Saturday, January 31, 2015

Madan no Ou to Vanadis Review


Madan no Ou to Vanadis Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers. If you wish not to know some events in the story, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please leave the page, since I don't want to damage a watching experience for you.

With that said, thank you, and onto the review:

And here we have another Fall show from late last year. And one of my first fantasy animes at that, which was rather interesting.

Fantasy is a genre that has been shown to me a bit. If you can include Rainbow Magic, some bits of the Harry Potter movies, and mentions of stories to count as much. There's also Game of Thrones, but we all know how that show is. Blood, nudity, blood, and more blood. Don't forget the Red Wedding! So basically, it's too mature for me.

While I was watching this show though, I read a fantasy debut called Snow Like Ashes, which was one of my favorite 2014 YA debuts I've read. It was very descriptive, I liked all of the main characters, and the set-up was really fascinating.

When I first heard about this anime, I thought: "Hello there stereotypical harem. I can see that you probably are going to have a lot of fanservice. I don't think I'll survive most of this show, but I'm going to get hella bored." Looking at PVs did seem as if the show wasn't going to run on the Fanservice Express, but I could still see some bits and pieces here and there. Some parts of the story sounded interesting too.

So, I was expecting this:



But what I actually got was an anime filled with a lot of excitement and intrigue. The main story was nice, the characters were well featured for the most part (expect some of the other war maidens), and the animation was pretty nice.

However, the show did tackle some problems in the road. Some parts of the show are confusing, fanservice is sometimes pulled in unnecessarily, the villains are all pretty weak in character development, and characters don't always get equal treatment. But that doesn't mean it was a bad series by any means. The show does manage to get a lot of things right, even through its slip-ups.

Let's explore the story now.

Story

The main setting of Madan no Ou to Vanadis takes place in a parallel universe of Europe in the past. Europe is split into 5 kingdoms, being Asvarre, Sachstein, Brune, Zhcted, and Muozinel. And no, you sadly do not get a chance to visit all of the countries. Some enemies do appear from some of these kingdoms, but our 7 war maidens come from Zhcted, which is a key military power.

Our story begins when the Count Tigrevurmud Vorn (Tigre for short), from the town of Alsace in Brune, meets the war maiden Eleonora Viltaria after the Zhcted invasion of Brune. She takes him back to her home city of Leitmeritz, and decides to hold up for ransom against his kingdom. We then go to a dream of Tigre's before this whole battle, only for it to be interrupted by Eleonora's bodyguard Limalisha, when she shoves a sword down his mouth. She lets Tigre know about his situation, and brings him to Eleonora to talk with him. Eleonora then realizes the ransom that she set up was far high, and that Brune wouldn't be able to pay it.

This whole ransom thing, being that if Brune doesn't pay the ransom Tigre will be forever by her side, is forgotten in about a couple of episodes.

After Duke Thenardier's son strikes Tigre's city, Tigre wishes to go but Eleonora stops him at the gate. After telling her that he'll need her army, Eleonora agrees, but with a price. She will now rule Alsace by her own hand. After they succeed in getting Zion out, it's now time to defeat Duke Thernardier since he's bad. With other war maidens, Tigre's personal maid Titta (emphasis on Tit for the fanservice junkies out there), and other members of Eleonora's army plus more along on the way, it's a fantasy adventure.

The story for this anime actually happens to move very well in the first 3 episodes. It set up some good backstory, we had a lot of development for Eleonora (though not childhood), and we get to meet a lot of characters, leading up to Zion's defeat.

Past that, the story still remains to be really interesting. However, this anime doesn't have a simple story, like Lucky Star. This anime has a complex story, and it requires a lot of attention in order you don't miss anything. I realized this right away, and yet this anime still had some confusing moments in some of its battles. My main problem with the story is how the battles play out. The villains for the most part are poorly written into the fight, making their reason to fight non-apparent until later, or never. Some characters are thrown into the story without an explanation, such as Duke Thenardier's second in command, Steid. Steid doesn't appear until the battle in the cavern in Episode 12, and all you know is that he works for Thenardier. I didn't have any clue he was his second in command until I looked it up. Hell, I don't even think he appeared in any earlier episodes.

Duke Genelon, who is Thenardier's rival, also suffers from poor writing, but to a lesser extent. Beyond that though, the story is still pretty good, and is unique for a fantasy anime.

Characters

I'm going to go over a few characters again today. Sometimes, there's cases where there are a few characters that make an impact in the story, and I have enough things to talk about them with. This show is one of them.

Let's start with Tigre:

Tigrevurmud Vorn (it's easier to remember him as Tigre) is our main protagonist of the anime, and is the Count of Alsace.  In his free time, he enjoys hunting, as well as being an archer. A damn good one at that in battle. I can see why his skills are so useful. I don't think I've ever seen so many arrows to the head in an anime ever. You learn something new every day.

After he is asked to lead an army in the Battle of Dinant, his army is defeated by Eleonora before she captures him and takes him back to her home city. This is where she becomes impressed at his skills when an assassin tries to kill her during training, where he is given an inferior weapon.

His main weapon of choice is the Black Bow, a bow that is passed down through his ancestors. He is able to shoot arrows at a quick speed, because he can reload fairly quickly. If he uses Eleonora's weapon Arifar, he is able to do more with the bow, such as fire a powerful arrow or open gates.

Overall, Tigre was a very nice main character, and was a nice addition into the non stereotypical anime male protagonists. He's smart, knows how to use his archer skills well, and he doesn't become a mega pervert or get embarrassed easily as do normal anime males do nowadays. It's nice, because I'm tried of so many generic protagonists, and Issei. Even though Issei isn't all bad, he's started the trend in which the harem protagonists are all perverts.

Now onto Eleonora:


Eleonora is our first war maiden introduced into the story, one of the six maidens (out of seven, you only get to meet six, and some not for very long) of Zhcted. She is the ruler of Leitmertiz, the city where she takes Tigre, and is also the leader of their army. Her weapon is the Dragon Gear longsword Arifar, and having mastered it, she is able to use it for majority of her abilities. She can use the power of the wind to cut down through shields, helms, armors, and even dragons!

Other than her great combat abilities, she is also a great fighter with her army and has defeated superior armies by using any additional forces her army has. This makes for some pretty good wins. She is accompanied by appearances of her pet Black dragon named Lunie, a pet that another war maiden Sofya is very fond of.

Eventually in time, she starts to fall for Tigre, but this show doesn't go "OMG TIME TO MAKE A HAREM SO THAT THE VIEWERS CAN GET PISSED OFF AS HELL AND NOT FOCUS ON OUR MAIN STORYLINE AT HAND!" Highschool DXD New, I'm looking at you. *scowls*

Overall, Eleonora was a better female main lead that I could enjoy. She's respectable, gets the job done, a little bit flirtatious, and just full of energy. It's very refreshing, and she was my favorite character out of the anime.

Next up, Ludmila:


Ludmila, or just simply Mila, is the second war maiden we meet in the series. She is the ruler of Olm├╝tzm, a snowy area with its whereabouts unknown. She is a pro at fighting in defensive battle, and Eleonora does admit that she's the best at them. Eleonora and Ludmila share a rivalry due to the fact that Ludmila's family has an alliance with Thenardier, and also due to the fact that Eleonora occasionally pokes fun at Ludmila's height and breasts. These arguments end when another person intervenes, shown once to be Sofya and another to be Alexandra.

Her Dragon Gear has been passed down through generations in her family, rather then being chosen by the Dragon Gear at random. She became a Vanadis after her mother died when she was 14, and acts a bit antagonistic. But however, she starts to warm up to Tigre after he disguises as a huntsman out in the snowy woods to spy on her. He sees another side to her, and later gains her trust. After this, she declares her neutrality in the civil war of Brune. 

Her Dragon Gear is Lavias, a short spear that is capable of manipulating ice. It can summon thousands of ice shards, can create a wall of ice, changing the weather to winter, and it has the potential to slay a dragon. It's also good for impaling people with ice shards. :D

Ludmila is okay as a main character. I do like some aspects of her personality, but she's a bit too stereotypical for me to like. I think she was a bit more original in the development department, but she at least has some unique qualities

Sofya's the last main character to talk about:




Sofya is the ruler of Polesia, and is 20 years old. She is a motherly figure to some of the Vanadis, and acts as a mediator during fights. She has the show's biggest assets, so plus for males who love big boobs.

Sofya dislikes violence, and tries to uphold her role in order to take care of her fellow Vanadis from unnecessary conflict. Elen considers her the best Vanadis at politics, and for finding out new information. She is often asked to find out which Vanadis have alliances with our two evil dukes, and how strong they are.

Sofya's Dragon Gear is a golden staff called Zaht. Though its appearance doesn't necessarily seem a dangerous weapon, it actually has an immense ability that can also function as a energy shield that can repel almost any weapon, though not all. Her powers are light based, as seen in Episodes 6 and 7.

I liked Sofya. She's one of those characters that has to make sure that the Vanadis are in line, and not brawling with each other. I think she did a great job at also finding out information, and helping out Eleonora and Tigre when they had to escape from the Black Knight Ronald. I think she could have spared a bit more development wise, but I still think she's a great character.

The other Vanadis don't show up as much. Alexandra, or as Eleonora likes to call her, Sasha is only present for one episode. Elizaveta also faces this same problem. Valentina appears more than the last two, but it's not confirmed what she does. She seems antagonistic, but what's her goal? Appear by Tigre's bedside, and he somehow starts groping her boobs? (BTW, the censoring for this was horrendous) She doesn't really make any involvement, which is a bit of a shame.

The villains in this show have another problem. Minus Zion and Ronald, all of them are too similar to each other. Most of them rely on stereotypes to get the job done, while other villains don't have a clear goal in mind. It's a little sad, and also can be confusing.

Other characters include Tigre's personal maid (Titta, emphasis on the you know. *winks*), Tigre's general, the Court of Aude, Eleonora's second in command, a knight who shaves his head in respect for Tigre in saving his life, the king of Zhcted, the leader of the Navarre Knights, Tigre's late father, the king of Brune, the Viscount of Territoire, his son, the princess of the Brune kingdom, the prime minister of Brune, Thenardier's second in command, the forgettable main villains in the Muozinel Army, and the Thenardier fortuneteller.

Yeesh, that was a mouthful.


Animation

The animation for this series was done by the studio Satelight, most known for co-animating the first 175 episodes of Fairy Tail, the first season of Log Horizon, and Aquarion Evol.

The animation for this series came as a decent surprise for me. Compared to the new animation that A1 and Bridge are doing for the new episodes of Fairy Tail, that tanks compared to this. The animation just looks really good for this series. The backgrounds, the character designs, and hey! The blood actually is realistic in this show, unlike the first two episodes of Akame ga Kill and the earlier episodes of Bleach.

The highlight for me are the battles. During a battle, the narrator talks about strategies that the army takes, as well as plans made by the villains. It is stylized like a game of chess, but on a map. This animation looks really cool, and I was taken away by it when it was first seen in Episode 3.

Fanservice wise, this show is pretty tame. Besides a couple boob boings, and partial nudity, it isn't too bad as other shows. I would say the most suggestive part of the show is where Lim gets bit by a snake on the edge of her right breast, and Tigre has to suck out the venom. This is played pretty seriously, unlike other blushing messes.

Though there are some model issues, the animation doesn't defer a lot, which is always great.


Sound

The score for this series was composed by Masaru Yokoyama, and Nobuaki Nobusawa. Masaru Yokoyama is most famous for his scores for Freezing and the Queens Blade franchise. Nobuaki Nobusawa didn't do any scores up to October 2014, so this is his first composition credit.

It's a average score. There are some good battle pieces, and light-hearted ones as well, but it doesn't do anything to stand out on its own. Maybe I'm just listening to too many of these same types of scores, I don't know.

The opening and ending are both really good though. It gets you excited for the adventures to come, and get relaxed after a cliffhanger that leaves you on your seat. Or something else.

Overall, the voice work for this series is pretty well done. Some seiyuus were new to me, as I heard their voices for the first time. Other seiyuus I had heard before, but they played with their voice a little bit, showing off more range. That is always a good thing.

Highlights include Kaito Ishikawa, Sumire Uesaka, Ryohei Kimura, Nobuo Tobita, Haruka Tomatsu, Mariya Ise, Ai Kayano, Yu Kobayashi, Hitomi Harada, Yuka Iguchi, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Hiroki Tochi, Yukiyo Fujii, and Kenji Hamada, 

Verdict

This show was actually a decent surprise. Instead of getting a show that was very boring like I was expecting, I got a show that was exciting, interested me to the very end, and had good main characters. 

Weaknesses do lie in its storytelling at certain points, unoriginal and forgettable villains, some off-puts in animation, and in score. But, this is still a decent fantasy series with a sprinkle of fanservice that fans could enjoy.

Score: 7.5/10

Positives:

Unique story.

Great main characters.

Good animation.

Very interesting world.

Surprising overall.  

Negatives:

Show fails at some aspects of storytelling.

Villains either cliched or forgettable.

Score isn't the best.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Senran Kagura Review


Senran Kagura Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers. If you wish not to know some events in the story, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please leave the page, since I don't want to damage a watching experience for you.

With that said, thank you, and onto the review:

Well, here we are. Another review, another fanservice anime. You think I would get tired by these now, but that's not the case. Fanservice isn't too bad, not unless the series does manage to have a decent story, and fanservice doesn't try to crawl into parts of the plot. 

Although sometimes, fanservice just isn't my cup of tea, when it's paired with a weak story, unforgettable characters, and the use of a 12 year old for showing more boobs and panties. Thanks goodness that this show has no bare breasts.

I've heard about this show for 2 years, after first seeing Suzuko Mimori have a role in the show on Behind The Voice Actors. I did have a feeling that this show was a fanservice one right off the bat, but I didn't know how extreme it would be. With FUNimation's flashy trailer, and my overall interest rating going up, I hoped that this series could end up actually being good.

Flash forward to Christmas Day, and I get a call from my friend who got the series for Christmas. He asked me if I wanted to watch it, and I didn't refuse.

What did we get?

This anime actually surprised me, as I thought it was going to be bad. However, it was actually pretty good. I did like how the anime immediately set us up with the story, the main characters were all developed as well as the rival girls and the final episodes are pretty good, 

Of course, I knew this anime wouldn't be perfect. The story is a bit too generic, Hibari is literally USELESS AS S**T (I'll discuss this later), the rival girls are at first poorly developed and are stuck up for being stuck up, and the main villain. OH MY GOD!

But let's get to the story of this anime. Yeah, this anime has a story. How surprising!


Story

Our story begins when our main character Asuka returns from a shinobi test that she barely passed. on the boat ride back, she meets a girl named Homura, and re-encounters her later while on a mission. Once she arrives back to Hanzo Academy with funny narration in check, we meet her 4 other classmates named Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyu, and Hibari. After their sensei Kiriya trains them for a little bit, they are all sent out on a mission. Delinquents have been reported in the city, and the girls have to deal with them. Once they are defeated. the girls realize that all of them were wooden dolls. Asuka also get in on the action as she was showing Homura around town. But, Homura is actually an evil ninja.

So, brief synopsis. Hanzo = good, and Hebijo = bad.

After we see a bit of the evil ninja school, the good ninjas have to train a bit more in order to be on the top of their game. But when Hebijo invades Hanzo, and when Hakura gives Hibari an earring, things really get heated. When Hakura brain-washes Hibari with the earring so that the Super Secret Ninja Scroll Yang can be obtained, Hibari decides to go to Hebijo as she feels her friends won't forgive her, and to try and find a way to get the scroll back. Since she needs to do something useful in this show.

Now, it's time to rescue Hibari. But how will the girls stop a stereotypical as f**k villain who is Hebijo's headmaster, from combining the two Super Secret Ninja Scrolls of Yin and Yang?

Overall, the story for Senran Kagura isn't going to win any awards for its originality. The plot does happen to range through some cliches, mainly to due with the fact of good vs. evil. At the beginning, the show feels as if it's relying on good old fashioned tropes just to reach the halfway point. 

The villains in the beginning are poorly developed as well. You get to see at least parts of the main 5's backstories, but you don't get to see the villains until the end. At first, most of them were very one-dimensional for me, but after they were developed, you could get behind them a bit more, and possibly have a bit more sympathy to the characters you used to hate.

The last 2 episodes manage to redeem the show in some way. The mood, instead of being a little light hearted, is more serious and action packed. This made me treat the show seriously, and there wasn't a lot of comedy to get annoyed by. You also find out the backstories for all of the villains (the main 5), so that works as well.

I'm going to move on to the characters:


Characters

For this review, I will be focusing on the two major groups of 5 at the rival schools. I'll start off with Hanzo, and then go on to Hebijo.



The shinobi at Hanzo consist of 1 second year (Asuka), two third years (Ikaruga and Katsuragi), and two first years (Hibari and the prodigy Yagyu).

Asuka is our main character of the series. At the beginning of the first episode, she is shown at her ninja promotion exam, in which she barely passed. She is the granddaughter of a legendary shinobi named Hanzo, and wants to follow in her grandfather's footsteps. While mainly upbeat, she has a incredible fear of frogs, and freaks whenever one leaps on her. However, she loses her fear later on in Episode 3, and the frog is also her family's summoned animal. 

Ikaruga is very mature and takes her duty of being a ninja seriously. However, she can sometimes lose her composure. She was adopted into a family with a line of successful ninjas. Her adoptive father's son wasn't able to pass on the bloodline, thus causing her to use her katana that her adoptive father gave to her. Her summoning animal is a phoenix.

Katsuragi is very enthusiastic and bubbly. She also is a pervert, as she loves to fondle Asuka's breasts. You'll know it the minute you see it in Episode 1 though, as she will do it again multiple times throughout the series. She's fighting to re-establish the honor of her family, as they ran away without their daughter after losing a mission. Her summoning animal is a dragon.

Hibari is very sweet as well as cute (according to Haruka), but she is quite clumsy, and can be childish. It is also noted that she can't do jack. While I did like her attempts at getting back the scroll or eavesdropping on certain conversations at Hebijo, she can't do a dime in fights. It always goes down to Yagyu saving her, or helping her out, because she is literally useless on the battlefield. Her summoning animal is a bunny.

Yagyu is a ninja prodigy, At first, she was very off in her own place, and wouldn't accept the others as her friends, expect for Hibari. She vows that she will be Hibari's protector, due to the fact that her little sister looked like Hibari. After she died in a car accident, Yagyu felt bad that she couldn't help her. But after meeting Hibari, she supports her, and always helps her in battle. Her summoning animal is a squid.

Overall, the girls of Hanzo are all equally developed, and have a unique personality trait about them. The only one I had problems with was Hibari, because she can't fight and has to rely on Yagyu to save her every single time.

Now onto the girls at Hebijo:


Staring at this plate of food like it's SOOOOO magical. Are those barbecued ribs? Magic? Pictures of my favorite anime characters? Who knows.

At first, the majority of the 5 main girls at Hebijo start as one-dimensional. Mainly Haruka and
Yomi, but their backstories do change my mind a little. Homura is a second year, and Mirai is a first year. The rest are unknown (at least in the anime), though we can assume that Yomi is a second year.

Homura is the rival to Asuka, and is first introduced as a normal girl. However, it is later revealed that she is a evil ninja. She was supposed to enroll in Hanzo Academy, but she had to kill someone in self defense. Which is a problem, since Hanzo doesn't accept any dirty records.

Haruka is the scientist of the group, and is the rival of Hibari. She is most known for creating puppets, making them look like humans even though they are actually wooden dolls. She uses the sleeves of her lab coats to fight, and stores a lot of chemical vials in the coat as well. In her past, she was used as a dress-up doll by her mother, due to her father having multiple affairs. She wants Hibari because well.......

Hikage is a snake-like girl who rarely shows any emotion, and is the rival of Katsuragi. She was raised in the streets to be a killing machine, and was told that showing emotion would make her weak. She fights with various knives that she sometimes licks.

Yomi is a girl who seems poised and mature, but actually has a darker side inside of her. She is addicted to bean sprouts, and is the rival to Ikaruga. She hates rich kids in general due to the fact that she was poor. She lived a harsh life, and after seeing Ikaruga on TV, she wonders how lucky her life is. Because of her parents passing away shortly after, she hates all rich kids and thinks they are all obnoxious. YAY! STEREOTYPING! She fights with a sword.

Mirai is the smallest girl in the group, and is the rival of Yagyu. At her old school, she was constantly bullied, and joined Hebijo to fight against those who teased her. However, like Hibari, Mirai can't really fight. She at least shows more potential than Hibari ever does, but what she shows is pretty weak.

Other characters include the headmaster of Hebijo (AKA is cliched as hell and wishes to take over the world. OMG haven't seen that one before), Hanzo's ninja teacher, Asuka's grandfather, and Hebijo's ninja teacher.
Animation

The animation for this series was done by Animation Studio Artland, which is a side studio of Artland, who are known for Reborn, Demon King Daimao, and Mushishi.

Overall, this animation is actually pretty good. There aren't too many moments that are done poorly, but it isn't eye-catching or amazing. It's pretty good in not going too outside the box too.

The fanservice in this show isn't horrendous, as they show no nipples. Yeah, there is a lot of boob jiggles, partial nudity, and panties. But NO NIPPLES! Anyone who is mature enough to watch a fanservice might go with this one, as it isn't the worst in terms of showing bare boobs.

Sound

The score for this series was composed by Ruka Kawada, who has also composed the scores of Kanojo ga Flag o Orareta, Kiniro + Mosaic, and Katteni Kaizo.

Overall, the score for this series was pretty kick-ass when it got to being dramatic. A lot of the track pieces use cymbals, and sound very classic and interesting. My favorite piece throughout the series is one that is used for tense moments, and I remember it being used (besides a lot in the series) in the final episode of the show when the girls realize that the headmaster at Hebijo is their main target.

The opening for this show is fantastic, and had me pumped to watch more episodes of the show. All of the endings are nice, with the one sung by the villains being the most forgettable. And Hitomi Harada's obviously being the best.

I watched this show in its English dub, as I found the first few episodes to have very funny scripts, and not take the show as seriously as the original Japanese does. However, Monica Rial manages not only be kick ass as Homura in the dub, but also is great at aiming for the show's serious side. Plus, they made a reference to Debbie Downer, which is awesome.

Highlights in the show's original Japanese (so far) are Hitomi Harada, Yu Kobayashi, Yuka Iguchi, Kenji Fujiwara, Ryoko Shirashi, and Suzuko Mimori.

Highlights in the English dub are Felecia Angelle, Alexis Tipton, Brittney Karbowski, Bryn Appril, Martha Harms, Monica Rial, Teri Rogers, Kara Edwards, Lara Woodhull, and Lydia Mackay.

 Verdict

This show isn't the best out there for people who are looking for an original story. It's a good anime for what it is, and I did enjoy it for the most part. 

I recommend this show for people who want a tame fanservice series, stories that have some character growth, love funny scripts in English dubs, or looking for a fun show for a couple of hours.

Score: 8/10

Positives:

Somewhat interesting story.

Great main characters.

Good animation.

Kick-ass final episodes.

Funny, but can be serious English dub.

Nice score.

Negatives:

Main villain is a stereotypical douchebag.

Some parts to the show's story are a bit cliched.

Rival 5 girls start off as one-dimensional.

Hibari is weak as f**k.




Friday, January 16, 2015

No Game No Life Review


No Game No Life Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers. If you wish not to know some events in the story, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please leave the page, since I don't want to damage a watching experience for you.

With that said, thank you, and onto the review:

Ah, look what we have here. Possibly one of the most hyped shows of 2014. I've heard of the show only once before I knew it was premiering in the spring, and when I kept on looking, I saw  a lot of people easily saying how fantastic this anime was. I noted that maybe I should watch this show in the future, and put it onto my to watch list.

I did have some worries before going into this. That an over-used seiyuu was voicing another lead male, there might be a little too much fanservice in this show for me to handle, and that I was afraid I wasn't going to like it as much as other people.

So what did happen in the end?

I'm going to get this straight off the bat: This show is pretty epic.

Though there are a few issues with it in general, there was a whole lot of gold inside. The characters, the story, the animation. There was a lot to like in this series, and I'm glad I figured it out.

Let's go into the story now. Are you ready to hear about it?


Story

Brother and adopted sister Sora and Shiro are a gaming team known as Blank. In online games, Blank is unbeatable, and have a ton of wins under their belt. One day after a massive game, a god from another reality named Tet challenges them to chess. When they win, Tet offers them a chance to live in a world where games decide everything. When they accept, they are sucked away into a world known as Disboard.

In Disboard, conflicts are solved by playing games. With it comes 10 pledges, in which all people in Disboard must follow in order to assure the world to be violence free. Once Shiro and Sora arrive, they stay true to their alias, and do their best to make sure they don't lose. After winning a game that decides the king of Elkia, both Sora and Shiro become king together, and this gives them the right to challenge the other 15 nations. But they have a ultimate goal in mind: to one day challenge Tet himself.

The story for this anime was very fascinating. The system in which the world runs on is a great solution to solve conflicts without violence. The rivals that the brother and sister duo play against all have different personalities, which works really well.

The only episode in which I had a problem with was the end of Episode 8 and 9. Sora disappears all of a sudden, but further on in the episode, we find out why he's gone, as he is playing a game with Kurami that sadly I forget the title to. But the beginning of this episode is incredibly weird, as Stephanie and Jibril automatically forget that Sora ever existed, which got me really confused. I do like how this whole event was explained later on, but I still found it a little off compared to the rest of the show.

Let's now go to characters:


Characters

The main characters in No Game No Life are all very diverse. Some of them are instantly likable right off the bat, but others might take a little while to warm up to.

We'll begin with the brother and sister duo:


Sora is 18, while Shiro is 11. Both of them each have their own strengths as to why they have countless game wins under their belts. Sora is great at strategies and cold readings, while Shiro excels at calculations and just pure logic.

The two are most known in the gaming world as Blank, which stands for the spaces in their in-game names. Both of them are undefeated, and they both drive to win every game they can.

Since you know, Blank never loses!

Some people will possibly get annoyed due to the fact that Blank must win every game they compete in. At first, this seem a bit odd to me, as they both strive to not lose each game, just because of their motto. However, you can see why they happen to win most games, even by a hair. Sora often calculates enemies' weaknesses or cheats that they preform. And it's really entertaining for Sora to admit these with all but a grin on his face.

I found Sora and Shiro to both be very likable characters. They are very intelligent, and I would be super afraid to play against them. Sora is a great game player who can understand opponent's cheats, as well as trick them with such skill and procession.

I know of some users on MyAnimeList who have put either of these two on their favorite characters list. And it's easy to see why.

Stephanie's turn:



Stephanie is the granddaughter of Elkia's previous king, a king who was believed to be very foolish. However, this king was actually very smart, especially with the Eastern Federation. But I shouldn't spoil that for you.

While Stephanie does know a lot about games, she lacks a lot of intuition to play them. She also normally loses. Stephanie strives to help Elkia thrive due to her grandfather's "foolishness", and for them to regain her grandfather's honor, as well as humanity's. 

After Sora and Shiro win against Kurami and become co kings, Stephanie becomes their assitant and helps with Elkia's politics. After they find hidden journals of her grand-father, Shiro and Sora now have help to win against the other species.

Beside this, Stephanie is also used for some pretty good comic relief. I like her character, but I felt that she wasn't the strongest. Sometimes, she was used too much for a punching bag, and less goes towards her development.

However, when she fired the final shot in the game against The Eastern Federation. NAILED IT!

Finally, Jibril:



Jibril is a Flugel, which are a special angelic race known for ruthlessness of Tet's rules. Though Jibril is over 6,000 years old she is actually the youngest out of her species. Also include the fact that she's the most powerful out of the Flugels.

Jibril first appears in Episode 6 when Sora and Shiro challenge her to a game of Shiritori. When she loses, she is asked to give up Elkia's library where some useful information can be found, and teams up with the other main characters. She is useful for providing magic, as well as transportation.

I think Jibril is my favorite character in the anime. Not only does she have a really cool design and is a very unique creature in this anime, she also has some great moments of comedy. There were some moments in the series where she just made me LOL. I think that she was well developed, and she can be a great help, especially with some information on the Eastern Federation.

Other characters include Kurami, her elf friend Fil, the eight year old leader of the Eastern Federation, her grandfather, the shrine mistress of the Federation, the previous king of elkia in flashbacks, and the god of this whole entire world, Tet.


Animation

The animation for this series was done by Madhouse, who are also known for Highschool Of The Dead, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Trigun.

One thing that you've probably noticed by now from this series is how colorful it is. The character designs, the settings, literally everything is vibrant, bright, and overall has a lot of substance to it. The people behind the animation really put their hard effort into making this series stand out from the crowd, and it shows.

I also didn't notice a lot of errors, but there was some fanservice revolving Shrio that viewers have complained about. I don't think they shown it off as bad as *COUGHCOUGHAsiaCOUGHCOUGH* but it still is a bit weird.


Sound

The score for this series was composed by Super Sweep, which is made up of a group of composers. This is their first anime score they've done together.

There was a lot of electronic elements to the score, just to give the people who hate that kind of music a heads up. I didn't care though, since I LOVE anything electronic. The group manages to actually mix elements very well, such as electronically based beats, along with various other instruments. It was super fun to groove out with the various score pieces.

And the opening. WURK!

Voice wise, it's pretty well casted. Though Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is cast as yet another lead role, he does better here as Sora showcases a lot of his range. It's nice seeing him not doing a stereotypical role for once. Yoko Hikasa sounds super cute as Stephanie, and Miyuki Sawashiro (SLAY!) keeps her awesome regime as Izuna, though it isn't her best role.

Highlights include Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Ai Kayano, Yoko Hikasa, Yukari Tamura, Naomi Shindo, Miyuki Sawashiro, Mamiko Noto, and Rie Kugimiya.

Verdict

I somewhat regret not watching this show earlier. But at the same time, I'm glad that I watched this as shows to watch into the beginning of the new year. It had a lot of things I like in a good anime. Fantastic story, great characters, funny scenes, and it will have a lasting impact on me.

If you haven't watched this anime yet, I highly recommend you to. I think a lot of viewers will find something to love from it.

Score: 9.5/10

Positives:

Interesting story.

Great characters.

Fantastic comedy.

Amazing animation.

Awesome voice cast.

Good score.

Negatives:

Sora and Shiro's way of gaming may annoy some viewers who hate perfect characters.

The beginning of Episode 9.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gugure Kokkuri-san Review


Gugure Kokkuri-san Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers. If you wish not to know some events in the story, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please leave the page, since I don't want to damage a watching experience for you.

With that said, thank you, and onto the review:

A lot of people know that I'm quite a sucker for comedy. It's my favorite genre in the shows I watch and the books I read. There are great comedies out there in the world, such as 2 Broke Girls, Lucky Star, Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, and random Youtubers. But of course we have the bad ones in a little corner, such as My Bride is a Mermaid, or known as my least favorite anime show that I would love to burn in a fire.

This show was a definite watch when the Fall anime season was upon the horizon. It gave me Kamisama Kiss vibes with spirits, and promised fantastic comedy. If this was the only show that I liked out of the Fall lineup, I would have still watched it in a heartbeat.

Let's just say, I wasn't disappointed.

Despite being based off of a four-panel manga, this show is very enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny. Every episode at least had me laughing super hard my sides started hurting, and there was super fun plot elements.

I feel like I need an OVA, because I'm already missing this series to death.

Let's go back, back to the beginning. For our story that is.

Story

Kohina is an emotionless elementary school student who claims that she is a doll. She spends her days not doing much, and eats cup noodles every single meal of the day. But one night, she plays the game Kokkuri by herself, and manages to summon the real deal: the fox spirit Kokkuri-san. 

At first, Kokkuri-san decides to haunt her, but after noticing her unhealthy eating habits (with cup noodles), he decides to become her guardian and watch over her. This includes cooking, cleaning, and often hiding Kohina's cup noodles.

Along the way, a couple more spirits join the household, and other characters are met along the way. A cat spirit who LOVES dolls as much as Keigo's older sister loves Ikkaku, and a "bully" to Kohina who teases her by putting flowers on her desk every day. With situations such as a spirit whose looks could be deceiving, and gender bending spells, things are about to get wacko!

The story mainly had a slice-of-life feel to it, but since it's based off of a four-panel comic, I don't really think that's a bad thing. At least most episodes have a central focus, such as Kohina finding a Cyclops, Kokkuri-san stressing out about losing hair, and the magical fantastic water of youth. All of these story lines were actually pretty good, and I loved how entertaining they could be.

The latter half of the show often had more episode based stories than the first half did. Though the first half is a bit more random, I still found the comedy to be really enjoyable, and that didn't let me down throughout the series.

Character time!


Characters

There aren't too many characters in this series to keep track of, unlike another fall show I watched called Madan no Ou to Vanadis (Lord Marksman and Vanadis). There's a clear set on which are the main characters. and who are the side.

Let's start with Kohina.


Kohina is an elementary school girl who claims that she is a doll. She lives by herself despite her age, and loves her signature cup noodles. Even despite her claims to be a doll, there are rare moments in the show where her face starts to look more human-like. Though this doesn't happen very often, it still is a nice reminder that Kohina isn't completely robotic.

In her main state, Kohina is emotionless. She rarely cracks any emotion, and her smiles often end up looking like a disaster area. The reason why she claims to be a doll revolves on the fact that she can't make regular emotions like others. 

Her obsession with cup noodles doesn't have a explanation. However, she adores them to death. She even has some limited edition varieties hidden in the cupboards. However, Kokkuri-san disapproves for her eating just cup noodles, and often hides them from her. This doesn't stop her from eating them while he's away, hence the GIF above.

Overall, Kohina was a great main character, and was much different from other emotionless characters I've seen before. Most often they don't have personality, yet Kohina does. I found her very interesting, and just fun overall.

Now onto the legendary Kokkuri-san:


Kokkuri-san is a fox spirit who is the first lovely spirit to enter the Ichimatsu household. He has actually known her for a while, occasionally seeing her as she visited the remains of his shrine from time to time. After simply haunting her, he realizes her not so well-being, and decides to help her out.

He is a older spirit, and often gets stressed when his age is joked around. In the first half of episode 9, he becomes so stressed that his hair begins to fall, though it's later confirmed to be shedding season. He often uses dye in his fox fur, in order to make it fluffy.

IT'S SO FLUFFY!

Kokkuri-san often gets annoyed by the other twov spirits in the house, and when the youth water comes into place, he just becomes so stressed that he takes after a day of taking care of the newly young Inugami and Shigaraki.

What's interesting about Kokkuri-san is that in most parts, he plays the overly protective guardian who makes sure our main character is safe. He has a little more depth to him, and can actually be nice and respectable. The funniest moment through-out the series is when a curse turns him into a girl. He worries about being in a girl's form forever, This does vulnerability in Kokkuri-san's character, and is very different in what is expected,

Inugami's turn:


Inugami is a dog spirit, and simply adores Kohina as she was the only one to take care of him-her-it while still a dog. When it died, Inguami was desperate to find Kohina, and has become deeply obsessed her to the point where it becomes completely creepy. Think of multiple ways to try and stay with Kohnina, and dolls. LOTS of them.

Since Inugami doesn't known it's original gender, it has a male and a female form. Hence the it term I've been using these past few paragraphs. It doesn't matter though, since both forms are still deathly obsessed with Kohina. This leads to many arguments with Kokkuri-san.

Besides being really obsessed with Kohina, he can also be a bit obsessed to the point of using two guns if angered. So at least it's not one dimensional. But I would say Inugami is my least favorite out of the spirits. I don't think he gets really a lot of development, and just seems to obsessed with Kohina a bit too much. Too much so that it gets old.

Though I did find it funny when they purposely forgot him until the end of Episode 10 after he ran away in Episode 9, due to the other story-line.

Shigaraki's up now:


I don't condone smoking, but how come it feels a bit more classy in anime? xxxHolic has Yuuko doing it fashionably, and it's shown here a bit since Kokkuri-san sometimes smokes with a pipe. It isn't too common in anime, considering I've seen it in a lot of places where I live. When you go out of a restaurant, it smells like fries. An hour later, it smells like cigarette smoke. But I'm getting off topic here.

Shigaraki is a tanuki spirit who is often very lazy. He is often longing around at home, drinking gallon upon gallon of alcohol in his spirit or human form. Kokkuri-san isn't really fond of him, as they used to be roommates in the past. Think of him as a NEET. His tanuki from used to be quite scary, however he made it cuter so people would really like him. In our world knowledge, that'd be re-tweets and billions of Facebook likes.

Though he mainly has rude behavior, he can show kindness. He visits an orphanage from time to time, that has kids from families he financially ruined. He also decides to kill the Cyclops spirit while Kohina sleeps, and leave him with a scar on his eye so that she wouldn't have to see him kill it.

Self sacrifice. It will always do something right.

Besides having a good side, he also is very interested in females. Mainly with Kokkuri-san and Inugami's female forms. He even kisses the female form of Kokkuri-san anyways, before the male form comes back. Unlike Alice The 19th, but anyways.

I really liked Shigaraki. I found him to be the funniest character in the anime with his tanuki tricks and sometimes covering for Kohina by dressing as her. this joke never got old in the anime at all. Though he may seem like a stereotypical drunk hard and pervert at first, he does show that he can be caring, especially to Kohina.

I wished he turned into his human form in Episode 12 though. That would've been awesome.

Other characters include the cat spirit who has a fetish for cute dolls, Kohina's classmate who "bullies" her, another one of Kohina's classmates who might as well be an alien (and to parody a scene from E.T. with), a tengu spirit who loves little boys, and a ghost who was bound to a maple tree.

Animation

The animation for this series was done by TMS Entertainment, who are also known for animating Kamisama Kiss, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Bakugan.

Though Kamisama Kiss had a lot of extravagant backgrounds and character designs, this series has a bit more simplistic style. For me, it works rather well. Though it's not stunning, I still find it at least pretty good. 

Normally I almost never have complaints for animation. XD It's a recurring habit I guess.


Sound

The score for this series was composed by Hajime Hyakkoku, who is most known for composing the score for K-On. I don't really remember that series for it's score though, but the songs. Ahh, the songs.

Moving on from K-On, the score for this series was actually pretty good. At some parts, it can be a little bit generic, but there are some pieces that do manage to stand out from the rest.

There were some audio issues during the final episode during a Kohina and Kokkuri-san conversation, but besides that, the performances from all of the actors were really good. Ryo Hirahashi did surprisingly well at Kohina's monotone voice and not showing hardly any emotion. Daisuke Ono's voice entirely surprised me, as he sounded completely like Sebastian. And yes, this is where the fangirls start coming up and screaming.

The opening of this show is legit ear candy. I love how it's able to get the viewers into some sort of dance grove right before the episode begins. And the ending gives me so many feels. THE FEELS!

Highlight of the show include Ryo Hirahashi, Daisuke Ono, Ryoko Shiraishi, Chiwa Saito, Joji Nakata, Yukana, Hisako Kanemoto, Kazutomi Yamamoto, Kosuke Toriumi, and Rina Sato.

Verdict

I wasn't surprised that I ended up really liking this series. This is a example of how great comedy can work, and an ensemble can be quite good in the end. There is a reason why this is one of my favorite series. It has everything that I love, and doesn't have a lot of problems.

Sometimes, I really wish that most anime could be like this. However, we eventually have to realize that not all of anime is perfect. Some series are just okay, and then some are awful. At least this series didn't let me down.

I recommend this show to anyone in a bad mood, have nothing to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or who someone who like slice of life comedies.

Score: 10/10

Positives:

Great story.

Fun and engaging characters.

Simple, yet nice animation.

Interesting score.

Overall, has a lasting impact with viewer.

Negatives:

None major.