Posts categorised “Anime”

Zero no Tsukaima ~Futatsuki no Kichi~

Why would one decide to watch Futatsuki no Kichi when the first season of Zero no Tsukaima is (to paraphrase Yahtzee) a cavalcade of mediocrity? Perhaps it's the simple reason that Futatsuki no Kichi (The Rider of the Twin Moons) improves upon its predecessor in all respects and manages to find its footing in both humour and characterisation.

Henrietta oscillates between caring monarch and sultry vixen

Gone are the staple characters of the first season, swiftly cast aside and replaced with fresh (female) faces; gone are the tepid attempts at humour now supplanted by copious amounts of fan-service, yuri and slapstick; and gone is the bloodless and pitifully shallow plot, storylines are now replete with pathos the first season couldn't hope to muster. This is not to say that the series is universally excellent, a satisfying conclusion is the most glaring omission, however its new-found confidence makes it far more entertaining and engaging to watch. The increased production values help this along, the animation is still by JC Staff but while characters and backgrounds feel similar, details and flourishes add to the overall feeling of assuredness.

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Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Pure boyish exuberance is the only way to describe Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann; even given its parent company's predilection for unsatisfactory endings the series manages to be satisfying, smart and unique while paying homage to those that have tread similar ground before it. Gurren Lagann is without a doubt one of the most well-rounded pieces of anime to come out in what seems like a long time.

it's kinetic, brutal and divine

Ordinarily, shows which have such a large emphasis on growing stronger and are top-heavy with action set-pieces, there is a tendency to demean your audience with shallow characterisation or to bludgeon them with a lack of subtlety; this series does none of these things and manages to be viscerally appealing as well as emotionally layered. As with any good story, the core is simple: a coming-of-age for the protagonist Simon. Far from focusing on one aspect of this journey, Gurren Lagann charts Simon's meteoric rise from dirt-scratching child to heroic teenage leader to legendary saviour to wisened elder man; the sense of accomplishment and triumph at each stage is immense and, along with the cast of eclectic characters, tells the more immediate story of conquering insurmountable odds.

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Darker than Black

Darker than Black presents itself in shades of grey: muted morality and subtle story-telling; it built itself the enviable position of being as complex and involving as you allow it to be, peeling back layer upon layer if you care to look. Unfortunately the series falls short of perfection and in its quest to provide a softly-spoken and adult narrative, it omits to fill in some of the most glaring blanks and leaves some ideas stranded out at sea.

The hyperbole uttered in the first few minutes is easy to dismiss given the script's staunch refusal to repeat itself

Born from Tensai Okamura, animated by the creative powerhouse, BONES and scored by the seminal Yoko Kanno, Darker than Black was one of those projects gifted with immensely talented people and a head-start on becoming a classic. It arguable fails to achieve that illustrious title shared by so many other BONES productions but only through what it lacks rather than what it has in abundance.

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Soul Link

Soul Link is absolute, unmitigated dross. It fails on all levels to entertain, engage, or even hold interest beyond the few minutes of morbid curiosity it takes to realise what uninspiring mediocrity it is. It has neither the aesthetics, the intelligence or the big names to let the series be even passable and each episode ends up being twenty minutes of utter drivel where one feels they've lost far more than they've gained by watching it.

overlooking the fact that a hardened terrorist organisation employs a diminutive, top-heavy girl in hot-pants

Liberally adapted from an erotic visual novel by Navel, Soul Link doesn't even have the decency to integrate fan-service or any kind of racy content; the best the bargain-basement visuals can come up with is the leather-clad dominatrix masquerading as an antagonist and a mercenary with breasts which look like they've been badly modelled after a Madonna video. With no naughtiness in sight, the series is left to scratch around in the dirt and try and come up with some kind of manufactured drama which, ultimately, the characters are too incompetent to do anything about.

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Zero no Tsukaima (The Familiar of Zero)

It's hard to know where to begin with Zero no Tsukaima: whether to start by gutting the laughable excuse for a plot, perhaps castigating the clockwork collection of characters, or perhaps even starting on the atrociously simplistic animation and aesthetics. From all of this one could be certain that it is a show without merit, and while critically that is true, there are several aspects which I'm sure could make this a guilty pleasure for a select few.

the alarming regularity at which seemingly uninvolved characters turn up on supposedly secret outings

Based off a series of light novels by the same author as "Green Green", Noboru Yamaguchi, and produced by JC Staff, the series has penalties before it even begins. The first episode does nothing to allay these worries and produces cliché after cliché in both characters and plot. The protagonist is a failing mage called Louise who summons an affable idiot from modern day Japan into Tristein Magic Academy; already it is fighting against other "fish out of water" anime and the obvious inspiration from Harry Potter. The rest of the series carries on regardless and stumbles through hackneyed and quickly ignored plot points and culminates in a poorly orchestrated and wholly expected "battle" intermingled with predictable character hook-ups.

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