“Elite” Interests

December 17th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

This is part of a one-two punch review in regards to Japanese schools and their educational system. Most animes use the schools as a jumping-off point to look at some harem rom-com or superhero education, so the school is more background or a platform for these events, rather than part and parcel of the whole approach. These particular shows I am scrutinizing look at the school itself and the academic mindset that drives them along. It seems harsh and cruel by our standards. Hell, it’s harsh and cruel by the Marquis de Sade’s standards! It makes one wonder if all private academies are like this. If they were any tougher, you might as well be training to be a Navy SEAL. Our first scholastic offering is “Classroom of the Elite” (“Yōkoso Jitsuryoku Shijō Shugi no Kyōshitsu e”, or “Welcome to the Classroom of the Supreme Ability Doctrine”). (more…)

Lord, It’s a “Miracle”

December 10th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

A trope in and of itself, members of faith are usually portrayed as a caliber of charlatan or deceiver and are potentially as evil as the evil they are fighting, and usually at the expense of those they purport to be saving. But we are working both with and against this trope with “Vatican Miracle Examiner” (“Bachikan Kiseki Chōsakan”). (more…)

The “Principal” Cause

December 4th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

This first came up as an offering at AX 17, but since there was zero description in the handbook about it, my initial thought that it was going to be a stupid rom-com, about a princess who, for whatever reason, has to be the principal of a high school for a year and learns about ‘commoners’ and their problems. I could not have been more wrong, as it is an Alternate Universe Steampunk Spy Drama. Thus we arrive at “Princess Principal” (“Purinsesu Purinshiparu”). (more…)

Do You Want to Play a “Game”?

November 26th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

We are heaved back into the seething cauldron of uncertainty and panic, better known as high school, where the slightest misstep or errant statement can doom you to a life of abject despair. Well, that’s what it felt like for me when I attended! Anyway, this is a bit of the plotting and thought-work behind the latest student rom-com, “Gamers!” (“Gēmāzu!”). (more…)

It’s All “New” to Me

November 19th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

When the show “New Game!” came out, I had two big problems with it. The first was the overwhelming female cast in it (men were there, but certainly background at best) and the fact that for trying to put out a video game, there was a decided lack of pressure. The game would come out when it would come out. Not very realistic. With the second season of “New Game!! 2” (“Nyū Gēmu!! 2”) upon us, they have at least raised the stakes a bit. (more…)

Ne “Plus Ultra”

November 12th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

Latin is a funny language, in that it is used mostly in the scientific naming of things and in any column from George Will. There are useful phrases, but you may end up having to explain them, so it loses its punch. The phrase ‘ne plus ultra’ means ‘nothing greater beyond’, so you have reached your zenith. However, for the second season of this show, it is “My Hero Academia: Plus Ultra”.

Now, if you wish, you can take in Show 13.5, as it’s a recap, but it can be missed as well. With the survivors of the attack by the League of Villains still recovering, the school decides to hold its annual Sports Festival, where all the students trot out their quirks and battle one another. The first rounds are typical events: obstacle race and cavalry battle. Then, the Top 16 students face off against one another. It is here that we see those personalities take shape and how it might predict the kind of superhero they will become.

Once the tournament is over (and did you think I would tell you who the Big Winner was? Really?) Mr. Aizawa announces that everyone has to decide a hero name for themselves, and that since many of the students have gotten multiple offers from pro heroes groups, everyone will be doing a one-week internship at a hero agency. Izuku (Oh, Mr. Green in the middle) is still not sure which agency he should join when suddenly All Might shows up. He tells Izuku that his teacher has offered an internship, and Izuku accepts it.

Now, teachers have differing styles and approaches, so it ends up being a real workout for all of them, made worse by the arrival of Stain: The Hero Killer. This ending arc puts the show on its collision course with the League of Villains for the third season.

This show has gotten better, if you can accept that. We are now defining everyone and what they can do and how events will soon overtake them all. It’s just that the villains were really cartoony and Stain came off as not much different than Syndrome from “The Incredibles” and he had a terrifying quirk. Izuku still has a long way to go, but it’s going to work out. The one tip-off is that there are moments in his narration that he references these things and events as being in the past, so the whole series is a caliber of giant flashback for him. He might even be at the end of his hero life, and is passing on salient information to his apprentice. Only time will tell.

Binging with this series has always been at crossed purposes for me. I mean, there is certainly no reason as to why you can’t link it all together, but there is just such a lot going on and needs to be unpacked and has to be addressed that binging might work against it, but that’s a difficult decision. It’s just that I like this show quite a lot, so I am not all that anxious to get through it all at once, my main argument against binging. However, if you do find yourself at home and you don’t really care what’s happening with Wendy or Maury or Ellen, fire up the barbie, mate!

On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork           7 (The villains can get too ridiculous)
Plot                  8 (Getting better and better)
Pacing              8 (Moves along consistently and purposely)
Effectiveness   8 (Good use of flashbacks)
Conclusion       7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service      2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability     9 (It can be done, but it’s a personal call)

Overall            8 (Let’s hope the set-up pays off)

And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I am here.

The Halls of “Academia”

November 5th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

The biggest problem with any show that deals in magic is that it is all going to be referred back to ‘Harry Potter’ and how they did it. It can put a damper on things, as you want to let all of these institutions and locales teach magic and all its complexities in their own manner. It’s just that “Little Witch Academia” started out practically like a Harry Potter rip-off.

Akko Kagari (her of the center) enrolls into Luna Nova Magical Academy, a school for young witches. But she has zero magical abilities. She can’t even ride a broom! On her way to school, she has to pass through a portal in a high tower (and not Platform 9¾, OK?), but can’t do it. She is befriended by two others who HAVE the power, Lotte Jansson (on our right), a Finnish witch who specializes in talking to fairies and Sucy Manbavaran (on our left), who hails from the Philippines and deals in poisons.

Well, they get in trouble right off the bat and end up on everyone’s radar as being troublemakers. However, Akko manages to obtain the Shiny Rod, a tool used by her hero, Chariot de Nord, and the reason she got into magic. The series details her adventures and misadventures as she tries to become a real witch, over the objections of practically everyone in the academy.

Yes, we have the Star of the Academy, the very pretty, incredibly smart, and totally obnoxious Diana Cavendish from Britain. I mean, she is the elite of the elite and she feels those like Akko are nothing more than a blob of marmalade on a napkin. Yes, Akko is able to do more, and in serious situations, than Diana does or can achieve. But how well does Diane accept this?

We also a key moment in the series. It is a 25-episode run, so when we get to Show #14, we have the switch-over to the new plot and the new foes and the new situations. It’s that it was rather naked in what it wanted to achieve and where it was going, but it did not detract from a rather compelling five-episode closing arc, where all the questions are answered and everything is revealed.

There is nothing overall wrong with the series, but one got tired of all of Akko’s misfires and Diana’s haughty preening and the exposed machination of Croix Meridies. I mean, even Harry learned how to do something, so he wasn’t that big of a bumble, but Akko takes forever to achieve anything of merit under Diane’s scornful eye. Yes, it is part and parcel that we see Akko flail and fail, but, still, there has to be some headway in all of this. But I still say you see it. Aside from the approach to wizardry presented, it does it in an appealing manner, and the rather cartoony artwork helps, rather than hinders (although Professor Ursula has got hips to spare!)

Now, as it stands, it could be over, but there is enough energy to continue on for another season. Time will tell. Oh my flaming gosharoonie, you have to, you must, you had better, binge, binge, binge. OK, we really see what an enormous clothead Akko is and it’s a wonder she can put on her hat and not suffocate herself in the process and that might get tiresome, but the rest of the cast holds up marvelously and if you are willing to overlook Akko’s liabilities for her enormous zeal and commitment to all of this, you will be rewarded. This will especially help with the concluding arc episodes, where it comes at you fast and furious (Hmmmm. That’s a good name for a movie franchise).


On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork           8 (Effective, despite the cartoony approach)
Plot                  7 (Rather typical, even for magic)
Pacing              7 (A lot of ‘nick of time’ rescues)
Effectiveness  8 (Slowly comes around)
Conclusion      5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service     2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability   10 (A perfect candidate for such an action)

Overall            8 (Springs far from common ground)

And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Never forget, a believing heart is your magic.

Too “Smart” By Half

October 29th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

A harem comedy. Wow, I haven’t seen one of those in about 20….minutes. Still, this one brings along a great deal of charm and heart…despite the rather capacious title of Isekai wa Sumātofon to Tomo ni” (“In Another World with My Smartphone”).

While returning from school, 15-year-old Touya Mochizuki (that 70s disco king) is accidentally struck by lightning and killed by God. Hey, I thought God didn’t make mistakes like that! As an apology, God allows him to be resurrected, but since He cannot send him back to his old world or his old body, He instead reincarnates him into a fantasy world along with a single special request.

Touya uses his request in order to bring his smartphone into the new world with him, which God modifies so that the phone will function in the new world. God also amplifies Touya’s physical, magical, and cognitive abilities to a certain degree as a further apology for the inconvenience of killing him. Taking full advantage of his second chance at life, Touya befriends many different people in the new world, especially amazing them with his smartphone, so he comes off as close to being a …dare I say it…a god himself!

He begins to travel from country to country, solving political disputes, minor quests, and nonchalantly enjoying himself with his newfound allies. Some of the friends he makes along the way include: (left to right)

Leen, head of the Fairy Tribe of Mismede. She helps Touya on his quests.
Elze and Linze Silhoueska, twins who are adventurers. He rescues them from street thugs.
Yumina Urnea Belfast. Crown Princess of Belfast, he saved her father, the king.
Yae Kokonoe. She comes from a samurai family in Eashen.
Sushie Urnea Ortlinde. Daughter of the duke and duchess of Belfast, she was saved from a kidnapping.

The problem is that in this world, when you do a good deed, the ladies become your fiancée, so he is betrothed to all of those folks up there and a bunch more. Oh, the bear and the tiger. The bear is Paula, who belongs to Leen and is a caliber of automaton, but does not speak. The tiger is Kohaku, a Four Heavenly Beast that Touya formed a pact with. This version is more convenient to lug around than the full, terrifying version. (“…for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth…”)

These trips eventually leads to the discovery of the lost kingdom of Babylon, a shattered floating citadel that Touya is destined to find the various segments of, to reform the ancient country. Touya also encounters the “Fraze”, mysterious crystalline beasts invading the world through tears in time and space, which are somehow linked to the destruction of Babylon; he also learns that the pieces of Babylon itself hold the key to defeating the resurgent Fraze, a lost robotic weaponry system known as the Frame Gear.

But the whole this is done in a rather toss-off manner. Even when he saves the king from a mysterious malady, it is done with no more trouble as if you wanted the lyrics to the newest Taylor Swift song. This does not mean it’s a bad show. In fact, the rather casual nature of things is its charm and grace. He truly is a super hero, as there is no problem he cannot overcome, but with little to no ego about it. He just wants to help and to be a better person.

Well, since this is a rare commodity, as he could easily become King of His Domain, this is what endears him to everyone about, even God, as he has to kind of report in to see how things are going along. It’s just that since there is no problem he cannot overcome, there’s not much bite in the show. I mean, he really can do it all. We are lucky that he’s such a nice guy; otherwise things could turn dark. Now, that may be something they are holding out for the second season. As John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, said: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…” We will have to wait and see.

That being said, chain it all together. It helps things play out far better than the wait-and-see approach I am forced to endure. It helps with the overall tenor of the show and we see how this rolling stone gathers up all the moss it can (so to speak). Do I ever want to wait and splurge? I really don’t have that caliber of time, but it is on my agenda (I might do it with ‘SAO’, when I get a solid chance). For now, the deed is done. And my SECOND encounter with an isekai show. I need to update my reviews a bit better….

On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork           7 (Pretty typical)
Plot                  8 (A good dash of silliness)
Pacing              8 (Moves along strongly)
Effectiveness   7 (Things seem too easy)
Conclusion       7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service      2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability     9 (Helps with the overall plotting of the show and the adventures out there)

Overall            7 (I would have liked deeper conflicts)

And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. This is no problem.

Welcome to My “World”

October 22nd, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

As much as I like “Food Wars!”, it can get too much for its own good, with those foodgasms and the overweening prats that infest the school. So when another dining series cropped up, I wanted to check it out. This is the bailiwick of Isekai Shokudō” (“Restaurant to Another World”). (more…)

Mortal “Sin”

October 15th, 2020 in Anime, General Reviews by

Since I have really committed to anime, I notice trend after trend. This one is the “Envelope Push”. How far can we take ecchi and not have it fall into hentai? This particular offering, “Seven Mortal Sins”, or “Sin: The 7 Deadly Sins” (or “Shin: Nanatsu no Taizai”) put a real challenge to ‘Ikki Tousen’ for over-the-top, out-in-the-open perversity and right from the get-go. (more…)

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