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[Featurama] Fall 2012 Anime Final Thoughts

So we’re back. I know we usually do a mid-season post but that got lost in the shuffle. We will never talk about the shuffle again. Moving on, we finally have our final thoughts organized for the Fall season! That’s right, a full three weeks into the Winter season and we have our reviews of the fall season. Additionally we’ll have our Winter Initial Thoughts for you by Easter and then so on and so on. Honestly? We were sort of hoping an apocalypse would give us a few extra weeks. Bummer huh?


Mwahahahaha!

Medaka Box Abnormal

This season took up the Class 13 arc of Medaka Box and was largely a drawn out battle anime and not all that exceptional in any way. As Medaka is quite special however, this served as a deconstruction of what she is and why she is so special in the first place. In doing so, they left her to be a bit of a bore until halfway through the season when the battles really kicked in to full gear.

Unfortunately, this entire season has nothing to do with her goal of bringing happiness to the world and the fact that Medaka’s box is largely unseen for the entirety of the season begs to reason that the show’s theme is strung together as loosely as…well any battle style manga or anime. So I guess Medaka Box is right at home with the big boys.

Characters come out of nowhere with deep personal ties, enemies are bested simply because Medaka is Medaka and the battles aren’t exactly cliffhangers in themselves. Certainly they weren’t crazy enough to leave me on the edge of my seat. That all being said, Medaka Box still has a charm to it. The characters are bizarre and fit quite well with Gainax’s strung thin art department. Even though they left it all on a cliffhanger, the final episode was able to showcase what makes Gainax the premiere studio in the world for crazy shows like this.

Medaka Box is, again, a mixed bag of good and bad that all seems to keep itself held together by the glue that is Gainax. Now we wait for season 3.

*Sparkle Sparkle*

Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

OniAi is not a good show in many ways. It’s characterization is simple and character development rarely comes. The fanservice is nowhere near enough to draw you in week to week which makes this just a comedy about an awkward premise and it’s not even that funny.

I did manage to make it through by projecting on to the main character a hidden sadism. See OniAi is the tale of Akito Himenokouji’s methodical move to control and subjugate the women around him in a bid to gain power. His first conquest was the most diabolical and perverted. He ensnared his sister.

Not content with simply being the beloved older brother, he warps her mind with little tricks to tease her along all the while brainwashing her with the erotic incest novels he pens. Even when her adoration starts to border on the absurd, he never yields in reprimanding her. He’ll just manipulate her. She is important to him as she is driven to be Prime Minister of Japan.

When his parents (the only two people that could stop his plot mind you) are killed off camera, he is then split up from his sister to move on to an adopted new family. It is here where he works the family in to offering a traditional engagement with their preteen daughter. She is important as a genius already graduated from a prestigious university with famous published essays circulating many magazines. Later on she will prove useful cooking and cleaning for him.

In this time, he befriends the powerful Ginbei who despite the boyish name, talking style and physique, is actually well respected for her academic excellence by the faculty and student body. Spurning the advances of other children, his goal is to have Ginbei befriend him. He would become her friend by beating her in to submission. Once again she becomes useful around his home as a cook and would love him though he would never recognize that.

When he moves to his new school, he assumes the rights to a dormitory in need of plenty of work done on it. He brings Ginbei in to his household with his sister, adopted sister and two other members of the student council to pit them all against each other. The two new comers would be his biggest acquisition yet. Anastasia is the heir to the Natsuhara Corporation which brings him his first western woman bidding for his attention, even if she knows exactly what Akito is. Alongside her is the sexually aggressive Arashi Nikaidou of the prestigous Nikaido family.

Bringing these love interests all together under one roof gives him some real world power. Even with Nikaido’s dominating presence, he constantly wins her over and leaves her vying for more. She can get pretty far with many of the other girls in the house, but Akito presents her a challenge befitting her. She would be honored to serve under him.

It’s twisted that he keeps expanding his harem. His works are published through an editor infatuated with converting Akito from his “siscon” self on to a more mature woman. His sister is slowly brainwashing her friends in to the cult that is Akito. These are the actions of a deviant.

He now has manipulated a publisher to spread his works, his sister, adopted sister and the heirs of two predominant families in Japan. Does he ever show any whim to reward their love?

No.

He is cruel to play with these women as puppets. He thinks himself as normal and average. He is something much much more as we found out as the final episode revealed who his sister truly was to him.

This is of course a more interesting interpretation because it at least is something. Something more than an anime focused on a very weak punchline with nothing else to really show for it other than forcing the characters to respond in an over the top manner to simple cliche circumstances.

*Clever Caption Here

Blast of Tempest

This is a really hard show to judge. On one hand it combines Shakespeare’s most popular play with one you probably have never heard of in a very interesting way. On the other hand though, the entire anime is built on coincidence and that’s not a good thing to watch. In short, the entire plot comes together in a standard formula that is centuries old, combined with a string of coincidences to tie it all up. It is such a bizarre thing to see unfold as 3 people spend 3 episodes debating the logic of the story, it’s world and the plausibility of it all in an effort to twist said logic to favor how the story will progress.

Will it resolve itself as a revenge story ala Hamlet or will it resolve itself out as a debate on whether mankind should align itself with god’s will or remove the burden so they can decide their own fate through their new self appointed god? That’s literally what the last 1/3 of the show was spent verbally debating. The term deus ex machina fills the show absolutely perfectly and the writers then reveal that as their motivating force to twist it to their own desires.

At it’s core you can only sit back and watch as the battle between humanity and god is played out through convenience. It’s as maddening as it is entertaining at times. Sadly though, it’s hard to find such coincidence to be entertaining until that moment it is revealed that it’s supposed to be illogical. Then it’s just a hoot to see what surprise twist shows up next.

For those that haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil you. For those that have, I won’t debate illogical coincidence. Blast of Tempest turned in to something entertaining, which actually shocked me. It had that potential throughout, but it had to define the logic of the world first before it could start throwing missiles at the foundation. It took a bit, but that hook finally sunk in.

It is unique. We’ll leave it at that seeing as the show won’t resume airing until the 10th of January.

Sparkle…Sparkle?

Code: Breaker

I’ll be honest, Code: Breaker isn’t all that good. It started out interesting in the first episode, but the character development just never really came. For a show all about an elite strike force of super powered assassins, there is a whole lot of ideas that never really do anything. Just like the limiters being put on the characters for an episode just to showcase they could do it on a whim.

Code: Breaker is unfocused, which is a shame because it did show a lot of promise with the first episode. See, the first episode was all about an upright girl trying to convince the pretty new boy with a burning fist to turn a new leaf from his heartless mass murdering. Well, then it turns out he actually works for the government as a suppression force and his murdering is justified.

Well, that about shuts up her role. She’s then relegated to a special case as a person who can negate the super powers of Breakers. Which makes her little more than a trump card to be wheeled around each episode as the team takes on low level thugs, mad scientists and even a few AWOL Breakers. It lays the ground work, but overall it isn’t all that interesting as placing the anime in to a category is fairly difficult.

It could be a school drama, except they abandon that halfway through. It could be a romance anime, but nobody is all that romantic. It looks like a buddy cop show, but it rendered the pair pointless when the rest of the group showed up. Even as a battle anime, the show is pointless because you are following the weakest member in the group of super cops hoping he’ll do something amazing to set himself apart. Yet he never seems to want to. It is whatever it wants to be since nobody is behind the wheel to drive this home.

Code: Breaker is a show that does what it wants and takes you along for the ride. It’s not brilliant, it’s not ground breaking. It just is a show that is on and one that will likely be forgotten after all is said and done.

 

On an adventure!

Magi

Going into Magi, even through the first few episodes, I expected it to be standard, yet entertaining, shonen fluff. I was wrong. I was so wrong. What I got instead was one of my favorite shows of the fall 2012 season, one that I desperately hope gets picked up again even though it’s only halfway over.

Rather than relying upon many of the oft-used shonen adventure tropes and an endless number of lengthy battles to drive itself forward, Magi paves its own path, relying upon politics and diplomacy just as often as brute force. The world itself is already one of the most fully realized that I’ve seen of a show of its ilk, and it exploits that fact, dealing with issues such as slavery, economics, and unfit rulers almost on the same level as the individual issues of its main characters, and what main characters they are!

In the current Balbadd arc, Alibaba has finally broken through his struggles with his own abilities and confidence, while Aladdin… that poor little guy is still in a comatose state after attempting to aid his best friend Ugo with the aid of his own life force. Of the three main characters, Morgiana, the frighteningly powerful former slave, is by far the most fascinating. Free from her bonds, she is by far the most proactive character of the show, speaking her mind and doing what needs to be done without hesitation, even going against the wishes of her friends to do so. Seeing her transformation from a subdued, unhappy slave at the beginning of the show has been nothing short of amazing, but out of every character, it is Sahbmad, the timid deputy king of Balbadd, that has affirmed my faith in Magi- playing his quiet nature perfectly straight, it exemplifies the impressive levels of maturity and quality that keep me returning to the show every week.

Manly tears.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Short of fantastic action sequences, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is many of the things that Magi is not, and I love it for that. Based upon decades-old source material, its over-the-top style and plotting somehow feel to be a breath of fresh air among current anime. Though we are only several episodes into Battle Tendency, set fifty years later in the 1930’s and featuring the grandson of the original JoJo, It has far surpassed Phantom Blood (the first arc) in my eyes.

The pacing is tighter, the action is crazier, and Joseph is dozens of times more entertaining than the comparably bland Jonathan could ever be. In his fight with Straits, the now-evil former ally of Jonathan, Joseph takes advantage of Straits’ monologue to stick him with a grenade. Quickly noticing, Straits throws the bomb away only to realize (far too late) that it is connected by string to about a dozen more on his back. This is the kind of fight logic found in JJBA, and it is glorious. While far from the most intellectually stimulating show, this Bizarre Adventure is unceasingly entertaining.

Fun story, all the screenshots sort of look like this.

Shinsekai Yori

Though its tone has changed and the pacing has shifted for the first half of Shinsekai Yori, it feels that within the last few episodes, the show has finally found its footing. I’m not skirting around anything here- the world is infinitely more fascinating than the main characters inhabiting it. In what is one of the most intriguing post-apocalypses I’ve seen in quite some time, humanity has gained control over near-omnipotent telekinetic abilities called Cantus, but these abilities have damaged both the world and humanity itself. Now, they live in small numbers and small villages and towns, surrounded by flora and fauna twisted and accelerated by excess cantus.

Given that all humans have the ability of cantus, the greatest danger to the remaining population is humanity itself. As a result, the population has been bred for generations to become docile and peaceful, though there is the chance for maladjusted or simply unlucky humans to degenerate into either a fiend or karma demon, respectfully. To combat the appearance of such deadly creatures, society itself has turned to the disposal of possible problems as a solution.

Though it seems cruel, as the series has gone further, it has appeared more and more that the ends may, horrifyingly enough, justify the means. Unlike most similar societies, this disposal is not for the purpose of maintaining a regime or silencing others, but for the most basic security of humanity. In the second half of the show, I expect these policies and society itself to reach a turning point. I don’t know what it will be, but I know that it will be irreparable.

Female gaze.

Psycho Pass

…wait.

Where the hell is my Psycho Pass review?

…god dammit. Going to need to rewrite that now.

Starting as a stylized yet unimpressive cop show in a sleek and futuristic (yet not fully) cyberpunk city, Psycho Pass has made great strides in its first cour, bringing in more personality for its characters, at first not much more than standard cop show templates, and deepening its plot considerably with each “self-contained” case past the first two episodes. Tying together all of these crimes (malfunctioning robot murder, dead internet personalities continuing to stay active, and horrifying “artistic displays” of corpses scattered around town) and a cold case that caused the death of Enforcer Kogami’s former partner is a mysterious man(ipulator) named Makishima.

I won’t beat around the bush here- Makishima is one of my favorite villainous archetypes, the calm, charismatic sociopath who manages to achieve his dirty work with a perfectly clean mind. Seemingly immune to the SIBYL system that monitors the mental states and criminal coefficients of the general populace, he renders the SIBYL-governed Dominator guns, the most important tool of the police force, completely useless. Now that he has revealed himself (and inflicted the psychological trauma required of an Urobuchi show upon our earnest protagonist, the greenhorn Inspector Tsunemori), the pacing and intensity of the show have nowhere to go but up, and I’m looking forward to it.

 

This scene. Seriously, it came out of nowhere.

Jormungand: Perfect Order

So in the end, the opening proved to be the foreshadowing I thought it would be. Jonah and Koko standing on opposite ends divided by beliefs and a missile launch (symbolism!). It wasn’t hard to see it coming but it was a dramatic turn of events nonetheless. Now about the ending, I may have thought it was a bit rushed.

I…I don’t know how I feel about the ending. I was hoping for a little more dramatic standoff between two sides instead of everyone agreeing on a new world order that Koko had envisioned. The ending let me down in that the tension was built and plans from all sorts of different organization were put into motion, only to drop it all in favor of a hardline world peace. I can’t say I hated the ending though, it leaves it open to some interpretations. As Koko’s brother said as he left, if he can’t sell weapons he’ll sell sword. People will be people and they do have the tendency to be…destructive. I mentioned early on that it was the Ridley Scott political action thriller to Black Lagoon’s stylized, philosophical, Hong Kong action film. The tension in the conference rooms was just as high as out in the battlefield.

In the end it was the characters that made the show. I mean the fact all of them from Koko’s crew, to the CIA all had that same evil face was just too fun to watch. None of these characters are just canon fodder thought (Well, except for that one woman. You know the one). I mean they did their best and tried to give each of their characters a day in the limelight. But it wasn’t just the main crew, everyone in this show is an absolute monster (See: above).

The series was great from start to finish and although it didn’t quite stick the landing for me, seeing Koko’s plan come together as she steadily manipulated her way into a seat of power? Thrilling. All the action and political intrigue? Heart-pumping. This is my favorite series of the fall and for good reason. The series continued as the outlandish politico thriller I always wanted.

 

More of her please~

Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai!

Probably one of the bigger surprises of the season really. I mean I just thought it was going to be a cute show about cute people doing weird club things. Then it turned into a pretty engaging romance which I was very much cool with and before I knew it thirteen episodes passed by. It was really disorienting near the end when nearly all the characters began crying at some point and then you see them, and it’s absolutely heart-wrenching! I had to admit, I was more engaged with the show than I thought I would be.

I also really enjoyed all of the individual character’s arcs. A lot of them ended up very differently than I thought it would. For instance Nibutani’s character plot just took a sudden left turn after her past was revealed and then it just went on from there. Originally seeing Dekomori end up the way she did (however temporarily) was also pretty left field. I loved what it was trying to do though in terms of growing up and accepting the life you live. Of whether or not we’re actually maturing or just switching one role to another. I mean that long monologue in the last episode essentially just said the same thing.

Although there was that line near the end that makes me feel as if the show knew this simple message from the beginning.

-That’s deep.

 

 

 

-No it’s not. You’re just shallow.

Something about this line stuck with me even as the show ended. It’s a poignant line that summarizes the series best. People wanting to be other people, to be mature. I don’t know, the series, as crazy as it was, showed a chapter in our lives we may not want to remember. Maybe that chapter is happening now? Either way this was a good show, a really enjoyable show, and maybe just a simple show meant to be fun.

And it was.

For a moment I thought hair was growing out of his chest.

Seitokai no Ichizon Hekiyoh Gakuen Seitokai Gijiroku

It wasn’t as good as the first season, let’s move on.

No? Not enough? I don’t know, the first season had some sort of emotional core surrounded by character driven comedy. I personally felt that this season didn’t turn down the emotions per se. They just turned up the whole 4th wall breaking and character quirks up? It’s sort of hard to accurately describe (how do I even have this job if I can’t) but the characters definitely seemed more inflated with their eccentricities this time around. It has been a couple years since I’ve seen the first season though so blame nostalgia goggles if you must.

Bringing back Ken’s childhood friend, love interest was the big dramatic turn and it’s once again clear that the show will continue proudly as the harem anime, in that Ken will bring it up every episode. I still adore how the show wears its heart on its sleeves and the quick paced comedy hasn’t dulled. It just never reached that same high that the first season did.

Then again I could just be really biased because I really loved the first season that I’m just sad my high expectations weren’t really met. I don’t know? Help me out a bit those of you who watched it. Want to sound off on your thoughts?

From Academy Award winning director Señor Spielbergo comes a tale of a girl, and her tank.

Girls Und Panzer

Biggest surprise of the season? Yeah probably.

When I first heard about the show I thought to myself “Wow…They’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel here huh?” I mean c’mon! Moe-blob girls and tanks. Doesn’t take an intensive studio meeting to come with that concept. Still, it wasn’t bad nor was it lazy. The characters were way more entertaining than originally thought and they really went out to make the tank battles exciting. It was like finding a new sports team to root for, it was great. Actually, I think that’s what surprised me the most is that realization that this was sort of a sports anime. Yeah, that was a surprise. National teams going into battle with tanks? Pretty much.

This was just girls and tanks and the show didn’t venture that far from this concept. The characters were all national stereotypes that would appeal to the Hetalia fans out there and there is enough jargon in here for military nerds as well…I think? I don’t know, like Upotte!! before it I’m not much of a firearms guy so a lot of this military stuff flew over my head a bit. I’m a bit disappointed that I have to wait 2 months to actually see the final battle but up until now the journey has been worth it.

Also this,

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jftmXemXzKU[/youtube]

                        

Well there you have it. I hope you understand I was joking about our Winter Thoughts, they’ll be out soon.

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