Cheating Craft – 02

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The Gist: L-type and C-type students go at each other and then the teacher to win their way through the school entrance exam. Body doubles, poison bees, copy-cat pingpong balls, and even micro-slicing a paper in half to repeat the answers, this show shows a ton of clever cheating and anti-cheating tricks of it’s world.

Unfortunately, that’s all it shows.

Verdict: While I got a many chuckles out of the episode, it was equal parts visual gags and technique-names, with no meaningful character development, no memorable music, and a snails crawl plot. The sound design was good at least but, at the end of the day, this is not the kind of show that leaves much room for a review.

Dropped… but:

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Cheating Craft – 01 (First Impressions)

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This C-Type fights to protect his L-Type with a tranq-pen…

The Gist: in a world where a single test, the National Special-Level University Exam of Fate, dictates a person’s entire life status, there are two types of students: L-Types who’s learning power and expensive training regimens lets them pass the test and C-Types who use equally expensive means to cheat their way through.

This story will involve a boy named Shokatsu Mumei and a girl named Ou Koi, who are apparently trying to pass the test to have their father released from prison. However, for most of this episodes twelve minute run time, we get to see the story of other boys passing or failing the test.

Roll… credits?

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You may enjoy Cheating Craft because it has a great sense of humor and is merciless satire of all things testing. It’s short and to the point and the narration really works to set the stage. even if I have no idea what the stage is set to do.

It’s probably okay to skip Cheating Craft because it’s a relatively silly concept for a show and only last 12 minutes. It basically doesn’t introduce any characters or meaningfully set up their circumstances. It’s also doubtful that the characters will develop into anything, given the shows apparent hard-core focus on satire.

It’s also not much of a looker either…

Oji’s Verdict: I’m sticking with Cheater Craft for now because the subject matter is pretty novel and, so far, I’ve enjoyed the humor.

It is over the top in all the right ways. For goodness sakes, its so totally not afraid that it tells us 2 characters we haven’t even met yet are going to be love interests!

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Amagi Brilliant Park – 03

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Seiya takes heat from Moffle for closing the park on his first day. It hasn’t been done in years and Moffle is worried that it will ruin the park’s relationship with customers, so Seiya sends him to the front gate to entertain anyone who shows up but would otherwise be turned away.

On our way to the staff meeting, we get to see all the wacky cast members going about their business. At least they look like they are fixing things. Lets hope they do a good (safe) job!

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ABP has a HUGE cast — these are just the named senior staffers!

On the Left: A Sri Lankan statue named Codain (Escet Land cast leader), a bored-looking woman named Chief of General Affairs (Chief of General Affairs), an Indiana Jones-looking man named Jack Randy (Wild Valley Cast Leader), a globe named  Future-kun (Astro City Cast Leader), a grouchy chef with a head made of meat named Meatt (Food Service Chief), Moffle (Sorcerers’ Hill cast leader).

In the middle: Seiya and Isuzu

On the Right: a dolphin wearing samurai gear named Genjuurou-Kun (Splash Ocean cast leader), an oddly reddish skinned blonde woman in a suit named Ashe (Chief of Accounting), a triceratops who has glasses and a green tie named Toriken (Chief of Sales), a wrench with eyes named Wrench-kun (Chief of Engineering), a red cash register named Mer-chan (Chief of Merchandising) and a big man in a Lucha mask named Okuro (Chief of Security)

Don’t worry, I’m not going to remember all those names either.

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While there is resistance at the senior staff meeting, Seiya’s three rules are grudgingly agreed to. First, they will take no days off until after July 31st; second, they will extend their closing time from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm (until they can install lighting that will allow them to run until 9:00 pm)

Third and finally, they will only charge 30 yen for admittance and each ride. This is a compromise to Seiya’s ‘everything for free’ idea, and a good one since they can disguise their desperation as celebrating for the park’s 30th anniversary.

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Out front, Moffle’s day takes a turn for the worse when a punk kid treats him badly, only to have the kid’s mom act worse, and his yakuza/thug looking father start a fight. The fist fight isn’t really the problem — Moffle destroys the thug — it’s the potential PR crisis that could be bad for business.

Fortunately, Isuzu shoots everyone with memory erasing bullets.

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Fortunately for everyone, the fight plays into Seiya’s bigger plans and he uses a video of the beatdown to side-step clicks to another video he shot announcing the park’s reduced prices. Neither of these things makes Moffle very happy but he’s most upset that Latifah was used in the announcement video (in a bikini, no less!).

However, he backs down when faced with Seiya’s dominating presence and effective planning.

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Our episode comes to an end with 223 guests trickling in. It’s not much — it’s not even enough — but it is a start.

Amagi Brilliant Park continues its confident stride. It looks good, sounds good, shows us fun characters who do silly things and it has heart. I really get the sense that everyone in the cast cares about what they are doing. That’s a big deal to me because that sense is not all that so easy for an animation to sell.

Good job ABP. No…Great Job!

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Amagi Brilliant Park – 02

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Seiya quickly gets over the annoyance of his new-found telepathic ability. Not only is it fairly limited, in that he can most likely only use it once per-person, he’s got more important tasks to resolve: Kurisu Takaya of Amagi Development wants the park closed, pronto.

While Seiya holds his own in the meeting — he totally blindsides Kurisu with superior mental math skills and a blase attitude — Amagi’s deadline is set in stone. They have until the first week of August to hit 250,000 visitors.

And no one, not even the park’s magical residents, think that’s going to happen.

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As stated last week, Latifah wants Seiya to become the park’s manager because a seer has prophesied it to be so. And it’s not like Seiya isn’t competent — Amagi Development even offers him a job — but it’s a tall order to drop on a high school student who doesn’t know you.

More importantly, the park really frustrates him. Little details stand out as kind and thoughtful, but their priorities are all wrong. They take too many days off, they don’t run a long enough day, and too many attractions are broken.

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Ultimately, he decides to help them in the most efficient way possible: by becoming the villain and kicking the tar out of the cast himself. They need a change and they need focus and no one else can give it to them.

So, while many of the furry cast members go off to drink, Seiya stays and crunches the numbers and, to everyone’s horror, he chooses to close the park for repairs the following day.

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Another great episode from a series that knows what it’s doing: it is giving us variety and sincerity. Comedy and sadness. Action and calm introspection. Hope and fear.

Amagi has a lot of heart, it’s drawn very nicely, and there’s plenty of nice things to look at. If you’re feeling a little down from your normal routine of slapstick, fanservice and/or by-the-book nonsense, take a break of give this show a watch. I think you’re going to like it a lot!

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Amagi Brilliant Park – 01

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Amagi Brilliant Park is a fantastic show I thought Preston or Zane was reviewing but now I learn it’s all mine!  Seriously, this is the best heartfelt comedy I’ve seen this season, magical high school slice of life sub-tags aside.

What’s more, ABP’s steady stream of witty banter (and relationship red herring) is the perfect fuel for date-night style anime. I mean I love it, but my wife loves it even more.

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Our story opens with slightly aloof but handsome and possibly brilliant Seiya Kanie being asked on a date by Isuzu Sento, a persistent transfer student he’s never even spoken to. When Seiya tries to decline her request, Isuzu pulls a muzzle loading flint lock from no where and makes the request a bit more forceful.

What follows is a mostly terrible date at an amusement park, where everything is run down and Isuzu seems to have way too much specific knowledge…

ABP_2Nope. That is a love hotel.

From it’s bus stop being the wrong name (the bus stop with it’s name is actually a stop for a love hotel that’s castle themed) to the light-gun game in the happy candy shop where you must ‘kill’ mice, to the unaligned rails in the flower-love ride that threaten to kill the riders, everything wrong with the park is chuckle-worthy and pretty charming.

It’s certainly clear to Seiya that the park is managed by someone who doesn’t even know what’s wrong about what they are doing.

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Cutting to the chase, Isuzu introduces Seiya to Latifah the park manager, a lovely little girl who is the princess of a particular magical kingdom. She needs to get 250,000 attendees over the next 3 months or the park will close and, without a place for her people to live and collect the happy energy of people as food, all her people will die.

And an oracle has chosen Seiya as their savior. As the next manager of their park.

ABP_7try these croquettes. they be AMAZING!

Seiya isn’t ready to accept this responsibility anymore than he is willing to accept the existence of magic. So Latifah kisses him and blesses him with magic.

And a vague flash back to young Seiya being mean to young Latifah in the past.

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The next day, he awakes and then walks in on Isuzu changing in the bathroom. Then he learns that he’s telepathic, but that it only works once per person he uses it on.

ABP_11I love it when a mascot spits in disgust when asked to take my picture

Seiya is voiced by Kōki Uchiyama, who voiced Banagher Links in Gundam Unicorn and he brings a solid, grounded voice to the character. Thank goodness he’s a less whiny character than Banagher though. Ugh. Banagher!

Isuzu is voiced by Ai Kakuma, who did Nina in Aldnoah.Zero last season. I swear she did work in Bakemongatari (that would be Saito Chiwa – ed.) but she has not. But man, she does that pseudo-tsundere voice well and has great banter with Uchiyama-san.

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Episode one was full of delightful dialogue and precious details in its setting. Additionally, of all the ‘accidentally sexually objectify women’ moments in this season, Seiya’s interruption of Isuzu was the most natural, surprising, and least objectifying.

After three boob grabs a day last week, I really appreciate that.

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