Hello vice, it’s M, back again for another entry in the great library of reviews. This time we take it to the loosely Lovecraft inspired Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos. A 2012 anime brought to us by XEBEC, a studio I’m completely unfamiliar with and have no reason to trust or distrust. All in all Nyarko-san gained some fame and recognition from people whose opinions I do trust in spite of empirical evidence, enough to grab my attention and bring it to crunchy roll.
Nyarko-san follows the high school adventures of Mahiro Yasaka, whom lived the normal life until he was attack by unknown demons. Right before he is taken away, the young man fines himself saved by a mysterious and hyper young girl. This young girl turns out to be Nyarlathotep the crawling chaos, who in lovecraftian mythos is pretty much the devil. Along with this she turns out to be a member of the planetary defense origination that aims to protect the planets from other deities. All said and good, but when Yasaka finds out Nyarlathotep or Nyarko, is more interesting in making love with him then protecting earth his life becomes more and more uncomfortable and unstable.
Based incredibly loosely on Lovcraftian mythos this comedy parody brings out quite a bit of the elder gods, with the additions to the cast being Hastur, a Cthulhi, and my personal favorite character, the living flame Cthuga who desires to have Nyarko lesbian babies. It’s fairly charming and the incredibly contrast to the gloominess of lovecraftian myth makes it funny without even having to try. Aside from the Cthulhi I enjoyed the entire cast and for what it’s worth the appeal and humor never got old even after 12 episodes. While I rarely laughed out loud I’m very cold to comedies so to be called funny by me is an achievement in and of itself. Also points for some of the cleverest anime references I’ve seen in a while, Nyarko-san actually reminded me that Big O existed....oh and...nyarko is occasionally insanely adorable which usually has no effect on me...but...
Nyarko-san however is a disappointment. It doesn’t really go wrong, but it doesn’t really commit to the lovecraftian parody past the first couple episodes, and while there are little references here and there, it’s not clever or really relevant to the plot. What it pulls for a reference is usually just stating something from the Lovecraftian universe; it’s as clever as calling a tree Cthulhu. It’s still just a tree, but now it has a lovecraftian name and that’s not what I consider clever. Change all the names to people from the star wars story and aside from switching up some of the powers and art the story would play the exact same it’s so irrelevant to what the anime actually does. Knowing you could strip the lovecraftian elements out and replace it with generic sci-fi and the show go virtually unchanged can’t help but disappoint when better use of the source material could have really pushed the show into something better than just good.
That being said Nyarko-san is funny by itself, but more importantly it’s kind of charming and endearing. While it won’t leave any real sort of impression on me, nor be in my thoughts past this review, I enjoyed it. Which is more then I can say to the army of slice of life comedies that do pretty much nothing for me. A good pallet cleanser and a pleasant time for what it’s worth Nyarko-san gets 3.5 tentacles out of 5. Sorry for the short Review, but I’m feeling pretty lazy today so enjoy! Later Vice.
Hello vice, after over 50 reviews since I started off on Anime vice, M’s is still here bring you reviews on whatever I damn well please. This time with something a little different; Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, a somewhat popular anime by A-1 Pictures most famous for the persona 3 anime. Originally aired back in 2011 I completely missed it during my hiatus and just happened to stumble upon while looking for something to test the PS3 app for Crunchy roll. Which as an aside is a fairly broken app, when it works it’s awesome…when it works.
As for what Anohana even is, it’s not too complex a plot. A group of six close childhood friends all separated and grew distant after one of them, Meiko "Menma" Honma, dies in an accident. Years later what use to be the group leader, highschooler Jinta Yodomi, has grown reclusive over the last year with no friends. That summer after ten years Menma appears again to him. Unsure of whether she is a horrific delusion, a ghost haunting him, or the real kind hearted Menma, either way Menma has returned only to him asking to have her wish granted. Only problem is she has no idea what the wish is; just that it will need all six of them to accomplish. The Series lasting only eleven episodes goes from there dealing with issues of greed, love, heartache, jealousy, happiness, friendship, but most importantly grief and whether one really can/should/must let go or not.
Almost anyone who has ever had to go through losing someone they love knows that desire of having that person back so much it hurts; as such it’s not a surprise that this sort of story isn’t that rare, in fact it’s a very common drama set up being such a universal wish. While that is true, Anohana is a perfect example of how fantastic execution and reinvention of even the most used story designs will beat an original idea without proper exection by a mile and then some. Instead of necessarily presenting a completely new story concept it presents it in a slightly new way and makes it meaningful and heartfelt in a way I didn’t think possible in eleven episodes. The Characters all act with a good blend of vices and virtues and show the weight of this emotional burden so well and so differently character to character. They all come alive in a way that I don’t find often and are, while not always likeable, relatable as hell. This is especially true with the main character who while hurting inside constantly and deeply it shows subtly never making a heavy dive into melodrama. The story is gifted with a charming feel, and very subtle progression is one of the best things in terms of pure execution. Anohana simply succeeds at everything it tries to be without ever falling on its face.
However, that might be helped simply by the fact that Anohana doesn’t try to be much. It’s not particularly funny, a good romance, twisty, dark or meta in any way but then again it’s not trying to be. It’s a simple charming, real and emotional experience, but there really isn’t anything else to it. So if you’re not watching it for the feels there is not a damn thing this show has for you. Other issues remain nitpicky. While never out of character a few of the cast come off as jerks more often than one would hope and, like any drama, it has a few moments where people say or do things more in the service of the plot then sense, but you’d be a hard pressed to find a piece of fiction that doesn’t do that. Other then damning it for not trying to be an anime for everyone or nit picking pointless inconsistency it lacks any big flaws. There isn’t a problem really to be had with what Anohana is. Really it comes down to if that is really something you’re going to enjoy or if it’s, and it could easily be, not for you.
This being said, if something like that, a short emotional piece with a lot of charm, is something you would enjoy Anohana is superb. By the end I was crying like a child, something anime hasn’t made me do in well ever. Because of relationships between a group of people I’ve known for less than five hours and thirty minutes I was crying for a good five to ten minutes. That is something pretty impressive to me, whom generally has a difficult time crying or showing emotion.
Anohana is in a sentence is a fantastic, subtle, charming, emotional, little anime. Something that I find is a rarity to seen done well. If you try to go in with the “I’m just going to stone face my way though it” or “There is no way this will be as sad as Clannad” attitude your really just going to rob yourself of the experience. If what I say interest you, give Anohana a casual shot like I did on a whim and try to just enjoy it for what it is. If you do, even if you don’t agree with me, I think you’ll understand why I give Anohana 4.5 Nokémon out of 5. Later vice.
Hello Vice. It’s M here again this time finally with something other than Deadmen. This time I take a look into the well received Ga-Rei: Zero and see exactly what it has to offer the anime community. Ga-rei: zero was a 2008 anime and a prequel to the manga that shares the name Ga-rei. For the most part I didn’t know anything about Ga-Rei except for the somewhat famous pocky yuri scene and that it was “about F.E.A.R. except their Japanese school girls with swords not big American guys with guns.” Neither of these things necessarily sold it to me, but seeing all the positive reviews did.
A supernatural action anime dealing with fighting demons and ghosts, Ga-Rei starts off with the group called Paranormal Disaster Countermeasure Headquarters (PDCH) a government agency that hunts demons and ghosts. I say starts off because they are all subsequently killed in the next episode and replaced in the battle with Ministry of Environment's Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division (SDCD) who come in and also get messed up within the next episode. After that it turns back the clock to follow the actual story of Yomi and Kagura, two non-blood related sisters who eventually join SDCD.
Obviously from that description one might notice that the story is a tad bit…disjointed at least to start off. While I wouldn’t call in confusing it starts off making you want to just pause and ask what and why the whole first episode is there to begin with. I would describe the story as one trying to start their car in mud; spinning their wheels, but not getting anywhere conceivable. Putting that aside Ga-Rei is what it is at heart, an over the top silly action anime with a dark tone. Normally with the tone it tries to set I would think this anime was trying to be serious, but with one of the characters being essentially the chick from grind house with a bladed wheel chair along with the gun leg, no it’s not meant to be taken too seriously.
However immature as the story is and as over the top and impossible the action is to physics; Ga-rei is fun as hell to watch go at least for the short little 12 episodes it goes on for. It looks good in terms of art, not exactly shaft good, but good enough to be pretty interesting. The plot does grow on you a bit even if all the twists are revealed in the first two episodes of the show. The story stays for what it’s worth thematically consistent with the universe its set in even if it’s a tad bit preposterous and manages to have struck a minor emotional chord in me, probably due to the heavier parts of the story dealing with sibling (not romantic) love something I personally can relate to.
That being said ga-rei isn’t anything special. It’s good and I’m comfortable calling it that, but as a whole the package isn’t fantastic in any way. At the end of the day Ga-Rei isn’t a series I’m going to think about past this review, it came and it went, simple as that.
Also as an aside, the only real legal way to watch Ga-Rei is on Netflix streaming in English dub. While I’m not anti dub; this was the worst performance of a dub I have seen Funimation do in a very long time. I won’t knock the series for it being that the sub might be wonderful, but the acting in dub is just emotionless and jerky as hell I had to make note of it.
All in all Ga-Rei is good, but not worth much mentioning earning the comfortable place of 3.5 holy water hand grandees out of 5. With Ga-Rei in the bag I feel completely content to move on to something else, even if I’m not sure exactly what. Vice you decide, but for today that’s all for M. See you later folks.
With the end of my Deadman quest matched up with the end of the anime on Toonami I was left deeply disappointing with the franchise as a whole, but liked it far too much to ignore it entirely. This being so Deadman Wonderland has been on my mind Quiet a bit and I simply feel the need to discuss and break down my final thoughts on Why Deadman had so much potential to be a five out of five and more so why it went so wrong that it barely managed to be above mediocre.
This will contain spoilers, but I will try to keep them as contained as possible.
Deadman wonderland is in concept one of the most interesting concepts for a location to set a story I've ever seen. Prison is historically underused setting for stories considering the amount of emotion tied to them. It is a wonder their isn't more actual stories that take place in them and yes I mean more the gay porn and romance novels. While prison isn't that interesting by itself to me specifically the addition of the Theme park fused into one Deadman wonderland could provide not only a interesting commentary on justice and entertainment, but also add a deeply disturbing contrast, bright and wonderful background of a theme park mixed with the dark realities of what it is and why. I'll even tag in that the back story of the ruins of Tokyo make for interesting stories.
These are wonderful in concept however the reality is one must execute and take advantage of ones setting to make that idea come alive well enough. The interesting "Wonderland" aspect of the prison is at best downplayed, but at worst completely absent from the series. Eighty percent of the anime takes place in G-block never even touching the surface of wonderland or dealing with that world. Even the manga while takeing place in Deadman Wonderland proper about sixty six percent of the time doesn't do much more then show one event and have the occasional blur of maybe something behind someone sometimes. This is a complete failure on the part of design and writing proving again that action and execution is required for cool ideas to be anything more then that.
For the most part yes thats right. Deadmen of Deadman wonderland are fun enough each with a fairly new and unique skill set between them, while veering in actual quality most Deadmen introduced are at best Amazing characters (Shiro and Crow) and at worst fun and a bit silly (Hummingbird and Peacock) What helps alleviate the silliness of their blood powers is they are vaguely explained even if not super satisfyingly. Sure the Nameless worm is a completely preposterous idea, but its not as long as you dont ask "how" they give them blood powers the minor explanation of "CUZ SCIENCE!" works enough to settle with someone not trying to rip the franchise apart. The Forgeries and Shiro pretty much are given the exact same pass because at the least their is some sort of explanation even if it is lazy and overly convenient.
Its not that the idea of something that negates the powers of a Deadman is stupid, its more then that. The Undertakers seem like they were the duds stolen from the bleach villains factory and given computer generated "Dark past" to try to justify their nonsense that one might try to describe as behavior. They look silly, they are silly, they use silly weapons, their is no explanation to why they are silly, but I am suppose to take them seriously. Trying to play it off as "rule of cool" would work if Deadman did not attempt to convey a serious story, or if the undertakers had been cool to begin with. That tends to help. I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of things, but a eleven year old girl with no special abilities swing a sword that weighs more then me, well to that I say good day sir
Ganta, Ganta, Ganta. Most Comparable to Yuki from Future Diary in terms of what he is to the story and is as a character and is the only character I've seen cry as much as Yuki in an anime. To be fair Ganta is far less of a baby in the manga, and they are both Middle school boys in the most stressful nightmares we can imagine, but the thing is, while both yuki and ganta can act like children, at least Yuki as the decency to be insanely clever and a pragmatist. In truth Ganta did grow to become worthy of my respect, but I never found him all that relate-able, more so in the anime they tend to strip him of his clever moments. Instead of outsmarting the other inmates intthe final part of the dog race he just so happens to luck out instead. Famous for making poor decisions just to keep the plot moving Ganta just isn't that great a main character except toward the end of the manga, and never in the anime.
Their are, in my opinion three types of Yandere as follows
The Sentimental Yandere - This tends to be more characterized version. While they are obsessive and dangerous they are also more sympathetic and easier to relate to. Lucy from Elfen Lied is a good example of this.
Shiro while one of my favorite characters is designed to be a mix of all three. She is Sentimental in the sense that she is probably the most likeable member of the cast and is beyond being disliked by anyone that deals with her. Shiro is also the secound being probably the funniest character on the show, most of her Yandere antics seem more silly and funny even if it involves the murder of someone else (I.E. knocking someone in a pit of spikes with a smile) it's funny and honestly a bit cute. Lastly and we are expected to view her other personality as the last type of Yandere, the psychotic, which is not hard to pull off when the Wretched Egg will murder the hell out of of anyone to get to ganta. What surprises me, more then the fact that the writer combined these very separate type of Yandere in to one character and it completely works. Shiro manages to dance along these lines of insanity very well all while remaining a combination of the funniest, most likeable, and most terrifying member of the cast. Shiro as a character is wasted on the franchise as is much of concepts and ideas.
I know this seems like Yandere is an odd fit for Shiro, but think about it. Shiro has shown willingness to do anything for Ganta, including murdering him. She has made it clear everyone's life is worthless in comparison and that anyone that hurts Ganta is Shiro's enemy, this all for the sake of love. That is a Yandere, just a lot easier and kinder one who prefers when no one is hurt.
The Wretched Egg or Red man, Shiro's alternate personality is very frightening and very powerful, but is barely a character. She doesn't appear much until the very end and most of her dialogue is just her blanket statements about how evil she. Hardly a character, the Wretched egg just seems so blank in comparison to the main personality. Just seems like more missed potential.
The main plague that sickens and makes all the minor issues with the franchise worse is just the progression. 11 volumes and 5 story arcs. Do the math, thats just barely above one every two volumes. You simply can't introduce a story in one volume, have the dramatic conclusion in the other and expect the pay off to be worth it. Constantly making and tieing up lose ends makes the story seem lost and hollow for the most part and makes caring about it a difficult. This withers interest in the series so even when the story arcs start to get better you can't treat it with the seriousness it might have deserved on its own. perhaps cutting the poor arcs and spending the rest of the time with the other arcs might have helped trim the fat and allow the story to be more fluid and focused.
That's about all I can think to complain or examine about Deadman, or maybe I'm just lazy. So Vice what do you guys think? What would have helped make Deadman Wonderland live up to its promise? What decisions could have helped alleviate its problems and help it capitalize on it's successes? Or am I just full of shit?
Well Vice, it’s me again, M. To the few that follow me more regularly I’ve just finished a quest to finish all of Deadman wonderland the manga. With All of Deadman in the hole finished and my last review up it was ironically perfect to see the Anime variant reach its conclusion on Toonami. With Deadman wonderland the Anime Completed It’s up for the chopping block as a separate entity entirely.
To the Uninformed to The series of a whole it revolves around the story of Ganta, an average middle schooler; just like many Anime protagonist, however unlike many protagonists within a few scenes his entire middle school class is murdered in front of him. This act done by the mysterious Redman. The only Survivor, Ganta, is sentenced to death in a horrific prison turned carnival that earns its name Deadman Wonderland. There he discovers a friend Shiro and a series of horrors hidden in Wonderland, not the least of the Strange Deadmen. This series carries a lot of blood from the hit Eureka 7 and reached a pretty decent leave of attention especially with its reintroduction into toonami.
Speaking strictly the anime deviates from Manga in very seldom ways, except for the removal of a few relevant side characters. It’s frankly a streamlined visual version of chapters one through twenty one or volumes one through five respectively, cutting out the side bits not relevant until the parts post the twenty one mark. As a whole Deadman starts off with a very strong and positive early game. Deadman Wonderland is a terrifying nightmare draped in colorful lights, Shiro remains impossible to dislike while Ganta remains realistic considering being a fourteen year old. For the most part it capitalizes on the same successes as the manga, especially early on in a well themed and stylish way. Sure not studio shaft stylish, but not a bad. The beginning six episodes build a set of interesting flavored and fairly likeable characters and a dark world with tasteful and unnerving contrast of grit and cheer that drives ones interest up easily. This all while delivering a slight commentary on society that isn’t forced down your throat.
That is until the series takes a sharp nose dive into the ridiculous and absurd. Unfocused and often a tad bit too incomprehensible or forced depending on your perspective story directions begin to take over. This slowly begins to degrade the series as a whole and greatly limits one’s ability to take it seriously. More so the prime failure of Deadman wonderland has been its inability to capitalize on its interesting concepts, such as the Wonderland aspect of world, or the political tension of that world. Instead the series makes constant story arc shifts incapable of committing to any one thing and properly execute its plot in any meaningful ways. It’s not that the story isn’t capable of being good, it has all the materials of a fantastic story, just never manages to play them out well or satisfyingly. Well to be fair the introduction of the Bleach Character rejections that are the undertakers could never be good, but I digress.
Deadman Wonderland was given all the tools to be functional, even more so has the concepts and the originality to be above and beyond its peers becoming excellent. Some Series have the execution to make two plus two equal five superseding the weaknesses in its parts , Deadman started off with a greater sum in pieces then it manages to be together, with that three plus three ends up four. While Deadman Wonderland is never bad, and rarely even so low as to be mediocere it manages to be completely disappointing compared to its ultimate potential especially when adding the inconclusive and unsatisfying end.
While I still feel a blog post is needed separately to address specifically where Deadman Wonderland consistently went wrong and why this will do as a spoiler free review of the series. Deadman Wonderland isn’t bad, hell it’s actually pretty good, but fails to manage above 3.5 Ace men out of 5. I can’t shake how great all this could have been, but I don’t regret watching it in the least. That’s all for today, M’s heading out vice hopefully for a bit of a break, but don’t worry. We got more Reviews and podcast one the way, later vice.