DRAMAtical Murder

(12ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of visual novel which seems to have some explicit boys’ love content. I’d kinda guessed from all the pretty boys in the main cast.


Aoba, our protagonist, works in a junk store called “Mediocrity”, which immediately sets the tone. Er, let me rephrase that, as this just sounds too mean in retrospect. It sets a relatively playful tone, really. Aobo’s relatively well-adjusted right now, although he does have tragic flashbacks of being called a girl because he had (and still has) long blue hair. Er, yeah.

A big thing in this setting is the AI helpers everyone has with them ; Aoba’s is called Ren, and takes the form of a black cat. (It’s a popular new model ; some other people have them as different kinds of animals.) Those are really nifty, and the world as a whole has tons of augmented reality.

Aoba’s got many handsome friends (or “friends”). The hairstyler who’s a bit too touch-happy is instantly memorable. The gang leader who stops some hoodlums from attacking him is okay. After that, they grow progressively more forgettable.

Nobody gets murdered here, nor is there any sign of such a thing being about to happen. The worse that happens is a racketting attempt, and the cops shutting down a rave party.

Production Values

Actually quite nice ; there are tons of interesting visual ideas that contribute to the world-building and make this very fun to look at. The techno beat permeating the whole soundtrack’s quite fun too. The character designs are ridiculous, but they kinda fit in this highly-modded world.

Overall Impression

I feel a bit cheated. For some reason, I expected the start of a murder mystery ; but nothing of the sort seems in the offing, and instead the main character ends up challenged into some crappy AR fighting game at the end. This might work as a visual novel ; here, it feels like all the world building is being swept off down the drain.

By the end of the episode, I had lost all interest. Nice try, though.

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

Bakumatsu Rock

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

What. The. Heck. Is. This. Thing.

Okay, let’s start with facts. This adapts a PSP rhythm game. It’s nominally set in the Bakumatsu era (mid-19th century, at the transition between Edo & Meiji), but in practice it’s a gleeful anachronism stew. The plot involves the EVIL government enforcing a monopoly on music (only a few selected musicians/idols can play, and only the totally insipid J-Pop-ish “Heaven’s Song” repertoire), and a ragtag bunch of handsome rebels fighting back with the power of ROCK (also insipid J-Pop).


Ryouma is our red-headed, pointy-haired protagonist. He’s a moron who can barely scrape a living thanks to the generousity of a couple of friends (who do have proper jobs). Nobody cares about his “music”. He somehow was gifted a guitar by a mysterious “master”, and raising enough fuss in his inept attempts at gathering an audience that the authorities are starting to take notice. And because he’s the hero, his music gives him glamour superpowers at the end of the episodes, just in time for the insert song.

“Cindy” (who resents the girly nickname) and “Doc” (who can build stuff like samurai-detectors) are two disciples of the same mysterious master who are investigating the bozo wandering around cluelessly with their master’s guitar. Cue the usual misunderstandings, until Ryouma’s “charm” eventually wins them over.

The authorities are also handsome dudes, because of course they are. While the top echelons are obviously EVIL, several of the rank and file look well on their way to changing sides – they certainly seem to like this new ROCK thing.

There are some female characters around. Aside from that one friendly restaurant owner (who’s voiced by a guy), they’re all idiots, easily fooled by the government’s scheme.

Production Values

Together with Free!, this makes Wednesdays “fanservice for women” day, because there are sure a lot of handsome dudes on display here. And despite having way less excuses for taking their shirts off all the time, they do show off their abs a lot.

This is a shiny and day-glo production, because of course idols. I’m a bit wary about the CG animation for the song numbers ; not because it looks bad, but because the director is resorting to many editing tricks to use as little of it as possible, often using static shots instead. Are we already having budget problems ?

Overall Impression

Well, this is certainly a thing. It’s obviously a joke, and to its credit it commits all the way to it. The problem is that it’s more baffling than actually funny. It certainly isn’t helped by charisma-depleted main characters, and music that’s just bland J-Pop. And I’m certainly not part of the core audience.

As a rhythm game, I can see this being quite fun. As a full-blown anime series, it’s just a bit tedious. One episode was way enough for me.

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

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.

Blade & Soul

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a fantasy Korean MMORPG.


Alka, our taciturn protagonist. A member of the Blade clan, she’s on the run for allegedly having killed her master. She doesn’t spend much energy denying it. Impressively badass with knives.

The Whatever Empire are obviously the baddies here, bullying everyone one else under a thin layer of legality, and hunting our heroine down. Unexpectedly for this kind of setting, their goons got guns, which gives them an unfair advantage. Well, except against Alka, as she can cut bullets down. Some of their female leaders are obviously Important, but don’t get much definition yet. Also, their most elite members can wield some magic.

Morii became the teenage leader of a small backwards village after her father died. The villagers are supportive, but what can they do against the might of the Empire wanting to “buy” their lands ? Well, they can hire a passing Alka, but that backfires tremendously, as the Empire sends a disproportionate force to take her down once they notice she’s there. Nearly everyone dies. Oops.

A decent amount of screentime is spent on a bar-owner, and her one customer who looks interested in taking the bounty on Alka’s head, so presumably they’ll show up again.

Production Values

Well, there’s quite some budget behind this, from the scenery porn to the lavish animation. I don’t feel like the general aesthetics quite come together, though ; that may be from the busy and showing-too-much-flesh character designs. Also, this is quite a bloody and violent show, although not to the point of being unbearable.

Overall Impression

Hey, an heroic-fantasy show that doesn’t suck ! But that’s not enough to make it much good, though : it feels very soulless and by-the-numbers. I mean, it’s hard to make it any more cliché than a burnt down starting village, eh ? None of the characters get to display much personality, and nearly all the villagers who do, die horribly without any chance to defend themselves.

The bottom line : this show didn’t manage to make me care about what happens next. I’ll pass, thank you.

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

BlazBlue: Alter Memory

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Fighting game adaptation.


Ragna the Bloodedge is probably our protagonist. He’s a grim guy with an enormous sword who fights people like him. There’s every indication he’s been at it for a while, killing the same people repeatedly in an unbreakable cycle. There’s a bounty on him.

Noel Vermillion is part of the police force or whatever who are tasked with hunting him down. Her boss has actually instructed her to stay out of it while he does the actual footwork ; since he takes a bloody beating over the course of the episode, she feels free to take over the investigation.

There’s a green-haired guy who seems to take great delight in watching all this happen, and manipulating people. Sometimes he floats upside down.

Production Values

You know a show has run out of money when the OP sequence clumsily recycles many shots from the action prologue you’ve just watched. The ED sequence is barely animated at all, but at least it’s a bit stylish. Which is more than you can say about the rest of the show, which looks like shit.

Overall Impression

Excuse me if I fail to summon any enthusiasm describing this crap. It’s hard to give a toss about a token plot that’s just an excuse to show some fights… which aren’t worth your time watching them anyway.

I barely could withstand an episode of this ; no way I stick with it.

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

Hyperdimension Neptunia – The Animation (Choujigen Game Neptune: The Animation)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

An adaptation of a action-RPG game franchise that’s very loosely based on the Console Wars. The setting (“Gamindustri”) is divided into four countries : Lastation, Lowee, Leanbox, and “Neptunia”, which doesn’t seemed to be based on any real console.


Neptune, the ruling goddess of Neptunia, starts off the series by proclaiming a cease-fire with the three other nations in a grandiose ceremony. But it turns out this aura of dignity is just a façade for the masses ; in truth she’s a lazy bum who didn’t even write her own speech. Since she just plays around all day without doing much, her popularity is declining, which is Bad News for Neptunia. So she goes off on a training trip to get a bit better at her job.

There’s a bunch of supporting characters around her, most prominently her younger sister Nepgear, who’s a bit more responsible but not much more competent (mostly due to her much lower power levels). The others probably had more personality and purpose in the games ; here they’re just nagging on Neptune to take her job more seriously.

Noire, the goddess of Lastation, is very tsundere indeed : she accepts to help training Neptune but staying verbally abusive throughout. Not that Neptune doesn’t deserve it, but Noire’s treatment of her own little sister Uni is a bit more questionable.

The other two goddesses, Blanc (for Lowee) and Vert (for Leanbox) don’t get much screentime yet, with Blanc mostly showing up to make it clear she’s a workaholic who neglects her little sisters.

There are some vaguely nefarious people who show up towards the end in shadows to make some ominous comments.

Production Values

Colourful and utterly generic. This fantasy world doesn’t feel like a real, lived-in place at all.

Also, there’s some horribly contrived fanservice in some places, and those transformations sequences don’t help.

Overall Impression

Terrible on every level. Every single character is annoying, with the token attempts at depth for Neptune & Noire falling flat. The plot is indigent, and barely uses the “console wars” premise at all. (A quick glance through descriptions of the original games shows that those sounded slightly more interesting. But not much.) Nothing of any interest happens. The “transformation” gimmick is just baffling.

Maybe the games are fun to play ; this certainly isn’t fun to watch.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2013 – Page 10.

Zettai Bouei Leviathan

(13-ish episodes ?)

What’s it about ?

Heroic-fantasy with cute girls.


Leviathan, who’s probably supposed to be the protagonist given that her name is in the title, but doesn’t really do much. Water magic caster. Slightly awkward and bumbling. She has one objective : finding out what happened to her brother. Which means that she’s “investigating” places like the local tavern and that she’s not leaving her hometown.

Syrup, a small fairy who is trying to gather a force to tackle the demonic invasion that supposedly hitched a ride on a recently-crashed meteor, but is completely failing to convince anyone to join. (Nobody seems to believe or care about this invasion, although the local sheriff is quietly sending a small taskforce to investigate.) It doesn’t help that she runs off her mouth a bit too much.

Bahamut, fire magic user with a temper. Has the uncanny ability to stir trouble up wherever she goes.

Jormungandr, who seems to use actual weapons instead of magic. Usually quiet, but do not provoke her.

All of them didn’t know each other and meet in the aforementioned tavern ; predictably, it doesn’t survive the episode… Oh, wait, they actually all met in an earlier scene where they fought a level 1 alien mook and then all walked off without a word for each other.

Production Values

I was bracing myself for a fanservice-fest, but this is actually quite mild. Skimpy outfits, sure, gratuitous transformation sequences, of course, but the camera is surprisingly restrained.

Not that it looks very good : it’s very generic character designs, with elvish ears added to everyone.

Overall Impression

Welcome to the void, where shallow characters in a paint-by-number heroic-fantasy setting steadfastly refuse to engage into anything resembling a plot. This is just incredibly boring on every level.

Don’t bother wasting your time on this one.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2013 – Page 7.


(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Demons start appearing in downtown Tokyo. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.

Adapted from a DS strategy-RPG. From what I gather, the various games in the “Devil Survivor” series are mostly unrelated plotwise (much like the “Persona” games), which is why adapting the second game makes any sense.


Hibiki, our protagonist. He’s the cold, emotionally-detached type, and very good at processing the plot. Which comes really handy here.

Daichi, his wacky best pal. He hooks them up on a bizarre cellphone app that predicts their imminent death in the very subway station they are currently in… but offers them a second chance at life. They just have to fight off some demons with whatever their phone app can summon.

Nitta, a random girl in the same high school that Daichi is a bit infatuated with, happens to be in the same place at the same time, and also got the app. She’s a bit damsel-in-distress-y so far.

Emergency services have no idea what the heck. Fortunately, the Meteorology Agency (no, seriously) quickly take over the scene, having predicted the whole thing for thousands of years. They’re especially impressed by the super-demon Hibiki can somehow summon.

Hovering on the fringes of the plot, there’s a white-haired pretty boy ™ who looks very interested in the whole thing.

Production Values

Decent, I guess ? It looks very generic, though, and the very basic designs for those first few demons don’t help. The ED sequence rocks, though.

Overall Impression

I am not impressed. The obvious comparison point is Persona 4, what with being adapted from a game from the same company, and having the same director. And however flawed that one was, this is noticeably worse. It just lacks spark ; the plot is nothing new and really piles on the clichés, the dialogue isn’t much good, and the atmosphere doesn’t work.

Unless you’re a fan of the games, I have trouble recommending this one.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2013 – Page 3.

Senran Kagura

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

A modern-day school of ninja. Also, boobies.

(Adapted from some fighting game.)


Asuka, our feather-brained protagonist. She’s coming back to the school after some training and “exam” away (which she narrowly passed). Presumably there’s a reason for her being the focus of the show despite being overshadowed by all of her classmates, but it’s not apparent yet.

Said classmates include the serious one, the pervy one, the deadpan-one-with-an-eyepatch, and the childlike one. All girls, obviously : the only major male character in sight is their old teacher, who tends to abuse smoke bombs a bit too much. (In a rare bit of equal-opportunity fanservice, he gets to eat suggestively one of those cylindrical cucumber things like everyone else.)

Homura, a random girl from another school that Asuka makes friends with. OR IS SHE ? (Come on, she’s so obviously evil it takes all of Asuka’s density not to see the obvious assassination attempt.)

The plot of the week involves a random assignment to subdue some delinquents, which turns out to be a trap by Homura’s schoolmates. Not that any of our girls is perceptive enough to notice them, though.

Production Values

Very fanservice-heavy, from the pervert camera to the what-were-they-thinking costumes to the that-must-be-causing-some-back-pain mensurations. If you’re willing to overlook that, the fight scenes are actually quite nicely done, dynamic and never confusing.

Overall Impression

Oh, look : crap. It’s far from the worse of its ilk (the tone is quite pleasant and fun), but there’s just nothing of any interest there. The characters are one-dimensional and terminally dumb, while the plot is beyond generic and an obvious excuse for action sequences.

Don’t bother with this one.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 4.

Aikatsu (“Idol Activities”)

What’s it about ?

Young hopefuls attending an academy for idols.


Ichigo, our protagonist. She has never really cared about idols until now, which is a convenient excuse for tons of exposition about it from her younger brother and her best friend, who are totally into it.

Aoi, said best friend, who applies to the idol academy. And since the entrance exams are apparently similar to normal ones, so can Ichigo ! Sure, why not ?

Mitsuki, the current top idol and public face of the academy. Not much personality yet behind the smiling façade.

The OP & ED prominently feature a third major character, who for the moment seems to be content to look snidely are our naive heroes from the shadows. The rival, then.

Production Values

Bright and colourful. The choregraphy sequences follow the current trend of being entirely CG, which produces impeccable but slighltly soulless animation.

There must be some sort of card-game tie-in, as such cards are prominently featured as the way to become a good idol.

What did I think of it ?

This is a perfectly decent package ; the toyetic tie-ins are obvious but not too obnoxious, the characters are generic but functional enough, it moves along at a brisk pace, and it certainly looks good.

The problem is, that, well, it’s quite bland, and I just have no wish to watch such a show without a spark making it special. I’m just not the in target market, and so it falls flat for me.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2012 – Page 10.