Well hello anime vice its M here for another review. First off sorry for the long wait, I kept getting distracted and not spending time on my anime review work. Putting that aside however I finally finished the series I’ve had my eyes on for quiet I while, Hell girl. Although a bit on the older side, Hellgirl has been a long loved franchise. Enough to have gained three seasons, and popular enough to be recommended to me multiple times from multiple people.
The Series itself is kind of in two parts. The first is series of short stories about the Hell correspondence. A site that will give you contact with a young demon girl named Enma Ai, the hell girl. She in turn gives the user a straw doll with a red string around its neck. Once you pull the red string whoever you wish vengeance on will be ferried to hell usually though a horrifying and dramatic way. However the down side is once you’ve pulled the red string the day you die your soul will also be ferried to hell by the hell girl.
The second part is the added adventures of bad dad and washed up journalist Hajime Shibata whom after discovering his daughter has the ability to “see what Hell girl sees” to both investigate and try to stop her. Now he gets involved somehow with every case as the new protagonist. This switches Enma Ai from the protagonist of the series to the “sympathetic” antagonist.
The short story episodic aspect of the show is ranges from enjoyable to incredibly unimpressive, usually based around how convinced you, the viewer, are that the blight of the hell correspondence user really requires or deserves the user also going to hell to solve it. More often than not the show brings to life exactly why this episodes villain certainly deserves to get his or her shit rocked. I can definitely admit to have more the one smile as I watched them get theirs. All that before always being reminded at the end how bad a deal it really was, and how it was probably the wrong decision, even while the I wanted somewhere in my heart nothing more than the user to pull the red string and get his or her vengeance.
The issues more come up when the Hajime elements are brought in. This is no slight to Hajime as a character; he’s actually a really good character incredibly likeable while flawed in just the right ways and I personally completely agree with his view on everything to do with Hellgirl. The issue is what he does and the new tone that comes from it. Constantly trying to stop it, save the user without them having to resort to using hellgirl, and always, always failing. He acts as a constant reminder that this is all a bad idea sucking away the same drive and twisted joy I felt come of hell girl. This is even more a problem when Hajime comes up with or uses and alternate solution to the user’s problem and the user still sacrifices their sole to get vengeance, just because the plot says so. The mystery aspect of the Hajime parts would work if the viewer didn’t already understand the dynamics of the hell correspondence from their perspectives. No mystery is fun when you already know most of the answers.
On the positive side, the music is not super great but is perfectly used and applied to the scenes in such a way that makes it just really shine. The art design while not shaft good is really well designed . I like the very traditional Japanese elements constantly being placed throughout the show and its dialogue and character are definitely a strong positive. Hajime and his interactions with his daughter feel very real and emotional and Hellgirls familiars while not making me laugh aloud they were funny enough to be likeable.
To make my feelings clear, Hellgirl is to me, a collection of individually really interesting elements executed well that when combined form a bafflingly underwhelming package. While ever one part of Hellgirl is good combined it just comes off as a flop and while not bad, not exactly fun to watch or interesting to experience. Each of the Duel narratives are well written and enjoyable in their own way, but when strung together they take away what was good about the narratives. At the end of the day, even if I liked the individual episodes of hell girl, if it wasn’t my wish to finish it for review I would have dropped hellgirl several times. That says exactly why hell girl gets 3 flaming cart faces out of 5
I’m not going to take that much time on this one. It’s M and I’m here to do a very very short review on the single volume manga series Mare. Written by Moriaga Milk, she won my favor after writing Girlfriends a personal favorite of mine even if it’s cheesy as hell. Either way instead of writing a romance I hear Mare was her hand at a horror manga and so I thought I would give it a try.
Well turns out Mare is a lot of things and mostly not pleasant. Basically it deals with a girl named Mare who summons demons and travels from place to place using them to kill men who abused women for reasons made obvious later on, but also to feast on the abused women’s souls, for reasons never made obvious. However, when Mare happens upon a gang rape she decides to spare the girl and only kill the rapist. After using magic to return the girls innocence and erase her memory, Mare rejoins the rape victims school pretending to be her roommate, this for even less understood reasons.
So rule of thumb for me, I never review "adult" works. I’m not a big fan of them and don’t find much point in evaluating them. Not saying their all bad, but I hardly have the credentials nor the want to review them. In this case I decided to, under the opinion that Mare is not meant to be porn, review it. Its adult content is incredibly short, censored and fairly rare. I feel it’s not porn in the same way as I feel Kite isn’t; simply because of how little the adult content is focused on or even there.
But how does it fair as just a pure story? Not well. It’s trying to have a really heavy since of story and complexity to it that near all of it is exposition or events that drive the plots action. The problem is that without time to develop even the most basic characteristics to all the characters (establishing personality or motive) it comes out as a series of really odd and unpleasant events that the reader has no ability to connect with emotionally. Its one volume in its entirety and, a man of average intelligence, was unable to even grasp exactly who the main villain really was or what his goal was, much less the entire conflict of the story.
It’s a weird complaint to have following Moriaga’s previous work, which relied exclusively on strong characters to be followed by Mare which has characters that are nothing more than talking plot devices. Plus the art is not only old (Moriaga tends to due classical shoujo look) but also just so bad I couldn’t tell characters apart. That being said Mares too short to be super offensive, something that saved it from being entirely dropped, and the first story or two are at least effective time wasters, but the truth is Mare wasn’t just bad it was a waste of an hour. Mare manages to get 1.5 terrible human beings out of 5
That is a total lie, Menma is best ghost
Hello again. M here to review another anime from 2012. I’ve been delaying this one in interest of other things. However I finally found the time and the opportunity to take a crack at Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. I hadn’t heard much about the series and its studio silver link was largely unproven, but I am a complete sucker for ghost related anime, and horror themed anime in general (would watch more if they weren’t all about vampires). So with nothing to go on I went in with completely undefined expectations except for there be a ghost in it.
Dusk Maiden’s actual story is a simple set up. It’s about a young man named Teiichi who one day discovers, in the abandoned section of the school, the ghost and the long dead body of Yuuko the famous school ghost. When Yuuko tells Teiichi that she knows nothing about her past, who she was, how she died, or why, they decide together to form the paranormal investigation club to look into her past and solve the other linked mysteries within the school. From there the club grows and the mystery of who Yuuko is and what happened to her slowly gets solved, just as Teiichi and Yuuko grow closer.
First off I feel it’s important to say Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is not a horror anime, it is a feel good romantic comedy with horror elements, and being as such I refuse to judge it as a horror anime. Its horror elements are just to drive a narrative forward, make it exciting, and add some depth to an otherwise normal romantic comedy. It’s not that the horror elements aren’t necessarily good, just that it’s not the focus of the series at all.
So then as a romantic comedy how was it? Pretty alright to be honest. Although Teiichi is a rather bland, but not unlikeable MC, the character of Yuuko is the life blood of the series. She contains an indispensible charm and personality that make her both very likeable and actually quite funny. She endeared herself to me in a way not many characters do. Where the rest of the cast seem kind of like character boxes being check Yuuko seems full of life (ironic since she’s dead) and commands attention in a really good way. The mild horror and paranormal elements do drive the plot to be a lot more interesting allows for a much more meaningful ending along with pretty appropriately dark last couple episodes. So all in all as a feel good romantic comedy it’s pretty much all you could really ask for plus with the benefit of being nicely diverse.
However there are some sticking points with Dusk maiden that still bother me. Just a few things lacking in polish seem to flutter around; such as the music which while very lovely often feels out of place. The characters aside from Yuuko seem too much like plot devices then people, the series established “rules” seems to be slightly lacking in consistency. Sometimes the series can’t seem to understand what mood its suppose to be presenting, such as in one scene the voice over and music being dark and creepy , but what their showing to be pleasant and sweet. Lastly the ending episode, as obvious as the plot of it is, still builds to be fairly meaningful, but is completely cooped out at the last couple minutes just get their happy ending instead of sticking with a more beautiful bitter ending. These small things while on their own aren’t really that bad build up to make a bit more of a mess then one would think.
Negatives and positives aside I feel I need to talk about dusk maiden’s art. It’s something that constantly was on my mind throughout the entire series. Artistically and even a bit narratively it feels kind of like a throwback to late 90s-really early 00s of anime. Little things like the more innocent nature of the romance, design of the characters hair and face, even just the longness of girl’s skirts remind me of older anime. The Art quality often tries (though not always well) to show that more “handmade” look from before all anime was made on computers while still being made on a computer. Yet at the same time a lot of the directing of shots, positions of things, and effects seem ripped straight out of bakemonogatari (without being nearly as artistically bold as bake was) Whether this “Throwback” look is on purpose or a very good way of cutting corners to make the “bake” looking parts look great. Either way, you’ll either enjoy it as a nostalgic look like I did, or be completely annoyed by the constant shifting of art quality from modern to cheap.
All in all I like Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, I like Yuuko, and I feel happy to have spent my time with the series. It was feel good and nice in a way I could enjoy as a break from my more “serious and dark” favorites. However on the flip side, I’m not going to remember much about Dusk Maiden aside from Yuuko because it just isn’t that memorable or meaningful. It’s just a B tier anime, but one I think people can really enjoy and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with a nice B tier anime now and again. Dusk Maiden walks away with 3.5 gentle push down a flight of stairs out of 5. Later Vice.
Welcome back, it’s M again this time reviewing a short piece right off the heels of Black rock shooter. This time I jumped into an anime for lack of a better word miniseries called Time of Eve. A reported “Dry robotic-morality” series that I’ve been meaning to get around to since tech support suggested it to me after the M-cast months ago. Published by Directions Inc I really had no notion towards the quality of the final piece just that it came with good recommendations from some in my circle and rather distinct negatives from anime vices own Tom. Either way I was interested in finding out exactly what Time of Eve is.
Time of Eve is, as it turns out, a series of six short fifteen minute episodes surrounding a small café called Time of Eve. Set in unspecific future where androids have become not only common place, but also indistinguishable from humans aside of their mandatory holographic halos above their heads. In this world a young man named Rikuo discovers that his android without orders has been going to a café known as Time of Eve. Rikuo and his friend, an expert in the laws of robotics named Masaki, leave to investigate Time of Eve. There he discovers that in this cafe it is against rules to discriminate or acknowledge a difference between androids and humans. This includes turning off the hologram halos above all androids heads, practically making humans and androids in the café completely indistinguishable.
Time of Eve from there follows an episodic format as the two learn more about each patron; who he or she is, why they’re there, their lives, and lastly, if at all, whether or not he or she was an android or human all along. In the end it’s all an exploration in base robotic philosophy of whether androids can be human, considered equal to humans, or are just glorified toasters with pretty faces. This is a concept and kind of stuff that was extremely popular back in the late 90s, but with the decline in sci-fi has been kind of just tossed aside as something not worth looking at. (Partially due to people learning how computers work and realizing it’s not running on magic and fairy dust) But it is my firmest belief that this is completely an area worth exploring in anime as well as media in general. I can talk more and more about what it is, but the importance is whether it’s good correct?
Time of Eve is excellent. I have no qualms about saying that. It’s got excellent philosophic underpinnings along with a good sound moral argument and plausible counter arguments within its own arguments, but you know what makes this actually good? Just having these things says nothing about execution. Here Time of Eve shines, understanding as media of the visual format it has the opportunity to do something more than just spit long strings of inorganic lines about how life is like a rainbow and just visually show the message. To make the audience feel the message and experience the internal philosophic underpinnings within the series. Instead of say like Casshern Sins where you can’t go ten minutes without character sitting down to explain why this scene has more meaning then it really does, instead time of eve builds a scene where your organically feel the willingness for humans to discriminate and demonize people who ignore social norms. Build scenes where the audience can examine and question exactly how “human” These androids are or if it’s all just fake replication of emotion we, the audience, wish was the real thing.
I’m not going to try and claim Time of Eve is the first or best at this kind of story or message, but I feel pretty confident in saying it’s the first in a while to do so while still pulling together a narrative around characters I like, can laugh with and at, want to be happy, and feel connected to, instead of just being mouth pieces for the writers personal opinions. That being said Time of Eve isn’t perfect. There are moments, especially at the very start and towards the end, that are flat out cheesy, but in comparison to the entire genre of robot-morality narrative it’s very tame in terms of cheesy moments. It’s cursed with being extremely short and because of how it’s paced not much really “happens” in the show, but that’s not really a negative more a creative choice.
It’s a series that inspires me to talk to someone. To discuss if those Androids were really feeling those emotions, or maybe it’s simply following the rules of the bar, masking feelings and actions to match humans like the old robot in episode three, or maybe their emotions (being fairly distinct from ours, but seem just as powerful) are due to natural advancements in their understanding of the three laws just in the same way human emotion might be due to the two natural laws of man (to survive and to propagate). That’s pretty impressive a drive for media to build in me, not only that, but earnest care about what happens to Sammy and her master. I want them to be happy. That’s something impressive for a series in my eyes.
All in all I rather love Time of Eve. Although short it knew exactly what it wanted to be, it used every shot to its advantage wasting nothing, but most importantly it told the story it could, restraining itself when necessary, and executing effectively everything it tried. Something the last anime I watch black rock shooter couldn’t do in three times the time. Time of Eve, although barely the length of an anime movie, I give 4.5 robots that can’t walk up stairs out of 5. I hope you guys check it out, it’s on crunchy roll. Later vice.
Well Hello Anime Vice It’s me again, M, here to bring you another review this time of something fairly out of style for me. In this review I turn my eyes to the Anime version of Black Rock Shooter, straight from the arms of Ordet and was their first full (A Black Rock Shooter OVA movie having been released first) solo anime as a relatively new studio. Black Rock Shooter looked to be fun, but kind of stupid and that’s what I expected when I went in, but what did I actually find?
Black Rock shooter follows loosely the story of an entity known as black rock shooter in a dream world and the high school drama of young middle school girl named Mato. Because of these two or maybe in spite of these two…well things happen…I think. Realistically it deals with these separate elements and how they are strangely related. The story isn’t really cohesive, relevant or possible to summarize beyond this point without going into an absurd place. This however is to be expected when the entire anime comes out of an AMV.
I don’t think anyone will argue that Black Rock Shooter is not poorly structured if structured at all. To put it simply; I don’t even know who the villain was and much less what their assumed goals were. It wasn’t until the very end that I had any idea as to what the hell was actually happening, and once I got the explanation it was filled with more logic holes then black rock shooters body at the end of the final fight. It’s a series that is flat out and unapologetically bankrupt in terms of story. It sets up nothing coherent and when something can be sussed out and established it only remains true until the series deems whatever it established inconvenient.
However a bad story doesn’t necessarily devalue it as entertainment. Sometimes the right amount of silly action, comedy and likeable characters can make something that while nonsense and shit for a story be worth someone’s time. This kind of charm very much sums up why I like SAO even though its plot and execution are nonsense if scrutinized even a little. This sort of charm can get a lot of things a long way, hell a lot of series run entirely on this concept that just being fun and likeable can smooth out inconsistency by virtue the audience willing to suspend their disbelief in exchange for the entertainment. So to understand whether Black Rock is worth our time it’s important to see what entertainment black rock has.
About 50% of Black rock has nothing to do with Black Rock Shooter and more to do with high school drama. This is where we are suppose to be given context and meaning to the action. It’s the real world that the dream world is suppose to effect, and where we are given the time with the more human cast to try to sympathize and emotionally connect with. This emotional connection is suppose to make the audience invest in what happens in the crazy action bits instead of just enjoying it like a fireworks display before quickly growing uninterested. To put it straight this part of the show is ineffective at best and unwatchable at worst. Characters are inconsistent, unrelatable, unrealistic, and distinctly unlikeable. Humorless and aggravating, their individual struggles seem so stupid and easily solved that it just seems so insane that a life and death struggle is waged in the background. Worst of all, most of the inconstancy in the story comes from here. This is where, even as it flops around trying to give context to why or how all the events are happening, nothing is explained well enough or established without quickly being unestablished in interest of the plot working out the way the writer wants.
The other 50% is the black rock shooters high action arty lights show of violence and awesome. The dream world is the equivalent of a fireworks show. It’s meaningless, but it’s fun to watch and at the end of the day that’s just fine. It’s not an enlightened action just bloody and fun. It’s the best part of the series and it really is top notch for what it is. Bloody and impactful without being horrendous and unpleasant. The problem however with this, is that while the action is cool, it’s so meaningless when you neither care nor understand why it’s happens or the results that would come if either party won. It’s like watching a sports game where you don’t care about either team nor understand the game. No matter how well it’s played it’s not going to matter when you have zero emotion investment, added with a complete and utter lack in understanding of what’s actually going on.
This series of mistakes all pull together to form black rock shooter. Even gifted with really cool action bits Black Rock is just actively stupid. I don’t think a senseless action piece of entertainment is bad, but when that’s only half coupled with an agonizing high school drama and pieced forcefully together by a shit story, it’s no surprise that Black Rock Shooter gets 2 chain gun sword saws out of 5. Later Vice hopefully the next things better.