Posts with the “fantasy” tag

Iron maiden

A review of the Akame ga Kill anime series

There’s a point at the end of a series, the final episode receding into memory, when you wonder why you kept watching it. Akame ga Kill is exactly that series. It is staunchly, even startlingly mediocre in just about every regard, but because it hovers just above that baseline of entertainment - not offensively dumb enough to abandon but not good enough to sing its praises - here I find myself twenty four episodes later.

There wasn’t the remotest of hints that it was ever going to be better than average. From the off the story of Tatsumi, a swordsman from the boonies whose compatriots are killed and he falls in with the band of assassins, Night Raid, is about as nuts and bolts as it comes. Chief amongst the group though is Leone with a ferocious blonde mane and a fiery attitude. No wait, maybe it’s Sheele the demure, bespectacled scissors wielder. Or perhaps Bulat

Read the rest of this entry


A review of the Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle anime series

The second season of Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess), subtitled Avenging Battle, may become a bullet point in the argument against the practice of a splitting a broadcast in two. The first season didn’t exactly shake the earth but was supremely enjoyable and didn’t have any disagreeable sharp edges to it. The second season continues Chaika’s story of collecting the remains of her father, the infamous Emperor Gaz, along with her saboteur companions Toru and Akari.

For a while at least it seems to be business as usual: locate hero, procure gruesomely severed body parts, find out more about Gaz and the history behind Chaika. Then suspicion creeps in that this story train is heading full speed for a finale, and it’s not stopping at any stations.

Read the rest of this entry

System administrator

A review of the first Log Horizon series

Read other peoples’ reviews of Log Horizon and a pattern emerges, whereby your enjoyment of the series seems predicated on your level of involvement with MMORPGs and by how much you want an anime series to capture the feelings they invoke. So on the one hand you have those who have played since the heady pioneering days of Ultima Online and Everquest and have moved past the day to day minutiae of MMO activities with an elevated focus on community and meta aspects to the experience. On the other, you have those who seek the thrill of loot, of building one’s character, min-maxing and optimising and savouring the Pavlovian new-level ping.

that knowing sense of daftness when a samurai takes down a boar ten times his size, or when a griffin tries to eat Naotsugu’s head

Log Horizon contains characters from that entire spectrum but as a series, favours the former over the latter. The concept of characters becoming trapped within an MMO is definitely not unique but its approach to telling a story within that structure is. Perhaps most crucially though is that the series seems to understand which core tenets of MMOs make a good story rather than doing the opposite trying to apply a story to an MMO.

Read the rest of this entry


A review of the Hataraku Maou-sama anime series

First released: April 2013
Version reviewed: Blu-Ray

The only time I seem to hear about this “Maou-sama” chap, the “Demon King”, is when anime subverts that most grand of titles. First it was as a fiercely intelligent but largely benign lady in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha and then here in Hataraku Maou-sama (The Devil is a Part-Timer).

It starts straightforwardly enough amidst war in the high-fantasy kingdom of Ente Isla, all darkness, death and monsters as the beef-cake Demon King lays waste to the once peaceful island nation. Then a hero shows up, starts scrapping with him, only for the mighty Demon King to retreat, warping out and landing in modern day Tokyo with his general Alciel. As introductions go it gets the point across and sets up a series which is surprising not only for how enjoyable it is but also how much it has going on under the surface.

Read the rest of this entry

Stained glass wasteland

A review of the Mekakucity Actors anime

The elephant in the room whenever I’m talking about a series like Monogatari, ef, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai or, in this case, Mekakucity Actors, is the director Akiyuki Shinbo. I have tried and usually failed to address that elephant when reviewing his shows yet each one he does without sharing directing duties is indelibly stamped with his unique vision. My issue being that despite his obvious talent and corruscating view of the world, it takes an enormously strong story to match that style. Mekakucity Actors does not have that.

an obnoxious mash-up of a vocaloid and the Microsoft Word paperclip

Madoka did which is why it’s difficult not to maintain the niggling suspicion that it was so successful despite the director rather than because of him. He is consistently strong when it comes to aesthetics, with allegories and metaphors bubbling contentedly beneath the surface but with Mekaku it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. There’s the fascination with time and cogs with crooked clock towers and giant hourglasses littering the landscape and drenched in neon like a futuristic Salvador Dali. Sunsets and stained glass windows frame moody looking teenagers holding books and cocking their heads with signature aloofness.

And I have no idea what’s going on.

Read the rest of this entry