chaostangent

Posts from May 2014

Bountiful

A review of the Maoyuu Maou Yuusha anime series

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Demon King and the Hero) was nothing like what I expected. My ill-advised method of choosing anime to watch based on animated GIFs that I find on Tumblr led me to believe it was going to be just another medieval fan-service series; sharpen claws, commence slating. How wrong I was. I had seen the first episode when the series first aired and didn’t continue watching for some unknown fickle reason but frequently heard it compared to Spice and Wolf. In that series, wolf spirit Holo wanders around naked for a not insignificant amount of time which is likely where I assumed the comparison came from.

“I’m here to kill you!” “You want some tea?” “...” “...” “Sure”

In actuality it’s from the pointed approach to medieval affairs than chest out fan-service; so whereas Spice and Wolf busies itself with the minutiae of trade economics, Maoyuu Maou Yuusha goes for a more nuts-and-bolts cultural approach, dragging in some good old fashion politicking to go with it. You have the Demon King, the red haired poster child of the series, who makes a deal with the Hero, Generic McBlandpants, to set aside their racial and ideological differences in order to build a better world.

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Maudlin

A review of the Golden Time anime series

I went through a very specific cycle with episodes of Golden Time: “1. What happened last episode? 2. Why am I watching this again? 3. Banri/Koukou/Mitsuo you clods, get it together. 4. Okay that wasn’t bad.” Rinse, repeat. The series has the same kind of moreish, ludicrous mentality that soap operas do, even going as far as leaving each episode on a cliffhanger regardless of how incongruous doing so is. It came as some surprise to me then that Golden Time is penned by the same author as Toradora, arguably one of the finest straight-faced campus romance series. Both have the same kind of unyielding outlook on relationships - romantic or otherwise - and a core pairing that drives the plot, yet Toradora never raised the question of its chosen medium like Golden Time does.

it’s a good idea to try and raze their relationships to the ground with some ill timed emotional savagery

Both started as light novels by Yuyuko Takemiya and both have commendable anime adaptations yet Toradora’s cast of characters - the “palmtop tiger” Taiga and the faux delinquent Ryuuji et. al. - slotted right in with standard anime archetypes. After all, we’ve had boatloads of contemporary school romance stories both before and after. Golden Time though, with it’s inner-city University setting and the amnesiac Banri Tada and lion like Koukou Kaga, is something we’ve seen very little of before and it raises the question of: why an anime?

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Chocks away

Thoughts on the Yukikaze novel and OVAs

It’s an intractable problem with converting a book to another medium: your outlook of the franchise as a whole is almost entirely dependant upon which media you consume first. It’s perhaps not such an issue with light novels translated into anime given that the two are, structurally and narratively at least, very close. For a novel like Yukikaze though? A novel that is often mentioned in the same breath as Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and George Orwell’s 1984. In this instance I read the first novel - simply Yukikaze - before seeing the 2002, five episode OVA series - Sentou Yousei Yukikaze (Battle Fairy Yukikaze) - and though I obviously can’t say for sure, I’m fairly certain had I seen the latter first, I would be disinclined to read the former.

the book questions humanity in an inhuman war, the OVAs postulate a kind of quiet insurgency by our own machines

Starting this argument with “It’s not that bad, but” is tantamount to starting a conversation with “I’m not racist, but” - the justification invariably ends up contradicting your opening statement. The OVAs are extraordinarily gorgeous, and especially so for their time, it’s no wonder that Gonzo - then at the height of their creative power - twice won awards for it’s visual work on the series. Unfortunately however they take the plot of book, smash it into jagged pieces and disjointedly try and fit them back together in the hope that they make some kind of sense. They don’t. Coming out several years after it, I can’t rule out that the second novel (that I haven’t read), Good Luck Yukikaze, somehow contextualises the direction the series stakes including the wholly original final episode; my gut feeling though is that the OVAs will remain as inscrutable as they’re perhaps intended to be.

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Malpractice

A review of Wizard Barristers

I’m just going to go ahead and spoil all of Wizard Barristers for you on the off chance that I can spare you from watching it: Sudou Cecil was killed and brought back to life with forbidden magic in order to summon Lucifer who ends up as the chronically chirpy Moyo; Makusu (judge) is, like his son Shimizu (police officer), hiding his identity as a wizard but ends up killing him and is the one trying to summon the Lord of Darkness. There should now be no reason for you to investigate the series further because combined with screenshots, you’re saving time and oxygen and getting a better experience than watching it.

Characters burst into the courtroom like it’s a celebrity wedding that must be stopped

It’s difficult to fully appreciate how terrible Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil is without slipping into hyperbole and making it sound “so bad it’s good”. Make no mistake, this is just bad. To understand disappointment is to follow Yasuomi Umetsu’s directing career because although his character designs are bold, colourful and unique, his directing leaves a trail of disenchantment. It started so well with Kite if you ignore the rape (statutory or otherwise), then got freaky with Mezzo Forte and the lamentable Mezzo DSA, lackluster with Kite Liberator and topped off by Galilei Donna and now Wizard Barristers. Why people keep giving him directing positions is still a mystery.

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Hey, listen!

A review of the first Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya anime series

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya. Fate: okay, keeping with the Type-Moon Fate/* series naming scheme. Kaleid: kaleidoscope? Liner: hang on, what am I lining? Prisma: prism? plasma? Illya: of the von Einzberns, right.

I’d like to say that the individual words make sense on their own but “kaleid” and “prisma” only sound like they should be words; so all together the series title is just nonsense. It joins legions of other magical girl series (I’m looking at you here Nanoha) with silly titles though and may as well be called Fate/something or other: we got bored of the Holy Grail war. With all of the remakes and prequels and other Fate/* paraphernalia rolling around, turning the tragicly precocious child Illya von Einzbern into a magical girl certainly wasn’t the most obvious of routes to take.

the old standbys of friendship, teamwork and questioning why you fight

It’s within Type-Moon’s remit though when you consider the very silly Carnival Phantasm OVAs, but as to whether Prisma Illya contains the same amount of in-jokes and sight gags - I’m not really the right person to ask. I’m also not the foremost expert on magical girl shows in general (despite early and prolonged exposure to Sailor Moon, Utena et. al.) so like with Sakura Trick, I can’t authoritatively proclaim its effect on its genre. Regardless, Illya’s transformation into a magical girl is at least unique and pleasantly expedited, with her partner in cosplay joining her within a few episodes.

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