Posts from September 2014


A review of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

As I was sorting through the screenshots for Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun) I found myself first smirking, then chuckling, laughing, and then finally guffawing so much that I had to rewatch one of the scenes just to provide some kind of closure. It’s that kind of series: where in context it’s funny but in isolation, it’s perhaps even more so.

grinning since the moment the episode started

It starts humbly enough with that most stalwart of high school romance tropes: the confession. In this case by the adorably diminutive Chiyo Sakura to the tall and stoic Umetarou Nozaki. Confusion abounds when he thinks she is asking for an autograph because she’s a fan of his shoujo manga. That’s the hook at least, in reality the series relies on two core jokes that the rest orbit around.

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A review of the first series of Tokyo Ghoul

The first thing that will probably strike you about Tokyo Ghoul is the opening. It’s a visually stunning minute and half that blends together vast, impossible skyscapes with cracked glass and twisted reflections of the main cast. It establishes this as a series about duality, about masks and, most of all, about the nature of monsters.

That opening is attached to the second episode and had I baulked at the first episodes’ unrelenting viciousness, I would have missed out on what turned out to be a supremely rich and entertaining series. It definitely isn’t my usual fare. Primarily because of that misanthropic sadism that is more or less the entirety of the opening episodes, reminding me far too keenly of clunkers like Elfen Lied or Brynhildr in the Darkness. Make no mistake though, this isn’t just self-indulgent gruesome violence, it has a purpose that goes miles beyond trying to make the series edgy and “adult”.

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War, what is it good for?

On Rail Wars! and Toshokan Sensou

The "dream railway paradise entertainment" story is set in a parallel world where Japan did not privatize its national railways.

I’ll admit I only got through the first sentence of Rail Wars! description before passing judgement on it. I decided to watch it primarily on the strength of illustrator Vania 600’s character designs but without knowing much else. The alternate reality and mention of privatisation of the railways evoked images of different government departments duking it out on trains - it had “wars” in the title after all. As is my brain is wont to do, it pattern-matched this idea to what I’d heard about Toshokan Sensou (Library War) which had a similarly ridiculous sounding premise of library backed paramilitary groups battling with government censorship groups.

he is now part of the thrilling and sexy world of trains

Having not previously seen Toshokan Sensou, I decided to watch the two series in parallel, fully expecting to be equal parts amused and baffled by the surreal alternate histories but otherwise underwhelmed. What I didn’t expect was for Toshokan Sensou to be so serious, and for Rail Wars! to be quite so pants-on-head dumb.

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

Sooner or later I’m going to have to make a decision as to what constitutes a series, and thus allow me to write a review about it. How do I even describe Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei now that more episodes have been announced - with the suffix “Herz”? Is it the first season of the second series? Just the second series and Herz is the third? Even with its 10 episode runtime that is as petite as its protagonist, there is a familiar self-contained arc to the story with spin up, climax and wind down that matches a typical series. Even the last episode has a sense of finality to it.

As much finality as a show about a white haired magical girl in a luminous pink frock can muster at least. Almost none of the (spoiler filled) portents that the end of the last series held have to come to pass, despite a deceptive amount happening. So Illya and Miyu are still magical girls, Rin and Luvia are still bickering over the cards and Ruby and Sapphire are still malleable floating rings that somehow manage to avoid being seen by any of Illya’s classmates.

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A review of the first Attack on Titan anime series

First released: April 2013
Version reviewed: TV

I’m going to jump right to it and say that I enjoyed the first series of Attack on Titan.

With that out of the way: the dilemma when talking about something as popular as Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) is that at a certain point you start talking around it, probably about things that can be prefixed with “fan”: be that art, fiction or just vocalness. This isn’t a problem specifically with the anime itself but that the series became an event. It reached critical mass with hype and viewer numbers meaning that if you watched it and were online at the time it first aired, chances are you were taking part in the grand event that was Attack on Titan rather than just watching the show.

looks like a GI Joe doll mated with an angry Christmas elf

The vociferousness of the series’ fans, depending on your viewpoint, is balanced with those rallying against it. Condemning it along with other popular series (Sword Art Online is a common partner) as “baby’s first anime” or for people who don’t know “good” anime. Reductivism would be the easiest retort: oh these sounds and images being interpreted by my brain regress my intellect? But when it comes down to it, I don’t much care about the intelligence of the gladiators on display, as long as they put on a good show. And, for the most part, Attack on Titan does.

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