It’s right there in the first few lines of the opening: “Kiss kiss kiss, I can’t take my eyes off you”. That’s the entirety of Sakura Trick, the length and breadth of its offering. The initial gambit is much bolder: a fluffy but uninhibited romance between two young women; the reality though lacks a lot of what could have made that worthwhile. Wait, rewind. Sakura Trick isn’t for me. As a modern, self-effacing male, it’s probably prudent to start with that. It’s also not as though I have a whole lot of context for what the twelve episode series brings to the shoujo ai genre (although Wikipedia insists it’s targeted at young adult males). Certainly I have touchstone shows to fall back on like Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena as well as the briefest of exposures to Maria-sama ga Miteru and Strawberry Panic but in terms of it embodying or enhancing its genre? Very little.
wreathed in pastel shades and inundated with an endless source of cherry blossom
It’s refreshing at first to see an intimate relationship between two characters in an anime that doesn’t cleave closely to the harem or chase-the-girl setups. The series is bookended by what feels like a natural progression for the two protagonists: starting with them advancing to more than just friends and finishing with them questioning what love is. The naturalness presents the initial allure because it normalises a same-sex relationship that is elsewhere presented as coy and unspoken with series like My-HiME or even Stellvia of the Universe. It becomes a given that Haruka and Yuu are together and that either their friends are oblivious to it or blithely accept it.
The Dangan Ronpa anime accrues a lot of pop-culture debt during its thirteen episode run. The most obvious being to Phoenix Wright (Gyakuten Saiban) with its near carbon copy of the hyperactive trials, only the iconic “Objection!” being replaced with a bizarre ammunition mechanic. More surreptitiously is its desire to be even a fraction as stylish as Persona 4 with a funky-smooth Engrish opening and questionably bold style. Tertiary influences seem to include the torturous logic diatribes from Death Note as well as the “children versus children” storyline from Battle Royale (and by extension the recent BTOOOM among others).
Combine these with a day-glo colour palette, retro video-game motifs and a cast of charicatures rather than characters and the final presentation is a muddled hodge-podge that, somewhat ironically, barely has an identity of its own.
A review of the A Certain Scientific Railgun S anime
First released: April 2013 Version reviewed: TV
For a series set in a near-future, science-driven city, the second season of A Certain Scientific Railgun (now with the “S” suffix) certainly paints a dim view of science and scientists. All of them barring the “good” one are shown as bespectacled loons with no regard for human life and a casual relationship with morals.
Academy City is lovingly rendered and plays host to the ongoing adventures of Mikasa Mikoto - the titular “railgun” - and her cohorts. Split roughly into two interlocking stories, the plot follows an experiment to advance a top level esper - those with varying X-Men like super powers - beyond anything seen before, and a spurned scientist’s attempts to demonstrate that even with their powers, espers are just as powerless as those without.
In a world where tanks are a part of everyday life, and pre-UN countries send teenage girls out in war machines to fight not to the death, but to the white flag, one rag-tag team will face their toughest opponent yet. Can they overcome all the odds, work as a team and deal with all of their various family issues and rise to the top?
Of course they can. Girls Und Panzer is an underdog story with just about every trope from the genre ticked off. Think Cool Runnings as an anime, except tanks instead of bobsleds. The knowledge that the girls of Oorai High School can't lose - at least not always in conventional terms - should make this a by the numbers affair. That it manages to be not only supremely entertaining but equally tense and heartfelt speaks volumes for a familiar idea well implemented.
Once upon a time there was a girl who had lost her father. Her sister and mother were very upset, but this little girl didn't cry, she refused to believe her father had died. This little girl was Rikka, and she wielded the Wicked Eye: able to summon tremendous dark power; and though she had many minions, her greatest ally was the mysterious Dark Flame Master.
But the Dark Flame Master's powers waned with age and it was up to her Wicked Eye and her devoted minion, Dekomori, to try and save their once great ally and discover the Ethereal Horizon where Rikka's father now resided. There were pretenders, trials and tribulations along the way, and at one point the Wicked Eye lost its vigour all together, but eventually, she prevailed and built a great dark kingdom with her allies.