Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Long Awaited Update to End the Long Awaited Update (Part 2)

The Long Awaited Update to End the Long Awaited Update (Part 2)

Warning: The following post may contain spoilers of various anime series. If you wish not to know some details of the plots, or simply don't wish to find out about whatever happens at all, please exit the tab, and come join me once you've watched the first few episodes of each. But than again, if you want to take that warning with a grain of salt, feel free to stay put.

With that said:

Don't worry, you guys can all release the breath you've been holding for a while. I wasn't planning on leaving my update post alone with the first half of the year; there needed to be another to wrap everything up in a pretty little bow before my year-end list (there's only going to be one this year, since I haven't seen a lot of terrible anime aside from one show).

The second half of this year proved to be better for me. Not only was I able to get a few shows in with school starting. I also did a fun little project to pass the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas (as well as theater tech, because we had a large crew for our play, and to bridge the gap between the one show I watched by myself in November). I'll discuss it later once we get to the Fall section, but it was very fun and will provide more entertainment for other rewatches.

Speaking of rewatches, I should get on those. That backlog's not going anywhere at this point.

And no, Sky Wizards Academy, you aren't on that backlog.

Let's go back to the summer, where I managed to fit one more show in for the currently airing ones and experienced scorching temperatures and the blinding sun (or wait, was that September?):


You all already know I watched this series:

And you all already know I LOVED this series. But the other show I eventually followed after catching up with the broadcast (much like with the series above) was:

Hitorijime My Hero.

Everyone else right about now (or just Luke):

What? Okay, yes, this show had its issues. Standard BL issues, really. The side relationship, which involves Kensuke Ooshiba (the younger brother of Kousuke Ooshiba, who is one of the two in the couple here) and Asaya Hasekura, who have their arc covered in the spin-off manga (which came out in Japan before this one), Hitorijime Boyfriend. The staff of the anime cover both, with the first three episodes primarily focusing on the events of HB. The two were friends when they were young, and Kensuke regrets leaving off the way they did when Hasekura had to move.

The two reunite, and it's an unsettling start on the climb up Romance Hill. Not only is Hasekura immediately possessive (and it doesn't go away. He always liked Kensuke romantically since he was young, but still), he immediately proposes that the latter has two choices: either cut ties if Kensuke doesn't like him back, or sleep with him.

Yeah, no. If I were Kensuke, that'd be an immediate shut-down.

But the guy's still got his FEEEEEELINGS, WHOOOOOOOOAH! And after another icky moment (Hasekura gives himself five minutes to feel up Kensuke, which is GROSS), things turn sweet for them. They are cute, but let's be real here, the relationship would be better if Hasekura toned his sex drive down.

That doesn't mean the main relationship is free of problems either. After all, Kosuke refers to Masahiro Setagawa (who is Kensuke's best friend, and has had a crush on Kosuke, who is now a teacher at the school the two boys go to. So, yeah, some will be turned off by that among other things) as his wife/mistress a few times, because that's better than being called a boyfriend, right?

Thankfully, not all of the writers write that into the episodes. But most of them do. Ah, yaoi. These possessive traits and thinking that if a male partner isn't dominant, he is in a sense a female haven't gotten old whatsoever.

But outside of that, the dramatic angst towards the end, and the at sometimes awkward animation (Setagawa's running in Episode 10 will forever give me life), this was still a cute BL series that had its good moments in its story and character development. Once the series shifts over the to Hitorijime My Hero storyline, we get to see more of Kousuke and Setagawa's dynamic as it evolves and it's SO CUTE! Even though student and teacher relationships aren't morally just, the two have known each other for longer than the roles were established for them. It doesn't make it okay, but it does give them more weight.

The animation, outside of its slip-ups, is also fairly good, coming from Encourage Films, a studio who hasn't worked on any of the series I've watched outside of this one (though with We Love Rice, that should change). And we also have some great OST and voice acting as well, so the good things keep on rolling.

All in all, it wasn't a perfect series by any means, but it was still cute and fluffy and something I will get more cohesive thoughts on when I rewatch it in the future without the additional commentary of Luke. He didn't watch this, yet thinks he knows everything about it from reactions and GIF's. It can get pretty annoying.

The leaves are falling now. It's a sign for that one season we're all indifferent towards:


Whelp, I'm a high school senior now. This is awkward. I've almost spent my entire high school years with this blog to my name. LOOK HOW MUCH I'VE IMPROVED SINCE THEN!


But seriously. It's hard to look at some of my earlier reviews without cringing. But more practice equals improvement, in the end. And that applies to everything.

I didn't breeze through as many shows as I wanted, but eh, some are better than none, as they say. With winter break coming up, let's hope I can get a heavily anticipated series from this season started (even though I know too many spoilers for my liking, but YO, that one character is THICC) before 2017 is said and done.

Here are the anime I managed to see outside of the seasonals. Two of them have reviews, while the last show doesn't.

Classroom of the Elite, which despite a ton of pointless fanservice, managed to be a very interesting show with actual layers and depth. You can read the review here.

Diabolik Lovers' first season. Despite being a trainwreck complete with a few car crashes, it gave me a lot of entertainment to go along with it. You can read the review here.

Place to Place (also known as Acchi Kocchi).

Here's a slice-of-life series I've wanted to get to for a while! Back in junior high, I heard about this show through the magazine Otaku USA, and Luke decided to power through it since all of the episodes (minus the OVA, which is technically the final episode and felt more like one) were conveniently on YouTube, back before copyright laid its iron hand down and we had the knowledge that full anime episodes being on YouTube, unless uploaded by companies, was its own form of anime piracy. Oops.

And after finally watching it thanks to San Japan (Luke got his own copy), I'm glad I did. Compared to some of the other slice-of-life series I've seen, it wasn't as strong, but regardless, it still provided moments of cuteness. I liked Io and Tsumiki's relationship, Mayoi was an absolute gem, I am apparently a sadist if I kept on laughing at people getting hurt in ridiculous ways, and the animation and score were fitting enough for an anime like this one. It's nice to take a break from stories that have more grit to them and come to one where everything is sunshine and rainbows and you think, "Gee, why isn't my high school experience exactly like this? That'd be cool."

The weaker elements in this show come from the writing, which has the tendency to repeat jokes or state the obvious (I don't need three lines next to each other talking about how the sunrise is pretty), and characters that don't add a lot to the story (which is a shame, since it's a slice-of-life show, and that shouldn't be the case), but regardless, this was a heartwarming show that gave me a good amount of joy for the month and a half I spent with it. I give it an 8/10.

Now it's time to move on to the seasonals. One managed to stick with me and gave me a lot of feelings, while the other one gave me my first drop of the year. Let's get the latter out of the way first. You know who you are.

Yup, Dynamic Chord. This is all on you.

How to explain how underwhelming this anime was despite me being excited about it since it was first announced? Well, let me count the ways.

1. The writing is terrible. There's no other way around it. In the four episodes I watched, I couldn't even begin to count how many throwaway dialogue lines there were. It's pathetic how flimsy it all is. And the weird part is that the director has written for other stuff before.

There are two series composition writers credited for this series, one of them being Kyoko Katsuya. This is her first credit, at least according to ANN. She ended up writing Episode 4, which was bad, but she has time to improve if this show didn't completely destroy her cred.

But then we have Shigenori Kageyama. Kageyama's been in the anime business for a while, directing a few shows and obscure OVAs, writing for others, and designing a fair round-up of characters. His writing is also bad, and not just bad in "Ugh, there could be so much more to this," it's bad in, "Ugh, why does the episode feel like a two hour documentary and not like an actual anime episode?"

Which brings me to my next question: How the hell is this coming out of a person who has been in the industry for about THREE DECADES?! The dialogue and "plot" in this show make it seem like it's easily ripped from a horrid YA novel, or a horrid all ages fanfiction. There's no weight to this material at all, and there needs to be. I get that dialogue is supposed to move a story along, but if it has no meaning, then why have it at all?

I've seen plenty of shows that have had their share of sucky writing, but this is probably the worst of them all. Yes, plenty of other not good reverse harem shows/seasons. Dynamic Chord took your trophy for being the worst written show targeted to the otome audience. Take a bow.

2. The story is a joke. Or "story," I should say. Really, it's a wet piece of cardboard. Even this falls apart before we reach the halfway mark of the first episode. The first three episodes of the show focus on two of the four groups, rêve parfait and KYOSHO. The lead singer of KYOSHO, Yorito, goes MIA. Now, this is an intriguing storyline, but the anime never really bothers to explain why he went missing. There are pieces, like a fan who was in the hospital who might have died shortly after seeing a secret tape of a concert thanks to a man from the paparazzi (who the shows loves to focus on for some reason, instead of, I don't know, THE OTHER BOYS?!), and him getting into a slump, but there is never anything established that's concrete.

Reon (otherwise known by his band name, King), is asked by the other members of KYOSHO to practice with them until Yorito returns. After a juicy tabloid article proclaims Yorito may up and quit, Reon enlists the help of his bandmates and their manager to go find him. That plot leads nowhere, of course, as they abandon their pursuit entirely for no reason. It's never explained why they do, which is, again, annoying as all hell.

Then that leads to Episode 3, where Yorito is found by both Reon (who decides to go look for him again, because why not?) and the paparazzi guy, who somehow gets Yorito to rejoin his bandmates, get this, OFF SCREEN!

The frustration's growing, inch by inch, row by row.

Then we have a songwriting retreat for rêve parfait, and Reon's starting to feel down. Worried that he's going through his own slump, his bandmates leave him alone, but when Yorito and Tokiharu come by, it turns out it's just the humidity that's causing the leader from the former group to be tired. Okay, not sure why we wasted an entire episode on this, but let's see how it ends-

Wait, Liar-S has now gone AWOL? Dynamic Chord is just completely reusing a plotline that they had written in earlier? We're just not going to acknowledge that this story and writing is complete s**t at this point?

So it's safe to say that me and Dynamic Chord didn't work out after that happened. And upon going back to the website, I noticed that I missed a hot springs scene in Episode 8. Because of course I miss all the good material when I drop a series.


3. All of the characters aren't interesting. Don't get me wrong, it happens all of the time with adaptations like these. Some characters have background elements that don't get developed, and as such, they aren't as compelling compared to other characters. However, even with cameos made by other bands, more specifically, members before their groups are focused on in show, I have no idea what their personalities are like. Reading up on them grants me far more information that I thought possible, and it's dark and gritty.

Look, I'm not saying that all these boys have to have layers upon layers of development. Just give each their time to shine and maybe sprinkle bits and pieces of their personalities. It's bad when I can easily mash all of these characters together because I haven't seen enough of them, or that Bishop (real name Tsumugi) is the most interesting character because he's funny and makes cat puns. Music video introductions and sudden appearances don't pay the bills. 

4. If you're going to have Yasuomi Umetsu design the characters, make sure the animation is pretty to look at. When I found out about that piece of information, I was ecstatic. Finally, my dream of Umetsu designing bishie characters was coming true, and as I was rewatching Wizard Barristers when the announcement was made, it coincided by chance. By bands, the character designs were unveiled, and I was pleased ascetically. The signature traits were all there, and all of them looked hella fine.

Then the episodes aired, and my enthusiasm wilted like a trash bag left out in the rain. While the designs retain their Umetsu flair, the actual animation is kind of ugly. Aside from characters going off-model every few minutes and nothing being particularly engaging (outside of Umetsu's character designs and Yorito in the shower towards the end of Episode 1), the performance/rehearsal scenes are lazy as hell. For some reason, it looks like the animators decided to play with flash animation, because these performances sure look like that. 

It's like the Bitch Flash segment during Panty & Stocking in Sanitarybox, but even worse, because they appear every episode, and the animators use the same sequences during each one. They'll branch out occasionally, giving us ones that we didn't see in the PVs or in the opening, but that's rare. They even go so far as to zoom in on ones they've already breezed by. It's awkward and lazy, really. Not to mention during Episode 2 once Reon and the rest of KYOSHO finish their rehearsal, they immediately distort from far away. The only thing I hope for those still sticking with this show is that there are a good chunk of improvements coming for the DVD' and Blu-Ray box sets.

So in the end, yeah, this series is the worst one I've seen this year, and probably the weakest link since I started regularly watching anime as a hobby. It's a damn shame, because there was SO MUCH potential here that was completely wasted. In better hands, I think this would have been a smash, but nope. We can't all have nice things, or adaptations in this case. 

3/10 with no recommendation is the score I'm giving this. I'd rather watch the Dance with Devils movie with all its different endings then this again, and you all know the second half of Dance with Devils soured on me fast.

Now onto a better series, which is actually marketed to the same audience:

Code:Realize: Guardian of Rebirth (but I like to shorten it sometimes to just Code:Realize).

Well, kids, can you guess what this adaptation is? If you said otome game, you are correct! The good news was that I had some knowledge of this franchise before getting into the anime, so I wasn't completely lost. Our story takes place in an alternate 19th century London, where the aesthetic is steampunk AF and the love interests are based off of fictional characters (though one was based off of a real person as well). I knew that Cardia had poison in her body that caused anything she touched to rot away (if not made from special material for her), a la Shatter Me, though Juliette I believe had something with electricity.

After Dynamic Chord flopped hard like a rotten fish, I needed something else to fill the hole in my heart that was caused by my severe disappointment. And since I hadn't started this series yet (even though I severely wanted to get to it immediately), I decided to jump in one random Sunday when nothing was going on.

Safe to say, I think I found another winner this year. Much like with Katsugeki Touken Ranbu, I was completely sucked into this world. And by sucked in, I do mean sucked in. It took me about 5 minutes before I was like:

You know those shows that sneak up on you and become favorites you will cherish with all your heart and soul forever and ever? Yeah, this is one of them.

Despite minor problems that come with these adaptations, I love everything. The story is fascinating, the characters are amazing, the animation is GORGEOUS (especially coming from a studio I don't know much about), and need I say that the score and voice acting in both languages is solid?

At this time of this writing, there's only one episode to go, and after the evil cliffhanger that Episode 11 gave me, I'm praying for a satisfying ending. I know I'll get that, BUT GURL THAT POST CREDITS SCENE HAD ME SHOOK!

Much like with my Katsugeki Touken Ranbu review, expect a lot of fanboying and capital letters. Everywhere. That's just what happens when I'm PUMPED. UP!

Time to talk about that project I mentioned at the beginning of this post! As my birthday came around the bend last month (I'm 18 now. God, that feels weird to think about, despite the fact I got used to being an "adult" fairly quickly), I decided to rewatch Qualidea Code for one specific purpose: catching the OST track by track. I was in it for the enjoyment as well, but the OST for this anime has meant so much to me that I couldn't let it go from my grasp. And thanks to not really doing anything backstage for my school's play, I was able to finish it in a little over a week after planning it since October.

I tracked my progress in a Black Butler journal a friend got for me at the local con I love going to last summer. As a whole, my opinion on the show didn't change much from my initial watch. My score will be affected a bit when it hits the states on DVD (whenever that will be), because I know the animation will hopefully be better.

Because c'mon, the animation becomes such shear trash in the second half that it's laughable.

I am thinking about doing a special post for the score of the anime in the near future because it's easily one of the best ones I've heard and it helped me understand how a score can be just as important to anything I watch (even though I had heard plenty of good OST's in the past). Also, more rewatches need to be done like this. It's actually kind of fun to go back into a series with one purpose and remembering just how much you liked certain bits.

Finally, I think it'll be good for you all if I give a preview of what shows are to come for my viewing pleasure. You know, just in case I disappear again. But also because I care.

Up Next

One of the next reviews I'm doing will be one that's on my backlog, and that anime is Taboo Tattoo. Now I know you're probably thinking, "But Dazz, shouldn't you actually watch new material and not waste your time with all of these rewatches?" And yeah, you probably have a point. But the dub for this series is just fresh off the press, and I'd like to dig into it because not only does it sound good from what I've seen thus far, it also has a lot of promise despite the series being pretty shoddy.

With Luke, I plan on getting Diabolik Lovers: More Blood started just before we all have to say goodbye to 2017 (some of us won't miss it, like 2016). After thoroughly enjoying its first season, it's safe to say that we will be back for funny lines, "tantalizing" bite scenes, unintentionally hilarious writing,, two, three...more blood!

Too much?

Finally, I'm also hoping to get into more simulcasts that I didn't follow during specific seasons this year (aside from the winter, because there was, again, nothing that caught my eye). More specifically, from this current season, I would like to watch Juuni Taisen (which I indirectly referenced earlier on), BLEND-S, and Sengoku Night Blood ASAP. The first because of Usagi and to get some hardcore action, the second because comedy always is welcome in my life, and the third because it's a reverse harem and I know it sounds bad, but I'll give it a chance anyway.

That should do it for me. Keep your eyes out for my year-end list of the best animes and openings, along with my next set of reviews. Until then, I hope you all enjoy the end of the year!

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