Norn9: Norn+Nonet

(12ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a sci-fi “otome” visual novel. Interestingly, according to the Wikipedia description it seems to have switched point-of-view characters from the very young dude (who’s yet to show up) to one of the girls (which feels much more conventional).


Koharu is a girl who’s forgotten nearly everything about herself (it takes the whole episode for her to remember her name), who one day feels to compel to head for a shuttle that leads her to THE WORLD. Not the stand, but a huge ship (big enough to host a town and some bits of lands inside) that travels across the globe… and maybe spacetime, if the appearance of Koharu’s hometown is any indication (The World looks much more futuristic).

The only crew (and inhabitants) of The World are about a dozen teenagers, who seem to have been recruited similarly. (The big difference is that Koharu somehow got her hands on an uniform before she even got inside.) They spend most of their time on the chores required to living on The World (fishing, growing crops, etc.), and frankly I have no clue how they do this with so few people given the sheer size of the thing. On the other hand, The World appears to be self-driving, randomly relocating itself to whatever crisis they are meant to solve. (The show remains mysterious as to what those are yet.)

Oh, and a tower explodes at the end. Good way to keep my interest up, show !

(It’s apparently called “Norn9” because there are 9 dudes aboard, and somehow the three girls – including Koharu – don’t count. Whatever)

Production Values

Quite sharp-looking ; it’s certainly very good at selling The World as a setting with a huge scale and on a completely different technological level from anything else.

As you’d expect for the source, there’s a decent amount of manservice, mainly in the form of a bunch of the guys spending noticeably more time than narratively necessary swimming around.

Overall Impression

Usually I’m not in the audience for otome adaptations, but I have to give points to this one for sheer ambition. Sure, it spends most of its time faffing around with nothing particularly interesting happening, and the main characters don’t deviate much from the usual archetypes, but it almost feels like there’s an actual plot and purpose to the show.

I’m probably going to be disappointed, but I’m giving this a second episode.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 2


(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a light novel series with the novel premise of “player stuck into a MMORPG that became real”. Never seen that one before.
From what I can gather, it has nothing to do with the various videogames of the same name.


So, Yggdrasil. One of the big full-immersion MMORPG of its time. But it’s been 12 years, the player base had been dwindling down considerably for a while, so its editor has decided to call it a day and shut the servers down tonight.

Momonga, our protagonist, was the leader of one the biggest and strongest “monster” guilds of the game. Max level, tons of stuff and unique items (including his super-wand that can wish nearly anything and even bypass some programming), their own giant demon castle lair, dozens of custom NPC servants, the works. By now, of course, most of the guild members have left, with barely a few of them making an appearance on this last day. But Momonga has decided he’s going to stick around until the end, reminisce, and let the system log him out when the servers shut down.

When he wakes up after midnight, he notices with shock that he’s still in the throne room. The HUD and menus are gone, and he can’t raise anyone (be them other players or GMs) through voice chats. On the other hand, the NPCs now act a lot more real than their previous AI-constrained selves, and obey to all his casually-phrased orders (instead of needing specific commands).

And well, there’s Albedo, his NPC demon secretary, whom he had just rescripted to be in love with him, on a whim. This might have been a poor decision…

What’s going on here ? Has he slided into another world that’s identical to Yggdrasil somehow ? Can he get back to the real world ? Does he even want to ? Will the NPCs keep obeying their very confused master ?

Production Values

Quite good ; there’s some obvious CG work on some undead battle sequences, but it looks okay. And the animators have really managed to make Momonga expressive, with a body language belying clearly a benign middle manager disguised as an over-the-top overlord.

Overall Impression

Well, there’s a reason the clichĂ© premises are still being recycled : they caught on our imagination and offer numerous variants. And hey, I don’t think I’ve seen any of these stories take the point of view of “the bad guys” (who are actually punch-clock villains more than anything else), so that’s something new for this show to explore. And it does so quite well ; Momonga truly feels like a MMORPG guild leader, and a very sympathetic protagonist. The NPC supporting cast also feel like they could grow into interesting characters (or at least entertaining ones).

If there’s one thing that’s lacking here, it’s a clear notion of where the story is going ; we don’t even know whether there’s anyone outside the lair at this point. But hey, that’s something for future episodes to explore ; this one has accomplished its job of selling me on the premise, at least for now.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2015 – Page 5

Danganronpa – the Animation

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

15 of the most promising (and eccentric) of this generation’s high school students, each with their own speciality, have been scouted by this new super-shiny academy… but they learn just after stepping inside that it’s all a trap and they can’t leave unless they kill one of the others.

Adapted from a visual novel that I’ve seen described as “Battle Royale meets Phoenix Wright”, and that sounds about accurate.


THE GAMEMASTER is “Monobear”, an impressively obnoxious bear puppet. You can’t even strangle it for stress relief, as it can self-destruct and it’s got spare bodies.

Makoto, our protagonist, is THE LUCKY GUY. (Or maybe THE UNLUCKY GUY, given the circumstances.) He’s utterly ordinary on every respect and got his place via random lottery. Really, he’s just there for audience projection, and has no personality whatsoever.

Sayaka, THE IDOL, is the one familiar face among the crowd : they attended the same middle school, and for some reason she remembers this complete nobody.

Also of note : Celestia, THE GAMBLER, who’s already trying to game the system ; Mondo, THE THUG BIKER, who easily goes into other people’s faces ; and Kyouko, who’s only describes as THE ??? and is thus immediately mightily suspect.

(Other participants include THE HALL MONITOR, a guy whose chief talent seems to be obeying rules ; THE FIGHTER, a 8-feet-tall mountain of muscles ; THE SWIMMER, who’s very cheerful ; THE BOOKWORM, always anxious and paranoid ; THE MODEL, a gyaru stereotype ; THE HACKER, who’s adorably cute ; THE FORTUNE TELLER, who, er, yeah ; THE BASEBALL PLAYER ; THE SCION, whose talent seems to lord over everyone ; and the FANZINE PUBLISHER, your token overweight otaku.)

Production Values

The least you can say is that it’s got a very distinctive style : cooler-than-thou character designs, surrealist colorful backgrounds, and weird shot transitions. On the other hand, it wears its status as a visual novel adaptation on its sleeve, down to the exact camera angles and the characters having stock idle animations. Most of the time, the aesthetic succeeds ; but there are times when it gets a bit awkward.

Overall Impression

Look, it’s another “let’s play” of a popular visual novel by the director of Persona 4 ! Not that there’s anything wrong with that ; indeed, this one seems better suited to his strengths, as the jerky pacing suits the darkly comedic tone. And this story sounds like a fun ride : the characters aside from the PC are the right sort of quirky, and I’m intrigued to see where it goes.

Okay, I’m game. Bring it on.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2013 – Page 3.


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Ontological mystery meets male harem romance. Adapted from a visual novel, and boy does it show.


Our main character doesn’t actually get named at any point (the ancillary material calls her “Heroine”, for what it’s worth). As the title of the show suggests, she suffers from a severe case of amnesia, unable to remember anything about herself (or anything else, for that matter). She’s completely shell-shocked by the experience, and is barely able to string two sentences together. It probably doesn’t help that she’s also the only one who can see and hear…

Orion, a very talkative sprite who claims to be the (accidental) cause for her amnesia, what with having lodged himself into her soul by accident. He’s very sorry, and spends the episode giving her “helpful” hints on how she can get better. Gods forbid she seek any medical help ! What she really needs to do is to pretend she’s perfectly fine, and keep talking to her “friends” like she remembers anything about them. That’s how she’ll recover her memories !

Said “friends” are a parade of generic pretty boys : the aloof one, the nice one, the slightly creepy one… Also, she seems to have been working at a maid cafĂ©.

By the end of the episode, she rans afool of the mandatory bitch squad, who’ve been stalking her all day and are angry about something she has no clue about.

Production Values

Pretty ! Besides Nekomonagatari (Black), which barely counts, this is the first show of the season that displays some style and artistic ambition. There’s a lot of work on colour and atmosphere, and everyone’s dressed in ridiculously stylish borderline-cosplay clothes for some reason. This is definitely a show with budget…

Overall Impression

… It’s a just shame it’s wasted on a –ing otome game adaptation, especially one which makes no effort towards disguising its nature. Orion is very obviously your game assistant, and one of the characters even pauses once to give a tutorial for the parfait-making minigame. This could have some charm, but the big problem here is the annoyingly moppy and useless “protagonist”, who seems to stumble onto every single “wrong” option available in her menu.

Still, it is very pretty, and I’m vaguely intrigued by some of the setup. I’ll give it one more episode for the heroine not to get too much on my nerves.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 5.


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Battle Royale with bombs.


Sakamoto is one of the world’s top players of BTOOOM!, an online FPS whose distinguishing feature is that your only weapons are bombs (of various types : contact-triggered, timed, etc.). The downside to his virtual fame is that, well, he’s a bit of a complete loser : unemployed for two years and spending all his time in front of his computer. Bonus points for verbally abusing his poor mother, who has the audacity to keep trying to find him a job, any job. (He’s got his eye on an opening at the game company producing BTOOOM!, but if he really believes he has a chance, he’s deluding himself.)

One day, he wakes up stranded on a tropical island, without any clue as to how he got there. (An eventual flashback shows that MIB seem to be involved, always a bad sign). His starting inventory : his grocery shopping from just before he got abducted, a starting set of 8 timer bombs, and a jewel incrusted into his hand that seems to work a bit like the sonar feature in BTOOOM! (except a lot less accurate).

The first dude he meets on the island’s beach never bothers to introduce himself, and point blank refuses to explain what’s happening to the n00b. Instead, he just attacks our protagonist with impact-triggered bombs.

Later on, our hero stumbles on another participant, a girl washing herself in a small lake. I suspect she’s his briefly-mentioned in-game wife, although if this show has any sense of humour that was probably the earlier dude. Anyway, she doesn’t even get a line of dialogue yet ; the next-episode preview suggests it’s entirely devoted to her backstory. (Are we having rotating point-of-view characters ?)

Production Values

Perfectly alright, although the girl’s character design is very fanservice-y indeed. Let’s hope she doesn’t poke anyone’s eye out.

What did I think of it ?

How can you hate a show so refreshingly honest about its nature that it’s called “BTOOOM!” ? This is a thoroughly dumb premise that’s fodder for nicely tactical action sequences and lots of explosions. The unsubtle bits of social satire aren’t unwelcome, either.

Ontological mysteries can often get a bit silly, and with only 12 episodes for an still-ongoing manga I doubt we’ll be getting many answers, but so far I’m tentatively enjoying the ride.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2012 – Page 3.