Still, the World is Beautiful (Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii)

(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

An adaptation of a shojo manga about fantasy politics, or something like that.


Nike, our female protagonist. As the fourth princess of the Rain kingdom (and the one who lost rock-paper-scissors), she’s been packed off to marry the Sun King, and thus broker peace between the two countries. She’s not very enthusiastic at the prospect, but it’s her duty so she’s damn well going to do it. She makes a point to arrive early and meet the people incognito to get a better handle of her new home. This might not have been the best-planned idea, as all the inns are full of soldiers (the Sun Kingdom has been expanding aggressively, and it shows), her Rain-money is worth next to nothing here, and port cities are full of traps for suckers.

Such as Those Two Morons, who quickly rob her in the night. Normally she’d have no problems dealing with them quickly (she’s got powerful control over winds, hence how her ship could arrive two days early), but she hasn’t eaten for a while and is out of stamina. Urgh. Well, at least it takes a while for TTM to get wind that there’s a hit on her from those sections of the Sun Kingdom who are unhappy with the marriage, so it takes them a while to get back on her trail.

She’d been rescued by the daughters of a relatively nice innkeeper, who offer her some (basic) food and (cramped) roof out of charity. When TTM show up and kidnap the elder daughter by mistake, she’s quick to find them and beat them up. (Apparently she manages to tame them enough to force them to give her a ride to the capital city, three days away.)

The Sun King, whom she eventually manages to get to, turns out to be a good-looking young man, instead of the bloodthirsty barbarian she was expecting. And he has made the kingdom a better place to live (irrigation systems, etc.) during the three years he’s been in charge. Anyway, this political marriage does have a greater purpose : it never rains over here, so could Nike please do something about it ?

Production Values

Perfectly alright.

There’s not much fanservice, mostly confined to a bizarre fourth-wall-breaking scene with Nike’s sisters.

Overall Impression

While I do have so mild interest in where the fantasy politics are going (it looks a bit too black & white so far, but let’s give it some time), the selling point here is Nike, who’s a very engaging protagonist. She carries the show here, and has the shoulders for it. She’s got agency (despite the premise), heart, and the bouts of selfishness and violence that round her out as a person. The show as a whole features some decent slapstick, although the occasional fourth-wall breaking feels a bit forced at times.

Still, there aren’t many shows featuring such a good female protagonist. That alone makes me want to stick with it at least for a while.

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

Log Horizon

(25 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Players trapped in a MMORPG world. Which is on the verge of becoming its own subgenre.


Shiroe, our protagonist. Technically a mage, although his core role in the party is the strategist : the guy who keeps his cool, stays at the top fo things, and finds the best tactics for everyone. Which is a lot harder when you’re busy fighting monsters in the flesh and have trouble focusing on the menus.

Naotsugu, his mandatory perverted best friend. A fighter. Not too bright. The comic relief of the group. He’s damn happy to find his old pal : he hadn’t played the game for two years, and certainly wasn’t expecting this. (Not that anyone was expecting this, instead of the announced “update”.)

Akatsuki, the assassin. Unfortunately, while Shiroe just about gets by now having the body of a character a foot taller than he used to be, she just can’t deal now having a male body twice her former size. (Hey, it’s a fantasy game. You don’t have to play what you are.) The good news is that she remembered Shiroe had a (very rare) shape-changing potion that solves the problem. Since she insists on repaying him, they have her join their party. (She seems to be a hardcore roleplayer who takes the “lone ninja” thing seriously, however impractical that may be in these circumstances.)

Marielle, leader of the Crescent Moon Alliance. Cutesy and teasing… but clearly an old friend of Shiroe’s. They go and see her because of course networking for information is the thing to do at this point, but our heroes aren’t joining ; they don’t do guilds. (Cue talk of Shiroe leading the most badass non-guild group some time back, before they disbanded.)

They’re some dude with the head of a cat lurking in the shadows. Presumably he’s important.

Production Values

Not bad, although we’re far from the highest budget in the season.

The OP features some mightily old-school rapping. You’ve been warned.

Overall Impression

Let’s start with the elephant in the room : how does this compare to Sword Art Online ? Well, of course it looks nowhere as good. But it already feels like a better show on all other levels : it takes more time to explore the novelty of the setting, and gets some good jokes out of it. It’s got decent comedic pacing. The characters have more personality and charisma, and the leads already have some good chemistry. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to feature any of the creepy NTR that made that other show so painful to watch.

Now, let’s be clear : this isn’t a masterpiece. But it’s a perfectly pleasant show, and that’s all I’m asking from it.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013 – Page 6.

MAOYU – The Dark Lord and the Hero (Maoyuu Maou Yuusha)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Heroic fantasy mixed with economics.


The Hero, champion of the human realms in their war against the demons. He’s in such a hurry to defeat the Dark Lord that he runs towards the Evil Castle, leaving his usual party members behind. He’s very gung-ho about the whole thing until he actually meets…

The Dark Lord, who’s really a gentle young woman, and has no desire to fight whatsoever. She’s sick of the war and would rather they find a way to end it together (well, that, and she’s smitten by the legendary dashing young man). Her death/capture/whatever would solve nothing, as there are way too many vested interests on both sides to keep the war going (cue a comprehensive lecture to a bemused Hero about the subject). They’re going to need to be more clever than that…

(In case you’re wondering, nobody in this show has any name beyond their role ; for example the Hero’s party comprises, beyond him, of the Female Knight, the Magician and the Old Archer.)

Production Values

One could have expected the worst from studio Arms, who have barely contributed to anything of worth since Elfen Lied nearly a decade ago, but did produce the likes of Queen’s Blade, Ikki Tousen and various porn OVAs. Well, while the camera is very interested in the Dark Lord’s huge tracts of land indeed, the fanservice level remains quite tame ; there’s nothing too egregious on that level.

Actually, this does look quite good. The backgrounds are quite good-looking (although the CG scenes look a bit awkward, especially that spinning battlefield one with the Hero’s party left behind), and the animation of the Dark Lord’s body language is very good indeed.

Overall Impression

They had me at “Jun Fukuyama & Ami Koshimizu flirting while talking about economics”, a formula with some pedigree indeed.

Now, this is a rough first episode. The (deliberately generic) backstory is rushed through in a terse narration infodump so that we can get to the one scene that matters, with our two leads meeting. This makes the Dark Lord’s infatuation come a bit out of nowhere, although the episode does manage to eventually sell it by its end. Similarly, the Hero’s final decision feels a bit too quick.

But that’s nitpicking. The two main voice actors make a very convincing job of quickly fleshing out their characters beyond the stated archetypes, while exuding tons of charisma throughout. (I had no clue you could display any charisma while spending the whole episode entirely baffled. Jun Fukuyuma somehow pulls it off.)

Also promising : the economics described here paint a very detailed picture of the human realms (the Dark Lord is more vague about the demon side of the equation) that makes perfect sense and feels impressively real. I’m eager to see what other aspects further episodes are going to explore. It certainly makes the stakes quite high from the get-go, and I wonder what the Dark Lord is planning to do. (The title for the second episode is… most intriguing.)

So. There are bits that don’t quite work. (By the way, why exactly is the Magician spouting the same catch-phrase as her voice-actress’s character in Smile Precure, of all things ?) But there are a lot that do work, including the show’s main selling points (the economics and the relationship between the two leads). So on balance I’m quite happy with continuing to watch this.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 2.

[C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

(11 episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

A loser boy’s adventures into the world of EXTREME trading-card gaming, with fight scenes in a fancy holographic parallel world and an ethereal guide to advise him.


Yoga, our college protagonist with realistic (if messy) hair. He works two part-time jobs to make ends meet, although that doesn’t amount to much given the current economic crisis. At least he’s sensible about his expenses.

Hanabi, Yoga’s not-girlfriend who still supports him quite a bit. (But when he works up the courage to ask her out for dinner, she points towards her boyfriend, who’s waiting for her. Harsh.)

Masakaki, the supremely irritating dude who makes Yoga an Offer He Can’t Refuse and. Just. Won’t. Go. Away. The offer involves unlimited funding, with the provision it has to be spent in the Financial District… which does not look like a real place but some rather like sort of parallel digital world. Yoga eventually relents.

We spend most of the first half of the episode with the former owner of Yoga’s membership into the Financial District… and considering how he ends up jumping in front of a train, we can see the Deal does not always end well.

We also see various people in the Financial District, including a quirky cab driver, a couple of elf-like girls, and the badass dude who creams out Mr (Rail-)Roadkill in a duel.

Production Values

Impressive. The Financial District has obvious CG everywhere, but it works, as it makes it all the more otherworldly. I also like the snazzy effect when subtitles and the like are incrusted on screen.

Also, there’s some very cool Taku Iwasaki music.

Overall Impression

Umm. On the one hand, it’s certainly got some very good production values, and I like the grim description of our protagonist’s life. It’s a very atmospheric series indeed.

On the other hand… Well, the centerpiece of this episode has two characters in a glorified Yu-Gi-Oh-style duel, summoning virtual critters and launching spells to hack at each other’s life points bank accounts.

I’m not sold yet, really.

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