Absolute Duo – 02 (Second Impression)

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Like last season’s Trinity Seven, Absolute Duo devolved into nothing but an empty harem by its second episode. There was so much boob-jiggle, boob-filled screens, exposition and sweat bubbles from characters worried people were getting the wrong idea, I’m surprised Absolute Duo still had time to infodump so much on top of us too.

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Not that any of the info was interesting or given much attention. What was given attention? Have a look at these examples:

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Not that it needs fair treatment at this point but, to be fair, some of the ecchi worked pretty well. Showing the girls have to ‘adjust’ their sweaty gym shorts by pulling them out of their cracks in between fights could have been enough—could even have been more sexualized—and much of the stupid stuff dropped and the episode would have been better for it.

However, that’s assuming the rest of the episode had anything to show us beyond that exploitation. It didn’t.

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Ultimately, my second impression is worse than my first. Not only is Absolute Duo preeminently generic, it’s also a pandering empty hole. It receives a score of 6 entirely on it’s rendering quality and the fact that, while empty, it doesn’t do anything wrong. Technically.

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Sengoku Musou – 01 (First Impressions)

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Sengoku Musou opens with what can best be described is a flaming pile of horse shit.  It is, perhaps, the best example of how not to open an anime (or start a visual story of any kind) that I have ever seen.

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No, I’m not being hyperbolic. Go ahead and watch the opening and tell me that you understood who anyone was or why a viewer would care about any of it with so little context. Jerkily animating gaudy samurai drifting in and out of clouds and popping into focus only to show us moments of dialogue we have no context for is *&$%ing idiotic.

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You may like S&M if you like dozens of long historical Japanese names vomited at you by gaudy, overly ornate and, frankly stupid-looking characters. I presume it’s marginally based in Japanese history, though I’m not familiar with anyone in this show and it’s so profoundly ugly that I don’t care and I would rather eat dog $#!†t sushi for lunch than watch any more of it.

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When we talk about info dumping and expositional over load, we’re usually criticizing a show for attaining 50% of the motor-mouthing presented by Sengoku. It’s truly numbing.

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You probably wont find anything interesting about S&M because any value it may have (eventually interesting combat, sexy lady samurai in sexy lady samurai armor) is buried under an uninteresting, cliche period drama.

If I knew more about the source material, I would claim this was actually parody.

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My immediately, unwavering verdict is: Skip it.

If you must watching it, drink heavily and turn off your brain. The character design is bad. The story is incoherent and slow. The characters are archetypical cliches. It’s a mess and if the visual presentation was any worse, I’d give it a 3 or lower.

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Seiken Tsukai no World Break – 01 (First Impressions)

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World Breaker is the third generic magic-school-battle-harem anime I’ve reviewed this season and in many ways, it’s the worst. However, and this is a deeply subjective opinion on my part, I found it so bad I was laughing my ass off for the first half of the episode — and that should count for something!

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In a nutshell, World Breaker’s… world… revolves around a small group of people who inherit the memories of their ancestors… and magic. Each student’s magic (yes this is a magic school anime) manifests in the form of some sort of energy field armor, as well as being able to materialize historic weapons around the student’s dog tags. Also, some people can cast dark magic in the form of spells or something.

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At school, this means that students will know each other, even though they’ve never met… sorta. Many of them have spent past lives together, after all. Though, in the protagonist’s case, he doesn’t have a strong sense of memory and only barely remembers his sister and lover of old.

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Summarizing the first episode is pointless. It’s more or less like Absolute Duo, except with more interesting character relationships, but delivered more (or equally) generically. There’s a lot of boob-grinding and flapping of arms and who cares.

The important details are: the protagonist’s ancestral sister and lover are in his class, both want his sexual attention, and that he’s very powerful all of a sudden. Possibly a dragon. Somehow…

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The good: What sets this otherwise idiotic show apart from the others in its genre is how absurdly terrible it is — and how enthusiastically it pursues its terribleness. In fact, it spends an uninterrupted 90 seconds AGGRESSIVELY GRINDING the protagonist’s face into some deep breasts at lunch time to prove that point.

World Break takes it’s lack of visual style and general ugliness seriously too. The character design really is weird and abstract but it’s damn well going to make them flail around and show off their skins as much as possible if you’re going to bother looking at them in the first place.

Strange praise I know, but it’s already a strange season.

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The bad: About half way through, World Breaker runs out of manic steam and it settles in for a run of the mill magic school fighting story. The protagonist stands up to the bully who bullies his sister and loses until he remembers he’s the best he’s the best he’s the best and then wins with superpowers.

Also, did I mention there are already two other completely generic shows in this genre this season? Beyond the laughably bad, made me shit my pants giggling opening flash-forward where our hero is casting magic through finger painting, there isn’t anything new here.

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My first impression is actually hard to pin down. On the one hand, I thought World Break tried so hard to be bad that, at times, it was actually really funny. However, it can’t escape the fact that it is a terribly generic show fully of tropes and soft-ball ecchi that pales in comparison to all the free hentai Google-san will provide for 30 seconds of effort.

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I really can’t imagine caring about this show but, I suppose, if you are going to watch any of the shows in this genre, at least it put in the effort. Keep in mind that effort was to be actively bad, but it’s still effort and worth some small respect all the same.

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 15

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I LOL’d. Most undignified space shower ever!

Hannah has seen fit to relinquish Gundam G to me alone (THE POWAH…) just when things seem to be picking up.

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And by picking up I mean RARA’S A REAL PERSON NOW. Rara has been such a wasted comic relief mascot up to this point (and Noredo has been resigned to babysitter), it’s fantastic finally listening to her using proper grammar prattling on about proper noun-heavy random stuff just like everyone else.

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Is that so? I’ll bet that mythical creature had a better haircut. If Towasanga has cheerleaders, I bet they accidentally grab his head all the time.

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SUUUURRRGGE!

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No, YOU don’t surge, Aida…you hang back and keep an eye on the Megafauna. Oh, and hey, make the boys some sandwiches while you’re at it! Seriously, all Aida ever does is hang back. I know she’s not a very good mobile suit pilot, but that begs the question, why is she piloting a mobile suit? Put Rara in one.

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Happa equips the G-Self with the Assault Pack, which is designed to UNLEASH HELL and make Bell a much bigger target. Happa quips that even an idiot can use it. Well, that’s not really a quip. Bell is an idiot, he’s just an idiot whose biology happens to work really well with mobile suits. A kind of “flesh battery”, if you will; a necessary evil…though I bet Happa wishes he could just control G-Self by remote.

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OMG YES. Not ‘Yes you can keep playing around’, but ‘Yes, Rara is piloting the captured mobile suit. Lest we forget, she was G-Self’s original pilot, and was capable enough that they sent her on a very important forward mission in it. She’s got skills (unlike Aida); she’s just probably rusty.

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Aw screw it…FIRE EVERYTHING!!!

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Bell is in full Destruction Mode, with a slight adjustment: he’s constantly asking his targets not to die once he fires at them. Mind you, they can’t hear him. He’s just saying this so he can sleep at night.

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Then again, long-range targets he can’t see or hear and tries not to blow up entirely means no faces of those he’s killed when he closes his eyes! Oh, and the Alincato? Another piece of tech introduced just this week that turned out to be a dud against the G-Self. Even the suit models chosen over the experimental G-Self (which Rara says was really called the “YT-111”) have trouble with Bell. He’s a machine.

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Rusty Rara takes it slow, since she’s still technically in developmental rehab, and aids the Megafauna’s defense. Still, even a little action is good to see, and I hope we see more of it.

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The heck is that thing? Looks like a giant finger bone wrapped with lots of gold watches. And it’s gi-normous. The moon was apparently blocking it all this time, but I’m surprised it doesn’t exert tidal forces of its own.

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Nah, it’s probably fine.

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See? It was only a trap for those who entered through Port I, Klim and Mick!

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The Megafauna enters through Port IV, and end up in Rara’s neighborhood, which is home to some kind of Towasanga resistance. I’m sure we’ll be pummeled with more info on that next week.

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Yoru no Yatterman – 01 (First Impressions)

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Yoru no Yatterman is the grimmest ‘happy show’ I’ve ever seen. It’s a post-apocalyptic fighter with a fantastic sense of style, bleak colors, death and sadness, and a spunky nine-year-old protagonist.

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Leopard, who wee see grow in bursts from birth to her ninth birthday, lives in a bizarre world where a great towering wall seems to rise over the mountains in the distance and fog obscures the mythical Yatter Kingdom across the sea. It’s a cold, and eternally dark world, but her mother and two bonded servants fill her life with joy.

Her mother dies soon after her birthday.

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Like Zvezda, Kill La Kill and even this season’s Rolling Girls, Yoru no Yatterman does a great job of breaking out of the typical anime character design mold. Elephantus (the family’s giant) has a unusual body shape, and the wonderfully retro fighting costumes are hand made, planting them firmly in our understanding of time and space.

Also like those shows, YnY sports elastic gestures, grand explosions, and beautifully rendered vapor as it swooshes around in the air. Dull colors or not, it is a treat for the eyes to see.

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It will be interesting to watch this in tandem with Rolling Girls, since they both have a similar setting to them. However, I already like both shows for very different reasons. Where RG sports vibrant colors and a grand open world, YnY is bleak, timid, yet so confident in the strength of it’s characters as individuals that it only introduces five of them. (of which one is already dead and two are leering villains)

It’s worth nothing that, unlike RG, YnY’s premiere feels more rounded as a starting episode. The infodump is restrained and spread across the episode—and some of that info even twists as more is revealed. However, the biggest difference is in the shows’ endings: Where RG ends like any mid-season episode, YnY’s Leopard belts out her mission and then they depart on it, to spawn episodes afterwards.

Neither is yet superior. Just different.

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If you liked Gurren Laggen for it’s masterful blend of aesthetics and tones, this may be a show for you. It is unquestionably dark but Leopard brings so much hope to it, so much optimism that you may find it hard not to smile all the way through.

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You may not be interested in Yoru no Yatterman if…I’m not sure why, actually? It isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but I’m finding it hard to identify any glaring faults.

Perhaps it will develop them in the future but for now, you have no reason not to watch it!

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My first impression was obviously a good one. Not only did I know little about this show before reviewing it, what I did know was categorically inaccurate. That surprise, added to YnY’s surprising level of restraint that keeps all of the over the top wacky elements in check, made for a wonderful viewing experience.

I’ve heard that this may have a distant relation to an old franchise but I know nothing about that. If you do, or have any thoughts, drop ’em in the comments below!

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Oigakkosan’s Winter 2015 Bracket

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My role on RABUJOI’s staff is partially to search for gems hidden among the shows that missed our radar when planning out our schedule. This season, I’m using a bracket system to more quickly focus on the shows that are good and worth reviewing.

My loose plan is outlined above but may change if more than one late-arrival is amazing or if I receive hand-me-downs from my fellow reviewers. Who knows? I could drop to fewer than three shows since I’m already co-reviewing Cross Ange, Drrrr x2, and Parasyte.

Seiken World Breaker and Sengoku Musou look to be my current late arrivals. Do you know of anything else I should watch that isn’t on the list? Questions? Drop a comment below!

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 14

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Ange, Vivian and Tusk awake in the ruins of what was once a great city that is obviously Tokyo. Vivian is in dragon mode and Ange rides her around to gather recon, which not only gives us plenty of glamour shots of blown-up-Tokyo but confirms our hapless heroes’ fears that they are entirely alone.

Then a perfectly functional robot zips by informing them that space is available at the central defense force’s shelter. So Team Ange wanders off to investigate what that’s all about.

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Piles of dead people, so it turns out. But also a computer, who’s chipper female avatar INFO-DUMPS us some back story about World War 7, the fall of the human race, and ultimately the destruction of everything by wars end  via BLACK VILLKISS(es)

Also, that this all happened more than 500 years ago, which depresses the hell out of Ange, who’s decided Tokyo is her home country due to the Dawn Pillar being present.

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In her funk, Ange is rather unthinking about her criticism of Liberatus to Tusk, who’s parents were both killed fighting in it. She also yells at Vivian.

However, after seeing cute knick-knacks in an underground shopping area, she changes her mind and gives Tusk a necklace and they make up. Then they find a hotel with clean beds and a nice bathroom and spend the night.

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Following some soap-flavored Ange-candy (and Vivi-washing) Ange and Tusk have an incredibly awkward and/or hilarious admission of liking each other and try to get some sleep next to each other in the same bed because Tusk broke the couch he wanted to sleep on by sitting on it.

COMEDY GOLD!

Then Dragons show up, complete with more elf rider-girls like the one we saw a few episodes ago, and this episode comes to a close…

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Good:

  • We almost went the whole episode without Tusk jamming his face in Ange’s crotch for once and the lack of exploitation was a nice change of pace.
  • We received a lot of information about the world and, while it was via info-dump, things make a lot more sense now.
  • It was a nice twist that Japan was destroyed by a nation that invented mecha instead of Japan being the source of mecha, which would be more typical for anime.
  • One or two of Tusk’s lines were actually pretty funny! (intentionally or not)

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Not so good:

  • The pacing was sluggish, with jerky info-heavy moments and none of it reinforced the sense of loneliness, isolation or fear. It’s just another weird place for Ange to be, wherever it is.
  • Ange and Tusk have no chemistry and the romance-thread feels as forced now as you would anticipate from Tusk’s first episode.
  • I can’t decide if the over-the-top back story, Vivian’s dragon ‘whale song’ talking or the introduction of elves is profoundly stupid or profoundly stupid in a way I should just accept as how Cross Ange does things.

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Verdict: This week was watchable, and advanced the plot efficiently-ish with limited skin-ploitation, which are all good things. That said, Ange has become less and less pretty to look at as time runs on and the story it is efficiently telling has gotten more and more ridiculous too.

As a series, I imagine Ange is what I imagine doing Bath Salts is like. At the beginning, it seems insane but straightforward, then it gets twisted and warped and you don’t know what anything means anymore, then you feel ill as the high crashes away and you’re left with a bleak world littered around you and half your neighbor’s fingers still digesting in your stomach.

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Braverade’s Take:

When the Villkiss teleported Ange, Tusk, and Vivi away last week, I assumed they probably went to wherever dimension the DRAGON came from. Thus I was prepared for an entirely new and ultimately successful setting for the purpose of teasing a paradise for Ange. 538 years in the future, they’re literally the only two humans left.

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This was, in a way, a scaling-up of the infamous island episode, only better in every way. The ruined Misurugi capital, which is actually Tokyo (the Sky Tree, Rainbow Bridge, and Diet are all present) is a far more interesting and awe-inspiring setting, helped by the mystery that initially surrounds it and some of the best musical tracks of the series. Watching Ange soar over the foliage-covered ruins aboard Vivi is a surreal, gorgeous shot. As such I can’t quite agree with Franklin that the show is “getting less pretty to look at”.

Once they learn when they are and what happened from “Shelter Siri” (an infodump, but at least an infodump they tried to present in a practical manner, what with the holo-imagers) Tusk believes it, but Ange instantly calling it bullshit is true-to-character.

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It also helps that Tusk—and the show itself—are on their best behavior, as if they’d learned from the backlash to the island episode. Vivi stays in DRAGON form throughout, so there’s no naked loli. Ange never wakes up naked with a Tusk looming over her. They do end up in what looks like the love hotel near Amagi Brilliant Park, but Tusk doesn’t barge in on her bath, and when Ange opens her robes, it’s her decision, and because, well, she has needs just like anyone else…and he is the ‘last man on earth’.

Ange’s advances, along with her sentiment about this whole situation perhaps being for the best, are both dashed when a DRAGON shows up with two Ragna-Mail riders responding to a distress call. The show insists on getting one super-quick facecrotch in—the proverbial insolent child or dog doing something it knows is wrong.

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This was a vast improvement over the last Ange+Tusk episode (not a tough achievement, but still). It was helped by its fresh setting, by the presence of Vivian, by the show’s restraint, and finally the tenderness with which it treated the romance of a couple who, let’s not forget, are both greatly wounded souls with vast weights on their shoulders.

No, it’s not Shakespeare, but their pairing at least makes sense and is being treated more seriously. And Tusk, while not ideal, is certainly Ange’s best choice for an opposite-sex romance in the show.

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