Granblue Fantasy the Animation – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: Granblue Fantasy is the story of Lyria, a abused special magic weapon on the run from The Empire, and Gran, a friendly knight, who comes to her rescue in the woods. Gran is killed along the way and Lyria must resurrect him and unleash the power of Bowmut to defeat the evil-face villain and escape.

I literally spent 40 minutes laughing with hatred at this show, which contains exactly zero drops of joy, artistic expression, nor professional craft.

It may be tempting to watch Granblue to witness its profoundly generic and overwhelmingly slow structure, which are impossible to capture in stills. It may be tempting to watch if you enjoy the game, which has lovely character designs, with vivid color and shading, absolutely not captured here.

Please, in the name of the 40 minutes of life I can never get back, do not. This is a profoundly terrible show.

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There is an unfortunate dialog convention in Fantasy RPGs, which I refer to as “Question, answer, answer repeated as question, answer.” (QAARAQA for short) It is usually reserved for the protagonist, to reinforce information that absolutely does not need to be reinforced for the viewer/player, which results in a mentally limited protagonist and disrupted narrative flow.

“Who’s chasing us?” “The Empire.” “The Empire!? They’re dangerous!” “Yes. We must escape them!” “Escape them!?” – Oh just shut up!

GranBlue Fantasy the Animation QAARAQAs frequently, often while characters are standing around before and after its brief action scenes. Not only does this result in a repetitive cycle that adds nothing to our understanding of the world or the characters, as they are only restating obvious plot points we’ve seen or can infer without emotional nuance, it totally derails the flow of action.

Of course that would matter more if GranBlue contained action in the first place. While characters do run around, occasionally launch shimmery attacks, and there are 2 CGI dragons, the animation is lethargic or lacking narrative tension or hilariously adherent to RPG battle conventions, or all three at once.

In one scene, after a few seconds running away from a long conversation, Katalina stops and walks up angrily to four imperial knights harassing villagers in the forest …and swats them to the ground with her rapier. She doesn’t run, she just walks up to them and splat, they fall over, with exactly the same sword-swing and fall-down impact you would expect from a broad sword. The only thing missing was red damage point numbers appearing above the knights’ bodies.

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While the character design is quite detailed, that level of detail limits shading. The result looks flat, lacking volume, and the line quality, which is best described as ‘sketchy pencil’ looks sloppy, unfinished. Other visual notes like Vyrn not flapping her wings, rather bobbing up and down in the frame, and that 20 minutes of the episode are spent running aimlessly through the same muddy-colored forest, gives an overall feeling that no effort was put into the production of this show.

Certainly, nothing compared to the lovely rich colors and bold shading in the game. (Don’t even get me started on the audio, the generic high-pitched girl voice dragon, or the laughingly evil faced villain who also has a generic high pitched voice/laugh.)

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The Verdict: Fantasy tropes aside, GranBlue‘s structure is terrible. Scenes are interminably long, often featuring characters standing around expositioning content we know or are smart enough to infer.

11 minutes in, Gran and Katalina spend 4 minutes next to a fallen tree re-explaining the current story. This is immediately after running away from a group of soldiers, without a sense that they’ve ‘gotten away’ or are hiding. They’re just here, nonchalantly talking about the plot. No tension, nothing.

“Gran! Please use my power.” “Your… power?” “Yes” – ARGH!

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Taboo Tattoo – 02

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From a professional artistic standpoint, Taboo Tattoo is garbage. A simple example of this is it’s incomprehensible choices in framing. As seen above, Seigi is talking to two characters sitting next to each other. This isn’t a pan-shot. They literally did not frame one of the characters.

In this same frame, Seigi is also information repeating as a question… information he’d been given last episode and had time to absorb. Call and counter call scenes like:

“we’re in the Army” “you, the army?” and “it may result in your death” “my death?” are a convention for abhorrently bad anime/rpg writing, they also waste of our time as viewers, since we’ve been told the information multiple times and gain nothing from hearing the character’s non-reaction.

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An example chest level shot… after a floor level shot, transitioning into an over the shoulder (but back in the room) shot, all within a second’s time. (then 2 different shots of Seigi gasping for air on the floor of his room — jesus stop moving the camera!)

In more general examples, the framing bounces from multiple characters’ points of view during an exchange. Maybe it’s low with a character on the floor looking up at who’s talking, followed by looking back down at the listening character, or across the room in an establishing shot.

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It’s constant but unnecessary movement, generally in scenes where slower, more traditional pans would anchor us to a single point of view and let us absorb the scene from that point of view, thus gaining a degree of emotional connection with the character holding that view.

tl;dr throwing the camera around the room during a conversation doesn’t make the conversation more interesting. The opposite in fact.

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An example of the glimmer of greatness: casually reading a manga about a teen freaking out while talking calmly about a grim situation to a teen who’s freaking out…

What’s actually maddening about Taboo Tattoo is that, despite its artlessness, the dark character that shows up this week was actually interesting. Even if only for the chained-up loli aesthetic.

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Similarly, TT pokes fun at a few conventions of anime in general. Army-chan lolz off Seigi’s attempt to intimidate her by smacking the wall and his classmates are all like ‘you are a protagonist so we’re going to throw you out the window because screw you for auto-getting the girl’

It’s almost clever enough — almost fun enough — but god damn it’s so incompetently put together 90% of the time I can’t get into it. /Rant

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Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: Usami Mizuki has a crush on fellow art club member Subaru but he’s obsessed with creating the perfect 2D waifu. The club has a lazy president and also a girl who never shows up… except she’s actually always there, just observing everyone silently from the art locker.

Usami draws fruit. Subaru draws waifus. Usami experiences several cliched ‘unrequited love’ scenes with Subaru, who’s indifference to her feelings is almost funny. Almost. Usami occasionally becomes well animated and violent. Not much else happens.

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There is no reason you would enjoy KBnwMgA. It vaguely resembles Nozaki-kun, but with less likable characters and weaker comedic timing. The music is classic disney background filler — up beat but mindless.

There’s no sense of time and space either because we only experience these characters ‘after school’ save for one flashback to when Usami and Subaru met at the beginning of the year. Usami even has an emotional ‘crying that Subaru is leaving the club’ moment at the end of the episode… but we’ve had so little time with these characters, and she has so little reason to even like Subaru (he’s a jackass) that the scene is rendered emotionally pointless.

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example of an odd choice: the girl in the locker (above) is not revealed to the cast during the episode. This means we never get a ‘joke’ about her being in there…

The Verdict: You’ve seen everything here done better before. The resulting show makes you anxious for something interesting to happen and irritated when nothing but cliches do happen.

Somehow the humor doesn’t break through the monotenous music and minotenous love story and, without humor, there is no real point. It isn’t terrible but it is so utterly without personality I found it very hard to watch and for that reason, I can’t even give it an average score. (there’s not even a genre you may like that could justify setting aside time to give it a pity watch)

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Taboo Tattoo – 01 (First Impressions)

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Seigi is a middle school martial artist living with his emotionally damaged grand father/martial arts sensei. See, Seigi’s father died ‘because he wasn’t strong enough’ and his mother made his childhood friend look out for him, which she does in wifu-like fashion.

Also, AMERICANS are plotting to destroy the second most powerful economy in the world, some south east asian island kingdom and Seigi’s middle school friends tell him the rumor is the AMERICANS have created super science tattoos to do just that!

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In fact, Seigi acquires one of these tattoos from a friendly stranger in the very first scene and then meets a young looking (but apparently 30?) female AMERICAN military spy who’s collecting the tattoos that were stolen from AMERICA (by the Yakuza?) and are being sold in Japan.

Unfortunately, she beats the living #$^* out of Seigi AND explains the entire premise of the show to him, including how the tattoos need to be primed before they will work. Except Seigi’s doesn’t, because it’s the most powerful tattoo (the Void Maker), which Seigi uses to save his life from an AMERICAN mafia guy named Bear Teddy, who’s also got a tattoo and is trying to kill all the tattooed competition.

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TT defies criticism, largely because it is so completely terrible that it’s hard to know where to start. The pacing is absurdly abrupt and the story is nonsensically idiotic. (AMERICA’s secret weapon is apparently common knowledge to Japanese middle schoolers who read Otaku blogs)

If exposition blasting us with the plot wasn’t bad enough, Seigi’s ‘become the super hero of legend’ arc is generic, his childhood friend’s personality and narrative purpose is generic, the art style is weirdly deformed (their heads are occasionally too big) and a character even has cat ears because, fuck why not right??

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The animation during the fighting is okay. Maybe even serviceable. But over all, it is not a looker.

The only moment of joy in the entire episode was Seigi’s request for “Native American Indian Curry Udon” for dinner, which his waifu’s closest approximation apparently involves cabbage and a Jamaican recipe. The runner up? …unexplained cat ears on the AMERICAN. ugh…

This show is complete horseshit.

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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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Juuou Mujin no Fafnir – 01 (First Impressions)

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Juuou Mujin no Fafnir is terrible. There’s no avoiding that and no value in digging deeper than that. It has one of those narrated openings that tells us that monsters showed up for now reason and without warning and that people started to gain abilities like monsters…

…and then dumps us on an island with a teenage boy who’s drawn like he’s twelve stumbling on a girl who looks about the same who’s naked on a beach for no reason. His sister is there, though not naked, and she’s the student council president at the all-girls school that he’s enrolled in 120 seconds later. JMnF is a cliche, pure and simple.

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If you liked World Breaker last season, and if this show’s dialog eventually manages  irony, without sounding forced, then maybe you would like it. The art is sub par. The effects are sub par. The animation is sub par. The voice actors are doing all the can but the writing is a smelly turd.

If you can get through all of that, or if you are massively desperate for loli no-nipple boobs, loli-harem, then maybe. Maybe you would watch this.

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But realistically you wouldn’t watch this. Even in a slow season, there are shows you’ve missed in previous seasons you can go back and watch or games to play or for God sakes go read a book.

Don’t watch this show!

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Karen Senki – 01

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Karen Senki, the titular female hero of this post robo-pocalyptic show is a bad ass blond who can dodge lazor mini gun fire with ease — even when they are fired at her back when she is running in a straight line, from 5 feet away in her tiny mega-urban apartment!

This show is freakishly terrible.

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Set in a world where robots have risen up and killed everyone they deemed to be unworthy (including Karen’s kid sister), we’re treated or punished to constant action without context and red/brown hued visuals.

Sure, by fully 3D rendered show standards, it looks and moves decently enough but the action is all so ludicrous, we’re lucky it only runs for 10 minutes.

That’s right! Karen Senki is only 10 minutes long.

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Funny enough, for a show that is extremely simple, I had a hard time understanding what was going on. Karen seems to be fighting robots — even to the point that they just blast through the wall or rain bullets down on her at random moments of slow dialog, but I’m not really sure why?

Did she some how survive the cull? has she pissed them off enough after the cull that they want her dead now? WHY DO THE ROBOTS GROWN WHEN THEY GET SHOT??

Also, robot hookers!

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Honestly? I have no idea why so much effort was put into this show. It truly does look pretty good, when you compare it to other CG shows but pew pew pew ten minutes episode over is not enough.

Certainly not enough to care about the character if I don’t know what’s going on or how the flash backs play into anything. Good lord skip this one!

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