If it wasn’t for that ending I would have rated this higher. Throughout the course of this series animation production was mediocre at best with a tremendous amount of scenes being half-finished or poorly animated. The voice acting is top notch as we’ve got Junichi Sawabe once again voicing a womanizing character just as he did with Space Dandy last year. Plus the performance by Kenjiro Tsuda was petrifying. I loved how director Shuko Murase handled his dialogue scenes as well as his inner monologue.
There’s a lot to enjoy from this anime a gritty story about crooked cops, prostitutes, mature character designs and a killer soundtrack by Tsutchie. I really want to see the band compose a score for a horror series someday. That’d be unique.
As for the story one of the issues I have is character development. I wish they could have fleshed out the rest of the cast as our attention is more focused on the Handymen rather than the four mafia groups as a whole. This brought about a huge problem for the so-called ending. Side-characters. They were the primary focus for about three episodes between introducing the Esminets and Paula’s group. Perhaps that year off for MANGLOBE hurt them in the end after all. This series’ animation was all over the place, it’s thick and mature, which I typically enjoy but due to the series sudden finale and second rate key animation it isn’t a series that’s lasting in my book. As far as the Blu-ray releases go however, it’s raising the bar much higher for me, I’m curious how they will look if the company ever gets around to releasing them in single sets or one boxset.
As far as MANGLOBE goes, GANGSTA was their last mark on Japanese animation and it’s a a bit unsettiling. They were a fantastic studio that made strives in delivering original works. One of my favorite studios for that matter. If anything is learned by this show it’s that studios need to give more heart to their work. Being risky and ambitious can only go so far, sometimes to make cash for your employees you’ve got to put the talent where you are guaranteed it’ll work. Also make an anime that is going to be a money-maker. Light novels are always a good place to make anime works from. As much as I hate to say that but these studios do have to cater to the mass otaku every once in a while. Look at BONES and One Punch Man for example. They run on a very tight very low budget with high performance by their animators each episode resulting in high reward. Someone’s doing something right with that series.
Having finished my classes for summer I’ve actually had more time to sit down and watch anime series I’ve neglected. For Punchline I had seen the first few episodes and it fell off the map for me simply because series like Kekkai Sensen, Durararax2 Shou among a few others were grabbing my attention more.
An original anime series on the Noitamina programming block I was very eager to see this show: MAPPA handling animation production and the script by Kyokugen Dasshutsu ONA writer Koutarou Uchikoshi gives this series extreme promise. Plus, the story is very strange– the world blows up if Yuuta Iridatsu gets a nosebleed from seeing panties. I’m all for series that takes creativity to a whole other level. If there is a series I’d recommend that had thrown in a “left-field” hook than look no further than Punchline. It’s got a ton of FLCL spirit to it– which makes sense considering director Yutaka Yemura first began his career as a CG artist for GAINAX. I can clearly see some crossover influences in his works between these shows. The characters in both are really exaggerated in the physical actions and personalities.
The amount of puns in this show are quite hilarious too! That is if you can catch them. The title of this show in Japanese “パンチライン” contains the word “Panchira” which literally translates to “panty-shot”. Which is very in-line to the anime’s intentions. Mikatan Narugino plays the love interest to Yuuta in this show and it’s funny how even her name translates to “ally for justice”. Referring to her mahou shojo identity “Strange Juice” and the group the girls represent “Justice Punch”. The genius inventor Meika Daihatsu is even a pun: “dai hatsumeika” where “dai” means “great” and “hatsumeika” meaning “inventor”. Otaku and NEET is derived from Ito Hikiotani’s name and Rabura Chichibu reflects her character. Pun on “Chichi burabura”. In Japanese the term “Chichi” or it’s written style “ちち” is a homophone for “father”, “milk” and “boobs” depending on the context. As for “bura bura” it acts as an onomatopoeia for “just wandering”. Depicts a lot of what she does in this series from all the running around and when Yuuta takes over her body to tell the others about the destruction of the world or Ito’s danger with the QMAY group. All the girls names illustrate their own ideals and actions throughout this show that gets them closers as friends.
The first 4 episodes teaches the audience about Yuuta’s situation as a spirit and spirit cat Chiranosuke as a mentor figure in guiding him on his time-traveling journey. The terminology in this series rocks because a lot of it is well-timed jokes that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Chiranosuke is a pervert so the creators decide to nonchalantly put in cats having sex with each other on a computer he’s looking at. The transitions there are fantastic! The slapstick comedy between Rabura’s psychic powers and Mikatan’s Strange Juice transformation sequences are highly energized and are quite refreshing compared to some of the calmer series of the season.
When Punchline does get serious though is where it actually shines. Remove all the supernatural spirit stuff, sex jokes, time-traveling and you’ve got a couple of high-school students living together in the Korai House dealing with separation issues from childhood, neglect from parents and experimentations that separate them.
The main problem of Punchline is attributed to too much in too little time. With 1-cour only to deal with the narrative switches throughout episodes as Yuuta is time traveling to different days with the Christmas Party being the constant unknown mystery factor as the key to Yuuta saving Ito from death as well as Mikatan. This series is a definite re-watch in order to catch a lot of what’s going on between the QMay group’s infiltration of Korai and exactly what days these situations happen on. Switching bodies at childhood is certainly a new approach but I feel it would have worked if this was 2-cour and the twist isn’t a rushed and cheap attempt at establishing Yuuta as the sacrificial (turns out to be a girl) in saving the people she loves.
Have to admit Marina Inoue did a fantastic job of masking Yuuta as a boy.
After a long absence from the anime soundtrack world, Vampire Hunter D composer Tetsuya Komuro returns to compose and produce Punchline‘s score! His last work was on 2005’s Zoids:Fuzors by Tokyo Kids Animation Studio. He’s well-known for bringing the dance genre to Japanese music and I can see some of that style in this show. His strength however, lies as a producer signing on popular artists Namie Amuro, Ayumi Hamasaki, Ami Suzuki and many others even internationally like the Backstreet Boys within the pop scene around the 90’s. Towards the beginning and in a few of the action sequences we get a lot of dubstep and it’s actually pretty decent. You can tell the production of it is really high and it has a very deep bass sound. The show has a strong bond with music and Mikatan’s pop-idol songs are key to this. There are a few really funny drunk karaoke party scenes with some horrible singing!
Animation Studio MAPPA has quite a bit under its belt now. Sakamichi no Apollon. Zankyou no Terror. Garo Honoo no Kokuin and now Punchline. Their upcoming work on Ushio to Tora looks like it’ll be animated nicely but those character designs suck. As for Punchline, it’s one of the most detailed in animation of the season. This is where FLCL‘s influence comes in– Yuuta flying through rooms trying to avoid panties, Rabura busting into a room and her wild psychic situations and the fight scenes are tightly animated! The fluid style is pretty to look at the episodes aren’t as detailed as shows like Kekkai Sensen in terms of conceptual design on its backgrounds and characters.
OP: “PUNCH LINE!” by Shokotan ♥ Denpagumi (Shoko Nakagawa x Dengapumi.INC)
Such a strange opening. It reminds me of how quirky Hozuki no Reitetsu had been in integrating its cast to the song. The character movements are edited well into the song but the transitions from scene to scene are a bit off. I like how this basically tells Yuuta’s journey from each room discovering each girls’ panties and what happens to him if he does. The band Dengapumi is a female Japanese idol group that are all former otaku and cosplayers that perform the instrumentals and backup to Nakagawa’s lead vocals. It’s a fun and crazy song about panties that reflects this series a ton. Generic in the style but its delivery is nice.
ED: “Mitsu Mitsu Mitsu” (蜜蜜蜜) by Ayumikurikamaki
Great ending. Another JPOP idol group that formed in 2012. The name is derived from the original members’ names. Known for their bear costumes on stage (they probably should have done a Yuri Kuma Arashi insert song haha) that change according to the season. The song itself just like the opening is typical with a steady drum beat and strong rock guitar riffs but the vocals are great because they do a wonderful job of illustrating the fun these girls have in the Korai House. As for the animation it’s awesome– the characters are drawn in a kawaii style mixed with this pastel matted background design. The director and animator on this is Wataru Uekusa.
This is the first time he’s animated and worked on a full-fledge series before as most of his work are from music videos. Including Yasashii March: The Tender March for Soutasei Riron’s song “Miss Parallel World”, fake!fake! for the song “fake!fake!” by A Crow is White and Mukougaoka Chisato wa Tada Mitsumeteita no Datta. Curious by this style: I could see him working with Masaaki Yuasa sometime in the future. Uekusa gives off a visually smooth and bright tone that contains a wild trip spiraling out of control.
Here’s the music video of Mikougaoka Chisato:
This one is fake!fake!— its visually stunning and has some of smoothest animation I’ve ever seen in a music video! Reminds me of Kaiba.
The watercolor art style by Eriko Shibayama and Ryou Kouno created some of the best background art I’ve seen out of any other series from the Winter 2015 season! Eriko Shibayama is a very talented artist that I feel is one of those artist that if you see their work you know it’s them. Shibayama worked on Masaaki Yuasa’s Space Dandy episode 16! I really can’t wait to see what these two animators will be working on in the future!
Along with the amazing art another big reason why I like this series so much is because of how diverse the episodes are. Rolling Girls uses the idol singers concept a bit further by adding a fantasy spin to it. Nozomi, Chiaya, Yukina and Ai progress through their journey of finding heart stones that build upon a couple of larger themes: coming-of-age friendships and establishing peace not just in Tokorozawa but the other Districts.
This anime really shines in its characterization of it’s minor cast– about every two episodes or so we are introduced to a new district with different Bests handling their own problems in their own ways and for most of the time it doesn’t work out until the girls show up as a kind of peace treaty in closing up each arc. I really wish that this series didn’t even have a main story– I’m a huge fan of episodic shows and Rolling Girls had some really amazing episodes that capitalized on this style of storytelling. Mie Motors arc and the Kamogawa Rockers arc were both incredibly different from each other yet still held up with some similar themes– traditions of Japan tarnished by selfish ideas from a mob. It isn’t about the main cast receiving development but how they would help grow the people around them– these individual arcs were a perfect example that fitted how to blend long standing traditions of the old with generations of the new. The stones which is revealed in the finale layers up the concept of people’s potential in doing something great for themselves, for others. Just as the tagline for the series states.
These girls in a sense, even though Nozomi wanted to follow in Maccha Green’s footsteps, were their own mob holding onto the power of friendship as the key to success. This is why Rolling Girls can be such a delight for kids as well as adults!
However, the final few episodes were rushed because I feel that the creators really wanted to do something for the main cast which is why this show has such a haphazard ending. They should have compiled that arc right from the get-go but instead used it as a climax that was less than satisfying. About the only part which I may have mentioned before that I enjoyed was the very end with Kuranosuke’s inspirational monologue about how people can have the ability to draw out the stones. Opening up for a possible sequel is one way to do it. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso composer Masaru Yokoyama’s score there was very good.
From the past few episodes I knew this series would be around the 70’s rating range for me. I’m not such a huge fan of harem series however Saenai hits a lot of the right notes in being unconventional. Based on a light novel series hat leads to collection of successful witty narratives between different female tropes about doujin creation. If only the creators took the time in developing some kind of tie-in to how a dating sim game is created. Perhaps they should have taken note from Bakuman was with the manga industry and how it had gradually shifted nicely between making serialization deadlines to timeframe of artwork and writing chapters. I hope that the second season rectifies this glaring issue for me. Aside from that the pacing in this is gradual, something that director Kanta Kamei knows really well on how to achieve after seeing his work on Usagi Drop.
The music score by Hajime Hyakkoku is toned down in the impact and yet a lot of the pieces throughout Saenai‘s episodes end up being up-lifting. Tons of keyboard compositions. Similar to his other works on K-On! and Gugure! Kokkuri-san.
This is much better than his directorial disaster on Nanana— I believe that show had a poor scenario writer and planner. Saenai for most of its run was very funny– introduced its trope characters of Utaha and Eriri with just enough background that is familiar in this genre and still remains a refreshing contrast to Tomoya’s drive for anything that defines him as an otaku. His room illustrates this point greatly.
If someone asked me to define this series in one word I would have to say “entertaining”. As this is exactly what this show was trying to do, it didn’t follow most adventure anime series with it’s incessant scenes of sexuality, deus-ex machina like how BLEACH or even Naruto suffers from at times, but MAPPA succeeded in bringing a japanese-based card game series to life!
Shingeki almost feels at times not like anime in the way it pushes tons of Pirates of the Caribbean ideas around the supernatural aspect that the card game is known for– demons and angels at war with each other where the humans of this story are used as pieces of entertainment for them.
For the most part this series was well-paced and coming from Gegege no Kitaro season 5’s script writer Keiichi Hasegawa this was like an entirely different realm for him that worked out well for his repertoire. Without a doubt though episode 3 was one of the best episodes that used necromancers in introducing Miyuki Sawashiro’s Rita as a main cast member by building up the town around her in such a darkly and grisly-defining way.
Also, if any of you recall me mentioning how the music to this is more film-quality like than you’ll understand how many similarities it has to Karas’ score and Tiger & Bunny’s collection of orchestral pieces. It’s strong and hard-hitting that allow the emotional scenes of this series to really carry over and IKE is great at pulling this off! While the staff of this consisted mainly of the same creators that worked on Karas and Tiger & Bunny this worked out in their favor for a lot of the episodes but what has surprised me the most was the voice acting– Go Inoue’s performance as Kaisar provided a style of insecurity in upholding his family name while having his lackluster scenes against Space Dandy Meow’s Hiroyuki Yoshino as Favaro.
However, the best seiyu of this is a tie between Rita’s Miyuki Sawashiro and how much she was able to downplay the role with subtle remarks about her zombie nature. The other being Martinet’s Kenjiro Tsuda– an accomplished seiyu that reminds me somewhat of what Johnny Depp does in his roles as a film actor. Versatile in giving voices to a wide-range of characters that give off an oddball yet mysterious sound to enhance each anime personality, and Shingeki was no different: given that Martinet was a maniacal human tampering in the affairs between demons, angels and of his own kind.
Not everything in this series shined as there were episodes in the middle part that seemed to take a backseat to the adventurous ride that focus on Favaro and Amira’s journey to Helheim. The actual card capturing had only been shown at least three times in this series and as much as I enjoy the trick that Favaro and Kaisar pull on Martinet in the finale with it I can say it should have been more prevalent in this series considering how it uses source material from this very idea.
More of the world could have been expanded here and the traveling side of things should have been explored to great length in not just establishing the relationships between Favaro and Amira constantly escaping Kaisar’s clutches but in how the other side-lined demons could handle situations as they arise. Colorful animation in the scenes of the underworld and in the skies with the demons and angels but when it comes to plot development not much remains to be enhanced.
However putting the gripes I had with this if you are looking for a series that is short but fun and fluid in its animation then look no further than Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS! Animation by Zankyou no Terror and Sakamichi no Apollon’s studio MAPPA brings a style all its own here that gives off this idea that sometimes anime stories can be something leaps and bounds separate than the action/adventure anime series of the norm.
When was the last time we had a memorable shojo anime? Some I can think of off the top of my head are Nana and Nodame Cantabile. The summer season has got a few that are somewhat decent– Ao Haru Ride which is filled with drama that goes back and forth each episode of a competition between Futaba and Yuki over Ko, and then there is Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun an anime that is trying way too hard at being funny and the romance just gets sidelined. I almost feel sorry for Sakura’s failed attempts at getting her point across to Nozaki. Those are the only two that stick out of the summer season and they aren’t even that good. Back in the Spring season we had this show and Kawai Complex, while that show was a lot prettier to look at and more humorous it lacked in authentic romance. Soredemo rocks at the dramatic love scenes! The writers pulled off a fairly simple and tasteful love story between Livius and Nike. There were no panty or breast shots of Nike, and she did not suffer at all from a tsundere, which is very prevalent in shojo series with a character sways to the extremes of love and hatred towards the boy she likes. Come to think of it the best at this trope has got to be Kyoko Mogami of Skip Beat!. Nike grew pretty realistic with her affections towards Livius as this series progressed, nice work here!
The author, Daii Shina does a good job at setting up a romantic atmosphere for its characters, but the problem is however a lot of the details remain sidelined. What’s going on with neighboring countries and how are they affected by the situation that one of the most powerful men in all the land is getting married. Soredemo might have achieved a decent love story between a king and princess but the big picture left me not very impressed with little to no structure around the surrounding areas that this story is set in. This feels a little rushed in a few places as it’s only got 12 episodes to work with in adapting an ongoing manga. Wonder if there will be another season of this, as this ending left it completely open.
Now onto the director of this show- Hajime Kamegaki. This is a guy who directed the aggressive skating series Air Gear, which got to hand it to the animation team at Satelight for creating some very cool looking OVAs. He’s known for directing anime that aren’t too heavy and typically aren’t obscure in terms of story and animation. I’d probably rank this not as high as some of his other works due to how formulaic it is the situations Livius gets thrown into are all fairly similar. He wasn’t given as much freedom as he had on Air Gear with this series, and it really shows with the villains.
Now with the voices by far my favorite has got to be Nike’s Rena Maeda. She provided a very good balance between her courageous acts and heartfelt scenes with Livius and without a doubt the most realistic character of the entire show. I am curious how well she will do in Kiseijuu this fall.
So Nike controls the rain with her singing and it has been passed down from generation to generation, where it is her destiny to marry the Sun King Livius. At the start this romance series keeps up at being faithful to the manga in developing the bond between the two main characters, and this is the big part of the show that made it so engaging to me. Neil was a nice balance between Livius controlling behavior and Nike’s temper– he’s a butler that provides calm resolutions to Livius’s problems throughout this show. Bard, a womanizer just adds more depth to how much Nike loves Livius, and vice-versa. The big problem that this series suffers from is its villains. Lani Aristes wanted to take control of the throne and the soon-to-be marriage with Nike only fueled this a lot more. But the result is he’s forgiven and completely leaves the scene after 6 episodes. We break this with Bard’s introduction and possibility of him being a villain but once again the story treats him as wanting to protect Livius just as Nike does. Same thing with Nike’s home with Kitora and Tohara. As interesting as these characters were the story arrives at the same conclusion, and we are left with a formulaic anime that doesn’t even have other kingdoms introduced and fighting for land. That would have made this show a lot more well-grounded in the time that it is set in.
I hope with this new Fall season ahead we will actually get some series that use the shojo genre in various ways that take risks– looking at you Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso.