Posts from October 2014

God mode

A review of the Mahouka anime series

I get the feeling that Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magic Highschool) really shouldn’t have been set in highschool. It’s right there in the title sure, but the characters don’t really do a lot of typical highschool activities, making it seem like a compromise for an audience that perhaps wouldn’t as readily accept “The Irregular at Magic University”.

The “magic” part of the title though is different from all the other magical highschool based anime (throw a dart at a list of modern anime and there’s a high probability you’ll hit a similar series) by being technological rather than, well, magical. Modern day wizards tote around electronic devices looking like anything from mobile phones to guns in order to summon pre-programmed spells. The explanations for this magic are laid on thick, with talk of psions and eidos and phenomena when really all I want is for mages to beat the tar out of one another with their own brand of magic. It’s an uncomplicated desire and in some ways Mahouka gets that part right. In a whole heap of others, it gets things quite wrong.

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A very quiet rebellion

A review of Zankyou no Terror

It would be false to say that there are mainstream and niche anime series when anime as a medium is niche, its audience perhaps even more so. Beyond the One Piece’s, with their absurd viewership, there is a definite split between the popular, attention grabbing series - the Code Geass’, the Sword Art Online’s - and the smaller, less broadly approachable ones. Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance, Terror in Tokyo) is firmly the latter, but starts out as the former.

teenage savants, using technology to outwit and outmaneuver the police

With the bombing of the iconic Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building the first episode builds sublime tension while simultaneously introducing the principal cast members; and for the next few episodes at least, the series pitches itself as a cat-and-mouse style detective thriller, with adolescent terrorists Nine and Twelve goading the police while destroying key locations within Tokyo. Kenjirou Shibazaki, a hard-boiled but relegated detective, meanwhile might just be smart enough to catch them. What doesn’t become apparent until much later is that this structure, “catch us if you can”, is not even close to what Zankyou no Terror is about.

Please note: the remainder of this review contains spoilers for the entirety of the Zankyou no Terror series.

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A reckless disregard for punctuation

A review of the first season of Aldnoah Zero

Gen Urobuchi has stated unequivocally that he had nothing to do with the ending of Aldnoah Zero. Washed his hands of it. So done. Once you see it, it’s easy enough to see why: divisive, to the point where it overshadows the rest of the series that, when all’s said and done, is entertaining but shallow.

imprisoned by gunmetal grey military vessels and featureless wastelands

It treads in familiar footsteps with its concept: mankind divided, the Earth threatened, a war fomented. A force with vastly superior technology attacks an unprepared populace, oh the humanity. This isn’t anything that you haven’t already seen before in numerous other mecha shows and, depending on the breadth of your experience with that genre, done better.

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A review of Ao Haru Ride

I’ll get all the deferential flimflam out of the way first: I know very little about romance manga and anime and, if Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride) is anything to go by, I know even less about teenagers as well. Though I often try to forget, I too was once an adolescent but due to circumstances I won’t elaborate on, most of that time was, for me at least, spent surviving high school rather than, well, anything that goes on in Ao Haru Ride.

not just furtive glances and accidental touches, oh no

Futaba had a crush on Kou in middle school until he up and disappeared. And now he’s come rocketing back into her life, with floppier hair, a fancy new last name and a whole heap of emotional baggage. Broken bird meet your new caretaker! Or so I thought. What I expected going into the series was a story of teen romance and certainly the opening episode seems to be heading that way. Only it’s less of a teen romance than a teen drama which, when I sloughed off my expectations, turned out to be a lot better than just a straightforward puppy love schmaltz.

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