First Impressions: Yuki Yuna is a Hero

My last first impressions of the season, what have we got?

Hey, ever wanted magical powers? To defend humanity from inter-dimensional monsters? Well now you can with this handy app!

Ok, that aside, let’s talk about the show. The first half of the first episode really wasn’t holding my attention. It was just your typical slice of life/school comedy thing. Then time froze, the sky peeled back and our heroes entered a strange new world.

So far this series isn’t exceptional, but it’s a lot more interesting than that first half of episode one was. The characters are all good, the animation is nice, the fights are exciting and there’s some good designs for the monsters.

Wait a minute, a group of magical girls, beautiful painted backgrounds, silent malevolent monsters…oh my God! This is Madoka Magica! Quick battle stations! Snipers keep an eye out for Kyubey. You see so much as a hair of that hell weasel and you take it out. I want its head mounted on my wall!

Sorry, I really hate Kyubey after what it did to those girls in Madoka Magica. Though saying that, Madoka Magica is one of my favourite anime so you have my attention Yuki Yuna, don’t waste it.

I don’t just want to see a repeat of Madoka though (my heart wouldn’t be able to take it), and from what I’ve seen so far this show could only pass as a pale imitation. I hope this show finds a new angle to come at it from, something unique to itself.

Saying that, I’ve just watched episode 5 and they’ve already hit the season finale. They’ve beaten the last monster, got to show off their mega levels and saved the world. Victory has been declared. So what exactly is the rest of this season going to do?

First Impressions: Yona of the Dawn

I think the hardest thing to review is something that’s middle of the road, and that is what Yona of the Dawn is, so far. It’s not bad enough for me to rant about it, and it’s not good enough for me to squeal with delight. It’s just ok, nothing more, nothing less. The story is your standard fantasy. We have a kingdom at peace. We have a Princess. We have the Princess’ sweetheart. We have the soldier who is there to protect the Princess and has no feelings for her whatsoever. Then something happens to the King. The throne is usurped. Our Princess is on the run, and thus begins a battle to take back the kingdom.

The villain could be interesting. I’m sure there’s more to his back-story than has been stated. It does make me want to know what caused such a shift between his younger self and his current personality. As of yet though, I still haven’t seen that moment of pure evil that’ll make him a great villain.

It doesn’t help that this looks like it’s going to a slow show, they’re only just out of the castle at the end of episode 2.

The animation is ok, with the odd bout of goodness in the fight scenes.

The only thing that is really tempting me to keep watching is the contrast between our weeping flower of a Princess in the present, and the fierce archer she becomes in the flash forward. I kind of want to see how she develops into that, though I honestly doubt if the show’ll do anything really innovative or new. I’ll give a few more episodes.

First Impressions: When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace

I always find comedic shows the hardest to analyse or recommend to someone, as humour is such a deeply personal thing. Something you find hilarious, another person just won’t get. That’s why so many anecdotes end with the line ‘you had to be there’.

Trying to review an anime comedy show is twice as hard, as not only the writer, but the intended audience, come from a very different culture to my own. So that means there’s often a joke I just don’t get.

What’s this show about then? Well it asks the question of what happens when five school kids get superpowers, but unlike most anime, there’s no evil force to battle, or world to protect. Now this idea has been done before (and most of the time ends up with the kids using their powers for personal gain, or going psycho), but this anime takes a different route. This show is a love letter from geeks. It’s for anyone who has ever dreamed of having special powers, for anyone has spent ages working on the perfect name or powers for their superhero self.

As for the comedy, so far this series has a 50/50 hit rate when it comes to making me laugh. It’s not sidesplitting, but it’s enjoyable enough, and there are little pockets of drama and the suggestion of an actual threat on the horizon, which I appreciate. Personally I always prefer it when comedy is contrasted against drama. You can’t have light without a little darkness.

I’ll keep my eye on this series.

First Impressions: Celestial Method

Must resist. Anti-cute barriers being breached. No. No! She’s just too adorable. Damn you Noel!

Get a hold of yourself man, let’s talk about the anime. It’s very pretty, with some fluid animation and sumptuous backgrounds. The characters aren’t that bad either, if not exactly mould-breaking. The supernatural mystery of what exactly is the saucer is a good one, though there are a few things I don’t get. I understand that the thing has been hanging there for seven years, but really? No military presence to guard the thing? No research lab sending up probes and the like? They treat this like it happens all the time and I just don’t buy it.

Another thing that confused me at the start was the state of the character’s memories. At first I thought they’d been altered. I’d certainly remember the friends I tried to summon a demon with when I was little. But no, they’ve just forgotten one another. I think that could have been explained a bit better, and quicker.

Speaking of the demon of cuteness, Noel, when she started mentioning granting wishes and I realised that this cast was predominately female, I started getting Madoka Magica flashbacks. Now I have a feeling this show is going to go down the happy sappy route, but I’d certainly give it props if it started to get dark and twisted towards the end. But that’s probably just because I’m a sadist.

So far this is a pleasant little anime, with potential for some tear-inducing drama (Hopefully without the need to keep slapping one another).

First Impressions: Chaika the Coffin Princess – Avenging Battle

Broken speech. Excitement lots. Shocking truth. Chaika back!

Sorry, I can’t keep that up. But I’m so excited. I really enjoyed the first season of Chaika, and so far season 2 continues that trend. Fantastic fight sequences, lovable characters, a good dollop of humour and an intriguing mystery. Who exactly is Chaika? Why are there so many of her running around? And just what is the Emperor up to? Though it does look as if we’ll be getting a few answers sooner than I expected.

I love the contrasting struggles of the different Chaikas. A couple determined that they are the real Chaika, and another determined that she isn’t.

I will miss Gillette, partially because I can no longer make the ‘best a man can get’ joke. Saying that, they never did find a body. And then there’s that guy, what was his name again? Ah yes, Guy (at least I still have that joke). He’s as creepy and mysterious as ever.

Chaika may not break any new ground in the fantasy genre, but what it does, it does well. I really like this show, and I think it deserves a little more love.

First Impressions: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works

I have quite a substantial list of anime that at some point I want to get around to watching. Fate/Stay Night, and its prequel Fate/Zero, have been on that list for a long time. Now I have heard that the original Fate/Stay Night has some problems, like iffy animation on occasion and an annoying main character. So, can this new version do better? Can it draw me into the franchise and persuade me to finally watch the other shows?

Yes, yes it can!

Good god this anime is beautiful in every respect. The animation is movie quality. The fight scenes are electric, seriously I had to change my shirt I was drooling so much. I like all of the characters so far, except for that jackass with the wavy blue hair, but I’m not supposed to like him am I?

And I knew we’d never get to keep the 45 minute episodes for the whole run, but not even the switch back to a regular run time can halt the awesomeness of this show. Watching the quality of this animation I worry for the health of the animators. Surely pumping out something of this quality each week will kill them (at least their sacrifice shall not be in vain).

I cannot stop gushing about this show. Go watch it right now. And on a side note I think it has earned the unofficial title I saw on the Crunchyroll comments section, Unlimited Budget Works indeed.

First Impressions: Karen Senki

I’ve never been quite sure about these short, 10 minute episodes. I don’t really see the point of them. I mean the couple I’ve seen are all fine, but they’re just not long enough. There’s no time to properly build up a scenario and give a decent pay off.

Karen Senki gets the worst of this, it’s just one action scene after the next, strung together with… actually there’s no interconnecting link most of the time. The scenes just pop up and disappear again with little to no consequence.

The plot (if it can actually be called that) is that robots have taken over and forced the human race into subjugation. Now are brave hero must fight to overthrow these mechanical tyrants. All the while dressed in an eye patch, jetpack boots and the most inappropriate dress imaginable for fighting (Ok, who hit randomise on the character design button?).

Watching this felt like I was watching the rendered out cuts scenes of a Playstation game. Speaking of game consoles, seriously, you kill the robots by shooting them in the eye? Someone’s been playing too much Legend of Zelda.

And did we really need a robot prostitute? Really? That was so important to the narrative? Walking around in translucent underwear like that, think of the children!

Ok, I’ll give the show some credit. The action is good, it’s nicely animated and dynamic. I just wish the story had a bit more focus and weight to it.

First Impressions: Terra Formars

I really do not understand this show. I mean what’s the point of even airing it if you’re going to censor it so badly? Now I’m not a huge fan of gore, I can put up with it if I like a show (Akame Ga Kill does just enough to keep me hanging on), so I appreciate not having those scenes of horror burnt onto my eyes, but I also can’t help but feel the invasion of the black squares ruins the flow of the show somewhat. There’s no point in broadcasting it if everyone has to wait for the DVD release to watch it properly. If that wasn’t bad enough, I don’t like the rest of the show either. But, before I go into that, what exactly is this show meant to be about (when we can actually see what’s going on?)

A virus is spreading across the Earth and looks set to wipe out the human race. But this is no ordinary virus, it comes from Mars, so they need to send a team up to collect samples, there’s just one itty bitty problem. There’s a bunch of giant humanoid cockroaches (who’ve obviously been at the steroids), waiting up on Mars and they don’t take kindly to humans. The battle for humanity’s survival is on!

Yeah, anybody else getting that whiff of Attack on Titan? It doesn’t help that the first episode begins with a nightmare-inducing parade of grotesque faces all smiling at you (I see the Titans are doing well off of all those merchandising deals.) Now I like Attack on Titan, but could I watch something else please? I mean how many stories about humanity pushed to the brink by alien/mysterious forces are there? Oh right, they never end.

And then there’s the fact that the opening, where our main character fights a bear (Ok, I admit that’s a cool way to start a show) and we’re introduced to this girl, just for her to be killed off. I can feel the show violently shaking me, screaming “Feel sad! Feel sad for our main character!” And I’m sorry, but that kind of thing really rubs me the wrong way. And things don’t get any better in the second episode, as we’re introduced to characters only for them to violently die a few minutes down the line (I’m starting to become glad I can’t see any of this).

And finally there are the monsters for our series. Now I’m fine with giant humanoid cockroaches, though I can’t help but feel that this is mimicking (see what I did there?) something I’ve seen before. But it’s the fact that they look so stupid, they look like they were designed in the 60s, then filtered through the 90s (seriously, what’s with the muscles?), and that a threatening monster it does not make. I’m out on this one guys.

First Impressions: Shirobako

Sometimes you have to break away from what you normally watch and dip your toe into a different genre, just to expand your horizons.

I’m saying that because I don’t normally watch slice of life type shows, I prefer more fantasy or supernatural stuff. I watch TV (and write, and draw) in order to escape reality most of the time. Still, this show has me intrigued.

Shirobako is about the trials and tribulations of a group of young girls entering the anime industry. Whether it be working in production, animation or even voice acting.

Now I know animation is no easy thing, I can only imagine the stress and mayhem that goes on when you have deadlines, directors and executives breathing down your neck. It’s a hundred times worse when you have to pump out a quality product each week. And judging by the first few episodes, things are worse than I expected. If nothing else, I have a feeling this show is going to give me a great amount of respect and gratitude for my weekly supply of anime.

Though that doesn’t mean this episode is devoid of fun, I particularly liked the sweet, happy tune played over the high-speed street race, seriously was that legal? I thought for a moment that someone had slipped in some test animation from a Need for Speed game by accident.

But I like the characters, what I got to see of them. And I do like the contrast of the overflowing enthusiasm when the girls were making their own little short at school, to the endless grind of the actual job. I think I’m going to be sticking with this show for a bit. And now I have a craving for donuts.