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  • Linebarrels of Iron (Anime) Review

    Linebarrels of Iron Anime Review

    Linebarrels of Iron

    Hello! This will be a review of the anime series “Linebarrels of Iron”, based (loosely) off of a manga series with the same name. (I have not read the manga though, just so it is known) anyway, here goes!

    Plot of Linebarrels of Iron

    Linebarrels of Iron
    Well, we meet the main character of Linebarrels of Iron, Kouichi Hayase, a 14 year old student that gets bullied by a group of boys in his class. At the same time, we are introduced (somewhat) to the two sides, JUDA and KATO-KIKAN (good and bad respectively), who are trying to lead something to Earth, some meteor-like thing. So stuff happens, and Hayase is hit by this thing, which is a machina (mecha) from an alternate dimension. Well, long story short, he becomes the factor (pilot) and the story goes from there. Wow, that’s a ton to take in (though spread over 22 minutes), and for a while, I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue the series…especially since the Machina arrived with a naked female (of the same age as Hayase), who is unconscious beside him after it landed on him. So overall, I thought the series was going to be a terrible mecha/ecchi series with little to no actual storyline…I was proven wrong though, and I am thrilled about that!

    To summarize, JUDA is good, KATO-KIKAN is bad, and each is a mecha organization (somewhat…). Hayase, having been a wimp for his whole life, is super strong after becoming the factor, and decides to become a “Hero of Justice” (which is a term carried through the series, so his original goals do not change). He starts out beating up on other mechas, called ARMAs, which are operated by the UN and JUDA, as well as KATO-KIKAN (All ARMAs are attempts at replicating the Machinas). The “Hero of Justice” destroys his own town (areas of it) in pursuit of his selfish goals to be stronger, and punish the evil with his own ideals. Eventually, JUDA recruits him, and JUDA and KATO-KIKAN wage battle after battle over the next 15 or so episodes, until the plot twist! Since I do not wish to spoil it, I will just say that the predictability of the show dropped about 90% after the twist.

    As a side note to the plot, episode 12 is the most pointless episode in any anime series ever. All it is is a beach party of JUDA, in which nothing plot-wise happens, except for one minuscule detail in the romantic life of the characters.

    Characters Linebarrels of Iron

    Linebarrels of Iron
    Linebarrels of Iron had a fairly large cast, so I shall stick with the key characters. Most all of the characters go through some change during the series, and don’t stay all static, so in English they are dynamic. Hayase wins the prize for most character development in any anime like this I’ve seen in a while.

    Hayase is our lead; a selfish, arrogant, lowly person in the beginning, but throughout the series he develops into a man.

    Kizaki is the girl who crashed with LINEBARREL (the Machina), she is one of the romantic interests of

    Hayase, as well as the tactician of JUDA.

    Moritsugu is the Factor of Machina VARDANT, he is a skilled warrior, who also believes he is following the path of justice.

    Yamashita, Izuna, Shizuna, and Miu the four JUDA Factors, Izuna and Shizuna being twins who pilot the same Machina. Miu and the female twin being others of Hayase’s romantic interests.

    Ishigami is head of JUDA while KATOU is head of KATO-KIKAN.

    Final thoughts on Linebarrels of Iron

    Linebarrels of Iron
    Personally, I loved Linebarrels of Iron. I would give it a ten out of ten! However, for the sake of anyone who reads this review, I shall rate it at a 6.5/10. The art was good, the music was phenomenal (trumpet was amazing!), and the plot was better than some cliche piece of garbage show, but definitely not something everyone would enjoy. Here’s why: the romance in the show was all off, and seemed so forced, except for Kizaki/Hayase, and the usual cliche large breasts, beach scenes, and rather annoying sexual humor at times. If you can overlook this though, the series is a great one to watch, and leaves you with one of those *exhales smiling while nodding an thinking “yeah…that was fun…”* feelings. http://youtu.be/q-q2F5WHEU8


  • Aldnoah Zero (Anime) Review

    Aldnoah Zero Anime Review

    Aldnoah Zero

     

    Aldnoah Zero was released in 2014 with a scheduled second half for January 2015. Directed by Ei Aoki, with Gen Urobuchi and Katsuhiko Takayama being credited for the writing, the show had an interesting take on an alternate reality and the conflict between two opposing factions, as well as effectively displaying the ignorance and tension between both sides.

    Set in an alternate variation of our current reality, with its history being identical to ours save for the events which transpired post to the discoveries of the Apollo 17 mission to the moon, Aldnoah Zero is based around the events which were sparked after this space mission lead to the discovery and extrication of ancient and unknown technologies, the first of which was the Hypergate discovered on the moon itself which would enable humans to terraform Mars with the ultimate purpose of settlement and in-habitation.

    As Mars was slowly colonized by more humans, additional fragments of ancient technology, dubbed ‘Aldnoah’, was seized by these immigrants, who eventually abandoned their heritage and affiliation with Earth, accumulating into the Vers Empire. The conflict between the two human factions eventuated into a war in 1999. Within the ensuing battle, the Hypergate which enabled the terraforming of Mars lost control and ended with the destruction of the moon, resulting in a phenomenon known as Heaven’s fall, where fragments of the moon rained down of Earth, destroying multiple locations.
    Fast-forward 15 years to 2014, where a peace visit to Earth from the Vers Princess, Asseylum Vers Allusia, is about to go underway. As she arrives on Earth and is revealed to the Earth populace for the first time, a group of mysterious killers assassinates her, in order to spark outrage amongst the nobility of the Vers Empire for mysterious motives, resulting in an all-out invasion of Earth. This invasion was to be led by the Orbital Knights, nobles of the Vers Empire with the privilege of being able to use the ancient and mysterious weapons, powered by a device called the Aldnoah drive. One of the primary invasion points of this force just happens to be in Tokyo Japan, meaning that the militant nation has gone so far as to conscript teenagers with military training into the armed forces to combat this alien species.

     

    Characters of Aldnoah Zero

    Aldnoah Zero

    Our protagonist, Inaho Kaizuka, is a young Japanese student whose sister is a Warrant-Officer in the Japanese army. Obviously, like all protagonists, he has dead parents and has been living with his older sister. Although his sister is a rather loud and erratic person, he himself is quiet, calm and analytical, yet not in a good way. There’s nothing wrong with having an intellectual protagonist, but when he is so emotionless that he doesn’t even cry when his best friend is killed right before his very eyes, honestly, what’s the point in featuring him? The protagonist is the example to be set for the rest of the characters, so what he’s displaying is that anyone useless to the plot is expendable. Brilliant emotional utilisation right there.
    Like all Japanese students, Inaho has undertaken compulsory military training, including mech operations and military tactics. He is usually the one who faces off against the overpowered mechs from Mars powered by the Aldnoah drive, and is ultimately the one that defeats them through various tricks in his trademark orange mech. I won’t speak much of his secondary role as that would lead into spoilers, but nevertheless he does end up having to grope 2 plot devices.

    The other notable character, and the second protagonist, is Slaine Troyard, an Earth-born terran who has become a member of the Vers Empire through spoilers. He became a close friend to the princess after she saved him and his father’s life five years before the show begins. He obviously has feelings for the princess, yet is disallowed from pursuing a relationship with her due to the watchful eye of his superior. The orbital knight Count Cruhteo. He has a pretty 2-dimensional personality, and does nothing that he thinks the princess wouldn’t want him to, like a subservient slave. His only motive and goal is to avenge or assist the princess in any way he can, making him a rather shallow character. His endurance and tenacity is one thing, yet he cannot operate appropriately as a person without a single thought about the princess.

     

    Soundtrack of Aldnoah Zero

    Aldnoah Zero

    The soundtrack was composed by the one and only Hiroyuki Sawano, ultimately one of my favourite anime composers of all time. He seems to have a talent for providing shitty or mediocre anime with a brilliant soundtrack, proven with a résumé consisting of shows such as Attack on Titan, Kill La Kill and Guilty Crown, all of which have amazing, multi-genre soundtracks. Hiroyuki has a talent for blending electronica, orchestra and rock in perfect correlation to create power and compelling main themes yet subtle and delicate compositions when the softer and more impactful scenes arise, and Aldnoah Zero’s soundtrack was no exception.

    There was a singular problem that I have with the soundtrack, and that is its reminiscence to the Attack on Titan soundtrack. It isn’t a complaint, it still sounds amazing, yet there is something rather unsettling about hearing an echo paying respect to his previous works. It almost felt like he lowered the bar with his standards for unique soundtracks, yet in the process he still managed to make it sound good. The opening was rather nice as well, yet was eerily reminiscent of Yuki Kajura for some strange reason. It’s skippable, along with the ending, which is an 8-Bit remake of the main theme with added vocals.

     

    Animation of Aldnoah Zero

    Aldnoah Zero

    The animation studio was none other than A-1 Pictures, whose other works consist of From the New World, Sword Art Online, Magi and My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute. The animation itself was a blend of environmental CGI and a rather plain animation style for the characters. Unlike multiple anime with CGI, the blending between the normal animation and the CGI of the mechs and several environments was nothing short of perfection, and each style complimented each other in a rather unique way. Much unlike C, Aldnoah Zero even had good CGI, yet I always find mecha anime are more successful with normal animation. Code Geass and several branches of Gundam are a testimony to that, but then again, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

     

    Thoughts of Aldnoah Zero

    Aldnoah Zero

    The characters for Aldnoah Zero predominantly features 2 simultaneous protagonists, both of which are terrans held under different circumstances, along with a plethora of shallow side characters merely fabricated to fill in the blanks for supporting roles and shoddy emotional reinforcement. Literally, aside from the protagonists none of the characters have any true relevance or purpose except to be an annoying plot point, shoddy emotional reinforcement, generic grunts or stupid. There was a limited amount of fascinating characters within the show, with one of the few meaningful characters being lieutenant, a survivor of Heaven’s Fall that just so happens to be *CENSOR BEEP*. The biggest thing for me about Aldnoah Zero is that it almost seems like a homage to its soul predecessor, Code Geass. Although the world and progression of humanity was rather fascinating in Aldnoah Zero and from a narrative stand-point both shows are merely similar, there seems to be an edge within the struggles of the people and the way they conflict with these apparently indestructible forces that causes me to compare the two.

    Along with the story of invasion from a presumably undefeatable force set out to enslave or annihilate a native force and governmental militia, both have seemingly underdog protagonists who use their wits and cunning rather than brute force to perform the impossible and become the narrative hero. That being said, the largest difference between Lelouch and Inaho is their relatability and emotional fragility.

    Lelouch ultimately became a warrior of justice and was enveloped by his passion and drive to overcome all his obstacles that watching him surpass the assigned trials felt triumphant and was something to be celebrated, whereas Inaho was merely an intellectual protégé of Lelouch without the passion or drive, and this attitude does more than reflect the character, yet extends to become a reflection on the show.

    A protagonist is someone that should be able to guide the show’s trajectory and, specifically with this type of show, be the charismatic example to be followed by the accumulation of side characters. Yet he was all bite without bark, which was a rather big let-down. No awesome monologue, no conflicting morality, no clever witticism. Merely a blank canvas with equations.
    Aldnoah Zero also seems to relish in its utilisation of dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is defined as something that the audience or viewer knows about the narrative that the characters within the narrative do not. Although attempting to be used as reinforcement for some deep and emotionally charged narrative, this presentation of the story is overused, and therefore acts a foreshadowing for the climactic conclusion of the first half. I will not go into much spoilers, but will say that the ending was an almost successful attempt at being unique, and hopefully acts as a precursor to an amazing second half that will succeed in wowing me as much as this first season did.

    Aside from that, I was rather disappointed in the presentation of almost all the characters. They have seemingly no motivation for any of the actions they set into motion, and certain characters such as Calm speak of actions they wish to fulfil, yet despite this murderous motive no actions at all are set into motion. If he was truly passionate or emotionally distraught, he would’ve acted regardless of the consequences. That, alongside other spoilerific blunders have me pointing at shoddy writing and plot devices such as deus ex machina, especially within the mecha battles. In some ways, the battle scenes are really clever in their reminiscence of Code Geass, yet are so technical in their explanations that it wouldn’t take anything short of a genius to figure out, especially given the time it takes to make such observations. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the greatest show in the world, but I loved watching it, and it is much better than the other project A-1 Pictures is participating in…. (SAO II).

     

    Final Verdict

    Aldnoah Zero

    Overall, Aldnoah Zero was a cool and interesting show to watch, despite its incompletion. It might not be the greatest thing in the world, but it’s still worth a watch.

    Story: 5.78/10
    Characters: 4.22/10
    Animation: 8.51/10
    Soundtrack: 8.45/10

     

    – The Internet Bear


  • Love Lab (Anime) Review

    Love Lab Anime Review

    Love Lab

    So I started the anime expecting it to be some romance type series, and it was…I guess…but then we learn the student council president has a hug pillow that she makes out with…(so I skipped some plot details as to why we learn this, though if you watch the anime, you will see why). I found myself going “what the … did I just finish watching?” After the first episode, but it was not in some bad way…the series just seemed kind of odd… In the end though, I was glad I watched Love Lab.

     

    Plot of Love Lab

    Love Lab

    Kurahashi Riko, a somewhat “wild” girl at Fujisaki Girls Academy, has to go to the student council room for something, and that’s when she sees the president, Maki Natsuo, kissing a hug pillow. Apparently, Maki has no romantic experience, and ends up convinced that Riko is a master of love (nothing could be further from the truth). This leads to Maki and Riko doing tests of sorts in the student council room for Maki to learn how to make boys like her. Eventually, three other girls join, they are the student council secretary, the treasurer, and the “president”. All five of these girls participate in the “love labs”, and try to learn from Riko how to be popular with boys. (this is about as vague as I can get about the plot, but this is a comedy, and the gags about each character are somewhat entertaining).

     

    Characters of Love Lab

    Love Lab
    Characters

    So “Love Lab” has five major characters; Riko Kurahashi, Maki Natsuo, Tanahashi Suzune, Enomoto Yuika, and Mizushima Sayori. Each of them has their own quirkiness that makes the show more enjoyable (I found Maki to be the best of them, just because I enjoy the whole “girl who is perfect but actually a weirdo” scenario). Riko is the “wild one”, who is not overly fond of the rules of proper ladies, Maki is the perfect student/weird fetishy (she can be described as that, I think…) girl, Suzune is the quiet girl who actually really enjoys making slapsticks to beat people with, Sayori is the sadist, and Enomoto is the most stereotypical tsundere ever.

    All the characters were fairly well used, and not left out too much. Though all of them did follow some of the usual romance/comedy cliches, the anime did well to use them. Never once did I feel as if the characters were dull or lifeless, even though the actions and attitudes of them are used in many different series as well.

     

    Love Lab

    So if the vague ramblings made no sense, or did not help with your decision to watch this series, maybe this will… No, in all seriousness though, I loved “Love Lab”. Throughout the series, we meet some of the boys in Riko’s life, and we have to bear through her lie about being a love master. Though the ending was fairly unexpected, the rest of the show was somewhat predictable. I felt it was the minute details though that made the series good, as they were just some small changes to general scenes… (And if that did not help either…).

    The series as a whole was a solid 8/10. Not the best anime ever, but it was so much better than many romance/comedy series I’ve seen before. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys girls teaching other girls about getting a boyfriend (in a semi-clean way though, no sexual themes).

     

    – Gilded Hero


  • Toradora (Anime) Review

    Toradora Anime Review

    Warning: Contains Spoilers! 

    Toradora

    Toradora’s story begins with the male protagonist Ryūji Takasu who is frustrated at trying to look his best as he enters his second year of high school. Despite his gentle personality, his eyes make him look like an intimidating delinquent, so he feels utterly hopeless about his chances of getting a girlfriend anytime soon, and does not have many close friends either. After being greeted by his hungover mother in the morning, Ryūji goes to school and is happy to find that he gets to be in the same class with his best friend Yūsaku Kitamura and a girl he has a crush on, Minori Kushieda. However, it is then that he unexpectedly walks into “the school’s most dangerous animal of the highest risk level”—Taiga Aisaka—who just happens to also be in his class, and is best friends with Minori.

    Taiga has a negative attitude towards others and will not hesitate to snap at people. After meeting Ryūji, she takes an instant dislike to him. Taiga comes from a rich family, but she has moved out to live on her own due to family issues. She is coincidentally living in an apartment next to Ryūji’s. When Ryūji discovers that Taiga has a crush on Yūsaku, and Taiga finds out about Ryūji’s affections towards Minori, Ryūji suggests that they cooperate to win the objects of their affections. Taiga exploits the fact that Ryūji will do anything to get closer to Minori. She makes him her personal dog, getting him to do all her household chores (cooking and cleaning). Taiga spends a lot of her time over at his house, so much that she could almost be considered a member of his family. Since Ryūji spends a lot of time with Taiga, he has opened up to her world and to a side of her that most people do not see. The two also try to help each other improve the way people view them. However people they know from school start to become curious about their strange relationship and rumors begin to spread about them behind their backs. Ryūji and Taiga start getting along more as things progress with the relationships between the characters and eventually confess their true feelings of love towards each other.

     

    Characters of Toradora

    Toradora
    Characters

     

    The series’ main male protagonist, Ryūji is a seventeen-year-old high school student in his second year, class 2-C. Due to heredity, his sanpaku eyes make him look like an intimidating delinquent and causes many misunderstandings. He lives in a fatherless family with just his mother, and due to this, Ryūji has learned to be self-sufficient. He is good at cooking and keeping everything in his house clean (to the point of obsession), and also excels at sewing. He holds a crush on Minori Kushieda, a girl his age in his class. He has a pet parakeet named “Inko-chan”. Ryūji often helps Taiga with domestic chores which she is otherwise unable to perform. At school, he is known as “the only person able to stop the palmtop tiger”, referring to Taiga’s nickname.

    Taiga is a girl in Ryūji’s class, as well as the series’ main female protagonist. She has a well-regulated and beautiful appearance though is unable to stomach company from others. Due to her often snapping at others in brutal ways and her short stature, she is given the nickname “Palmtop Tiger”. Her under-developed body and the added nickname has given her a complex which in turn serves to give her a negative attitude and facial expression. Essentially, Taiga gets upset easily. She is also brutally honest, typically when she is lashing out at someone. Due to her cute looks, she often gets confessions of love by boys, but she turns down every one of them, including Yūsaku Kitamura (which she later regrets). She is clumsy and tries to hide that too; it seems that only Ryūji has observed it.

    Minori is a girl in Ryūji’s class, and is a close friend to Taiga. She is also known by the pet name “Minorin”. In contrast to the violent nature of Taiga, Minori is always smiling and cheerful. She is very athletic and is the captain of the girl’s softball club at school, though at the same time she holds many part time jobs. She is a glutton when it comes to food, but is also constantly combating it with dieting, calling herself a “diet warrior”. She gets a thrill out of being scared. Despite her air-headed tendencies, she is very perceptive, and is one of the few people to see Ryūji for the gentle person he is, and is also not fooled by Ami’s acts of innocence. It is implied that her air-headed tendencies may be a facade, and later revealed that she too loves Ryūji.

    Yūsaku is a male student in Ryūji’s class, and is his best friend. He is the vice-president of the student council, the class representative, and captain of the boy’s softball club at school. Yūsaku wears glasses, and has a diligent personality. He thinks he is poor at talking to girls, though Ryūji observes otherwise. During his time as the vice-president of the student council, he eventually falls in love with the student council president, Sumire Kanō. A running gag is that he will appear out of nowhere behind Taiga and Ryūji when they are discussing a “plan of attack” to get their crushes. Like Minori, he has an unusual personality, but often it is an expression of his friendship and appreciation, though it can easily get out of hand fast. After his graduation, he goes to study abroad in America, chasing after Sumire Kanō.

    Ami is Yūsaku’s childhood friend who transfers into his class midway through their second year of high school. She is very beautiful and even works as a model and is seen as the mature one of the group. After she transfers schools she temporarily stops modeling. However, she still continues to go to the gym readily and maintains a slim figure. She is always kind and generous towards others, though this is merely a deception. In truth, she is a princess and has an arrogant belief in her own cuteness, a trait that she tries to hide from most others. During her first meeting with Taiga, Ami shows her true colors, but the tables are turned when Taiga counterattacks by slapping her. Since then, Ami and Taiga have been enemies, with Ami becoming one of a few who can tease Taiga at will; and Taiga referring to Ami as Baka-chi (Stupid Chihuahua). Ami occasionally sets aside her facade and speaks honestly to Ryūji, and is aware that she is really dark and twisted. Despite all this, Ami still sometimes envies Taiga since she can always be honest. Ami toys with developing a love interest in Ryūji, asking him if he would love her real self and give her a second chance. She has a deep understanding of the relationship situation going on between Minori, Ryūji, Taiga, and herself.

     

    Personal Thoughts of Toradora

    Toradora

    Toradora is a great slice of life, comedy and romance anime. The conflicts between Takasu and Taiga we’re hilarious, and to watch them grow in their relationship up to the very end is very heart warming and surprising. I would recommend this anime to anyone who enjoys comedy with extreme personalities and slice of life. Personally I rate this anime a 10 out of 10 because it has everything I love in a comedy but also a light hearted feeling towards the end.

    Review by Gilded Hero


  • Kenkou Zenrakei Suieibu Umishou (Anime) Review

    Kenkou Zenrakei Suieibu Umishou Anime Review

    Kenkou Zenrakei Suieibu Umishou

    Author: Hattori Mitsuru
    Anime Producers: Artland, Pony Canyon

    Chapters: 130
    Episodes: 13

    Plot of Kenkou Zenrakei Suieibu Umishou

    Kenkou Zenrakei Suieibu Umishou

    Kaname Okiura, a student at Prefectoral Umineko Shougyou High School, or Umishou for short, decided to join the swim club to learn how to swim. Unfortunately for him, the swim club is full of weirdos! And even worse, the new student Amuro Ninagawa just transferred from Okinawa, and she’s weirder than all of them! How is this crazy fast swimmer going to affect his already crazy high school life?!

    Characters of Kenkou Zenrakei Suieibu Umishou

    Kenkou Zenrakei Suieibu Umishou

    Kaname Okiura: When he was a boy, he met a mermaid while swimming in the ocean. And because of it, he’s scared to death to swim! He joined the swim club as a manager to try swimming again, but with a crazy club like Umishou’s swim team, he’s having trouble doing anything at all.

    Momoko Orizuka: She may be vice-captain, but Momoko is definitely the leader of Umishou’s rag-tag group of swimmers. She’s super serious, and is constantly scolding the captain and the other members for their crazy behavior. Upon seeing Ninagawa’s amazing swimming ability, she immediately gets Amuro to join! Maybe now she can have a winning team!

    Masa Ikariya: The captain of the Umishou swim team, and arguably the least qualified to run the team. He’s super outrageous with everything he does, and is a crazy shaving freak!

    Amuro Ninagawa: The newest student at Umishou, all the way from Okinawa!… on a house raft?! She’s a great swimmer, but has the tendency to swim in the nude… in front of anyone she’s friends with, even Kaname! With the help of her grandmother’s lucky “X”s, she’s become the new secret weapon for the Umishou swim club!

    My Thoughts on Kenkou Zenrakei Suieibu Umishou

    Kenkou Zenrakei Suieibu Umishou

    I’m going to start off by explaining why I put manga information as well as the anime information. This is going to sound weird, but hear me when I say DON’T watch the anime. I’m going to tell you why. The anime consists of 13 episodes, BUT they did the unspeakable –they mixed scenes together. That’s right, the animating studio mixed the two arcs together, which is fine if you stay ignorant, but once I read the manga I realized how much character development and woulderful scenes had been cut from the monstrosity. The anime basically cuts out a large majority of the manga’s romance portion, which is really why I found the Umisho manga to be so good. Furthermore, the anime, like so many other romances, doesn’t follow the complete story, so there’s no real “happy ending” moment, or even so much as a follow through. Long story short, the manga is great, the anime was the product of someone cutting up the manga, destroying it’s main locomotion of audience grabbing scenes and then spitting out a mangled mess of a good story. I may hate the anime, but don’t get me wrong –I love the story with a passion. I just hate it when animators cut corners in such a great story.

    Anime Score: 4.5 / 10
    Manga Score: 7 / 10

    Review by Coy Fish

    P.S. – Yes this is ecchi, and some scenes have partial nudity (such as nude swimming). It’s not aimed to be fanservice, but still be mature and watch/read it with discretion.


  • Aku no Hana (Anime) Review

    Aku no Hana Anime Review

     

    Aku no Hana
    Aku no Hana

    Studio: Zexcs (Mushi-Shi, Diabolik Lovers, Fortune Arterial)
    Genres: Psychological thriller, drama, romance (?)
    Director: Hiroshi Nagahama
    Writer: Shuzo Oshimi

    With the popularity of shounens, there are many shows within any new season that are completely and utterly ignored. Approximately 3-5 shows get the attention of the season, with the rest being left behind as dregs for someone to pick up from a garbage bin and amuse themselves with. Quite a few hidden masterpieces have been developed from this habitual method of watching anime, therefore not amassing the popularity in which they deserve. This theory of mainstream popularity can also be applied to anime which try to be different and more obscure. Some succeed in catching the public eye like Bakemonogatari, whilst others are disregarded for their outwards appearance and aesthetics. Aku No Hana is exactly that, a misunderstood show which no-one gave the time of day, which is really unfortunate considering how good it truly is.

     

    Aku no Hana Plot

    Aku no Hana

    The premise for Aku No Hana is fairly basic to follow. A young man in middle school by the name of Takao Kasuga, a bookworm by all regards, leads a fairly normal life. Obsessed by his obscure and fascinating literature, he has observed their meanings and interpretations, immersing their message within his own life. Like most middle school students, he has a crush on the smartest, prettiest girl on the class by the name of Nanako Saeki. He never had the courage to go after her and ask her out, so he merely observed her from a distance, pondering whether or not he should pursue a relationship with her. All his observing, though, is short lived. After leaving his most treasured book, ‘The Flowers Of Evil’ by Charles Baudelaire, at school, coincidence or fate decided to allow Saeki’s gym bag to fall from the classroom shelf, spilling its contents onto the floor. Upon Kasuga’s inspection, it appeared to be her gym cloths. Whilst an internal debate ensues about how he should proceed, a loud noise startled him, causing him to stuff the gym cloths down his shirt and retreat to the safety of his home. Guilt burdened his mind as he pondered the repercussions of owning up to this act and whether or not he was spotted. Thankfully, no one saw what had happened, although additional turmoil is added after a distressed Saeki announces to the class that her cloths were stolen. Kasuga felt guilty, but he knew he was in the clear, right? Wrong. It turns out that Sawa Nakamura had seen Kasuga fleeing from the school, gym clothes bundled beneath his shirt. This sociopathic freak believes that Kasuga is a deviant from the mindless masses of generic society, and forms a contract with him. His secret theft would remain secret so long as she could break down his fragile psyche in order to expose a true deviant.

     

    Although the premise of the show is rather basic, the moral conflict, psychological deconstruction and the perspective of the world is really unique and fascinating. The 3 main characters are the only ones of significance, but their interactions and actions are what make this show brilliant. The conflicting natures of Nakamura and Kasuga makes it really compelling to watch more as Kasuga unwillingly goes along with her madness, his crime looming over him like a badge of shame. Between his psychological destruction, Nakamura’s pure madness and Saeki’s unknown motives and desires, the show truly is amazing in the way it handles character interactions and deconstructions. The show uses many elements to reinforce character interactions and crucial moments of dialogue or key segments of the show, utilising tension as an emotional reinforcement to keep its audience on its seat. That being said, the tension is presented through silence and walking, which honestly can be a bit of a kick in the balls for a casual watcher, and it does eventually get over-extended, making it seem more pointless than it actually is.

     

    Aku no Hana Characters

    Aku no Hana
    The Characters

     

    Takao Kasuga

    Aku no Hana
    Takao Kasuga is a middle school student and one of the three conjoined protagonists of this show. That being said, the world is shown through his perspective and his inner thoughts, turmoils and desires are expressed through internal monologues, dreams and even the music from the ending theme, with the instruments within it reflecting his psychological state. He isn’t a strong character, and is rather fragile and secretive in nature, allowing him to be bullied into ‘Deviant’ acts by Nakamura as the show progresses. That being said, he doesn’t remain that way for the entire duration of the show. His innate morality and psychological state gradually shift into one of a darker nature as the show progresses, allowing the audience to witness his changing perspective of the world, himself and life as he knows it.
    Sawa Nakamura

    Aku no Hana
    The crazy, sociopathic Sawa Nakamura is a brilliant antagonist, simultaneously holding the role of protagonist in her own unique way. She is revealed to be extremely twisted in nature, almost able to be labelled as clinically insane. She has a rather warped and skewed perspective of the world, seeing everyone in it as rotten and pathetic. She relishes tormenting Kasuga and is infatuated by the idea of breaking down his psychological walls and forcing her morbid ambition of escaping that town into his mind.
    Nanako Saeki

    Aku no Hana
    Kasuga’s crush and one of the three conjoined protagonists of this show. Although externally she is seen as the model student and the perfect child, it is revealed that Saeki has one weakness: she becomes obsessively attached to anyone that pays her true attention, leading to a deep, unrelenting infatuation with Kasuga. This, although revealed, isn’t deconstructed nearly as much as Kasuga’s psychological metamorphosis, but is referenced and expanded upon nonetheless.

     

    Aku no Hana Animation

    Aku no Hana
    The Animation

    The animation for Aku No Hana was extremely debated upon, which contributed to its less than glorious reception within the western anime world. With the almost broken rotoscoping being heavily debated on, the one thing that is clear is its intention. Most anime have a generic form of storytelling, in which the animation will serve as a barrier between real life and the anime itself, allowing the audience to differentiate from reality and fiction. Aku No Hana attempts to break down these barriers, and although it did so rather poorly, it was merely an experiment and in some aspects it did succeed. There are crucial moments in the show were the animation just skyrockets in quality, predominantly during a period in episode 7 and 12, not going to spoil anything, but it truly is remarkable.

     

    Aku no Hana Soundtrack

    Aku no Hana

    The Aku No Hana soundtrack is really strange. Rather than proper musical compositions, it appears to be based around static noises and sounds that add to the atmosphere juxtaposed to acting as its own form of music. That being said, the opening and ending were both played brilliantly. There were 4 openings, 3 of which were the spiritual representations of the 3 characters, whilst the 4th is revealed to be someone else. Perhaps the Flowers of Evil themselves? As for the ending, it allows the audience to once again immerse themselves in Kasuga’s emotions, with the different instruments from the deep bass guitar to the light wind instruments revealing his turmoil and emotions, almost reflecting on what occurs during each episode.

     

    Opinion and Verdict

    Aku no Hana

    Although I believe it to be rather amazing, there are definitely flaws and issues within the show that need to be addressed, the largest of which is its probability for continuation. The last episode not only concluded the show but acted as a precursor to future events. The manga will still continue and I read it eagerly, but one can only hope that a second season will conclude the show, as it truly deserves it. Aku No Hana is definitely not for everyone, but nevertheless, is a brilliant show that was unfortunately overlooked. Accumulating my thoughts, I give Aku No Hana an 8 out of 10. I recommend it for a more mature audience who is willing to watch it alone. It isn’t an experience to be shared, but rather a subjective and individual interpretation. Thanks for reading, and have a nice day.
    – IB (Internet Bear)


  • Seitokai Yakuindomo (Anime) Review

    Seitokai Yakuindomo Anime Review

    Seitokai Yakuindomo
    Seitokai Yakuindomo

    Producers: Starchild Records, GoHands, Dream Force(Season 1)
    Episodes: Season 1 (12 episodes), OVAs  (10 episodes), Season 2 (12 episodes)

     

    Plot of Seitokai Yakuindomo

    Seitokai Yakuindomo
    Seitokai Yakuindomo

    Takatoshi Tsuda is starting his first day at Ousai Academy, which just switched from an all-girls high school to co-ed! It’s a man’s paradise- except Tsuda isn’t a pervert, he’s just going there because it’s close to home. The student council president, however, is! What will happen with the new freshman and his dirty-minded Kaichou, who’s took it upon herself to elect Tsuda as a new member of the student council! It’s a classic lo- wait, what? It’s not a love story? Really?! Well, whatever. I guess it’ll have to settle for being a side-splitting comedy.

     

    Characters of Seitokai Yakuindomo

    Seitokai Yakuindomo
    Characters

    Takatoshi Tsuda: The main character, Tsuda doesn’t have perverted thoughts like other boys. But with two ridiculous senpais, he still has plenty of girl problems. Being the newly appointed student council vice president, there is never a dull day.

    Shino Amakusa: The 2nd year student council president of Ousai Academy. She and her best friend Aria torment Tsuda, both intentionally and not, most of each day. Though she messes around a lot, she still manages to do a good job as student council president.

    Aria Shichijou: Shino Amakusa’s best friend, also a 2nd year and the student council president. A mature looking hime-sama who is anything but, she is as bad as Kaichou when it comes to making perverted thoughts and jokes.

    Suzu Hagimura: The 1st year student council treasurer. She is a genius that can solve some of the most difficult math problems, just don’t comment about her height, or lack there of.

    Kotomi Tsuda: Tsuda’s lovely sister Kotomi, who due to Kaichou’s influence is becoming even more of a weirdo than she already was.

     

    Artwork of Seitokai Yakuindomo

    Seitokai Yakuindomo
    The Artwork

    Seitokai has much better artwork and animation compared to other slice-of-life comedies, but that isn’t much of an accomplishment. Still, it felt like the producers put their all into making it as opposed to some others. It is all around clean and is quite pleasing visually.

     

    My Thoughts:

    Seitokai Yakuindomo
    So Funny

    This is a very good anime. On multiple occasions I was laughing, literally out loud for once. I had to suppress my laughter because it happened practically every few minutes. Of course, since it is a slice-of-life anime, one shouldn’t expect an in-depth and full plotline from Seitokai. Instead you get mini stories and hilarious bits and one liners that you can’t get enough of. It isn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen, but I would recommend this to anyone who has ever laughed at a dirty joke, basically everyone.

    Overall Score: 7.5/10

    Review by Coy Fish


  • Owari no Seraph (Manga) Review

    Owari no Seraph Manga Review

     

    Owari no Seraph
    Cover

    English Title: Seraph of the End

    Genres: Shounen, Drama, Action, Mystery, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Vampire

    Owari no Seraph is published in Jump SQ (Jump Square), a monthly magazine that also carries titles like: Claymore, Blue Exorcist, and Tegami Bachi. Owari no Seraph first serialized in September of 2012, and since then it’s popularity has grown. It is an ongoing manga and the first volume is available in the USA. 

    Written by: Takaya Kagami

    Illustrated by: Yamato Yamamoto

    Storyboard by: Daisuke Furuya

     

     – Plot of Owari no Seraph –

     

    Owari no Seraph
    Manga Page

    The story starts in the near future with Yuichiro Hyakuya, already trying to find ways to kill vampires, even as a young kid. After a virus killed everyone over the age of 13, he and other children were taken as live stock for the vampires. Yuichiro and the other children make plans to escape but Yuichiro is the only one able to. He then vows to kill vampires. 

     

    – Characters of Owari no Seraph –

     

    Owari no Seraph
    Characters

    ~Yuichiro Hyakuya ( 百夜 優一郎 )

    Yuichiro is our protagonist. He is driven by the death of his “family” when he was used as live stock, to kill vampires. He does impulsive and often irresponsible things without thinking of the outcome, even if it’s risking his life. Yuichiro is brave and reckless. He cares deeply for his new comrades that he meets and still for his old ones. 

    ~Hiiragi Shinoa ( 柊 シノア )

    Shinoa is sent to watch over Yuichiro, and eventually become comrades. She is calm and thinks before she acts. Shinoa doesn’t put much emotion in her words, except when teasing Yuichiro. Later through the manga Shinoa begins to develops feelings for Yuichiro. 

    ~Yoichi Saotome ( 早乙女 与一 )

     Yoichi is fearful, and a scaredy cat. He has little courage and is often bullied. He meets Yuichiro when Yuichiro saves him from bullies. Yoichi’s sister was killed by vampires which stimulates him to take revenge for her death. 

    ~Michaela Hyakuya ( 百夜 ミカエラ )

    Michaela Hyakuya was with Yuichiro when they were treated as live stock. Together they helped orchestrate the breakout. Michaela was unable to get out and was killed by the vampires, or so Yuichiro thinks. Michaela and Yuichiro were close friends. Michaela sacrificed himself so Yuichiro could escape. Michaela did not end up dying, he became a vampire. What Yuichiro has vowed to kill. Michaela is kind and gentle. He is also portrayed as smart and good planner, because of his actions the children had an advantage in escaping. When Mika (Michaela) became a vampire against his will he became hollow, a shadow of his former self. He would rush to battle but he wouldn’t care about any glory. He seems to construct a certain disdain for humans though he once was one. When he meets Yuichiro in battle his hatred disappears and wants to protect his childhood friend. 

     

    – Review / Thoughts –

     

    Owari no Seraph

    Honestly I absolutely love this manga. The characters are well developed, with some mystery and also very enjoyable and likable. The series has very little, if even none, ecchi properties, fan service, that takes away from the plot. It has the classic “Revenge” theme yet there are many twists and turns to a solid plot which is always intriguing. I would highly recommend it.

     

    – Ghost Girl


  • Kimi ni Todoke (Anime) Review

    Kimi ni Todoke
    Kimi ni Todoke

    Welcome everyone to my first ever anime review on this website! Yay. So to top it off I picked a very romantic, first love type anime that a lot of you guys out there might like ( if you are into romantic shows like that.)
    Okay, Let start!

     

    Plot of Kimi ni Todoke

    Kimi ni Todoke
    Kimi ni Todoke

    Kimi ni Todoke follows a girl named Sawako Kironuma. Sawako has always been feared and misunderstood because of her appearance; rumors around school report that she can see ghosts and curse people. However, despite her ominous appearance, she is actually a sweet and timid girl who only longs to be able to make friends and be liked by everyone else. When her idol, the popular boy Kazehaya, begins talking with her, everything changes. She finds herself in a new world, making new friends and talking to different people, and she can’t thank Kazehaya enough for giving her these opportunities. Slowly, but surely, a sweet love blossoms between the two as they overcome circumstances and obstacles that stand in their way.
    (wiki)

    Rumors suck. It always destroy somebody’s life. In the begin of the show you might feel sorry for her because she is trying her best to make friends and talk to someone but people keep running away from her leaving her all by herself ( I’m surprised that her parents don’t know about the rumors). She is really nice girl and likes to help people in need. Lucky she gains friends in the end.

     

    Characters of Kimi ni Todoke

    Kimi ni Todoke
    Characters of Kimi ni Todoke

    Sawako “Sadako” Kuronuma
    Sawako is a shy, honest girl in search of friends,but her resemblance to the horror film character Sadako Yamamura makes this difficult. Her shy and modest nature prevents her from correcting people’s misconceptions, to the point that most of the school believes her name is, in fact, “Sadako.”

    Shota Kazehaya
    Kazehaya is Sawako’s outgoing and friendly classmate, and also the person that Sawako looks up to. Kazaehaya’s popularity is so widespread that during middle school, the many girls that liked him had to form a “Kazehaya is Everyone’s” alliance in order to maintain some level of peace among his admirers; more than half of these girls now attend his high school. Kazehaya falls in love with Sawako shortly after meeting her.

    Ayane Yano
    Ayane is a close friend of Sawako. She is the arguably the most mature of the group and she has a boyfriend in college as well as having her ears pierced multiple times.

    Chizuru Yoshida
    Yoshida is another close friend of Sawako. She is the tomboy of the group, and she even admits this when Ryu calls them brothers, where she argues about who is the older rather than that she is not a ‘brother’.

    Ryu Sanada
    Ryu is also Sawako’s friends. He is quiet most of the time and rarely talks, but still can communicate well with Sawako, as they both don’t talk much anyways. Ryu and Kazehaya was both on the baseball team in middle school and was friends since then. Chizuru and Ryu are childhood friends but Ryu has a crush on her too and does not deny it.

    Kazuichi “Pin” Arai
    Aria is a substitute from their homeroom class becausse their homeroom teacher got sick over the summer holidays while getting help from Sawako. ( there goes the rumors again) His nickname in school is Pin but Sawako, being polite, calls him Arai-sensei. He is also into baseball and knew Ryu and Kazehaya since middle school.

     

    The Art of Kimi ni Todoke

    Kimi ni Todoke
    Kimi ni Todoke

    The art in the show is pretty normal for a school life type of show. But at certain moments of the show you can see the background with shine and sparkle or the art would change to a water color painting. It makes seen really pretty and nice.

    Final Verdict:

    Sawako was unwanted from everyone and everyone is scared of her to having friends, being popular and everyone wants to be her friends. Its a sweet and kinda slow anime to watch but i think you might enjoy it just like i did. ( I even brought the manga)

    Overall Grade: 7.4/10

     

    Miki Nya


  • Ayakashi Ayashi (Anime) Review

    Ayakashi Ayashi Anime Review

    Ayakashi Ayashi
    Ayakashi Ayashi

    Ayakashi Ayashi is set in the Tenpou era in Edo, Japan. The events in the story occur before the arrival of Commodore Perry. The leads of the show are a band of warriors known as Ayashi, who are commissioned to fight beasts from the other world, known as Youi.

     

    Plot of Ayakashi Ayashi

    Ayakashi Ayashi
    Ayakashi Ayashi

    The series starts out a little episodic (monster of the week, if you will). However, it comes off very well in blending fantasy into real history. The plot starts to pick up near the middle, but feels a little rushed near the end due to the fact that the series was originally planned for a 50 episode run. Being cut in half due to the unsatisfactory ratings required of a “primetime” show really hurt this area. It still is pretty enjoyable, though I felt it would have been much better given a few more episodes.

    If you are interested in Japanese calligraphy/word study, this series will appeal even more to you. Ryuudou can draw “Ayagami” from people and youi, which are basically their names and depending on their meanings (current, and original meaning of the word), he is able to magically create weapons, armor and whatnot.

     

    Art of Ayakashi Ayashi

    Ayakashi Ayashi
    The Art

    The art style used is very aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and remains constant throughout the series. The action scenes are animated very well and the style blends really well with the mood of the series. It also gives off a very ‘classy’ Japanese feel. Very beautiful and one of my favorite parts of this show.

     

    Sound of Ayakashi Ayashi

    Personally, I found the OPs and EDs to be great. The ED animation might not be very flashy, but it fits well with the songs and the show in general. The OPs are quite fast paced and are animated quite well.

    The soundtrack fits the show to a “T”, and although not one of the best, still really helped enhance the mood of many scenes.

     

    Characters of Ayakashi Ayashi

    Ayakashi Ayashi
    Characters

    Characters are generally likable and have quite a few focal episodes where they are well developed, including their pasts etc. Voice acting is also superb for most roles. I liked how the main character was a middle-aged man and not a young child like most shows in this slot (Gundam SEED, Blood+, Eureka Seven). However, the lack of a main where kids can relate too probably helped contribute to the lack of popularity for the show.

     

    Overall

    I found myself enjoying this show quite a bit. If you enjoy a little history or Japanese mixed into your anime, then you might wanna check this one out.

     

    ~YamiShiki