Walkure Romanze

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Jousting !


Mio, our protagonist. Dumb as a bag of hammers, she’s not a jousting knight. She’s attending a completely different department from this jousting high-school, and is terrible at handling horses. So of course a series of contrived coincidences is going to put her on the saddle by the episode’s end. (Well, nearly. But she’s already been challenged to a jousting match.)

Takahiro is just about the only male knight we ever see. Well, except he stopped jousting after some accident, so for now he’s just tending to his temperamental horse Sakura, and angsting about his future. He’s completely oblivious to Mio’s affections (despite all the effort she spends hovering around him)… and doesn’t particuly care about the various top females knights wanting a partnership with him either.

Those include Celia, the Student Council President With Drill Hair, and Noel, her devious self-proclaimed rival.

Bertille is a lower grade of alpha bitch, cultivating her own reputation among her pair of hanger-ons… but being the first to run when Sakura comes charging in. Thoroughly humiliated, she challenges Mio (who just about managed to rein the horse in) to a jousting match.

Production Values

You know a show has its priorities straight when every single female knight wears a (very short) skirt. And panty shots are featured starting right from the OP sequence. Also, the horse keeps eating those skirts, which means that Bertille spends half her screentime in her underwear.

It’s a shame, as the jousting sequences do look quite good ; those cell-shaded CG graphics are impressive.

Overall Impression

I’m watching this so you don’t have to. I’m sure I’ve lost a few brain cells here.

… Actually, I enjoyed watching this one a bit. It’s one of the dumbest shows in a season that’s not really shined for its intellectual prowess so far, and the fanservice is kinda skeevy, but it makes me a lot less uncomfortable than the wrestling one. If I’m going to keep watching a guilty pleasure show, it may well be this one.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013 – Page 10.

Diabolik Lovers

(12 15-minute episodes)

What’s it about ?

This season’s token “otome game” adaptation : it’s a well-defined genre where the female protagonist can romance a variety of boys.

Trigger warning : rape. Plenty of it.


Yui, our teenage female protagonist and audience surrogate. Her father has sent her off to live in this mysterious creepy mansion, without much of an explanation. There are hints that she may unknowningly be more than an ordinary teenage girl (at the very least, she didn’t know she was adopted), but that’s news to her. She has enough sense to try and run away (as well as phone for help) once she catches on what kind of place this is, but of course it’s all for nothing.

The mansion is inhabited by six creepy prettyboys, covering the usual stereotypes : the angry one who casually punches walls, the childlike one, the one with glasses, the aloof one who seems to be in charge, the borderline rapist… Wait, scratch that : since those brothers are all vampires, they all take turns invading her personal space. Their casual ability to teleport makes it even creepier.

Production Values

This may be an effect of the reduced running time, but this looks quite good : it’s got lots of atmosphere, and sells the spookiness of the setup all too well. The character designs aren’t particularly original, but they’re not offensively generic either.

Overall Impression

Are there any otome games that aren’t about rape ?

Okay, there may well be, but this certainly aren’t one of them. It takes all of three minutes for Yui to be assaulted, and the guys keep going at her throughout. No actual sex yet, of course, and I doubt there will be any, given the transparent vampiric metaphor. But there’s no mistaking what this is all about. The characters are shallow and the plot a mere excuse for as many assaults as possible in the short running time.

It’s a relatively pretty package, but there’s no disguising that it will only appeal to a very narrow audience who enjoys this kind of stuff. I’m not part of them, so I’ll pass.

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

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.

Photo Kano

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Harem romantic comedy, adapted from a dating sim.


Kazuya, our generic male protagonist. Even he calls himself boring, although he’s trying to change that with his new hobby : taking photographs of everything ! (Daddy has just handed him down his old camera.)

You know how there’s always a perverted best friend ? In this show, there’s a whole club of them : the Photography Club, including a dude who specializes in upskirts, another in cleavage shots from above, the hot-blooded president, and the token girl who’s practically invisible. They want him to join them, of course.

There’s also a “proper” Photo Club right next door, who do all the official photographs. Although since it’s just its president (who ticks all the “potential love interest” checkmarks) and her clingy underling who’s already in another club, they’re not an actual club recognized by the school.

This being a dating sim adaptation, we also get introduced to other potential love interests : the childhood friend, the tomboy, his annoying little sister’s friend, the student council president… (I really hope said annoying little sister isn’t an option, despite her name being in the title.)

Production Values

Perfectly okay. The fanservice level isn’t overwhelming, but there are many gratuitous panty shots indeed.

What did I think of it ?

Exactly what you’d expect from Generic Dating Sim Adaptation #46127 : inoffensive, easy on the eyes, and instantly forgettable. It brings absolutely nothing new to the genre and goes through all the expected clichés, but it does it pleasantly enough that you probably won’t mind if you have some interest in the genre. Otherwise, don’t bother.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2013 – Page 4.


(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 café.

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.


(22 episodes)

What’s it about ?

A high school club dedicated to building a giant robot, in a near future where the tech just about allows that sort of thing.


Akiho, the club’s leader. Her sister founded it a few years ago, and there was much progress at the time ; since then, it’s kinda floundered, and there’s only two members left (one of which never does anything). Still, she’s very enthusiastic about it.

Kaito, her kinda-boyfriend (I think), who spends a lot of his time playing videogames (so well that he’s been flagged as a possible cheater) and can’t be bothered helping much. He’s vaguely supportive and that’s it.

The vice-principal isn’t too keen on this pipe-dream-club, and is sneaky enough to promise them more budget if they knuckle down do a little something for a robot show. Which is set in a week. Oh, dear.

If the paratext and the brief flash-forward are any indication, the club is soon going to fill out with many more members.

Production Values

Perfectly alright ; the way the tech is portrayed makes the club’s goal ambitious but just within the range of plausible.

I also love Kaito’s augmented-reality phone app, a gimmick which would never look right in real life but is a lot of fun in animation.

What did I think of it ?

Re-adjust your expectations : yes, this comes from the same visual novel studio as Steins;Gate ; no, this doesn’t have the same blurry grit and paranoia-inducing atmosphere at all. This is much closer to something like, say, last season’s Tari Tari : a “save our club” story with a geek-friendly theme.

On this level, it’s perfectly enjoyable, and I’m always up for a series that looks like it’s going to deal with the practical aspects of building and operating a giant robot.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2012 – Page 6.

Little Busters!

(26 episodes)

What’s it about ?

A group of close-knit childhood friends try having one last fun adventure together before graduating from high school. By playing baseball.

Surprisingly for a Key visual novel adaptation, there isn’t any real romance or gut-punching melodrama. (Yet.)


Riki, the normal, nice guy. A bit of a pushover, he was the last addition to the group ; that’s why he’s so keen on keeping the magic going and having the Little Busters still do stuff together. (As he’d never have had so much fun on his own.)

Kyousuke, the group’s leader. He’s the one with the big, crazy ideas, and despite none of the others being able to follow his reasoning for why baseball, they’re still game because it sounds like fun.

Rin, his sister. Perfectly able to handle her own in their frequent fights. Sent to a mission in the girls’ dorm to get more players, although it’s not working out quite well.

The last two members are Masato, the moron, and Kengo, the kendo guy, who are regularly feuding on ridiculous pretexts for the heck of it.

Also in this episode : the bitch squad (whose leader is in the actual softball team), and a clumsy girl who looks like the perfect love interest for Riki.

Production Values

Not very good. It sells the jokes and that’s it.

Overall Impression

There’s a weird, manic energy to the Little Busters’ antics. The characters themselves are pretty one-note and the plot has no stakes whatsoever, but the crap they do is so random and creative that their energy is overpowering. It helps that Rin’s recruitment run has perfect comedic timing and is hilarious throughout.

Is it lightweight fluff ? Oh, sure. But it’s fun enough to be watchable.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2012 – Page 5.

Love, Election & Chocolate (Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate)

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Bog-standard high-school-set dating sim adaptation.

Characters & plot

This series goes out of its way to hit all of the genre’s clichés : the generic male protagonist, the obnoxious childhood friend who drags him out from bed, her obvious romantic rival, the gay option, the pint-sized genius, the alcoholic teacher…

The plot involves the student council president stepping down and an election being held to replace him ; unfortunately, the leading candidate is a ball-busting penny-pincher who wants to dissolve all the useless clubs, such as a Sweets Club the main characters belong to. And her only credible opponent is a corrupt jerk. So our male lead gets drafted by the club into being an outsider candidate…

There’s also a weird pre-credits subplot about the resident newspaper newshound getting the scoop on shady dealings and become the victim of a hit-and-run for her trouble.

Production Values

Average. The school does have some nifty near-future technology, the most pointless of which must be the awesome self-folding tables in the Sweets Club. No wonder some people would want to cut on the spending a bit…

Overall Impression

You know what ? I kinda enjoyed watching this. Sure, it’s a cliché-storm that brings absolutely nothing new to the table, but there’s some self-aware charm to it. Maybe it’s because Yuuichi Nakamura lends his usual charisma to the male lead ? (God knows he’s the main reason I found Clannad watchable…) Maybe it’s the hints that the corruption subplot is actually going somewhere ? Or the bits of weirdness such as the protagonist’s “truth-vision” ?

Okay, show, you got my attention. Don’t waste it.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2012 – Page 10.

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse

What’s it about ?

Okay, this is a strange one. Muv-Luv, as the name implies, started off as a generic dating-sim game, with an unlockable second storyline set in an alternate world where humanity uses mecha to fight off an alien invasion. Several sequels and spin-offs in other media later, we now have this anime : a straight “mecha vs. aliens” show with no dating-sim elements in sight anywhere.


Yui Takamura, our protagonist, is the daughter of one of the elite Japanese families in charge of Japan’s defense against the aliens ; so of course she goes to mecha pilot school. So far, she looks mostly personality-free, but then this first episode seemed much more interested in worldbuilding than characterization.

The only of her classmates to get any actual focus is the broody rival-type that I can’t remember the name of, and can’t find on any cast list. Between this, the fact that her rivalry with Yui seems resolved at breakneck speed within minutes of its introduction, and the general contempt of the hardened soldiers against those teenage rookie pilots, I get the horrible feeling that most of them are going to die next episode to free Yui up so that she can interact with the characters who actually are on the cast listings (and have yet to make any appearance).

Did I mention that the whole class of mecha pilots is female ? This, together from the skintight plugsuits, seems to be the only trace left of the franchise’s origins so far.

Production Values

Quite good ; it’s got enough budget to make the mecha battles look good, and the aliens a credible threat.

Overall Impression

There’s no way a mecha show should be this boring, but it is. Maybe because it’s far too concerned with setting up its world to bother with any actual characters, and thus leaves us with nobody to root for. It doesn’t help that a lot of the plot feels recycled from other (better) sources, and the show does nothing to breathe any life into the stock elements.

I’m giving this one more episode to change my mind, but I’m not hopeful.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2012 – Page 7.

La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

The super-powered henchmen of a mafia family having a contest to see who gets to be the new head and marry his daughter… you’ve guessed it : it’s a male-harem shoujo action-romance.


Felicita, the daughter, at least seems to have a personality (and combat skills), and obviously doesn’t like this “marrying her off to the winner” idea one bit. But hey, she can participate too !

Liberta, the Fool (they all have powers patterned after tarot cards). He’s our “sympathetic” male lead, although mostly he’s a moron with no impulse control. It takes all of Jun Fukuyama’s natural charm to make him not too punchable.

Nova, his natural rival, straight-arrow and humourless. Well, at least he agrees with Liberta and agrees not to marry Felicita if he manages to win.

We get a bit of insight into some of the other guys too : the big bald right-hand man who uses a bazooka as a weapon of choice, the quirky epicurian, the hopeless guy who was in charge of raising Felicita, the smug asshole in sunglasses who’s sure to win if he takes the contest seriously…

And of course there’s “Papa”, a strong contender for the “Father of the Year” award. (Bonus points for being voiced by Fuhimiko Tachiki.) I half-suspect the whole thing is a setup to toughen Felicita up so that she can take over the clan, but I may be giving him too much credit.

Production Values

About okay, with fluid fight scenes (this is JC Staff, after all).

Overall Impression

This is slightly better than I expected. The action prologue suffers a bit by trying to introduce nine major characters in way too small an amount of time, but it flows more naturally later on. Similarly, the exposition about everyone’s power starts clunky and gets a bit better as it goes.

But the most interesting point here is that the show seems intent in portraying Felicita as a character of her own, and not just a stand-in for the female viewer. The narrative has her on an equal footing with the dudes, and I really hope this will keep.

… And then the next-episode-preview had to ruin it all by promising pulse-pounding “our three leads searching for a cat” action. WTF ? We don’t need a breather episode already, and this doesn’t bode well.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2012 – Page 5.