Spring 2016 Capsules

Don’t bother with Ragnastrike Angels (if you can even find it). It’s a glorified 30-second commercial for the mobile game, and it’s over before you even realize it.


With three minutes of runtime, Pan de Peace! (the pun, it hurts !) at least manages to provide a more decent bite of content. It’s yet another adaptation of a 4-panel manga starring four girls with vague lesbian overtones, with the gimmick being that they’re all crazy about bread. Perfectly inoffensive, but nothing particularly distinctive or interesting either ; it’s comfort food, basically. And since I’m on a diet, I’m gonna skip it.


Oh, and just in case, the new JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series, Diamond is Unbreakable starts off very promisingly. The colour design is even more striking than before somehow, too. And with only 39ish episodes planned, there’s a good chance it’s going to be less bloated than Stardust Crusaders.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2016 – Page 2


As previously mentioned, I won’t be doing a full review of the first episode of Macross Delta, as I already covered a preview of it three months ago. Let’s just say that it’s still as charming, and there are few more minutes of stuff happening at the end. (Since the actual first episode is somehow shorter than the preview, I presume they cut several minutes of fluff earlier on ; none of it is really missed.)


And for completeness’ sake, Sailor Moon Crystal is back, now covering the manga’s “Infinity” arc. On the one hand, given the popularity of the first anime version of it, it’s a no-brainer. On the other hand, the manga version (followed to the letter here) unfolds quite differently, and not always for the better. (The “reversion” stuff in this chapter is particularly silly pseudo-science.) And well, the usual flaws of Crystal are still present, especially the lack of atmosphere.

But who cares ? I bought the whole manga despite not liking it much ; I can certainly watch through this for completionism’s sake. (Especially as “Infinity” isn’t too bad as manga arcs go.)


Shounen Ashibe: Go! Go! Goma-chan is a short kids’ show about a boy (Ashibe) and his pet seal (Goma), adapted from a 4-panel manga series that already got two TV series in the early 90s. To say that it’s very dated indeed is an understatement ; most of the jokes and caricatures seem lifted straight out of the 70s or earlier. Otherwise, it’s perfectly inoffensive, but I’m way too old to be in the target audience.

Onigiri adapts a MMORPG as a series of shorts. Interestingly, it chooses to take the piss out of this fanservice-ladden clichĂ©-fest, mocking thoroughly how male characters aren’t voiced, or having the main characters’ account be suspended because of tool tampering (as I was indeed wondering about the machine-gun and flamethrower whipped out by one of them in this med-fan setting…). To my surprise, most of the jokes are actually funny and delivered with good comedic timing, so I could see myself keeping watching it for a while.

Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls is a baffling series of shorts, featuring three random girls being assembled so that they can save the world, but with their handlers telling them they’re going to be idols and playing crane games. The joke is in dire need of a punchline, and doesn’t work at all ; and it isn’t helped by fugly Flash-like animation. Skip.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2016 – Page 3


Nope, not doing a full review of Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou. It looks awful and is barely animated, the premise is silly (being a DJ is just like cooking Tonkatsu !), and it quickly got on my nerves. I’ll pass.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2016 – Page 5


(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Original mecha series.


Yukina, our protagonist, is a ordinary high school girl whose plans for the future include, er, going to Mars. (Second choice : Mercury. Third choice : Jupiter.) Well, not with those grades she isn’t, her teacher awkwardly explains.

Mom won’t have any of it ; after all, if she’s an overachiever herself, why wouldn’t her daughter be able to ? (Yukina just looks mortified at this point.) Mom is the head of a UN facility, after all. And, er, still forgetful enough to leave her cell on the teacher’s desk. Cue Yukina bringing a friend with her to her mother’s workplace so she can hand it back (and give her friend a bit of a tour, because we need more clumsy exposition damnit).

I have no clue what they actually do at this UN facility. Utility mecha for construction work ? Sure, why not. Actual battle mecha teams ready to react when a bunch of mysterious unmanned mecha drop in from space ? Seriously, what are they doing here that’d warrant such an attack ? (And it’s not the last one.)

Other mystery : the big black cube they excavated several decades ago, and have kept in a hall once they got bored of studying it. Somehow, once Yukina touches it, it opens and lets out a naked defrosted samurai who can somehow go head-to-toe with the one mecha who got into the room. And calls Yukina “princess”, for some reason.

Production Values

LOL at Yukina’s hands obscuring the samurai’s body, Austin Powers style. Otherwise, it’s average-looking for a PA Works production, although still great with body language.

What did I think of it ?

This is very average indeed. Most of the exposition is awkward (not helped by the terrible fansubs I watched this with, admittedly), Yukina is the only halfway interesting character introduced so far, and the enemy mechas are a bit weaksauce, both in designs and menace.

In a less busy season, I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and let the familiar genre tropes carry it. As it is, it gets one more episode to become more interesting before I drop it.


(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Yet another iteration of the sprawling Muv-Luv Alternative franchise, this time adapting a bunch of prequel light novels. And by this, I mean “with different characters and set in a whole other continent”, so this should be accessible enough for anyone new to the franchise.

This is nominally set in East Germany in the 1980s, although with the massive invasion of nasty aliens since the 1960s, it’s basically alternate-history science-fiction, with mecha thrown-in for good measure. (Yeah, I’m as weirded out as you by a franchise that started out as standard dating-sim visual novels now churning out grimdark milSF.)


Theodor, our protagonist, is a young mecha pilot in the elite 666th unit (the titular Schwarzesmarken). He can’t have been here for long, as he’s still chaffing around basic orders like “don’t be a dick, protect your teammates !” This is at least semi-understandable given how he’s experienced first hand the brutality of the Stasi (the East German political police), with his whole family but him dying in a botched escape attempt to the West ; this isn’t an environment conducive to trust.

Irisdina, his team captain, doesn’t help matter by infamously being an informant who reportedly sold out her own brother. She claims she’s trying to turn a new leaf in atonement, but he doesn’t trust her at all. Once burned, twice shy.

Katia is a West German pilot they rescue on the anti-alien front. Despite this accident of fate being rather suspicious, Irisdina makes the choice to trust her and recruit her for the 666th. Katia is enough of an East-fetishizing idealist (“the war against aliens would go so much better if the West and the East worked together !”, yeah don’t say this too loud in front of the Stasi commissars) to accept… Although there’s obviously more to her than that. Which makes it all the more a pain in the ass for Theodor, who’s stuck training her after being the one to rescue her.

Production Values

Decent enough ; the aliens certainly look very freaky, and alien indeed. The show itself doesn’t go overboard with fanservice despite the design for female pilot suits it’s stuck with in this franchise… but the ED clearly milks it for maximum titillation.

Overall Impression

This is a happy surprise ; instead of being fetishized, East Germany is depicted as awful a place as it should be if you’re bothering to set a story there. The only weird bit is that they somehow have a competent army in the 1980s despite the politics being even more awful than in reality, but I take this as a genre convention.

I’m also pleasently surprised by the tone ; yes, this is quite dark indeed, but there’s a point to it, and the show is in no hurry to kill off massive amounts of main characters right off the bat for shock value (unlike Total Eclipse). Indeed, it wisely focuses on East Germany itself rather than the actual fight against the aliens, giving the characters a chance for a decent resolution of their story despite this being a prequel (after all, the aliens will still be around for the sequels).

On the other hand, it’s everything but subtle, the main characters are more than a bit annoying, and I’m just not in the mood for grimdark milSF. But hey, nice try.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 4

BBK/BRNK (Bubuki Buranki)

(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Hmm… An youth adventure series featuring some mecha action. Also, a rare show not adapting anything.


As a kid, Azuma used to live with his parents and twin sister in a small house in the countryside… with tons of mechas (the “Buranki”) lying around, sleeping ominously. Sometimes one of them wakes up ; it’s quickly made clear that Mom is some sort of semi-retired superheroine who subdues them and keeps them under control.

While Azuma was a rather quiet and fearful kid, his sister Kaoruko was a bonehead tomboy who kept endangering the both of them. She got it into her head that the Buranki needed to be dealt with definitely, and that by aggressively kickstarting her own powers she could kill them all. This was of course a massively stupid idea, as she wakes them all up at once. The best Mom can do at damage control is to stay behind while she sends off Hubbie and the kids while she stays behind to try and contain the Buranki. And by “off”, I mean off the huge space rock the whole sequence has been taking place in, and down to Earth. The impact may have cause some collateral damage.

Cue to 10 years later. Dad and Kaoruko are nowhere to be seen. Mom is the official scapegoat for everything wrong ever, to the point that it’s obvious that there’s a lot of cover-up going on. Azuma had been roaming the world looking for something, and gets arrested nearly as soon as he puts a foot back in Japan.

Fortunately, he has a bunch of friends (he has not seen in a while) who come to his rescue from the fascist cops. They all have Bubiki, aka “hands of Buranki”, aka weird super-weapons with eyes. The issue being that the most elite of their pursuers have better ones.

Production Values

Bless studio Sanzigen (Black Rock Shooter, Arpeggio of Blue Steel…) for keeping trying to make cel-shaded CG animation work on a TV budget. 1/4th of the time here, it doesn’t quite work : the body language and the facial animation are a bit awkward. But the rest of the time, it really shines : the action sequences are marvelously kinetic, the scenery has an impressive sense of scale, and the nice colourful designs for characters and weapons really pop. The epic score helps quite a bit, too.

Overall Impression

Wow. This is almost very good, but just shy of it. Not because of the actual plot, which isn’t particularly distinctive ; it’s all in the energy of the storytelling, and the quality of execution. Which makes it all the worse when there are blips into the uncanny valley. And that’s a shame, as it’s otherwise quite enthralling (and enough to make be ignore my qualms about the minor plot holes).

I’ll be watching a few more episodes, hoping it can keep up its frantic pace for the long run. We’ll see.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 3

Active Raid : Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit (Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei)

(12 episodes, with a second season already scheduled for Summer)

What’s it about ?

The director of Code Geass does Patlabor, basically. I.e. we’re following a dysfunctional police unit dealing with mecha-related crimes.


Asami is a teenage genius fresh off the academy (and some abroad internship) who’s tasked with “inspecting” the 8th unit. The unspoken assumption is that she’s supposed dig up enough evidence to shut down this embarassment of a squadron ; she sees it more as a personal challenge, and aims to straighten them all up by herself.

Now, at first the 8th does look like a collection of screw-ups :
– The neat freak who despises his co-workers
– The operator who’s too shy to communicate with her other than with text messages
– The petite and genial woman who turns out to be the chief, but certainly doesn’t act so
– The technician on loan from the partner mecha companies who’s way too creepy and touchy
– And of course the asshole who pickpocketed her phone on the train, and arrived late to the operation (with a bemused unrelated perp in tow)

The case of the week involves two teenagers holding up a bank with a pair of mechas (and dumb enough to tweet about it), as well as the ensuing protracted chase scene… Wait, this is way too well-planned a heist to be that simple (a drone airplane passing by just at the right time so that they can hitch a ride ?). The two mysterious people talking in riddles early on are probably involved in this.

The big idea here is that while the 8th at first look like a complete mess operating like cowboys, there’s a method to their madness, and they turn out to be surprisingly efficient as an unit considering how much they squabble. When Asami tries to school them on proper procedure, not only do they already know all this crap, but they also know how to navigate through all the cracks in the red tape and avoid the worst of political landmines. Frankly, given the insane constraints they’re under (can’t do any collateral damage / controlled blackouts HERE because a random building belongs to a prominent politician, and so on…), it’s a wonder how they can operate at all, let alone keep track of their quarries and successfully neutralize and arrest them.

Production Values

The character designs leave a bit to be desired, and that sure is a lot of stock footage for the “suit-up” scenes, but the important thing here is that the directors know how to pull off an extended chase scene with lots of twists without losing sight of clarity nor characterization. Being reunited with the Code Geass composer, who can jazz up an action sequence like nobody else, certainly helps.

Interestingly, the main bit of fanservice here is the two male leads being in speedoes for half the “suitup” sequences.

Overall Impression

Uh oh. There’s a lot to like in the concept and many of the details, but the execution doesn’t quite pull it off. It feels a bit too rushed and busy, trying to cram too much exposition and too many characters in at the same time. It’s also not helped by a very unlikeable point-of-view character ; it’s a wonder such an entitled little snot as Asami manages to be even halfway sympathetic at all. Not that the rest of the cast are much better.

And still… I could see this working, if it were to slow the heck down and leave more room for the characters to breathe. I really want to like it, and thus am willing to give it some rope, but it’s not quite there yet.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2016 – Page 2

Concrete Revolutio ~A Superhuman Fantasy~ (Choujin Gensou)

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

It’s like half a dozen superhero shows mixed together into a single one.


Kikko, our heroine, is a teenage waitress who’s suddenly told a spy drama is about to unfold in her restaurant, and is thus asked to stop this scientist for leaking state secrets to this very shady-looking guy in a suit that does scream “spy”. Actually, he’s an alien spy, and the exchange is about something else entirely. But nevermind ! We also learn that Kikko is a magical girl, complete with cute talking mascot hidden in her cleavage. Her powers are a massive help in the ensuing chase scene.

Jiro, the guy with the bizarre haircut who asked for her help to bust the spy, is from a secret agency to monitor and protect superheroes. Cue sudden flashforwards to five years later where he’s on the run and she’s the one leading an agency taskforce to chase him down. Er, sure, whatever.

The actual point of the whole spy-busting thing, besides preventing whatever the aliens’ nefarious plan is, was to draw out Grosse Augen, a super-famous sentai-style superhero who’s been helping humanity out for a while. However, the agency deems him to dangerous to exist, so he has to go. (Much to Kikko’s dismay, as she’s a fan.)

Presumably a side benefit was to bring Kikko into the fold, as her wildly versatile magical girl powers should be a tremendous help.

Production Values

Gorgeous ! This looks really neat, with wildly unnaturalistic colour work that makes everything pop. There’s also tons of creativity around Kikko’s powers, such as the time she manifested a giant arrow to point out where the giant-size Gross Augen & alien spy were fighting, as normal human Jiro couldn’t see them while they were out of phase. And then he transformed his car into a giant mecha and threw the arrow at the spy.

Overall Impression

If the above summaries sounded wildly disjointed and completely insane, well, I’m trying to convey what watching the show is like. It’s a crazy mashup of at least four different superhero shows (the alien spy ring, Kikko’s magical girl thing, Grosse Augen’s sentai trappings, and the paranoid dystopia flashforwards), all gleefully colliding together into utter chaos.

It’s more than a bit disorientating, and I can understand being irritated by this scattershot approach. But it’s so gloriously bonkers that I can’t help getting caught into its kitchen-sink universe, trying to find a method to the madness.

I’m hooked.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015 – Page 2

Comet Lucifer

What’s it about ?

Light-hearted mecha show.


Sogo, our teenage protagonist, has a hobby of looking for rare crystals, mostly in that giant gaping hole in the middle of the city. Mostly to prove a point : supposedly his (missing ? late ?) mother had seen something there, and he wants to confirm it. He’s also driving around a lot in his flying bike, pushing its speed up to widely unsafe levels.

Kaon, his female friend, doesn’t help when she shanghais him into helping her run away from her persistent (and unwanted) fiancĂ©. Cue wild car chase. Then end up falling into the hole, and then even deeper into unexplored caves.

There they find the giant red crystal Sogo had been looking for ; it reacts to a smaller one he’d picked up earlier on, and explodes into… freeing a girl that was encased inside ? Well, she’s unconscious and can’t answer their questions yet.

There are a bunch of serious people in military-like mechas who were also looking for the crystal ; their excavations were partly responsible for digging it out. They soon burst in, and they don’t look like they want witnesses. Uh oh.

But never fear : another mecha jumps out of nowhere, as though summoned by the crystal, to protect our heroes ! Who wonder wtf is going on.

Production Values

Very nice ; it’s a brightly coloured show, and the action setpieces are well-animated.

Overall Impression

That was fun ! It’s got a kinda kids’ adventure vibe that’s a hoot to watch, and endearing characters who bounce off well each other. I’m not sure where this is going, but if it keep up the energy, that should be good enough for me.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015 – Page 2

Mobile Suit Gundam – Iron-blooded Orphans (Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans)

(25ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

From the people who brought you Toradora and AnoHana ! And it’s indeed almost, but not quite, entirely unlike those shows.


Oh, dear. This has the very common modern Gundam flaw of introducing all at once dozens of characters in various factions, speaking in exposition only they can understand, and I spend half the episode trying to catch up. I don’t care that this is more “realistic”, as it’s bloody awful storytelling.

Anyway, as best as I can discern : this is the future, and there are colonies on Mars extracting stuff. The political landscape is a bit of a mess, with some people wanting independance from Earth, and some Earth factions wanting to squash this in the egg.

Kudelia Aina Bernstein is the young face of the independence movement. Which is ironic, considering she comes from a rich family which made its fortune from its links with Earth. Today they sell her out, giving the anti-independence faction intelligence about her visit to a random Mars settlement, and thus ample opportunity for something unfortunate to happen.

Said settlement does have a PMC hired to provide protection to her, but most of the senior officers run away after the super-modern mecha start showing up to attack. So it’s up to the teenage orphans making up the bulk of the grunts to try and stand their ground.

Orga is their de facto leader. He’s awesome, and a great tactical thinker. It’s very impressive how he manages to stall the attackers despite his pals having much inferior equipment.

Mikazuki, his best friend and loyal follower, is named in the promo material as the actual protagonist, but so far I’m not really seeing it. He does save the day by piloting the relic Gundam they had rusting in a basement, though, but that’s just following Orga’s orders ; he barely gets three minutes of screentime overall.

Biscuit, the heavyset guy with impressive technical know-how, is a much more active and initiative-taking member of the group. He’s a lot of fun, and I like how he contributed to setting the attackers onto the cowards who abandoned them.

Production Values

It’s Sunrise doing mecha, so of course it’s very competently executed. Also, for some reason all the kids are piloting their vehicles shirtless.

Overall Impression

Urgh, that first half…

But once the attack starts and we get to see Orga in action, the show finally clicks together. Suddenly the kids’ chemistry shines, the obscure political manoeuvring becomes crystal clear, and I actually start caring what happens to our protagonists.

I’m watching all of Gundam anyway (see my sig), but there’s a decent chance I’ll actually enjoy this one.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015 – Page 2

Heavy Object

(24 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Exposition, the anime ! Adapted from a light novel series, of course.

Okay, here’s a quick summary of the premise : in the future, conventional weapons (and even nuclear missiles) have been rendered obsolete by the titular “Heavy Objects”, ball-shaped mechas with impressive firepower and even more impressive shielding. So now wars have become skirmishes between Heavy Objects. This first episode goes into much more extraneous detail than that, but that’s the gist of it.


Qwenthur (sic), our protagonist, is a mechanic student who’s enlisted into a military outpost in the middle of nowhere, so as to study the Heavy Object stationed there. It’s an old, non-specialized model, which is all the best for him to learn as much about the tech as possible. And then, PROFIT ! (He’s very vague about how merely knowing how those things work will allow him to easily become an engineering tycoon. Surely the field is already crowded as heck ?)

The thing you quickly notice about Qwenthur is that he. never. shuts. up. Which is doubly bad, as he’s also our narrator : even with his mouth closed, his inner monologue will drown the audience with tedious and clumsy exposition. I usually don’t mind Natsuki Hanae, but by 3/4ths of the way through this episode I was yelling at the screen to just shut the — up.

“The Princess” (who may have an actual name) is the Heavy Object’s actual pilot. Supposedly super-elite and stuff, but she spends most of the episode idling around on standby, or taking a gratuitous shower to liven up Qwenthur’s droning narration. (And of course additional material states she’s 14. Urgh.)

Major Capistrano is the local commanding officer, at the grizzled old age of 18. She’s actually coordinationg the operations of at least 4 other Heavy Objects, if her tablet display is any indication. Or maybe it’s just a casual game/training program she plays ; she certainly looks horribly bored doing so.

The show makes it look like there are only five people total on the base (with Qwenthur’s hardass boss at the mecha maintenance shop, and his best pal/rookie radio operator), despite the vague suggestion more soldiers are around.

Production Values

Well, the direction makes it darnedest to liven things up, with decent battle visuals for the Heavy Objects and some desperate fanservice scenes, and even the music swelling around to try and make it epic, but nothing can overcome the dreary exposition.

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. I came into this cautiously optimistic, as the same author’s Index series led to a decently entertaining anime series… but gods, this is unengaging on every level. I’m used to screenwriter Hiroyuki Yoshino being widely inconsistent in his adaptations, but this is an unfortunate failure to weed down the inherent wordiness of the source material. The already rather flat characters become mere vessels for the exposition, what little humour filters through isn’t particularly funny, and the script even goes out of its way to state that Heavy Object warfare just isn’t very interesting period. Why should we care, then ?

Very disappointing, and I won’t be bothering with any more episodes.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2015

#49 : Hiwou War Chronicles (Karakuri Kiden Hiwou Senki)

(26 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Clockpunk show set in the Meiji period. It also has the honour of being the first show ever animated by studio Bones after their split from Sunrise.


For no obvious reason, the series opens with a few German merchants/tourists on a boat nearing the coast of Japan, expositing at length on this being the Meiji Era and what this entails on a geopolitical level… only for the rest of the episode to completely ignore this context, and showing that this version of Japan is actually full-on clockpunk.

Hiwou, our protagonist, is the bratty and plucky kid who’s at the center of the youngsters’ social club in his rural village (including his younger siblings). The big thing with this village is that they’ve been producting tons of clockwork dolls, mostly for entertainment purposes.

Enter the Wind Gang, a bunch of paramilitary thugs who swiftly conquer the village by surprise, capturing all the adults… but not the kids, who were off exploring a cave at the time. There, they find a clockwork proto-mecha that allows them to escape.

… But maybe not for long, as some of the kids want to double back to try and save their parents. That sounds like a really stupid idea, considering how they barely managed to escape the first time around.

Production Values

You can always count on a Bones production to be reasonably polished, and this is no exception.

Overall Impression

Well, this was inoffensive enough, I guess. The problem is that the first episode didn’t manage to make me care about those kids, or even the fate of the village. It’s got some decently-paced action sequences that are all about the flash and carry little substance. Really, it’s just a bit too bland.

I’m not really interested in watching any more of this.

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