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.


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

It’s a straightforward vampire-hunter show.


Eric “Blade” Brooks, our protagonist. His mother got bitten (and killed) while pregnant, and thus he’s a half-vampire “Daywalker”. Obviously he’s got something of a grudge, and goes around killing vampires by the dozen with his silver-bladed weapons.

Makoto, a young vampire-hunter who makes a team with her veteran father (so of course he’s doomed to die before the first episode ends). She gets three minutes of badassitude before getting way over her head and spending most of her screentime in distress. Hopefully she’ll snap out of it before she gets on my nerves too much.

Deacon Frost, the Big Bad Vampire, who’s recognizable as the one who bit Blade’s mother because of his characteristic 4 fangs. Obviously he makes short work of Blade at this point, although he leaves him alive for some reason (maybe because the “Daywalker” blood samples he extracts may not be enough ?).

Production Values

Decent. For once, the rough artstyle of the Marvel/Madhouse coproductions fits the tone of the series instead of working against it. The music score is better than average (this may be the first OP among those projects where the instrumental tune works perfectly with the visuals), and there’s some decent use of colour to set the mood here and there. On the other hand, I’m not fond of the frequent use of freeze frames in the action sequences (it always looks cheap to me), and the dissolving effect when vampires get dispatched looks quite weird.

Overall Impression

Well, I didn’t fall asleep, which is better than I expected (despite being a Marvel fanboy, I have absolutely zero interest in Blade as a character). It works quite well as a action piece (apart from some stylistic mistakes detailed above), and Makoto shows some potential as an action girl if she gets a clue quickly (Maaya Sakamoto’s charisma strikes again !).

Can it sustain itself over 12 episodes without becoming repetitive ? I have my doubts. But it’s earned itself a second episode, which is more than I’d thought beforehand.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2011.


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

The X-Men disbanded a year ago, due to Jean Grey’s death in the Dark Phoenix incident. But Professor X gathers the band back together when he learns of numerous mutant disparitions in a district of Japan.


They’ve gone for an iconic line-up for the X-Men, with Professor X as the remote mentor, Cyclops as field leader, Wolverine, Storm and cat-form Beast. (The OP promises Emma Frost, but she hasn’t shown up yet.) Professor X carries most of the narration and exposition. Cyclops is the best at what he does, and what he does is whining over Jean’s grave (seriously, it looks like he’s spending days at a time there). Beast had gone back to teaching college courses, but he’s pretty happy to go back into action and leave his class to his uplifted squid. Wolverine is more tolerable here than in his own series, and Storm plays mother hen.

Hisako (aka Armor) is our token young mutant in distress. She barely shows any personality yet, before captured by robots halfway through the episode. (If you’re wondering, she’s a character created by Joss Whedon when he wrote the X-Men comics six years ago.)

We start with an extended flashback to the end of the Dark Phoenix incident, where it’s clear Jean is manipulated by Mastermind and his Inner Circle (they’re kept in shadows, but I see Blob, maybe Toad, and another prettyboy I can’t quite identify). It looks like she commits suicide, but considering the epitaph on her memorial (“She will rise again”) and the fact they’ve bothered to show us all this, I’m sure she’ll eventually show up again.

The next episode preview suggests that the X-Men are going to face the U-Men. That’s an interesting choice (they’re quite a recent creation), although it makes perfect sense when considering Warren Ellis wrote this story (the man loves his transhumanism themes).

The ED shows some iconic X-Men villains (Magneto, Mystique, Juggernaut) that I doubt will actually show up… and Stryfe, for some reason.

Production Values

I’m not fond of Madhouse’s style for the Marvel adaptations, and it looks especially messy here, but it does the job. I like the character designs quite a bit, to tell the truth.

Overall Impression

I’ve always had big expectations for this particular Marvel Anime series, and it doesn’t disappoint. It manages to perfectly recreate the X-Men experience, especially the sense of a vast tapestry of former continuity that will eventually become relevant. Sure, it doesn’t exactly hit the ground running (the X-Men aren’t even in Japan yet), but that’s the cost of fleshing out the five main characters as well as explaining the gist of the Dark Phoenix incident.

I’m biased, of course : I’m a hardcore X-Men fan. Still, this is by far the best Marvel Anime series, with strong characters and a plot that feels appropriately epic.

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


What’s it about ?

A year ago, Logan met a Japanese woman called Mariko who disappeared soon after. Now, he learns that she comes from a crime family and is to get into an arranged marriage for their sakes. Logan of course rushes in to prevent it…


Logan, the Wolverine. You may remember those awful previews from a year or so ago ; thankfully his character design looks much better now (although it’s more Hugh Jackman than the comic version). Anyway, the same character as usual : metal claws, healing factor and prone to berserker rage. In plain clothes for the whole episode, and I doubt that’ll change.

Mariko Yoshida, his (former) sweetheart. Archetypical Damsel In Distress ™. To be crude, she’s just a macguffin here.

Shingen Yoshida, Mariko’s father. Crime lord, with impressive fencing skills. You know the time.

Hideki Kurohagi, Mariko’s new fiancĂ©. The current ruler of the lawless city of Madripoor. Interrupts Logan’s duel with Shingen by shooting the former in the back with some anti-healing-factor gun. No class whatsoever, then.

Asano, a Tokyo police detective who became friends with Logan 10 years ago. Just now rescued from AIM goons by the same in New York, he’s our chief provider of exposition. He and his unit have set up a full-scale surveillance operation around the Yoshida mansion, but they lack the legal authority to just bust in.

Production Values

This actually looks pretty good, although this may just be my getting used to this artstyle from Iron Man. On the other hand, the women still look weird – especially Mariko. Also, I’m quite liking the soundtrack, it reminds me of Death Note‘s in a good way.

The OP is average. The ED, on the other hand, annoyed me by switching musical styles twice. Urgh.

Overall Impression

This is actually better than I expected. While we’re deep into the usual clichĂ©s of the “Wolverine in Japan” subgenre (believe me, it’s well-trodden territory in the comics), it tackles them with gusto and energy. It also looks fully plot-driven, instead of the “Zodiac mecha of the week” structure of Iron Man ; I’m not sure there’s enough plot in there for 12 episodes, but I’m interested in seeing how it’ll play out. This episode certainly crams quite a lot in (the plotline is nominally adapted from an 80s miniseries, but we’re way more than 1/12th through it).

Anyway, a fun popcorn action show.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 12.