It’s a lovely Friday and it’s time for my wonderful rendition of is this good. Today I review horror anime, Another, a recent and rather strangely big stir within the anime community and from what I hear has made it the butt of many pie jokes due to the joke that the ending is a romantic comedy about pie, well first off, no, the ending is not romantic nor does it involve pie, lot of f’d up stuff, not a lot of pie though.
Well Getting more to the point Another is a rather final destiny esk horror meets competent mystery story. Supposedly years ago this class 3 of the junior high Yami North of its 9 grade class had a horrible tragic death of everyone’s favorite student and to cope with the pain everyone pretended the student was still alive, and apparently inviting the dead to join you has some very potent consequences. This is all unknown to the protagonist who has moved to join class 3 in between the year and notice a quiet girl with just one eye named Mei who seems to be visible only to him.
That’s the story and I assure you it involves quickly into a real plot but that would be a spoiler so I’ll leave it there and focus on the real qualitative question. Well for that I think we need to build on what a good horror a good mystery story require then address if it met the standards, surpassed them, or lost the point entirely.
A horror story must be foremost tense or freighting. An excellent horror story makes you feel uncomfortable with it but intrigues you enough to keep at it despite your fear, hits tools for this are good atmosphere and visuals, a frightening enemy or threat, then just sound design. As for a mystery the components of a good mystery demand a internal question with an answer, the answer should always be within the ability of the viewer to realize before the revelation in the story and should be somewhat in your face, but a good mystery knows how to keep you from realizing the obvious answer with the help of red herrings and warped perspective, it should never lie, just trick you into making false assumptions. These are the key components another would need to pass or do well on as well as hopefully excel at along with good characters and plot.
First off does it make you afraid and uncomfortable? This is difficult for me to fairly say because horror tends to not work on me in this kind of media, it can be tense but the “threat” is often obvious and doesn’t come as a surprise at all keeping you from really feeling afraid. It’s visual style is creepy yes and it does build some decent atmosphere over time but its severely weakened by the sound design and music, Ali project of .hack//roots and Code Geass fame worked on this and as usual its good but the issue is Ali project is anything but subtle and that kind of music makes Another seem more corny then atmospheric. So as a horror its subpar plain and simple.
Second, the mystery. The series actually has a good one to be honest, though a bit generic at first the “rules” of the supernatural remain constant and the mystery meets all the requirements, the answer is obvious and for once in a while I did not guess it ahead of time due to Another’s gifted us of red herrings or fake clues designed to distract you from the obvious, beyond that the obvious answer is actually meaningful to the characters and doesn’t rely on an end plot twist (A introduction of a character or plot device that changes the plot in a way the audience could not have figured out) to be shocking. As a mystery Another is a winner excelling in one of the two genres it attempts to be.
Otherwise in terms of story movements the characters can be iffy tough generally likeable and interesting even if stilted and often overly dramatic, and the Final Destination comparison is true but is not quite as, well, stupid as it sounds. It’s clever but dramatic even if uncomfortably so and is far from perfect but far from bad.
I can’t help but feel deceived about the whole pie thing I constantly had to fear the whole story tanking because of that ill informed joke. Oh well looking at the core of it all a good mystery pushes this otherwise mediocre series In to a comfortable 3.5 umbrella spears our of 5 which I remind those that have not read my scale means that it is pretty good and worth your time.
To help anyone who really wants to understand the short hand for how I score things here it is plain and simple, at least the M reviews
5 stars = Timeless
These are the series that are something simply fantastic and actually things I believe that should be remembered as classics, none of them are perfect, but they earn their place.
4.5 stars = fantastic
SImply fantastic, while maybe not something that will last throughout the annals of time but still I definite watch for all involved.
4 stars = good
Its a plain title but an apt one I like it, it's something I am glad I spent my time enjoying even if I never watch it again it was worth it in the moment
3.5 stars = okay
It's okay is all I can really explain, its not necessarily the best thing I could do with my time but I dont at all regret it, it was enjoyable enough even if fatally flawed
3 stars = not terrible
Is as it implies its not terrible at its worse its a massive waste of time at its best a good time suck for the moment, not enjoyable but not in anyway a horrid experience
2.5 stars = awkward
Stilled and just awkwardly unpleasant, not at all beyond stomaching but still just actively bad
2 stars = just bad
Just as it's called simply not good, not competent or good, perhaps enjoyable for a niche audience but simply not for any majority.
1.5 = abysmal
This is not fit for people at no point was whatever "media" I reviewed suppose to be consumed by any poor soul
1 = Why?
These are the anime and manga that just leave me asking, Why are you allowed to be? How could humans and people living and breathing look at this and go "You know what? It'll make money." How did no one just stop this "thing" during some point of its development, how can someone with any artisitic integirty allow themselves to be involved in such a project
Well thats it, thats my system for all those interested, and for anyone that read this here is a hint for my next review that no one cares about :D
Well time again for another wonderful review from everyone’s 7 favorite reviewer. This time I’m throwing down with a series I have a very personal love for, Persona and in this case Persona 4 the animation something I find near and dear to my heart, and for that reason I’m applying two scores to this one series. The true score for the series in and of itself unrelated to its father product Persona 4 the game and the second score, or fan score that is based around if you have played the game. (Note the star score will reflect how it is by itself aka the true score)
Persona is a series that is very familiar to whiskey media brought to most of our attention by either Persona 3 if you’re old like me or by the ever popular persona 4 endurance run done by Giant bombs wonderful Jeff and Vinny. So I might be just regurgitating things we already know when I explain what persona is. A series that is entirely based on the fundamentals of social psychology and the morals of social contracts that define much of morality in Japan, it even dives in the nature of mans obsession with illusions, but that’s getting ahead of myself. So how does it express this allegory? With teenagers fighting with “Personas” (Summon able creatures based on the mentality of the user) against Shadows (distractions and illusions) by going into the TV world with their teddies bear side kick, why you ask? Cuz someone keeps trying to kill people with the TV world and they need to keep up their social life all while the game stays fresh and with a new visual esthetic and theme with ever new game while keeping some of the old school RPG in it. In a game it works fantastically but what about in this animation?
Well for me and my base of knowledge the whole animation seemed fantastic, it kept the visual flare and the esthetic style, matched the fun and bright feel of 4 while remaining heavy and dark where its suppose to, streamlined and simple is how it explains the story leaving nothing except (something at the end only perfectionist managed to get) out. Small to big everything is there for a persona 4 veteran to find fantastic and fun, the references are great and their presentations hilarious, for once in a long while I laughed out loud during an anime something even the best “comedy” anime failed miserably. This makes persona to someone that watched it one of the most fantastic and best additions to your persona library of memories. Hell some good action bits and the addition of one new fun flat faced character is nice to the mix. Feels laughs and some decent action leaves persona 4 to be one of the best Anime’s I’ve seen in a long while, EXCEPT
Except what? Well simply if you did not play or watch someone play persona that wonderful humor and established relationships all fall apart and become just a bit too disjointed and confusing to be meaningful who are these people he’s friends with? Why is this fox awesome? Why does the main character have multiple personas? What is fusing? These questions are obvious to anyone that has played the game but to someone just exposed themselves to this world it seems rather plot hole filled and not super meaningful like it was in the 100 hour + story. It does some stuff to stream line naturally and for what it loses in meaning it doesn’t in terms of visual identity and nicely done subtle commentary on media as a whole, but the strange tie that persona games have with your heart earned with 100+ hours simply can’t be replaced by a series of short sweet and while funny not that sensible a package.
What does this all mean for Persona 4 the animation? It means that the persona series continues to be one of the best something only 100 hours can foster in someone, which can make that attachment so meaningful it’s worth the watch to absorb it again, that’s what this anime was for. It knows it’s purpose and doesn’t cater to much to people it’s not for in the first place, and in my oh so humble opinion that’s exactly what it should be earning for those with the persona background a 4.5 s-links our of 5, however, I can’t give that score because as a personal rule and anime should, unless it’s a established sequel, stand on its own, and in this form it can only manage to gain a still not bad 3.5 bear suits out of 5. With that said I cann’t recommend to anime PS2 owners enough persona 4, if you don’t have it watch the fantastic endurance run on whiskey medias very own giant bomb. It is by far one of my top 5 games of all time.
M: Korra vs Last air bender the evolution of the best not really anime anime out there. To those that are unaware of recent I finished for the first time the original nickelodeon hit Avatar the last air bender as seen in my review ((http://www.animevice.com/avatar-the-last-airbender/11-5475/user-reviews/?review_id=1143)) And so I decided to jump into watching the shows sequel the legend of korra, off the bat the two shows struck me as incredibly different in almost every respect aside from the key components of the world. This shocking difference drove me to do something I’ve never done, actually compare and contrast the series without it even being finished.
To explain the story in a nut shell and I warn you this will technically spoil the last air bender, but if you haven’t seen that then this blog post has no point to you anyways the legend of korra is about the new avatar who is a prodigy in all elements besides air as opposed to Aang who knew only air who has traveled to the new “Republic city” ((Fire lord Zuko’s and Avatar Aang’s dream city) a homogenized capitol for all nations and benders, this already a huge thematic change from the short story/traveler theme that the original is based on, seeing as Korra is about one set city. The city is basically New VancouverYork complete with the statue of liberty I mean Aang set to a new 1920s theme.
This time jump is the core of this being a new age of tech replacing the need for benders and causing a social schism between the now near pointless benders and the more prominent nonbenders. Nonbenders being lead by Amon a masked man with the power to bend bending (get rid of bending powers) However this schism of old vs knew is even more apparent, the avatar is more a relic and tradition then a practical peace keeper, most bending is now basically kickboxing and the culture has begun to blend into a single identity, oddly American of all things.
Well with that established where has the show benefited?
Well first of Korra is herself better then Aang, she is likeable, funny, real, much older and thus much more serious. She comes off as a fantastic character and possibly the best in the show which is rather hard to pull off, the most enjoyable characters rarely are the main protagonist I.E. Iroh being the best from the one before. Even her design is perfect, she comes off as very attractive without being sexualized or made to look weak, she is tall confident and independent without it being forced and preachy, most important of all she seems complete and natural, she seems like someone I would like to know and COULD know. The supporting cast while not as memorable have very natural dialogue and often are funny without being “zany” AKA annoying. The series seems to have a more natural high quality with no poor or out of place performances and the frames per second as well as the visual quality have improved. The maturity is better and even more prevalent than most dramas and people simply act like people in a very real way that just doesn’t seem to happen in almost any media and again I can’t stretch this enough Korra is one of the best characters I have ever seen be the lead.
But where did it fail?
Plenty. Mostly due to its core thematic principle of old vs new, the problem being, the new sucks. I hate the setting and the homogenization. No longer is the exploration through multiple philosophies and cultural identity the core, because in republic city we are all one, and no longer is the martial arts the visually old and beautiful ancient arts, no it’s the streamlined and simple boxing to me the most offensive switch of all, Bending was about the art the style each perfectly reflecting the culture of it now it’s all one and its cold. The next massive issue is simply the complete lack of scope. In the last air bender the world was at stake and the all the nations were the battle ground, this is just fights between benders and non benders with really nothing riding on the winner, I mean the biggest threat the villain brings to the table is that republic cities benders might if they fight him lose their powers. When all your enemies are just chi blockers the enemy seems silly when fighting fire shooting supermen, and so far the single biggest event has just be the main villain telling Korra that they might fight later. Without anything riding on the good guys you become more interested in her day to day life than anything to do with the actual conflict. Lastly and this is nitpicking but in the last air bender we established it was Tophs blindness that made her capable of metal bending and that lighting bending was a rare trait only the best fire benders can do ((Hell fire lord Zuko couldn’t even lightning bend)) yet the most average Joe bender can do them now?
In the end is Korra the better show? To sum it up not yet, it’s only five episodes in and either A. The story speeds up and brings something exciting to the table or B it will be an okay short series that was in a good universe that was worst of all a waste of a excellent character.
M: well even with nearly a year leave of absence I am still one of the top reviews on the site, now that I am proud of, however I hope I can make up for that however by pissing off all the anime purest and reviewing Avatar the last air bender. I decided to watch it due to pressure from my friends and the fact that I had never seen it during its popularity due to my general distaste for nickelodeon.
M:Avatar as a production is in of itself a complete left field move for Nickelodeon at the time, if I was to stipulate, which I will, I would say Avatar itself is a reaction to nickelodeons biggest competitor, Cartoon networks insanely successful Toonami broadcast that capitalized on the action cartoon market by bringing forth the highest quality ones available, the ones being made in Japan. Hoping to break into this Avatar was released with the idea of matching the quality and depth of its competitor while remaining original and in spirit still nickelodeon. Although not as successful as Toonami being so influential it changed the entire social outlook towards visual media for an entire generation, avatar was still an instant hit a sparked the one of the biggest debates in anime over simply, what is anime? Is it a style or a piece of national identity that could only belong to the Japanese?
M:Perhaps I’ll get into that debate later but for now the question is still a much defined one, is it even good? Well to start that we need to see what its core components are and whether that would even interest whoever reads this drabble of mine. Condensed into a paragraph the world is basically divided into 4 cultures and four spiritual and martial disciplines called bending, The Water tribes (Inuit peoples) who do water bending (power to control water a move for move identical martial art to Wing Chun),The Earth kingdoms (feudal china) Who do earth bending (power to control earth move for move is iron fist and iron chest) The Fire nation (steam punk Japan) who do fire bending (Thai Chi and Muay Thai) and lastly the Air Nomads (Tibetan monks who do air bending…I have no personal experience with the martial art they perform) And well all these nations are kept in peace by the avatar who can do all four styles and is reborn in a pattern so he’s always present, well 100 years before the show takes place the Avatar disappeared and the fire nation invaded everyone and f’d up most of the other nations. Now a hundred years in the future some water bender (katara and her none bending brother sokka) find this avatar (Aang) frozen in ice that happens to have been 12 and only knows air bending, so basically he’s got to learn the other three and then fight the fire nation while they are being hunted by the banished prince of the fire nation (Zuko).
M:Well that’s shockingly well thought out and mature for a nickelodeon show, but still is it good? Well the answer is unsurprisingly yes as its popularity suggests, but now why is it good and why is it not great? Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten my job yet.
M:Well normally I go bad then good but as time goes on I feel like that set up doesn’t play as well, so in that I’m going to flip it and start with where Avatar proves its worth. I feel the biggest and most memorable element of Avatar is the perfect application of real world martial art, their philosophies and cultures with unreal superpowers in such a way that it felt just right at every moment. The moves do what they should all seem natural and performable while all being familiar human and different, such attention to detail makes each wonderfully choreographed scene seem just well beautiful, this is especially true with the fire benders leaving me to personally believe the director has more than a little experience with the martial arts. It’s this master of knowing what to be fast and what slow and more so what movements should bring about the elements that make it kind of breathtaking, I actually was taken aback during the final fight between Zuko and Azula (his sister) by simply how perfect the martial arts were, but perhaps this is do to my own experience with the thai martial arts that is the primary arts in fire bending. The world and story has established and strong rule sets as well as cultural and political ideas that show a interesting re-imagination of established cultures. The format makes each bending art have their own time to be explored and are the given entire seasons devoted to them. These make the exploration meaningful and give the world and the events of it scope. The characters are at best fun and loveable and at worst are just mediocre, the voice acting goes from okay to actually really good and while the main three characters are just okay important side characters like Toph and the oh so wonderful Iroh make for some of my all time favorite characters to date. The fact that one scene of a nickelodeon show actually made me tear up is something that kind of goes as far as disturbs me. While the show is American it captures the spirit and quality of a anime very well and I would argue is the one memorable thing that nickelodeon has brought to the fray that wasn’t just okay at best, and again uncle Iroh is the shit and I cannot begin to explain how much better he makes it.
M:However Avatar is not ANYWHERE near perfect, some issues are just there, the main three characters are far from the best, Aang is often annoying more than fun but his age helps explain that, and plot points constantly are started and then kind of just left In the wind I.E. zukos mom, Irohs connection to the spirit world, the blue spirit, the hunt for Toph, The white lotus, The face stealer, blood bending, and Aangs propensity to be a total wuss…wait never mind. watching it through to the end however I noticed every issue aside from a few scattered ones could be blamed almost exclusively on the fact that it’s nickelodeon and OF COURSE they would chose to do some idiotic kid friendly bull. The humor is just as childlike and completely stupid half the time as it is funny and clever mostly due to fantastic blind jokes from the blind air bender Toph. Its attempts to be silly and zany are weak and out of place causing the sense of seriousness to become cracked and fragile. While the fighting is good it pulls the G.I.Joe thing of not letting death on screen happen unless its magic, but the fact that nickelodeon let death on at all is a shocker, it gives this impression of a continues struggle for the show to break the bonds of its network and be something bigger and more impressive. This forces it to remain childlike instead of evolving into something mature that could have possibly even maybe get kind of close to something like Full metal without changing any of the Characters personalities or views, just allowing things like death on screen. The fact that a broad sword user fights near 100 men and only breaks their weapons is stupid, the fact that people get out of tanks before they explode is ridiculous. I don’t want gore everywhere or cursing, I just want sense, I want the humor to be cleverer and less zany, I want fire to burn and blood bending to kill. I want war to seem like war not a arm wrestling competition. I want concepts to be fully explored like the white lotus and the blue spirit then just blatantly shown and dropped to avoid complexity I suppose this is greed but I want this amazing idea and very talented writers to not be wasted on a nickelodeon show.
M: This hold back is the main sticking point and for the series and keeps it from really investing me in the world as much as it should be, this shattering of my suspension of disbelief and pulling me away from the experience. Maybe this just shows that I’m too old for the series to be as effective, or perhaps they are real issues. Either way my gut gives it a very generous 4 platypusbears out of 5. Well now I’m off again I hope you enjoy it, I might post a review of something else later if times allow it and sorry if I’m rusty.
I leave you with the comedic styles of a blind girl