Tag Archives: Supernatural

Kekkai Sensen Episode 4

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?!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Musaigen no Phantom World Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

In the near future, in a world born of human imagination, what humans would call ghosts or monsters appear, and they come to be called “phantoms.” Haruhiko Ichijō, is a first year at Hosea Academy along with his upperclassman Mai Kawakami, who fights phantoms with the ability “Spirit of Five Elements,” Reina Izumi, who has the ability “Phantom Eater,” and Koito Minase, who fights phantoms in solitude. They experience the ups and downs of high school life before a certain incident leads them to the truth of this world. ~ANN


 

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation ( Amagi Brilliant Park, Free!K-On!Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!, Figure 17Full Metal Panic!, Hibike! EuphoniumHyōkaKanon, Kyoukai no Kanata, Lucky StarNichijoSora o Miageru Shōjo no Hitomi ni Utsuru SekaiTamako Market)

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara ( Director on Air / Director on Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! / Episode Director on Fushigi Yugi episode 19 / Chief Director and Storyboard on Haruhi Suzumiya film and TV series / Director on Nichijo  / Director on Hibike! Euphonium / Storyboard and Episode Director on Tenchi Universe episodes 3, 8, 13 and 23)

Series Composition: Fumihiko Shimo ( Series Composition on AirAria the Scarlett Ammo Double AClannadMelancholy of Haruhi SuzumiyaKokoro Connect, and most of Kyoto Animation and Ishihara’s directorial projects)

Character Designer:  Kazumi Ikeda ( Animation Director on Air episodes 2, 5 and 8 / Animation Director on Amagi Brilliant Park episodes 5 and 11 / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Clannad / Key Animator on Free! ending sequence / Character Designer on Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! / Animation Director on Hibike! Euphonium)

Music: EFFY ( Wrote insert song arrangements for Cross AngeMagical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movie 2nd A’s and No-Rin)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Ichirou Miyoshi ( Episode Director and Storyboard on Air episode 11 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid episodes 4 and 12 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Gate Keepers 21 / Storyboard and Episode Director on K-On! season 2 episode 4)

Storyboards: Yasuhiro Takemoto ( Director on Amagi Brilliant Park / Key Animator and Storyboard on Amagi Brilliant Park ending sequence / Storyboard and Director on Amagi Brilliant Park opening and ending sequences / Storyboards on Kaze no Yojimbo episodes 4 and 22 / Storyboards and Episode Director on Kyoukai no Kanata episodes 2, 4 and 10)

Script: Fumihiko Shimo ( Script Writer on Amagi Brilliant Park episodes 1, 2, 8, 11 and 13)


Typical Kyoto Animation.  They produce about one series a season and it’s all in-house staff.  Character Designs, backgrounds, musical style, color designs every aspect of this show seems to me a lot cheaper to do with an average budget. I like how visually imaginative this show is but for realism purposes I can’t continue it because it does not make sense.  If our brains were altered we could possibly see pixie girls and giant monsters?

Optical illusions play a big part of this show and it was a good choice to use Kyoto Animation for this premise.  However, it’s not straying away from their usual works.  Adaptation from light novel material with a large amount of fanservice and moe.  Apart from the beautiful animation and top notch sequences by Kyoto’s in-house animators Taichi Ishidate, Shinpei Sawa and Kouhei Nakahara we just have a generic Kyoto Animation fanservice fluff show. Boring.  Please do something more interesting.

This was a step-down from what they’ve delivered in previous years with Hyoka, Haruhi Suzumiya and Air.  The definite killer for me in this was Mai Kawakami’s breasts becoming a major plot point and resolution to the totem poles situation.  What?  At least the 16-bit style was a cool addition that’s out of the norm for Kyoto Animation. I don’t have a valid reason to watch this show other than for its animation.


 

OP: “Naked Dive” by SCREEN mode

Directed by: Tatsuya Ishihara

Storyboards: Tatsuya Ishihara

Animation Supervisor: Kazumi Ikeda ( Key Animator on Naruto episode 55)

Generic J-Rock that has a style similar to the artist Mell. The animation cuts and transitions aren’t good as it focuses more on fanservice rather than being original.  Cookie cutter character designs.  Come on Kyoto! Branch out more! I will say this. If there’s a studio saving the industry in getting otaku to purchase their products it’s Kyoto Animation and SHAFT studios.  It’s like I’ve mentioned before sometimes you have to be more visually appealing than have a decent story however this studio does the same stuff way too often.  This opening clearly indicates that.

ED: “Junshin Always” (純真Always; Innocence Always) by Azusa Tadokoro

Directed by: Yasuhiro Takemoto ( Director and Storyboards on Amagi Brilliant Park opening and ending sequences)

Storyboards: Yasuhiro Takemoto

Animation Supervisor: Kazumi Ikeda

Japanese Seiyuu with two series this season–Divine Gate’s Bedivere and this anime’s Ruru.  It’s not a big surprise that they used a seiyuu to do the ending song for this. Just like the opening this was generic.  Mostly with Ruru flying.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 4/10

 

Noragami Episode 3

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Episode Director: Shuuji Miyahara (Episode Director on Naruto episodes 53, 61, 69 and 77 / Episode Director on Bounen no Xamdou episode 7 / Episode Director on Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood episodes 19, 40, 52 and 60 / Director on Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Third Ending Sequence)

Storyboards: Tomomi Mochizuki (Storyboard Writer on Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch episode 12 / Storyboard Writer on Log Horizon 2 episode 2 / Storyboard Writer on Gundam G no Reconguista episode 14)

Script: Deko Akai (Series Composition on Akagami no Shirayukihime / Script Writer on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 26, 32, 37 and 44)


Kaji Yuuki. Hoo boy I knew I recognized that voice.  His work with Yukine especially with this episode is fairly low key.  Not as aggressive like Arslan Senki‘s Silver Mask.  I just hope Yukine, being a teenage boy won’t deliver angsty drama that this series doesn’t need.

Shinki are people that have already died, we know that much is given.  Phantoms, as revealed here, attach themselves to humans harboring negative emotions.  Shinki are the polar opposite of them in that they truly want to live.  The first three episodes have barely touched the surface on these beings.  Yato put it strongly when he says that if a human wants to commit suicide then so be it, it’s already been possessed and there is no use saving the soul whether its dead or alive.

Remember when he cured his hand last episode with simple medicinal techniques?  In a sense I can see why they’ve made Hiyori into this spiritual guide to Yato.  She may be the key to giving him the answers he’s pushed aside.  She’ll give him the chance to grow up as a God.  I really like how this translates back to Hiyori and her own situation.  She’s caught up in both worlds trying to grasp all she can about her spiritual side from Yato but in all honestly, he doesn’t have a clue how to help her.  It’s a balancing act with his character. Teetering between his outward appearance (untrustworthy and selfishness) and his humanistic desires of compassion that come up every now and then.  This makes him a very likable character because he’s not predictable.

The introduction to Tenjin is a segue into this that captures Yato’s swaying attitude when it comes to saving others.  Now that I think about it, the previous episode we saw him sleeping at a Tenjin shrine inevitably foreshadowing the God Tenjin’s appearance along with his collection of Shinki guised as Japanese Shinto maidens.  Otherwise known as Miko (巫女). Tenjin is quite literally the deity of Sugawara no Michizane. One of the most well-respected and well-known Heian scholars and poetic figures in Japanese history!  I like how composer Taku Iwasaki captures deification by adding in a Hichiriki (double reed Japanese flute) and the Tsuzumi ( a Japanese drum of Chinese and Indian origin) to his music.  It’s culturally inviting of Shinto traditions and its amazing how Iwasaki modernizes it by dropping down a keyboard and a set of electronic beats as Tenjin appears.

The whole shrine scene is probably my favorite out of this episode because it shows right through Yato’s actions.  Not to mention how Yato’s former Shinki, Tomone shows up as one of Tenjin’s shinki.  All I can think of with this episode is “identity” and how individuality separates every one of us.  The big clue to this is Yato describing the Far Shore’s effect on regular humans.  Yato and Yukine aren’t noticed from afar and can only be taken in to the natural world when situations call for it like the restaurant scene.  Certainly a unique way in exploring characterization and this identity motif.  There were also a lot of other parts in this that highlight this point as well.  Yato runs at the seat of his pants trying to earn money,  Tomone refers to herself as Mayu and the most important: Tenjin notices that Hiyori is something not human, spirit or god.  He even questions whether she should be involved in their fight with phantoms.

In Japanese, Hiyori means weather which is extremely crucial to the supernatural aspects of Noragami, I’m amazed how this series as a whole so far has invested so much time exploring the Shinto religion.  For those that don’t know there are 3 types of Gods or Kami as they’re referred to in Japanese Shinto.  The first is that gods can take form of certain weather events, landscape formations, water and even forests.  With Noragami, the Shinki represent this first type.  The second is this idea that gods are attributed to the presence of dead ancestors.  Blood related or honored by a population .  I don’t believe we’ve seen this yet in the show.  The third and final type of Kami are souls of the dead. That are souls that are revered for their bravery, commitment and service.  Perhaps a few of the phantoms represent this I guess I’ll see once I finish up with this first season.  In a broader sense, Noragami places Shinto beliefs throughout with this idea of nature, harmony and balance.  Tenjin phrased it precisely when he said “Disorder among people means disorder in the heavens”.  Another piece of this has got to be that Yato is connected to Yukine’s thoughts and feelings whether those feelings are perverted or not.

This soundtrack is awesome.  I’m enjoying this series a ton.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Noragami Episode 2

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Episode Director: Naomichi Yamato (Episode Director on Shinsekai Yori episodes 1, 2, 4, 12, 17, 19 and 25 / Assistant Episode Director on Kekkai Sensen episode 12 / Director on Fairy Tail Opening Sequences 2, 7, 10, 11 and 12)

Storyboards: Kotaro Tamura (Storyboard Writer and Episode Director on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin episode 3 / Storyboard Writer on STAR DRIVER episode 7 / Storyboard Writer on The Rolling Girls episode 3 / Director and Storyboard Writer on Zetsuen no Tempest First Ending Sequence)

Script: Deko Akai (Series Composition on Akagami no Shirayukihime / Script Writer on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 26, 32, 37 and 44)


Noragami aired in 2014 alongside some extremely top notch series.  Mushishi Zoku ShouSpace Dandy and Zankyou no Terror; it’s not big surprise why I missed out on this during Winter season.  On the outside, Noragami uses every shonen trope out of the book–demons, high schooler gains powers and a mysterious male lead fights monsters.  The high point for this show isn’t these elements rather its interests lie in being super involved with its cast and how Hiyori is trapped between two worlds keeps the momentum going for Yato.

Pacing is crucial for a series that takes a lot of energy in building up the shonen atmosphere this series seems to exude.  For a second episode this one is very annotative yet it never feels like it.  Good thing director Tamura Koutarou is straying far away from information dumping like many series do with extraneous dialogue scenes. I’m looking at you Rokka.

The key framework to take away from this episode isn’t about Phantoms their corruption of humans like the initial episode had but that Yato’s clearly not an idiot.  He knows how to live within his means and work when he needs to.  His concern for Hiyori isn’t overly exaggerated he’s sympathetic at times and can seemingly be vagarious.  The fuel to the fire here is the Shinki he acquires during the battle with the eye phantom.  From the flashback (which was heavily edited with quick transitions and cool animation cuts) opens up to the idea that Yato isn’t as selfish as he lets on to be.  His reaction when he’s ignored delivers a great deal about how the comedy is going to be laid out for the rest of this show–visuals are more pertinent than verbal scenes.  BONES is hitting the nail on the head with this!  The amount of unique and uncolored facial expressions sell Noragami‘s cast wonderfully!  As for Hiyori it’s interesting that she’s losing focus of the real world and enjoying her spirit form.  After seeing Yato’s reaction to Yukine–Hiyori’s curiosity throughout this episode with the phantoms, shinki and other spirits is a fantastic contrast between the two of them!

The setting thus far is nicely exexcuted.  Episode jumping is a difficult thing to direct and can be poorly done if not well-researched leaving plot-holes.  Mushishi excels at this as does Space Dandy.  Noragami takes a similar approach.  Subtlety.  Moving around from Shinjuku to different areas of Japan all the while layering on various spirtiual components from the Yuki grommet, giant tick to the storm Hiyori sees off in the distance.

I’m curious how the main story is going to be and how it will be handled with the pacing.  Hopefully it’ll keep up with this style of momentum!

They just had to throw in a bath scene at the very beginning.

I haven’t read the manga nor do I plan to as I really want to be surprised with this show given the amount of recommendations I’ve been receiving about it.  I’ve also gotten good feedback about my first episode too! Hope my readers are enjoying this show on my blog!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Noragami Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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Yato is a minor deity who lacks even a single shrine. In order to build his own shrine, he scrawls his cell number on the wall of a downtown bathroom telling people he will help them in exchange for a 5-yen offering, becoming a self-styled “delivery god.” Hiyori, the daughter of a respectable family, is almost killed in a traffic accident, but is rescued by Yato. This causes her to become a “hanyou,” a person who can easily lose her soul. She chases Yato down, and they begin to work together.. ~ANN


Animation Production: BONES (Full Metal AlchemistSpace DandyAkagami no ShirayukihimeRahXephonSoul EaterGOSICKSTAR DRIVERZetsuen no TempestConcrete Revolutio, the upcoming My Hero Academia and Mob Psycho 100)

Director: Kotaro Tamura (Episode Director on Michiko e Hatchin episode 3, Director on Eureka Seven AO second ending sequence and Zetsuen no Tempest ending sequence / Storyboard Writer on Space Dandy Episode 23)

Series Composition: Deko Akao (Script Writer and Series Composition on Akagami no Shirayukihime episodes 1, 2, 4, 8, 9 and 11 / Script Writer on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun episodes 5, 8 and 10)

Character Designer:  Toshiba Kawamoto (Animation Supervisor and Key Animator on Michiko e Hatchin episode 3 / Chief Animation Supervisor on Towa no Quon / Animation Supervisor on Space Dandy episode 24 / Key Animator on Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood first opening sequence / Character Designer on Kekkai Sensen, NoragamiNoragami Aragoto and Towa no Quon)

Music: Taku Iwasaki (Composer on Akame ga Kill!, Gatchman CROWDSSoul Eater and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Read or Die OVA)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Yoshifumi Sueda

Storyboards: Kotaro Tamura

Script: Deko Akao


At first glance this show screams generic supernatural shonen series where a high school girl encounters a mysterious guy that fights monsters with special abilities.  We’ve seen this all before.  BLEACH had it with Ichigo’s relationship with Rukia and how he became a Soul Reaper under her guidance.  As did Code:Breaker and earlier works like Inuyasha and Flames of Recca.  Noragami takes a different approach and weaves into its story traditions of Japan, a modernized setting and tons of foreshadowing nicely.

Yato is highly comedic as a God and it balances the heavy theme that’s introduced from the get-go, desire.  The young girl thats bullied at school requests the help of a God to save her from all the negative aura surrounding her.  Definitely a step up from being generic this show takes a not-so strong God and drops real world problems into his own life!  Fed up with Yato’s homeless lifestyle and not having a shrine his Shinki, Tomone, leaves him.  I really like the idea that these Phantom’s manipulate humans similar to how Horrors did in Garo it ties the supernatural elements and this Japanese idea of Gods in an engaging way–through the use of coins.

Without coins Yato can’t live and gain the shrine that I’m sure he’s probably always wanted.  The thread that brings Hiyori to Yato is the very fact that he earns money another way by finding a lost cat leading their fated encounter.  A big part of what this first episode does correctly was leaving out a huge information drop.  We were given bits and pieces here and there.  Hiyori having a tail illustrated she’s a spirit that can fight monsters.  There’s also the thread about the Far Shore and the Near Shore and she dangles between both worlds.  Seeing the resemblance to BLEACH with the human world and spirit world?  Even though Noragami projects similarly strong motifs with the ideaology of spirits and the use of supernatural abilities it pulls it off with flair.

Incredible character detail and smooth animation throughout!  This is definitely a series I’ll be picking up! I was immediately interested when I heard Taku Iwasaki would be doing dubstep for the soundtrack.  It’s a shame his soundtrack for the second season has been pulled due to the use of the Adhan prayer causing a stir.  Luckily I got ahold of the official soundtrack before it got pulled!  I loved his work on [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility of CONTROLKatanagatari and Gatchaman CROWDS.  He’s a genius at  establishing a wide array of emotions with an orchestra, synthesizers and keyboards!  He’s so diversified with his style that channels an edge to his music that other composers simply don’t have. The only other artist that comes close and is getting up to my Top 10 Best Composers list is Ken Arai.  Iwasaki’s entrance into experimental rock was only granted by his work on Witch Hunter Robin which included a combination of heavy guitar riffs and chanting melodies.  Nowadays, I’d say he likes to mesh a lot of styles together and one of my favorites has got to be where he channels out menacing moods with strange voices, echo effects and synthetic sounds!

OP: “Goya no Machiawase” (午夜の待ち合わせ, Overnight Appointment) by Hello Sleepwalkers

Directed by: Kotaro Tamura

Storyboards: Kotaro Tamura

Animation Supervisor: Toshihiro Kawamoto

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Why didn’t I see this series when it aired?! This would have certainly made my list of Top 10 Best Opening Sequences of 2014. Similar Taku Iwasaki’s edgier style, this rock song encompasses the spirit that Noragami isn’t always going to be a bright show to watch.  Shuntaro’s vocals give off the eerie style similar to White Ash’s vocalist Nobita but with a wider range to play around with.  The visuals are top notch–love those blue paneled scenes against the photographic backgrounds.  The animation on the characters is extremely fluid and transitions cut together incredibly well!

ED: “Heart Realize” (ハートリアライズ) by Tia (Supercell)

You can really tell this is a Supercell song.  Heavy on the strings and a focus on melisma.  I like it and it’s very refreshing to see how slow-paced it is compared to it’s opening counterpart. My favorite part is where we see Hiyori stopped at the train tracks symbolizing the Far Shore and the Near Shore and that she can reach Yato in the other world.  The blue lightning effect on Yato and the other character shown establish how otherworldly the Far Shore is.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Ninja Slayer From Animation Episode 5

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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

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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.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

GATE: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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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 KyoukanTo Love-ru Darkness 2ndFate/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

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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

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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.

I won’t be covering this show.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 1/10

PUNCHLINE [71/100]

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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 SensenDurararax2 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)

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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

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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:

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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.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 71/100

Duarara!x2 Shou [88/100]

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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 x2Shoux2Ten 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.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [88/100]

Duarara!x2 Shou Episode 12 [END]

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Noboru Takagi is the series writer for this season and here is where an hour-long special would have worked extremely well by adding on to the conclusion of this.  I was pretty unimpressed by this episode.  However the highlight is that this entire episode was animated extremely well.  Studio Shuka’s budget was used quite a bit on this finale–  those fights were drawn with a strong attention to detail and had some nice fluid animation to back it up.  Especially when Shizuo is dodging Varona’s bullets!

Shizuo’s fight against Varona is the real highlight that closes out this season nicely just in time for xTen.  The motorcycle that is hurled into the air towards the crowd of Dollars and Saitama gangs fighting each other was a great way to introduced Shizuo the final episode.  For the most part he cleans up house between the gangs but one part that doesn’t make much sense is how Varona can hold her own against Shizuo but can’t win against the Awakusa group.  Sloan and her get taken out leaving quite the cliffhanger.  It was a good way to show off how powerful the Awakusa group but don’t use the incredibly powerful Varona to achieve this!  Doesn’t make much sense after she was able to survive the encounter against Shizuo!

On top of that we get another narrative thread–  Yodogiri Jinnai shows back up and decides to kill Izaya for meddling into his business.  Which given that the teaser is already out we see he’s very much alive.  As for Ryuugamine he’s showing how weak he is by accepting Aoba’s agreement on being the leader of the Blue Squares.  Another reason why this episode should have been an hour-long special.  Felt really rushed.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 5/10