The first season of Queen's Blade was underwhelming, beyond the initial deviance on display it went only slightly further than many of the other fighting-fanservice genre shows and exploited none of the opportunities a guaranteed late night, paid channel slot offers. Season two does nothing to change this status quo and, if anything, regresses by reducing the rampant titillation and dialling up the poorly choreographed fights. It still exists in the penumbra between unabashed pornography and cheeky teenage lasciviousness but whereas its forebear had a streak of deviance, there is a laughable attempt at characterisation which transforms the plot from background noise to utter drivel. Scant recommendations can be made when the series wholly fails to elicit any response, emotional or lustful, other than pitying indifference.
the disrobing becomes an afterthought to dead-pan serious problems
At the end of the last season Reina had made her way to Gainos and - after a brief scuffle with an avatar of the oft alluded Swamp Witch - the current reigning champion of Queen's Blade, Aldra announced that the Queen's Blade tournament could now begin. All of the previously introduced combatants take part for reasons best ignored lest they crumble under scrutiny, and after the more insipid ones are knocked out, the protagonists Reina and Tomoe once again take centre stage. With nefarious whimsy Aldra pits friend against friend and master against pupil, however it becomes increasingly apparent she has an ulterior motive to the battles and that her power to petrify the living is not borne from human magicks. As the contestants are whittled down, deaths follow and harsh realities are brought into acute focus leaving all but the most stalwart able to survive.
Please note: the remainder of this post contains images of nudity, if you are offended by these or are otherwise unable to view these images within your municipality due to laws or moral obligations, please do not proceed.
Casting Aya Hirano as the lead character is not the worst thing that Fairy Tail does, but it comes close. Her voice is so identifiable and her status so confoundingly overwhelming that it overshadows many of the other more accomplished actors such as Rie Kugimiya (Alphonse from Fullmetal Alchemist) and Tetsuya Kakihara (Simon from Gurren Lagann). The worst thing Fairy Tail does however is through a concerted and continuous effort, wringing all aspects of originality from itself; one would have a more rewarding experience staring at a beige rug than watching the first three episodes.
poor characters can't be rectified by multiplying the number of them
Lucy is a seventeen year old wizard whose uselessness is matched only by her peppiness. No back story is given to her, no parents or family members mentioned, a blank canvas to scrawl childlike motives on in crayon. Living in a world where every gawping twit can buy magically imbued items, she of course wants to join a most notorious and powerful guild, the titular Fairy Tail. After being duped onto a boat and subsequently kidnapped, she is saved by a powerful but sloppy member of the guild, Natsu, and by the end of the first episode she is unceremoniously inducted into the supposedly elitist group. The following two have her run errands for the group. Hilarity ensues.
Around the ending credits of the second episode one realises that they've just watched a flock of women's underwear take flight, some with mock jet-streams behind them. That the key element of Sora no Otoshimono's story - a busty, docile angel that fell from a hole in the sky - is the most tame concept of the series demonstrates how abjectly bizarre it is. The opening episode starts out tritely enough but then plunges into bizarre areas as a mostly naked teen runs rampant around his school which is frozen in time, until the penultimate closing scene where everyone in the world apart from the protagonist and fallen angel have evaporated. Were it not borderline misogynistic towards the female cast, this would be a surreal but enjoyable show.
they can alter reality on a whim but not manufacture some more discreet clothing
The sparsely dressed angel that is ground-zero for the ensuing bedlam is completely obedient and accommodating towards the reprehensibly crude lead, Sakurai; the master-slave situation is instantly repulsive, more so that the master of the pair pays little to no attention to her beyond barking orders. The obscenity continues when an order goes awry and causes the other lead female, Mitsuki, to be sans underwear and handcuffed for a large portion of the episode. The first three episodes are intermittently funny but an undercurrent of repugnance sours the otherwise competent show.
Seiken no Blacksmith is about as close to sword porn as anime is likely to get - gratuitous close-ups of everything from katanas to two-handed broadswords, even a sword that turns into a scantily clothed female - there is no doubt that someone on the production team has a borderline fetish for the weapons. It is not surprising given the focus on blacksmithing, however this is the more glamorous face which has a skinny youth forging works of art rather than leathery old men shoeing horses.
enigmatic portents are scattered liberally throughout the opening episodes
Kicking off with one girl's battle against a beast of indeterminate origins made entirely of ice, she is promptly saved by a katana wielding strip of a lad called Luke. Rewinding several hours, the protagonist Cecily is the typical spunky do-gooder: a freshly sired knight who sees off rapscallions in the market place before getting resolutely trounced by a derelict wielding a sword. Her heirloom sword broken, she seeks out her saviour and sporadic blacksmith Luke who bunks with an elf-eared child with a breast fetish. While the plot of the first three episodes isn't entirely predictable, there is a comfortable altruism to the proceedings that prevents anything too dynamic from occurring.
Kiddy Grade has had a troubled upbringing: originally aired in 2002 by a still vaguely respectable Gonzo, it was an unremarkable series until past the half-way point when it briefly became excellent then dipped back down to a simmering mediocre. Notable only insofar that it was directed by Keiji Gotoh who also did the superb Martian Successor Nadesico, apart from the enduring appeal of its numerous racy promo images it sank without a trace. Four years later a sequel was announced and a teaser released shortly afterwards; the full product failed to materialise until almost two years after that with Kiddy Girl-and. The wait hasn't been particularly unbearable, it has however been long enough to forget the minutiae of the first series.
A plot strapped to this ship will only expedite its sinking
All semblance of plot, characters and sense are thrown out the window leaving a colourful, high-pitched husk of a series. The lead character is nauseatingly upbeat and with a voice that sounds like a cat attacking a chalkboard, a sonic assault that is worsened by the insipid plot lines of the first three episodes. From breaking into a "high security" area to secure some dessert to a tedious argument between partners, it feels like a regression to a neolithic phase of storytelling: all cudgels and grunts with a total lack of subtlety. That it features an underwear plot in the first episode (something the seminal My-HiME waited for the fourth episode for) and a bath scene in the opening minutes of the second demonstrates just how keen this series is to attract viewers.