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Nov 13

Fall Anime – Week 4

Bitches love goldfish

As I type this my space bar has started sticking down, making this feel weird as heck to type. But that won’t get in the way of another week of anime opinions, this time with more shows than ever. Yep, alongside the usual quartet of writers on the usual quartet of shows – Kill la Kill, Magi, Hajime no Ippo Rising and Kyousougiga, we’ve added the two current noitaminA shows! Mike’s taken on Samurai Flamenco, while I’m covering Galilei Donna. So hit the jump while I start contemplating where I can get a new keyboard from…

Mike on… Samurai Flamenco (ep 1)

This one … is a little weird. Not bad, not hard to watch, not particularly funny, just … weird.

This series appears to follow the misadventures of a mentally impaired male supermodel as he becomes convinced he is a superhero. This is all while the only responsible police officer in the entire city attempts to stop this poor brain damage victim from getting himself hurt. The two forge a deep connection and become the cutest gay couple that the world ever did see and went on to have many emotional moments.

… Ok, so that’s not EXACTLY what happens in this one, but you would not be blamed for mistaking that if your only contact was at a moment’s glance. What actually happens is a professional model (who incidentally isn’t very smart), becomes obsessed with his childhood hero, and decides to emulate him later in life and even goes so far as to have his own hero costume made up and to go out and fight crime. The only problem with this is that he’s terrible at it and his strange sense of justice (if that’s even the right way of putting it) gets him beaten up constantly, leaving his newfound cop friend to help him out of jams.

It’s extremely tempting to call this one “Kick-Ass, but light-hearted”, but I feel like this wouldn’t exactly cover it as the framing of the show just doesn’t match up. In Kick-Ass, our protagonist see’s crimes being committed and feels driven through frustration and obsession to do something about it. In Samurai Flamenco (the would-be hero’s superhero name) on the other hand, our hero does what he does because of an obsession with his childhood, but the crimes he fights aren’t exactly destroying society (in episode one he attempts to stop a drunk guy and a group of loitering middle-school kids and fails at both, miserably).

Ok, so maybe there’s a few more Kick-Ass similarities than I’d like to admit, but that doesn’t mean that this show isn’t both fun and original in its own way. Its part of that quirky genre of anime that makes you want to adore the characters just because of their weirdness and the trouble it will no doubt get them into, but other than that there is very little setup. Once we’ve met our characters and established their motivations, they’re just sort of left to get on with it. All I’m really trying to say here is if this anime is attempting to do “slice of life”, then that’s a slice of a weird life they’re showing us, however it doesn’t actually fail in doing so.

Personally speaking, I’m not so sure I like this one, however I must stress that it’s not because I think it’s bad, far from it in fact. On the face of it, this show is entertaining and very funny if you like the strangeness of its comedy (which sadly I do not). I just feel like the episode I watched here was too slow for my liking and displayed no indication that the series as a whole wanted to speed up in terms of pacing in the long run. However the episode was endearing enough that I will happily continue to watch and be interested in it and as such I will continue to do so, it is not something I would suggest to a wider audience simply because it wouldn’t strike the same nerve with all viewers.

Nevertheless, I would implore people to watch this one and decide for themselves as to whether this one is weird for the sake of weird, or simply misunderstood.

Sean on… Galilei Donna (ep 1)

Fun as it is recounting Kyousougiga each week, that’s all I can ever really seem to do with it. Describe the insanity. Its like Discworld in many ways, trying to analyse or be critical of it is… hard. Really hard. So I’ve decided to start talking about Galilei Donna too. I considered White Album 2 but I’m mainly watching that for the warm fuzzy feeling and I’d rather not ruin it by pointing out how freaking slow it is. Erm. Where was I? Ah yes, reviewing an episode of something I watched a month ago.

So, Galilei Donna. That’s Galilei as in Galileo, which I was too stupid to notice until the show pointed it out to be halfway through. This show revolves around the descendants of that great indivdual, the three Galileo sisters (and their parents, rare to see those in anime…). There’s Hozuki, the youngest of the three, a shy youngster with a knack for building things and an obsession with goldfish. The middle sister, Kazuki, is the stereotypical cool character, not letting any of her true feelings show, while also being a good academic and physically gifted.

Finally the elder sister, Hazuki (why would you give your children such similar names), is the opposite of her siblings, being more open and honest as she works through law school. And like most undergrads, she loves the drink. Then there’s the parents, divorced and looking after one kid each (Hazuki lives on her own). Sylvia, the mother, loves her kids and seemingly loathes her former husband Geshio, whom would rather spend his time inventing than actually being “of use”.

Sadly, the family heritage comes at a price, as an unknown group targets the trio trying (but failing) to abduct them, aiming to claim the treasure left behind by their ancestor. Not wanting to be beaten, they sent in a mech ship, eradicating the police protection they fled to. But when all seems lost, Hozuki brings out her own goldfish themed ship which repels the invaders as only underdogs can, and our disjointed family sails off into the sunset.

That’s part of why I enjoyed this so much, actually. Its not a perfect happy family. There’s a backstory of issues waiting to be addressed and potentially resolved, with fairly interesting characters and some cool animation, especially with the CG shots. The soundtracks alright too, so I’m on board to watch the rest of this. Always bet on noitaminA.

Phil on… Kill la Kill (ep 5)

We open with what appears to be someone attempting to assassinate Ryūko. This gentleman however is stopped short by the gardening club, whose ass he proceeds to kick by firing needles at them and informing them (which becomes a running gag for the episode) how terrible they are.

After the opening we discover Ryūko’s been kicking the ass of the various clubs that challenge her off screen, fight of the week show averted? Oh also she can now somehow shrink her scissor blade…we’re just supposed to gloss over this fact (hell, we did it with it becoming twice as long, so why not half the size?). Senketsu comments how she’s starting to get cocky (and fat), where upon something we’re saw last episode is confirmed, Ryūko is the only person who can hear Senketsu. We also gather that there are some issues between Ryūko and Senketsu currently. As the girls are about to eat lunch Ryūko and Mako are suddenly attacked by the gentlemen from the start.

Turns out the guy just wants to get rid of Senketsu but before he can deliver the finishing blow is seemingly summoned away. Turns out Ryūko’s homeroom teacher stepped in and him and Tsumugu go way back, both having worked with Ryūko’s dad. We get some backstory for the Tsumugu (tragic death of a loved one curtsey of a god robe) and he says he’s not going to hold back and will destroy Senketsu.

But seriously. DAT ASS

The next day we’re treated to a lovely action sequence with Tsumugu once again using various sowing implements as weapons (needle machine gun, thread spool grenades etc.). Nonon (the girl who’s part of the 4 Deva’s) sends her clubs after them as it turns out Tsumugu has been a thorn in Satsuki’s side for a while and they want information. The clubs are all defeated and Ryūko is once again backed into a corner. In an attempt to save her Senketsu jumps off her (somehow) and takes the bullet instead.

Mako starts telling Tsumugu off, saying how those clothes or Ryūko’s friend and even talks to them to which the guy says that’s stupid, clothes can’t talk. Mako runs off, Ryūko is holding onto Senketsu. Before the guy can pull the trigger he appears to have a vision of Senketsu telling him that if he hurts Ryūko, Senketsu will kick his ass. As he’s processing the fact he heard some clothing talk, Nonon shows up with her minions. A sudden escape occurs and Ryūko awakens in a strange place. Ryūko and Senketsu reconcile and we learn that Tsumugu is giving up his fight, but if he thinks she’s going to go crazy he’ll be back (foreshadowing?).

The end of this week’s FLCL– wait, damn Trigger referencing their earlier work

This week had some really nice action sequences and helps alleviate some of the doubts that the show was going to turn into a fight of the week (at least in the sense we were expecting). It also appears to have laid some framework for later on in the show with this mysterious

The review ends there. Mysterious what? Who knows? Maybe you’ll have to watch it and see. ;D – Sean

Sean on… Kyousougiga (ep 3)

Its character focus time this week, as this episode is all about Kurama, the eldest of the Council of Three and as we discover, essentially the leader of the Mirror Capital while Yase remains a shut-in and Myoe manages Koto. While those two squabble it out all the time, he makes the “right” choices according to those Ten Flawless Commandments we’re still none the wiser to.

Anyway, this episode is split into three. Starting with the present, then back to the past before returning to the present again because chronology is for suckers. The first segment involves Koto looking around the science faction (led by priest Kurama) which mere episodes ago she was causing utter chaos for. It doesn’t take long for the status quo to resume, although Koto essentially buys Shouko (the scienstist girl) off by letting her play with her Raw. Which is apparently what they call the hammer. Koto and Kurama then get to have a chat, as we clarify some of the plot so far and learn Kurama’s desire of going home. But why?

Well, we go back to the past to find out. We see that Yakushimaru (aka Mirror Myoe) was the first of the trio, with Kurama and Yase being created as his elders. Kurama was drawn to be the perfect child, being intelligence and diginified, but we also see his desire to go where he’s never been, the capital. Sadly being a conjured creation his father (Myoe) can’t let him go. But when the time comes for them to swap reality, Kurama is let loose into the wide world, living his life to the full and building some weird shit in the process, but still with the desire to return home and see the real capital when the time comes.

And finally we return to the present with a familiar sight for viewers of the original, as Shouko loses her controller (aka a PSP), and so the hordes of white clad agents descend upon the city, causing the usual chaos and destruction in their wake as a flashback to the insanity this show can unleash in a heartbeat. This time though, we learn a lot more about her male scientist friend. Even he has some kind of backstory that has yet to be divulged, as the end of the episode happens and stunned me more than a little.

So yeah, as a look into Kurama and his side of the world, this was great. You get a good understanding of his character and motivations, and learn much more about his (and his underlings) interactions with the rest of the cast. And this looks set to continue next week, as queen of crazy Yase is let loose.

Oh, and for people wondering why I never comment on the animation, its because each week I’d tell you that its as vibrant and pleasing to watch as ever. Visually this is a show few can touch. Whether the story can live up to that and the world though, I’ve yet to see. But there’s time aplenty yet, and even if it stays on shorter world snippets it’ll still be a good show.

Mike on… Hajime no Ippo Rising (eps 2 and 3)

Keeping on top form, this show continues to impress and endear into episodes 2 and 3 as I finish them not only feeling satisfied, but wanting to see more.

Directly continuing on from the cliff-hanger of last episode’s bout, episode 2 focused solely on the fight itself as it drew to a powerful, exciting and overall satisfying conclusion, all the while keeping me invested and interested as to what the outcome would be. Not only is this an impressive feat unto itself, but it managed to do so without seeming forced or necessary to the continuation of the plot, meaning that I got the sense that it really could have gone either way. The writers and animators very clearly went to great lengths in displaying how evenly matched the combatants were and the result pays credence to that.

The show does do the standard sports anime thing of making all the side characters describe what’s going on, but I’m happy to say it doesn’t ever seem invasive here and actually does add something to the proceedings. I know very little about boxing, however I know enough to be able to say that the show knows what it’s talking about, this gives another layer of sincerity which a lot of sports anime don’t ever manage to grab a hold of as they simply start to just make stuff up to fill in the blanks. Hajime no Ippo Rising manages to give the viewer an obviously sensationalized version of an actual boxing match in such a way that it leaves the non-sports-viewing audience excited to see the outcome.

The conclusion to episode 2 was amazing in its excitement levels, however going into episode 3 the contrast was astounding, but in no way unwelcome. Episode 3 takes an entirely different approach with an emphasis on comedy rather than serious action, however with an undercurrent of the more serious tones that the ending of the previous episode required. It works really well and offers some levity to a quite serious scenario which makes you realize all the more how tense the previous episode actually was.

Choosing to focus more on the supporting characters this time around, Hajime no Ippo Rising shows that it can actually do humour quite well and wastes no time in doing so when 3 stalker girls make their way into Ippo’s room while he lays there in a comatose-like state, all arguing over who would make the better girlfriend. This went DANGEROUSLY close to fanservice but never actually made it there, a fact to which I am incredibly pleased.

This episode goes more into the supporting character’s motivations and goes so far as to set up the next fight, presumably happening in the next episode. Personally I have no problem with this, as it prevents the series from becoming another fight of the week and allows tension and atmosphere to build. In addition to this, it will not be focusing on our lead Ippo, meaning that not only is this anime able to build tension with its main protagonist, but somehow has the ability to make me as a viewer care about the fate of a character I actually know very little about. Its possible that the humour employed in this episode has something to do with that, but I find myself not minding as it apparently worked and I find myself legitimately rooting for this guy and not knowing exactly what is going to happen.

Many would argue that “of course the protagonist is going to win, he’s the main character”, however this show continues to put our leads in situations that you honestly believe they may not be successful in. This all means that so long as you are able to suspend your disbelief even slightly, this show will become enjoyable; making it one that at this point, I would gladly still recommend to anyone.

Carry on Hajime no Ippo, you’re doing good work here.

Alexe on… Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (eps 4 to 6)

In order to catch up with the anime I am going to review episodes 4-6 this week as it forms the main part of the Pirate mini-arc. Warning this contains major spoilers for this arc.

Anyway we begin episode 4 where episode 3 left off with the pirates attacking the ship the main characters are on, the pirates appear to use magical weapons that control water and are all children. The leader of the pirates is named Olba (or Orba) and he uses magical tool to cast Aladdin overboard and traps the others in a bubble before casting them overboard.

However as the pirates start to seize the ship’s cargo plant roots begin to come out of the sea and on to the ship, which pull Alibaba and Morgiana back aboard. The roots appear to come out of Hakuryuu’s wooden arm and he explains that Zagan’s power gives him power over plant life.

With Zagan’s power Hakuryuu is easily able to defeat the pirates and it looks like the group is going to win until Olba takes Aladdin hostage, faced with no choice but to surrender the pirates get away with the cargo and Aladdin.

Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryuu find out that the pirates work for a person named Aum Madaura and reach the port of the Kingdom of Actia.

The Kingdom of Actia appears to be in a very similar state to what Balbadd was in the first season, many buildings are destroyed and the people are angry with their navy for not rescuing their children from Aum Madaura.

After this we see Aladdin onboard the pirates under water ship and we find out that the pirates’ magic tools come from Magnostadt and that the children would happily die from using up all their magoi if it was Aum Madaura.

Back to the others Hakuryuu reveals he has been tracking the pirates ship using a plant vine and they will be able to find the pirates hideout (He also explains how his Djinn works). However the Actia navy are still reluctant to go and the people begin to fight with them, Alibaba stops them and promises them that they will rescue their children.

The pirates arrive home at their hideout, Aladdin finds out that most of the children come from the slums and we meet the woman known as Aum Madaura (I forgot how creepy she was).

Back to Alibaba and co they explain their situation to Sinbad as they go to rescue Aladdin, Alibaba asks Hakuryuu if he can do a full Djinn equip and Hakuryuu teases him. They find the pirates hideout and infiltrate it by having Morgiana throw them into it and the episode ends with them in the middle of the pirate’s hideout.

On to Episode 5, we begin with Alibaba and the others fighting the pirates and they find out the pirates have strengthen their magical tools. Meanwhile Aum Madaura takes control of Aladdin.

Alibaba and the others are having trouble with the pirates until Morgiana chases them all down through a series of tunnels and defeats them all.

We find out that Madaura uses the memories of a child’s mothers to control them, the children are hypnotised into believing she is their own mother and beg Alibaba not to kill her.

Now for the first time (I think) we get a glimpse of where Aladdin comes from, everything is shown as a silhouette but you can still see familiar people and Aladdin even points out Ugo (he’s the one holding the staff with the sun like shape on it) and you can even see some of the other Djinn in their human forms beside him; Amon, Paimon (or maybe Vinea?), Zagan and others. We then get a glimpse of Aladdin’s mother.

Aladdin manages to break free of Madaura’s control just as the others appear, however they also quickly fall under her spell. Alibaba tries to fight it but he has a tough time and Morgiana is rendered helpless by it.

Now I have to admit, Aum Madaura is not the best villain, in fact her whole character is rather one-dimensional, she’s a controlling bitch who just uses children, however she is important in giving someone character development, which we’ll see next episode.

Back to this episode we see Hakuryuu’s dream in which we see a little Hakuryuu (who is the cutest thing look at him, awww) tell his mother that he had a nightmare in which all of his family were killed. This is also the first time we see Hakuryuu’s mother (trust me it won’t be the last).

Aladdin manages to snap Alibaba and Morgiana out of Madaura’s mind control and the three of them go to defeat Madaura. However Hakuryuu is still firmly under her spell and attacks the group before performing half-Djinn equip.

And finally episode 6.

We start with a flash back to Hakuryuu’s past where his two older brothers were killed, Hakuryuu then attacks Alibaba as his past and reality become merged into one and he believes Alibaba is his enemy.

The reason that Madaura’s spell still works on Hakuryuu is because amongst the four of them he is still most like a child, he cannot let the past go and since his mother is a big part of his past it makes him easy to control.

During their fight we find out that Hakuryuu can use Zagan’s power to even mutate microbes in the air into monsters, eventually he is defeated when he runs out of Magoi and Alibaba is able to cut through his spear. We also have another flashback where he is told who sent the assassins to kill his family and his uncle becoming emperor.

Aum Madaura and some of the pirates including Olba make their escape but are captured by the Actia Navy who was waiting for them. Alibaba stops the Actia Navy from killing Olba and they all return to Actia.

As Hakuryuu sleeps in Actia he has a dream where he remembers asking his mother if it was true that she was the one behind the attack that killed his father and brothers. To his horror she doesn’t deny it and claims that even if it was true there is not a single thing Hakuryuu can do about it.

Meanwhile Aum Madaura is prepared for deportation, however the people of the slums attack her saying she should be killed. As the group go to stop them Hakuryuu walks between them.

Remember that character development I mentioned:

Yeah…yeah.

After Hakuryuu brutally kills Aum Madaura he tells the group about his own mother, Gyokuen Ren the witch of Al Tharmen and his mission to kill her. After essentially telling Olba and the pirates to get over her death he leaves the group behind.

As the pirate children are sent aboard the Actia ship Aladdin notices the black rukh forming around them, Alibaba stops the Actia navy by telling them Sindria will take care of them.

Meanwhile Morgiana tries to convince Hakuryuu not to go, however he quickly asks her to come with him to the Kou Empire and confesses that he is in love with her and even proposes to her before kissing her:

And the fandom goes wild!

Meanwhile back with Alibaba and Aladdin, Alibaba manages to convince Olba to not give up on his life since he has to look after all his siblings now and the dark rukh turns back to white again.

Morgiana returns without Hakuryuu and Alibaba goes to find him, to Alibaba Hakuryuu is starting to resemble Cassim and he wants to stop him before he does something he regrets. However he is stopped by Morgiana who begs him not to go.

Aladdin goes in Alibaba’s place and Hakuryuu asks him if he will help in a war against the Kou Empire. Aladdin refuses, he says he wants to help because Hakuryuu is his friends but tells Hakuryuu that he is too obsessed with revenge and a war based on revenge will only bring more sorrow. He tries to convince Hakuryuu to come back but he refuses and leaves.

We find out that Morgiana rejected him; however he plans to propose to her again in the future.

And that’s the pirate arc over, on to the main event:

Aww yiss, Kouha’s appearing.

——

Blimey, this was a long’un. And on a personal note, that most recent Magi episode (numero six) was… my god. Best single episode of anything I’ve seen in a while. If you’re hankering for a shonen fix, you need to watch that show. Or read the manga now that its finally being released over here.

Anyways, guess its my turn to play catchup next week as everybody else has done multi episode reviews at some point. And as always, if you want to talk about a currently airing show, or just write stuff on the blog in general, you know who to talk to. The guy who keeps name dropping this thing. ;D See y’all next time.