Anime Corner: Interviews with Monster Girls Review

Blog Monster Girls Review Title

Less interviews, more pestering the teacher if you ask me.

What’s the Story?

In a world where the likes of vampires, snow women and dullahans live normal lives among the population, Takahasi just wants to understand these “demi-humans” more. The trouble is that demis are a minority in the population and he’s struggled to find a single one. Then one day three start going to his school and even the new teacher is a succubus. What follows is a look into the daily lives of people who in legend are considered monsters, though as Takahasi is going to learn, they’re a lot more human than anything else.

The Review

Seriously does this teacher do any work outside of talking to the girls? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him teacher a class! Don’t get me wrong he’d make an excellent councillor, always thinking of the girls’ needs and offering a sympathetic ear, but do your job for crying out loud. Sorry, that’s not really what this show’s about, but it just kind of struck me and it bugged me for a little bit. Anyway, what this series is really about is looking at monster girls in a new light. This show isn’t about wacky hijinks or an overabundance of fanservice, no it’s a much more, well realistic probably isn’t the right word, maybe grounded? It looks at the likes of vampires and snow women and asks what would they be like if they really existed? The show has clearly done its homework and works its way through various legends trying to work out what could work in a grounded setting and what wouldn’t.

Here vampires don’t burst into flames in direct sunlight and they’re not afraid of crosses or garlic, though they do have heightened senses so strong smelling foods can be off putting. Also they’re sensitive to light, probably due to being closer to nocturnal predators and can overheat easily, so yeah, sleepy during the day would be best for them (though the coffin is optional). Really I take my hat off to all the thought put into this series. Someone clearly spent a long time sat down at their desk working all this stuff out and I appreciate that amount of detail in a work.

This anime is kind of like a lazy summer day; it just breezes by, taking things in its own time. There isn’t all that much drama, no action or real crisis points (nothing that lasts anyway). That can sometimes be a little bit of a problem for the show. I mean there are moments that generate drama like bullies mouthing off with the character in earshot or the vice-principle questioning Takahasi’s teaching methods, but none of them really last that long. I mean with the bullies it’s a good scene and you feel for the snow woman and her distress, and then the vampire goes to confront the bullies and they… (spoiler here folks) talk it out. Now I may have grown cynical and while I wish we lived in a world where talking really did solve everything, but seeing them openly discuss their feelings and come to an understanding in the span of ten minutes, yeah, congratulations you just smashed my suspension of disbelief.

The show deals with a lot of problems like this, it prefers to discuss and openly examine feelings and ideas and while those discussion themselves are interesting to me, they’re both nowhere near realistic and have a tendency to drain the drama out of a situation. The bit with Takahasi and the vice-principle was probably the best attempt at holding on to drama; it does last for about an episode.

That’s not to say this series is by any means bad, it’s not, it’s very good. Just don’t come to this show expecting any kind of action or drama to surround these characters. This show is just about spending time with its characters, lazing around having a laugh and possibly learning a thing or two along the way. Each of the characters is charming in their way, whether it’s the energetic vampire, the dullahan with a crush or the snow girl repressing her particular sense of humour (I do admit I didn’t get a lot of the jokes she was laughing at, but I’ll put that down to a culture thing). They’re all cute and feel like fully formed people, it’s very easy to care for them and want to see them have nothing but easy-going, happy adventures.

The only other real complaint that I have is the fact that we don’t get to see that much about the outside world. We get a little bit, we know from the police officers that the only real troublemakers out there are succubi, which is interesting, but it doesn’t show us how the other demis are fitting into society or how other countries treat them. I mean getting into that whole realism thing again, there’s really no proper prejudice in this world? I’m a great believer in humanity, but I’ll admit we’re not that good as a species. How did this world get to the state where they can so readily accept demi-humans? Did there used to be prejudice, but we moved past it? If so how? I get that this series is focussed solely on the school and that’s where the majority of it belongs, that’s what this show is about, but I just can’t help wondering about the wider world. Just a couple of sentences or scenes explaining it would tide me over.

The Verdict

Interviews with Monster Girls is a light, breezy little series, perfect for giving you the warm fuzzies. The characters are adorable and easy to care for, you can’t help but wish the best for them and there is a lot of thought put into their abilities and how they need to cope with the modern world. There is a lack of excitement and any real drama, but I don’t think that’s what this series was really going for. If you want to learn about monster girls though, this is the perfect little series to do it with.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday. 

Anime Corner: Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Review

Blog Chain Chronicle Review Title

Paint it Black. Paint it all Black!

What’s the Story?

The Black King and his army have come to unleash the inevitable fate of all things to the land of…of….What was this country called again? Never mind! Yes, the inevitable fate, death to all things. Yuri and his volunteer army tried to defeat the Black King, but where soundly beaten, their little sprite friend disappearing and the chain chronicle, the book that contains the history of the world, torn in half. All hope looks lost, our heroes slowly being consumed by the black, but there is still a ray of hope. A young boy named Aram who’s quick with his sword and his wits as well, but there’s more potential in the boy. Maybe this time they’ll actually win.

The Review

Now I know this anime is based off of a game (something I didn’t know before I started watching this series), but unlike most anime based off a game this doesn’t tell the story of that game. No, this actually continues the story as far as I can tell. On the one hand I appreciate that the story is continuing, but on the other it feels like I’ve been thrown into the second, possibly third season without any warning. The anime actually starts with the climatic battle against the Black King, with a cast of characters the anime clearly expects me to already know and have feelings for. I mean the characters here aren’t anything that revolutionary to start with, but they’ve got doubly hard to work because the anime doesn’t really give you a chance to get them to know, because it expects that to already be the case.

It’s a shame because I really would like to get to know some of these guys, Yuri especially. The fantasy genre is bogged down with plucky heroes from little villages who stand up against the biggest of the bads to save the land, their honest hearts earning them many companions along the way. But what if the hero fails? What if the hero starts to despair? What if all the pressures of being a hero become too much? I feel for Yuri, it can’t be easy to have the weight of the world thrust on to you and then everyone just stares expectantly.

Yuri is definitely the most interesting character to me; he has a good arc and is a guy I feel for. The rest of the characters aren’t bad, they all have cool looking designs (though I couple of the women must be freezing in those outfits) and they have likeable personalities. The problem is that there’s a lot of people to get to know here and not all that much time to get to know them. There are a couple of nice little character moments sprinkled throughout, but there’s either too little of them or they’re just plain generic and nobody else really grabs me. Yuri and Aram get the lions share of the character stuff and while I find Yuri’s side interesting, Aram’s is just basically he’s been by himself for a while and now must learn the power of friendship.

The only other characters that got to me where that knight that dedicated his whole life to one person and then lost faith when said person pushed him away (only so that he’d develop outside interests, it’s not healthy to obsess so much over one thing, hence turning evil as a result). I liked Phoena as well, true she spent a lot of her time as the love interest or the damsel, but anyone willing to risk their life to grant the heroes a couple of seconds spare gets a thumbs up in my book (even if said risking of life does require her to unbutton her top. Seriously, what the hell guys?) Phoena’s best moments come after (Spoiler Alert!) Yuri turns to the dark side, where she has some very quiet conversations dealing with her own growing hopelessness and her struggle to hold on to the few remaining rays of light. She’s someone else I feel for.

The best part of this anime is very clear though, it’s the action, which is lucky because there’s a lot of it. This anime was clearly meant as an action-packed fantasy epic as each episode our heroes are bouncing from one clash against the Black Army to the next. This does have the unfortunate effect of meaning there’s less time to get to know the vast array of characters and any plot related stuff tends to be quickly exposited that things can move on. The action is epic though. For one its nicely animated and while I can always tell when the characters switch to CG models, they don’t bother me. They stand out, but not so much that it destroys the illusion of the world and they move really nicely. The fights are really well choreographed, full of fast action and some really acrobatic moves, they’re always fun to watch. Sometimes the anime shows its game roots a little bit too much though, with the whole chain attack thing its very clear that’s some kind of game mechanic that either the animators or the writers are cramming in.

The actual world that the series is nice, if a little generic. You’ve different kingdoms such as a holy capital full of knights and warrior queens, desert tribes and guys with horns based off of feudal Japan. We never learn much about these guys and what makes their cultures unique, it’s really only their look that makes them interesting. I like the aesthetic of this world and the different areas we visit and the anime does get around to a lot of different places, at times it feels like a quick world tour. It’s definitely a place I’d be interested in seeing more of.

The Verdict

In the end Chain Chronicle is very much a popcorn series. Don’t expect to get all that invested in the characters or the story, but do be prepared for some whirlwind battles and epic clashes between good and evil. This anime isn’t the best animated, but the action is fluid and fast and knows how to make things awesome when they need to be. If you want to sit down and just enjoy a bit of fantasy that’s fast and has plenty of sword swinging and magic, well, there are worse animes you could spend your time on. Give this one a chance.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept Review

Blog ACCA Review Title

Smoking kills, though apparently it can also start a revolution.

What’s the Story?

The Kingdom of Dowa had had 99 years of peace, thanks in part to an organisation called ACCA that overseas the 13 autonomous regions that make up the country. Jean is the vice-chairman of the inspection department and it’s his job to go around the various districts to see if anything foul is afoot and there could well be. There is talk of revolution when the young prince becomes king because he’s widely held to be an idiot and plans to dismantle ACCA as soon as he takes the throne. There are also rumours about Jean, questions about how he can afford so many cigarettes and his cushy apartment and he keeps getting cigarettes from people from the various regions. Is Jean apart of the revolution, or merely a pawn in someone’s grand scheme?

The Review

If there’s one thing ACCA exceeds at with effortless charm, it’s style. This is whole show is suave and confidence; every cell of animation just oozing charisma. It’s certainly a beautiful anime and I’d argue one of the best looking animes of the past few seasons. There’s something refreshing about its character designs, a little different from the standard fare we usually get as well as having a bright, yet soft colour palette, so that it appeals without every getting too harsh. The music is also something to rave about, again there’s that sense of style and my god that opening (best opening of the season without question).

Okay, okay, enough about the visuals and the sound (though they are the best bits of this anime in my opinion). I haven’t seen that many political thrillers in anime, I’m sure there’s been plenty but I certainly haven’t been drawn to them. Sure there were series with political intrigue in them, but nothing where that was really the sole and only focus. Don’t come to this series if you want loads of action and a fast pace. If you’re imagining Jean caught in a gunfight down some dank alley or insane car chases and other stuff that goes under the ‘thriller’ heading, then move along. This isn’t an action-packed series. Actually that’s one of the show’s weaknesses. This show is slow to start. I mean at the start there’s plenty of mysteries floating around a sense of tension as we try to work out just what’s going on with the limited information we have, but then we get to middle of the anime still without learning too much and its less tension and more frustration from the plot.

I think Jean could be part of the problem. He’s a certainly a cool character, always playing the disinterested fool while all the time hiding away an incredibly sharp and observant mind. The issue is that he’s just a little too cool (yes that is a thing). I’ve heard plenty of reviews say it before and I do agree with them ‘how am I supposed to care about a character if he doesn’t care himself’. It’s a valid point, when a character shows no emotion or no passion, how is an audience meant to connect with them? Jean just about gets away with it though, because he does care, he loves his sister and his partner in crime as well as a couple of the higher ups. There are even a few moments where his little façade breaks and some genuine feelings leak out, it’s just not enough all of the time.

You kind of have to feel sorry for Jean though. You get the sense that he just wants the quiet life, to drift on through with a cigarette in his hand and yet all these different groups are vying to use him for their own purpose. At times it feels like everyone gets a say in what Jean does except for Jean himself. As we get to the latter half of the anime Jean’s unreadable personality actually becomes a true strength for the series. When the plot finally, finally, kicks into gear and we start to learn what’s going on and just what the stakes are, we have no idea what Jean is going to do. Everyone is after him to be on their side, but Jean doesn’t even give a hint of his hand, not until the end, when he gets to play the manipulator. Well, for about ten minutes until it’s reveal that he was actually do exactly what someone else wanted without knowing it. Seriously this series is just one long string of moves and counter-moves (it’s like Yu-Gi-Oh, but less predictable and without the wild hair).

One other part of the series that deserves praise is the world (or rather the kingdom) this series builds for us. We only get brief flashes of the different districts, an episode if we’re lucky, but its often enough to give us the flavour of the place. Every district is unique and has its own way of doing things, while at the same time feeling like its part of the same place, even if there as different as an arid desert where people live underground to snow-capped mountains. I wouldn’t mind another season just to explore these places a bit more, then again if the show took the time to explore these places it would slow it down even more. This is a tightly wound plot and we don’t have time for much sightseeing unfortunately.

The Verdict

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept is a great series. It’s worth a watch just for the visuals and music, but there is also a compelling political thriller at work, you just have to stick with it for a bit. Once the plot actually does start though, it’s a mangled mess of schemes and counter-schemes that our hero must navigate if he wants to stay alive. So why not come for a visit, just remember to be cautious if someone offers you a cigarette.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday. 

Anime Corner: Saga of Tanya the Evil Review

Blog Saga of Tanya Review Title

Evil is a strong word, especially in a world at war.

What’s the Story?

A few seconds before a Japanese salary man goes splat against the front of train, he is visited by a God-like being, who he dubs Being X. Being X is upset by the lack of faith in the modern world, the salary man’s own view being that it is due to a lack of desperation and conflict (he’ll come to regret those words in a second). So Being X decides to reincarnate the salary man in a world on the bring of world war (Told you). Now the salary man has been reborn as a young girl, Tanya, with an incredible amount of magic power. She wants the easy life and the only way to do that is to rise through the military ranks, going from one bloody battlefield to the next, but with her tremendous power and a cold and clinical outlook, she makes a lot of headway. If only the whole world wasn’t against her.

The Review

Just a note for the beginning, make sure you watch episode two of this anime at least. Episode one is a terrible example of what this show has to offer, it presents this series as just another story set in an alternate World War with magic powers flying around. Yes Tanya is shown as being on the dark side, sending off a couple of recruits to the rear because she knows they stand a better chance of getting blown up there, but we never really get inside her head so we can’t root for her. Episode two changes all of that, outside of giving us a not only a unique origin for Tanya, but it gives us a clear understanding of her outlook on life. Her one goal is to reach the easy life and she will do whatever it takes to climb the ladder to it, she will follow the rules, she will find the most efficient and cost-effective way to get what she wants. She’s the ultimate corporate shark and won’t let little things like morality and ethics get in her way.

Episode two also gives us a reason to root for her, because while I’ll argue that evil is too much a simplification of her character, she’s not a nice person, so why should we want her to get this easy life she so desires? Simple, you want an audience to root for a bad guy? Give them a bigger bad guy to fight. Enter God. Now, I know saying that God is the biggest bad in this show may make me out as anti-religious, which I’m not. I don’t believe in God, but I’m quite happy for other people to. You want to believe there’s an all-knowing ever-loving God up there smiling down on us, good for you, I hope you’re right, I really do. Being X isn’t that type of God though. He’s the Almighty. He’s the petulant child that manipulates and controls, he helps enflame a whole world war just to teach one person a lesson about faith! Now that’s evil.

So yeah, I’ll happily cheer on this cold-hearted psychopath as she struggles against fanatics and incompetents all so that one day she can bring Being X down a peg or two. That’s not the only reason though. I mean sure Tanya’s an underdog in this situation, trying to find the quickest way to easy street while at the same time trying to warn everyone about a pending world war, but she’s also kind of cool. For one she’s overwhelmingly powerful and that leads to some really cool and explosive battles, though thankfully the show swerves what could have been a big problem. With Tanya so powerful it never feels like she’s in danger, she can just breeze through battles without breaking a sweat (during the first half anyway, a challenger does eventually appear), but her real battle is against Being X and her massive amount of power won’t help her there.

No, Tanya has another talent and it’s one that makes her such an interesting person to watch. It’s her mind. The real tension in this comes from Tanya’s attempts to climb the military ladder and use what knowledge of history she has to her advantage. It’s like watching a chess master process information, what does she have to say to a higher up to impress them? What can she tell a rival to get them to take themselves out of the running? What is the quickest and most efficient way to her goal? Tanya manages to be smart, without ever feeling like she’s only so smart because the plot demands it or for her to be condescending with her intelligence. Mainly this is down to the fact that we see Tanya panic, see her searching for the right answer, she’s not right all the time and even when she is it might not go as expected.

I can’t believe I’m so interested and invested in the life of such a… I don’t have a word for Tanya. She does seem to care for her troops and she doesn’t like killing people, but she’ll do it if she’s told. Like all psychopaths she has a lack of empathy. It;s kind of awful, I mean this is the woman who literally wrote the book on how to bomb civilians and get away with it under international law.

I haven’t even talked about the rest of the show. The secondary characters, while not having that much depth are all really enjoyable, though Tanya’s battalion have some impressive character shields. The animation, though a little dark and muted at times (which I guess fits the world) is pretty good. Some of the aerial battles are epic. What does sometimes freak me out though are some character’s lips and mouths, they’re just oddly drawn at times, its not quite right and it’s creepy. Also, what is up with that girl’s eyes (the only other girl in the battalion), they are massive, it’s like she has saucers stuck to her head.

The Verdict

Saga of Tanya the Evil has to be the surprise hit of the last season. For a studio’s first outing, it’s certainly a winner, just as long as the watch the series past episode 1. It gives us a great character that is interesting and has an impossible task ahead of her, even if saying she’s not the nicest person is a criminal understatement. The animation also brings life to some explosive battles and enjoyable characters. Here’s hoping for a season 2!

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday. 

 

Anime Corner: Akiba’s Trip The Animation Review

Blog Akibas Trip Review Title

And thus, the world was saved by glow sticks. Well, it had to happen at some point I suppose.

What’s the Story?

Tamotsu is a fairly average otaku, prowling the streets of Japan’s Akihabara for rare figurines and anything else that will feed his various obsessions and general fanboyishness (I know that’s not a word, but these terms have to start somewhere). His beloved Akiba could be under threat though, there’s rumours of creatures called Bugged Ones attacking people, there’s even groups of vigilantes patrolling the area to keep the people safe. One day Tamotsu encounters the Bugged Ones and is fatally wounded, but is saved by the mysterious Matome. Now Tamotsu has the power of a Bugged One, though he can’t leave Akiba (which isn’t that much of a downer for him, at least now he’s got more time to shop), but he must also defend Akiba against the Bugged One invaders (which he does complain about a bit more). Of course the only way to defeat a Bugged One is to…strip…them. Right. And, just out of curiosity, how many of these Bugged Ones happen to be girls? Right. It’s one of those shows. Let’s get on with it.

The Review

Let’s tackle the elephant head on shall we (though that’s probably not the best way to tackle an elephant, just saying in case you meet a real one). Yes, there is a tonne of fanservice in this show, when you defeat the bad guys by taking off their clothes there’s no real getting away from it. A part of me gives the show some leeway because of this, I mean my main complaint about fanservice is when it distracts from the story trying to be told, grinding everything to a halt just to shove someone’s panties in my face (I’ve considered sueing some of these shows for sexual harassment). If it’s part of the narrative I can give it a pass, even if I don’t particularly want to see it and Akiba’s Trip is a ludicrous show, the core of this show is that it’s one long series of gags with a point at the end. If they want to beat the bad guys by taking off their clothes, sure I’ll put it down with the world-saving glow sticks and the young prodigy who has apparently done and mastered everything while only being in her teens. That doesn’t mean Akiba’s Trip doesn’t occasionally cross the line into extremely unnecessary, but there are other parts of this show that I want to talk about.

I kind of admire this show, but wish it was better all the same. Quality wise the animation, the sound, the story, everything really has this, well I don’t want to say budget quality, but I can’t think of a better phrase to describe it. You get the feeling that this anime had very little budget, but they did everything they could with it. I mean just watch those scenes where the girls are performing as part of their idol group, apart from repeating the exact same shots of the exact same dance moves, the characters move like figurines, bobbing along while stuck in the same position until a guiding hand poses them in some other way. There are a couple of moments where the animation gets to shine a little, mostly in fight scenes, but that never lasts all that long. It would probably help if the characters weren’t so flat and the story anything but generic for its type.

I’m kind of being hard on this show aren’t I? Well it’s going to continue for a little longer. Now this is a comedy show and comedy is a subjective thing, but this show makes it really subjective. Each episode is a done-in-one that deals with whatever Tamotsu’s latest obsession is, whether that’s playing card games, building his own computer or even getting into amateur radio and whatever it is will find some way to feed back into the week’s plot and defeating the latest Bugged One. It’s kind of predictable, the only thing that isn’t is just how silly and over the top this will get. The only real problem with the comedy is that unless you’re into whatever the topic of the week is, you can feel like you’re an outsider peeking in. There were plenty of weeks where I was sure a joke had just gone past, but I didn’t get the reference so I didn’t find it funny. You’d also need a pretty wide range of hobbies to be into everything that this show pokes fun at. Of course when the show hits on a topic that I know about, it’s pretty damn funny.

Now I said I admired this show, so let’s get to that. Despite it’s lack of quality and clear straining against its budget, you get the sense that a lot of love and passion was put into this show. Just looking at pictures of the real Akihabara the people behind this show put a lot of effort into making their version as close to its real life counterpart as was possible, a lot of the time they might as well have just filmed on the streets. I also really like the message of this show, that yes there are dangers to an otaku life style, you can get obsessed, you can get greedy, but all that comes from a place of love. Passion is not a bad thing, even if other people don’t get what you’re so passionate about, just don’t let it get out of hand and you’re fine. Enjoy what you want to enjoy, whether that be maid cafes or arcade games. You can’t help liking what you like.

The Verdict

In the end Akiba’s Trip just about makes it to watchable. The characters are pretty flat and the production hardly wows. The story is pretty ludicrous and the show can be fun if you’re into whatever otaku obsession its poking fun at (in a loving way) that week. I do admire the message this show is trying to put across and the show does a great job of representing Akihabara (even if at times it just feels like a giant advert), but unfortunately that’s not enough for me to recommend it unless you’re really into this stuff.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday. 

Anime Corner: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Review

Blog Miss Kobayashi Review Title

Where can I get my own Dragon Maid? Now accepting applicants.

What’s the Story?

When Kobayashi opened her door the last thing she expected was to find a dragon waiting for her, let alone a dragon that wants to be her maid! Turns out one night when Kobayashi got drunk after work she happened across said dragon, and after pulling a sword out of her, said she could come and stay with her. Now Kobayashi’s rather solitary and work-orientated life has been turned upside down, having to explain human behaviour to Tohru, while also trying to stop her using her fantastic magical powers to blow stuff up. Then more dragons start turning up…

The Review

This show feels like something special, it’s not the most thought-provoking work or the most unique, heck it’s probably not the funniest, but each episode feels like a little ball of sunshine. By the time ending starts to play I’m grinning from ear to ear, and humming along a little bit, every single time. This could so easily have just been another gag anime, a series of fish out of water jokes with some bits of fanservice and cuteness here and about, but this show is more than that. This show has a heart, a big beating heart, it cares about its characters and that makes you care about them so that you’re more inclined to laugh along with them, and even cry when the times comes.

One of this show’s major strength is that it knows how to blend comedy and genuine drama that makes me want to track down the writer and make him my sensei. The show can flip from Tohru overreacting to a typical human problem with way too much too force, and firepower (seriously, never challenge a dragon to a volleyball match) straight to Tohru contemplating just how lonely she was before she met Kobayashi and wondering just how long this will last. It all feels natural too, there’s no tonal whiplash, which was honestly a surprise to me. Though this doesn’t have an over-arcing plot, it is pretty much just a slice of life, watching Kobayashi and the dragons cope with the rigors of day-to-day life, but because the characters have believable emotions, it makes them so easy to invest in. I want to see Tohru happy, content to have a found a place where she belongs, working for the woman she loves. I want to Kobayashi come out of her shell and mature into a person who isn’t always alone outside of a drinking buddy from work. I want them to be a family because Kobayashi and Tohru are good for one another.

There are other dragons in this series and each of them all bring their own unique comedy and heart to the show. Kanna is the winner of cuteness personified, seriously her child-like antics are so sugary sweet you’re likely to go into diabetic shock if you watch her too much. She also has a school friend who is so in love with her that the slightest touch or thought can set her off (I’m seriously worried about the kid, she should just open up, she keeps repressing like this and she’s likely to explode).

There’s Fafnir who’s rather gloomy and into curses and playing online games all night long (which has  got to be more entertaining than just sitting in a cave on a bed of gold). At first he’s rather in the ‘kill all humans!’ camp, but he just takes a while to warm up and in the end he finds a good human. That just leaves Lucoa who is… well she’s… she’s a… a very well developed person (and now I’m motioning with my hands and that’s not really helping). She’s mostly there for fanservice and jokes about her inappropriate choice in clothes at times, but she’s also the wise motherly type of the group. I just feel sorry for the kid she’s living with, not only is he going to grow up with some misconceptions about the proper proportions of the human body, but he’s going to be mobbed by every boy at school when they all hit puberty.

Oh wait I’m forgetting one of the dragons, Elma. Yeah, she doesn’t really do much, she doesn’t have a human to tag along with and the few bits of her character seem to be that she’s indecisive and has a big appetite. She does at least give use another look at the wider world of the dragon’s, showing us that the dragons are actually split into factions, namely Order and Chaos. There are a few titbits of information sprinkled throughout the series about the dragon’s own world and I really wish we got to have a bit more of a look. We know the humans are mostly in a medieval society, the dragons are fighting amongst themselves, or occasionally against the Gods and there’s a none intervention policy for our Earth, apparently (well I suppose they can always give us a season two to answer this stuff).

Lastly, one of the other strengths of this series, you know, aside from the characters, the comedy, the heart and the perfect blend of all of the above, is the animation. This anime is way better looking than it has any right to be. Every frame is just gorgeous with eye-popping colour and during battles it’s so quick and fluid. It perfectly captures the mood and emotion of every scene, whether that’s the gentle humour or heart-tugging feels. The action scenes are out of this world. When some of the dragons throw down or go soaring through the sky, you can feel the power of these beasts (they’d give Goku a run for his money).

The Verdict

In the end Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a sweet, charming and heartfelt little show that is beautiful in more ways than one. The character’s emotions all feel genuine which brings a real warmth and occasional sadness to the series that’s a nice complement to the series’ gentle humour. This show will have you laughing and crying and begging for more, which, really, is all we can really ask for from any series.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.

First Impressions Spring 2017 part 2

And we’re back! No fuss, let’s just get on with this, it’s a long one.  Hey! Who asked for a series following the kids of your favourite Naruto characters? Okay not that many of you but we’re all getting one anyway!

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

The life of shinobi has changed, the land is at peace and the ninja academy now teaches subjects other than ninjutsu (apparently), but the life of a ninja can still be an exciting and dangerous one. Young Boruto is the son of the Hokage, not that his father is ever around, often too busy with his duties to have any time for his family. In order to get attention Boruto often pulls pranks, much like his old man, and is often getting into trouble. Luckily he also happens to be quite skilled at ninjutsu, even picking up a few traits from his mother’s side of the family, which could come in handy. Something strange is going on in the village, possessing good people and forcing them to act on their worst desires, but whatever could it be?

I’m enjoying this series a lot more than I expected to, especially seeing what was happening in the manga (really? We’re back to fighting god-like beings and Boruto coming up with a new Rasengan in no time flat. You know the over-powered nonsense put me off the last few years of Naruto). Luckily this series likes to keep things low key, no one’s amazingly overpowered and there’s a sense of fun about the whole thing. It is lacking in some regards those, this series is missing the emotional core that Naruto had, I mean it’s hard for Boruto with his dad never being there, but his dad had it a lot worse and there are times when Boruto just comes across a brat, overly cocky and causing major hassle for everyone around him. If you’re just after some light-hearted little one-off adventures with Naruto and co’s kids though, this isn’t so bad. The overarching story is just a monster of the week so far, though it has potential.

Sakura Quest

You know you go to university, you get this magic piece of paper and you expect doors to just opened up before you, only to find yourself walking straight into the glass (believe me, I’ve been there, technically I’m still there). After 30 rejected job applications Koharu finally gets an offer, but she probably should have read the contract a bit better. What she thinks is a one-time job to act the princess for a rundown village out in the middle of nowhere, actually turns out to be a yearlong job. Now Koharu is stuck, along with four other girls with job dissatisfaction, but can the countryside work its charm and win over this city girl?

I’m getting serious shirobako flashbacks here, which isn’t surprising considering the guys behind this anime (and some of the character designs). I mean the story isn’t anything all that original, either the city girl moving out to the country and slowly falling for it, or the rundown town being brought back to life by an outsider. It’s the characters and the very open heart that makes this series; it’s sweet and pretty funny with the various antics of Koharu either trying to escape in the first couple of episodes or her butting heads with some less than thrilled locals. Also there’s the crazy head of the tourism board and his mad schemes. I can guess how this one will turn out, but I’m more than willing to stick around for the journey.

Clockwork Planet

A  thousand years ago the world ended, but don’t worry, apparently some magician rebuilt the place using gears and such to make it a clockwork planet! (Title drop. Also, the guy really must have been magical because I can see no other way of how you make a planet out of gears and get everyone across to it, also that would be an awesome story, prequel now!). Now nothing lasts forever and this clockwork planet looks set to finally wind down, but fate brings together three individuals. The genius clockmaker Marie, an automaton named RyuZU and a high schooler with an ear for machines called Naoto. Can these three, and Marie’s bodyguard, fend off the military and rivals to save the world? (Probably, just sayin’ it’d be a bit a downer if they didn’t.)

I’m probably going to drop this show, which is a shame because I was looking forward to it, I mean the title and idea are awesome. A whole planet made out of clockwork! Unfortunately nothing really hits the mark with me, the animation isn’t that impressive and the story is just taking forever to get going. I know there’s the threat of the city falling away, but I don’t particularly care or feel any sense of urgency about it and I should. All I can put it down to is that they haven’t properly explained this world. I’m still sat here wondering how they made it. I can’t believe in the characters if I don’t believe in the world first. The characters are pretty fun at least; all four of them have of charm and personality, even if in some cases it’s a very bizarre personality.

KADO: The Right Answer

Shindo is a highly skilled negotiator working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but he might just be on to the most difficult, and unusual, case of his career when a giant alien cube drops out of the sky straight on top of the plane he’s on. An alien has come to Japan from outside the universe, promising the human advancement and it’s Shindo’s job to negotiate on the alien’s behalf, but are things too good to be true? Just what is the right answer?

I really like this series so far, yeah it’s kinda slow and I don’t think it will everyone’s cup of tea. Most of the episodes do tend to boil down to people standing or sitting around while they talk endlessly, throwing in lots of terms that have just been made up by the author and honestly I’ll probably forget half of them. Despite all that though, I really like it. I like the characters and I just really appreciate that there are no idiots here. I mean if we went for the standard clichés we’d have some military bloke one itchy finger away from attacking the alien and triggering our downfall, but there’s none of that here. Yeah, people are wary of this alien, but they’re sensible about it, they test and probe, do all the things that people should do with an alien came by for a visit and I am so grateful for that. This is a realistic approach to what should happen if we ever make first contact, or maybe that’s being too optimistic of me.

Twin Angels Break

Meguru has always aspired to be a hero, after watching a pair of young heroines save someone, and as she moves to Tokyo she finally gets that chance. Along with the cool (except when it comes to her big brother) Sumire, she forms the Twin Angels, magical girls working with a talking hedgehog to collect energy and fight evil! But the hedgehog is hiding something, she needs the energy for a specific purpose and it ties into the two previous Twin Angels.

You know, you sit around looking for a magical girl series to fill the void (there’s only so many times I can rewatch Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura) and then two come along at once (One of them being Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cait Noir, but that’s a discussion for another day, great cartoon though, go check it out). Twin Angels Break plays the genre pretty straight, and is part of a franchise I haven’t encountered before, but it’s nice. I’ve tried to watch ordinary magical girl series before and I just couldn’t get into them, but I’m getting into this. I mean the story is fairly generic and the characters even more so, but there are elements to the story that have me intrigued. The back-story for the hedgehog and the two previous Twin Angels has my attention (so much so that I’m considering going and checking out the previous series). I also like that the story is taking its time, letting the girls stumble a bit and work to improve as they learn the ropes. We haven’t even seen the Break system that keeps being mentioned and I like that. Don’t just throw out power ups, make the characters work for them. I’m sticking around for this.

WorldEnd: What will you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?

500 years ago the world ended with the majority of the human race being wiped out. Now the earth is barren, stalked by monsters of that past age, while the surviving species live on islands up in the clouds. The last known surviving human, Willem, is recruited by the military to look after some ‘special weapons’ in a warehouse. Said warehouse turns out to be a rather nice house and the so-called ‘weapons’ are actually little girls. They’re fairies and are one of very few who can use the weapons created by the humans to battle the monsters down on the surface. Willem has already lost so much, but as he bonds with the girls, can he really stand to lose anymore? And just what exactly can he do to save them?

I really like this series, everything just sort of clicks when really it could go so badly. Here I was expecting either some cliché-ridden fanservice machine with beautiful girls fighting monsters going off the synopsis and op or an odd fantasy slice of life judging by some of the preview images. Instead though I got a really heartfelt and interesting little story. I like this world, I like these characters, it feels likes there’s just so much in it and I think the pacing helps, slowly peeling back the lid so that it can keep some mystery while still feeding us information. It also seems a lot more focused on characters and their interaction than bothering with the whole fighting monsters thing, there’s several fights that are clearly skipped over so we can focus on the characters instead, and for this series that works. Also, can I just give a round of applause for writing the kids like actual kids, they’re wild, energetic and completely up front about everything, you know, like kids are. This is one of my favourite shows of the season so far so good, so what are you waiting for? Go watch it!

Anonymous Noise

When Nino was little she was inseparable from her friend Momo, they were always holding hands and singing together. Then Momo moved away and Nino was left alone in a scary world, but found a new friend in Yuzu, a music composer, who gave Nino a song, but eventually he left as well. Now, years later, Nino, Momo and Yuzu find themselves in the same school, but will music bring them together or simply become the battleground as Momo and Yuzu fight for Nino’s affection and voice. Look out for the teen angst!

Okay I was joking about the teen angst, actually I wasn’t, but I’m only 3 episodes in and there already feels like there’s so much drama! Unrequited love, nervous disorders, jealousy and heartbreak, heck even the love triangle is turning out to be quite compelling so far. I mean I don’t know who to pick, we haven’t seen that much of Momo, but he clearly meant a lot to Nino and they really clicked, but now he’s determined to stay away from her, want to find out about that. Yet on the other hand we’ve got Yuzu, who you really have to feel for, I mean with what he’s lost and his adoration of Nino’s voice, though he can lean a bit towards the obsessive and controlling. So there’s good and bad points for both boys, all the while Nino is oblivious to all of this but not in an infuriating way, not yet at least. It also helps that the characters feel like people even being independent of one another; no one is there purely to be a love interest. I want to see where this is going and the music isn’t too shabby either.

Well that’s it for this week, catch ya next time!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.