Dream (Level 21)

Terror in Resonance review is now up. Guess it's a waiting game now until Fall titles start up next week.
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Those of you expecting me to completely rip apart Upotte like I’ve done for my prior reviews will be surprised to know that I didn’t find it to be as horrible as what some folks may have made it out to be from its premise, though it is still obvious otaku bait. Baring this in mind, I am slightly tweaking my review format for this review to reflect more on my thoughts of the pros and cons of this series. I may adopt the format if I run into another issue like this for future reviews where I run into titles not as horrifically bad as I’ve heard of them to be!

Upotte!! is a 10-episode action-comedy ONA series animated by Xebec and had episodes released from April 8 to June 9 of this year. The series is an adaptation of the ongoing manga series written by Kitsune Tennouji for Young Ace, Shonen Ace and 4-Koma Nano Ace magazines since 2009. The series was licensed earlier in the year by Sentai Filmworks, who have yet to announce when they plan to release the series on DVD and/ or Blu-Ray format.

 

 Yes, she's cute. But she isn't what you think she is!
 Yes, she's cute. But she isn't what you think she is!

The Plot

A young teacher takes a job at Seishou Academy where he is the only human amongst anthropomorphized guns in human form. The students at the school are trained into becoming useful weapons and divided up into different classes depending on how they were made such as submachine guns (elementary school), assault rifles (middle school) and battle/ sniper rifles (high school). The new teacher finds himself being the homeroom teacher for a class of assault rifles and becoming acquainted with an assault rifle named Funco and her group of friends.

 

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Funco- The main heroine of the series in the form of a small, energetic girl who supplies the punch lines for her friends when they play dumb. Being a Belgian FN FNC assault rifle, she does wear a thong due to having a skeleton stock and will often lash out angrily at the slightest mention of it from her teacher. 
  • Ichiroku- The energetic best friend of Funco who is foul mouthed, yet kind, and talks with an Osaka dialect. She normally models for gun magazines and requires frequent maintenance due to the delicate build of the rifle she is based on, the American M16A4 assault rifle.
  • Elle- A shy and clumsy girl among Funco’s group of friends who is Ichirou’s roommate at Seishou. She is seen as unreliable and is a British L85A1 assault rifle.
  • Sig- The honor student among Funco’s group of friends. An excellent marksman at mid-to-long range and capable of surviving in frozen temperatures, Sig is a Swiss SG 550 assault rifle.
  • Modern Literature Teacher- The unnamed new teacher at Seishou who becomes the homeroom teacher of Funco’s class. While he does care for Funco, his misunderstandings about the girl’s nature often lead him to get fired upon by Funco.

 

What Works

 All the specs you need on Elle.
 All the specs you need on Elle.

For a series clearly geared for the otaku crowd, the premise for Upotte is an original one if one is able to look past the seemingly creepy implications of the “gun girl” gimmick. The quirks among some of the girls are influenced by the real-life firearms that they are an anthropomorphized form of and a number of the show’s comedic gags and innuendo jokes are gags that could be followed by anyone with heavy knowledge of firearms. The anime often takes some time to go into depth on elaborating on the history and specs of many of the firearms introduced throughout the series.

Also for an otaku pandering show, many of Upotte’s elements were tolerable for the most part for me to watch through. Many of the characters don’t get overly obnoxious with their personality quirks and the ecchi content to the series is tame for the most part compared to gross-out and excess ecchi titles like Seikon no Qwaser or Kiss x Sis as much of Upotte’s content is mostly panty shots, bath scenes, clothes changing and the occasional innuendo joke.

 

What Sucks

Looking past Upotte’s “gun girl” gimmick, the series is still mostly a pretty typical high school gal pals comedy in the vain of recent titles like A Channel and Tamayura: Hitotose. Many of the girls follow the typical character archetypes you can find of such titles, which would be a major turn off of folks tiring of the excess number of titles using this setup.

Later episodes of the series also have their occasional moments of slipping up with their quality. A later 3-episode arc of the series introduces the character Sako, whose typical psychotic personality and some of her creepy actions (like masturbating during a gunfight) were quite the turn-off for me. The anime also tosses in a few characters seemingly to only be comic relief with their girl crushes on major members of the anime cast and mess with the viewer’s perceptions on their sexuality, a gag which has already been done to death enough in past moe slice-of-life comedies.

 Sako being her creepy, psychotic self.
 Sako being her creepy, psychotic self.

The weakest of the series for me came in Upotte’s final two episodes when it tries to make itself more serious when the Seishou gun girls get in a conflict with another group of gun girls. Other than this mood change being way out of place with the mood setup in the show’s earlier episodes, the enemy faction gets very little depth, the conflict was clearly rushed through, there is a cop-out resolution to a major event that occurs during the conflict and it gets left open-ended.

 

Overall

I just don’t see where folks consider Upotte to be horrifically bad. While the anime is still otaku bait, much of its ecchi content is rather light and its sloppy moments of writing are nowhere as horrifically bad as past duds I’ve seen like Garzey’s Wing and Harlock Saga. Looking past its “gun girl” gimmick, Upotte is just an average and clichéd title that I imagine would become forgettable for many folks in the next couple years since it doesn’t have much else that sticks out beyond its gimmick.

 

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Garzey’s Wing was a three-episode OVA series directed by acclaimed director of the Gundam franchise, Yoshiyuki Tomino, and animated by JC Staff. The series was released in in 1996 and 1997. Central Park Media would pick up licensing rights to Garzey’s Wing and release it on VHS and DVD in in 2000 and later issue a re-release of the series on DVD in 2005. While Central Park Media has been out of business for years now, Garzey’s Wing is still available in stock on major retail sites like Amazon and Rightstuf. 

      Our nude hero and wings from a giant duck, the start of the mess known as Garzey's Wing!
      Our nude hero and wings from a giant duck, the start of the mess known as Garzey's Wing!

The Premise 

Chris Chiaki is a college ronin who has half of his soul transferred to the parallel world of Byston Well. Here, Chris gains the power of Garzey’s Wing, magical wings that grant him the ability to fly and run quickly. In Byston Well, Chris is chosen to lead a rebellion of slaves from the Metomeus tribe for their freedom against the Ashigaba armies from the city of .

Notable Characters (from left to right)

 
  • Chris Chiaki- A college ronin who has half of his soul whisked to the world of Byston Well. With the other half of Chris’ body still on Earth, both are able to communicate telepathically with one another between worlds via the necklace they both have around their necks and share knowledge and pain that the other half experiences between the worlds they are in.   
  • Falan Fa- A fairy who accompanies Chris on his struggles in Byston Well and provides him with advice as he adjusts to his surroundings.    
  • Hassan- A Metomeus priestess who was responsible for summoning Chris to Byston Well.   
  • Leelince- A female warrior among the Metomeus who serves as another leader of the tribe and is jealous of the relationship between Chris and Hassan. 
  • Rumiko- Chris’ close friend on Earth who helps support him while the other half of his soul is in Byston Well.
 

Why It Sucks

Garzey’s Wing is one of anime’s most infamous messes in terms of properly laying out a cohesive plot and fleshing out its relevant elements, and for good reason.

The first five minutes of this dud sloppily set up the premise for the series at a breakneck pace and it is quite difficult to follow what goes on within that time. At first, this had me under the impression that Garzey’s Wing was some sort of compilation OVA for any ongoing source material made at the time like a manga or novel, until I researched and realized this was, regrettably, an original work which showed Yoshiyuki Tomino at his worst with directing.          

     One of many moments of Falan giving Chris a lecture with her obnoxious voice. 
     One of many moments of Falan giving Chris a lecture with her obnoxious voice. 


Even when the pace of the OVA settles down afterward, it still flows by at a very fast pace, enough where there is little time for any fleshing out of the title’s major elements and characters thanks to more focus being on the advancement of the plot. Garzey’s Wing is so ignorant of having time to flesh out its premise that it makes major elements of its premise such as the link between both of the Chris’s incoherent and jarring to follow thanks to the lack of time the series devotes in fleshing itself out. This was a series that would have been better executed if made into a TV anime, considering it was attempting to set itself up as an epic-scale medieval/ fantasy action anime in the style of 90s titles like Record of Lodoss War and Berserk.

The English dub to Garzey’s Wing is also worth mention in enhancing how horrifically bad it is. The script used for the dub was a literal translation of the original Japanese script to the point where it made a good number of the spoken lines from English voice actors sound awkward, unnatural and at times, laughable. Also, there was clearly little effort put by the voice actors in expressing their characters as they hardly emoted and delivered their lines rather flatly.

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Gyo is an animated adaptation of the horror manga series created by Junji Ito for Big Comic Spirits magazine from 2001 to 2002. The anime adaptation is a 70-plus minute OVA adaptation animated by Ufotable and released on February 15, 2012.

      A literal case of "when sharks attack".
      A literal case of "when sharks attack".

The Premise

Okinawa becomes manifested with a stench of death coming from fish walking on mechanical legs that are leaving the ocean and headed into the cities. A young woman named Kaori tries to find out the whereabouts of her boyfriend Tadashi when the city of Tokyo gets hit by a swarm of the walking fish. 


Notable Characters (from left to right)     


   

-Kaori Sawahara- The female lead of the OVA who was on a trip with her two friends, Aki and Erika, before the walking fish pandemic occurs. She returns to Tokyo to find her boyfriend Tadashi after learning that the walking fish have swarmed into the city.

-Tsuyoshi Shirakawa- A cameraman/ reporter who accompanies Kaori around as he investigates the walking fish pandemic.

-Tadashi- Kaori’s boyfriend in Tokyo  whom Kaori loses contact with when a swarm of walking fish hit the city.

-Erika- One of Kaori’s friends. A promiscuous girl who likes using her body to get the attention of men.

-Aki- The second of Kaori’s friends. An overweight girl insecure with her appearance and jealous of the attention that Kaori and Erika get from guys. 


Why It Sucks

Gyo is comparable to bad American horror films in the fact that both rely on grotesque violence and content to shock its viewers at the expense of quality plotting and setting up genuinely suspenseful moments to horrify viewers.

While a well-animated work compliments of Ufotable, Gyo only cobbles by with its plot thanks to the grotesque moments involving the walking fish and the effects that the  mysterious stench they emit have on humans. The violent ways in which people get killed off and what happens with the corpses have no real purpose at all in Gyo’s story besides trying to gross out its audience. The OVA doesn’t even bother to explore what the cause of the walking fish are until late in the second half. Even then, it still felt cobbled together due to the lack of foreshadowing over the nature of the fish and the stench they emit.  

      Just what we need, naughty tentacles.
      Just what we need, naughty tentacles.

 

 Adding to the absurdity of Gyo’s plotting, the OVA tosses in failed moments of twisted black humor towards the ending of the series featuring Tadashi’s father and a circus full of twisted performers. The failure with these moments is that they are quite out of place with the horror that Gyo was trying to build up on with its grotesque developments involving Tokyo’s human populace.

The characters in Gyo are not much better off either as they are hardly fleshed-out and are limited in personality to a great extent, limiting how much one can feel for their problems. This means one could care less about Kaori’s problems finding her boyfriend as she is regularly seen worried and angsting over his well-being throughout the rest of the OVA when she arrives in Tokyo.

Speaking of characters, Erika and Aki are perhaps the worst characters within the OVA, considering the former is pretty much a slut making use of her looks to have her way with men (with one instance of her having a threesome with two guys) and the latter being so insecure of her looks that she bad mouths both her so-called friends when left all alone to deal with the mentioned threesome by Kaori. Besides making you wonder how Kaori could be friends with such horrible characters, Erika and Aki are a waste of screen time in the movie as they contribute nothing to advance the movie’s plot and are only around to showcase how they either get killed off or get affected by the walking fish.

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Before I start this review, I want to give thanks to Wraith for pointing out some relevant information for me during voting revolving around the premise for Sleeping with Hinako. Otherwise, here we go with this quick review. 

Isshoni Sleeping: Sleeping with Hinako is the second of a series of three OAV titles released by Primastea on February 11, 2010 that involve an otaku pandering premise revolving around its titular female character, Hinako.

      This is all you see for much of the first half if you got a fansub!
      This is all you see for much of the first half if you got a fansub!

The Plot

Hinako is back to teach you, the viewer, how to sleep! Seriously, this is all there is for the premise.

Notable Character

 

 Hinako- A former hikikomori who turns into a busty and attractive anime character. This motivates her into wanting to encourage otaku to get into shape. She loves exercising, bathing and sleeping; as well as dressing in lingerie and school gym outfits. 

 

  

  

 

Why It Sucks

Sleeping with Hinako is another of many anime titles made in the 2009-2010 period whose sole purpose of existence is only to pander to the otaku crowd.

This OAV is notable in the fact that you can actually program the DVD or Blu-Ray disc of it (if you actually have it instead of a fansub) to let you sleep for 6 or 8 hour intervals and adjust it accordingly depending on one’s sleeping habits. The disc then randomizes different animated footage from the disc accordingly to create the illusion of Hinako  sleeping along with you and it would then wake you up via alarm once the amount of time set is up.

    
   One of many obligatory ass shots as Hinako sleeps.   
   One of many obligatory ass shots as Hinako sleeps.   

Sleeping with Hinako features the typical elements you would find in an otaku pandering work with Hinako being your cute, naïve and well-endowed gal who you regularly get to see enough boob and panty shots with throughout the title. With the gimmick offered through this OAV, there is hardly any type of plot to be found in it, outside of Hinako’s occasional interactions with the viewer. The anime quite often reuses animated frames to go along with the different shots that are randomized when set up for sleep.

If you did wind up getting the fansub for Sleeping with Hinako, then it makes watching the OAV rather boring as much of the first half of it only features different shots of a sleeping Hinako that would be cycled through on disc releases of it, followed by the title’s “special events” and three different endings.

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Seikon no Qwaser was an ecchi comedy/ fantasy/ adventure series animated by Hoods Entertainment that aired for 24 episodes from January 9 to June 19 of 2010. The anime is based on the ongoing shounen manga series written by Hiroyuki Yoshino and illustrated by Kenetsu Sato for Champion Red magazine. It was edited for TV broadcast during its original TV airing and was shown uncensored via webcast on AnimeOne. The anime was recently licensed for American video distribution and digital release by Sentai Filmworks, who plan to release the series later this year. 

 
      One of Seikon no Qwaser's many overemphasized moments on boobs.
      One of Seikon no Qwaser's many overemphasized moments on boobs.

The Plot:

At the private Eastern Orthodox school known as St. Mihailov Academy, high school student Mafuyu Oribe encounters a young Russian boy named Aleksander “Sasha” Nikolaevich Hell who possesses the unique ability to manipulate the element of iron. He is one of many superpowered beings called Qwasers who have the ability to manipulate a different element and rely on sucking on the breast milk of girls to replenish their powers. Sasha is in conflict with a group of powerful Qwasers called the Adepts who have sinister plans that revolve around the St. Mihailov campus.

Notable Characters (from left to right): 

    
    

            

         
 

  

  

  

  

-Alexander “Sasha” Nikolaevich Hell- A young Russian Qwaser with the ability to manipulate iron. He has journeyed to Japan to seek revenge on the Adepts who killed his former caretaker, Olja, as a child and struggles in bonding with others while living as a student at St. Mihailov.

-Mafuyu Oribe-  A St. Mihailov student who was the adopted daughter of the academy’s last dean and puts up with bullying from classmates. She becomes involved in Sasha’s fights against the Adepts throughout the series.

-Ekaterina “Katja” Kurae- Another young Qwaser with the ability to manipulate copper through a large puppet she controls called “Mama”. A sharp-tongued girl who normally dresses in gothic lolita attire, takes on the guise of an innocent girl while around others in public and has interest in sadomasochistic acts which she normally performs on her willing partner, Hana Katsuragi.

-Teresa Beria- A Serbian Orthodox nun who accompanies Sasha on his journey to Japan who normally serves as the boy’s source of replenishment for his Qwaser powers.

-Tomo Yamanobe- The well-endowed, weak and naïve best friend and roommate of Mafuyu. 

 

Why It Sucks:

Seikon no Qwaser was part of an ongoing trend of ecchi anime in 2010 that developed some kind of perverted fetish to hook in its horny otaku fanbase, this being the consumption of breast milk that serves as a Qwaser’s source of replenishment of their powers.

 
     Sorry Sasha, but not even your badassery can save this turd.
     Sorry Sasha, but not even your badassery can save this turd.
 Large boobs, breast sucking and lactating are pretty much the norm in this series thanks to its premise, alongside other perverted content as essentially every character in this series is either a rapist, sadomasochist, sociopath, victim, someone who has it coming or someone who has no control over themselves. The anime tries to pass itself off as a serious title on many occasions throughout its run thanks to Sasha’s conflict with the Adepts and a number of the characters having tragic pasts. But because of its breast milk gimmick being a prominent part of the series, serious moments such as battle scenes and character development come across as creepy, awkward and uncomfortable thanks to the sight of breast sucking, nudity and other perverted antics you may come across during such moments.   
     

 Looking past Seikon no Qwaser’s perverted content, the anime is essentially nothing more than a clichéd plot with character archetypes you likely would have seen done to death from other conventional anime titles. The protagonists and school students seen throughout the series are a hodge-podge of characters seen from high school comedy/ fan service titles like the sharp-tongued loli, the shy gal, the ojou, the ditz and the tomboy. The villains are nothing more than either mooks who inevitably will get killed off or self-centered baddies who think they are better than everyone else and desire world domination of some sort, no different from any baddie you find from a long-running shounen action anime or manga.

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