Posts from 2010

3 Episode Taste Test: Baka to Test to Shokanju (Idiots, Tests and Summoned Beasts)

Leaving little to the imagination, Baka to Test to Shokanju features precisely what the title specifies. The first three episodes are a grab bag of different influences that run the gamut from the quick fire rowdiness of Excel Saga to the fantasy-high school blend of Maburaho, successfully mixing them all into a comedy that hits more than it misses. It may have a tendency to grind some of its more lukewarm jokes into the ground, and many elements of the paper-thin plot are obvious to all those paying attention, however it elevates itself above these faults with diversity and a pleasing cheerfulness befitting its presentation.

the titular idiot Akihisa whose propensity for dimwittedness keeps the entire affair tolerable if not predictable

On the day of Fumizuki Academy's placement test, Akihisa isn't doing well; one of the other students, Mizuki, however is struck down with a fever and despite his protestations, she is awarded a zero for the test. Dropped into the worst graded class of the school, she joins Akihisa and fellow underachievers Minami, an aggressive tomboy who recently returned from Germany; Yuuji, one of Akihisa's childhood friends and surprisingly charismatic given his placement in class F; Hideyoshi, an beautiful male student constantly mistaken for a girl; and Kota, a serial pervert who repeatedly tries to photograph under girls' skirts. Together they try to elevate class F using the school's unique system of competition by battling diminuitive avatars whose strength is determined by their summoner's test scores.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Chu-Bra!!

Another series another lascivious story seed, this time with the formation of a high school underwear club by a girl smitten with all things underwear. Rolling one's eyes and ploughing into the first three episodes of Chu-Bra!! it becomes increasingly apparent that this isn't the naughty teenage giggle parade that is expected from such a premise. Instead it is a charmingly sexless celebration of a girl whose passion is looked upon with disdain by the prudish or antagonistic students of a school that is all but aligned against her, a situation easy to relate to in principle if not in implementation.

Hiroki, who suffers from a rare form of underwear paralysis

At the entrance ceremony of middle school, Nayu embarrasses herself by tripping up when called to give the opening speech; this also inadvertently exposes her adult underwear to an unsuspecting student body who begin to circulate rumours about her partaking of compensated dating and other less wholesome activities. In reality however Nayu simply loves underwear, despite her adoration resulting in her being a pariah since junior school, it takes some investigation but two classmates, Yako and Haruka, discover the truth behind Nayu and become fast friends with her. As Nayu's confidence grows she suggests the formation of an underwear club, however this is met with resistance from the uptight head of the more generic handicrafts club and finding members proves an uphill struggle, even if she is wearing the brassier and panties her grandmother gifted her.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Seikon no Qwaser (The Qwaser of Stigmata)

When one's premise is a magical fuel present only in breast milk and requires young children to extract this via the most obvious method available, having an censored version available on all but the most liberal of television channels seems counter-productive. The uncensored version fills in a lot of the gaps that the other egregiously includes, obtuse close ups of faces and innocuous body parts only go so far before hard static cuts are made to conceal raunchy or revealing motions; unfamiliarity with the concept of Seikon no Qwaser would cause significant difficultly in understanding what the alternating moans of pleasure and pain were in reference to. The volume and abject lewdness of these scenes is quite staggering and it is no understatement to call the opening episodes of the series a panoply of pornography that don't attempt to mask their intentions.

a disgusting and reprehensible attitude that is only bolstered by the violence and borderline sadism

At St. Mikhailov Academy, someone is murdering local girls; the incidents began shortly after the dean of school disappeared, leaving only a cryptic note to his biological daughter Tomo and adoptive daughter Mafuyu. Tomo is a sickly girl who is often absent from school which, now with her father missing, causes both her and her self-styled protector Mafuyu to be bullied by some of her classmates. After a chance meeting with a silver-haired Russian boy, Mafuyu is attacked by a masked psychopath and is drawn into the world of the Qwaser - alchemists with an affinity for certain elements and the need for soma, found only in selected girl's breast milk. The young boy, Alexander, is the Qwaser of iron and after joining the school and moving into the local dormitory, he vows to protect Tomo against all aggressors.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Ookami Kakushi (Hidden God)

What begins as a creeping sense of malevolence with Ookami Kakushi (lit. Wolfed Away) develops into mute indifference as the threat of a mysterious scythe-wielding lunatic ebbs into frisky sexual encounters. The series starts with the faint hope of a slow burning mystery, that is resolutely extinguished however by sedentary pacing and continual non-events. Unsurprising then that the original creator behind Higurashi no naku koro ni has similar duties for this as well as the Peach-Pit duo taking responsibility for character designs. The outcome is a tasteless melange of different inspirations ranging from Night Wizard to Project Zero to Myself; Yourself and many points in between that still maintains its own distinct approach but ultimately lacks the focus needed to succeed.

the melodious next episode previews which, set to drum beats, are narrated by a soft, rasping voice

Hiroshi, his writerly father and his wheelchair-bound sister have recently moved to the rural town of Jogamachi. Divided by a river into the old and new areas, rumours abound of man-sized wolves roaming the surrounding hills; it isn't until a friendly acquaintance from school disappears though that Hiroshi begins to realise there may be more to the town than he initially assumed. With a local harvest festival upcoming - focused on the town's abundant Hassaku fruit, a type of fragrant orange - and strange occurrences increasing, the local populace's strange affection for Hiroshi may be more a curse than a blessing.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Ladies versus Butlers

With a premise reminiscent of My-Otome and championing the current trend of snotty faux-aristocrats, Ladies versus Butlers starts as it intends to continue: copious, pointless fanservice. The frantic first episode is chase across palatial school grounds which sees girls of an acutely fair disposition faint at the very sight of a teenage boy with unkempt hair and a scar, compounded by a bevy of situations which disrobe or otherwise strip the numerous busty schoolgirls of their pride and decency. The opening episodes cater to a wide variety of deviances and with many names from Kanokon on this production, the series is sure to be replete with many more.

one the most flagrant examples of the arrogant but ditsy archetype so favoured by lazy writers

Akiharu Hino, for reasons not yet disclosed, recently transferred to the prestigious Hakureiryou school which educates both upcoming maids and butlers as well as upper class ladies (and one gentleman) on matters such as etiquette and intense loafing. After his disastrous introduction to the snooty Selnia Flameheart and a brief exposure to a number of the madcap student body of the school, he runs into Tomomi Saikyo, a childhood friend he had hoped to have left in his past. Remembering her only as scheming and devious, her presence in the school is bizarre but not as much as Akiharu's misadventures during his tenure at the most bizarre of campuses.

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