Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Koutetsujou no Kabaneri)

(12ish episodes, noitaminA)

What’s it about ?

Steampunk zombie apocalypse, by most of the same people who brought you Attack on Titan‘s adaptation.


Most of the world (as we can see it) has already been overwhelmed by the zombies ; there are only a few pockets of survivors, built like fortresses, and connected only by armoured trains. Even then, they’re falling one by one, and there’s a sense of growing desperation and paranoia among both civilians and soldiers. They’re certainly checking thoroughly everyone who comes out of the trains for traces of infection.

Ikoma, our protagonist, is a lowly engineer working on train maintenance. His pet project, though, is building steam-guns that can actually kill zombies (as opposed to the current ones that only kill people and barely repel zombies). He’s all about taking a rational approach to fighting off the infestation (“it’s not a curse, guys !”), but I have to say that his “cure” method looks really, really dumb.

Mumei looks like someone very important, most probably the daughter of the lord of another fortress. She’s certainly important enough for her and her minder to avoid the mandatory inspection after coming by train. At first she looks like a sheltered free-spirit who’s super-bored about her own diplomatic mission, but when the shit hits the fan she displays some unexpected determination and awareness of the stakes.

On the other hand, I totally understand her disdain for the rulers of this settlement. The local lord lets his paranoid soldiers go way overboard in their paranoia, and his first reflex after a breach is to head for the one available train to escape. (And you just know there’s a fat chance of civilians getting allowed in.) His daughter seems okay, though, if very sheltered indeed.

Production Values

Budget ! And very bombastic indeed, but then that’s what you get with Araki directing and Sawano scoring.

What did I think of it ?

Warning : this show is very, very dumb. Most of the characters act like morons, and some of the big moments look very silly indeed.

If you can get over that, though, there’s actually a lot to like here. Ikoma’s more brainy and less shouty than your average protagonist, Mumei is tons of fun, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the show’s escalating momentum.

It could very well collapse under the weight of its ambitions, but I’m in for the ride.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2016 – Page 4

Seraph of the End (Owari no Seraph)

(12 episodes, + the second half this Fall)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a post-apocalyptic manga series featuring vampires as the villains. Which actually doesn’t happen that often these days, so it’s quite refreshing.


For reasons that are left vague on purpose, a good chunk of humanity suddenly died one day. The vampires claim it’s a virus unleashed by humanity themselves ; allow me to take that with a grain of salt. Anyway, children under 13 were immune, so the vampires came in and took in as many kids as they could. Not out of charity, of course ; they’re cattle.

The series follows a group of orphans that were in the same orphanage and considered themselves family, and have been captive for four years ; the oldest are now 12. I’m not even bothering to remember all those names, as this is clearly the kind of series where they’re doomed to nearly all be killed horribly.

Yuichiro, our protagonist, is one of the oldest, and the lone wolf of the group ; he joined last, and has some sort of horrible backstory (why the heck would his mother call him a monster ?). His pathetic attempts to lash out against the vampires are borderline suicidal, and he’s only still alive thanks to…

Mikaela, the other oldest, who’s decided that voluntary offering himself to some noble vampire was the best way to protect his siblings and keep them decently fed. And he was merely buying his time ; today he’s stolen a gun and a map that can lead them outside. They’re all escaping tonight.

Of course it’s a trap, laid by said noble, Lord Ferid. Dude likes to toy with his food, it seems. On the other hand, he’s slightly too cocky ; Mikaela sacrificing himself allows just barely Yuichiro to take him out… but only after he’s killed everyone else. Yuichiro can only escape alone, in an effort to make his family’s death mean something.

Some (human) dude catches him just outside the vampire city, and tells Yuichiro he’s going to make him the ultimate anti-vampire weapon. Sure, bring it on.

Cut to four years later, with our hero all grown up and in nicer clothes, and… why the heck does the next-episode preview show some sort of high-school-like setting ? Please tell me that’s a joke. Or a pre-apocalypse flashback for our new character.

Production Values

Quite nice. Hiroyuki Sawano’s bombastic score is perfectly at home here, especially as he’s adapting himself to better fit the mood.

Overall Impression

Well, subtle this ain’t ; but it’s remarkably effective at setting up the protagonist’s backstory, however predictable the end result may be. That helps smooth over Yuichiro being a bit annoying in those early stages, but only up to a point ; a lot depends on what happens next and how it builds a proper supporting cast.

Still, it bought itself a second episode ; let’s see where it goes from here.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2015.

The Seven Deadly Sins (Nanatsu no Taizai)

(24 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a fantasy action-adventure shonen manga.


The backstory here is that 10 years ago, seven “traitors” turned against their country and killed a big number of knights. Of course, by now they’ve become urban legends : they haven’t been seen since, and the details are starting to get wildly exaggerated. (Do they even look like their wanted posters ?)

Elizabeth is a young woman who’s looking for them… and frankly, with that big clunky armour she kinda looks like someone unsavoury. This show won’t have any of that, so she spends most of the episode in a skintight undersuit that gets more and more cut up as it goes. Anyway, she’s convinced the Seven Deadly Sins are actually great people that prevented the knights from doing something terrible.

She ends up in the Pig Hat, an odd tavern owned by a quite young-looking dude. How odd ? They have a talking pig. (Who gets rid of any leftover or spilt food.) Also, nobody can quite remember the tavern being on this hill for more than a few days. And the food’s kinda terrible.

The twist is that the tavern’s owner is Meliodas, the Seven Deadly Sins’ former leader. He’s lost track of the others, but Elizabeth’s welcome to try and help him find them.

Production Values

If even I can find the animation pretty lacking, then it must be quite terrible.

We’ve also got a bizarre case of Hiroyuki “Attack on Titan/KILL la KILL/Aldnoah Zero” Sawano’s bombastic score being grossly miscast. It’s just not that kind of series.

Overall Impression

Oh, hello generic shonen adventure #1564 ! And bye, because between your one-dimensional characters, your lacking quality, and your by-the-numbers plot, there’s just nothing to make me care.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2014 – Page 4.


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Gen Urobuchi writing more mecha anime !

And wow, this is a convoluted premise. It’s an alternate universe where the Appolo program went on to attempts to colonize Mars… Except they found “the Vers Empire” already there, remains of an old civilization with advanced technology ; they did not take kindly to the intruders. 15 years ago the conflict escalated to the Moon being partly destroyed (wreaking havoc on the surface), with Vers breaking their Hyper Gate (which allowed fast space travel) in exchange. It’s been a ceasefire by default since then.


Asseylum, the Vers princess, is an young idealist. Despite the objections of nearly everyone else in power in the empire, she’s decided to go on a diplomatic visit to Earth to try and broker peace. There are a lot of people in Vers who want her to fail, and for some Earth extremists to try something against her.

Slaine is an Earth-born orphan whom Asseylum rescued a few years ago and made her servant/friend/confident. Everyone else hates him, and she didn’t have enough pull to bring him with her. Basically, his life sucks.

Most of the episode is from the point of view of Inaho, an ordinary Japanese highschool student, and his circle of friends. While he’s about as blasé as them about the world’s terrible situation, at least he still pays attention to his surroundings. Also, “ordinary” highschool students now have to participate in drills, piloting mecha in preparation for the rebuilding of Earth’s armies after it got crippled.

Yuki (Inaho’s older sister) and Lt Marito are the soldiers supervising their training. Marito has turned to booze because of their task’s pointlessness. Not because it’s peacetime, but because he has no doubt Vers outclass anything Earth could drum up. He was on the frontlines back then, he knows the score.

There’s a bunch of Mysterious Terrorists who fire tons of missiles at Asseylum’s limo just as she’s passing by Inaho and his friends. And if you believe she’s truly dead, I have a bridge I can sell you.

Vers take the bait, though, and start attacking Earth, doing things like obliterating Manhattan. They don’t even have a cohesive plan of attack : the many houses of the Empire are competing for who gets to “win” first. It looks like they’re going to have more trouble with infighting than with Earth’s pitiful defenses.

Production Values

Fairly nice.

Overall Impression

Wow, exposition overload ! Sure, the premise’s not exactly simple, but boy is there a lot of information to pay attention to on display here. We get every infodump cliché in the book, from TV and radio broadcasts to the students studying their history course. I hope this was just a hurdle the first episode had to pass, and that we’re going to get more time for the characters from now on ; they had very little room to breathe here.

What the show does well, though, are the big action sequences, from the attack against the limo to the Vers attacking. That’s some very impactful massive damage, indeed. On the spectacle front, this doesn’t disappoint. I just hope there’s going to be enough substance to justify it.

Still, I’m hooked, unless the second episode turns out to be a massive disaster.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2014 – Page 3.


(24ish episodes)

What’s it about ?



SATSUKI KIRUIN, student council president of HONNOUJI ACADEMY, where the story is set. She’s the TOP DOG around, with even the teachers knowing better than to challenge her (having her mother on the board helps). She has set up a strict hierarchy inside the academy (and the city enclosed within its walls), and has distributed POWER UNIFORMS to the underlings she judges worthy.

IRA GAMAGORI is one her four main lieutnants, and the one in charge of day-to-day DISCIPLINE. Some dude has sneaked in to steal a ONE-STAR UNIFORM, that gives its wearer super-strength ? Well, TOUGH LUCK for the little punk, as Ira has a THREE-STAR UNIFORM, and intends the make an EXAMPLE.

RYUUKO MATOI, our heroine. This BADASS just transfered in and wants to ask Satsuki QUESTIONS about who killed her father. Her only clue is HALF A PAIR OF GIANT SCISSORS that she’s always carrying around. Unfortunately, even she can’t beat the Head of the Boxing Club with a TWO-STAR UNIFORM, and she barely manages to escape.

MAKO MANKANSHOKU, a MOTORMOUTH innocent student who takes a liking to Matoi after our protagonist beats up her little brother and his gang (who were trying to rob her). Obviously Mako’s quickly taken HOSTAGE by Satsuki and her goons to force Matoi to come back into the open.

THE INDECENT COSTUME is found by Matoi by chance (?) in her family house’s basement. It BARELY COVERS ANYTHING, but that won’t stop it from forcing itself on her. Also, it talks. But whatever : Matoi’s now got her own set of SUPER-POWERED CLOTHES, and can strike back. Go for ROUND TWO !

There’s also a MYSTERIOUS TEACHER hovering over the fringes of the plot and doing stuff like discreetly guiding Matoi towards the costume. Since he looks BADASS when he takes his glasses off, I assume he’s important.

Production Values

Very rough-looking, but with hyper-kinetic action when it matters. If you’ve watched Gurren Lagann, you know what to expect : dynamic camera angles, artful shot composition, omnipresent chiaroscuro, and giant captions all over the screen. Sometimes the background characters devolve into barely-animated caricatures, but that’s part of the charm, and it does have impressive animation when it counts.

Neither the OP nor ED sequences seemed ready for this first episode ; the ED song just plays other a stylized rendering of the title.

Overall Impression

Probably the most hyped show of the season : the triumphant return of Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking w/ Garterbelt) with his new studio Trigger, on their first actual series after little appetizers such as Little Witch Academia. (Let’s just politely ignore Inferno Cop.) How does it measure up ?

The good news : it works. It’s outrageously stupid, of course, but it ties together into a coherent whole despite its wild excesses. There is masterful storytelling at work here, introducing a dense setting and plenty of charismatic characters, while keeping every single shot visually interesting and shoving in as many sight gags as possible.

Everything I expected it to be, and then some. A complete success.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013 – Page 5.

Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyoujin)

(25ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

Dark heroic-fantasy.


Eren, our kid protagonist. He really wants to join the Recon Corps and explore the world beyond the gigantic walls humanity is confined in, but most people think this is a very stupid dream. (Well, Daddy, who’s somebody Important, acknowledges that’s it’s pointless to try and dissuade him.)

Coincidentally, the Recon Corps have just come back from their latest expedition, and they’re far fewer than when they left, those who did come back are in a sorry state, and their commander openly recognizes that they’ve accomplished nothing of value, ever. No wonder most people think they’re a stupid idea.

Mikasa, Eren’s childhood friend. She too thinks that joining the Recon corps is a stupid idea, and I get the impression she’s sabotaging his efforts for his own sake. She’s always looking out for him when he gets in trouble ; bullies run away when they see her, and considering she can lift and carry Eren without breaking a sweat, I can see their point.

Armin, their friend. He holds the not-very-popular opinion that humanity pretty much has to go outside the walls anyway, and that people are just kidding themselves when they think they’ll be protected forever.

He’s instantly proved right when the wall is breached by what everyone’s so afraid of : the Titans, gigantic humanoid monsters that prey on humanity. For a hundred years the 50-meter-high walls have been enough to keep them out so that everyone can live in “peace”, but now there’s one that’s taller than the outer wall. Crap. The city near the wall immediately falls.

Hanneth, a city guard, who was liking it better when he was a glorified wall repairer and drunk “parasite on society” ; but fuck it, this is his job, so he’s going to attack the nearest Titan. Then he realizes that he’s facing alone a 5-meter-tall monstruosity, reconsiders, and starts enacting Eren’s mother’s dying wish : get him and Mikasa the hell away from the slaughter.

Production Values

Holy shit, budget ! The soldiers in this setting use grappling hooks to scour the cities and the forests like they’re Spider-Men, and boy do the few snippets we get of this kind of action look impressive. This is a show with gorgeous animation and attention to detail… except in those few jarring scenes where they’ve ran out of money and it’s just still images.

Overall Impression

Was someone asking for non-generic, non-terrible heroic-fantasy ? Well, the jury’s still out on whether this is actually good, but at least it builds a distinctive atmosphere and avoids most of the old tired clichés. And it does pull off the visuals needed to back its ambitions, as the Titans are depicted with a sense of scale and weight that sells them as a monstrous, unstoppable threat, despite just being tall dudes who advance slowly.

Now, if there’s one thing I’m a bit wary about, it’s that this is a dead-serious show whose high-strung melodrama sometimes devolves into bathos ; most of the time the atmosphere works, but there are times when it gets a bit too overdone and silly. Hopefully it’s going to find the right balance soon ; probably once humanity start striking back.

This is clearly one of the few shows with ambition this season, and I’m looking forward to see where it goes from this kick-in-the-gut start.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2013 – Page 8.

Guilty Crown

(22 episodes)

What’s it about ?

A future dystopia where biological terrorist attacks have allowed brutal totalitarians (under control of foreign interests) to take over Japan. A high-school student finds himself involved with a group of “terrorists” smuggling a biological weapon out of a lab, and obtains some superpowers by accident. Also, mecha.

If this synopsis sounds suspiciously like Code Geass, well the head writer here worked on that too. But the tone is quite different.


Shu, our protagonist. I hasten to note that he’s very different from Lelouch, especially given his lack of charisma. He’s just a normal boy way out of his depth who feels impotent against the dystopia.

Inori, a pop singer who somehow managed to smuggle a vial of something out of a lab. After a long chase scene, she gets arrested right in front of Shu (after stumbling into his little hideout), but not before giving him the vial, so that he can transmit it to…

Gai, leader of the terrorist cell, and badass enough to take care of a few thugs who had zeroed in on Shu without even breaking a sweat. He’s got an awesome theme tune, too. But the cops catch up with them before he can even start to explain the plot…

We get to see a few more “terrorists” (how the heck did they get their hands on a mecha ?) and some higher-ups in the dystopia, but they don’t get enough screentime yet for me to really get a handle on them.

Production Values

Production IG are on full form here : this looks gorgeous, the action sequences are fluid, and the opening chase scene’s direction is a thing of wonder. The soundtrack is ace too.

What did I think of it ?

Clearly the highlight of the season. It’s ambitious and has enough budget to pull it off ; the worldbuilding around the dystopia feels genuine (turf conflicts between officials is definitely the way to go to make it halfway credible) ; and moreover it’s just got style. I was slightly disappointed by the nature of the “Guilty Crown” weapon (a giant blade thingie ?), but that’s minor. A more major problem is the protagonist, who needs to shape up and stop whining very quickly if he wants not to be overshadowed by the much more charismatic supporting cast.

Still, this shows a lot of promise, and may well be the best first episode of the season.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2011 – Page 10.

Blue Exorcist (Ao no Exorcist)

(25 episodes)

What’s it about ?

A middle school dropout discovers he’s the son of Satan. You’ll have to wait the second episode to see how he decides to become an Exorcist, though.


Jin, our protagonist. He spends most of the episode trying to hold a job… and failing miserably , because he’s quite clumsy. It doesn’t help that he’s got super-strength, some blue fire powers, and can now suddenly see the flurry of demons and sprites wreaking havoc on the real world. Also, his white knight personality tends to lead him into fights with local bullies (which he usually wins, but still).

Yukio, his “twin brother”, although given they barely look alike and the whole “son of Satan” thing, I’m not sure I trust that. Anyway, he’s basically perfect : calm, studious, and just getting a scholarship to a prestigious high school. Jin doesn’t like being constantly compared to him, but they do love each other.

Father Fujimoto, their legal guardian, and head Exorcist of the local church. He’s awesome personified, at least when he isn’t being lecherous. He did know about Jin’s ancestry, but tried to give him a normal life. Jin’s powers awakening rule that choice out, though.

We see quite a few other characters : the church’s apprentices, the various co-workers at Jin’s job, the local bullies… all of them are quite one-note, though.

Production Values

There’s something about the character designs and the animation that feels a bit cheap to me, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Anyway, it looks quite ugly and lacking in atmosphere. The pacing’s quite a bit wonky, too – the last few scenes all felt like the episode should have stopped there.

Overall Impression

Oh, sweet. A series I can drop immediately without any remorse.

There’s not much to like, here. Most of the episode is devoted to Jin’s work hijinks, which is just boring. It fails to make me care about the main plot, and Jin’s a brat I can live without. The whole thing reeks of clichés and well-worn plot devices. And it just doesn’t look very good.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 13.