(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a smartphone rhythm videogame (with some raising sim elements).


Cyan, our highschool protagonist, spends the first five minutes of the show thinking she’s in a K-ON! clone : so shy she agonizes for ages over joining the light-music club, and moping over her guitar every evening that she couldn’t find her nerve. Sorry, girl, that’s the wrong show : so witness your phone suddenly crapping out and suddenly transporting you into a psychedelic digital world. As a gothic lolita catgirl, of course.

She lands in the middle of a concert by super-star band Trichronika, who were completely rocking it out until some monster showed up and shifted them to a parallel combat world. Apparently that’s a thing that often happens ; at least bystanders are safe, since only people with musical ability are affected… How, wait, Cyan was also standing there, right ?

… And that’s a good thing, as Trichronika were completely overpowered and she totally saved their bacon.

Amazingly, Cyan is then recruited not by Trichronika (who are grateful), but by the far less successful band Plasmagica, who nabbed her first after the battle. They’ve got a bunny girl, a dog girl and a sheep girl. Their manager is an egg.

So Cyan’s lost in bizarre world she has no clue about… but hey, she’s in a band now ! Score !

(There’s also a stinger another rival band showing up, and another with a mastermind plotting evilly and cryptically.)

Production Values

It should be pointed out that for the battle sequences, the musician characters are shrunk in size and rendered in CG ; it looks all the more weird as they have no mouths. They return to more humanoid designs for the more mundane scenes… well, aside from the egg with a moustache.

Overall Impression

What is this I don’t even…

Well, I have to give it to this show : it fooled me completely over what genre it was going to be, and it’s a well-executed swerve. It’s also bursting at the seams with weird ideas and designs. That Cyan’s character arc doesn’t get lost in the shuffle is a near miracle.

… But there’s only so far energy and sheer weirdness can carry it ; I fear it’s going to collapse into a unholy mess very quickly. I’m pretty sure I won’t stick with it, but I suppose I’ll at least give it a second episode just to be sure. It’s at least earned that.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2015 – Page 2.

Gunslinger Stratos – the Animation

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of an… arcade third-person-shooter videogame ? Admittedly, based on a idea written on a napkin by Gen Urobuchi and developed by his pals at Nitroplus, so there’s at least an actual high-concept to adapt.


Tohru, our teenage main character, is the archetype of the “don’t rock the boat” philosophy. He knows this futuristic Japan is even more rigged towards the powerful than the current-day, and loves to hammer the nail that sticks out ; so he purposely avoids being at the top of the class so as not to stick out.

Kyouka, his classmate and obvious love-interest, has the opposite viewpoint, and no qualms about excelling. But then, she comes from a powerful family. Anyway, she’s acting very sweet in her attempts to woo him (foiling his attempts to avoid the most popular girl in class), and much more forceful against whoever gets in her path.

Kyouma, her brother, is top among them. How dare this low-class, orphan scum dally with his precious sister ? (Nevermind that she’s the one actually coming onto Tohru.) He’s also pissed off that the guy purposely lost to him in gym class. (Which involves paint-guns and energy swords, because 3PS.) He’s accompanied by a groupie who alternates between supporting him blindly and realizing that hey, wouldn’t it be better for Kyouka to be out of the way ?

By the way, the teacher (what are you wearing, m’am ?) has totally noticed what Tohru is doing. She’s clearly got an agenda, here.

The plot kicks off when Tohru witnesses a computer mirage of crows attacking his little sister (something he’s also been dreaming of)… despite him not having a sister ! The chase scenes leads to Tohru and a following Kyouka to fall into a whole underground city neither of them had a clue was there.

Here, some people are having bloody and spectacular gunfight/parkour battles (which I presume is the meat of the game). Our heroes are stuck in the crossfire with only their harmless PE guns and blades, as well the one gun from a nearby corpse (which thus can’t have been that effective)… Yup, they’re screwed.

… Or they would be, if the guy closing in on them didn’t have an obvious reason to keep them alive. (At least, I assume so ; the cliffhanger ending is WTF-worthy on its own.)

Production Values

Gorgeous. The action sequences are well-animated and a lot of fun, and the characters know how to act even when the focus isn’t on them.

Overall Impression

Well, that was fun. This is the first show this season to have a well-designed killer cliffhanger that makes me actively want to know what the heck happens next, and enough going on in the background to keep me awake even when Tohru’s narration is droning on exposition. It helps that Kyouka’s shtick is quite funny indeed. Actually, I kinda like all the characters in this.

I enjoyed this quite a lot. It’s on a good track to keep me onboard.

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

#19 : Sakura Wars (Sakura Taisen)

(25 episodes + tons of OAV spin-offs)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of (a series of) videogames, part tactical-RPG, part dating sim. It’s set in an alternate version of 1920s Japan that has gone in a decidedly steampunk route.


Sakura, our protagonist, is a country bumpkin and a new recruit to the Imperial Floral Division, part of the forces defending the capital against… some offscreen “evil” forces we have no real exposure to yet. Sure, she’s clumsy and has trouble following instructions, but she compensates it with overenthusiasm (which often gets her into more trouble). But she’s completely nonplussed when she arrives at the rendezvous point : why do headquarters look like a theatre ? Why are her new teammates performing a play ? (That she proceeds to make a mess out of, of course.)

Said teammates :
– Maria, the taciturn one who thinks the newbie won’t cut it and thus won’t bother talking to her
– Iris, the creepy kid who talks to her teddybear
– Sumire, the “star” who takes personal offense at Sakura’s bumbling (which gets worse as she tries to apologize)
aren’t very welcoming, to be polite. While they may be overreacting, you can see their points.

The brass, on the other hand, are delighted by Sakura’s arrival. Sure, there might be some initial problems, but she’s from a famous and powerful lineage, we need her… Oh dear gods her aura’s so powerful it made the mecha in the basement randomly activate, traumatizing her. (And of course it’s Sumire‘s mecha that gets trashed.)

I think there are more members due to join the team soon, given the OP & ED sequences.

Production Values

This looks quite good indeed : nice animation, and lots of attention to detail to sketch out this past Tokyo with some good verisimilitude.

Overall Impression

Well, I didn’t expect this : a non-standard setting, with a very weird setup that leaves me more intrigued than frustrated by the lack of explanation for it. The characters are sketched enough not to be annoying, and it does have the budget to support its ambition.

I want to know what’s going on here, and to watch more of this. Mission accomplished, then : I’ll pretty sure I’ll come back to this series later this year.

Source: [In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000 – Page 4

Samurai Warriors (Sengoku Musou)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

This season’s token visit to the Warring Kingdoms period, because the schedule just wouldn’t be complete without one. Adapted from a series of hack&slash videogames.

There was a OVA prologue of this that got broadcast 9 months ago and completely fell under my radar ; fortunately, Crunchyroll had the good sense of snagging the rights to it, so I’m probably watching it momentarily. This first episode does a good job of getting the viewer back to speed, anyway.


This show earns immediate brownie points for having everyone at about the right gender (and even some of the cast over 20 !), although the presence of a number of skimpily-clad warrior girls makes me doubt its strict historical accuracy.

Another good surprise : Oda –ing Nobunaga does NOT feature in this ; it’s set after his death, with Hideyoshi now running the show and on the verge of conquering all of Japan, with Kanto as the last holdover. This isn’t a time period usually covered by this subgenre, so my interest perks right up.

Our actual protagonist is Yukimura, hot-headed middle-ranked warrior. The type who runs to the sieged enemy fortress just before the all-out assault to ask for a duel with their top general, in a probable effort to avoid bloodshed. (He’s got a girl sidekick/future-wife in tow, mostly to square off with the general’s similarly-female top sidekicks.)

Nobuyuki, his brother, is obviously facepalming offscreen, but goes off after him to help him out (with his own girl sidekick in tow). After all, they do love each other.

And then they win. (With the help of the full force coming right after them, of course.) And we get the full “happy ending” course, including the sudden marriages. At episode 1 out of 12. This is obviously not going to stand.

Production Values

Okay enough. Everyone wears way too fancy armour to really feel historically-accurate (to say nothing of the somersaulting around), but at least everyone has distinctive enough character designs to help mitigate the massive number of character introductions.

Overall Impression

Fascinating. A Sengoku-era series that completely bypasses Oda Nobunaga and goes for the relatively unexplored territory of what happened next ? That’s quite refreshing, and enough to catch my interest a bit. But on the other hand, there are still some silly bits here that could grate on me very quickly if left unchecked. The characters have yet to win me over, and I’m still unsure how complex the politics at play here will turn out to be.

There’s a lot that can go wrong here, but it’s at least earned my checking out the OVA, and probably a second episode. I’m curious.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2015 – Page 2.

The iDOLM@STER – Cinderella Girls

What’s it about ?

The iDOLM@STER is a massive multimedia franchise, originally adapted from various videogames where you manage a unit of idols. There was a big TV series in 2011, adapting the original game (+ various other spin-offs, including a movie last year). But you really don’t need to know anything about it ; while Cinderella Girls takes place in the same universe, it adapts a different game, features a completely different cast and has a slightly different premise.


Uzuki is your archetypal idol hopeful : not much skill, but tons of enthusiasm to make up for it. She’s sticking with her training even though all her classmates have long given up, in spite of all her rejections. And now she’s finally getting a second chance to join 346 Production’s Cinderella Project !

The Producer (no name given, following a franchise-wide running joke) from 346 Production has a big problem : he looks very creepy and menacing, and has trouble expressing himself in anything else than a few terse words. Really he’s just a bit shy and inexperienced, but that fearsome appearance doesn’t help him dealing with…

Rin, a random high school girl he crossed paths with. He’s determined to recruit her, despite her explicit and repeated lack of interest in becoming an idol, and her growing annoyance at the rumours of a creepy stalker hounding her. (Which sounds worse than it actually is, but he does approach her every day in the street…)

As this kind of things happen, it’s Uzuki who eventually convinces Rin to give it a try.

Apparently there are at least a dozen new idols involved in the Cinderella Project (presumably introduced in further episodes), but the Producer needed to recruit a trio of them before going any further in developing Uzuki’s career. (Presumably the third member is the one making a cameo auditioning for it at the episode’s tail end.)

Production Values

Decent enough. It’s always a shame that this franchise’s idol songs are consistently forgettable crap, but them’s the breaks. At least their dancing looks good.

Overall Impression

The iDOLM@STER (2011) had an absolutely terrible first episode, sketchily introducing all 12 of its idols (+ the supporting cast) at once and using a “documentary” gimmick that only mucked out its Producer’s actual personality (not that he had much of it, but still). This is a very notable improvement, taking things much more slowly and devoting itself to only a couple of girls and the Producer. It’s all the stronger for it, especially as it opens on the start of their story instead of joining it halfway through. Which is only to be expected, as the whole point of the Cinderella Project is to offer a “from nobody to idol” narrative.

But what really makes this episode sing is its impeccable comedic timing. It gets a ton of mileage out of its Producer, who’s got way more presence and charm than his 2011 counterpart, and manages to be funny just by by being onscreen. He’s also got really good chemistry with Uzuki and Rin, which bodes well for when the cast’s size increases.

I expect a pleasantly forgettable workcom like its predecessor ; this is turning out to quite surpass my expectations.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2015 – Page 2.

Kantai Collection

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of an online card game where you battle through girls who are moe anthropomorphizations of naval ships. It’s a franchise with an impressively big, Touhou-like fandom, which has also spawned light novels, manga, and now this anime series.


Fubiki is our naive newcomer protagonist who’s just joined the fleet (whose headquarters are basically a boarding school with luxury leisure facilities). A bit clumsy and slow, she has trouble conveying that she’s never seen combat before. Still, she’s admirative enough of her seniors that she vows to improve and reach their level.

We’re introduced to various other members of her squad, including her two roommates (the nice one and the slightly snarky one), and the three oddball sisters in the adjoining dorm room.

Akagi is one of the MVP of the fleet, whom Fubiki becomes admirative of and imprints on as a rolemodel. As an aircraft carrier, she’s a member of the archery club (and her arrows morph into fighter planes once they near their target).

When they’re deployed, the girls/ships are basically sliding over water, with bulky equipment depending on their class. It’s a weird visual indeed. They fight against a dark fleet who are basically their evil counterpart.

Production Values

Quite good indeed, although it never really manages to turn its odd character designs into really engaging visuals. It looks okay, but it doesn’t have the creativity to do anything really cool or interesting with it.

Overall Impression

Zzzz… The characters are one-note and quite dull so far, the battles aren’t anything special, and overall it feels like a wacky high concept in search of a story to be developed around it, and dramatically failing. What works for an online cardgame just falls flat in this format.

Nothing to see here, pass your way.

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

#11 : Gate Keepers

(24 episodes)

What’s it about ?

This adapts a Playstation RPG videogame. The overall plotline is classic “vaguely governmental agency recruits superpowered teens to fend off alien invasion” fare, with the oddity that it’s set in 1969, with Japan still busy rebuilding itself after WWII.


Shun, our protagonist, is your typical teenage hothead, angry at his dad for getting himself killed and leaving Mom with a serious case of depression and two brats to feed. Aside from that, he’s quite a decent dude, getting on well with the supportive neighbours. He’s the kind of guy who refuses a place on the kendo team (and the potential scholarship attached) because he’s rather start working part-time right now and put some food on the family table. On the other hand, he instantly loses points for constantly comparing his life to a sports manga. (Which is too cute to be funny the first time around, and gets more aggravating as it goes on).

Ruriko is the first superpowered teenage agent of A.E.G.I.S. (the good guys), but they hope to recruit more down the line. Her core powers involve healing, but as that’s not enough she can also channel them to fire white arrows of death at the enemy. Her mission here is to escort a bus transporting some big macguffin, and of course it goes sideways just as Shun happens to be passing by. Obviously he had dormant powers, and after she kickstarts them he’s able to destroy the immediate threat. (Also, he then realizes they were neighbours ten years ago, because what’s one more gratuitous plot contrivance at this point ?)

I’m not really sure how the logistics of the alien invasion work out. Apparently they’ve infiltrated every layer of society and are ALL THE ASSHOLES ? (The punk harassing honest business-owners, the boss firing his secretary after having his fun, and so on…) But then they all go out in bright daylight, transform, and combine into a massive black ball of weaponry that attacks the goodies ? The heck ?

The OP & ED sequences showcase a few more members of this nascent teenage brigade, but they’ve yet to show up. This first episode is busy enough already, after all.

Production Values

Unfortunately, this is a production which lacks the budget (and maybe the visual creativity) to support its ambition. Everything looks slightly too cheaply animated, and way too often the director substitutes a dutch angle or a random close-up on eyes for actual movement. (And not in the aesthetically pleasing way Akiyuki Shinbo has become famous for.)

And of course, a good chunk of the character designs (especially Ruriko’s “modern” student uniform) look completely out of place for what starts as a period piece.

Overall Impression

I think I can see what this is going for. Rather than taking itself seriously, it’s a madcap romp that keeps upping the batshit insanity. Of course none of this makes any sense ; who needs coherence when the good guys have a tourist bus (with their elite field agent as the guide) that can convert into a super-armoured tank, chased by a big ball of combined aliens ? This is stream-of-consciousness delirium.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t click for me. Part of it is the clash between the madness and the relatively grounded world surrounding Shun at the start ; the show can’t quite pull off the contrast. Indeed, the set pieces often feel like they’re missing the design sense needed to really bring them to life. And then, there’s the protagonist who actively drags my enjoyment down whenever he shows up.

As a concept, nice try ; too bad the execution is so lacking, and discouraging me from pursuing it any further.

Source: [In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000 – Page 2

Girlfriend BETA (Girlfriend – Kari)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a mobile dating sim videogame.


The game boasts OVER 100 GIRLS YOU CAN DATE, and this first episode makes a point of introducing several dozens of them. Of course, since they get about 30 seconds of screentime each, they’re pretty much all one-dimensional entities ; most of them can be summed up as “the quiet one on the library committee”, “the way-too-promiscuous photographer” or “the ditzy student council president”.

What’s conspicuously absent, though, is any kind of male lead. There ARE boys in this highschool, but they’re all background extras. (I think we can hear ONE line of random chatter out of them throughout the whole episode.) All the attention is over the girls.

Our de facto protagonist is Kokomi, from the rhythmic gymnastics club. Not that she has much of a personality ; she’s nice and the straight guy in most conversations, and that’s pretty much it. She’s a plot device on legs whose purpose is to meet with tons of other girls over the course of the day.

Chloé Lemaire, the French exchange student, is the pretext for what little of a plot there is here : she left a macguffin in Kokomi’s clubroom, who proceeds to spend the rest of the day looking for her so that she can give it back. Thrilling stuff. Chloé may be the most developed character here, and she’s still a walking stereotype : the Foreigner who speaks Weird, has trouble with proverbs, and loves all things Japanese.

Production Values

Decent enough, although you kinda get the impression that the game designers ran out of ideas and ended up making some girls looking a bit too similar. While this wouldn’t matter too much in the original context, it’s a bit distracting when they have to be in the same scene like here.

Overall Impression

I can sort of get the reasoning behind this series. The source game is relatively popular, so an adaptation got greenlighted ; but since the game has no canonical depiction of the player character and any path he might chose might be rife with disappointment and fandom flamewars, why not just do away with him entirely ?

The problem is that now that you’ve taken all potential “dating” out of a dating sim adaptation, you’re left with pretty much nothing. A generic “cute girls doing cute things” show, except the characters have paper-thin personalities and were never design to interact together.

This isn’t a complete disaster. It’s still watchable, and mostly inoffensive. But it’s the epitome of content-free comfort food, and I have way more interesting shows to spend my time with.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2014 – Page 6.

Rage of Bahamut – Genesis (Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a heroic-fantasy cellphone videogame… But since it revolves around multiplayer card battles, I assume the writers took a vague look at the background flavour text and made up the plot of whole cloth.


Favaro Leone, our protagonist. He’s a cocky bounty-hunter who cares more about the thrill of the chase than actually making a living out of it. Especially if the tale can earn him a good night with the ladies. Most of his bounties are spent on placating the locals for the collateral damage, anyway. But behind the smarm, there’s a competent lone operative in there, who knows how to deal with powerful summons despite having little more than his short sword on hand. That’s a good thing, as he often gets way over his head.

Kaisar Lidford is his “rival”, insofar as the dude wants revenge on Favaro for ruining his life and reducing him to become a bounty hunter. I get the impression there’s a long line of those.

Amira is a woman who randomly falls from the skies (or so it looks like) and wants to head for the semi-mythical iced fortress of Helheim (a name that should have raised alarms bells in my head way sooner than it did). Since she’s heard Favaro bragging of knowing a shortcut to the place (while drunk in a tavern), he’ll do as a guide. She accepts his offer of sealing it with a kiss.

The next morning, Favaro wakes up with the hell of a headache. Getting drunk ? Check. That bounty target’s brother coming for vengeance and his super-big summon ? Er, he must have dealt with that somehow. That broad transforming into a scary demonwoman ? Er, must have dreamt that, surely. Why does his mouth taste like he’s swallowed dragonfire ? This is a terrible hangover indeed. Let’s get washed up.

Wait, why does he have a small demontail now ?

Production Values

Wow, just wow. This is by far the most impressively animated first episode of the season, and I can’t see anything compete with it. It shows off one impressive action setpiece after another, from the purely gratuitous (hello, giant wheel !) to the plot-important (with Amira shifting to demon form and kicking all kinds of ass). All the characters have tons of expressive body language, and move smoothly all the time.

Overall Impression

What. The. Hell ? How come the adaptation of a friggin’ cellphone cardgame is so good ? This is a feast for the eyes, and I really hope the budget keeps up in further episodes. But even if the action scenes’ ambition gets toned down a bit later on, the show can still fall back on its core strength : its likeable protagonist having fun adventures. Let’s be honest : how long has it been since we got a good, straight heroic-fantasy romp ? Because that’s definitely what this is.

I’m flabbergasted. Don’t let the videogame tie-in discourage you : this is the deeply unlikely gem of the season.

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

Summer 2014 capsules

But before all that, a few words about Sword Art Online II : well, so far, it’s not doing a bad job of not rubbing me the wrong way, like Alfheim Online did. The writing is still pretty poor (go, go, tepid exposition !), but the setup of bringing in Kirito to investigate a bizarre murder spree in a new game setting is a decent one. (Also, anything that marginalizes the absence of chemistry he’s got with Asuna is welcome.) I might still watch this after all.

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

A couple of shorts before moving on to the full Monday shows…

Mobile Suit Gundam-san is yet another of those comedy SD skits Sunrise puts out occasionally. (This one adapted from a 4-panel gag manga.) It starts off by an Austin Powers-style naked dance by Char, which should give you an idea of the high level of humour we’re dealing with here. It’s mildly funny, but nothing to go out of your way for.

Secret Princess Himegoto adapts a manga about a pretty boy being blackmailed into crossdressing by the student council. It’s got a main character called Unko (“Poop”). That kinda sums up my opinion of it.

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

So, Persona 4 The Golden Animation. I reviewed the original series back in 2011 ; this is a weird spin-off that adapts an updated rerelease of the game.

The selling point here, apparently, is a new character being added to the main cast, Marie. The script thus chooses wisely to fast-forward through a very bare bones version of the plot (skipping all the business related to Konishi), so that Marie can get 5 minutes or so of screentime after the end credits. To say that her introduction feels very forced an unnatural is an understatement ; she’s just dropped in without any explanation by the gamemaster. The core problem here is that this series is at its best with deadpan weirdness, and Marie’s way too melodramatic to fit in. So, well, it doesn’t quite work.

(By the way, the whole thing seems to have been reanimated from scratch, with a somewhat higher budget ; every single scene is slightly different from the previous series.)

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2014 – Page 5.

Black Butler – Book of Circus spends its first episode re-establishing the premise with a “Day in the Life of Sebastian Michaelis”… Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as it’s a charming setup, and the script does get to play a bit with clever ellipses. I’ve got no clue where this would fit in continuity, but it’s not like this franchise ever sweats this kind of fine detail.

Anyway, this is good fun, and I’m glad it’s back.

(Also, no Grell whatsover for now, which is a definite plus in my book.)

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2014 – Page 5.

Hey, someone finally fansubbed the first episode of Fran♥cesca : Girls Be Ambitious, more than a week after it aired !

… Having had a look at it, I can easily see why nobody bothered to do it for so long.

The high concept is that this is a series of 11-minute episodes built around a recently-created mascot character for Hokkaido, the titular Francesca. Who happens to be some sort of undead idol or something. But she barely shows up at the end of the first episode ; in practice, it mainly features the head of the anti-undead Hokkaido forces (of course a cute sassy girl) investigating killing the shit out of a recent surge of zombies rising from the ground. Also, tons of jokes that probably make sense to people who know of Hokkaido’s culture, but are completely impenetrable to me.

As far as promotional vehicles from tourism boards go, this one at least has the merit of originality. But that’s pretty much it ; it looks badly-animated (is this Flash-based ?), and at its core it’s comedy where I don’t get most of the jokes. (Which don’t look that funny, anyway.)

I’ll pass.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2014 – Page 8.