Well hello again Anime Vice it’s me, M, here to talk about another piece of shaft wonderment. A few of you might remember my Bakemonogatari review that you can find right about here. Well along with that very popular series an eventual sequel was released earlier this year(2012). Based on the second book this sequel shares the name nisemonogatari meaning imposters story. I can say without a single regret I liked Bake, hell I loved it, but what about Nise?
To start off nise is about the main character Koyomi Araragi and him dealing mostly with his sisters, Karen and Tsukihi Araragi. I really should, however, say sister (singular) because Tsukihi gets less screen time then the Mayoi Hachikuji a small elementary school side character that shows up just to get loli fans. I digress however, as the series does technically follow these two sisters and the supernatural things that enter their lives with former vampire, Koyomi ,dealing with it from the shadows. It differs significantly from the original in terms of storytelling, focusing on two major stories over the short story format bake went for.
With the only two arcs over five you would usually be pretty safe to assume this means nise is a more focused story. Well you’d be flat out wrong. In this case the show isn’t really about the story and it acts more as a means to an end as opposed to the driving
forced. The only reason the whole supernatural part manages to put in there is to give an excuse for the most of the episodes to flaunt all the female characters sexually and try to hit every fetish an anime fan can possibly have. Down to a very obscure toothbrush fetish scene that is probably the most famous scene in nise. Fan service normally I tend to gloss over uncaringly. It doesn’t tend to affect me either way in most series, but ended up being the prime problem I had with the season.
I’m not going to lie, Bake had quite a bit of fan service, and it’s something I don’t even remember mentioning or taking not of in my review. The reason being the fan service in bake was more in service of the comedy, plot, characters, or just the style of the scene structure. The problem comes when nise changes the plot, characters, comedy, and personalities all in service of the fan service, something that should be considered an extra not an ends. They go so far as to drastically change how characters act and how we have had them established to us. Simple things like changing the jokester monkey girl from a lesbian to a fetishistic woman who desires to ruinate anything within rea
ch with her hips, just to excuse her, going from the MCs bud that competes with him over his girlfriend, to wanting him so bad it hurts. Anyone remember in bake when the MC said “the only ones with a sister complex are people who don’t have sisters.” Yeah, the writers didn’t; no most of nise involves him almost violating them “hilariously.” Or how absolutely against cheating on his girlfriend he was? That’s replaced with him chasing girls around town. It almost seems as if they intend for us only to vaguely remember bake, or perhaps the writers themselves only had bullet point notes of who these characters were as people. Maybe this is a fault of the book, or maybe shaft more liberally interpreted bake to diminish this, but had to return to the roots of it in nise. Either way it doesn’t help.
On the bright side the art still looks incredible. While not as perfectly presented as madoka, or as striking, bold and balls out as bake; nise still by any animations standard is one of the best looking animes I’ve ever seen. The music is nice; if not exactly my style, and again I can’t stretch how good shaft works look especially the big three of late (Bake, Madoka, Nise.) Hell on rare occasion even the story has some really good meaningful moments when they can tear themselves away from undeveloped breasts. (even if some of the plots messages like “life isn’t dramatic” is met with epic duels with the MCs sister thus making it kind of null) Even though I find it rather creepy, its fan service is…well done? For what it is, it’s just something I find disturbing more than enjoyable.
Nise I find to be an utter and complete disappointment, and I’m not at all apologetic for calling it that. Good art and music can’t save its shit for a plot. Reads off like some bakemonogatari fan fic, something that is, no matter how well made, nothing compared to the original. It’s got a lot of really fantastic parts over all, but when I remember this series and smile it’s going to be because I remembered Bake. Nise gets a 3 shaft head tilts out of 5, it’s not terrible, but that’s it. Well good day guys I got work tomorrow, but I’ll be around. Later vice.
Well hello once again it’ me, M, here to bring you another review. With the podcast still being made, the video stuff still a bit unfinished, I turn my sights to one of my favorite animation studios Shaft, maker of previous reviewed pieces such as MariaHolic and Madoka Magica. However this time I turn my sights to the Shaftyest piece of shaft animation shaft has ever had a hand in. That being the hit success of Bakemonogatari.
Bakemonogatari was a shaft production back in 2009. Based on a series of books about a young man named Koyomi Araragi who, after surviving a vampire attack, runs into a girl by the name Hitagi Senjogahara who has no weight. The Series eventually becomes a series of Araragi walking into, and then solving, a series of supernatural mysteries. All with an extremely unique style and presentation Shaft is most notable for in its recent works.
Bakemonogatari is another case of a series where I have a thousand things to say, but not really the vernacular or wherewithal to say it. I suppose I should start with the given. This is a shaft production, more than that this is THE shaft production as far as some people are concerned. It’s no surprise that Bakemonogatari is gorgeous, its visual design striking and sound design at its worst interesting and at its best flawless. Shaft has always been one to put most of their efforts in presentation and style, this is something Shaft projects of late all have and something that probably is the truest with Bakemonogatari.
On the flip side unlike its more modern counterpart madoka magica, bakemonogatari doesn’t know when to calm down a bit. It’s not exactly like it’s trying too hard more like a small child you can’t get to calm down for one moment. Though this became easier in later episodes, the first two constantly are jerking around changing shots and angles so rapidly its physically difficult to sit through multiple episodes without feeling a little motion
sick. I would equate it to the feeling of after being punched in the face, that kind of hazy dizziness. I myself had to take a break every episode early on, just to keep from the headaches, but that doesn’t disregard that what I was seeing was breath taking, just uncontrolled and simply too much. Something that I see they learned in madoka which while sharing a lot of the design and look simply remains calm enough for it to be more enjoyed for the wonderful work it is.
Headache inducing in the beginning, but I must say it gets easier to deal with and enjoy for its stylish masterful design. Shaft likes to make art simple as that and every shot in it is art. The understanding of contrasting colors and appropriate usage of CG; simple things like the main character being outlined in red instead of black bring things to life. However, with this trade shaft has always had one very big weakness. Historically as a studio Shaft has always lacked in the story department. Not so much in story premise,
just execution, specifically on the characters. While most characters look and act cool, they often either don't make too much sense or never act in a way real human beings act. This can range from Pani Pani Dash which the story is nonsense, to mariaholic where the characters are nothing, but tropes. Bakemonogatari does suffer through a lot of the same illness in unnatural dialogue, conversations that mean nothing, or too often ending in a circler discussion over, again, nothing. While this is true some of the time the characters have a shocking and pretty incredible amount of depth. Perhaps it has more to do with the original source material, but the MC his girlfriend and the monkey girl all specifically have so many layers of personality that are very normal and human it actually got me choked up from time to time. However, most of the others are just spouting shaft insanity, meaningful and insightful, but so are the ramblings of the insane from time to time.
It’s got some great actiony bits as well as a fine taste in music and design. Looks great and has some very interesting characters with good depth, the MC most of all who seems like a honest to goodness good guy. I don’t like harem set ups, but at least with this the MC it makes sense. He’s a charming good guy who while he has his own temptations always and I mean always does what best for everyone else. All while being modest about it. He strikes me as someone who anyone could like and aspire to be as a person making the fact that quite a few girls like him unsurprising. It helps the harem from being annoying that he has a strong commitment to one girl as apposed to being constantly indecisive. Bonus points as well with being a story that didn’t beat around the bush with its romantic subplot, it progresses appropriately. Something anime needs to do more often.I’ve got a bit more to say about Bakemonogatari, but I’ve reached about where my review length limit is. All in all Bakemonogatari is really cool and really worth just a look even if only watched in parts. While my favorite shaft piece is still madoka this is very much peer to peer with it. Something that’s hard to reach. It’s the type of show that puts a genuine smile on my face. All in all here goes Bakemonogatari with 4 staplers out of 5. Later vice I’m off to check out its sequel, but it sounds like it might be a bit of a disappointment.
Well hello Anime vice; I, M, have returned to have a double feature of reviews today, along with yuruyuri season two review which you can find here. I decided, since I stopped posting for a bit, to make up with it with an extra review. This time of the last bit of Deadman wonderland content I have not actually reviewed, so for today I’m going to do a mini review the OVA special Deadman wonderland: Red Knife wielder.
The Red Knife is a reference to Senji “The Crows” power of Crows claws. As the name suggests the OVA primarily follows the Crow set before his time in prison, and even before the events of his past first shown in the forgeries arc of the manga. Here we see Senji as a cop and his relationships with the town’s folk and other cops. The OVA explores some of what makes him the man he is and the conditions of Tokyo ground zero after the red hole event.
The actual nuts and bolts of this is just a buddy cop anime mini movie but the edgy cop is Crow and the city has a post apocalyptic vibe. Damning or positive that’s the truth of it, but seeing as Crow is damn near my favorite character of Deadman wonderland and the events shortly after the red hole incident a largely untouched thing of interest in the franchise I was fairly positive and cautious of the OVA. Deadman has a rep with me of being interchangeably hot and cold so cautious optimism I believe is the proper way to view this Ova.
Don’t mean to shock anyone, but it turns out Red knife is kind of alright. It’s nothing that special, but it’s actually a decent cop movie even with it only being thirty minutes. It’s got some decent character moments and a decent final fight, but it’s not worth talking all that much about. It adds literally nothing about the fiction except padding it and the post apocalyptic Tokyo just looks like a ghetto of a normal city, simply uninteresting. All in all this mini review gives the OVA 3 dead orphans out of 5 for being pretty alright. Well That’s it for today M’s off to go do important stuff. Hope you enjoyed the review, I’m off!
Well Hello Anime vice it’s been a little bit since I, M, have posted just about anything. To those who follow me all three of you, sorry been busy lately, people and civ 5 have eaten just about all my free time, but with Crunchyroll’s help I’ve returned to again set my sights on the new a fairly popular season two of YuruYuri. Some may remember my review of yuru yuri found here and that I wasn’t so positive about yuru yuri, but more than willing to give a season two a shot even if I have issues. So I return to the mild yuri adventures of Akarin and the amusement club.
Yuru yuri season two isn’t one with a big story to explain. It follows the continuing exploits of the amusement club girls as well as the student council and everyone’s sister. The internal narrative is simply the episodic tales of their nonsensical fun of day to day life. It’s billed again as a comedy with as the name translates “light yuri” elements brought to us by the loving hands of publisher Dogakobo.
My feelings on season two are somewhat mixed to be honest. Season two has some of the best jokes of the series, the beginning and ending of almost every episode had me at least crack a smile yet that is coupled with the fact that Season two has some of the longest stretches of humorless portions I’ve seen in a purported comedy. Things like five minute set up for a joke with no punch line or simply Japanese language puns that can never be translated effectively. It’s weird to see this dichotomy of exceptional jokes mixed in with some of the more bland humor around. It almost seems like parts of the series seem to just float on forgetting what or why this part was even funny to begin with.
That being said while the main cast is more often than not unfunny, everyone’s sister especially Akane Akaza, Akarin’s sister are consistently hilarious. Something the show seems to notice about season one as season two does what it can to put front and center all the cast’s sisters. This however is not something that is stretched to Chitose Ikeda and her sister, being as they are to comedy as a kidney stone is is to the human body.
I suppose the most damning thing I have to say about Yuruyuri season two is that it’s completely unremarkable, but absolutely inoffensive. Truth be told there is just not much to be said about Yuruyuri season two, if you like cute girls doing cute things anime or liked Yuruyuri season ones brand of humor then well its here again. The problem is if cute girls doing cute things and light (I stretch light) comedy isn’t enough for you then there isn’t anything else to Yuruyuri. It has no story, no real narrative or romance and lastly it’s not even really a Yuri in any material way outside of a few side characters.
This is, though, quickly turning into a shit throwing fest at yuruyuri; one I don’t think the series necessarily deserves. I have to say in its defense it’s completely inoffensive and in no way is worth active hate. It’s got a good bit of spirit, but just like its main character akarin, is completely unremarkable. Here again I give yuruyuri 3 exploding time machines out of 5
Well Hello again Vice, It’s me M, and after a bit of a break to play skyrim I’ve returned to review another title that normally I would have never touched. Today’s title is a little something that is from the same blood as the ever popular K-on! and cut from the same publisher (A-1 Pictures) as one of my Personal favorite Anime’s Anohana, but not much else. With this pedigree and reputation I was pretty disinterested in the entire series, however after a bit of the story was explained to me, and a promise that the series would take its premise somewhat seriously, I headed into Sound of the Sky Also known as Sora no woto. It’s supporters call it one of the best animes to come out and critics call it a shameless rip off of K-on! so what is Sora no woto?
Sounds of the Sky, better known as Sora no woto follows the life of an all girls tank platoon, 121st Platoon, stationed in the town of Seize. A member of the poorly equipped, undermanned, and underpaid army of Helvetian Army: the story more directly revolves around private Kanata Sorami, a young musician turned trumpeter (communicator) for the platoon and her dealings with the assorted members of the squad and the town at large, Seize (based of Cuenca, Spain) during a short time of peace between wars. This all in a far flung future where an apocalypse as pushed japan culturally and technologically to
a point resembling western Europe just after world war one. The series while directly dealing with just the lives of the small platoon deals more subtly in the greater picture of the self destructive nature of mankind and the horrors of war and disparity, but even more then that about how life can be more then lovely in spite of those looming dangers. All this while remaining at the surface a low key “cute girls doing cute things” anime in an odd setting and original premise.
I have never been a big fan of the “cute girls doing cute things” or moe anime genera since it got first introduced and popularized thing with lucky star and Clannad. It always struck me as one of the lowest forms of a slice of life anime; right above harems in terms of depth. This might be more a symptom of my own distaste of characters that are stupid just to appear adorable as a replacement for comedy or clever writing. Clannad got away with it by adding more depth, but this alone has kept me from watching K-on! and was what made me drop Lucky Star 4 episodes in. What was a problem in that concept remains, however mitigated by the fact that the show for the most part doesn’t really deal with them just doing nothing and most things actually serve as a character establishing seqeunce or to illustrate what’s under the surface.
And that is the big thing in my opinion about this series. What’s under the surface. The world in Sora no woto as well as all the character have incredible levels of depth and structure to them that are shown rather than blankly stated. It is not stated exactly how dire things are in their world, but shown. whether in how the entire base is not even armed enough for a rifle for every soldier, or how the old run down the city is, or how completely cut off from supplies they are being illustrated by actions rather than unnatural exposition. A character with a Crisis of faith, in example, deals with it mostly unspoken and in subtle clues rather than big speeches. This allows for a huge amount of depth to be added to the world while not forcing it overbearingly on the viewer. It creates an incredibly interesting fiction that runs in the background, one that I personally came to very much enjoy. You can read into things to your desired level and there is plenty to read into, especially with the young cast who have been in the war previous to the ceasefire. Sgt. Rio and Lt. Filicia especially once you begin to understand them.
Sora no woto on the surface isn’t all that terrible. The art, even if that is shamelessly similar to K-on is very very good especially the background and world art. The music is utterly fantastic and blends a lot of styles seamlessly. Intelligent writing and interesting references to history blend as well, with a certain attention in detail to design that honestly shows positively. On the flip side some of the subtly and serious tones at the end are undermined by the main character who seems far too childish and kind of unintelligent or simply unwilling to acknowledge how real shit has gotten. This follows well as some of the later actions by Lt. Filicia that make little to no sense for an officer, even one with such a unorthodox approach. While in the end things get real it didn’t pull it as hard as it looked like it was, however while I was disappointed by the end, I must admit it wasn’t bad at all.
All in all I took a really surprisingly positive feeling out of Sora no woto. It managed to be incredibly subtle and beautiful in both an artistic and writing perspective that even with the limitations of the genre it’s in I feel happy giving it a well deserved 4 spider bots out of five and hope more people check it out on crunchy roll.