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Mar 13

Winter Anime – A Week

Coming to an Anime of the Year list near you soon

Having somehow gotten past the Fall season, our intrepid team of writers is now ready to tackle the Winter. Or at least they would be if the Winter season wasn’t terrible, as I might’ve mentioned before. So this week it boils down to Alexe continuing her gif-filled journey through the second season of Magi, while I wrap up Kyousougiga from last season and tackle Nobunagun (because my writeups of Silver Spoon would just be me reminiscing about my farmyard childhood). I’ll make up for it with more Movie March content very soon, don’t worry, and after that there’s the Spring season of which I already know two shows that’ll be getting writeups. But less of the future, more of the now. Lets do this.

Sean on… Nobunagun (eps 1 to 3)

I talked about Nobunagun’s first episode before, and how it was the show’s coolness and charisma that sold me on the series, so this time I’ll comment more generally on my impressions of the first trio of eps. The premise is that ten years ago or so, a meteorite containing an alien lifeform called the Evolutionary Invasion Objects (we’re so creative) crashlanded in the sea. Slowly they, well, evolved, from fish to more amphibious beings, and are trying to take control of the planet’s ecosystem.

To combat this, what can only be called a robot bunny (probably another alien) took DNA samples from various historical figures, imbuing that data into an AU sphere which when wielded by their descendents, or e-Gene holders, during this war, they’d gain AU weapons symbolising their heirs. In Nobunaga’s case, a hella lot of guns, for Jack the Ripper, a slashing multi-sword claw and so on.

They’re not all for offense either, Ghandi has an energy shield, Capa uses a projector to create illusions while Newton manipulates weight, utilised by Nobunagun stopping her recoil problems. But essentially it all boils down to cool guys and gals with historically themed weaponry fighting various weird and wonderful alien lifeforms. Nothing new then, but hey, done with enough style it’s still good, and style is this show’s middle name. I mean, the opening theme alone is probably the most badass one I’ve heard since Attack on Titan.

And then there’s the visuals. This show looks damn good. Don’t get me wrong, the designs are all very cliché anime, but the way they and the world are brought to life deserves praise. The change in mood from regular happy days to vivid and somewhat oppressive colouring being used for when the aliens attack. The military sci-fi esque popups about whatever’s happening on screen. The use of texture overlays to convey personality.And of course, the actions scenes are all well animated and look good.

Should probably talk about the characters too. Sio, our leading lady, is obsessed with the military. She can rattle off the names of tanks and planes and tell you what they’re used for without dropping a beat, but because of that she’s seen as an eccentric so has no real friends. Cue Asao, a girl interested in this oddball, jumping into her life and making such an impact that when the aliens arrive and shit gets real, Sio is compelled to rescue and protect her, with that friendship becoming the main reason Sio joins the good guys of Dogoo.

I struggle enough on one week holidays without the interwebs

By the way, Dogoo? That’s a shit name. Stands for Defense Organisation aGainst Outer Objects. They can’t even abbreviate right. Anyway, Dogoo decides to come out and tell the world of what’s besieging it after the attack of the first two episodes, with the show then taking a moment to reflect on the social and political repercussions which I didn’t see coming.

You also get to learn a little more about the “employees”, from the e-Gene hunters (though it should be said Jack, Newton and Ghandi have yet to reappear) to the regular military staff from around the world who help keep things running, cheering lil’ Sio on as she undergoes the rigorous training you’d associate with the armed forces.

Seriously, it takes a minute to eat toast, why is this an anime thing?

Sadly, it’s not all rainbows, as anime occurs meaning you get to see our gal running with toast in her mouth and then the third episode has a fanservice segment because we gotta sell this to the deprived somehow. Combine this with a few character archetypes you’ll have seen before (hello Saint Germain the always calm yet clearly psychotic butler) and some flawed writing (you can’t do battle they say, after she took out several hundred aliens and saved the day) and you’ve got yourself… well, a fairly normal action series, I suppose.

Although that’s all sidelined by the biggest, and weirdest, flaw of the show. The audio balancing. It’s massively off. The sound effects of bullets flying and explosions… exploding… are a good two to three times as loud as the rest of the show, and it’s really freaking disorienting. I had to be next to my speakers for some scenes just to raise and lower the volume constantly so I could hear the characters while not being deafened by the fighting.

And that one. Oh, and that one. And that trilogy, and that prequel, and those five…

Overall, Nobunagun packs enough of a punch to keep me entertained despite the odd dip in writing or pandering to weeaboo culture, and manages to justify the 20 minute runtime. I’m certainly intrigued to see which way the show goes from here, and how much the other characters (opening shows there’s more yet to be introduced) will get involved, because there’s still a ton of potential for the writing to complement the action and take this show to the next level. But if nothing else, it’ll be a stylised riot.

Alexe on… Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (eps 13 and 14)

In this episode we return to Magnostadt as Aladdin prepares for his final exam as a first year the Iktiyar.

At night the students celebrate, Myers gives her students a motivational speech and we find out that only Aladdin and Sphintus were the only ones that made it to the exam (the rest will have to do the first year again). Later that night Aladdin writes letters to Alibaba and Morgiana about the coming exam.

The next day the top student of the first years is announced, everyone is expecting Aladdin to be named however to everyone’s surprised another student by the name of Titus Alexius is named top students.  When the other students cry outrage the exam board says it recognises Aladdin for his achievements but Titus surpasses him.

As Titus approaches the stand for his award he passes Aladdin and all of a sudden the rukh begin to congregate around him and Aladdin looks at him in wonder.

After the ceremony Sphintus complains that Aladdin should have been named top student but Aladdin doesn’t seem to care and points out they will be sharing a room again as second years.

As they walk down the corridor they notice a commotion, it turns out that Titus’s followers have been causing trouble. Titus seems largely uninterested by what they are doing but when he notices Aladdin he moves towards him, Sphintus tells Aladdin that the Alexius family is one, if the most, powerful families in the Leam Empire.

Titus shoves Sphintus aside and holds out his hand to Aladdin claiming that he is going to make Aladdin one of his friends, as Sphintus internally begs Aladdin not to befriend him Aladdin reaches for his hand and then…goes straight for the chest.


Titus is perplexed at first and Aladdin explains that because Titus’s voice is kind of high and his butt is kind of big (Aladdin’s words) he thought he was a girl. The other students begin to laugh and Titus is outraged.

The problem I have with this scene is whilst Titus is pretty girly looking his voice isn’t at all that high and it’s pretty easy to tell he’s a guy when he speaks. I think it would have been better if they gave the character a female voice actor.

Anyway as Titus yells at Aladdin, Aladdin contemplates that whilst he was curious about Titus because of the way the Rukh acted around him, he has turned out to be a pain. Also above them the teachers watch and claim that Aladdin and Titus are both good children and then:

You guys are the best teachers

As Titus fights with Aladdin the principle and ruler of Magnostadt Matal Mogmett appears, Aladdin is wary of him because of what he saw in Princess Dunya’s memories but when Mogmett pats his head and affectionately muses that if he had a grandson would he be around Aladdin’s age and Aladdin wonders how such a kind person could have done such horrible things. Afterwards another teacher tells Aladdin and Titus that they ordered to take part in a battle exam tomorrow and loser will not be taught anything.


The next day Aladdin and Titus meet in the arena and the two of them clash. Aladdin’s spells are strong but Titus’s are slightly stronger. Since none of his usual spells seem to work Aladdin reveals a new spell which he uses to manipulate sand into the form of a giant using gravity magic. Aladdin calls the spell Ugo after his friend and Djinn.

Titus makes fun of him claiming that his bolg will protect him from the giants attack but Aladdin’s spell breaks it however Aladdin recognises that this wasn’t the case and Titus had destroyed it.

Titus then claims that Aladdin’s magic is too simple and proceeds to combine two different spells together, Mogmett recognises how powerful the combined spell is and orders everyone in the audience to get behind him.

Titus’s spell creates a small ball that floats towards Aladdin before exploding into steam that had been compressed by high pressure. Titus then continues to dominate the fight and Sphintus tells Aladdin to forfeit as he risks being seriously injured.

Aladdin however does not and decides to use combination magic himself, Aladdin then attacks Titus with his staff. At first Titus is confused but when his protective bolg is broken he becomes slightly concerned. Aladdin reveals that his staff his causing the air around it to vibrate, Aladdin then goes attacking with his staff.

Mogmett recognises that Aladdin moves well and asks Myers if she taught him martial arts. Myers claims that her students can use martial arts so that they aren’t overly reliant on their magic or their staffs.

As Aladdin and Titus go for the final blow Titus tears through his bandages and reveals the gem on his arm, however it is revealed that Titus also has the same thing.

They both step back and Aladdin wonders if Titus could be a Magi. Mogmett stops the match and claims the battle to be a draw. Aladdin tries to stop Titus from leaving and as it looks like Titus is going to shake his hand he then claims that he can’t let someone like Aladdin get in his way and attacks him.

After the battle Aladdin is recovering in his room as he sleeps he dreams of the past about the time of King Solomon, some of the Djinn’s we’ve seen through seasons 1 and 2 appear here as humans. The time is the beginning of the world becoming one, King Solomon and an unknown woman stand overlooking the city (though the woman’s identity could be revealed if you listen carefully to her voice). However it is revealed that the magicians would not allow it and the world fell to ruin.

Meanwhile in his cell Titus apologies in a panicked tone that he was caught off guard, the voice of Lady Scheherazade emanates from the gem in his arm and tells him to be calm and continue his mission for it was why he was born into this world.

We start this episode with Titus visiting Aladdin. Aladdin wonders why Titus is there and how he even got into his room considering he’s meant to be locked up. Titus does seem genuinely apologetic for what he did but Aladdin quickly figures that he’s there to ask about the jewel on his arm.  Titus then asks him if he is a pawn of Yunan or Judal and reveals that he is a mage that works for Leam’s Magi Scheherazade.

After this reveal we get a new opening:

Which like many shonen anime openings is full of spoilers, but ignoring that I like this opening I think it’s better than the first.

Back to the episode, Aladdin is surprised that Titus is not a Magi himself; Titus explains that the jewel in his arm allows him to communicate with Scheherazade in Leam.  Titus reveals that he came to Magnostadt to fulfil a mission and since he sees Aladdin as someone in the same position he asks Aladdin about himself. Aladdin agrees and reveals to Titus that he is a Magi and explains his situation.  Titus seems slightly disappointed that Aladdin is not the same as him and goes to leave, but before he does Aladdin tells him that he was happy when he thought Titus was like him  because they could be friends and suggests they work together however Titus leaves and Aladdin figures it might take him a while to warm up to him.

That is completely false as the next day when Aladdin is about to visit the city with Sphintus, Titus appears and greets him like a friend. Sphintus is a bit annoyed by Titus’s presence and Titus almost gives their mission away.

The three of them visit the city together and are amazed by how busy it is and the amount of magical tools that are being used. Magical tools seem to be used for everything from water distribution to farming. As the three of them have lunch together Sphintus explains the citizenship levels of Magnostadt, the citizens of Magnostadt are divided into five classes and what class you were born into determines everything you can do in your life. Not only that but whether you were born into a magic or non magic family affects your class status with the magical families being high class and non magical families being lower class.

Aladdin takes this very seriously and decides he needs to find out more about the citizenship levels. Titus however…is a bit more distracted. Unlike Aladdin and Sphintus who were amazed by the amount of magical tools, Titus is more amazed by the more normal sights like cats and babies.  Sphintus on the other hand seems to be getting a bit to content with being treated like royalty. Aladdin feels uncomfortable with how magicians are worshipped in this country however Titus is no help because he keeps being distracted.

The group have visit the third and fourth district however when Aladdin asks some people about it they reveal that the fifth district is a dumping ground for failures and they are better off staying away. Even their teachers will not tell them about it stating that they will have to take ideology classes before they can gain that information.

That night Titus tells Scheherazade about his day with the main feature being that he meowed at a cat and it meowed back. Titus seems to be having a good time but Scheherazade is displeased with his lack of process and tells him to get on with his mission. After this we cut to Aladdin sleeping who is woken by Titus.

Titus tells Aladdin that they are going to the fifth district, however since they don’t know where it is they decide to sneak into the first district using Titus’s light bending magic to disguise themselves as some of the teachers. They also drag Sphintus along with them. Their plans are held back when it is revealed that the gate to the first district is protected by a barrier for which they need a first level barrier pass and a teacher appears that says he had seen Myers (who Titus is disguised as) just earlier.  Sphintus uses magic on them all and they fall asleep, Titus is amazed that Sphintus could be capable of such a high level hypnotism spell but Sphintus reveals it is simply a healing spell which has the side effect of making the patient falling asleep.

The three of them get into the first district and visit a library where they start searching for anything that might tell them about the fifth district. Aladdin finds a blue print of the city and they take a look. The blue print reveals a breakdown of the population of Magnostadt and they are surprised to find that two thirds of the population inhabit the fifth district and they find out the fifth district in underground.

The three of them visit the fifth district which is a slum. The people there do nothing but drink, gamble and have sex. Their disguises fade and it revealed that their magoi is being sucked away by something. As they wonder what is causing it a young girl collapses in front of them and they go to help her, Sphintus reveals that her Magoi is almost depleted which results in death. Titus decides to help her and uses a spell to protect her from having her Magoi sucked away.


The people of the fifth district are amazed that magicians are helping someone from the fifth district and it is revealed that the fifth district is a magoi production factory. All of the citizens in there are basically livestock which give out their magoi over time until they die. The magoi that is sucked from them is used to power all the magical tools above town. The group is horrified but are told that is just how the city works.

The girl they saved is revealed to be called Marga and it is also revealed that she has a heart condition and is unlikely to survive another year. The group spend some time talking to Marga and she tells them that her dream is to go outside the fifth district to see a normal city. Aladdin then uses his gravity manipulation magic to create a miniature city in her room and a cat made of sand.  Aladdin suggests that they come to visit her everyday to teach her how to read so she can get out of the fifth district, at first Marga is delighted but refuses because she realises that she does not have much time left and instead tells them that they should visit her to tell her stories of the outside world.

After this they talk to the citizens again and Titus reveals he wants to take Marga outside with him. It is revealed that if anyone tries to escape the whole district is condemned to death by being thrown by the giant hole in the middle of it. Titus stubbornly insists he is taking Marga and he would take all the citizens with him however he is interrupted by the start of the magicians patrol.

The group hide whilst the fifth level citizens are inspected by the magicians. At first there appears to be no problems and the magicians begin to move on however Marga suddenly collapses again because she had not healed properly. The magicians slate her for disposal and the old man Aladdin was talking to begs them not to do it but the pleas fall on deaf ears and Marga is thrown into the
hole.

As she plummets into the hole Marga laments that she didn’t get to see the outside world, however when she looks up she sees Titus and Aladdin flying towards her.

And that’s the end of the episode next week we find out about Magnostadt’s history.  Also like the opening we get a new ending, personally I prefer the old one but it’s nice.

Sean on… Kyousougiga (eps 8 to 10.5)

Been on somewhat of a tear recently, wrapping up all the shows I decided to watch during the Fall season in preparation for writing my top ten, and the last of those shows was the one I began my weekly reviews with, Kyousougiga. So its time to finish our journey through the Mirror Capital and see what sense we can make of it all in the end.

Where were we? Inari, the children’s father had made his journey across the void to the Mirror Capital, shortly followed by the leaders of Shrine. And in the first of many twists, it turns out pretty much everyone is related somehow. Because they’re all gods! Well, the “real” people. To varying extents. Plotlines start exploding everywhere, as Yase gains amnesia, Shrine’s leader explains that the Mirror World is causing all the other worlds to collapse thanks to Koto breaking the boundaries between them, and pandemonium breaks out all over.

Even at the end of the world, Myoue is still the butt of jokes

I’d be lying if I said I understood the motivations between half of what happens in this last trio of episodes (10.5 is a recap of the show, but we’ll get back to that). The world ends and begins again, we hear that same poem from earlier in the show, learn why the Mirror Captial and Myoue’s siblings were made the way they were, and even find time to convene with their grandad, the One True God, whom you rapidly realise has been watching on in the background throughout the entire show, before finally resolving the big family dispute that fueled all the events.

Which all boils down to lots of the explosions and chaos you’d expect from this show, because Inari wanted to pass on his soul and desires to his two real children, and pass on himself, as he felt he had no purpose in life. I think. A far simple way to put it would be that gods are cray yo and point you to the title of the final episodes.

If only Commie had actually subbed the last episode

And that’s just what Kyousougiga is at its core. A bunch of nutjobs living life in the moment, to their fullest. Because that’s how you have fun. It’s a comparison you’ll get sick of me making, but this is a modern day FLCL. Its mad, but it’ll leave you smiling, which is all it ever planned to do. And if you didn’t “get” it, then the last episode, 10.5, serves as a recap, mostly skipping the past stuff (and most of the action-centric footage too, sadly) but having the two leading voice actors for Koto and Myoue (so not the two randomers of 5.5) narrate the core plot back to you.

In fact, with the story of Kyousougiga now all said and done, and return visits to the Mirror Capital by Toei unlikely, there’s only one real question I have left.

What the hell were the Ten Flawless Commandments?

——

The battle through anime continues! I know this should pick up again in Spring where Alexe wants to write about the Kagerou Days anime, and me and Phil have big plans for a certain sequel. Movie March will continue in the meantime though, now I’ve beaten my Fall backlog I can fully focus on films. Expect a Garden of Words review before weeks end, and maybe something else too.