Here’s part 2 of our winter anime 2016 review!
Kaze – 5/10
Schwarzesmarken (fun fact: a purposely misspelled German word) is a side story to Muv Luv Alternative (MLA), a widely praised visual novel. Unfortunately, this creates a kind of inherent problem in that enjoyment depends on knowledge of the original story. While certainly a stand alone story about Germany in the 1980’s, Schwarzesmarken is simply an extension to much of the knowledge and information already explained in MLA. As a result, the battle against the alien race BETA can seem far less interesting without prior understanding. Furthermore, all of the actually interesting things happen in the main story, so the BETA appear to be far more boring than they really are due to spoilers. All this said, Schwarzesmarken provides enough action on the screen to entertain you coupled with a poor job at replicating the MLA themes of national pride and human greed clashing in the face of an enemy that can wipe out humanity. The choice of ending is also very peculiar considering certain spoilers that should be well known and would’ve made for a much better ending in my view. In the end, it’s just a very watered down version of one arc of MLA but is probably quite entertaining to anyone who already likes the series.
Musaigen no Phantom World
Myraid Colors Phantom World
stardf29 – 6/10
This is a hard show for me to rate, because it is very inconsistent and almost requires a particular mindset to enjoy it like I did. First of all, do not expect anything from the fact that this show was done by Kyoto Animation, as while the storytelling does have some really good parts befitting their reputation (and the animation is solid), the good parts are buried by a lot of the story not really knowing where to go. Most of the show is spent on character vignettes, and while some of them are fairly good, they make much of the show feel like just a series of standalone episodes, which makes the final plot arc, as good as it is, feel somewhat out of place. Still, for as much of a disjointed and often badly-written mess this show is, I still liked it a lot. The characters are largely very likable, the standalone stories themselves can be quite fun, and there are plenty of emotionally resonant moments (especially if you can relate to the broken families many of these characters come from). If you are in the mood for such a show and don’t mind if the plot itself is messy, this might be a show you will enjoy.
Emdaisy – 6/10
I really wanted to like this anime. I bought the game (an otome, hence the 9 bishounen featured above) it’s based on in January, not even knowing there was an anime coming out based on it, and adored the game (I’ve nearly completed all possible routes, endings, and trophies). So, I really wanted to enjoy the anime, too. However, I’m trying to rank it as just an anime, excluding my bias because of my adoration of the game…
9 espers (people with powers/abilities) on a flying ship governed by an unknown force, a random kid seemingly from the past, a few other side characters, and some romantic elements. If you’re not familiar with the game, that’s probably about all the anime will seem like to you. The plot’s there, but if you don’t know the story from the game, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense until the very last 3 episodes – and really, most of it’s only explained in the very last episode. I personally loved the art and music in this, and the final episode (despite not matching the game’s endings I’ve seen in all completed routes) was actually pretty solid and did help to make the entire anime’s plot a tad clearer. However, if I hadn’t been watching this because I liked the game and am attached to the characters from the game, I may not have even completed the show at all. Knowing the game and having that background knowledge of the plot and characters going into this, I personally would give it an 7/10. However, for anyone going into the show with NO previous knowledge, it’s maybe a 6 (maybe even a 5). This is something I’d maybe only recommend to fellow female viewers who, like me, enjoy otome/shoujo, and thus just want to watch something light-hearted with bishies and cute (if sometimes cheesy) romantic moments.
MRNewman – 7/10
What happens when the newest pop idol group ends up being a bunch of literal idols? As in a bunch of statue busts? That’s the basic premise of Sekkou Boys. You are following Miki Ishimoto, fresh out of college who gets her first job managing the Rockies, a new boy band. The boy band consists of bust statues of Saint George, Hermes, Medici, and Mars. It’s short (7 minutes per episode) and silly. Getting a behind the scenes look at pop idols can be funny. Getting a behind the scenes look at pop idols who are also statues is as ridiculous as it sounds. I went into this with very few expectations – and this ended up being one of my favorites of the season. Satisfyingly fun series with a humorous ending. When you only have a little time, it’s a fun, silly distraction.
Haikyuu!! 2nd Season
Haikyuu!! 2nd Season
Annalyn – 8/10
The second half of Haikyuu!! 2 was paced better than the first, but I’m giving it this rating based on both cours, so if you want to see my one complaint about the first half, you can go back to the review of last fall’s anime. Haikyuu!! is just really, really good. The animation is great compared to certain other sports anime. The characters are as adorable as always, and I love the way they grow in this season. All of the first years—including the new manager, Yachi—make me proud. Second-year Ennoshita gets some solid character development, too.
Oh, and the finale? Pretty good, unlike a certain other sports anime’s second season finale (*glares at Daiya*). There is a somewhat unnecessary “thank you” speech, but it’s from Yachi. She’s a sweetie, and her monologue ties into her development early in the season, so I’m happy to share the sentimental moment with her and the others. This is a well-put together series, and the second season nicely mirrors the first in much of its pacing. So I’m left to happily await Season 3.
Medieval Otaku – 8/10
BBK/BRNK is mecha fantasy action done right. (And the above picture of Reoko is my favorite screenshot of the season.) The first three episodes failed to hook me, but episodes 4-12 were finished in two sittings–only partially for the sake of getting this review up on time. Amazingly, I would have passed up this show if David A, my most frequent commentator, had not recommended it to me. Am I grateful for his recommendation! I must add this show to the two other CGI productions I highly enjoyed: Arpeggio of Blue Steel and Knights of Sidonia.
The anime adroitly used the common shounen theme of being there for your friends and trusting them to do the same. The anime shows Reoko’s refusal to do the latter as the primary reason she turned bad, which extends to her allies as well. The first two episodes paint Reoko as insane and cruel, but we come to learn that her side has some good motives; yet, they become twisted by Reoko neither sharing her burdens nor trusting her friends. This interesting theme added on to compelling characters (Reoko is the most interesting, but our heroes are unique also.), an engaging plot, frequent comedy, and suspenseful fights make for a great anime.
Kaze – 5/10
Koyomimonogatari is a series of short stories and a part of the now famous Monogatari series. Each episode is an individual story, spread out across the Monogatari timeline such that they cannot collectively be called a sequel or prequel to anything. Although the stories all have similar tone to what people love about the series, none of them are even remotely as interesting as some of the main ones. They are too short to instill intrigue and too shallow to maintain interest. Character interactions continue to carry the show as they often do, but even these are still not quite as good as what I would hope from the usual bantering. That said, big fans of the Monogatari series would probably enjoy them simply because more Monogatari. I wouldn’t be able to recommend to people who didn’t really enjoy the main series because it is really just more of the same but worse, as the shortness of the stories do not allow the quality to be anything great.
Ooyasan wa Shishunki!
The Landlord is in Puberty!
stardf29 – 6/10
For a two-minute short, Ooya-san is cute, charming, surprisingly well-animated, and pretty much completely devoid of substance. It’s good for exactly what it sets out to do: give you a small weekly dose of comedy and the adorableness that is Chie, the titular middle-school landlady. Anyone expecting anything resembling depth should look elsewhere.
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen
Utawarerumono: The False Faces
Japesland – 5/10
Okay, I have a lot of opinions about this series, so I’ve numbered my points to keep this as short as possible (again, I have a LOT of opinions).
First, I have to get this out of the way: Utawarerumono is amazing. Utawarerumono, on the other hand, is pretty awful. I say this as a huge fan of the Utawarerumono series, which was just one game up until 2015. That said, I have a lot of bias when it comes to judging any new entries.
Second, Itsuwari no Kamen is a perfect example of the issues one encounters when adapting a story from one medium to another. Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen is a linear, 60-hour visual novel with strategy RPG elements. Converting a 60-hour game, which is essentially 40-50 hours of straight reading into 7 hours is no easy task. And it shows. Itsuwari no Kamen follows the same basic story as the game upon which it is based, but it makes a lot of compromises to get there. Not only is a majority of the game simply left out for the sake of time, other events are combined in order to fit the anime format, and many of the events kept in place are just outright changed.
Third, Itsuwari no Kamen is nothing but a prologue to the third and final game in the Utawarerumono series, which will be releasing later this year.
Put all of this together, and you get a mediocre anime with a couple cool surprises buried beneath bad storyboarding and directing.
Look forward to tomorrow for our final day of reviews!