie up the loose end leaves a bad aftertaste.

There are three main characters that play a huge roles in the story; Saikawa Souhei, Nishinosono Moe and Magata Shiki. Souhei role is mainly to become the series detective, and that is effectively all he does; finding out clues one step at a time and piecing them out altogether to solve the mystery. Beyond that he's honestly a quite bland and uninspiring character, but at least he fulfills the role that the story has given him very well. Moe helps to make the story coherent and keep it on track. She ensure that the viewers are able to follow along and don't get confused, by not being quite as sharp as Saikawa-sensei is, and thus making him have to explain most of his discoveries vocally to her, thus indirectly informing the audience in the process as well. Both of this character are mostly used as a plot device so that the story could keep going on. Magata Shiki however, serves as the story enigmatic antagonist and victim. She is a unique character, in both personalities and her role in the story as a whole. She's is a psychotic and messed up, but unbelievably intelligent. Her calm, emotionless, yet calculative manner is something that need to be notice of. Throughout the show, you will learn more about her personalities in the form of flashback, and as of why she is the centre of the story itself. I won't go into detail, but you would be surprised on how clever she manipulate the people around her. As for the other side characters, they're mostly just 'there'; not a whole lot more to say about them really.

The art and animation are both stylistic and simplistic yet effective. There’s a hollow feeling that anyone can draw from its backgrounds. Some of the scenery are drawn beautifully. Most characters are also designed to look simple without unusual features. Additionally, the show portrays its mystery with symbolism and disorder. To put it simply, artwork is unorthodox but also stylistically fitting for a show like this. The animation are mostly smooth, with no huge issue whatsoever. It does not have heavy action scenes, except for maybe a more abstract scene here and there. For the most time, the characters are just talking... and searching, so the movement of characters are rather minimum so to speak. The soundtrack is somewhat impressive. The OP song, features whacky rotoscope done effectively while the ED song is a lot more upbeat, featuring pixellated computeresque animation. The OST used overall fits the mystery theme the anime have. More intensified scenes are also adapted with quietness to add on more to the thrilling suspense. Most of them however are rather forgettable, but it doesn't affect the show much.

Overall, I found the anime slightly boring but quite interesting, if you can keep up with it. If you are a fan of mystery anime, or talkative anime featuring heavy dialogues about the meaning of life and human consciousness, you might want to check out this anime.The anime is long winded and can be boring, with its really slow pacing, so it is not recommended if you watched a more action focused or fast paced anime. There are a bit of comedy here and there, but it is not its main focus, as the show itself is rather serious most of the time. There are definitely better mystery anime out there, but Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider has its own charm in its own right.

  • Miss Monochrome - The Animation 3

Miss Monochrome is a really wonderful short anime. She is the example on how a virtual idol based anime could potentially be; simple, short, light-hearted and fun. And now she is back for the third season.

"Miss Monochrome" is an original character design from seiyuu Horie Yui. In March 2012, she first used the "Miss Monochrome" character as a 3D virtual singer to sing her songs at her concert "Horie Yui wo Meguru Bouken III ~Secret Mission Tour~." Later, the character appeared in a range of merchandise as well as in the social network game "Girlfriend (Beta)." According to the setting, Miss Monochrome loves only the monochrome style, dislikes all kinds of color, and always dreams about changing the world into her favorite monochrome color. (Source: MAL News)

Miss Monochrome: The Animation 3’s story line takes place right after the second season. In this season, Miss Monochrome’s album has finally been released and she is now preparing her tour to become more famous. The third season in itself  feels similar to the first one. Miss Monochrome: The Animation 3 brings that over-the-top comedy back with a new reference in each episode. Each episode feels like a standalone in its own right. There is a lot of random references that incorporate into the story that just so happens to make a plot. Despite having little to no progress in term of story line, it is still really enjoyable to watch. It does feel repetitive at time, but it never took itself too seriously and kept being light-hearted as its core.

As for the cast, there is not so many to talk about really if you continued from the previous season. Miss Monochrome is still trying to become famous, Maneo is still trying to do whatever he can to help, Yayoi is still the same overambitious klutz, and Ruu-chan is being Ruu-chan. Mana and Kikuko make an appearance from time to time. The backup idol group for Miss Monochrome, Caramel, gets a little more air time in the third season.

The art and animation for Miss Monochrome was enhanced significantly. The character designs look more detailed and the environment is a little more vivid as well. The 3D CGI for Miss Monochrome has improved dramatically such as the lighting and detail. Miss Monochrome has a different outfit in the new ending which makes it refreshing to see. Speaking of the OP and ED, there are two of them. The first OP and ED theme songs are “Black or White” and “Step by Step”, the same from the second season, but had a few new animations included. From episode 10 onwards the OP and ED theme songs are “Miss Monochrome Taiso” and “Kimi to Boku”. As usual, I really loved the way they did the OP and ED scene, and the dance choreography for the 3D model are impressive as a whole.  The OST used are decent and generally fits with each scene. The voice acting for each character are needless to say very good, even for the narrator.

There’s no doubt that I enjoyed Miss Monochrome: The Animation 3. There was always something to look forward to in every episode. Be it a random promotion for a game or subtle fan service, it was all fun to watch. For those who have not watched the first or second season yet, go watch it if you can afford to spare 5-7 minutes of your life. It is a great anime that is light hearted, enjoyable yet simple; a perfect way to relax after a hard day of works.

  • Komori-san wa Kotowarenai!

Anime short can be rather pointless at time, especially if it's a weekly 3 minutes anime. By the time you read this review, you might be able to see the entire run of Komori-san wa Kotowarenai, so it's really your choice on what you prefer to spent your time doing. To me personally, I really like this anime. It is simple, very short and most importantly, enough to make you smile.

Fifteen-year-old Komori Shuri is a junior high school girl who is too nice to decline requests. Constantly doing favors for other people has given her incredible strength?! But even so, she is also an adolescent junior high school girl. An anime overflowing with the ups and downs of everyday life! (Source: Batoto, edited)

The story in itself is plain and simple. Just an everyday slice of life of cute girls doing normal stuff each episodes. There is not enough screentime as a whole to be honest to even describe the overall plot and character development as a whole. Not to say that there is none; there are some sweet, mellow romance developed as well as how friendship are developed between the main cast in general. There are some general message laid out in the anime from time to time such as the importance of helping people and how by doing so you are able to connect with people and thus become more social and thus get more out of school and life in general. It is just a shame it is really short considering it is actually really fun to watch.

The characters are mostly generic. The main character, Komori is really lovable in the way she tried her best to help everyone since she had the habit of not turning down any request. She is really sweet and fun to watch. Her design feels exaggerated, with those needlessly large milk bags and strength more powerful than your average high school girls, without showing exactly why, but you have to come in term with it eventually. Her other friends include Megumi, a self-conscious girl with regards to her bust size that is somewhat anti-social and Masako, a gloomier version of Megumi minus the twintail, and was there to actually keep the cohesion of the group. A male character, Ootani was also added later on to spice up the story a little bit. He is a young boy who is interested in Komori surprisingly the most developed character in this series despite being introduced late. Through talking with Komori he is able to become more social by interacting with his classmates and helping them out as well. All in all, considering it is a 2 minutes anime, there are little to no character development, and you had to actually read the original manga to actually know more about them.

The art and animation, as well as sound, are nothing noteworthy in general. The art are plain and simple, yet decent enough to keep on watching. The animation are very relaxed, with very little movement as a whole. As for the sound, the credit song in itself took almost 1/4 of the show, just to put how short this anime is in perspective. The OST was well below average as the soundtrack did not exist for many scenes and was nearly absent in the many that it did take place in. As sound is far less important in short slice of life like this as it does not have to set-up powerful dramatic scenes, it is safe to say that it's negligible.

Overall, Komori-san wa Kotowarenai! was pretty much a timekiller. There's nothing too great about this show, just the fact that you'll end up using up 15 minutes of your life watching it. It does have some messages at time, but the lack of airing time made all the plot and character development to be almost null. It's cute and simple, but not really stellar in any way. I personally really enjoyed this show and was quite disappointed that it wasn't longer.

  • Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru

Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru is another mystery anime that we have for Fall 2015. Compared to Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider however, it is an episodic mystery anime, which each case span for 2-3 episodes. The reason I am intrigued at this anime is because the title character, Sakurako's love for bones. As a person who dedicate his life studying pre-historic, dead organism remains (or fossils to be exact), I can relate to her regarding how interesting and beautiful the remain of life is, despite the grim looking prospect of it. There are however, various critical issue that need to be addressed in this anime, especially on the execution of the story in this anime itself.

Shoutarou Tatewaki, a high schooler living in Asahikawa City, Hokkaido, meets Sakurako Kujou, a bone-loving ojou-san who has an ability to analyze specimen. Because of meeting her, he has to accompany her to various cases. (Source: MAL)

For a mystery anime to work well, it needs several different factors; a foundation, the problem, clues, piecing the puzzles, the big reveal and resolution. In this anime however, you can tell off right from the start that the story skips some important steps and rushed the whole case altogether. This is the most fundamental problem that Sakurako-san faced; the horribly fast pacing. The one thing that makes mystery anime really enjoyable is to actually get the audience to think for themselves and try to solve the problem. This anime takes away such pleasure by making the protagonist so overpowered in term of being a detective, that she could solve the case almost instantly just by looking at the clues, and tell what happened in such a short amount of time. The whole investigation and pondering phases are almost cut off completely. This also took away the tension as viewers would expect that Sakurako will undoubtedly solve all the cases no matter how complicated it is. The pacing aside, the story does not involve dialogue that are too heavy, but still manages to convey the feelings and thought of important characters. Some event are indeed touching while other can be forgettable, mostly because it is too short. There are some comedy factors here and there but it is not really significant, and don't expect any romance or anything in this anime at all. As for the mystery itself, I found that most of them are actually enjoyable. I learned new things from trivia spouted Sakurako herself and the way some scientifical facts used to solve the mystery is really satisfying. Every mystery involves bones and as each bone is different, there’s a diverse range of ways the series takes interest about itself. There is indeed a bigger mystery that tie in together some of the other mysteries the protagonist had faced previously, but the show ended up before it is even resolved. This left the viewer hang in confusion and ultimately lead to a rather disappointing ending. 

The things that keeps me watching this story is because of the title character herself, Sakurako Kujou. She is a beautiful woman with a level-headed coolness and possesses an intimidating intellect. Her fascination for bones is something that really amuses me to no end; it is something that only certain type of people will get it. She displays a sharp tongue with an intimidating voice when involved with cases or bones. Indeed, I totally agree with her that bones are eloquent and can tell the story of the past if you carefully examine it. That's the job of certain people (like me) to reconstruct the past itself. Indeed, you can call us as someone who that lived in the present but trapped in the past. Her trademark appearance, when she don her gloves with skeletal of animals marching around her reminds the viewer that she will come to save the day. Sakurako got what it takes to be the story detective, but like previously stated however she is too good at it. She can single-handedly solve all the case in a short amount of time, ultimately ruining the thrill of mystery anime itself. I have to blame the pacing of the anime however, as she should be given more time instead to solve each mysteries. Shoutarou Tatewaki is one of the most useless male lead in the anime I've ever seen. He is basically there just to be an audience, and his presence plays little to no consequences at all. He's better off being a secondary, side characters as the show itself seems to work fine even without him. As for all the other side characters, they are not really significant and mostly just there to play as a plot device for specific case. There is a teacher, police officer, or even a family dog. Yuriko Kougami, the supposedly love interest to the male lead is not actually one, which is a big shame really. Most of them underway little development, and to be honest rather forgettable.

The art and animation for this anime is above average, utilizing bright and vivid colour palette. The setting also has a serene-like feeling to it with modern decorations and a few noticeable scenes are colored like an art. While it does look really beautiful, it can be a little off-putting considering the whole theme of the anime is mystery. Some details are immaculately shown such as the structure of the bones, which I had to give extra credit for. The character design are decent enough, simple and modern without too much exaggeration. Animation are mostly fluid; while not really stellar it is acceptable for this kind of anime. As for the music, The OP and ED are decent to hear, giving away some symbolism with hints about Sakurako herself. The soundtrack fits mostly with the scene and enhancing it to a certain degree, but not really memorable as a whole.

Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru is a decent anime which might be worth checking out if you are a fan of said theme, or have an interest in bones (or dead things) in general. The mysteries are mostly a miss; the engagement is just very low, all because of the episodic nature and terribly fast pacing. The show had a huge potential, wasted on a 12-episodes anime, which I think should be made longer instead. In retrospect though, this show rides on its premise mostly well with a mixed bag (of bones) for presentation.

  • Owarimonogatari

The Monogatari series is a series that not many people would appreciate of; it is dialogue heavy, and feels more like an anime consisting of powerpoint slide show. However, if one choose to look at it into more depth, the detail put into every line is actually immaculate, clever and  aesthetic, if that's the right word. It is not for everyone to enjoy, but for those who can keep up with it will find that it is really enjoyable. This season continues the series with Owarimonogatari, as the story plunge into a more serious tone and some of the character past was explored, that will eventually lead to a chain of events in the future.

During the month of October of his third year in high school, Koyomi Araragi is introduced to a transfer student named Ougi Oshino by his underclassman Kanbaru Suruga. Ougi tells Koyomi that she has something she wishes to consult with him. When she draws the map of Naoetsu High School, she finds something peculiar. This discovery reveals a tale that wasn't meant to be told, and this makes Koyomi's high school life totally different. This is the story that brings to light "what" makes Koyomi Araragi. This is the story that reveals the "beginning" of everything. (Source: ANN)

Owarimonogatari consisted of 2 main arcs respectively; the Sodachi Riddle/ Sodachi Lost arc and Shinobu Mail arc. Each of them occurs in different timeline with Shinobu Mail arc occurring much earlier, so the viewers had to readjust themselves to the setting after the first arc ended. If I were to describe the story in one word, it is probably 'filler'. The whole story in itself feels like a prequel story, before the final arc truly commence. The first part, Sodachi Riddle with Ougi Formula just before that was one of the pivotal moments of the season involving Ougi’s relationship and conversation with Araragi. It is very mystery driven, starting off with Araragi and Ougi getting trapped in a classroom. As the main focus of the series is the supernatural theme, both of theme had to solve the mystery regarding a big event that took place in that classroom a couple of years ago to get themselves out of there. As the story progresses, into Sodachi Lost, the story continues its mystery theme but with much more emotional factors being put as a focus, before the protagonist could confront with his past once and for all. The second arc, which is Shinobu Mail, actually happens right before the previous arc like stated beforehand. It explore Shinobu's feelings and her past with more depth, told by the conversation between Gaen, Kanbaru, Shinobu, and Koyomi. Some part need to be watched carefully as viewers could easily gotten lost with the daunting amount of information poured by the characters. The arc ended with the protagonist resolve strengthened, opening the path for more event that will soon to come. The problem with the story is that I wanted to see more surprising revelations like in the other stories in the series. However, for Owarimonogatari to start off so interesting and mysterious, then end with little sense of accomplishment was just a little bit disappointing and anticlimactic. Overall, it is a step down from previous Monogatari series, and should be treated as an expansion, or a filler to be exact.

The cast for the Owarimonogatari are more or less familiar with most of them made a return in this season. Araragi is the same old Araragi, the clueless kind of guy who always need help from people around him to solve particular problems. In this season, the show makes his inability to actually think for himself more pronounced as most of the time the said job are being done by other characters; Ougi and Hanekawa in the first arc as well as Kanbaru and Gaen in the second one. He functioned more as an intermediary between the characters, although he is important in his role to actually act after the talk. The main star of the show however, is definitely both Ougi Oshino and Kanbaru Suruga in their respective arc. Compared to previous season, we get to see more Ougi this time and hear her bantering with the other cast. She still kept her mysterious aura, as little is known about her past story even till now. She has the ability to keep the conversation to go whenever she want to, at least in the case with Araragi. She seems to know everything, yet her playful manner keeps her mind to be obscured from other people. It’s hard to trust or know what her true intentions are. However, her role in the arc is meaningful as she guides Araragi to the truth. Yet at the same time, Ougi’s words and actions seems to suggest that she is attacking Araragi’s insecurities. Kanbaru in this season made a comeback as an important supporting character. She serve as a comic foil which is really entertaining, with some of her suggestive innuendo jokes. It's hard to forget with her recurring catchphrase "eat up!" accompanied by her dynamic pose. She however, helps Araragi, as well as Shinobu to be true with their own feeling eventually finishes their confrontation with the apparition serving as the villain in that current arc once and for all. Other characters include Sodachi Oikura who is the title character for the first arc, where she is shown as someone who looks like hate incarnate but deep inside there is actually more than what it meets the eye. Shinobu Oshino is the cute loli vampire that we all love who appears after 2-3 episodes into her arc, and pretty much consistent in term of development. There is also Hanekawa Tsubasa who serve as an antithesis to Ougi, as well as both returning character Gaen Izuko and Ononoki Yotsugi who are there to help Araragi in the later part of the final arc. As a final thought, in term of cast, it is good to actually see the characters to return and actually shows some development as we get to know more about them.

Shaft had their own distinct, unique style of art and animation that are recognizable instantly. It is something that we all grow to cherish and love to after watching it so many times now, and Owarimonogatari is no less the same. They still maintain a high-quality art, coupled with smooth animation presented in a slide show theme to give off the mystery vibe of the anime. The usage of symbolism as well as cartoonish art at time gives tons of variation to alleviate the sense of heavy talking this series had. As for the OP and ED song, both of them are top notch in term of presentation and music wise. There are 3 opening in totals for each of the arc, each of them with their own visual aesthetic to couple with the story happening in each arc. From the spooky yet calm OP of Ougi Formula, to the much upbeat and eccentric OP for Sodachi Riddle/ Sodachi Lost and finally the eerie OP of Shinobu Mail, complimented by classical instrument and grim art. The ED song is no less impressive, which is a lot more calming and beautiful to contrast with the story. The OST used are iconic, fitting very well with each scene. It is filled with variations of music that work perfectly as the series changes tone. Overall, the anime marvelously performed in term of both art and music quality.

Monogatari series is not the kind of series that I would casually give recommendation for people to watch. Viewers need to attentively watch and read, understanding what the characters’ roles, dialogues, and word plays mean to appreciate the story. For fans that actually follows the series, Owarimonogatari is definitely a treat that helps well to expand the knowledge of the characters, without actually impacting the story as a whole. The amount of information given by heavy dialogues from the characters can be off-putting, and need to be carefully addressed.  It may not be as good as the previous Monogatari season in term of story and definitely feels like a filler but it is indeed enjoyable nevertheless. 

  • One Punch Man


I'm a huge fan of shounen anime. Watching cool heroes throwing flashy moves makes me squeal every single time. One Punch Man looks like your generic hero themed shounen anime, but at the same time being a parody of the said genre. This is a show made solely for fun, and it is masterfully done so. 

The seemingly ordinary and unimpressive Saitama has a rather unique hobby: being a hero. In order to pursue his childhood dream, he trained relentlessly for three years—and lost all of his hair in the process. Now, Saitama is incredibly powerful, so much so that no enemy is able to defeat him in battle. In fact, all it takes to defeat evildoers with just one punch has led to an unexpected problem—he is no longer able to enjoy the thrill of battling and has become quite bored. This all changes with the arrival of Genos, a 19-year-old cyborg, who wishes to be Saitama's disciple after seeing what he is capable of. Genos proposes that the two join the Hero Association in order to become certified heroes that will be recognized for their positive contributions to society, and Saitama, shocked that no one knows who he is, quickly agrees. And thus begins the story of One Punch Man, an action-comedy that follows an eccentric individual who longs to fight strong enemies that can hopefully give him the excitement he once felt and just maybe, he'll become popular in the process. (Source: MAL Rewrite)

The setting of One Punch Man id Fairly generic; a world where monsters are widespread thus a hero organisation was established to counter the threat by sending heroes to defeat the monsters. The one unique twist added to the mix is that our main protagonist, Saitama is so overpowered, that all it takes for him to defeat his opponent is basically a single punch. This is definitely poking fun at your normal shounen tropes where usually the heroes had to get beaten up, train and get stronger to eventually outpower their enemies. But nope, One Punch Man totally disregard that element completely, by making the main protagonist so powerful that he himself are having his own dilemma to find someone that could actually give him any challenges. There is no cliche like latent ability, being a chosen one, acquiring special weapons or involved in an accident. All it takes for him to be that powerful is just plain ol' training which is ridiculous in its own right. The story follows his normal everyday story, along with his disciple Genos, a straightforward yet cool-looking cyborg as they work to become a real hero. The term 'normal' is an understatement; for them to encounter monsters and defeat them outright is basically like a chore. One may think that a story that ended up with its protagonist punching their villain into oblivion with a single punch might be boring and repetitive because where is the fun in that? For sure, it is predictable; viewers will see that every time that Saitama appeared, the fight will end soon leaving splattered remains of his enemies behind. However, before that kind of stuff usually happens, there will be some kind of battle shown between the other lesser powerful heroes trying to fend off the powerful monsters, coupled with awesome fight animation and dramatic, hot-blooded battle line. Such spectacles are a treat to the eye, before the fight eventually end with Saitama's epic single punch. Speaking of a single punch, in theory, it may sounded bland, but each single punch are delivered with such meticulous impact that it never cease to look so amazing. The overall plot is really linear; trouble shows up, monsters rampaging, some background story, some fight breaks out and finally Saitama enters to save the day. It does not need to be complex because it is an anime purely made for fun by being a parody while having bit of serious moment here and there. There are some drama, portrayed through the struggles of weaker heroes, which are effectively presented. As for the comedy, every single punchline (heh) are delivered to guarantee makes the viewer crack a smile, and Saitama's hilarious reaction face are golden. His indifference expression when facing giant menacing monster are contrasted with over the top reaction when dealing with normal everyday problem, like forgetting a sale for example. The pacing in the anime is marvelously carried out in a way that it is not too fast nor too slow Scene with slow, long winded talking are replaced with heavy action scene short after. The anime perfectly capture the essence of the manga, by faithfully adapt it panel by panel with some addition on its own. The only complaint that I have is that there is not enough story, but that itself is not really a huge problem at all since the anime is coupled with several special episodes and a promise of second season soon to come.

One Punch Man features a huge cast of characters, yet every single one of them are unique and memorable. The main protagonist, which is also the title character himself is Saitama. He is just your average bald dude with the strongest power any fictional characters would've dream off; absolute plot armour. No matter how strong his opponent is, it is given that he will defeat them effortlessly, with his bare fist. Saitama whole character design are a parody in itself. His motivation for being a hero is that he does it as a hobby, and never take it seriously. His face are usually drawn in the most simplistic design as you can imagine, heck even someone who drawing skills ranges from drawing stickmen at best could draw his face. At time however, when he become a bit serious his expression will change and a powerful aura will engulf his body that even his enemy will think twice about facing him. That is when you know where things will get down, fast. He is however, intended to be a joke character, and he had done so splendidly. Every moment with him is absolute joy, and viewers will find him to be both awesome and humorous as a whole. Genos, his loyal disciple, is the opposite of him. Genos is a cyborg with long winded history and has personalities typical of the shonen trope. He is a lot more uptight and take every single thing seriously. As a battle cyborg, he is very cool and his battle scenes usually involve lots of high-speed action and loud explosions. He want to be as strong as Saitama, and to do that he believe that he must follow his exact foot step. Thus, he does everything Saitama entrusted him, which is mostly house chore and believe that it is one of his master's training regime. Both Saitama and Genos make up for a dynamic duo of heroes; an enjoyable one at that. Other characters include the people from Heroes Association and all the other villains, or monsters. On the top of the Heroes Association is the S-class heroes; the bratty psychic user Tatsumaki, lean and mean old geezer Bang, hero using machinery and powerful armament to overwhelm his enemy Metal Knight, the 'strongest' hero King, samurai that slashes his opponent to atomic level Atomic Samurai, strong muscled heroes Puripuri Prisoner, Tank Top Master and Superalloy Blackluster as well as some other powerful heroes. There are also casts of lower class heroes like the Mumen Rider, a hardworking, courageous heroes whose main quality is to never give up no matter how much stronger his adversaries is, which at the same time give the show a more serious shounen-like feel into it at time. The villains design are no less amazing. Most of them looks really goofy, like the old tv show monsters; from a bipedal lobster wearing spandex, a parody of another villains from other series to a bald villain whose motivation is to not work at all. Some of them are actually rather cool looking, such as the ninja Sonic who boast his speed only to get ridiculed by the protagonist later. Other are a lot more menacing; a giant titan, an ancient dinosaur, the sea king himself and also invaders from outer space with power enough to wipe out an entire city or even the planet itself if left unchecked. Nevertheless, One Punch Man is filled with a huge variety of cast which never looks dull and always be entertaining in their own, unique way.

The art and animation is nothing short of masterpiece. It is not refined, but rather strong and impactful which blows away the viewers with its fluid fast action scene violent explosions. Every single detail are brought out in the most amazing way as possible, from the shiny metal armours to the internal organs that got blown out. The camera angle are utilised to its maximum potential, so that every single bit of the action could be captured perfectly. The manga itself feels like an anime in its own right, with its panel by panel movement of beautifully drawn art, but the anime takes it up by a notch by having colours and sounds to compliment with the art. Considering this is a medium budget anime shows that how so much effort the animators had been putting into this anime so that the viewers could enjoy it to their fullest. The final episode especially, are just epic; one of the best battle animation I've seen for a long, long time. As for the sound, it is no less impressive. The OP is probably the best one of the season yet, that gets you hype with its heavy metal rock music and hardcore animation. It is one of the opening where I could hear it so many time and scream "ONE PUUUNCH!" from the bottom of my lungs every time I listen to it, or doing punching exercise during my usual Taekwondo session. It is that good. The ED song is a lot more slower, so that the viewers could finally calm down after 20-minutes of heavy action scenes, and signify the wait for the next until the new episode come out. The soundtrack used are masterfully done, each compliment with every single scene; a darker sinister theme when the enemy was revealed to the heavy metal background music when the battle is started. In short, I could say that both the animation and sounds for One Punch Man are simply, legendary.

Arguably the best anime of the season, and the one that you must watch at all cost if you still haven't seen it yet. Ignore the people who are cynical about this anime because of the growing fanbase, because what matters if can enjoy watching it. It may not have a deep, thoughtful story because it is a parody of shounen anime at core that's out so that viewers can simply have fun and revel in the absurdity. Plus, the art, animation and sound are one of the best there is for a while and there are varieties of characters that are all fun to watch

. One Punch Man does what it sets out to deliver, that is to entertain. And it does so in style.

To be continued in Winter 2015/16

  • Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen

When I came to, I realized I was standing in the middle of a vast, snowy plain I knew nothing of. I didn't know how I got there. And to add to that, I couldn't remember anything, not even my name. I stood there, dumbfounded at my absurd situation. But then, as if to spite me further, a gigantic monster suddenly appeared, an insect-like creature that began to bear down on me. I tried desperately to run, but it cornered me into a hopeless situation. It was then that the girl appeared. Her name was Kuon. It was this beautiful girl, who bore an animal's ears and tail, who saved my life. (Source: ANN)

Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen is a sequel to the  2006 Utawarerumono anime, taking place several years after that. The anime itself features new main casts, but with familiar setting. As for now, the story mainly focuses on the slice of life aspect of the show, as Haku, the main protagonist of this story try to get suited to the world. The comedy aspect is decent, the characters are fun to watch and the story is slow but expect it to pick up and get more serious later on in the show. I found it really enjoyable and will continue to watch it further.

  • Heavy Object

The science-fiction war action story revolves around Objects — powerful, massive weapons that change the course of warfare — and Elite Object pilots. An odd Elite girl named Milinda meets Quenser, a student who aims to become a Object mechanic, with the soldier-in-training Heivia on a snowy battlefield. (Source: ANN)

Heavy Object is a guilty pleasure anime for those who enjoy watching two giant tank-like machine duke it out with lots of explosions here and there, and with some ecchi element added in. For a sci-fi anime set in the not too far future, it has a good  way of executing its political, social and war setting. The main characters feels generic at time but their antique is really fun to watch. The pacing may seems a little bit too fast, and the plot looks weak and convoluted but otherwise it is a rather enjoyable anime so far. Will continue watching this for the weapon that could surpass metal gear.

That's it. See you guys next season!

By Otaku, for everyone.

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