Monthly Archives: September 2013

Persona 4: The Animation review

Sigh.

You know, it’s Murphy’s Law. Here we are on GTA V D-Day, and the postie brings precisely sweet Fanny Adams to my door. Well, screw it. Have another review, I’m good for it.

As anyone who knows me knows, I’m a massive Persona 4 nerd. How much of a nerd, you ask? Well…

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Yes, I own Persona 4, and Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 4 Arena’s artbook. Yes, I forgot to put them in the shot.

Yeah, suffice to say I can remember all the characters’ names off by heart and know all their respective colour schemes. But anyway.

Persona 4 started out as a fantastic turn-based JRPG at the end of the last console generation in 2008. Released for the PS2, it’s fanbase was comprised of fans of Persona 3 and new fans who took to its lively, jovial look at hanging out with friends in Japan and fighting monsters inside televisions, with none of the depressing suicide overtones of the last game.

What is fascinating is that Atlus – the creators of Persona – were able to make the story and environments relatable even to Westerners. Nothing was overly out of place besides place names and cuisine, as opposed to the more ‘realistic’ depiction of Tokyo in the Yakuza series. I dunno, maybe it’s because it’s about small town Japan and I don’t exactly come from a city, but come on:

Play ping pong with pretty girls until their robes fall open! Oh Japan.

Regardless, Persona 4 became so popular that it was adapted into a 26 episode anime television series. Was it a faithful adaptation? Well… yes and no.

The story of P4A, as with the game itself, follows second year high school student Yu Narukami as he is sent to the countryside while his parents are abroad. Though he quickly overcomes the initial adjustment problems of making friends and settling down in a strange new place, there are far greater things to worry about, as a series of grisly murders begin, and Yu discovers that he has the power to enter televisions at will. He also gains the power of Persona, the strength of heart to fight the darkness within… or something like that.

Soon, it becomes clear that his friends are in danger, and Yu and his pals must form a team to enter the TV world and fight the malevolent forces within that put the whole world in jeopardy, in between eating huge bowls of noodles and being goofy.

Such a concept worked in the game because both the dungeon crawling RPG and slice-of-life dramedy elements worked in tandem – the more you hung out with your friends, the more powerful they and their awakened Personas became. In the series, they have slightly more trouble justifying having both elements – though you could of course argue that the series is supposed to appeal more to people who have experienced the game first.

However, even that theory is flawed – at times there is too much exposition, at times too little. Things happen in the animation at a great rate of knots, so there is less time to explain much of what goes on. And even then, in the middle of the series there are two episodes that exist solely to explore non-essential elements of the story. Now, crack covering is fine when you’re giving a paraphrased version of an existing story, but two episodes telling the same story from two different perspectives is just boring and tiresome.

But we do get Detective Nanako. That’s pretty funny.

That said, when the series knuckles down and refocuses, it is a very accurate retelling of the game. Dungeons are mercifully cut to just the final boss encounter, which helps the story flow better, and even some of the ‘downtime’ episodes are handled extremely well, especially the field trip to the city from Persona 3. KING’S GAME!

Another letdown for me is the overall animation of the series. Persona 4’s anime cutscenes were gorgeous, fluid pieces of art:

But in P4A (somewhat understandably) things are a little more rough:

It still looks pretty good, with bold colours and strong outlines that make things pop, but its a lot less fluid. I found myself wishing there could have been a few extra frames in a lot of places.  I mean come on, even anime series from a completely unknown franchise have nicer looking animation! Manyuu Hikenchou looked better, and I think we all know how that turned out.

Thankfully, the series is saved by fantastic audio. Environments are matched with their in-game soundtrack counterparts and most of the cast of the English dub return to voice their characters. But again this is where the series hits a stumbling block. Several characters have different voices from their original game appearances, something that first changed in Persona 4 Arena. Now personally, I don’t have a problem with the new cast, but I can understand that some folks may take issue with the switching, so I’m mentioning it.

Erin Fitzgerald and Sam Riegel are both fantastic as Chie and Teddie respectively, and Matthew Mercer – who takes over as Kanji midway through the series – does a convincing Troy Baker impression. The rest of the cast include such voice acting greats as Yuri Lowenthal, Laura Bailey, Amanda Winn Lee and even a guest appearance by Vic Mignogna. And lest we forget:

meetingvicCAGIFIEDsmall

There is no truth, only Cage.

So, what rating do I give Persona 4: The Animation? Well, much as I love Persona, I can’t in good conscience give the series a 10, or even a 9. It’s just too flawed. But there is good stuff in there, and Persona 4 is still a great story, with memorable characters and genuinely warm and funny moments, so I can’t condemn it too much. Persona 4 is a complicated, long story – it was never going to comfortably fit into 26 episodes!

Everyone needs a little soda and dango downtime.

In conclusion, I give Persona 4: The Animation a verdict of…

NOT GUILTY

An excellent tale of the power of friendship over adversity, Persona 4: The Animation shines bright in many areas, but – putting aside my fanboyism – flickers in the visual department, and often collapses in on itself in less focused moments. Still, it’s an excellent way to experience a great story without having to spend hours grinding dungeons in the game. Happy viewing!

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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood review

Well folks, Grand Theft Auto V is very nearly upon us, and I wanted to get a review done before I lock myself in my room with a supply of beans and canned peaches and waste many, many hours of my life mowing down pedestrians and other goofy shenanigans. Accordingly, I wanted to review something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a long time – something very special to me.

You see, part of what I love about anime is how original concepts for shows are. This time we have a show about a diminuative young warrior with the power to control metal and his love interest with bangs in her hair.

Dear readers, this is Seikon No Qwas- DAMN IT.

Yes, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. They say that in the world of anime, you generally belong to one of three fandom camps: Bleach, Naruto or Fullmetal Alchemist. Personally, I’m deep in the FMA camp, and I’m going to try to tell you why – and it has nothing to do with those other shows having a bazillion episodes each, honest.

The series has a pretty deep and complicated plot, so I’ll keep things condensed in an attempt to avoid spoilers. Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric are talented alchemists suffering from Absent Father Syndrome living the life of Riley in the country of Amestris – “Alchemy”, in the Fullmetal Alchemist universe, is shorthand for elemental magic, by the by – until their mother tragically dies in a nonspecific plot plague.

Being the incredibly talented pre-teens that they are, they decide to use their alchemical powers to bring dear old mum back to life. But…

Oh, God.

Oh, GOD.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Sure, they’ve committed a crime against nature and the ultimate taboo of alchemy, but Ed gains the ability to perform alchemy without drawing a circle, and Al a cool new body!

Oh, yeah. Right. The whole ‘psychological and physical trauma’ thing.

It also attracts the attention of the Amestrian State Military, who are interested in recruiting Ed and Al as state alchemists, granting them a wage and research funds in order to find out how to get their original bodies back – because although having a metal arm and leg and a personal automail engineer in your childhood friend is super awesome, it doesn’t quite compare to the fleshy goodness of actual limbs.

So everything seems simple enough, right?

Turns out that massive, earth-shattering conspiracies are afoot, involving horrifying and charismatic artificial humans, blood sacrifice and a series of events that could destroy the entire world.

And that’s not even taking into account the often heart-wrenching side stories the brothers find themselves part of, but the less said about them the better. Let’s just say the impact needs to be experienced, not read off some dumb nerd’s blog page.

So what can I say in this review that won’t give away the deep and nuanced plot? Well, for starters I can big up how gorgeous this series is, from the snowy marshes of the north to the ornate urban environments of the Amestrian capital. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is clearly the product of many, many talented individuals working in unison to create something truly special. Of course, words cannot begin to describe the series’ beauty, so have a bunch more images and soak it in.

Whoops, how did that get in here?

The characters, too, are top notch, thanks to creator Hiromu Arakawa’s fantastic writing. I’d like to put in a special mention for the Homunculi, a group of artificial humans (named after the seven deadly sins, no less) who are up to no good. Saying too much about them would be a spoiler, but let’s just say that an androgynous shape-shifter is equal parts charismatic and scary, and certainly makes for memorable viewing.

Playful facade, lethal hairstyle.

And what better way to conclude than to make mention of the ones responsible for such memorable characters – the utterly stellar English dub of this series, which stars some of the biggest and best voice actors in the business. Maxey Whitehead, Travis Willingham, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Caitlin Glass, Monica Rial, Laura Bailey and too many more to fairly credit give it their all and create an aural experience that is truly special. But of course, that experience is completed with the voice of Edward Elric himself, the intensely talented Vic Mignogna. And no, I’m not biased towards Vic Mignogna’s work because I met him and I’m totally not going to put a picture of me meeting him below.

meetingvicCAGIFIED

I’m also not going to comically replace my own face with Nicolas Cage’s. No siree.

He said he liked my shirt. :3

Anyway, it feels a little redundant to end this with a rating out of ten – you already know that I like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. Like, a LOT. THIS IS A RECOMMENDATION. So instead, I’ll leave you with this wonderful piece of advice, from the mouth of Ed Elric himself.

“There’s no such thing as a painless lesson – they just don’t exist. Sacrifices are necessary, you can’t gain anything without losing something first. Although… if you can endure that pain, and walk away from it, you will find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. Yeah… a heart made fullmetal.”

NOT GUILTY

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My Top 3 Miyazaki Films

Hello! Remember me? Probably not, since I haven’t posted anything in about a year, but HEY HO, LET’S GO.

So recently there was some sad news in the world of anime. Hayao Miyazaki, creator of some of the finest animated films – really films, period – of all time, announced his retirement after 30-odd years of sterling work. His list of classics with Studio Ghibli stretches into eternity, but I’m going to give you a quick rundown of my all-time top 3 Miazaki films. GO!

3. Howl’s Moving Castle

My third favourite Ghibli film (and so far the only one of my top 3 to be released on Blu-ray in the UK – come on, guys!) is Howl’s Moving Castle, the story of Sophie, an 18 year old hat maker who is suddenly transformed into an elderly lady by a wicked witch. She then goes on an adventure with Batman and Mike Wazowski in a walking mansion. Predictable stuff, really.

The real magic behind this story is the way that it engages you despite the fact for the most part you are following a geriatric, where most adventures are told through the eyes of the young and spry.

Far from making the proceedings boring, the frailty of Sophie adds a great deal of gentle humour to the story, and allows for much more use of magic and spectacle by the mysterious Howl. This of course all lends itself extremely well to the beautiful direction and wonderful steampunk landscapes. Its a really great feel good film, and deserves every second of its Blu-ray transfer.

2. Spirited Away

Haha! Bucking the trend here by putting what many consider to be Miyazaki’s masterpiece in second place. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Spirited Away, but my next choice just pips it to the post for me.

Spirited Away is the story of a young girl named Chihiro, who stumbles across a magical world with her parents. Before long, things take a turn for the worse, as her parents are transformed into pigs and she is left stranded in this Narnia-esque world, forced to work in a surreal bathhouse and figure out a way back to her own world.

Though incredibly beautiful, Spirited Away is certainly a bizarre film. A lot of things don’t make a lot of sense, but that’s fine – the world is supposed to be alien and confusing and… alive! You find yourself wondering what fresh character is around the corner – and rightly so, as the cast is huge – from boys that transform into dragons to giant babies to the equal parts intimidating and likeable No-Face (just look at him here drinking tea, it always cracks me up).

1. Princess Mononoke

Yeah, thats right, the one with Scully as a giant wolf. It’s actually kind of hard for me to say why I find this one to be my favourite. Sure, it’s easy to say why it’s good, but the best? I’ll just try to keep this short. The battle scenes are fantastic, there’s a palpable sense of tension and dread with the main character’s arm sickness, Mononoke herself is a really cool, interesting character… and just LOOK at it!

Watch it. That’s all I have to say.

Here’s to you, Hayao Miyazaki! I think I speak for all of us when I wish him a happy retirement. He certainly deserves it.

Reasons to watch Black Lagoon

Hello again, peoples and peoplettes! Now I know what you’re thinking – “Ace, you misspelled ‘review’”. Ha! No I didn’t. Today I’m being that proselytising guy and giving you five whole reasons why you should accept Black Lagoon into your hearts RIGHT NOW.

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1. The Plot

Black Lagoon begins with Rokuro Okajima, a Japanese office drone peon who gets kidnapped by pirates on assignment delivering a disk for his company. The pirates in question are mercenary delivery boys known as the Lagoon Company. Despite their initially rough treatment of him, Stockholm Syndrome (and/or Lima Syndrome, if you’re a pedant) eventually sinks in when his boss sends mercenaries to kill him and destroy the disk, forcing the newly nicknamed Rock to band together with the Lagoon Company to survive. Naturally, things only get more insane from there. Neo-Nazis, forgers, gun-selling churches, mob wars and killer maids are the order of the day for Rock and his new pals. Which brings us neatly to point two…

2. The Characters

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The Lagoon Company consists of four exceptionally interesting people:

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Rock, who you already know. He likes to wear a shirt and tie even to his unusual line of work and is generally a pacifist. But dare hurt a kid or a lady in his presence and you better not expect him to back down.

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Dutch, the leader of the pack. He’s a Vietnam veteran and captain of the WWII torpedo boat Black Lagoon. He’s intelligent, strong, and knows how to use a gun, not that he often does.

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Benny, the Lagoon Company’s mission control. He’s an expert hacker and awful shirt collector from Florida who likes to stay behind the scenes and away from the fighting.

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And who better to do that fighting than Revy, poster girl for the series and all-round badass smokin’, drinkin’, cussin’ gunslinger. She doesn’t take crap from anybody, with a short fuse and an itchy trigger finger to match. They don’t call her Two Hands for nothing!

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Along the way, the Lagoon company meet up with characters of all shapes, sizes and alignments in and around their scummy home base of Roanapur, including:

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A drunk, perverse nun with a gun.

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A hulking Neo-Nazi with a golden gun named Fritz.

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A stereotypically Chinese lady with a penchant for knives and her stoner Irish boyfriend.

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A fat Mormon with a flamethrower.

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Creepy Romanian twin assassins.

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A mad maid who is basically a Terminator.

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A yakuza who can split a bullet with his sword.

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And a teenage ‘cleaner’ with a chainsaw and a cancer microphone.

Among many, many, many more. And what better way to bring these characters to life than…

3. The Art

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Everything in Black Lagoon looks vibrant, alive, and beautiful. From the neon lights and tropical skies of Roanapur to the shimmering waters that the Lagoon Company finds themselves in, to the jungles of south east Asia, to the gloomy greys and muted tones of Tokyo. Anime has never looked prettier, more appealing a place to live in (aside from the guns and death and stuff). Even the smallest of objects have intricate detail, keeping the world full of constantly fascinating things to look at. It’s sublime. It’s amazing. It’s gorgeous.

4. The Dub

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Casting time at Ocean Studios.

The English dub for Black Lagoon is one of the best dubs of any anime I have ever heard. No, seriously. It’s almost perfect. Maryke Hendrikse sounds suitably psychotic as Revy, Brad Swaile is alternatively wimpy and a sudden badass and the rest of the cast of established Ocean actors including Brian ‘Over 9000’ Drummond and current pony-voices Tabitha St. Germain, Cathy Weseluck and Ashleigh Ball put in stunning performances. It’s arguably superior to the Japanese original version, which had moments of hilariously out of place Engrish. You see, the cast is canonically speaking English, but when they go to Japan there has to be a way to show the language barrier. It doesn’t quite work in the Japanese version, but in the English dub, everything comes together nicely to create a professional, well-acted aural experience from start to finish. Which leads me to…

5. The Overall

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Yeah, cheating, I know. But still, the point stands. Everything I’ve explained comes together to form something truly special. Believable character arcs and motivations, character designs that don’t get samey, stale and boring. A world that feels alive, from the seediest bars to the grimiest cities. A tone that neatly toes the line between grindhouse and realism. Balls-to-the-wall thrillride action sequences that leave you breathless. Less-than-likeable characters who are somehow compelling. An adventure that deserves to be seen. I will say it once, and once only.

WATCH. BLACK. LAGOON.

You won’t regret it.

And if you do, you shouldn’t.

Consider this a public service announcement.

Got that? Cool.

Here’s a little something just for…

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Freezing review

Well, I didn’t see this one coming. This one, against all expectations, was actually pretty cool (HAHAHA PUN). But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning, and dive right into Freezing.

FREEZING! Yeaaaah!

Freezing follows the exploits of Kazuya Aoi, a first year student at West Genetics Academy, a school for genetically enhanced girls (known as Pandoras) and boys (known as Limiters) specially trained to combat an extraterrestrial threat known as Novas, giant terrifying robot-like monsrosities capable of destroying cities and pretty adept at murdering Pandoras as well. This sets the stage for a lot of short skirts and what the ESRB would refer to as “strong bloody violence”.

Not cool.

Oh my gosh.

Not cool at all.

Oh my goodness.

Now that's cool.

Oh my – well, actually that one’s alright.

Kazuya instantly takes a liking to (by which I mean ‘buries his head in the busom of’) the second year’s most skilled Pandora, Satellizer el Bridget, owner of the coolest name and longest hair in the academy.

Not the frostiest of receptions.

Pictured: Making friends in Freezing.

Her nickame is ‘The Untouchable Queen’ due to her extreme aphephobia, which Kazuya violates almost immediately. Unfortunately, since the students were in the middle of a battle royale, he causes her to be horribly maimed and ousted from her number one spot.

The cold shoulder.

Not pictured: Someone who wants to make friends.

Luckily for Kazuya, Pandoras can heal pretty much anything given the appropriate medical attention, and Satellizer is a shy, reclusive sort despite her bloodthirsty fighting style. This means that he has the whole season to make amends and try to work with her to become the greatest tag team in the academy!

Hope those burgers don't get cold!

And eat burgers on the roof together, shortly before being publicly molested. Not kidding.

That’s the basic premise, and thanks in no small part to some excellent voice acting on the part of the show’s English dub actors (including Caitlin Glass, voice of Fullmetal Alchemist’s Winry Rockbell) and legitimately interesting characters, it all works quite well. Kazuya and Satellizer are likeable and for once the male lead in a show like this isn’t completely useless all the time – in fact, Kazuya is often the game changer in the show’s many, many inter-student fight scenes.

Pretty cool, huh?

Like this one!

At this point, I’ve probably said enough. I’m not here to describe the plot, and in this case it would contain spoilers. The only thing I will say is that while the series is at face value a show heavy in fanservice and violence and light on plot (the commercial bumpers are the girls in their underwear, for corn’s sake) once episode 7 hits, things get dark, and things get dark FAST. To an extent where it becomes uncomfortable to watch. Dark back stories and intense beating occur.

Knocked out cold.

Don’t pretend you don’t feel sorry for her, you heartless lot.

Graphically and musically, the series is pretty good. Fight scenes look dynamic and cool and the opening and ending themes are enjoyable to listen to (you’d be surprised how grating some shows’ themes can be – looking at you, Ghost Hunt).

Overall, I’d rate Freezing reasonably highly. I like the characters, and the story definitely has potential. However, things only really start flowing after episode 6 and even then the plot is very confined. Definitely something that was explored more in the manga, and would have continued in a second season of the anime.

Freezing is shaky on its feet, but a cast of interesting characters and realistic motivations saves it from mediocrity. Just.

NOT GUILTY

Ice to see you, too.

I couldn’t think of an image to put in at the end, so have some more Satellizer because I’m classy like that.

Sekirei: Pure Engagement review

Well, after a far too long hiatus, here I am again! Sorry for the wait – I think Manyuu Hikenchou broke me…

This happened.

Hoo boy, did it ever break me.

But I’m back and raring to go, with the second season of one of my favourite animes from a while back, Sekirei: Pure Engagement!

Heck yea!

I couldn’t find the title card, so have a badass sunset!

You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for the UK release of this anime, so let’s dive right in.

For the benefit of anyone who has forgotten or didn’t see my review of the first season of Sekirei, the show is basically about a two-time college failure named Minato who becomes involved in a massive tournament in Tokyo between a bunch of aliens with a similar genetic code to humans called Sekirei. He is an Ashikabi, someone who can ‘wing’ a Sekirei and unlock their powers with a kiss, and at the beginning of the season, he’s done this four times.

BEACH FUN TIME!

The Sekirei Plan, instigated by the leader of the massive MBI corporation, Hiroto Minaka, is essentially a tournament where all winged Sekirei must fight and defeat each other until only one remains. It’s kind of like Highlander 2: The Quickening, except not written by someone with an orange for a brain.

:O

Oh no he di’int!

All caught up? Time for season 2 then!

Pure Engagement starts off where Sekirei left off, after Minato and his Sekirei helped two conscientious objectors escape the city and the second stage of the Sekirei Plan began. There are still a handful of unwinged Sekirei around the city, and the residents of Maison Izumo decide to play it safe. But, things being what they are, and a couple of plot points left unresolved since last season…

And they're pretty sizable.

Yeah, those ones.

For those of you who weren’t paying attention last season, Minato gets his last two Sekirei, starting with the effortlessly cool Drunky McTitsenbutt…

But mostly Drunky.

Or Kazehana, if you’re being formal.

…and the equally cool Kagare/Homura, who moonlights as a guardian of unwinged Sekirei and is also turning into a woman. So soft.

Now hold on a second, I know what you’re about to say. “Ace, isn’t that just stupid and pandering?” And you might be right, if the gender bending wasn’t handled exceptionally well and in an interesting manner. You see, Homura was a highly unstable experimental Sekirei, whose gender changes depending on their Ashikabi’s tastes. And Minato, being surrounded by such bountiful… personalities, is of course inclined towards women.

This produces a not undue amount of hostility from Homura, but an Ashikabi is an Ashikabi…

Toasty!

And that makes six Sekirei in total! What can I say, the man gets busy.

Mathematical!

After that point, the plot becomes much more focused – less about recruitment, more about beating the Sekirei Plan – and the season really comes into its own. I was especially glad to see more of Minato’s sister and her Sekirei, even if they still had a small part to play. But alas, more than that would be a spoiler, so let’s move on to technical stuff!

Visually, the series is still as stunning as it was in the first season, but perhaps a bit more consistent and cleaner than before.

Mud fights. OF COURSE

However, what really impressed me about Pure Engagement was the audio. Every single voice actor fits and is in top form, and again, I believe the English dub to be superior to the original Japanese audio. Tsukiumi is still fantastic and hilarious, Musubi is still a loveable airhead, Minato is still hopeless and relative newcomer Kazehana is completely believable as a drunken romantic without a care in the world. Even the Discipline Squad (in particular Benitsubasa and Haihane), who have sort of become the Team Rocket to Minato’s Pokemon masters, are a laugh riot, if not exactly sympathetic.

Blasting off again.. WITH ANGER!

Musically, Pure Engagement is even better than season one. The opening and ending themes are MP3 player quality and catchy as all hell, so there’s never any real incentive to skip over the credit sequences, and it gets you pumped up for the show to come.

Wha happun?

And then all hell broke loose…

All in all, Sekirei is still one of my favourite animes, and one that I recommend everyone should watch regardless of Funimation’s horrendous handling of the show’s advertising. Though not a huge revolution over season one, Pure Engagement still manages to retain the legitimate warmth and humour that made Sekirei such a hit for me in the first place. Is it better than Sekirei? Maybe not, but it’s pretty damn close.

I’ll leave you with one more picture of Tsukiumi before my final score, because favourite character.

Grr

Here shown in a costume somehow more maid-like than usual.

NOT GUILTY

Highly recommended. Great comedy, warmth and heart. Can’t wait till season three, because that’ll be a thing, RIGHT?

Manyuu Hikenchou review

When you start watching a show and the very first shot is of boobs, you pretty much know what to expect going in.

FABULOUS

So, Manyuu Hikenchou! This series comes to us from Hiraku Kaneko, the man who created the character ‘Cattleya’ in Queen’s Blade.

EWWWWWWW

BECAUSE I’M HIRAKU GODDAMN KANEKU THAT’S WHY

But that’s not all! He also directed such fine works of entertainment as Foxy NudesPanty Flash Teacher and Seikon no Qwaser. Wait, what?

no wai

Oh dear.

So the series begins with our heroine Chifusa, a busty ninja of the Manyuu clan during the Edo period of Japan. The Manyuu clan’s tenets revolve around being busty and making other people less busty, in a world where bustiness equals wealth and power (Anna-Nicole Smith would be proud, HIYOO)

Chifusa is fleeing her clan with a secret scroll which contains the secret to beautiful breasts, which she intends to share with the entire world to put an end to the bizarre caste system in place that totally happened in Edo Japan and isn’t made up at all.

Along for the ride is her handmaiden Kaede, voiced by none other than Aki Toyosaki, who played Tomo in Seikon no Qwaser. Kaede’s breasts have been destroyed as punishment for trying to help Chifusa escape by Chifusa’s half-sister, Kagefusa (proud owner of permanent crazy-eyes and boobs bigger than her head).

And then they kiss.

Kagefusa and Kaede, BFFs 4eva.

However, during their escape, Chifusa slices Kagefusa’s breasts and absorbs them, thus growing her own substantial cleavage. Of course, this pisses Kagefusa right off, so Kaede and Chifusa run for the hills, thus beginning the series proper.

Basically, Chifusa wants to find out why she can steal and absorb breasts, and later how to give them back – since her thefts cause the pair endless strife.

On their travels, Chifusa and Kaede run into a whole mess of insanity that range from hilarious to downright stupid. Here are a few highlights:

In the second episode the pair are taken in by a friendly innkeeper who eventually turns out to be a Manyuu assassin. Her special power? Swinging her breasts around like a balloon helicopter to hypnotise her foes. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

OH GOD WHY

But I sure as hell wish I was.

In most episodes of the series, the pair encounter men who are ridiculously obsessed with breasts, none more so than Lord Hatomune, who the pair first meet at a ‘Boob shake’ contest. Yep.

His first speech in the series is as follows:

“If there are big breasts in the east, I shall admire their splendor.

If there are sagging breasts in the west, I shall love their humbleness.

If there are unbalanced breasts in the north, I shall understand their uniqueness.

If there are hanging bell-shaped breasts in the south, I shall devote myself to their strangeness”

A true scholar.

“Atta boy.”

Russ Meyer-esque dialogue aside, Lord Hatomune really is a funny character, especially when he fights off an entire group of soldiers on his own while yelling “Oppai!” over and over and over again.

HIYAA

No badass has ever been more obsessed.

Kagefusa herself is a pretty cool character – she has a great character design, an… original plot arc, and, once she calms down a bit and loses her crazy-eyes and antagonist role near the end of the series, has a decent amount of screen-time, actually acting as a calming presence towards the assassin Ouka despite her previous performance.

Calm edition.

One more picture, for good measure.

Ouka is cool in my books simply because she posesses the voice of Rin Asogi (from Mnemosyne), Mamiko Noto. Once Ouka arrives on the scene, the plotline of the series really wakes up, as she acts as a catalyst, linking Chifusa’s past to her present and this sentence is getting way too serious BOOB SEGUE

Pillowy.

The art in Manyuu Hikenchou is bright and vibrant, and pretty damn gorgeous (aside from some weird facial animations in the first episode). The music is also impressive – AiRI do an excellent job with the opening and closing tracks of each episode, and I don’t think I skipped a single intro because of that.

However, the important question remains – did I like the series?

While the series does have a lot of funny moments, and a surprisingly decent plot, including some neat ideas and characters, the fanservice, at times idiotic writing and overabundance of annoying boob-obsessed men can really grate and get in the way of things, so I can’t wholly recommend the series because of that. However, the last few episodes in particular really impressed me, and both Chifusa and Kaede lampshade a lot of the idiocy that surrounds the show. The pair are also a great duo, and they’re both likeable, funny characters.

In other words, your opinion on boobs controls this rating. If you can stand to wade through the boobs to get to the boobs that actually have plot relevance you could watch far worse shows than Manyuu Hikenchou.

That’s all the boobs I can handle for one review, so here’s the final rating.

Boobs rating: (.)(.)(.)(.)(.)(.) out of boobs.

In my boobs, don’t boob your boobs before they boob.

boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs

Ouka is druuuuuuunk.

SIDE NOTE: It was almost goddamn impossible to find SFW images for this. 😡

HNNNNNNG

The birthday song from Mayo Chiki!
I wish my birthdays involved a serenade. And giant stuffed sheep. And friends.
*sniff*

Mayo Chiki! Review/Thoughts

AKA “Way Too Many Images: The Review”.

I hesitate to call this a review – due to lack of drive and ideas of what to comment on, I sort of half-assed it. Next one will be better, I promise! :3

Ah, Chicken Mayo. Delicious, juicy and filling. Does there exist a better sandwich? I think not.

Wait, that’s not right.

TITLE

Yes, Mayo Chiki, a show about an average guy who discovers that the most sought-after boy in his school is actually A GIRL!

Who knew?

Apparently her disguise sensei was Clark Kent.

This imposter is Subaru Konoe, who spends her time as a butler when not being a vaguely perplexed hug pillow.

Not entirely safe for work O.o

Seriously, what’s up with that? She kicks her father into SPACE in one episode. Talk about confidence issues.

Our bespectacled hero is Sakamichi Kinjirou, a guy with gynophobia whose nose bleeds every time he comes into contact with a girl, because his mother is a professional wrestler and his sister beats him up all the time. Needless to say, his discovery of Subaru’s distinctive non-maleness leads to all sorts of shenanigans. Wacky!

Sakami Chicken Jirou

The main plot mainly revolves around the will-they-won’t-they tension between Subaru and Jirou, and Subaru conquering his fear of women. It’s nothing all that special, and isn’t really the driving force behind the series. No, what kept me going through some rather predictable scenes were the characters themselves – and there’s a lot to like about them.

Subaru’s mistress, the ridiculously flirtatious and decidedly malicious Suzutsuki, looks like she just stepped off the set of Black Butler, with red eyes, long hair and Victorian attire. She fills the role of ‘the seductive one who messes with the main character’.

Typical facial expression

Jirou’s sister Kureha actually gets her own episode, and it’s one of the best in the series – though a capable fighter, she is still a 15 year old girl, and her birthday party is suitably silly. Sure, there are some bizarre moments, like when the ghosts from The Ring and The Grudge come to her party (for no reason) but the scene where she gets sung to by all the main girls to wish her a happy birthday is a heartwarming scene that can melt all but the stoniest of hearts.

mai birfdai

The there’s Usami. Her name sounds like the Japanese for rabbit, and she is a tsundere who sort of maybe kind of falls for Jirou. But still calls him a ‘stupid chiken’. Moving on…

Tsundere

Hey. Get back here and talk more about me.

And last but certainly not least, the enigmatic Nakuru. By all accounts, she is probably the most fascinating character in the show, mostly because she is part of a niche not normally seen in anime – a ganguro, or Japanese person who dyes their hair blonde and uses fake tan to look as different as possible. She also has cat ears and a fetish for glasses, which comes into play in the dirty novels she writes about Jirou and Subaru’s supposed gay romance. Despite being the token mischevious busty character, she really steals the show in the coda episode of the series, episode 13. In fact, the minor romance that goes on between her and Jirou in that same episode in my opinion eclipses the one between Jirou and Subaru.

Nerd chic.

Anyway, onto the boring technical stuff. The show itself is bright and colourful and relentlessly upbeat, and the comedy is handled very well – there are plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout. The music is also pretty good, with the theme song standing out as an immensely listenable track.

Unfortunately, the weakest part of the series is the Subaru-Jirou romance. While their scenes are handled well, it just doesn’t seem to go very far over the course of the series – everything always seems to return to the status quo by the end of each episode, meaning that there is little development. However, this is more than made up through the comedy and side-stories (particularly during episodes 10 & 13)

NOT GUILTY

Mayo Chiki! is impossible to dislike, with its great characters and funny moments, but the overall romance doesn’t go very far. Still definitely reccomended.

Standout moments: Kureha’s birthday, the Kampfer and Hidan no Aria cosplay in episode 13. (pictured)

Nerdgasm

Seikon no Qwaser II: A haiku review

First half just as good

second half it makes no sense

what went wrong who knows

NOT PROVEN

image

I DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS!