First released: October 2012 Version reviewed: BluRay
The first scene of the first episode of K is an animatedslideshow of castnames in English, each set with a different font. It’s definitely an odd way to start the series, given that as a fresh viewer, the names mean nothing, but the lingering sentiment is that, as with the clash of different fonts, this is a series that is fighting desperately for a personality of its own. There’s no question it has style, but rather than having too much of it, it has too many.
eternally trapped building its world rather than getting on with telling a story within it
There’s the main story, for instance, of Yashiro Isana, a mysterious boy who has been framed for murder. Then there’s the other main story of Mikoto Suoh, the Red King, and his street gang battling against the Blue King, Reisi Munakata. Or the other main story about Kuroh Yatogami attempting to hunt down the Colourless King before he ascends to power, and the relationship he may have with the all powerful Silver King. There’s an awful lot going on but in spite of this, the series manages to be almost unceasingly boring.
It’s relatively common knowledge that the second season of Birdy the Mighty: Decode is better than the first. When I’d finished the first season I found that claim odd because although I echoed the sentiment of many people that it was good but not outstanding, I wondered how the second season could improve on the formula.
sees Birdy fight in a ruined city, bursting through crumbling buildings and trickling water mains with destructive abandon
Boy meets girl, boy ends up cohabiting girl’s body. It certainly feels familiar in the same way that any gender-bending situation is - Kokoro Connect, Ranma ½, Kämpfer et. al. - but here there is the quirk of the girl being an absurdly strong intergalactic investigator on the hunt for dangerous criminals on the “backwater” planet Earth. I thought I knew what to expect from that sort of introduction which perhaps explains why I stopped watching it when it first aired in 2008. It’s fair to say then that my expectations were challenged in the first season, then totally surpassed by the second.
Intrinsically I understand that anime has to make money, and that collaborations and product placement are just one way of doing that. Even in its native Japan anime home video sales vary wildly between franchises and advertisements and sponsorships only go so far. One Off feels a little different though with its very prominent Honda partnership.
the familiar sense of personal discovery and heart swelling Sunday matinee ethos
Of course there is the classic story of the original Gundam being produced solely to sell toys, while Pizza Hut has been in everything from Code Geass to Nanoha to Darker than Black; even critically loved shows like Kara no Kyoukai or Steins;Gate have Häagen-Dazs and Dr Pepper respectively. There’s something different about Honda being at the heart of One Off though that isn’t so much product placement as core marketing message.
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.
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.