A blog for news of anime release dates, annoucements and giveaways to anime and manga enthusiasts

June 2016

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal Season III or Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon crystal season 3 is the continuing adaptation of the classic shoujo series , Sailor Moon. Much like Dragon Ball Z Kai , Sailor moon crystal claims to adhere more to the manga's story and cut down on the filler of the original series. The first two seasons received generally positive reviews , mainly from fans of the original series , the third season has so far been praised as the best , from a graphical standpoint.

The series staff hasn’t changed radically and Toei Animation are still in charge of the show. Toei is a very strange studio , they own some  the literal largest names in anime , DBZ , One piece, Sailor Moon. And having made what is in my opinion one of the best animated films in history : Neon of Genesis End of Evangelion. But people have grown sour towards them due to the way they abuse their shows these days , you just have to google , “ One Piece animation “ to find hundreds of people irritated by the massive drops in quality in recent times. 

So was Sailor Moon Crystal III the return of greatness people say it was….?

“The season adapted the Death Busters arc from the fifth and sixth volumes of the complete edition of Takeuchi Naoko's original Sailor Moon manga.”

There’s honestly no point in me writing a full re-cap of the story since if you’re watching the third season , I have to assume you’re a fan of the characters.

As I mentioned above , the key selling point of Crystal is that the story is fitted more towards the way the manga flowed , now I’ve never read the manga in depth  so I’m not the best person to comment on this but I will say there was minimal filler. The pacing felt slightly fast and a lot was packaged into the first few episodes which if you’re already disgruntled from the first two season might be enough to drive you away. 

The dialogue is corny and the romance overly sappy but , hey , it’s Sailor Moon there’s a guy in it whose main power is throwing roses and wearing a tuxedo. Complaining about that is like someone complaining that DBZ contains topless men screaming.
The humour too is familiar , if you liked it before you’re sure to still like it since it’s just the same.

Now I’m all for moving forward and mixing the show up to  separate it from it’s predecessor but I will admit to feeling a twinge of disappointment when the new Opening was completely removed from the classic original series. Visually it’s a bit standard even when it’s not compared to incredibly creative original.
The soundtrack was far more complex that I’d set my expectations for it to be. It carried a lot more weight and range than your usual shoujo.

Now this point might only be relevant for me but I’d still like to bring it up. Usagi sounds incredibly young , almost as young as her daughter.The few episodes I saw when I was younger where all dubbed and there Usagi sounded like a teenager not a primary school girl. Though seeing how accomplished the actress portraying her is , Kotono Mitsuishi , I suppose it’s just me.

What’s really tanked Toei’s sale and reputation is their use of outsourced cheap animation. There was a lot of discontent over the first two seasons , characters designs were inconsistent and looked unnaturally and far too doll-like. I’m pleased to say that Toei probably took a look at their wallets and decided to fix this up , characters look great. If you’re straight from the original series then you might be a bit taken aback but the revamped designs adhere far more to the mangaka's’ original drawings. Hair and cloth animations look great , moving with the wind and characters during fight scenes. Facial animations look far less creepy , eyes in particular no longer look like dead saucers , which is always a plus.
I was quite disappointed with how the show handled the spirits/monsters present in this arc. Very basic designs with the universal black and purple design.

Fight scenes look great and the one thing I’d say is vastly improved from the 90’s series , all the unnecessary filler has been trimmed out but each fight has it’s own personality instead of the same thing with re-used animation.

Characters moved fast and there’s far more space for them to move about in. Choreography is good but not too far removed  for it no be recognized as Sailor Moon. The special attacks are slotted in smoothly , with good transitions and vastly improved animation , they seem significant to the fight rather than being there just to fill up time. Fans will be glad to know that there no longer any CGI transformations , a big thumbs up. 

A small detail but something that shows an unusual initiative from Toei is how they implemented small things into the world to clearly show that it’s happening in the 2010’s. Characters use iphones and watch the news on HD televisions.

If you’re a big Sailor Moon buff who’s read the manga and or watched the original series but dropped Sailor Moon crystal due to the drop in overall quality then I’m sure and I would highly recommend that you jumps straight into Season III , I think the scare in Toei's funds motivated them to give the fans something that they and the series of worth of. I can’t guarantee that they’ll keep this up , or dump it once again as soon as profits go up. If you’re new to the Sailor Moon world and want to start it well then there’s three paths open to you : Watch the original series up to season 3 pretty counter-intuitive if you wanted to experience the show in HD , read the manga up to season 3 ( the option I’d recommend most highly ) or just grit your teeth and watch the mediocre first and second season.

Concrete Revolutio : Choujin Gensou the last song is the second season of Concrete Revolutio and so far has proved to be one of the most original of this seasons limited original anime. It premiered last year following the boom of superhero anime which can be accredited to Marvel blowing up the Superhero genre in mainstream cinema. It was praised for being an original series and for taken a look at anime superheroes from a different angle exploring the greyer moralities whilst still being fun and creative.

Studio Bones has done both of the seasons , a great studio who are also working on the equally great Boku no Hero as well as the less noticed Hero Man. 

“Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou takes place in an alternate future during the year Apotheosis 41. Earth has been inhabited by an array of beings once thought to be pure fiction: ghosts, robots, aliens, cyborgs, you name it. This horrific reality is not something that many can accept. To keep the civilian population from panicking and to protect humanity from any new threats that may arise, the various governments of the world have decided to keep this information secret.

The Japanese government's solution to this problem is to set up the Super Population Research Laboratory, also known as the "Superhuman Bureau." This organization is tasked with keeping track of all the special beings within Japan and containing, or eliminating, individuals that are deemed to be a threat. As only other superhumans can really stand up to superhumans, the Bureau consists of almost all non-human members. The one exception is Jirou Hitoyoshi, whose main job is to recruit new talent and bolster the number of superhumans working for the government. One day, a crucial decision forces Jirou to become a vigilante, with the Bureau he once served now hunting him. How will he handle the transition from hero to fugitive?”

Despite the anime superhero genre being revived lately by the recent smash hits : Boku no Hero and One Punch Man Concrete is the only one that has so far attempted to create a large scale story spanning over more characters and locations. If you take One Punch and Boku no as a Batman graphic novel ( by comparison purely ) then Concrete Revolutio is Watchmen with a fair bit of X-men thrown in for good measure. The story is set up to allow countless encounters and plot points , not being tied to a manga either adds to the writers freedom. So I think the rather standard plot about being chased by the government has laid out a decent foundation to be filled out by the writers.

If you google , Concrete Revolutio - confusing , then you’re sure to get  a good amount of hits. Incoherent and jumbled up time-lines are very common in western TV and films but it’s something that has never been explored in mainstream anime , I presume due to the stereo-type that anime is only for small children. But it’s nice to see expanding into Japanese media as well.

The questioning of morality , government and other philosophies is a good way of fleshing out the show and compensates depth for the goofier moments and characters. It’s handled incredibly unsubtly though.

The soundtrack is unique and quite clearly thought out to match what the show needed. It mostly stays in the background adding to fight scenes. Nothing about it is overtly “ superhero “ however. 
I do have a problem with the voice actors , even though they’re all very talented they just aren’t able to portray the scale and size of the supposed characters they playing. I just don’t buy that they’re , a detective or a giant mech but a voice actor. Now the cast is a collection of very fine award-winning actors so this might be a problem with the direction. I suspect they were told to downplay themselves as the show tries to be more serious than the average superhero anime.

The art is , no surprise , really good. There’s a great utilization of colour and especially admirable is how the lighting is done 100% through the artwork rather than CGI onto the pre-existing frame.I don’t know if you’ve noticed but it’s extremely distracting , especially in SOL comedies where this is most prevalent , to have a simple two colored tone with a glaring obviously cgi ray of light which is usually far too HD to fit the rest of the show.

The art-style allows for some exceptional character designs with everything from mechs to goofy dog people the simple colouring and toned down clothing keeps them from being too outlandish and sticking out during the darker moments.

And it annoys me to no end that I have to say this but the superhero show has better mechs , all done 2d by hand than every single mech show this season. If a show whose focus is about 50% on mech battles then how come designers think it’s okay to just copy+paste a 3d model onto a pre-existing 2d background when dealing in a show tailored specifically to mech fans ?  

Although the character designs are amazing and the mechs are stunning the characters are rather predictable , I think this a drawback of dealing with darker tone. One Punch has a main character who has quickly skyrocketed into recognition and adoration but one that would never work if you paired him with themes of government oppression and when civilian violence is justified.

I present this shows recommendation with caution. It’s a very mixed bag which dabbles in a bit of everything but only successfully pulls off one or two of those. If you find Boku no Hero Academia too childish and bright for you this season then I’d say turn to Concrete Revolutio , also for any mecha otaku like myself this show will successfully any post 3DCGI depression you might have after seeing what this season had to offer.

Seeing how this is an original series with a large story with countless opportunities  and Studio Bones has a great reputation , I’d say that there’s a  50/50 chance of Concrete Revolutio sees a third season. But I do think if Bones has to choose between Concrete and the obvious moneymaker Boku no , it’s fairly obvious who they’ll choose. Though worst case scenario we get a character spin-off series , which is no real loss.

AnneHappy , AnneHappy♪ or Unhappy is yet another high-school slice of life comedy. Every season anime-fans have dozens of SOL high-school comedies featuring cute girls from choose from. To narrow down this field and try to gain more watchers these shows being incredibly specific in who they target , Bakuon - girls with motorbikes , Sabagebu - girls with guns and countless others. Unhappy has...un-lucky girls. Already not the strongest start , unless there’s a very secretive community of unfortunate otaku hiding on the internet somewhere I don’t know about. So , why should you choose Anne Happy over the rest ? A question that can’t be answered with an overwhelming answer because it's a very simple show , so below this I’m going to give you a brief run-down of what the show has going for it.

AnneHappy is the TV adaptation  of a small shoujo manga that began it’s run in 2014 and picked up by studio Silver Link and if you even have a remote interest in slice of life you’ve probably seen one of their shows. WataMote , Non Non Biyori and the show I’ve gushed over ,this season Tanaka kun wa itsumo kedaruge. So what's with the very large gap in the quality between these two ? Well , now keep in mind this is just a theory, but I think that there was for more work put into AnneHappy and therefore it came out as far more formulaic whereas the Tanaka team were given far more creative control. 

“The story centers around class 1-7 of Tennomifune Academy, where all the students with "bad karma" or misfortune seem to have been gathered. Hibari, a student in this class, meets the unlucky Hanako and the perennially unhealthy Botan on her first day of school, and together they try to find a way to turn their school life into a happy one.”

It’s not an un-common occurrence to have your SOL protagonist be a slight outcast/underdog and they do seem like they have perpetually bad luck so I guess the way AnneHappy takes this character standard to the next level by making it the entire premise of the show. On it’s own it’s a fairly clever,very cute show but it’s hindered by the very standardized humour and writing. I’ve often said that simplicity is usually best in a low-key series like this but the writers supplement it by fitting their shows quirk ( bikes , guns , neets) and making the shows seem like its has far more personality than it actually does and like I said AnneHappy doesn’t really have that option available.

The OP is visually creative and filled with more humour than the actual jokes in the show , it’s a catchy little beat and something pleasant to hum along to. The sound-track ( minus the visual part ) is just as appealing it’s varied and combines a wide range of instruments to create a style I can’t exactly name. Despite all that it boils down to another OST indistinguishable from the others on the market.

The voice cast is very well rounded of actresses with a decent amount of supporting roles in their portfolio and AnneHappy is their first real project where they’re portraying a main character. They’re good enough , I’m a bit disappointed on how generic they chose to play their characters , the timid girl sounds like every other timid girl and the loud one sounds like just another loud girl.

Now the backgrounds in this show are simply beautiful , I’m sure the show would be just as good if it was just a slide-show of still backgrounds. The watercolors are sublimely done with the coloring and shading giving each scene depth, you can tell what time it is with how light or dark the palette is. Why do I say I’d prefer 24 minutes of just this ? Well because the budget , it seems , can only handle the high quality art for above five minutes before leaping straight back into the comfort zone of sticker chibis and single tone wallpapers. I’m grateful for the five minutes we get but I won’t stop being a little bit bitter whenever the far more artistic moments are interrupted by screaming little puppets.

The visual gags are predictable and just a mixed bag of what can be found in every show , chibis , floating text , characters imaging things cartoonishly in their head , all of those check. They’re executed well and switch fluidly but are just so unambitious that I slowly forgot to take note of them.

I’m quite surprised with how the rather standard character designs fit in really well with the watercolor backgrounds. Since all slice of life characters eventually start to blend together in the viewer's mind , having a specific niche attached to their outfit helps the viewer recognise the character with their respective series. Girl with a gun ? Sabagebu , Girl on a bike ? Bakuon. Again Unhappy doesn’t have a niche that can be as easily represented visually. However I don’t know how Silver Link though these designs out, Watamote is instantly recognisable and highly adored in her community  as the champion of NEETS and Tanaka kuns listless-ness is outwardly shown in every line on his face. Surely there could have been some way to portray an unlucky person ?

I think given the lackluster characters and writing AnneHappy would have worked far better with say 11 minute episodes rather than 24. Sure the situations they get into can have a decent amount of drama and suspense but I think tightening the shows time down would improve the humour and speed of delivery as well as allow for the good art to be showcased more.

Why should I choose AnneHappy over any of the other SOL this season ? Is what you might be asking yourself at this very moment , well I can’t really answer that , there’s two reason I can give neither of them very good ones : you have a strong loyalty towards Studio Silver Link or you just want to view some great watercolour backgrounds. I doubt we’ll see a second season.

Sakamoto , desu ga or I’m Sakamoto , haven’t you heard ? Is definitely one of the better comedies this season , ever been annoyed how harem MC are completely inept with girls and generally terrible at everything ? Well Sakamoto is what you’ve been looking for.

A direct adaptation of Sano Nami's manga by Studio Deen who have been very busy this season. I’m very tempted to say that Sakamoto makes up for all the mediocre shows that they’ve put out recently.

“Sophisticated, suave, sublime; all words which describe the exceedingly handsome and patently perfect Sakamoto. Though it is only his first day in high school, his attractiveness, intelligence, and charm already has the girls swooning and the guys fuming with jealousy. No one seems able to derail him, as all attempts at tripping him up are quickly foiled. His sangfroid is indomitable, his wits peerless. Will any of Sakamoto's classmates, or even teachers, be able to reach his level of excellence? Probably not, but they just might learn a thing or two trying…”

The story and humour and writing are all completely devoted to one idea , the idea that Sakamoto is the most perfect man alive. It never deviates into anything else , and that’s good , people tune in every week to see Sakamoto being the most amazing human alive and Studio Deen doesn’t fail to deliver.

The humour is quite niche and something that’d mostly be showcased as a funny quirk in a background character in your standard slice of life. It can be quite predictable , there’s a problem either naturally occurring or a jealous rival trying to ruin Sakamoto , Sakamoto perfectly avoids the problem and comes out on top.
Despite that there’s always the niggling sensation that maybe, just maybe , this time Sakamoto will be disgraced. It’s comparable to One Punch man as in every-time a bigger and more fierce enemy shows up there’s a minute of doubt  in your mind, can he destroy it in one blow ? Though I’m going to go ahead and say Sakamoto is far more skilled than Saitama. 

It employs a rather standard “ monster of the week “ style of story-telling with the 24 minute episode being split into two different scenarios.The problems Sakamoto has to overcome and how he does it are always unique and hilariously memorable. I mean , how could you forget someone sword fighting an angry hornet with a compass tip. Although Bee Movie did do it first.

Something I’m glad is making a comeback , and I’m going to credit it to Sabagebu Survival Game club, is the use of a humorous narrator. Who’s responsible for most of the shows catchphrases like , Stylish , Cool Cooler Coolest.

The OP is great and incorporates a beautiful comic-y visual style. The overall sound track is really well done , and is mostly jazz. Featuring saxophones , trumpets and drums.

The talented Hikaru Midorikawa( DBZ, DBZ Kai , Bleach,Naruto ) does a fantastic job bringing the character of Sakamoto to live and giving him the voice deserving of his grand personality.

The art-style is very cleverly thought out , taking the very serious and thick art-style that a lot of yaoi/ female orientated shows use and mixing it with these ridiculous scenarios. Direction and choreography are all focused and succeed on showcasing how amazing Sakamoto is. The director Shinji Takamatsu had previously worked on the hit parody series Gintama and you sense his knowledge of the parody genre seeping into Sakamoto.

It’s also the only show that can use sparkles effects and not have them come off as incredibly stupid. 

Needless to say Sakamoto is a one of a kind character and massive fan-favorite of this season. He’s regal ,classy, graceful,skilled and mysterious the complete opposite of most male comedy protagonists and a perfect embodiment of suave humour. His design mimics that of male characters that are designed to appeal (mostly) to women , such as the characters in  Free!

All the villains and eventual Sakamoto fanatics are hilariously entertaining and you have to admire how seriously they take their plots to ruin Sakamoto.

Everything Sakamoto does , Sakamoto does stylishly and the animators make sure you don’t forget that. Every movement is over-stated and followed by sparkles and and glitter effects. The variety of ways they show-case how impressive Sakamoto is , really is impressive and I get a chuckle out of imagining a room of animators discussing how to make eating rice stylish. I enjoyed how they stuck with the high quality style of animation where a lot of slice of life comedies simply resort to one or two key frames in high quality and then another scene done completely in the chibi sticker form.  His expressions are always cool and sophisticated , including scream chibi would have ruined this visual part of the show. In my opinion.

If you’re looking for the coolest and most stylish comedy this year then Sakamoto , Desu ga ? Is the answer for your prayers. It took a simple idea and made it infinitely entertaining. Accompanied with a fitting and pleasing art-style  and a soundtrack that shares the shows flair. Limited in side characters but I prefer their dedication to Sakamoto by making him the very clear focus of the show.  Despite producing rather a stream of mediocre shows this season and in the past , as well as universally disliked adaptation , remember the uproar on Pupa ? The horror manga which fans complained was butchered by the studio. By not messing with the original material I’d say the studio gave Sakamoto the adaptation he deserved , showcasing how stylish he is in colour.

Now despite gaining a fairly large following , Sakamoto was simply released at the wrong time I think , having to compete with obvious big winners like , Boku no hero academia and Ace Attorney . I just hope that the producers have enough sense to stick with the show and give us another great season , at a more fitting time so more people will have the time and motivation to get inspired by Sakamoto.

Re : Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu ( Re : Zero - starting life in a new world ) , is a 2016 adaptation of Tappai Nagatsuki’ Light novel series. It had previously been given three manga adaptations. The studio White Fox has only been in charge of 21 projects before ( including specials and shorts ) but most of their creations have been very well received , including 2014s summer hit Akame ga Kill and the iconic Steins : gate.

The best way for me to describe Re : Zero is to say that White fox took the dark fantasy world of Akame ga Kill but combined it with a story and characters that share the depth of Steins : Gate. Having sat through every single mediocre fantasy series that came out this season , Re : Zero is completely mind-blowing. It has charm , humour , great characters but can also handle the darkness that comes with a dark fantasy world.

“Suddenly, high school student and NEET shut in, Subaru Natsuki has been summoned to another world on the way back from the convenience store. With the biggest crisis of his life being summoned to another world, and with no sign of the one who summoned him, things become even worse when he is attacked. But when he is saved by a mysterious, silver-haired girl with a fairy cat, Subaru attempts to return the favor by helping her track down something that was stolen from her. When they finally manage to get a clue, Subaru and the girl are attacked and killed by someone. Subaru then awakens in the place he was summoned and notices he gained the ability "Returns by Death" and has become a helpless boy that only has the ability to rewind time to a certain point by dying. Beyond the despair, can he save the girl from the fate of death?”

Despite the paragraph above , the story is actually quite simple. The NEET main character being summoned into a parallel world is nothing new and some of you might be reminded of ,Konosuba from last season. His power , to be able to come back from death and having a knowledge of the future also ideas that have been done before , Mirai Nikki. 

What really drives Re : Zero though is how it handles the way the main character adapts to the world and how living in a fantasy world would change a person. 

The humour is great and as someone who loves the fantasy genre , having the show constantly flip my expectations  and predictions on their head was entertaining. Some of the shows strongest points are when it’s deconstructing how anime handles dark fantasy and the tropes and storytelling devices. If you’ve seen your fair share of anime fantasy you’ll enjoy these sequences far more.

The story is very ambitious trying to master two tones , a happy romantic comedy and an incredibly violent and quite depressing story. I think this is handles very well. The art-style aids greatly in making it work and the show always signals when things are going to get flipped so it’s never really a surprise. The suspense and tension are handled really well , the writing and direction are very accomplished and creating a sense of unease when needed. 

The music is decent , fitting for the medieval setting , and is paired to scene almost perfectly by Jin Aketagawa  ( Aldonoah Zero , Highschool DXD) who, seemingly, does the sound direction for every other anime these days. Not a surprise as what helps the very two toned story stay focused is the very distinct music separating the two , it’s never unclear and that’s a great asset to have.

The world is a gorgeous euro-style medieval fantasy. The art-style is simple but paired Yoshito Takamines brilliant direction it showcases both the lustrous beauty of a realm filled with magic and sword-fighting but also the violence , poverty and harshness that a world like that is inevitably filled with. Takamine has worked very closely with Studio White Fox on several on their recent projects , Akame ga Kill , The Devil is a Part Timer so anyone familiar with those can feel right at home with Re : Zero.

Talking of violence , Re : Zero has the most refreshingly non-fantasy violence I’ve seen all season. That might sound bad to some of you , a fantasy series ? With non-fantasy violence ? How can that be good.

Well let me explain , a lot of animators these days take their idea of how these shows should handle their fight scenes for Jrpgs’ and anime MMOs’. So the fight scenes always descend to just characters with shining weapons throwing non-consequential balls of light at each other which pack no punch. Re : Zero I’m happy to report , almost makes me cringe with how brutal the combat is . The speed at which the characters move is breathtaking.I can watch a character get kicked in the face and feel it. But there’s also magic, over-sized swords and spirits to keep true to the genre.

Characters designs are gorgeous, distinctly anime but not the shiny , plastic dolls that seem to be mass-produced by animators. They do a great job of portraying both sides of the story , one moment a blushing girl flirting with the main character the next a snarling beast wielding a scythe.

The MC is hilarious , but also an easy character to root for. He plays on every trope that a typical fantasy MC goes through , meeting a cute girl , his first fight ect. The way he works himself and learns about the world is how I’m sure most viewers would. Watching how having the power to and constantly coming back from death , tolls on his emotional state is what cements him as a great character. Watching him lose his friends time and time again is heart-wrenching. A slight complaint that shouldn’t matter too much is he’s the very romanticized version of a NEET shut-in. Though I guess it wouldn’t be a very entertaining show if he just crawled into an alley and stayed there.

The side characters too , are all plays on the type of character you’d find in an RPG. What’s great is how they’re always initially presented as just being another cut-out stereo-type but slowly reveal more of themselves every time the MC has to deal with them.

I see this as a cultivation of all of White Foxes previous shows, the depth of Steins : Gate , the humour of The Devil is part timer and the feel and world of Akame ga Kill. It’s an amazing journey and I highly recommend it , not for a new-comers to anime fantasy however I think you’ll enjoy the humour and character  far more with a couple of mediocre series under your belt first. On a scale ? I’m inclined to rank it above Akame ga Kill and the devil is a part-timer but slightly under Steins : gate.

The initial run will be for 24 episodes. I think that should be enough space to tell the story that the writer wanted to tell. But who knows ? So far White Fox hasn’t been too successful with getting their shows additional seasons. That’s neither a plus or a minus as both Steins and Akame wrapped up their stories in 24 episodes.

Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta or And you thought that girls don’t exist on the internet ? , is both a hilarious title and a decently entertaining show. An adaptation of a Light novel by Studio , Project No.9 a fairly small studio with only a couple of notable projects in the last few years , despite that , they did a good enough job on this slice of life harem comedy.

Nishimura or Rusian as he’s known in the, massively multiplayer online role playing game, ( MMORPG )  LA is a naive teenage boy , who spends his days playing online , having been tricked by men online numerous times and even having proposing to a man pretending to be a girl in-game two years ago, he’d decided to never trust any girls online. Until Ako comes along.

The story is actually very original actually although it’s in a genre that’s really not. Harem comedies are often extremely predictable and formulaic unfortunately Netoge really doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from its competitors. 

The humour follows the standard conventions and is largely unambitious , still funny and it’s great to see the writers using all that the MMO setting and culture can give them. If you know MMO’s and gaming you’ll definitely get quite a few laughs. Not to mention I’m sure most people have regrettable experiences with  romance in online games. So our MC’s plight isn’t completely unrelatable. 

The writers definitely know their audience and it was a good change for most of the conflicts be based around problems within the MMO world , rather than relationship drama. Something rather mundane like having your account stolen fills up the entire 24 minutes as a massive epic tale.

The soundtrack is pretty forgettable and I’d be lying if I said that I'd be able to recall any of the tracks or even the Opening or ending on the spot.

The in-game music sounds just like typical RPG in-game music a ,definite plus in selling the world.

The art-style is the very standard , shiny , colourful slice of life style. The scenes within the RPG are probably the most well-animated with fairly complex lighting and shadows. The monsters ( orcs etc ) have a clean cartoonish style that reflects the shows relaxed tone. 

The combat does a good job of mashing up how intense a MMO can get and rather impressive fight-scenes with the over-the-top comedy style. 

The characters don’t really have much going for them , both in style and personality. The designs are standard both in reality and the in-game world. 
Our MC is the typical self-insert harem guy , slightly nervous around girls but over-all likeable. The main expectation is that in this one he actually has a girlfriend instead of just flirting with his entire harem. 

The girls in the harem are very one-dimensional , the tsundere , the overly-attached one etc. I found them far more entertaining as their MMO counterparts there they felt far more genuine. Which , I suppose , is a half-decent yet I expect unintentional message how people act more like themselves in the virtual world.

So , yeah. Netoge no Yome is a very standard harem comedy , I’d put it in the middle of this seasons SOL pile purely because of it’s niche appeal to MMO players. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw another season announced sometime soon since it is easily marketable though there’s a lot of comedies that outshine by a mile.

Magi is a rather large anime fantasy series , having two separate anime series , a set of OVA’s and being based on an award winning manga, there was a lot of buzz for Magi : Sinbad no Bouken. The initial two series , Magi : The labyrinth of Magic is a shonen manga that started being serialized in 2013 in the magazine Shonen jump. In 2013 it received the Shogakukan manga award which it shares with , 20th century boys, Bleach and Haikyuu. The series earned its first anime adaptation called simply , “ Magi : The Labyrinth of Magic in 2013 and the next year was followed up by  the second season , Magi :The Kingdom of Magic. 

The Magi : Sinbad series , so to call it , is a prequel story following the early years of one of the most powerful characters in the series ,Sinbad. The series also has a manga series and a completed OVA series that aired 2015.

Now full disclosure I have never seen an episode of Magi before watching this show , however from what I could find on the internet Sinbad no Bouken works rather well as a stand-alone experience without any prior knowledge. Having watched it now , I’m inclined to agree.

Sinbad no Bouken is made by studio Lay-duce , who were in charge of the Sinbad OVA series but not the original Magi series. In fact it’s a very small studio with only 6 anime under their belts. 

“Not so long ago, mysterious structures called dungeons began appearing all over the world. No one knows what they are or how they came to be, but adventurers and armies around the world instantly took interest in them. Thousands set out to explore the dungeons, but so far, not a single person has returned.

In a Parthevia port, a young boy is about to make a name for himself. Sinbad is good-natured, strong, and craving adventure. A kind deed leads to his meeting with Yunan, an enigmatic traveler who is far more powerful than his frivolous personality lets on. Yunan instructs Sinbad to attain the "power of the king" and change the world—by conquering a dungeon. The eager boy readily accepts, setting out on the grand adventure he so craved.

Taking place 15 years before the events of the original series, Sinbad no Bouken chronicles Sinbad's youth as a dungeon conqueror. Along the way, the budding adventurer and merchant will have to face many obstacles, but anything is possible with the power of a king.”

The series follows all the events in Sinbad's life that shaped him before the Magi series. It’s a very character driven story set in a enjoyable world , filled with adventure and magic. The stories balances the adventure and action rather well. I will note that the moral stances the show takes are pushed very far into the viewer's throat. Do we really have to be told how bad the war is , every episode ?

Same with the emotional moments , though I assume if you’re already acquainted with the characters you’ll feel the effects more. Despite having a lot of material to cover the pacing is handled rather well.

The world despite being a fantasy world feels quite realistic and has nothing too outlandish in it. The loose historical setting fits the original  arabian story of Sinbad.

Visually it’s very pleasing , not because the art style is anything too amazing but the aesthetic of the world is very colorful and romanticized ,  dripping in adventure.

The landscapes are diverse and always have seem enormously sprawling, which is quite a key component where our main characters drive is to explore.

Historically the buildings and markets add up and it’s an interesting part of the world since most fantasy anime these days take place either in feudal Japan or medieval Europe. 

The armour,  weapons and costume designs are fairly grounded in reality , the violence is quite brutal , which can be jarring given the overall atmosphere of the show but depending on your view that’s can either be a pro or a con.

The combat is pretty campy , characters jump 50 feet in the air and bounce off the walls. It’s still enjoyable though has a great sense of speed and movement. The shots are mostly open and just allow you to just enjoy the action. In the more emotionally charged the choreography paired with the more elaborate direction are always intense and usually far more gritty than the regular action.

Since this entire series is based on a character so awesome ( I have to assume ) that the creators felt he deserved his own series, it’s not really unexpected the characters are great. Sinbad has a lot of depth and seeing him grow you understand why he acts like he does and the people who help mould his world views.

The side-characters are , in general , far weaker. The bad-guys are evil with no redeeming factors and the good-guys can do no wrong. I can understand why his father is such a pinnacle of perfection , especially since that part of the story is told from the view-point of a young child. Still there was definitely a lot of room for further development , the first episode gives us a very well-built up confrontation and a satisfying combat scene but still I felt disappointed as the show had a great chance to give the bad guy some real depth but chose to steal his chance of gaining a little humanity.

If you liked the original Magi series , then I think this should have given you a brief overview of the general quality of the show , which is that it’s pretty damn great. If you’ve , like me , never heard of Magi before then I think even though Sinbad is good show and carries a great sense of adventure akin to One Piece , you can safely put it on the back of your priorities list.

I think a second season is quite guaranteed looking at the series past successes and the speed at which the original anime got a sequel.

Koutetsujuou no Kabaneri or Kabaneri of the Iron fortress is probably my pick for the most impressive show this season in terms of it’s enormous production value. It is based on a manga series and novel the adaptation is being handled by Wit Studio who have skyrocketed in popularity lately since producing, probably ,the best know entry-level anime this decade , Attack on Titan. Followed by the less critically acclaimed but still popular Owari no Seraph. You can definitely feel the influence of those shows in Kabaneri, however it still it’s very own thing with a completely different tone and visual style.

“As the world is in the middle of an industrial revolution, a monster appears that cannot be defeated unless its heart, which is protected by a layer of iron, is pierced. By infecting humans with its bite, the monster can create aggressive and undead creatures known as Kabane. On the island Hinomoto, located in the far east, people have built stations to shelter themselves from these creatures. People access the station, as well as transport wares between them, with the help of a locomotive running on steam, called Hayajiro. Ikoma, a boy who lives in the Aragane station and helps to build Hayajiro, creates his own weapon called Tsuranukizutsu in order to defeat the creatures. One day, as he waits for an opportunity to use his weapon, he meets a girl named Mumei, who is excused from the mandatory Kabane inspection. During the night, Ikoma meets Mumei again as he sees Hayajiro going out of control. The staff on the locomotive has turned into the creatures. The station, now under attack by Kabane, is the opportunity Ikoma has been looking for.”

Although explosively popular in the States and western world, zombies as a plot device in anime has just recently started picking up. There was even a time where , Highschool of the Dead , was the only mainstream zombie anime in existence. If you accept it at face value it is a rather simple zombie story , although the only time I’ve ever seen steampunk zombies done well. If you switch off your critical thinking and ignore the irrationalities and plot-points you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

It’s not a very shallow show , but , it’s not as deep as you think it is. The philosophies of humanity and how it shouldn’t be ruled by fear , carry over from Attack on Titan fairly heavily and even there they really weren’t as deep as the writers thought.

The feudal class system conflicts really irritated me , they felt forced and held back the story's’ pace. I think since this was done quite well in Attack on Titan they decided to have it carry over both series but in Attack on Titan it made far more sense , the world was at peace and not in constant threat from zombies and there was already a natural divide built by the walls. I also think since the story has quite a few inspirations from Feudal Japan they implemented this key theme from Akira Kurosawa movies.

It’s common knowledge that Studio Wit have gotten sound-design down to science , ask the most casual of Otaku to hum you the Attack on Titan theme song and I’m sure they’ll be willing and able to oblige. The soundtrack is everything it needs to be : touching , intense , fierce. Though their use of music to make you feel has become a bit formulaic : intense action , shuddering frames , screaming , loud music. But goddamn is it still as intense. 
We have an opening from the amazing Egoist , creators of the Psycho Pass opening songs.

The sounds from the machinery are all engrossing , chugging trains , clanging pipes , the rush and whistle of a gun all help form the world around us.

The animation , not even the art-style, but the animation is quite literally top of the line. With the enormous budget this show received it is the very top of the line of what modern HD animation can achieve. 
The world is incredibly gritty and rough , brought to live by the awe-inspiring backgrounds and settings. The landscape shots of a burned earth with shambling zombies flickering like embers in the night is breath-taking. You can totally imagine yourself living surrounded by all this machinery , the animation on all the steampunk is done to an incredible level of detail.

The world is steampunk but carries vibes of a faux Muromachi era feudal Japan and these two blend really well. Who doesn’t want to see samurai toting around steam-guns ?

The direction is , of course , great but not particularly experimental, nothing wrong with that since I appreciate the dedication of delivering a solid entertaining experience rather than a soul changing one. The use of degrading art to create tension when coupled with , the mentioned above , amazing soundtrack drive the overwhelming moments of emotion into overdrive.

The combat is still as fast and entrancing as it was in Attack on Titan , though without the 3d maneuver gear it's far more limited to the ground. The gore bothered me quite a lot however , the rest of the world feels reasonably grounded in reality but the blood flows like cool aid from a garden hose.

The character designs carry the easily recognisable , Studi Wit , art-style. Though I prefer them to the designs of Attack on Titan or Seraph since rather than just being HD there’s clear inspiration from the semi-feudal setting.Without accusing the artist of plagiarism it reminds of how Miyazaki designed the characters in Princess Mononoke.

The zombies are visceral and terrifying with a grey and orange colour scheme that matches the world and separates them from western style zombies.

Our MC , Ikoma , is entertaining and fits the gritty world well , he’s not a 100% hero and that’s good. He’s likeable enough and has a lot more depth than most characters this season , despite that he still is at heart the main character of an anime aimed at teenagers so a lot of obnoxious cliche show up.

The side characters fill their roles well , the tsundere bad-ass , the best friend , the noble girl etc…  But the archetypes are entertaining ones and as I said this show doesn’t ever boast all that much depth.

Here is my biggest gripe and it’s something that is prevalent all through the show. The irrationality of the adults to make the teenagers seem intelligent by comparison, it was done in Attack on Titan and it’s been done in  teen anime for decades. It’s base fan-servicing that’s even more insulting than the occasional panty-shot since it tries to play itself like an crucial part of the writing.  It’s purpose is to make the teenagers watching feel as though , they too can be like their favorite characters and helps them empathise on issues they have with adults.This borderline , power fantasy , not only locks out the adult audience but creates another wall of disbelief as if zombies and steampunk weren’t enough.

Despite my rant above , I’m still going to recommend Kabaneri of the Iron fortress. It’s grand in scale , it’s intense ,it’s dark , the soundtrack is fantastic and the animation is the peak of modern animation. Just get ready to put up with some annoyances , cliches and don’t think too hard about the story.

It's odd being such a popular series you’d think that a second season was instantly guaranteed. Attack on Titan came out in 2013 and the anticipated second season is scheduled to come out 2017. Keep in mind the scale of these shows when you start guessing dates for Kabaneri.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 2 is the second season of the comedy/eechi/harem/action/shounen series Gakusen Toshi Asterisk. If you couldn’t already tell from the copious amounts of tags this show fits itself into , Gakusen Toshi is the Mcdonalds of anime , it appeals to basically everyone , it’s fun it’s a light-hearted affair  but when you take a deeper look into it...it’s rather quite terrible. But if you’re bored enough to watch this sort of series in the first place odds are you're not going to be comparing this show to Neon Genesis Evangelion. I’ve never seen Gakusen 1 but I think that Gakusen 2 gave me enough material to be able to review the two parts ( roughly ) as one. Do take this with a large handful of salt however.

Gakusen is based on a Light Novel series adapted by A-1 who I’m decided to name the kings of Pop-corn anime , anime you watch purely to get a enjoyable let largely empty experience. You should recognise them from these recent hits. Sword art online , Aldonoah Zero seasons 1 & 2 , Black butler and several others. So needless to say they knew how to handle this sort of show.

“Long, long ago, an epic catastrophe, known as Invertia, caused a complete change in the world's power balance. In the years following this disaster, a group known as the Integrated Enterprise Foundation rose to power. In addition to this massive change, a new breed of humans born with amazing physical skills known as Genestella also emerged and joined the ranks of humanity.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk follows the story of Ayato Amagiri, a student who has just transferred into one of the six most elite schools for Genestella students in the world—Seidoukan Academy—where students learn to control their powers and duel against each other in entertainment battles known as festas. Unfortunately, Ayato gets off to a rough start. When trying to return a lost handkerchief to a female classmate, he accidentally sees her changing which leads to her challenging him to a duel. What most people don't realize however, is that Ayato has no real interest in festas and instead has an alternative motive for joining this prestigious school. What is Ayato's big secret? Will he be able to keep up his act when surrounded by some of the greatest Genestella in the world?”

Two things that struck me , right off the bat. The show does not work very well as a stand-alone expirience and I’m okay with that. There’s nothing wrong with the show refusing to slow down and spoon-feed new-comers all the information. Especially those who decided to skip the first season. It makes my job more difficult but hey. 

Gakusen basically , took the tournament saga which every large shounen goes through , and spun it into a full blown series. Dragon Ball Z had several world tournaments arcs , Yu Yu Hakusho had one and what many people consider the best original Naruto arc , the chunin exams , were basically a tournament arc. So it’s not hard to see why they chose to slice this particular part out. 

The writing , pacing and story development are all incredibly cliched , but I think it’s the perfect serious to just watch absentmindedly in bed there’s a reason why cliches become cliche because enough people enjoyed them enough for other creators to copy them over to their own works. I think the writers of Gakusen knew they weren’t making high art here and just decided to have fun with it.

The soundtrack is very underlying , blending and underlining the action. It’s very well synched with combat. 

The art-style is very standard , less impressive and creative than Sword Art Online , but it’s not dreadful. It’s the very neutral , unprovoking art-style most shows favour these days. It’s not good , it’s not bad. It’s a fitting reflection of the shows overall quality.
The general animation is very toned down for the most part , as though the studio were saving as much budget as they could for the fight-scenes. Which are glorious by the way. Due to the enormous roster of characters each mash-up feels unique and I liked how it favours the characters are smart and use strategy to win form of writing the fights rather than characters punch each other hard. Now of course the strategies’ are mostly ass-pulls that the viewer has no way to predict but I did warn you that Gakusen requires are very open mind to enjoy.

The fights utilize the CG well , character movements feel unique to them and the blows pack a lot of power , the transitions are fast and creative using shadows and negative space to switch between character perspectives. Particularly impressive is the use of the virtual camera to create long sweeping shots that create the illusion that the fight is just one big take. Now this luxury treatment is limited only to the fight scenes expect far more mediocrity in the in-between scenes.

Character designs , the human ones at least , are the bare minimum of what you could expect. The entire championship is far more impressive , monks , mechs and knights all fighting in one arena , what could be better ? Anime tends to stick to the regions either it has an all Japanese cast or a mixed Euro Japanese one so it’s actually quite remarkable of Gakusen to feature , Japanese , Chinese , European and many more. 

So as you should now know having read the review that Gakusen is pure,mindless fun. And I do mean mindless , it’s dumb cliched , characters are one dimensional tropes and the story just decides on it’s own how things are going to go with neither rhyme nor reason. Though you should have noticed that I never said that any of this is bad. Not every show has to try and break animation history , there need to be mediocre shows for great ones to shine through. Gakusen doesn’t try to pass itself off as anything more and ticks off all the boxes it wanted to tick off. 

People crave dumb shows that they can easily digest and be entertained by , and Gakusen is there for those people , A-1 has had success in stretching their shows out over several season and with the limitless potential for a story Gakusen has its very likely we’ll soon see Asterisks 3 PV’s floating around.

12-Sai : Chicchana Mune no Tokimeki or 12 years old Juuni-sai might be most unconventional anime this season. It tackles the most unique issue and utilizes the full force of the animated medium to do so. Growing up and what it means to be a child. Themes and ideas that are very often weaved into stories in anime,film and literature. 12-sai however is able to look at the lifes of grade-school children directly and with a quite brutal reality. Where-as a show in any other form of storytelling couldn’t manage this without being an incredibly awkward experience. Can you imagine watching a TV show where the key plot-point of an episode is a twelve year old girl's first period , the girls being animated there’s a layer of boundary between the fiction of the show and reality. Mix that in with some humour and a great art-style and you’ve got an amazing show on your hands with mass market appeal that everyone can enjoy.

The show is made by OLM Inc who to my great amusement also made 25 episodes of the incredibly violent and dark , fantasy anime Berserk. The timeline is a bit strange as there have been quite a few entries in the 12-sai universe and they all share the same plot and basic characters, so you don’t have to worry about it too much.

“The story begins with Hanabi, a sixth-grade girl who is neither an adult nor a child. She deals with issues such as accidentally witnessing her homeroom teacher kissing, and worrying about experiencing physiological changes before her friends. The series depicts a 12-year-old girl's innocent worries and first love.”

As I mentioned previously the story is very original or rather the basic idea. All the situations are things that are likely/have likely happened to you in the past. Everyone knows how strange growing up can be and especially at such a delicate time. Watching this little kids deal with nonsensical classroom arguments and drama is heartwarming in its own unique way. The show knows when the let the humour take the the lead , just like the story probably won’t make you cry out-right the jokes aren’t exactly laugh out loud material but still trigger a dumb grin in me whenever I heard them.
The drama when it is present , is blown up to enormous proportions. Something as simple as a recorder test that won’t be relevant ten years down the line is showcased as the most intense game of loyalties and friendship. Which is broadly true on how children view the world.

The animation is decent , dealing with two rather different tones it does a good job of keeping them separate. It’s clear what we’re supposed to feel and when. The shots are quite simple but sometimes more creative rays shine through. A particularly beautiful shot is when we see Hanabi get her first kiss , the scene starts fairly standard. An orange sunset , the characters stare into each other's eyes and slowly move in etc. etc. but at the last moment it cuts away to a puddle surrounded by Sakura petals, we only see the kiss itself through that reflection. It was a shot that really stuck with me and there’s a view other I don’t dare to give away.

The comedy is both in how the characters act i.e like irrational kids , but it’s paired very well with the visual style. It feels quite chibi-esque as in the movements are fast and there’s several things jumping at you at once but it doesn’t resort to actually using chibis. 

From the character side of things I read a lot of viewers complaints, the characters look too moe , I don’t want to watch characters with saucers for eyes , they’re too annoying. And yes those are all valid points , but in truth , kids can be shy and annoying and uncomfortable and if that was stripped from the characters you’d be stripping what made them kids. Anime does this way too often for my liking and it always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when I see a child character acting this way.

Children in anime to a lot of writers are small adults who yell , “ onee chan and onii san “ a lot. 12-sai’s children act like children and it what makes the show work as a whole.

Since the entire show's premise is on how children develop and the relationships they go through and out-grow , it’s good that the show handles the character development both psycho and physiologically very well. The relationships feels a bit hollow and cliche but I suppose if you tried hard enough  ( which I will ) you can spin this into a positive since they base how they act with boys/girls based on what they see and mimic in adults like teachers.

The moe designs I can’t defend they’re not that bad however and a good representation of the manga's original art-style. It may be moe but at the very least it’s high taste moe not the bland plastic garbage most shows try to push on us as cute. 

I have a small complaint with the pacing however , due to the rather irrelevant nature of the shows key conflicts they tend to get resolved very fast. It’s either that or the show would risk dragging things out and eventually irritating the viewer , imagine how long can you stretch a scene of just boys teasing girls before it would grow old ? So perhaps cutting the episode into two very clearly separate segments like Sakamoto , Desu ga ? Would be beneficial to the overall quality of the show.

A very enjoyable and interesting show that hasn’t received it’s, fair , share of attention since it doesn’t contain enough dragons and fan-service to keep people interested. I think that watching the whole series is the optimum way to enjoy 12-sai but of course if you’re picky you can read the episode list and go for what’s most relevant for you as the show covers a wide range of topics.

So much goes on when you’re twelve that there’s is plenty of material for 12-sai season two, is it necessary however ? I don’t have any reason to think so since the series has already had a lot of entries.

Ushio to Tora 2 ( Ushio and Tora second season ) is the second season and continuation of the Ushio to Tora anime that began airing Summer 2015 , it is an adaptation of the classic , award winning shounen manga by Kazuhiro Fujita which ran from 1990 to 1996 with 33 released volumes. Season 2 begins where episode 26 left off. 

The cast and studio have been left mostly unchanged with the adaptation being handled by the two studios , MAPPA and Studio Voln. And the same director and crew being left unchanged.
Despite receiving the award for “ Best shounen “ in 1993 and the first season being very well received both the manga and first season flew under my radar and so all my notes come from a very uninformed viewing. However I believe this article still touches on the basic points and standards I hold every show up to. If you want to know how season two compares to the first or how well it handles the manga's original material then I’m sorry that you won’t find those answers here.

“Ushio Aotsuki is a stubborn middle school student and son of an eccentric temple priest who goes about life without care for his father's claims regarding otherworldly monsters known as youkai. However, as he is tending to the temple while his father is away on work, his chores lead him to a shocking discovery: in the basement he finds a menacing youkai impaled by the fabled Beast Spear.

The beast in question is Tora, infamous for his destructive power, who tries to coerce Ushio into releasing him from his five hundred year seal. Ushio puts no trust in his words and refuses to set him free. But when a sudden youkai outbreak puts his friends and home in danger, he is left with no choice but to rely on Tora, his only insurance being the ancient spear if he gets out of hand.

Ushio and Tora's meeting is only the beginning of the unlikely duo's journey into the depths of the spiritual realm. With the legendary Beast Spear in his hands, Ushio will find out just how real and threatening the world of the supernatural can be.”

Is how the MAL and wikipedia summarize the story but from what I can understand it runs as a more , “ monster of the week “ show with several different arcs. Even though I didn’t recognize the characters and world I still found the arc that season 2 starts on a really good story. The suspense and pace felt very early CN shounen , when anime was just making an appearance in the West after the initial airings of DBZ. Which brought me back and I realized how much I can still enjoy such fundamentally simple story-telling techniques. There’s a larger overarching story and a war between humans and spirits and the evil dragon Mono which gives the whole thing a sense of epic scale.

The dialogue especially feels early shounen and from what I read people had a problem and called it cliche and unoriginal and this same complaints pops up regarding the show as a whole. But the way I see it , yes , the show can be corny and over-dramatic , but that’s what made people fall in love with old shounens in the first place. So I have no problem with Ushio doing what it does best even if it might seem outdated.

OP is not quite heavy metal , but somewhere in that area. The visuals can only be described as , “ awesome “ , in the colloquial sense. Because who doesn’t get pumped up for , gnarly tiger spirits battling it out. 

The battle music and character  and villains themes are a impressive and fit the tone of what they’re meant to back up. The more emotional tracks can come off as quite corny but I think that’s just part of the experience. 

The VA’s are both amazing, especially Koyama Rikiya who brings the gruff tiger demon Tora to live with his portrayal. 

The CGI is strangely used and generally rendered in a quite low quality with undetailed and one dimensional textures. The backgrounds are generally pretty rough and usually the camera makes sure we don’t focus on them two hard. The settings however are all rather inventive and feel like they’d fit in a world of spirits. 

The choreography and fights are very gritty and you can feel the speed and brutality of the attacks. The combination of Ushio and Tora move in a perfect harmony that always looks amazing.
It wouldn’t be hard to call the characters and their development , cliched. But the way I see it , it’s a case of “ Seinfeld isn't funny “ where in a good idea has be done so many times after the original product that people think that the original is a cliché whereas it’s actually far more inventive that the copies. 

The character designs are all extremely sharp , with strong outlines and a very specific essence that clearly separates them from the cheap 10’s imitations that come out every season trying to copy it with no success. The weapons all feel creative above just swords and bows but don’t go too far into the realms of impossibility.
All the Yokai look amazing no matter how close or loose their ties to the original Japanese mythology and the designs range from cute to terrifying.

It’s always cool to see something older get revamped and especially when it’s done in a way worthy of the original product. I’ll be sure to pick the manga volumes the first chance I have and I hope it’ll lead other viewers to discover this slightly older title.

Ushio to Tora season 2 is pretty damn great. Did I enjoy it ? Yes. Is it flawless ? Absolutely not. Should it get another run ? No idea since I haven’t read the manga and aren’t too familiar with how much material there is still left to adapt.

Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou is probably my choice for the underrated sleeper hit of Spring 2016 , it was written off by most people because of it’s art-style, which I’ve hear people call , “ Ugly , lazy and too childish “. Complaints I find hilarious since having seen every single anime that aired from April to May I can quite confidently say that Tonkatsu DJ looks so much better than all the , HD, high budget shows that are mass-produced every year and never fail to look the exact same. Tonkatsu is a show I’d be able to pick out of a line up of 100. Visually I think it deserves the same recognition as , “ Ping Pong - the animation “. Is it as good as Ping Pong overall though ? The comparison is quite hard to make since the two are very different and don’t strive for the same goals , Ping Pong might have more complexity to the story and characters especially but Tonkatsu takes a world that isn’t explored all that often , or ever , in modern animation and creates a very fitting tribute to the lifestyle and culture.

Tonkatsu is an adaptation of a web-manga which has so far released 5 volumes. I was rather surprised to see studio Deen's name attached to this as it is quite a step away from their usual style. But it’s nice to see a studio with a history of producing great shows trying out something a bit more experimental.

“Agetarou works at his family's tonkatsu restaurant in Shibuya, but he's not very excited by the work. One day, he takes a delivery to the staff of a night club, and the worker lets him in to enjoy the club for a while. Agetarou finds that he loves the club, with its relaxed people and cute girls, all enjoying the music supplied by the DJ. He continues going to the club, until the night comes when the guest American DJ Big Master Fly puts on a show. Agetarou is inspired by Big Master Fly, and realizes that the groove of being a DJ is very similar to the groove of being a tonkatsu chef. Now Agetarou is determined to master both disciplines, though he is most excited to become a DJ! “

The story  when put under a microscope isn’t all that complex. This basic outline has been used for everything from sports anime to battle shounen. What keeps Tonkatsu apart is the absurd and very loud way of telling the story , conversations flow very fast and characters rush from scene to scene , constantly moving things forward. Which perfectly emulates the aggressive and fast atmosphere of the club. 

The conversations flow seamlessly as the characters chatter away , and the script is rife with club and hip-hop slang , which serves as a basis for the comedy but also engrosses the viewer in the lifestyle that’s being portrayed. 

On top of having all that going on within it Tonkatsu DJ is the first mainstream anime ( that I know of ) which fully aims to explore and educate about DJ and club culture. Sure this has been touched upon with other series and characters but only at surface level. Tonkatsu demonstrates a inside knowledge , and considering how famous club-life is in certain parts of Tokyo it’s a surprise no studio has wanted to make this sort of story.

It should come with no surprise but the soundtrack is great. A mix-up of choice hip-hop and EDM that perfectly matches the tone and is always in-sync with the scene and character.

As I mentioned before , conversations and pace move at a breakneck speed and all the VA’s doing a great job of keeping up and cramming as many lines into as little time they’re given. Which is to be expected since Studio Deen went all out of a very experienced cast.

The art-style which polarized and alienated a lot of people to me is completely mesmerizing. Fittingly it looks like the art you’d see on a club’s flyer. The exaggerated features lend themselves to the comedy. And since there’s very little detailing the animation is high quality enough to keep up with the speed of the dialogue.
At parts it feels like an old school CN comedy show that would have been broadcasted late at night. But still holds it’s roots deep in Japan and so doesn’t lose the national character which makes it “ anime “. 

The characters are all uniquely designed and fit into the art-style , their animations are all very well done and even when some frames come out janky it comes off as more of a deliberate design choice than an mistake from the animators. 

Our MC is likeable enough and I’m sure quite a small selection of aspiring otaku DJ’s can relate to him and the struggle he has to keep his family and DJ lives together. Having him be an outsider to the club culture allows us to learn and explore in alongside him.The sound characters are all over-the-top and memorable , I doubt there’ll be a day when I don’t die laughing at the record shop owners antics

Since the art-style isn’t tied to realism there’s a lot of space for outlandish and odd compositions which wouldn’t have flown in a conventional art-style. The theme of music is often used to express different ideas and animated music videos contain a lot of psychedelic visuals something that Tonkatsu picked up on and incorporated into the show.

I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of keeping the episodes at a tight 9 minutes. It keeps with the pace of the web-manga which relied on short gags but it’s perfect for having the fast and deliberately rushed animation without losing focus from the viewer of having to compromise that vision and slow down to stretch the material for 24 minutes.

Even if you hate clubs with a passion. Tonkatsu is still a show I’m going to enthusiastically recommend to you. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a standard “ good show “ with HD and clean visuals but I think that giving things like Tonkatsu a pass purely by eye is a great waste. Anyway it’s just 9 minutes so what's the harm in trying ?

Tanaka-kun wa itsumo kedaruge ( Tanaka-kun is always listless ) or just Tanaka kun which is what I’ll refer to it as for the length of this review. Is possibly the best example of how anime can explore anime in a way no other medium can.

It’s an adaptation of a web manga , a fast growing market after the success of One Punch Man, and is running alongside the specials that’ll be released in the blu-rays and DVDs. This is probably one of the first anime I’ve really enjoyed from studio Silver Link. But it’s a great start.

Our story is that Tanaka-kun lives in a constant bubble of blissful lethargy and wants nothing more than to get through each day blissfully sleeping through it. But more often than not , things get in the way.

As usual , there’s no story , but by reading the title you should have been able to figure that out. Tanaka also shies away from any of the over-the-top wacky situations cute girls in slice of life always gets into. But I think that the single focus on character is far better. There’s some continuity between the shorts each episode , but barely any ( outside characters ) between episodes.

The humour is very calm and conversational. There’s no shouting or screaming chibi girls. It’s also surprisingly self-reflective and provides some amusing quips and thoughts on current anime production. The conversations always have a good back and forth that’s easy to fall into the rhythm of.

The OST is paired beautifully with the calming lull of the show, each track has a lot of complexity and a wide range of instruments are present. It’s an OST that’s as too easy to hum along to as it is to get lost in.The sound-design and sound effects are all crisp and on-point , simple things like opening lockers and sneakers on a wooden floor sound authentic. 

The OP and ED both employ some very clever visuals , the ED going a bit more psychedelic. 

This show has an greatly fitting art-style and is the embodiment of less is more. There’s a great usage of white,blank backgrounds that give it that extra bit of personality. Settings and other backgrounds are very standard as well but it’s fine since the characters are what’ll be holding our focus on the most part. The colors are faded out but still very bright. Seeing how the main theme is the one of laziness the lack of detail is excusable and quit often a punchline. There’s a few “ Gintama “ like visual gags my favorite being one where Tanaka talks about how he would prefer to be a background character since no-one cares about them and often they are left undrawn. The next shot is of him without a face and slowly fading out.

The artistic vision is evident all through-out and there’s a lot of shots and cuts that carry a lot more passion than most , epic fantasy anime that came out this season. 

Characters have very sharp , clean , line designs that are outlined as if by a thin-tipped marker pen. It suites the laid back atmosphere of the show but also gives them enough depth to be able to exist on plain white backgrounds. 

A lack of general animation is made up with diverse composition where the camera is free to jump from character to character with the flow of the conversation and by false movements again with the camera. The animation that the show has is very well done and subtle with not a lot of frames but enough to make movements smooth enough to not be jarring but also have a sort of static draw to them. 

Our MC is extremely likeable and easy to attach to , I mean who doesn’t wish they could fall asleep in class with no repercussions , his very likeable and his listless-ness isn’t all that he has. The fact that he gets to live out every person's lazy fantasy is another way he can make people care for him. Him sleeping wherever he likes, seemingly doing no work in school and so forth are things I’m sure every person has desired that they were able to do. So in a sense it’s quite cathartic to watch Tanaka stumble through life with no repercussions. 

All the side-characters are well-fleshed out from the beginning and don’t develop any sudden character changes. After episode 6 the cast is fully established and everything settles down.Their interactions are all interesting but it’s always clear that the main focus is on Tanaka-kun. 

I admire this show purely on how original it is. It tops seinfeld as “ a show about...nothing “, I’ll often praise a show for being original when it does something that slightly differentiates it from the hundreds of other competitors in its genre. But Tanaka really is original , the writers had an idea and a theme that they simply went for and managed to make  without their or the mangakas vision getting muddied along the way. I’m sure the low budget they must have asked for helped get this show fly onto air since I don’t see it being easy to pitch , especially looking at the large-scale and extremely popular shows Lantis ( one of the two producers ) have worked with. One Punch Man , Mirai Nikki,Kuroko no Basket..

Check this show out , especially if you’re getting sick of having to wade through tons of terrible shows to find a truly good anime maybe once or twice a year. This show might just restore to you why this medium is worth sticking with. See this type of show could never fly under conventional filming, or it’d be totally changed to a regular show with a goofy listless guy as the protagonist. The only other way I could see this show getting made properly would be as a film shown at an artsy film festival but the fact that this is broadcast on the regular air.

I’m seriously hoping for a second season and for it to be continue being as listless as possible. 


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