Posts with the “tsundere” tag

An elf, a dwarf and a werewolf walk into Akihabara

A review of the Outbreak Company anime

On paper Outbreak Company is, frankly, bobbins. An otaku is transported to a fantasy realm of elven maids, busty werewolves and a pint-sized queen in order to spread the otaku way to them. But of course paper is exactly where it started with a series of ongoing light novels and manga preceding the twelve episode anime which is not only funny in a dorky, self-aware kind of way but also surprisingly sensitive to the panoply of topics it touched upon.

The first it tackles is cultural imperialism: the male protagonist Shinichi, and by extension Japan through his, what else, busty BL-loving JSDF aide, are shown to be sensitive to steamrollering their ideals and morals on the populace of the fantasy realm of Eldant. This creates some oddly atypical situations such as when the diminutive queen verbally and almost physically attacks the lead half-elf maid, a situation defused not by posturing and proselytising but by a measure of understanding. From a western point of view this very pointed approach to diplomacy could be taken as a dig towards the jingoism of real-world recent conflicts and occupations but is more likely aimed inward and towards Japan’s recent past.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Mayoi Neko Overrun! (Overrun by Stray Cats!)

Fifty seconds in: underwear close-up. Sixty seconds in: abuse by an overly arrogant female. Four and a half minutes in: breast jiggle. Mayoi Neko Overrun! is in a hurry to cram in as many clichés as possible into the first three episodes. There isn't much breathing room in the high-school romance genre without either sharp writing or a game changing hook, this has neither of those and instead runs down a checklist of tropes necessary to be inducted into the pantheon of mediocrity. The humour shows some brief flashes of craftsmanship but is otherwise a standard, lacklustre frolic through tired character archetypes, a bizarrely messy story and scattered, gelatinous animation. This is to say nothing of the titular cats, supposedly the bait to differentiate the series, which are relegated to poorly illustrated background caricatures and the demure purple haired savant.

deadpan sarcasm a welcome respite from the screeching vocal assault of other characters

Living in a bakery with your adoptive sister does have its perks, however for Takumi, his abusive childhood friend and fellow orphan Fumino is not one of them. While his sister, Otome, is away on some whimsical mission to help the needy, Takumi and Fumino try to help a young boy find a human-sized cat who supposedly ate one of the bakery's cakes. After a night of fruitless searching, the culprit is found by Otome who recently returned from her sojourn in Europe. The young amnesiac Nozomi, with hair resembling cat ears and a strongly introverted personality, is adopted by Otome much like she did Takumi. Enrolling her in the local school with the help of the diminutive Chise, what follows is her adventures with other schoolmates including Takumi and his friends Ieyasu, Daigoro as well as Fumino and her closest friend, Kanae.

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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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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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