Big Order

(10 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of manga series by the same people who brought you Future Diary.


Daisy is a weird fairy/hallucination who goes around and turns random people into Orders, which basically means that they get super-powers based on whatever they were wishing for at the time. She seems to be mostly doing this for shits and giggles, as she expects to be entertained by whatever interesting things the Orders will do with their powers. And in that regard, she’s been rather disappointed by…

Eiji, our teenage protagonist, who somehow got powers so incredible that he basically wrecked the world by accident when he got them. Ten years later, the scars are still visible all around, and he’s trying to keep as low a profile as possible. Other compelling reason to never ever use his powers again : his little sister is in the hospital because of his past outburst (and his inner monologue makes it sound like she’s barely got six months to live).

Rin is the pretty new transfer student into Eiji’s class, but of course that’s just a front, because it wouldn’t be a Sakae Esuno story without a sadistic redhead stalking the protagonist and being very creepy indeed. She’s an assassin nominally working for a secret council of weirdoes supposedly running what’s left of the world, and tasked with tracking Eiji down. Of course, since her parents died in the catastrophe, she quickly ditches her recon job and goes straight for the kill. Also, she’s an Order with regenerative powers, so she’s basically immortal.

Eiji spends most of the episode whining and panicking, but Rin straight out stabbing his little sister is the straw that broke the camel back. Together with Daisy putting a big range limiter on his ability (so that he can use it without risk of wrecking the whole world), this spurs him into fighting back. Especially as Daisy clarifies that his power isn’t actually to break stuff. He’s really a reality warper, able to bend the world (and people) around him to his will. (With a range now limited to at best the size of a building.) See, his wish as a kid was patterned after his favourite cartoon character, who was about conquering the world for its own good. So hey, Eiji might as well go and conquer the world… starting with the council of assholes who went after him. And Rin is his first draftee, whether she wants it or not.

Production Values

On the one hand, this is very raw looking indeed ; studio Asread isn’t known for producing polished shows, and this is the case here too. On the other hand, there are some great visuals for the initial catastrophic event, with the world just getting broken and fractured in a very unsettling way.

What did I think of it ?

This was certainly a very rough start. The episode spends most of its runtime being miserable and without much direction, spending more effort on histrionics than coherent storytelling. But it all comes together with the final reveal, which gives its protagonist a much-needed agenda, interesting powers that he’s already using creatively (lol at Rin healing Eiji’s little sister without even noticing it for a while – “Wait, why the heck am I doing this ?”), and dynamics with his supporting cast that promise to be fascinating.

This show is of course very derivative of something like, say, Death Note, but there’s enough energy and ideas here to keep it fresh. I’m willing to watch where it goes for a while.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2016 – Page 6

High-School Fleet (Hai-Furi)

(12ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

Girls & Panzer with boats. Well, kinda.


In the future, Japan has been half-submerged, and it seems the big thing is naval patrols by ships entirely crewed by women, the “Blue Mermaids”. Before that, though, they have to go through Marine High School, which includes a long practical period where they indeed crew ships with no onboard supervision. Of course, they have already studied and chosen their specialties beforehand : engineers, navigators, communication officers, cooks, doctors… and, er, weaponsmasters. Because those school ships have live ordinance.

The destroyer we’re following, the Hanekaze, has a crew of 31 by my count ; for obvious reason, most of them aren’t really developed.

Akeno, our protagonist, was a surprising choice for captain ; she didn’t have the highest grades, and is a bit clumsy. On the other hand, her essays about seeing the crew as a family must have struck a chord with the instructors. She certainly does seem to have a good head on her shoulders during this episode.

Mashiro, her deputy, is more what you’d expect ; top grades, very serious and by-the-book. On the other hand, she takes more time to process when something unexpected happens, and has trouble handling Akeno and her free-wheeling, casual attitude.

Moeka was Akeno’s childhood friend and they made a promise of becoming Blue Mermaids together… which is slightly impeded by her becoming the captain of another ship. But hey, they’ll see each other back after practical training !

Ms Furushou, their instructor, gives them barely a few words before they’re off for their maiden trip. She doesn’t come with them, of course ; she’ll be waiting at their destination. And when they’re late, she comes on one of the instructor ships and… has it fire at them ??? And when Akeno eventually orders to fire back to cover their escape, Ms Furushou has them branded as outlaws gone rogue ???

What the heck is going on ?

Production Values

Lavish portrayals of the ships and their weapons, of course. Well, at least we don’t get much of the other kind of fanservice.

What did I think of it ?

Let’s be honest : the writers messed up the first half of the episode, with long scenes of nothing happening and way too little being established about either the main characters or the world. That’s really, really boring.

On the other hand, once the unexpected starts happening, Akeno steps up, and we get to see the crew together in action ? That’s much more like it ; and the insanity of the plot twist has a lot of charm in itself. It’s probably a training exercise for the “crew of leftovers” (what does that even mean ?), but it’s a good excuse to have our heroes fend for themselves for a while.

I’m actually quite interested in seeing where this is going, provided it can keep its mystery going.

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

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Koutetsujou no Kabaneri)

(12ish episodes, noitaminA)

What’s it about ?

Steampunk zombie apocalypse, by most of the same people who brought you Attack on Titan‘s adaptation.


Most of the world (as we can see it) has already been overwhelmed by the zombies ; there are only a few pockets of survivors, built like fortresses, and connected only by armoured trains. Even then, they’re falling one by one, and there’s a sense of growing desperation and paranoia among both civilians and soldiers. They’re certainly checking thoroughly everyone who comes out of the trains for traces of infection.

Ikoma, our protagonist, is a lowly engineer working on train maintenance. His pet project, though, is building steam-guns that can actually kill zombies (as opposed to the current ones that only kill people and barely repel zombies). He’s all about taking a rational approach to fighting off the infestation (“it’s not a curse, guys !”), but I have to say that his “cure” method looks really, really dumb.

Mumei looks like someone very important, most probably the daughter of the lord of another fortress. She’s certainly important enough for her and her minder to avoid the mandatory inspection after coming by train. At first she looks like a sheltered free-spirit who’s super-bored about her own diplomatic mission, but when the shit hits the fan she displays some unexpected determination and awareness of the stakes.

On the other hand, I totally understand her disdain for the rulers of this settlement. The local lord lets his paranoid soldiers go way overboard in their paranoia, and his first reflex after a breach is to head for the one available train to escape. (And you just know there’s a fat chance of civilians getting allowed in.) His daughter seems okay, though, if very sheltered indeed.

Production Values

Budget ! And very bombastic indeed, but then that’s what you get with Araki directing and Sawano scoring.

What did I think of it ?

Warning : this show is very, very dumb. Most of the characters act like morons, and some of the big moments look very silly indeed.

If you can get over that, though, there’s actually a lot to like here. Ikoma’s more brainy and less shouty than your average protagonist, Mumei is tons of fun, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the show’s escalating momentum.

It could very well collapse under the weight of its ambitions, but I’m in for the ride.

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

God Eater

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a PSP action-RPG videogame. It also got a short “prologue” OVA back in 2009 by the same studio.


Renka, the player stand-in. He one of the talented trainees among Fenrir, an organisation devoted to exterminate the “Amagami”, monsters that have nearly destroyed civilization as we know it, aside from those small resistance forces. He’s aching to get in the field ASAP, but he’s rebuked by…

Ms Amamiya, the instructor for his rookie group, who insist on them training more. She takes this “tough love” approach because she doesn’t want them to die pointlessly, of course. But it’s a given that Renka is going to get into the field anyway, at which point she’ll be relegated to mission control over the radio.

Other characters include Renka’s bungling pal Kouta, and a bunch of other Elite God Eaters who just about manage to join the fray in time to save Renka’s bacon. Frankly, the characterization here is so minimalistic I have trouble remembering anything about most of them.

Production Values

Yikes. This is a show whose premiere got delayed by a week to try and fix the quality issues, and boy does it show. I think the action sequences mostly work, providing the flashy spectacle that has become studio ufotable’s trademark. The problem comes from the quieter scenes (i.e. most of the episode’s runtime), as the weird blend of traditional animation and enhanced CG colouring (or is the whole thing cell-shaded ?) looks very, very bad. It even manages the make the dialogue sound slightly out of sync, which suggests much last-minute tinkering. It’s frankly embarrassing for everyone involved.

Overall Impression

So, it’s a series that looks quite bad (and I’m really not sure the studio can fix things for further episodes ; I fear it can only get worse). But that only compounds the main issue : aside from spectacular battles, the show just doesn’t have much to offer. The plot is bland, the setting is beyond generic, the characters are walking clichés, and there’s no sense of the enemy being much more than cannon fodder. It’s aggressively boring and forgettable ; that may have worked fine in the original game, but it won’t cut it as an anime.

I have better things to do with my time than wasting it with this train wreck.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2015 – Page 5

School-Live ! (Gakkou Gurashi!)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of yet another slice-of-life manga series… Er, wait, not quite.


Yuki, our protagonist, loves attending her high-school. She’s even a member of the “School Living Club”, who stay the night in an empty classroom on campus instead of going home. She’s a bit airheaded, to put it mildly, and you can quickly sense that her friends are a bit worried about her.

She has basically two sets of friends. Her classmates, of course ; the go from the completely forgettable to the bad girl who comes to school wearing a collar. And the School Living Club :
– Yuuri, the motherly club president, who spends most of her time cooking or gardening on the roof ;
– Kurumi, the one who gets most angry at Yuki’s antics and is never seen without her trusty showel ;
– and Miki, who’s technically more junior than Yuki but seems to have a better head on her shoulders.
(They also have a dog whose running around causes much hijinks.)

After a while, you get the feeling that something’s not quite right. Aside of Yuki, none of the School Living Club members seem to go to class. Whole areas of the building are cordoned off, and nobody ever sets foot outside. And there’s the worrying fact that, Yuki aside, the two sets of characters never really interact (although the show does its darnedest to camouflage it).

The twist, which comes to light at the end of the episode, is that the school is in the middle of a zombie apocalypse ; Yuki has snapped and is entirely delusional. None of her classmates or teachers are alive (there’s the striking visual of a half-torn collar on a desk in her classroom), and the other members of the School Living Club are merely indulging her, hoping she doesn’t do anything dangerous in between attending empty classes and talking with non-existent people.

Production Values

Quite good ; there’s certainly a lot of effort put into foreshadowing the twist with background details, before finally pulling the rug and showing the actual state of disrepair for the school.

Points for the misleadingly cheerful OP sequence that does go out of its way to only never actually show other people onscreen with the main four characters, except in Yuki’s solo spots.

Overall Impression

Hmm. I had seen enough promotional material about the show to be mostly spoiled on the premise ; watching the episode was mostly an exercise on spotting the hints and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Even with that additional layer, there’s no escaping that this first episode is rather boring, all told. With the rest of the School Living Club staying mostly in the background (or entirely deadpan, in Miki’s case), it’s up to Yuki to carry the show, and she doesn’t quite have the shoulders for it. It doesn’t help that the twist that makes her at least somewhat interesting is relegated to the last couple of minutes. It’s an entire episode of slow build while nothing really happens (so as to preserve the surprise), and that’s not really thrilling to watch.

Of course, there’s no way the show can keep going like this ; but I have no clue where the balance will fall between brainless slice-of-life (i.e. Yuki’s perspective) and an actual examination of the consequences of the setting, and its emotional baggage. Surely Yuki is going to snap back to reality at some point ? (On the other hand, the manga is still ongoing, so…)

I’m giving it a second episode to see where the chips fall, but there’s a lot of work yet to do in order to transform it into an actual watchable show.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2015 – Page 5

Seraph of the End (Owari no Seraph)

(12 episodes, + the second half this Fall)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a post-apocalyptic manga series featuring vampires as the villains. Which actually doesn’t happen that often these days, so it’s quite refreshing.


For reasons that are left vague on purpose, a good chunk of humanity suddenly died one day. The vampires claim it’s a virus unleashed by humanity themselves ; allow me to take that with a grain of salt. Anyway, children under 13 were immune, so the vampires came in and took in as many kids as they could. Not out of charity, of course ; they’re cattle.

The series follows a group of orphans that were in the same orphanage and considered themselves family, and have been captive for four years ; the oldest are now 12. I’m not even bothering to remember all those names, as this is clearly the kind of series where they’re doomed to nearly all be killed horribly.

Yuichiro, our protagonist, is one of the oldest, and the lone wolf of the group ; he joined last, and has some sort of horrible backstory (why the heck would his mother call him a monster ?). His pathetic attempts to lash out against the vampires are borderline suicidal, and he’s only still alive thanks to…

Mikaela, the other oldest, who’s decided that voluntary offering himself to some noble vampire was the best way to protect his siblings and keep them decently fed. And he was merely buying his time ; today he’s stolen a gun and a map that can lead them outside. They’re all escaping tonight.

Of course it’s a trap, laid by said noble, Lord Ferid. Dude likes to toy with his food, it seems. On the other hand, he’s slightly too cocky ; Mikaela sacrificing himself allows just barely Yuichiro to take him out… but only after he’s killed everyone else. Yuichiro can only escape alone, in an effort to make his family’s death mean something.

Some (human) dude catches him just outside the vampire city, and tells Yuichiro he’s going to make him the ultimate anti-vampire weapon. Sure, bring it on.

Cut to four years later, with our hero all grown up and in nicer clothes, and… why the heck does the next-episode preview show some sort of high-school-like setting ? Please tell me that’s a joke. Or a pre-apocalypse flashback for our new character.

Production Values

Quite nice. Hiroyuki Sawano’s bombastic score is perfectly at home here, especially as he’s adapting himself to better fit the mood.

Overall Impression

Well, subtle this ain’t ; but it’s remarkably effective at setting up the protagonist’s backstory, however predictable the end result may be. That helps smooth over Yuichiro being a bit annoying in those early stages, but only up to a point ; a lot depends on what happens next and how it builds a proper supporting cast.

Still, it bought itself a second episode ; let’s see where it goes from here.

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

The Rolling☆Girls

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

This really feels like saw the weirdness of last year’s KILL la KILL & Zvezda as a challenge : yup, we can top that !

So here’s a post-apocalyptic setting where the Earth’s actually mostly fine now that the upper crust have left, and normal people are cleaning up. Sure, Japan is now a mess of independent prefecture-states, but we’re more at the level of inter-youth gang squabbles than actual war. It looks more like sentai battles than anything else, with champions called “the Best” and squads of underlings called “the Rest”.


Nozomi, our kinda viewpoint character, really wants to join her area’s defense squad… and she’s finally been accepted as a trainee. Not that she’s supposed to go anywhere near where the fighting is happening, but she’s too enthusiastic to care.

Masami, the squad captain, has been the one pulling the brakes ; she’s a close friend of Nozomi’s family and doesn’t want her hurt. Anyway, she’s pretty good at coordinating the local defense with…

Maccha Green, the local Best (on loan from what looks like a bigger organisation). This masked hero wears a super-suite that lets her pull incredible moves, but her chief weapon is obfuscation, abusing sentai mystique to make it look like she can call on Maccha teammates of other colors, as well as on a full-blown mecha (actually a decoy balloon). Oh, who are we kidding, she’s totally Masami, and I’m amazed nobody on her team has noticed. (Or maybe they’re just humouring her.)

Shigyo, the Best from the rival neighbouring area, has challenged Maccha Green in their latest effort to make a move on her territory. She wields an array of bizarre weapons (a giant safety pin ?), and wants to had Maccha Green’s suit to her collection (which doesn’t sound creepy at all). She’s pushed back once, but like all good sentai villain she’s already preparing her next plan. Also, she’s totally made Masami, not that she really cares.

Yukina, a girl from nearby who comes with an urgent message to the squad HQ… and never gets to deliver it, as everyone mistakes her for a new trainee and take her with them on their next mission. Not only does she have a pour presence, but she’s got an even worse sense of direction (three days to cover a few kilometers by bike ?).

There’s also a blonde girl wearing a gas mask hanging around. Normally I’d say such a striking character design marks her as a major character, but the squad members include a dude randomly wearing a lizard head mask, so maybe it’s just a fashion statement.

Production Values

Impressive. This is a very colourful post-apocalypse, as it looks like the rich took all the greys with them. And the fight scenes look incredible, however improbable it is for human beings to pull these moves. (Let’s jump dozens of feet in the air !) There’s always something happening in the background, too.

Overall Impression

I’m not sure I understand yet what’s going on (especially all the stuff with the rival factions), and I’m surely missing most of the context for political satire… but I don’t care. Everything happening on screen is so hilariously bonkers that context doesn’t matter. Seriously, the baddies invite the whole squad to an amusement park, and it’s a trap where they’ve removed the tracks of the rollercoaster ! How can you not love this ?

It helps that the show is brimming with life from all corners. It hints at tons of little side stories that give depth to its background. Maybe they’ll be told, maybe not, and that’s fine. (Also, the advertised synopsis sounds like this is just scene-setting and the Maccha Green/Shigyo feud is merely an appetizer for a bigger story.)

This is so charmingly kooky I can’t help being on board.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Winter 2015 – Page 2.

#07 : Shinzo (Mushrambo)

(32 episodes)

What’s it about ?

As far as I can tell, this is series is very loosely adapted from Journey to the West, but shifted to a post-apocalyptic futuristic setting, with maximum toyetic flavour.


Yakumo, our female protagonist, is one of the few humans left alive. She woke up in a deserted lab one day, with the advice to go west (of course) to the mythical land of Shinzo (where there may or may not be other humans). Her main characterization point is that she’s absurdly respectful of live, despite most of the anthropomorphic animals around trying to kill her. But Killing Is BAD, and she’s sticking to that rule.

Mushra, a beastboy that totally didn’t try to swindle the locals and got hung to dry for it, honest ! He was totally framed ! She rescues him because that’s what she does, and he sticks around as a bodyguard in gratitude (while a bit baffled by her no-killing stance). His “Hyper-Mode”, which can transform him into a red-armoured humanoid, should be quite useful for that.

Kutal, a catman who offers to guide them through a shortcut that’s totally not a trap so that he can eat the tasty human. It backfires horribly, but somehow Yakumo still trusts him to accompany them after that.

There’s a blue-armoured guy hanging around the fringes of the plot and occasionally lending a helping hand.

Our Mook of the Week is a mantis-like bounty hunter who can (sigh) shift into Hyper Mode by eating a card. As you do.

Production Values

Okay-ish as far as saturday-morning cartoons go, but the characters designs are really dull and uninspired. And then there’s… well, read below.

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. This is one of the few shows in this project where I could only locate a copy of the American dub. Unfortunately, it seems to be a case where the localization was a complete hatchet job : both literally (as it looks like the first two original episodes got fused into one), and on every other level. The plot gets put through the wringer : Yakumo’s origin story, presumably the meat of the pilot, gets reduced to a 30-second opening narration. We can’t just have a girl getting the lion’s share of screentime through half an episode, after all ! Ah ah, no, we must instead open with Mushra’s predicament, whatever havoc that wreaks on the world-building.

I’m not saying the original show was a masterpiece either ; it was clearly already quite uninspired and toyetic as heck. I would have gotten bored either way. Still, this kind of massacre is infuriating whatever it happens to.

Obviously, there’s no point in watching any more of this.

Source: [In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000 – Page 2


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Gen Urobuchi writing more mecha anime !

And wow, this is a convoluted premise. It’s an alternate universe where the Appolo program went on to attempts to colonize Mars… Except they found “the Vers Empire” already there, remains of an old civilization with advanced technology ; they did not take kindly to the intruders. 15 years ago the conflict escalated to the Moon being partly destroyed (wreaking havoc on the surface), with Vers breaking their Hyper Gate (which allowed fast space travel) in exchange. It’s been a ceasefire by default since then.


Asseylum, the Vers princess, is an young idealist. Despite the objections of nearly everyone else in power in the empire, she’s decided to go on a diplomatic visit to Earth to try and broker peace. There are a lot of people in Vers who want her to fail, and for some Earth extremists to try something against her.

Slaine is an Earth-born orphan whom Asseylum rescued a few years ago and made her servant/friend/confident. Everyone else hates him, and she didn’t have enough pull to bring him with her. Basically, his life sucks.

Most of the episode is from the point of view of Inaho, an ordinary Japanese highschool student, and his circle of friends. While he’s about as blasé as them about the world’s terrible situation, at least he still pays attention to his surroundings. Also, “ordinary” highschool students now have to participate in drills, piloting mecha in preparation for the rebuilding of Earth’s armies after it got crippled.

Yuki (Inaho’s older sister) and Lt Marito are the soldiers supervising their training. Marito has turned to booze because of their task’s pointlessness. Not because it’s peacetime, but because he has no doubt Vers outclass anything Earth could drum up. He was on the frontlines back then, he knows the score.

There’s a bunch of Mysterious Terrorists who fire tons of missiles at Asseylum’s limo just as she’s passing by Inaho and his friends. And if you believe she’s truly dead, I have a bridge I can sell you.

Vers take the bait, though, and start attacking Earth, doing things like obliterating Manhattan. They don’t even have a cohesive plan of attack : the many houses of the Empire are competing for who gets to “win” first. It looks like they’re going to have more trouble with infighting than with Earth’s pitiful defenses.

Production Values

Fairly nice.

Overall Impression

Wow, exposition overload ! Sure, the premise’s not exactly simple, but boy is there a lot of information to pay attention to on display here. We get every infodump cliché in the book, from TV and radio broadcasts to the students studying their history course. I hope this was just a hurdle the first episode had to pass, and that we’re going to get more time for the characters from now on ; they had very little room to breathe here.

What the show does well, though, are the big action sequences, from the attack against the limo to the Vers attacking. That’s some very impactful massive damage, indeed. On the spectacle front, this doesn’t disappoint. I just hope there’s going to be enough substance to justify it.

Still, I’m hooked, unless the second episode turns out to be a massive disaster.

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

Black Bullet

(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a light novel set in a semi-apocalyptic future where super-powered teenagers are the main defense against a virus that transforms people into monsters.


Rentaro, our male lead. A badass fighter, his guns are loaded with bullets made of the rare metal that harms monsters. (Hence the title. How can he afford these ?) He’s part of one of the many small private companies that sell their anti-monster service to the authorities (who are otherwise complete redshirts).

Enju, his partner, looks 10 at best. The idea here is that she’s one of the “cursed children”, who got partially infected by the virus but resisted it enough (thanks to a heavy drug administration) that they can live a relatively normal life, and then more : they’ve got super-strength and are able to destroy the monsters at hand-to-hand combat. Aside from that, she’s an annoying brat with a crush on Rentaro.

Kisara, the head of the company, and his obvious love interest. Have I mentioned yet they’re both still attending high school ? (This is a very relaxed apocalypse indeed.)

The cast is rounded out by a creepy professor doing lab work in the basement. I don’t want to know what she’s cooking.

Oh, and then there’s Mysterious Masked Dude, who lurks around being ominously amoral.

Production Values

This is an action show, and the fights have some good animation indeed.

Overall Impression

This is quite competent on a scene-by-scene basis, but as a whole it doesn’t quite click for me. Is is the bizarre juxtaposition of the horror-style virus apocalypse and the mundane lifestyle of the protagonists ? Some of the characters being very annoying ? The clumsy exposition that’s often completely out of place ?

It hasn’t managed to make me care about these people. I’m not giving it another episode to change my mind.

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