Episode Director: Kei Ajiki (2nd Key Animator on Sword of the Stranger / Key Animator on BLEACH Opening Sequence 12 / Key Animator on Nisekoi Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Mushishi episode 23 / Animation Supervisor on PSYCHO-PASS episode 2, 20 and 22 / Key Animator on Kekkai Sensen episode 1)
Storyboards: Masashi Koizuka (Animation Supervisor on Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 episodes 2 and 7 / Episode Director and Key Animator on Robotics;Notes episode 5 / Episode Director and Key Animator on Shingeki no Kyojin episodes 13 and 17 / Director and Storyboard Writer on Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen Hen Opening Sequence)
Script: Hiroshi Seko (Script Writer on Kill la Kill episode 5)
Yuu and his friends confront their demons in order to become stronger. He confronts Mika in a dreamlike state only to be quickly given his power through his desire to save him. That flew by. As did Kimizuka’s possession of his own abilities. While this part in the story is about earning a new family for Yuu, this episode focuses on Yoichi, what happens to his sister and how he becomes a demon after losing to her.
Everything about this episode has been beaten to death before and it doesn’t help the fact that it was Yuu that helps Yoichi gain his resolve and turn back into a human. A lackluster episode that reminds me of Ao No Exorcist and how that series handled it’s character relationships. Too cliche and cheesy when Yuu talks Yoichi out of fighting them.
On the up side, at least WIT STUDIO knows how to animate debris, smoke effects and the dark fog that represents the demons throughout this episode. The background visuals are still gorgeous it’s just that the story in this episode isn’t as solid as the previous ones.
Episode Director: Daisuke Tsukushi ( Episode Director on FullMetal Alchemist BROTHERHOOD episode 29 / Episode Director on Kingdom episodes 3, 9, 14, 18, 25 and 32 / Episode Director on Vividred Operation episode 6)
Storyboards: Rie Matsumoto ( Director on Kyousogiga / Director and Storyboard on Heartcatch Precure! film / Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24)
Script: Kazuhisa Furuya ( Series Script Writer on Kekkai Sensen)
This is one of my favorite series to air in 2015. It’s perfect. Ok no series is perfect, but this is in my Top 10 of Best Anime Series of last year. A top-notch production from BONES, an adrenaline rush with a collection of stories that are interwoven with new characters becoming involved with Libra.
This episode introduces us to Lucky Abrams, a man stuck with misfortune all around him wherever he goes. I really like how the we are clued in to these characters, the setting of New York and it’s various monsters from the perspective of Leonardo Watch. This was a fun episode to watch because Lucky Abrams sets the dynamic of Libra and how the main cast interacts with each other. Previously we’ve seen Zapp hate on Leonardo, Klaus acting as the father figure, Chain as the level-headed type–this time everything is turned upside down. Everyone is caught in turmoil because of this man. Great way to preface this entire plot with a party at the very beginning of this!
It’s too bad this series is only 12 episodes because there is a certain level of creativity Kekkai Sensen oozes with–The Elder 13 and Leonardo with his all-seeing eye being caught in the middle of a bad situation that only gets worse. These Blood Breeds are portrayed as vampires–a different kind of monster than what we’ve seen in previous episodes. This is the first time we’re also getting a glimpse of K.K. and Steven’s abilities. Such smooth animation and I like how dramatic the sound effects are in matching the style of Kekkai Sensen‘s musical score.
Jazz isn’t the only style here that rocks! The visuals are definitely something to be said. Amazing that this is the fourth episode and there hasn’t been a drop in quality from character’s expressions and that was awesome to see the panning to Klaus attacking the Blood Breeds! The action comes off stylish throughout this entire episode!
While this series has been focusing on episodic content, the main story is slowing heading in the right direction with Leonardo question who Black is and Femt being in contact with him. Nice job in turning things full circle from previous episodes.
Want to point out the insert song at the end is entitled “Dust” written and performed by Toft Willingham. A reggae, rock and dubstep singer for the band Spiritual Rez. A talented music performer with his hands in tons of projects. He’s known in the U.S. for shifting between musical styles from classical to his family roots of folk music and has made some strides with his rigid yet engagingly smooth sounding voice. I wonder how the heck music producer Masataka Mikami got him involved in Kekkai Sensen let alone Taisei Iwasaki in the same room to make music together. Incredible!
Got to love the product placement in this show. Haha! Blur Moon!
I cannot get enough of this ending. Why I haven’t I been writing about this series lately?!
Episode Director: Shuuhei Matsushita (Storyboard Writer on Tokyo ESP episode 6 / Episode Director on Yahari Ore no Seishun Lovecome wa Machigatte Iru. Zoku episodes 1 and 10 / Episode Director on Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen Hen episode 10)
Minoru Ohara (Episode Director on Neon Genesis Evangelion episode 17 / Storyboard Writer on Fulmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episodes 18, 29, 36, 42, 47 and 53 / Storyboard Writer on Galilei Donna episode 9 / Storyboard Writer on Diamond no Ace episodes 11, 16, 19 and 22)
Norifumi Jo (Started out as a 2nd Key Animator on Bounen no Xamdou episodes 6, 8, 11 and 13 / 2nd Key Animator on Michiko e Hatchin episode 3 / Key Animator on One Piece episodes 637 and 655]
Kou Yoshinari (Key Animator on Black Bullet episode 1 / Key Animator on Sora no Method episode 13 / Key Animator on Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos film)
Script: Hiroshi Seko (Script Writer on Shingeki no Kyojin OVA “Ise’s Notebook” / Script Writer on Zankyou no Terror episode 4, 6, 9 and 11)
What a great episode this was. The soundtrack–using a slow instrumental version of ScaPEGOAT was very cool. It’s also great to hear that Hiroyuki Sawano hasn’t overtaken this anime’s score. Much of this episode gives the other composers a chance to deliver some variety.
I enjoyed the animation where Mika goes back to his home it pays tribute that he hasn’t forgotten what happened to his family. That they had been murdered by Ferid. We’ve already known for awhile that Yuu hasn’t forgotten it but I feel that it’ll be their family bond that unites the humans and vampires and ends this long war. He’s gradually becoming the very monster that frightened him and the other orphans when this series began and I like how this fuels his determination–never sucking the blood of a real human to become a true vampire. There’s his resolve right there.
The greatest scene in this has to be Shinoa stealing Yuu’s exam. Saori Hayami is doing a splendid job this year–portraying two entirely different characters (Shinoa and Shirayuki from Akagami no Shirayukihime) and with 17 more roles under her belt it’s about time we’ve got another strong female seiyu in the industry! She’s quite fitting for Shinoa’s sassiness and tsundere personality. Her range with this character is really incredible!
It’s also nice to see how much closer the group is becoming–Shinoa’s relentless display of antics built up Yuu’s and Kimizuka’s relationship nicely resulting in that wonderful punch in the face. Since this series has a second half it’s great that we’re getting comedy before the group encounters their inner demons. It’s taking its time and doesn’t waste a moment on an overload of nonsensical drama.
Episode Director: Junichi Takaoka (Started career as Key Animator on Yu Yu Hakusho episodes 79, 88, 89, 93, 99, 104, 107, 108, 111 / Animation supervisor on Monster episodes 27, 38, 52, 62 and 71 / Key Animator on Monster episodes 21, 52, 62 and 64 / Key Animator on Dennou Coil episodes 24 and 26 / Animation Supervisor and Key Animator on Death Note episodes 7, 14, 23, 29 and 35)
Storyboards: Junichi Takaoka (Animation Supervisor on Nisekoi episode 1 / Storyboard Writer on Nisekoi episode 4 / Key Animator on Owari no Seraph episode 1)
Script: Hiroshi Seko (Script Writer on Garo: Honoo no Kokuin episode 4 / Main series script writer on Owari no Seraph and Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen hen)
After that reveal at the end of the episode it’s only natural for this episode to shift its focus on Mika. The story in the first half has the tendency of jumping back and forth between Yuu’s training and Mika’s life within the Vampire walls. That’s certainly one way to do it, however, it would have been much more interesting if the show took the first twelve episodes and chose a single perspective to tell the story. Similar to how Shiki handled the use of humans trying to survive and solve the mystery of people dying in the village. It’s nice to see this contrast between Yuu and Mika in that Yuu’s receiving a warm welcome from his new friends and the rest of the Imperial Demon Moon Company. Mika on the other hand, seems more alone than he ever had been before.
I think it was intentional for Studio Pablo to design backgrounds that are strikingly different. A lighter color palette in the scenes with Mika to highlight the fact that there isn’t much of a comradery between vampires. The darker backgrounds illustrate how lively humans are in this show. Especially the best moments being the rift between Yuu and Kimizuki and of course Guren’s intentions on establishing a division that goes deeper than just pure strength. So his idea of having Yuu make friends was in actuality, for all them including Shinoa. To grasp the demon that is contained in their weapons and control them even through the bonds of friendship.
Krul Tepes is like Guren Ichinose in many ways. Guren wants to teach and protect Yuu in the toughest ways possible. Krul saves Mika’s life and notices Ferid has other plans that are far removed from the vampire’s goals of exterminating humans. She keeps Mika close by her side in order to keep him safe. Good to see the parallel between Yuu and Mika like this–they’ve both got a reason for survival; Guren and Krul understand that and need to keep them safe for their own kind’s sake.
Episode Director: Tomokazu Tokoro [Storyboards for Hikaru no Go episodes 9, 13 and 21 / Episode Director on Nanatsu no Taizai episode 1 and Storyboards for episode 22]
Storyboards: Tomokazu Tokoro and Tokudo Daisuke [Episode Director on Bounen no Xamdou episodes 4, 5, 19 and 25 including storyboards for episode 26 / Episode Director and Storyboards for Sengoku Basara Ni episode 4 and Key Animator on episode 12 / Storyboards and Key Animator on Shingeki no Kyojin episode 17]
Script: Seko Hiroshi[Overall Series Composition Writer for Owari no Seraph and Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen Hen]
Hiroyuki Sawano is without a doubt one of my favorite composers because he knows how to elicit emotion from a scene. He’s not Michiru Oshima–her work on Rokka no Yuusha and Akagami no Shirayukihime are some of the best scores this year. However, this episode works in his soundtrack very well by introducing Yuu’s fear to us and the power he holds from overcoming that fear.
What’s also great is how there’s a strong disparity between the drama and the comedy of this. Shinoa is slowly training Yuu into an Imperial Moon Demon Company fighter and how to control his power. She’s there to protect Yuu and make him stronger–their relationship is fantastic because it’s not super serious. Here is where Tachibana Asami’s soundtrack comes in nicely–straying far away from the heavy drum beats and emphasis on string instruments that Sawano is known for. Perhaps this will help him grow as a composer!
This episode main focus is fear and I like how this theme is used as the backdrop for Shinoa training Yuu and Yoichi. That scene between the demon impersonating Mika and Yuu is fantastic–his desire to know if Mika is still alive or not and find his own resolve and crashing down anything that stands in his way builds a lot of questions on how Yuu will turn out later on in this series.
Something interesting about the singers Hiroyuki Sawano gets for his soundtracks seem to be pretty well-hidden. Remember the song “Home- This Corner” that was an insert in 2011’s Guilty Crown? The English in that was strongly enunciated and her vocals are ridiculously high ranging. According to information I found she scored a 930 out of 990 on the TOEIC test (The Test of English for International Communication) and moved to France after production for Guilty Crown ended.
OP: “”X.U.” by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]: Gemie
Directed by: Yasuomi Umetsu
Storyboards: Yasuomi Umetsu
Animation Supervisor: Satoshi Kadowaki
Heavy electronic synthesizers, bass beats and keyboard melody. Generic for Hiroyuki Sawano but it works really well for this series. Love the visuals in this what helps this is character designer Satoshi Kadowaki.
The fight sequence with Yuu and the giant monsters are highly impressive. Debris and smoke effects come off nicely–the fluidness of the animation is by animator Shinya Takahashi. He’s basically known for this–it’s his trademark. It’s not polished and pretty but it does line out every frame (for the most part) especially with sword streaks. His work on GANGSTA episode 5’s fight sequence between Nicholas and Doug highlights his talents wonderfully! Takuma Ebisu handled the smoke and debris effects for a lot of this opening segment! Very awesome sequence! This minute and a half long opening included around 20 different key animators!
ED: “scaPEGoat” by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]: Yosh
Directed by: Yasuhiro Akamatsu
Storyboards: Hiroki Shinagawa
Animation Supervisor: Ayumi Yamada
Singer Yosh comes from the J-Rock band Survive Said the Prophet. His english is very good especially in the parts of scaPEGoat. The visuals by Studio Pablo in this ending sequence are toned down from the rest of the show. Giving off an eerie, post-apocolyptic world that focuses on survival of the fittest. In Seraph’s case humans vs. vampires and who will rise on top. Great ending love the use of shadow’s by Zankyou no Terror‘s key animator Ayumi Yamada!
Episode Director: Koizuka Mavashi [Director and Storyboards for Owari no Seraph‘s opening sequence / Animation Supervisor and Key Animator on Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 episodes 2, 9 and 11 / Episode Director, Storyboards and Key animator on Shingeki no Kyojin episodes 13, 17 and 25 (Assistant Chief Supervisor on Shingeki‘s episode 4]
Storyboards: Miyaji Masayuki [Episode Director and Storyboards on Space Dandy episode 10 / Episode Director, Script Writer and Storyboards on Bounen no Xamdou episode 1 / Storyboards on Haikyuu!! episode 16]
Script: Seko Hiroshi[Script Writer for Shingeki no Kyojin episodes 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18, 23 and Ise’s Notebook OVA / Script Writer on Zankyou no Terror episodes 4, 6, 9 and 11 / Script Writer on Kill la Kill episode 5]
Looking at the staff for this episode and seeing as how WIT STUDIO is animating this series it’s amazing how production is truly handled. General Series Director, music composers and if I recall general script writers are subcontracted. What’s interesting with the staff of this episode in particular is how many of them have worked together previously for WIT STUDIO, and I bet it’s a lot cheaper to use them rather than a completely different collection of staff that are either from another animation studio ( e.g. Production I.G., Studio Pierrot) or freelanced. It also depends on their caliber of work too. Makes me think how quickly these jobs within animation production are paid more quickly than on-hand staff at WIT STUDIO. This episode doesn’t look like the premiere it had a few disjointed shots– the fight sequence between Yuu and the vampire had a lot of “cutting corner” techniques in order to save money.
The apocalypse from the very beginning actually occurred and the vampires use this in order to strike fear that the outside world is a place to stay far away from. The premiere shoved a ton of sequences in our faces between the annihilation of mankind, Yuu’s life as an orphan and his escape with his friends. This episode takes a backseat and introduces one of the most well-rounded characters of the Spring 2015 season– Shinoa Hiragi (voiced by the amazing Saori Hayami!). Yuu’s discovery that the outside world isn’t so bad (for now) is a strong build-up to his reckelss behavior at the academy. The punishment he receives? Making friends. After losing his family to the vampires its clear to anyone that he’s got attachment issues.
Shinoa is snarky, she’s honest and can sometimes be a downright pain for Yuu but this compliments his naivety about The Japanese Demon Army’s duties wonderfully. His other friend, timid Saotome Yoichi joined the army after his sister was brutally murdered by a vampire and setups his revenge motives nicely. Somehow I feel we will be returning to that in another season. There’s a lot of kids in this show, for a grim world like this one, it will (hopefully) allow for these main characters to mature as the story progresses. For now though we’re barely touching the surface of the main cast. I just hope this first half will flush out more background on the vampire/human situation rather than the intense emotions we had this episode. Bringing me to my next point.
Commander for Imperial Demon Moon Company, Guren Ichinose, knows his duty but still acts like a child at times. His promise with Yuu to make him a part of his army if he makes friends fits this tone nicely.
As for the quality of this episode there’s a lot of still shots. It doesn’t detract away from the visually impressive premiere we had one bit. It’s refreshing because the background designs by Animation Studio Pablo are absolutely stunning!
This is a show that requires patience. I say this because it has overly exaggerated dialogue and a huge array of messy, blocky animation. I’ve been on a kick recently with this sort of art– Masaaki Yuasa’s Kemonozume is one of the series my anime club has been watching and like Ninja Slayer aren’t anime that everyone can dive into. Prior to seeing this episode though, I’ve checked out the English dub for Ninja Slayer and I feel it doesn’t do any justice for the story in the slightest. Ninja Slayer relies heavily on Japanese customs with an old-school perspective both Eastern and Western on the subject matter of Ninjas. I believe that the translation is missed in the English dubbing to get these characters’ motivations across. Especially when its a series that focuses heavily on food culture. Sushi, tofu– this episode we see one of the characters only eating tamagoyaki. I wonder what we are going to have next?
Previously, we’ve been introduced to a few Ninjas that might play a role in Ninja Slayer’s quest for revenge and now we get to see gauntlet wielding Shigeki down on his luck trying to redeem himself in this life and the next. I wonder if we will ever see him again? He and Ninja Slayer are both traveling down the same path for different reasons– I like how this reflects in the archetypes this episode utilizes. The first enemy Ninja Slayer faces off is Bandit-san–he’s cookie cutter to the Scorpion/Sub-Zero character models from the Mortal Kombat games! I remember in my days as a teenager playing those games and it was such a sight to see in this show take a nod to that.
Laomoto as we’ve seen before is definitely viewed as the final boss for Ninja Slayer and it’s great to see his influence throughout the city. The pharmaceutical company Yoroshin challenges Laomoto’s Keiretsu group by refusing the cloning process. This is another instance where Japanese dialogue comes in handy especially since most of this episode builds upon the idea of Japanese corporate structuring. In Japan, there is this business structure called the “keiretsu system” in which this show takes from and ultimately runs with it. Before I dive into this concept here’s an example of how it works in real world Japan. Normally, a Japanese horizontal keiretsu is “Mitsubishi” where the “Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi” sits at the top of the keiretsu. Part of this core group is “Mitsubishi Motors” and “Mitsubishi Trust and Banking” followed by “Meiji Mutual Life Insurance Company” which provides insurance to all members of the keiretsu. “Mitsubishi Shoji” is the trading company for the “Mitsubishi” keiretsu. Basically, it’s a collection of companies with close business relationships and shareholdings. Very informal, which makes sense as to why drinking meetings are so prevalent in the business world of Japan [and why we see the geishas in this show sitting next to Laomoto serving him alcohol]. It’s a bunch of companies that are centered around a core bank system. The Big Six that represent these core banks that remain the focal point even today are Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, Fuyo, Sanwa, and DKB. Each one of these banks focus on important industrial ways of life to better improve the country: trust banking, marine & fire insurance, trading companies, steel, chemicals, shipping and life insurance. Put these pieces together with what we’ve seen of this Studio TRIGGER anime series and it all makes sense! Laomoto discussing the manufacturing of 1,000 horsepower ZBR drinks with the corporate man is a direct correlation to the structure of Keiretsu. The 1,000 is supposed to represent the astronomical figure of firms that make up the Japanese entertainment management business. Once again, this anime uses a well-researched idea with an over-exaggerated effect, especially when it kills off Ninja Slayer’s enemies through the use of explosions.
These explosions derive from what many Keiretsu structures know as “Burning Keiretsu”. A corporate group that handles insider accounts. They do not reveal affiliations with other entities but in actuality have relations that are only known by deep insiders within particular businesses that are always a part of “Burning Keiretsu”. Laomoto and Dark Ninja represent not only this “Burning Keiretsu” but the horizontal link between the old-fasioned 90’s idea of the underhanded syndicate. I’ve seen this done to death in many American action/drama films between 87′ and early 2000’s–this is another reason why we see a tie back yet again into Ninja Slayer and its similarities with the idea of the American Ninja. The guy calculating numbers on horsepower drinks is the vertical stature of keiretsu–working for a legitimate business that is focused on financial services. The Six Soukai is also a take on the Big Six of keiretsu. I like how these small details make up a lot of Japan’s social economic structure.
This episode puts an emphasis on the horizontal and vertical branches of keiretsu by drawing parallels with its animation too. Throughout the show we’ve seen Ninja Slayer and Yamoto moving their entire bodies when they attack, I feel that this stylistic choice and its narrative widely portrays the Japanese corporate business world intentionally. Perhaps I’m looking too closely at this show for what it is.
Up until now I’m seeing more resemblance to the 1993 feature film Ninja Slayer with its villains. The wheelchair Soukai Beholder looks like he’s pulled right from the Eight Devils of Kimon and I really like how Beholder uses his abilities mixed with the tofu Shigeki’s been eating to turn on Ninja Slayer, losing an arm and realizing his life has been spared. Especially since the attack was landed by Naraku Ninja and not Fujikido Kenji. Has he harnessed his Ninja Soul [power a bit more? This was probably the coolest part of the episode–Ninja Slayer transforming into Naraku Ninja to avoid Beholder’s manipulation and a fallen Shigeki realizing there is more to life than just tofu.
I want to point out how much the Narrator at the beginning reveals Shigeki’s fate by the end of this episode. The egg really does represent salvation for him. After losing his arm and receiving the gauntlet he lost his ink-wash painting skills but it is the egg and Beholder manipulating him that he is able to find his way to Ninja Slayer–removing his maintenance fees of the gauntlet and the 4th generation arm itself! He can start life with a clean slate.
ED: “RADIO” by 6EYES
Back in 2002, 6Eyes had originally formed as a quartet in Nagoya but today they are a six-person band that has a style that is more in line with J-ROCK. What separates this group from a lot of other J-Rock bands is the addition of the saxophone, played by Kei Satou. Their style is a bit lighter than what we’ve heard in the previous Ninja Slayer endings– has a grunge sound to it especially with Chikara Tsuchiya’s husky vocals but the melody is soft. I like this song. It’s not my favorite from this show but it’s been definitely a lot stronger than some of the others I’ve heard.
This has been done to death. A fantasy series that forces an otaku to encounter the very harem he’s always wanted. How many series are following the harem story model this season? Monster Musume, Jitsu wa Watashi wa, Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei no Kyoukan, To Love-ru Darkness 2nd, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei Herz. To many this season and some of which will be longer than 1-cour, unfortunately.
Modern day Ginza, Tokyo experiences a mysterious portal that sends out monsters and soldiers wreaking havoc on the city. Youji Itami a 33-year old otaku suddenly becomes a JSDF officer out of his heroic efforts in rescuing many Ginza citizens from the terrorizing fantasy world.
This is a wonderful example of how not to write a first episode. It doesn’t jump around in its content but focuses on Itami’s reliable yet ridiculous success in video-games to win at real life scenarios. The military appoints him to lead the army into the gateway and travel through the mysterious fantasy world all in one episode. Way too light-hearted for a series that dabbles in a crossover sci-fi fantasy war. What worries me is that the series writer Tatsuhiko Urahata is also working on Rokka I really hope this show doesn’t take precedence over that one. That anime has so much more potential than this junk.
Strange that Urahata is writing this adaptation because he had some really strong works between the early and mid-2000’s with Monster and NANA. In recent years he’s done some pretty stale series that have fallen short [thinking of Black Bullet]. He’s got good ideas and a solid flow of telling a story it’s a shame to see him craft this together. I’d really like to see this writer make a comeback with an original anime alongside Ryota Yamaguchi so he can really learn how to write a fantasy series if that’s what he wants to do with this show.
This is probably one of the worst series Yoshiaki Fujisawa could have ever composed music for. His best work comes from Uchōten Kazoku! This was just plain bad!
Director Takahiko Kyogoku should stick with idol series not action shows.
The company that produces this is GENCO with A-1 Pictures in charge of animation production. GENCO should have presented Yanai Takumi’s novel Hyoufuu no Kolkka: Yuki no Yousei to Shiroi Shinigami instead of this manga. At least that one’s finished publishing and GATE is still ongoing. They should have gotten TROYCA to do the CG designs with this episode don’t let a studio that’s really solid in character art that’s never done a lot of CG animation before handle all of it.
OP: “GATE ~Sore wa Akatsuki no Yō ni” (GATE～それは暁のように～) by Kishida Kyōdan & the Akeboshi Rockets
Remember Highschool of the Dead‘s opening well this is by the same performers. Akeboshi Rockets usually do hard rock but this is really J-POP boring. It’s light-hearted just like the series is and the visuals aren’t that impressive. It puts a large emphasis on both timelines being in the same world. For some reason I’m reminded of Argevollen with the montage of soldiers.
ED: “Prism Communicate” (ぷりずむコミュニケート) by Nao Tōyama & Risa Taneda
Ok the text wavering is about the only neat thing about this opening. Seeing a military vehicle driving through the city shimmering with various colored petals around it is really lame. Who in the heck directed this because the CG is awful. The song is generic duo J-POP with a electronic drum beat that doesn’t really match the song at all. Again, really bad.
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.
After a five year gap between this season and the original a lot of the charm that made Durarara!! such a success remains the same. It follows Ryogo Narita’s light novels pretty closely– there’s the kidnappings, the exaggerated Shizuo’s strength putting fear in Ikebukuro’s criminals and centers on the intertwining lives of its citizens. It’s a series that neatly rolls so many genres seamlessly together from action to comedy to horror and even the subdued romance between Celty and Shinra plus Anri and Ryuugamine.
I believe where X2Shou outshines the first season is how closely connected the new cast is with the old. The Russians are back and have the addition of Egor, Varona and Sloan providing a much needed backstory to their part in Ikebukuro; something that the first season needed a lot more of. The singer Ruri was a brief mention in the beginning of the first season that it was great to see that even she has her strange secrets: the identity of Hollywood.
My one large complaint is Studio Shuka’s animation. Rather than sticking with Brains Base the creators went with a company that may have done a decent job in background designs the character’s facial expressions are a bit distorted at times. There were a few times where the animation hadn’t been as fluid as the original. For the show it doesn’t help in keeping up with the same dark artistic integrity it once had but from an anime industry perspective its brilliant. They’ve established a new studio using a former producer of the classic Durarara!! [which is why we see tons of familiar staff working on these new seasons] to helm the overall animation production for x2Shou, x2Ten and x2Ketsu. Smart move. I’d really like to see this done on shonen series like BLEACH or Kyoukai no Rinne. Rumiko Takahashi is known for doing long series so it’d be a good move to do what Studio Shuka did and follow their influence.