Ushio & Tora

(26 episodes, + another season already scheduled for Spring 2016 after a break)

What’s it about ?

Calvin & Hobbes, shonen style ! Well, kinda.

Adaptation of a manga series from the early 90s that already got a few OVAs at the time. I have no clue why the franchise is seeing new life now, nearly 20 years after it ceased publication.


Ushio, our protagonist, is the young heir of a temple that supposedly hosts an enchanted lance that can drive out demons and other mystical nasties. Not that he cares ; he’s mostly concerned with playing around and leading a normal life. Your typical jock kid, really : good at sports and athletics, terrible in other school subjects.

Daddy, the current priest, isn’t the best role model anyway. He keeps droning on and on about the temple’s legacy, but never actually explained it properly to Ushio. Also, his sudden island vacation this morning (“the third time this month, Dad ?”) means that he’s not around to provide any exposition when the plot actually kicks in.

Today Ushio discovers that Sacred Spear is indeed hidden in one of the temple buildings’ basement ; it’s trapping there an ancient, powerful demon who would really like him to remove the spear and free him. He would me more convincing without the mwahahah-ing and his promises to kill the kid afterwards. So Ushio just leaves him there and goes to school.

Asako (standard issue tsundere, and maybe as strong as Ushio himself) and Mayuko (more open about liking him) are the two of his classmates we get to know a bit. And they happen to be visiting just as a number of small-fry demons, attracted by Ushio unearthing the trapped monster, start roaming around. Well, crap.

So Ushio frees him to get his help… and promptly gets backstabbed for his trouble. Fortunately, he’s still got the lance, which makes it clear who’s in charge here. He nicknames his new familiar “Tora” (because it vaguely looks like a tiger) and has it dispatch most of the small demons, finishing them off with the lance. (Which somehow gives him super-long hair while wielding it. I have no clue why.)

Ushio forces Tora to stick around, as more minor demons are bound to show up for a while ; they’re both obviously planning to backstab each other. (Ushio sealing Tora back for good, and Tora killing Ushio somehow for the humiliation.) And of course, since only Ushio can see Tora, it looks to the likes of Asako & Mayuko that their friend is talking to his imaginary pet. Eh.

Production Values

Wow, early ’90s character designs ! But hey, they’re decently animated, so no complaints from me.

Overall Impression

Well, this is kinda fun, in a very dumb way. The retro style works. And it’s amusing how everyone is terrible as hiding how little they think of others.

But I think I’m done. It’s a rather generic shonen show all told, and I’m not in the market for those, really. Especially as it’s going to be running for a while.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2015 – Page 3

#47 : Inuyasha

(167 episodes + a few movies and OVAs + a 26-episode conclusion series)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a fantasy manga series by Rumiko Takahashi, of Ranma 1/2 fame.


Kagome, our protagonist, is an ordinary teenage girl. One day she falls at the bottom of a weird well in the backyard of her family’s property, and ends up in a world that looks like Feudal Japan, except slightly more fantasy-ish.

Inuyasha, a dog-man spirit stuck to a tree, is the first thing she sees outside the well. She doesn’t know he’s been trapped there 50 years ago by Kikyo, the head priestess of the nearest village, and is thus probably bad news ; the local villagers don’t take well to Kagome trying to free him.

Kaede, Kikyo’s apprentice and now the village elder, calms things down a bit. For one thing, Kagome does look a bit like Kikyo (which would mean more to me if Takahashi could draw more than one young female face). For another, she seems to be able to effortlessly spot supernatural stuff, something even Kaede has trouble with. (I get the impression that Kaede is trying her best to carry Kikyo’s legacy despite not having much of any natural talent for it.)

A serpent-ish monster then shows up, having followed Kagome from the well ; it’s after the small orb of power that’s somehow in her body. Ultimately, only an alliance of convenience with Inuyasha can defeat it… only for him to immediately turn on Kagome. Wait, isn’t the title character supposed to be a good guy ? [Actual text from the next-episode preview.]

Production Values

Decent for a daytime shonen action show of the time (it’s definitely not Pierrot-like), but the shortcuts are easy to spot.

Overall Impression

This is okay, I guess. Decent setup for the classic “stranded in a parallel world” plot, with characters sketched out enough to be pleasant to follow. Obviously Inuyasha isn’t going to be a long-term antagonist, but at least his initial heel persona makes the start of this a bit fresher.

But there’s no way in hell I’m going to watch 200ish episodes of this. The initial TV series obviously got padded to hell and back (not that Takahashi needed much help, considering how the manga ran for 12 years), and it’s just not compelling enough to justify this kind of time investment to me.

Source: [In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000 – Page 13

RIN-NE (Kyoukai no Rinne)

(25 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of the latest manga series by Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma 1/2, Inuyasha). Okay, it started publication in 2009, but you know what I mean.


Sakura, our heroine, is an ordinary high school girl with the one quirk : she can see ghosts and spirits. (Apparently someone thought it was a good idea to bring her to the spirit world when she was young.) She’d rather not have that gift and live a normal life, though, so she’s trying to ignore and avoid eye contact with the various ghosts she crosses paths with daily.

Rinne is supposed to be the guy sitting next to her in class, but there’s clearly something off with him. There’s the bright red hair. There’s the fact he didn’t show up at all for a month, making everyone wonder whether he even existed. He’s also apparently so poor he can’t afford a proper school uniform… or so he claims, since he also got his hands on an expensive-looking robe that makes him invisible to everyone but Sakura. (It also works the reverse way : people can see ghosts wearing it inside out.) Also, he’s set up a donation box so that people can ask him to solve their supernatural problems ; this mostly involves him guiding ghosts to the next step of the Circle of Reincarnation so that they stop harassing humans.

Two small cases this week, mostly as a way to introduce the premise : a prank caller, and that ghost dude who was stuck in the middle of Sakura’s way to school.

Production Values

Remember when studio Brain’s Base used to produce some of the most interesting series in any given season ? Well, it seems their star has fallen a bit, as they’re not involved anymore with the new seasons of Durarara!, or even Teenage Romcom SNAFU. Instead, they’re doing this… which I don’t think is going to put them back on the map either.

This show looks decent, but there’s something in the transition to modern animation and coloring techniques that seems to smother Takahashi’s original style a bit.

Overall Impression

Well, this is perfectly watchable, there’s some decent comedic timing… but why does this feel so generic and rote ? This is drowning in stock elements (half of them pilfered from Takahashi’s other, better series), and lacking any kind of personality. That it’s a daytime show not even getting a full year doesn’t feel like the producers have that much confidence in it. (And it’s not like like anyone expects a Takahashi series to have a satisfying conclusion within only 25 episodes.)

This is mildly entertaining, as even Takahashi on autopilot still has a perfect control of the basics, but I’m afraid that won’t cut it in a season with much more distinctive shows available. I’m giving it a second episode to see how the supporting cast is introduced, but I don’t expect to stick with it.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2015 – Page 3.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san

(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a comedy 4-panel manga.


Have you heard of Kokkuri-san ? It’s a bit like Oui-ja, except you invoke a fox spirit to guide your hand. You’re not supposed to do it alone, though, as he may come haunting you. And would you really want that ?

Kohina, the girl who summoned him thus, completely baffles him. Normally it’s not him who’s supposed to be the straight man, right ? Why is she so weird ? How come she lives alone, having interiorized she’s just a doll and thus it’s no biggie if she has no friends ? How does a girl live on a diet of only junk-food cup-noodles ? As much as she’d like him to please go away and leave her to her fate, he just can’t let her keep going like that. Only a asshole would do that, and he’s a thoroughly decent human being spirit. But the cohabitation isn’t going to be easy…

Throughout the episode, we get cameos of characters bound to join the cast sooner or later : a dog spirit, and a dude who looks like a priest.

Production Values

Fine for a gag show. The biggest oddity here is how Kohina is drawn (and it’s somewhat inconsistent), but then that contributes to the joke that there’s something deeply wrong with her.

Overall Impression

On the one hand, this is often very funny indeed. The dynamic between the two main characters works, and they’ve got good comedic timing between them. It’s a good joke. But on the other hand, how long can you keep it up ? The episode was already showing signs of fatigue at points, and there’s only so much mileage you can get out of it. Presumably that’s why more characters are due to be introduced very soon, but they’ll be tricky to add without ruining this dynamic.

Oh, well, that’s a worry for later episodes. I’m willing to at least watch a couple more episodes to see how they deal with it.

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

Momo Kyun Sword

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a light novel series very loosely based on the tale of Momotarou.


Momoko, our teenage female lead. Born from a peach, and also blessed with huge peaches in the front. (This terrible pun isn’t mine, the show did it first.) Also, dumb as a hammer.

She has three sidekick gods : a monkey, a dog and a pheasant, who get the straight man role by default. She can fuse with any of them to get superpowers.

The plot, such as it is, involves demons looking for “peach fragments”, and the Heavens sending a team of four warriors to stop them. They’re completely useless, and Momoko ends up saving the day. She’s enlisted to keep up the good fight.

Production Values

So much fanservice ! Everyone, and especially Momoko, shows so much skin it’s a wonder their clothes don’t fall off. Momoko still gets her clothes shredded at the end, because of course.

Overall Impression

I knew we were missing something this season : the vacuous fanservice-fest with barely an excuse plot. It’s terrible on every level, really. It’s not even worth my time deriding it.

Really don’t bother with this one.

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

Spring 2014 capsules

So, first, a few worlds about Insufficient Direction (Kantoku Fuyuki Todoki), a series of Flash-based shorts adapting the autobiography of Hideaki Anno’s wife. If you think that sounds interesting, you’ll be disappointed by the final product. It’s the perfect example of a private joke taken too far. For one, there’s no actual explanation of the premise at any point in it ; I only discovered it later on when I did a bit of research to write this. For two, she’s inexplicably depicted as a toddler throughout. Since this first episode covers their marriage ceremony, that’s more than a bit disturbing. But the most damning flaw of this thing is that it doesn’t seem to have much more insight to offer than “otaku are weird and kinda creepy” ; the Director character could be just about anyone and it wouldn’t change a thing.

Don’t bother with it.

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


Mushishi is the same as it always was. Great mood piece, intriguing world-building, and nothing much for me to actually say about it. Well, except that this first episode is way less depressing than average.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders is a whole different kind of awesome. This is a textbook example of how to animate bigger-than-life characters. It seems to have gotten a budget upgrade too, which isn’t unwelcome. (Although really, part of the charm of the 2012 series is how they used colour and framing to compensate for the lack of animation.)

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 2.

Because I certainly don’t want to spend any more time than strictly necessary covering the sea of mediocrity we got this Monday.

Hero Bank, Dragon Collection and Oreca Battle are all kids’ shows bases on videogames (respectively for the 3DS, a social network, and arcades). All three of them feature an annoying redhead kid and his bland friends, fighting stuff with their collectible assets. (Hero Bank sets up some sort of permanent VR tournament, while the other two are the old “transported to another world” gimmick.)

Hero Bank is the least watchable of the three, partly because it’s a full 22-minute show, but mostly because everyone is just so annoying.

Dragon Collection has a slightly less annoying protagonist, and his initial sense of wonder at being transported to a fantasy world is decently done, but the only reason it doesn’t overstay its welcome is that it’s only 11-minute long.

Oreca Battle at least seems to have fun with its weird monster design. (Flying octopi that rain tomatoes onto kids ? WTF ?) This one actually suffers from being a bit rushed at 11-minute-long, completely losing me with a journey to a fantasy world that seems to come from nowhere. Especially as it’s way less interesting than the “monsters come alive out of this card game and run wild into our world” premise it’d been initially setting up.

So, yeah. Three show I’m thrice too old to watch, and I won’t be bothering with.

The Comic Artist and Assistants (Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to) is a different deal altogether. Again it’s a shorter format (11-minute-long), but the similarities end there. It adapts a comedy 4-panel manga, and manages to fit four sketches in its first episode. As the title lays out, it follows the hijinks of a quirky manga author, his assistant, and his editor. (More characters presumably coming, according to the OP & ED ; aside from the manga author, they’re all female.)

The problem here is that this show’s only joke is that the manga author is a pervert who sexually harasses his colleagues. And then makes puppy eyes for them to forgive him. It’s endless variations about the same theme : he wants some reference of breasts being groped, he launches a debate about how much panties should be revealed, and he buys tons of female underwear, again for “reference”. (You can guess what kind of manga he draws.)

Yeah, no thanks. The joke is already tired by the episode’s end, I can’t bear anymore of it.

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

It’s almost painful to watch the slow demise of studio Gainax. With most of their key staff having gone off to the greener pastures of Khara and Trigger, it’s now reduced to a shadow of its own glory, taking any bizarre project that might get them some direly-needed sponsorship money. Remember when they did a short magical girl show that was a glorified (and impenetrable) ad for Subaru ?

Well, Magica Wars (Mahou Shoujo Taisen) is a similar project : a series of 26 shorts starring magical girls who represent the various prefectures of Japan. Not that the premise is obvious from the first episode, which showcases the not-very-funny slapstick hijinks of an incompetent magical girl chasing small blobs.

It doesn’t even have any kind of novelty value ; it’s just boring and pointless.

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

I’m not making a full review for Marvel Disk Wars : the Avengers, but I do want to note that it’s much better than I expected. Especially since it involves a bunch of kids using the titular disks to summon Avengers and fight bad guys. The chief reason the show manages to make that premise less terrible is to spend the first episode without it, instead devoting it to pure set-up. And it does a good job of selling this as a recognizable version of the Marvel Universe, with the Avengers behaving like they should throughout. The Disks are Stark Technology Gone Wrong ™, baddies try to steal them, the Avengers presumably get stuck in them next episode. And the kids are given plausible explanations for being around, which is a relief.

Let’s put it this way : I’m open to watching a second episode, which is more than I can say for just about any of the other marketing-driven kids’ shows this season.

Also, a few words about Inugami & Nekoyama, an adaptation of a 4-panel gag manga about a dog-like girl who likes cats, and a cat-like girl who likes dogs. That’s basically the whole joke, so it’s a good thing that it’s a series of 3-minute shorts. Sure, that’s a bit of a “stop-start” paced format, but the episode packs just enough content, and I’m not sure the source material could support a full-length adaptation anyway. As it stands, it’s perfectly pleasant to watch.

No full review for Escha & Logy’s Atelier either ; I fell asleep watching it and have no wish to try it again. It’s very boring indeed, with flat characters and a complete lack of any kind of narrative tension. You’d think a JRPG adaptation would have more punch, but no.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014 – Page 7.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha

(10 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Oldschool magical girl show. (The kind without any sentai influence.)


Inari, a middle school girl, is our protagonist. Often late, clumsy, and quite shy, she’s part of the unpopular kids. (She hangs out with the violent one and the heavyweight nerd.)

Koji, the guy in her class she has a crush on. He’s so dreamy ! Unfortunately, her attempt at cheering him on for his next match ends up with her accidentally pulling his pants down. Oops.

Uka-no-Mitama-no-Kami, the god of the local shrine Inari often attends. Since the girl has just rescued Uka-sama’s familiar, she gets one wish granted : becoming the popular girl Koji seems infatuated with, so that she can gather the courage to apologize to him. Inari soon realizes this was a very stupid wish, but not one that can be reversed easily ; Uka-sama screws the rules by putting a part of herself into the girl, allowing her to shapeshift at will (and thus back to her normal body).

… I’m sure this isn’t going to backfire at all.

Production Values

Quite nice, and there are lots of neat visual gags in the background (such as Uka-sama playing visual novels with her familiars when she thinks nobody’s looking).

Overall Impression

Hey, this was quite fun ! It’s the old “magical girl as a metaphor for growing up” story, but with a fresh enough coat of paint to entertain. The gimmick has potential, the shinto angle reminds me of Gingitsune in a positive way, and I genuinely like the cast. (Especially Uka-sama.)

I may drop another show just to keep up with this one.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2014 – Page 10.

Hoozuki the Cool-headed (Hoozuki no Reitetsu)

(12ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a comedy manga about hell bureaucrats.


Hoozuki, our protagonist, is a key member of Hell’s administration ; more specifically, he’s the guy who’s dispatched everywhere to deal with whatever problematic situations arise. It’s way less glamorous than it sounds, as the complaints are usually petty and/or misdirected. Still, that’s his job, and he accomplishes with imperturbable (but always slightly irritated-sounding) phlegm.

King Enma of Hell, his boss, is completely overwhelmed by all the complaints addressed to him, and is all too happy to offload the whole of them onto his subordinate. He respects his competence, and spends the second half of the episode trying to make some small talk with him.

Momotarou, the Peach Boy, invades Hell in the first half to kill some demons, with his three animal sidekicks in tow. (If you’re not aware, killing demons was his shtick over in his tale.) He thinks himself a man with a mission, but really he’s just embarrassing himself, and his sidekicks are tired of his antics. Hoozuki deals with him with barely any use of violence.

(Apparently, each episode will feature two independent tales.)

Production Values

Well, it’s certainly got a distinctive artstyle, well-detailed and full of background jokes. It’s good at conveying how both alien and mundane Hell is, and that’s key for the joke to work.

Overall Impression

On an intellectual level, I appreciate what this series is doing. It’s got a decent joke at its core, the dialogue is witty, and it looks like nothing else being aired right now. I had every reason to want to like it.

Unfortunately, it’s Very Japanese Indeed : it relies heavily on folklore and pop-culture jokes I have no familiarity with. As it is, I just can’t connect with it, and enjoy it ; I’m going to have to give it a pass.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2014 – Page 5.


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Urban fantasy action-comedy, adapted from a manga series.


Yato, our protagonist, is a god. Admittedly, not one of the big leagues : he’s a vagrant god with no dedicated shrine and barely any followers. But he’s ambitious, so he’s eager to answer the prayers of the rare people calling to him to try and build his fanbase. His “missions” include anything from purging the nefarious ghosts haunting various place, to finding a lost cat.

Tomone, his partner, is a magical blade who’s very efficient at dispatching ghosts. Unfortunately, she’s about had it with her master’s hobo lifestyle, and leaves him without even a month’s notice. How rude.

Hiyori used to be an ordinary high school girl before crossing Yato’s path… no, wait, scratch that, she was already a bit weird even before that. Still, her life completely changes when she’s hit by a truck while trying to push Yato out of the way (not that he even needed the help), and she’s now half-dead. Basically, her soul randomly leaves her body from time to time. Obviously she doesn’t enjoy the situation, but it’s not like Hato has any clue whether she can even be made “normal” again. Still, if she makes the token 5-yen offering, he’ll be happy to look into it…

Production Values

Pretty good, as you’d expect from Studio Bones. The ghosts are creepy as heck, and the action sequences are well-directed.

Overall Impression

This was perfectly okay. It’s got a decent premise, with some fun world-building, and some very good comedic timing. A lot depends on how much you can bear with Yato, who’s a bit of a cocky brat ; but Hiyori is a good foil for him, and they play well together.

I’m probably going to give it a couple more episodes to see where it goes ; but I’m not sure I’ll stick with it, as this is a busy season for me… Oh, wait, Taku Iwasaki is doing the score. Well, that settles it : I’m in.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2014 – Page 3.

Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Yet another urban fantasy story, but at least it’s more of an ensemble piece than usual.

This seems to be either a remake or a prequel for the original Yozakura Quartet series (that I haven’t seen) ; that allows it to narrowly bypass my usual “no sequels” rule.


Hime, who may or may not be the leader of this teenage group, and somehow holds the title of “Mayor” of this town (with beleaguered adult attendant in tow). So far, that mostly means being in charge of organizing this festival. She’s a normal human being, although quite good with a quaterstaff.

Kotoha, on the other hand, is half-youkai. She’s clearly the most powerful of the lot, as her voice can make any object materialize out of thin air. Also, she’s voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, and thus awesome.

Ao is a blue-haired catgirl with not-very reliable divination powers (not much good at giving a picture of a lost little girl’s parents). On the other hand, she’s quite adept at jumping around all other.

Akina is the one dude in their group, and claims to be a normal human (I have no clue whether the light show he can put out is all trickery or actual powers). He’s manning the lost kids desk for the festival.

The plot involves a mysterious guy wreaking havoc on the festival by… making the goldfish gigantic. Apparently it’s a test to take the measure of our heroes.

Production Values

Not too flashy, but with some meticulous care for body language. Cool eyecatches, too.

Overall Impression

The immediate question : does this stand on its own, or is it impenetrable for the newbie ? The good news : it works quite well at establishing the characters, even if I’m a bit hazy about what the actual premise is (besides there being this town where humans and youkai coexist happily). And there’s a very good twist after the credits.

I’m starting to have some sleep issues by now (marathoning these reviews is taking its toll), and this is one of the shows suffering from it. But I can clearly recognize it’s well-put together and deserves more of my time.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013 – Page 12.