(12 episodes + 12 more episodes this Fall)

What’s it about ?

Psychotic arm dealers are COOL.


Jonah, child soldier from whateverland. Presumably he’s got quite some backstory, but this first episode doesn’t care to enlighten us much yet. Having lost his family to the pointlessness of war, he obviously hates weapons, and thus arm dealers. But to do anything about it, he needs weapons. Hence why he’s now in the employ of…

Koko, head of a tight-knit arms-dealing group. The joke here is that half the time, she behaves like most other Shizuka Itou characters : constant flirting, childish temper tantrums… It’s just that in this context, it makes her even more terrifying. Especially when she suddenly drops back to “pro” mode in mid-sentence.

There are eight other members in the unit, but there’s no time for them to get too much development yet. there’s the prettyboy, the seasoned old soldier, the token other girl who’s a bit too protective of Koko, the guy in a suit and glasses that can’t be as innocent as he looks… Presumably we’ll get to know them better in the next 23 episodes.

Production Values

Impressive. This has the best car chase I’ve seen in a while, for example. And Koko wouldn’t work as well without the care applied to her body language and crazy faces.

Also, Taku Iwasaki signs the soundtrack. It’s not his flashiest, but It does become more and more catchy as the action sequences gather momentum. (Also, I laughed out loud at the track playing during the next-episode preview. Perfect choice.)

Overall Impression

Hello, Black Lagoon clone ! Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind. It certainly manages to catch the right vibe, balancing charismatic psychotic characters, dynamic action sequences and discussions of existentialism quite well.

There’s one little problem, though : this first episode features two different jobs, and they both suffer from the small screentime they get. The first one has muddled stakes (it’s not immediately clear what our team is trying to achieve), and the second has them pulling a plan so straightforward it makes their opponent look like an idiot.

But that’s a minor problem ; the goal here was to sell us on the premise and the protagonists. Mission accomplished.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2012 – Page 9.


(10 episodes)

What’s it about ?

The unholy combination of gunporn and lolicon.


FNC, aka Funko. She’s an assault rifle that looks and acts like a middle-schooler. (Well, the completely reality-detached fetishization of middle-schoolers you find in lolicon, anyway.) I have a hard time even making sense of this : there’s a permanent association between her body-parts elements of the rifle (guess which part’s the trigger ?), but then she’s shown holding her namesake when firing.

And there’s a whole school of them ! Which includes most of the teachers. But only the girls, I have no clue what the boys are even doing there. Anyway, most of their characterization revolves around stereotypes about which country manufactures their namesake gun (and/or characteristics of the guns), in a way that makes Axis Powers Hetalia look sensitive and subtle. I gave up on keeping track of them when they gave the American a Kansai accent for no good reason… and pointed it out in dialogue quickly. (This series loves breaking the fourth wall. It doesn’t make it funny or endearing, it’s just bloody annoying.)

There’s also a new transfer teacher, and he’s as confused by the whole thing as us. The series never gets around to giving him any name beyond “Sensei”, which seems to be meant as a running gag. Funko sends him to the hospital on his first day after he blurts out he’s seen her wearing a thong and OH DEAR GODS MAKE IT STOP

Production Values

Dire. I presume keeping Sensei’s face obscured for most of the episode is a stylistic choice, although it’s hard to tell when the direction goes out of its way to have whoever’s talking off-screen or shot from behind to skim on the animation budget.

Thankfully we don’t actually see Funko’s thong. The fanservice level keeps to longing shot of the cameras on middle-schoolers’ legs, and copious amounts of clothed breast-groping.

Overall Impression

I was wondering whether we’d been spared any truly dire series this season. Sure, Shiba Inuko-san, ZETMAN and Sengoku Collection are crap, and I’ve skipped the latest Queen’s Blade season, but those are at least somewhat watchable.

But this is utterly sanity-destroying stuff. I alternated racking my brain in an effort to make sense of the utterly incomprehensible premise… and getting assaulted by the sudden ramping up of the lolicon angle. Whatever you think of the bizarre gun metaphor, there’s no obscuring of the fact that Funko spends half the episode aroused at the thought of Sensei touching her.

Also, it’s a comedy show that isn’t funny in the slightest. And it looks terrible. And nobody’s got any personality. There’s no redeeming value to this whatsoever.

Avoid like the plague. I watched this so you didn’t have to.

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

Michiko e Hatchin

(22 episodes, 2008-2009)

My previous exposure :
None, besides some low-key pimping by salinea.

What’s it about ?

A fictional version of Latin America (it looks a lot like Mexico to me), in the 60s or thereabout. One of the most disorientating aspects of the settings is that most of the major characters have Japanese first names, for some reason. It’s really jarring, and doesn’t help immersion one bit.

It’s basically a road-trip buddy movie with Michiko, a woman in her late 20s who’s just escaped from high-security jail ; and Hana (nicknamed “Hatchin”), a 10-year-old girl martyrised by her foster family. They’re both looking for Hiroshi, Michiko’s former boyfriend and Hana’s presumed father. He’s supposed to have died a long time ago, but the math about Hana’s existence doesn’t add up, which Michiko sees as a evidence he’s still alive somewhere.

Other recurring characters include Atsuko, Michiko’s former BFF who joined the police and is now tracking her down in a personal vendetta ; and Satoshi, Hiroshi’s former best pal who’s risen to the top of the underworld.

What did I think of it ?

I really wanted to love this series. It’s got a cool soundtrack, it’s very good at setting up a sense of place and atmosphere, and the action pieces are impressive. It’s got tons of gonzo energy, and I can get behind just revelling in the B-movie stylings of it all.

I even grew to love watching Michiko in action. Sure, she’s a moron, but an entertaining moron, with enough street smarts, fighting skills and guts to keep surviving despite blundering from one dodgy mishap into another. In contrast, Hana was a bit more boring, as she spent a lot of time whining about Michiko’s stupidity. With good cause, of course, but being the voice of reason doesn’t make her very entertaining by itself, and as a result I didn’t like as much the more Hana-focused episodes where Michiko is incapacitated in one way or another.

But the bigger problem is the overarching plot. We’ve given no reason at all to care about the search for Hiroshi. He doesn’t show up in flashback until the 9th episode or so, and what little we see of him doesn’t impress (and my opinion of him certainly wasn’t improved by the tomato-growing episode). It doesn’t help that Hana seems to lose interest in him very quickly and mostly keeps going to indulge Michiko. Who’s a lovestruck moron and is obviously seeing her past through rosy glasses, so her opinion had no sway with me.
The conclusion of the quest is a huge anticlimax, as our heroines randomly stumble upon him halfway through the last episode. You’d think the big reunion would be given more than five minutes of screen time and that he’d get more than a few token lines of dialogue, but no. And of course Michiko does the dumb thing and leaves Hana in his care while surrendering to the cops chasing them ; the only thing redeeming the ending is that it’s made clear ina distant epilogue that Hiroshi dumped Hana within three months, and that she’s better off without that flake anyway.

The other overarching subplots didn’t win me over either. Satoshi gets a lot of build-up as a big threat, with the charisma and the connections to pull it off ; he goes down like a chump to a few random thugs in the second-to-last episode because we’re nearing the end and the writers want to get rid of him. WTF ? Atsuko fares a little better, although her inconsistent behavior (“I’m dead on your trail !”/”But I’m letting you go just this time because of my massive issues”) gets a bit repetitive after a while and it’s a bit hard to sympathize with her because of it.

So, it doesn’t really work. Which is a shame, because the series is at its best when it embraces the lunacy of the setting and lets Michiko do what she does best : barely escape from stuff by sheer dog-mindedness. Too bad about the wider plot, then.

via [LTTP/WIW] Various anime from the 00s and beyond.

Aria the Scarlet Ammo (Hidan no Aria)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

In the near future, random terrorism has become such a problem that there’s now an academy devoted to training mercenaries from elementary school onwards.


Kinji, our high school boy protagonist. While he spends most of the episode whining about wanting to quit the mercenary school, he suffers from a bizarre medical condition that alters his behaviour to one of a cliché action hero when he gets to excited. Anyway, on his way to school he discovers someone planted a bomb on his bicycle, and he’s stalked by killer Segways. He’s saved at the last minute by…

Aria, aka the standard Rie Kugimiya-voiced tsundere loli. The variation here is that, like nearly every character in this setting, she’s armed to the teeth. (How does she hide those katanas behind her back ? They’re taller than her torso !) She makes her entrance by parachuting off a skyscraper in a scene that was probably meant to look cool but just ends up making no sense whatsoever.

Shirayuki, Kinji’s “friend” who does all his domestic chores for him, in the hopes he’ll take the hint. (He doesn’t.)

We get to see a few more characters at school, but none of them rise above the usual stereotypes for now. There’s even a teacher who spends all his screentime delivering a lecture describing the setting to students who presumably already know all this stuff.

Production Values

Some decent action sequences, but the most striking thing here is the rampant fanservice, with every single girl being heavily sexualized and our protagonist landing into more chests than reasonable.

Also, gun porn. Lots of gun porn.

Overall Impression

What the heck is this shit ?

The writers probably find it clever to have the protagonist complain at length about the premise. It’s not ; it’s just bloody irritating and makes me loathe him. His plot-convenient MPD and the harem hijinks don’t help one bit.

Some people might get some entertainment from crazy shit such as the killer Segways, but this kind of manufactured zaniness just rubs me the wrong way. Avoid.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011 – Page 12.


(26 episodes)

What’s it about ?

A top-flight assassin meets an amnesiac high-school girl who’s even better than her at killing people. After a fashion, they decide to team up to investigate the mysterious links between the two of them.


Mireille Bouquet, elite French assassin. Very intrigued by the whole thing, although she’s clearly the type not to accept bullshit as an answer. She’d have shot Kirika five minutes into the episode if the latter hadn’t produced a watch playing a lullaby that triggers random flashbacks to Mireille’s (presumably traumatic) childhood.

Kirika Yumura, Japanese high-school girl, although it’s immediately made clear that both her name and background are fake. She woke up amnesiac a few days ago, got hunted by mysterious men in black for whatever reason (she quickly disposed of them), and then got in contact with Mireille because that’s one of the few hints about her past she’s got. She’s a true killing machine, instinctively making some very impressive acrobatics.

Production Values

Very impressive. The OP has a wonderfully fluid sequence of Kirika kicking ass in silhouette, and this standard is maintained for the few fight scenes she’s involved in during this episode. There’s mercifully barely any fanservice, and it manages to avoid showing any panty shots despite Mireille’s tight miniskirt and Kirika somersaulting around.

There are long dialogue-less sequences, letting the animation and the music do the storytelling. And the score is absolutely glorious, injecting tons of atmosphere into the series. Sometimes it goes a bit overboard (do we really need a blaring Italian choir when Kirika is just leaving school ?), and there are some false notes like a terrible eye-catch jingle that seems straight out of the 80s, but overall the music is an absolute joy to listen to.

Overall Impression

Well, that’s an impressive beginning, I’ll say. Tons of style and a good starting point for a story.

But this is not the first time I watch this series, and I regret to say that it becomes lost into a dull mystical conspiracy plot that takes ages to go anywhere, interspersed with “hit of the week” episodes that quickly become repetitive. I gave up after 10 episodes, and I’m in no hurry to retry.

Which is too bad, because I can admire what it was trying to do.

Kirika strangling a dude by his tie. Hardcore.
Kirika strangling a dude by his tie. Hardcore.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2001 – Page 6.