Posts with the “medieval” 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

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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.

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A review of the Hitsugi no Chaika anime series

There aren’t many ways of describing Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess) that don’t boil down to it being “solid”. It starts pleasingly enough pitching a late medieval fantasy world where unicorns aren’t brushed snow stallions but grotesque slathering monsters, then proceeds to flesh out its trio, then quartet, of main characters before concluding with a satisfying end. A second season (or continuation of this season depending on your point of view of staggered broadcasts) has been announced which is unsurprising given that the series has been well received and has enough mileage in its premise to carry it through another dozen or so episodes.

The titular Chaika is an amnesiac goth loli with apple cheeks and a clipped, almost breathless cadence to her speech who is looking for the remains of her father, Emperor Gaz. Enlisting the help of the mercenaries, or “saboteurs” in the series’ lingo, Toru and Akari, the group set off to help Chaika in putting her father to rest. The issue being of course that Gaz was killed because of the war he started that lasted two hundred years, and his remains were separated so that his immense magical powers would not allow him to reform, T-1000 style, and start up hostilities all over again. Nothing is ever easy.

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A review of the Seikoku no Dragonar anime

There’s a principle in writing drama coined by Anton Chekhov called simply “Chekhov’s Gun”. It’s a straightforward idea with the spirit of it being “don’t include anything unnecessary”; a lot of anime do it anyway as either a hangover from their manga or light novel source material, as a way to entice viewers further than the first episode, or as a misguided attempt to construct a foundation for additional instalments. If that’s Chekhov’s gun, then Seikoku no Dragonar (Dragonar Academy) is Chekhov’s arsenal. It’s frankly staggering how such a multitude of bits of back story and character development are shown but then never utilised again.

evil schemes so laughably ineffective that all they achieved were minor property damage

Daughter of Avalon? Nope. Silvia and Ash’s history together? Nope. Arranged marriage? Nope. Morally ambiguous teacher? Nope. The list goes on and on until by the end you could make a doily out of all of the plot threads that are left hanging. What you do get in Dragonar then is a whole lot of things you’ve seen before but forced together like ill fitting jigsaw pieces. You’ve got the precocious and pink-haired loli from Zero no Tsukaima, the improbable harem of Infinite Stratos and the throw-away fantasy leanings of too many series to name.

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A review of the Maoyuu Maou Yuusha anime series

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Demon King and the Hero) was nothing like what I expected. My ill-advised method of choosing anime to watch based on animated GIFs that I find on Tumblr led me to believe it was going to be just another medieval fan-service series; sharpen claws, commence slating. How wrong I was. I had seen the first episode when the series first aired and didn’t continue watching for some unknown fickle reason but frequently heard it compared to Spice and Wolf. In that series, wolf spirit Holo wanders around naked for a not insignificant amount of time which is likely where I assumed the comparison came from.

“I’m here to kill you!” “You want some tea?” “...” “...” “Sure”

In actuality it’s from the pointed approach to medieval affairs than chest out fan-service; so whereas Spice and Wolf busies itself with the minutiae of trade economics, Maoyuu Maou Yuusha goes for a more nuts-and-bolts cultural approach, dragging in some good old fashion politicking to go with it. You have the Demon King, the red haired poster child of the series, who makes a deal with the Hero, Generic McBlandpants, to set aside their racial and ideological differences in order to build a better world.

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