Haikyuu!! Third Season – 01

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If you’ve watched Haikyuu!! before, you know what this opening episode has in store: side characters talking about the stress, strengths and weaknesses of everyone while the new opponent’s team is introduced, one by one. In 24 minutes, 1 serve is sent over the net and, as you would also expect, our hero’s lose the first point.

It’s a formula but it works, in large part due to its charming cast of goof balls.

But there’s no way I’m going to review it. Not when the lions share of a season will be dedicated to a single match of 5 sets — and it will go to 5 sets if the formula is to be believed. There simply is not enough for me to say.

Oh the screen capture of that huge arse camera? That was the most unexpected thing in the whole episode…

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Stella no Mahou – 01 (It’s Garbage)

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The Gist: Honda Tamaki-chan is a hick from the sticks with her ghost and/or robot grandma. She’s starting her high school life at a private all girls high school, which means this is a club-activity-anime. The club she eventually picks is the Doujin Games club, which is comprised of three second years who are *quirky™…in a fairly generic way.

Stella no Mahou presents a special kind of hell. At the 22 minute mark, following barely 4 actual scenes of story, Tamaki draws a picture and decides she’s finally found purpose in her life. Amazingly little happens in this anime, including a 10 minute scene dedicated to introducing 3 club members in a largely static room shot with plodding dialog and cliches.

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The Verdict: SnM doesn’t pander, it dose not insult, it isn’t hard to understand, it isn’t hideous… it isn’t noteworthy good or bad in any meaningful way beyond the utter boredom it produces.

The only favorable note I made why watching was “her work desk is nice, I guess” (but she owns an ancient ###tty PC). I am also not sure if her grandmother is a Robot or a Ghost because no one else sees her and, baring one scene where Tomato-chan gets encouragement to do… whatever… she only exists in flash backs, where she’s still generically encouraging her grand daughter.

There is no reason to watch this anime.

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Drifters – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: Toyohisa Shimazu is a hardcore samurai who holds the line in the Battle of Sekigahara for his lord and uncle to escape. In a fantastic showdown with the lord of the Red Devils, he intentionally allows himself to be mortally wounded, in order to get a point blank pistol shot off and cripple the Devils’ pursuit.

Stumbling, bleeding out, he eventually finds himself in a bright white hallway lined with doors. A silent smoking man sits in the hall with a computer, newspaper and coffee.

Then Toyohisa is sucked through a door and meets other dead members of Japanese history trapped in another world, which includes elves, and no clear sense of purpose…

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Drifters is worth a look because it is mysteriously less historical-fictiony than advertised, visually striking, and packed with details you may miss on your first viewing.

It’s great to see Toyo flick his sword to remove excess blood, even in the background. It’s also great that mortally wounded soldiers don’t just die quietly — but linger and sputter full of arrows and spears. Yet those same soldiers don’t just spring up for more action, as they would in a more forgiving action show.

And Toyo’s suicide is about as perfect as a set piece for a hardcore mofo can be. Yes, he kills his target, yes he walks away from the fight (for a little while) but he doesn’t take out the dozen guarding spearmen in the process — quite the opposite! They take him out!

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Visuals and personality aside, I greatly appreciate that the plot doesn’t feature quirky characters with historical figures’ names doing quirky things in a steam punk/mech/whatever alternate reality.

Those shows irritate me because  using historical names adds nothing to the characters, and lessens any originality in their development and interaction.

Drifters’ choice to use marginally accurate historical characters, thrust into a setting they do not understand — they do not belong in — is a refreshing twist.

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believe it or not, this was intentional!

You may not enjoy Drifters because it is definitely trying very hard to be hardcore and cool. It has lingering shots of growing blood puddles, the occasional ‘flurry of sword slashes’ to indicate lesser foes are being cut down without putting render effort into it, and the color pallete is pretty one-note, shadowy and murky.

Some of the Battle Pacing is odd too. In one scene, the Red Devils seem right in front of Toyo, yet it takes them an extended dialog scene for them to bear down on their horses. In other scenes, foot men appear to move as quickly as cavalry, probably because they are 3D assets and no one noticed the movement settings.

As far as the script goes… there isn’t much of a script to talk about. Half of this opening episode is dedicated to a battle, and the other half features Toyo talking to two historical characters and establishing what happened after their deaths, and a little of how they see him, based on his family history in their earlier times.

It’s all rather ‘safe,’ while not accomplishing much in the process.

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Oji’s Verdict:  Toyo’s smirky expression and the heavy pools of black and creased skin of the art style scream ‘trying too hard for angst.’ However, the style also manages to feel less generic as a result.

But I think what really sold me were the quirky moments that are not significant to the plot. Several of Toyo’s soldiers say “Don’t mess with Shimazu” in a modern sounding way and I swear the music is a little more club-like when they do. Those little juxtapositions gave it life, amidst all the death.

Braverade’s Take: I also enjoyed the fact that while the cast is made up of historical figures, and a lot of history is talked about, the bottom line is we’re left with three warriors from three different times in the unenviable position of being in a world not their own.

I also enjoyed the casualness of their banter and the diversity of emotions expressed in their fireside talk (all while Shimazu’s wounds are struggling to stay closed). The stabs at comedy mostly succeed and indicate that while Drifters is trying to be super-cool, it’s not always taking itself too seriously. And even though I’m no history buff, I never felt lost, nor did it feel like a lecture.

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Tiger Mask W – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: imagine a world where WWF from the 1980’s was really real and the absurd backstories of its actor/wrestlers were harsh and traumatic. Now imagine that world is crudely drawn, quickly (but incoherently) paced, and you have Tiger Mask W.

The plot is about two boys who enter wresting to take revenge upon the man who destroyed their father/ father figure. Each boy ends up wearing a tiger mask, but for different organizations and will, probably, have a show down with each other at some point in the season.

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bad figures, color pallete, composition and scale… at least it has a picture of a motor cycle in the middle of it…

The verdict: Tiger Mask’s plot is almost terrible enough to be funny but it’s too convoluted to engage. The whole Global Wrestling Monopoly Conspiracy is weird and distracts from the initial thrust of the story, and I’m not even getting into the whole gym of under dogs that somehow get rolled into ‘Monopoly’s plan to take over Japanese wrestling.’

Maybe I’m too old for this? But, even if I liked wrestling, animation this ugly and narratively slapped together would probably be a turn-off.

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Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: Imagine your drunk pervy uncle got extra drunk and made an anime about sweaty girls playing table tennis. The protagonist is an approval junkie and narcissist who wants to take her second rate high school to the regionals. Unfortunately, a new girl has transferred in and is probably better than everyone.

SnTM’s illustration style is primitive, with washed out color and mediocre animation. There are a few good angles, and making the girls actually sweat in exertion is a nice touch, but those potato-faces are pretty unappealing to look at.

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The humor style isn’t great either, combining a few ‘look boobs’ jokes with absurd situations like… a girl stuck on the school gate. Nothing imaginative nor funny.

The Verdict: The protagonist is entirely unlikable and the bashful transfer who kicks butt is annoyingly bashful. Without anyone to root for, without even decent artwork, sound, nor an interesting story, there is no reason to watch this show.

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Keijo!!!!!!!! – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: Kaminashi Nozomi and Miyata-chan have qualified to become Keijo players—a sport where girls must push each other into the pool only using their butts, boobs and wits…

Our story begins as the girls move into Keijo high school, share their reasons for being there, and flash back to the admittance examine. The press is there focusing on the top scoring players and ignores Kaminashi, but is quickly surprised by the number of elite players who talk to the new girl and treat her as an equal.

Also, Kaminashi’s hair makes her look like a cockroach. So I will refer to her as cockroach-chan from now on!

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Keijo is better than Anitore! XX because it actually does something with its fan service. Yet it doesn’t pretend to be anything else than fan service. Yes, it is fan service and it is utterly ridiculous that this show is just about girls using their boobs and butts to push each other off of floaties in a pool, but everything the entire experience is grounded in the reality of a sport. A flesh-peddling sport but a sport all the same.

You may freely ignore this show because it is sanitized boob and butt and fighting fodder and you can easily find sexier, raunchier skin online. And if you want more than that, It is unlikely to develop a serious plot nor develop its characters emotionally beyond where they are.

That said, the characters have an earnestness to them and it is well animated and styled for what it is.

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The Verdict: I can’t believe this show has made a space on my review docket—and it may get cut mid season—but, for now, the fun high school training vibe, bright colors, and idiocy has me hooked.

My ancestors are rolling in their graves…

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