Anime Corner: School-Live! Review

Blog School Live Review Title

The tears! I can’t stop the tears!

What’s the Story?

Yuki and her friends are part of the school living club, where the members actually live in the school they attend. Yuki is a cheerful soul and searches each day for new and fun events to take part in. Her life is a happy one. There’s only one problem…the zombies. You see Yuki is actually quite delusional, and her and her friends are the only survivors of a zombie epidemic in the city. How long can the girls actually survive on their own though? Prepare to cry people.

The Review

Go watch this show. Skip the review, just go watch it right this instant. It’s beautiful, it’s mesmerising, it’s incredibly dark and heartbreaking, yet also amazingly fun and hopeful. What are you still doing here? Go watch this show!

Okay, fine. Since you’re still here I’ll do the review, but just go watch the show afterwards. This anime had me from the end of the first episode. Admittedly the first 20 minutes of the first episode I was kind of just waiting as Yuki and co got up to hijinks with their dog. I’d been promised zombies and there was no sign of them. I wasn’t even that fussed about the concept, I was only checking it out because I was bored and wanted another show for my first impressions post. Then the zombies turned up. At this point the episode grabbed me by the collar, slammed my head into the laptop and left me dazed on the floor, loudly screaming ‘Oh I’m sorry, do I have your attention now?!’ Yes, yes it did. The ending to that first episode is fantastic, especially when you look back and realise all the little clues that were peppered throughout the episode. After that I was hooked, I had to know where this show was taking things, and I’m glad to report that this show only gets better from there.

I do find it strange how much I love this show, mostly because of the zombies. Like I said I was only checking this show out because I was bored, and I have to admit that zombies aren’t actually high on my list of favourite monsters (actually they’re probably one of my least favourite monsters). I don’t find zombies that threatening, unless you get them in a swarm they’re not all that dangerous (a point proven by this anime were a kid with a shovel beats single zombies all the time). They don’t have much in the way of skills, or motivation (I always like to explore what makes a villain tick, that’s kind of hard when the villain doesn’t have a brain to tick).

So why has there been an explosion of zombie films and TV shows in recent years? Because the zombies are never the interesting part of a zombie show, it’s how the people react to them. How do you cope when someone you love has been infected? How do you survive when the entire world is out to get you? How do you cope with the mental anguish and fear of knowing that nowhere is safe anymore? How do you hope for a better future when the world is so overwhelmingly full of despair? That’s what makes a good zombie show, putting your characters under a microscope and seeing how they react to the end of everything they know. That’s what this anime does, and it does it so well.

Now I credit Madoka Magica as the anime that reduced me to a weeping puddle of goo on the floor, but that was only by the end of the anime (mostly because I was foolish enough to binge watch it all in one night), but this anime had me crying so many times I’m surprised I haven’t drowned on multiple occasions. The last episode alone had me crying on about four different occasions. This show knows how to hit you hard in the feels. Each character’s pain is traumatic and heartfelt, you can connect with each person and the horrible situations they’re being put through. You feel their terror and their sorrow as life crumbles all around them. Yet this anime isn’t a depressing one (ok, so maybe it’s depressing about 50% of the time), there is hope and joy in this series. We get to see the characters enjoy themselves, have a day by the pool or a sports festival, building up friendships, normally right before something horrible happens. The contrast between the light and the dark in this anime is beautiful. It amazes me how quickly joy can turn to despair, and vice versa. This is encapsulated in the series finale as things take one tragic turn after another, yet there’s still time for a graduation ceremony, and a sense of hope as the gang ride off to an unknown future.

Not that this show is entirely all about high school hijinks and emotional trauma, there are other good things about this series too. Early on in the series I was wondering how they could survive in a school all by themselves? Where was the electricity coming from? Was the water safe? How long could their provisions last? All of these questions were answered as the series went along, actually building up a decent mystery as we learn that the school may have known this zombie outbreak was coming, but where did the zombies come from? This mystery is never actually resolved (which makes me beg for a season 2), but there are enough hints laid out that I can guess at what happened. So while mildly disappointed, I’m still content.

Also the show manages to make zombies moderately interesting, mostly by asking the question as to whether zombies remember who they were. Now this makes things rather troublesome when the girls have to kill people they used to know, but this is a show where the girls are content to let Yuki stay inside her delusional world rather than make her confront her grief, so I’d say the ethics are already murky.

The Verdict

All in all, this is a fantastic show and I can’t recommend it enough. It is dark and tragic, yet has moments of utter joy. The characters are all great. The story is well told. For a show that I only checked out on a whim, I found something beautiful that I shall cherish for years to come. And if that isn’t one of the best things in the world, I don’t know what is. So what are you waiting for? Go watch this right now!

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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: Classroom Crisis Review

Blog Classroom Crisis Review Title

Who wants a lesson in good business practices and rocket development?

What’s the Story?

In the near future the mega corporation Kirishina Corporation runs a private school to foster young talent for the company. In this school there is an elite class called A-TEC, where the best and brightest work within the company to develop new and innovative creations. However, when the boss’ brother transfers in and takes over running of the class it’s clear that A-TEC’s days are numbered. The class is bleeding money, and the higher ups want it gone. In a battle between innovation and profit margins, can the students survive?

The Review

This is actually quite a hard anime for me to review. I mean I know I like the series, but there’s something wrong in the first half that I just can’t put my finger on. It could be the disparity between the set up and the very mature nature of the story that’s bugging me. This story is meant to be set around a bunch of high school students and their hijinks as they try to keep A-TEC from being shut down, and while you do get a couple of episode that boil down to that premise early on, the rest of the series is actually very mature and quite dark in places. We get all sorts in this series, there’s political manipulation, plots of revenge, back-stabbing (literal and figurative), brilliant business minds battling back and forth across the boardroom, and the dark sordid past of a very nasty (and bloody) family feud. All of that stuff is great and tells a compelling story, but that just makes the high school element feel all the weirder. I mean why couldn’t the students be older? The story would make a fair bit more sense to me if they were recent graduates or something (they certainly act like that further down the line). But no, they have to be high school students, because everything of any significance only happens during high school in Japan.

Another thing that bugs me is the series’ rather slow start. It really comes back to that whole high school thing. It isn’t until just after the halfway point that the actual plot takes hold and the high school stuff and hijinks are dropped like the stones they are. The plot is there throughout, it’s just building up in the background while Nagisa teaches the gang how to actually stick to a budget, or the gang go off to the beach for an episode. It’s not bad, it’s just not thrilling and I can see a lot of people leaving the series before it gets to the really good stuff just round the corner. I suppose that’s the most frustrating part, the thought of all the people who won’t get to experience this show all the way to the end.

Something I have to praise the series for is how even-handed it is. I mean most shows with this set up could easily fall into the clichés that generally plague this kind of show. You could have all of the top brass as penny-pinching old misers who only want to line their own pockets. Meanwhile all of the A-TEC students are just made of dreams and wonder, and they survive through sheer gumption alone. The series manages to avoid this though by not only being very intelligent, but also by giving an honest look at our heroes. A-TEC is not entirely in the right here. The students are incredibly privileged, with access to state of the art facilities and a humongous budget, which they waste a lot of the time. You can understand the higher ups wanting to shut them down when they bleed money like an open wound. The downsizing and threat of being shut down completely, is actually what they need, forcing them to be smarter and more resourceful to achieve what they want. Also the CEO isn’t out to demolish A-TEC purely for the money. You don’t realise what he’s up to until the end, but it makes perfect sense, it’s logical and will further the business. You’re still on A-TEC’s side in the final confrontation, and you want the CEO to get his comeuppance, but a good deal of thought has been put into his motives.

As for members of A-TEC themselves they’re all very likeable. Only about five members are of any particular note, with the rest just being people to stand around in the background and occasionally offer advice. At least they all have nice designs to distinguish them all from one another. That’s another thing I like about this series, the art style. It has this rounded-squishy feel to it that gives the series a unique texture, while still remaining realistic.

I think Nagisa has to be my favourite character. Not only does he have a great (and truly tragic) back story, but he has some great development throughout the series. Now at first he’s clearly meant to be in the role of the villain, and clearly his arc is meant to be that through A-TEC he will learn there’s more to life than business and money and soften as he discovers the magic of friendship, at least that’s what you think at first. As you learn more about Nagisa you discover that he’s an incredibly driven person, but not for himself. He’s a man out for revenge and he’ll use everything at his disposal to get it. It’s actually quite a heart-breaking moment when he has to choose between his revenge and Mizuki, and he chooses the former. He also has a pretty fun relationship with Kaito, and I have to admit that the love triangle that develops between Nagisa, Mizuki and Iris at the end of the series is also kind of fun.

Lastly the animation, outside side of a good art style, is kind of just above average. It does what it has to. It convinces you that the world and the characters are real, and represents the motion well. I just can’t really remember a moment where it was outstanding. There were some good moments though, like a lot of the rocket flights.

The Verdict

Overall, this is a series you have to stick with. It takes it’s time, and while it does waste some of its runtime on high school hijinks, once you get into the actual plot this is a series worth the wait. It makes business deals and technology development interesting, building a story full of tension and drama. Occasionally it slips into melodrama, but it’s incredibly fun and well thought-out. More people need to watch this anime.

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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: Charlotte Review

Blog Charlotte Review Title

Look into my eye!

What’s the Story?

Teenagers across the globe are suddenly developing superpowers (what an original idea!). Yu discovers that he has the power to possess people for five seconds, an ability he uses to cheat on his tests and get the perfect girlfriend. His rise to super-villainy is stopped however when he meets Nao, a girl with the ability to make herself invisible to one person at a time. Nao blackmails Yu into joining her school and helping to track down and stop others from misusing their powers. I think someone needs to give this lady a few lessons on proper recruiting.

The Review

There’s a lot of competition out there for stories about teenagers with superpowers, so if you want to succeed you really need something different, something that captures the audience and holds them. I’ll give this anime one thing it’s certainly different, though maybe a little too much. The main problem here is the pacing. The story is lacking a whole heap of narrative glue so it’s often running round like a headless chicken leaping from one plot to another without any preamble or foreshadowing. There’s enough story here for several series of the show. We have the student council’s hijinks as they go after ability wielders, there’s a huge time travel conspiracy, there’s a group of evil scientist out to study ability wielders, there’s gangs from overseas building their own super-powered armies, oh and Yu’s world tour where he basically becomes Jesus (‘He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!’, sorry, I had to do that at some point). All of this is squeezed into 13 episodes, and it’s kind of a mess.

What this show really needed was some focus. Is the point of the show to follow the high school hijinks of our lead characters, if so, stick to that. Is it the time travel conspiracy and the evil scientists? If so cut back on the high school, stick in some foreshadowing and bring that in earlier. Or is the point to show Yu transforming from someone who gleefully abuses power into a good person, and then finally our Messiah? Instead the anime tries to do all of these things and more often than not crumbles under its own weight. I think a clear villain would have really helped this show. There are bad guys, evil scientists and gangster from across the seas, but most of them are faceless entities sitting off screen, and the ones that do turn up on screen do so without any build up or development. They don’t make a very threatening force for our heroes to fight against, which robs the series of some of its tension.

Then there’s the powers themselves, which aren’t exactly that engrossing. I’ve mentioned Yu’s powers and Nao’s, and you can tell that they’re incredibly flawed. The power to possess someone for five seconds, and hide from one person’s sight is hardly the stuff of legends. Don’t get me wrong the show does find some creative uses for them, and they are effective, but only in certain situations. The other powers aren’t much better. We have a teleporter that can’t cancel out the momentum of moving such a great distance, so he always ends up crashing into things (though admittedly this is always pretty hilarious). Then we have a girl who can be possessed by the spirit of her dead sister, though this often happens without her knowledge. For me the idea of superpowers is there as a bit of escapism, what would I do if I could fly or something like that. It’s there for you to daydream about, but these powers are all so flawed and weird that no one would want them. So what exactly is the point in these powers?

Ok, I know I’m ragging on this series an awful lot (even if it does deserve it), but it’s not entirely without merit. The animation, though most of the time on the average side, it does occasionally get to stretch its legs and has some moments of great visual flare, especially during the more emotionally traumatic moments. I will also admit that the emotions this anime manages to muster are commendable as well (considering some of the clichéd story elements and terrible pacing), there are times when the anime actually manages to make me care or feel like things are about to get serious. Though I can’t help but feel I’d find this all a touch more affecting if I actually cared about the characters.

We’ll start with Yu. At first I didn’t like Yu. He’s kind of an ass at the start, since he uses his power to cheat and manipulate people. As a character that’s perfectly fine, it’s not someone I really wanted to spend thirteen episodes following, by the end of the series though I was willing the character to go back to being bad. When Yu was getting ready to tip over the edge and go full-on crazy person, those were some of the most exciting moments in the series. Whereas when he started to become a good guy, he became unendingly boring to me. The rest of the characters didn’t grab me much either. The teleporter and the girl who gets possessed where basically comic relief, and while funny they never evolved into much more than funny background characters. The endless bundle of cheer that was Yu’s little sister was also lacking in any depth, though I’ll give her credit for avoiding being annoying. Nao is actually the only character that I actually kind of like. She’s quiet an interesting character, very tactically minded, not exactly the most sociable and always funny. She always had great chemistry with Yu, I can believe that the two of them would become couple.

The Verdict

In the end I think this series is a failure, though not through lack of effort. Visual wise it’s pretty good, and there’s a lot of potential with several interesting plot lines (which could easily have been a series of their own). The problem is how the story is told, the pacing is horrendous with no foreshadowing for upcoming threats, and blitzing through plots so that fast that you hardly see the point of some of them. This anime needed to slow down to develop its characters and threats, and build a cohesive narrative.

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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: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Review

Blog Food Wars Review Title

Ready, Steady…Cook!

What’s the Story?

Yukihira Soma is a young chef determined to surpass his father’s cooking, but when his dad decides to close down the family restaurant and travel the world, Soma is sent to an elite culinary school, where only the best of the best manage to graduate. Can Soma handle the heat, or is it time for him to get out the kitchen?

The Review

Cooking has never been this exciting! I really do mean that, the TV (over here in the UK anyway) is always been filled to the brim with cooking shows, from Masterchef to the Great British Bake Off, but none of them have ever caught my attention. I much prefer to eat food, then to cook it. This show though has captured me. There are several recipes that just sound amazing and make me want to actually try them. This anime is bursting with inventive and delicious looking recipes, there are so many ways of cooking that I’ve never even considered before. It makes cooking interesting, there are several points in the anime where the action slows down while the characters talk through the recipe and the various bits of science to cooking, yet it’s almost never boring. It really makes me want to go into the kitchen and give a crack at some of these dishes, even though I know they’ll never come out like they do in the series.

It probably helps that the food looks absolutely amazing. The animation is great here. Typically when it comes to Shounen anime I expect a lower quality to the animation (looking at you Fairy Tail), but because of this series’ limited run the production has really gone to town on the visuals. The food is mouth-watering, the action is dynamic and fast, and the little comedy sections are well timed and fit in perfectly. A lot of the visuals are very colourful and eye-catching, which further helps to draw you in.

Talking about the visuals, that does bring me to one minor gripe. Now I haven’t really checked that many forums regarding this series, but I get the sense that’s it’s gonna be famous for the so called ‘food porn’ sections. Basically to show just how orgasmic the food is there are many (many, many, many) times where someone takes a bite, and then immediately they appear naked (though in the action man, no details kind of way that anime often does), making all sorts of noises. A lot of the time this happens to women, though I will give them credit for throwing in dudes every now and again. I should get really annoyed by this, but honestly it’s just so ridiculous I can’t help but laugh, and in all fairness the anime does calm down these sections the further along it gets.

In fact a lot of the aspects of the anime get better as it carries along. In the beginning it’s the typical kind of Shounen thing, where Soma is the underdog, yet surpasses all of the snobby people around him with his natural talent and creativity. The first half of this anime is kind of predictable that way. Soma will meet someone who’s snobby about some aspect of food, Soma will challenge them and all the other students will laugh (I mean how can a loudmouth transfer student possibly beat the other guy?), until Soma’s cooking stuns them all into silence with how good it is. Soma is never really challenged. It doesn’t help that Soma is a cocky bugger and always approaches challenges calmly, so you never really believe he’s in any danger of losing. It robs the showdowns of some of their drama.

Once we hit the half way point though, Soma finally starts to trip up. He faces bigger challenges, makes mistakes and has to quickly turn things around. Soma finally starts to feel like the underdog everyone sees him as, and it makes it all the more epic when he wins. This is also the point were a lot of the side characters start to come into their own. In the beginning a lot of them are just stuff in the background, but the characters in this show have this way of worming their way into your heart. All of a sudden you find yourself caring about these characters. Megumi’s development from the shy girl about to be expelled, to the dark horse knocking out the competition is just beautiful to watch. It’s disappointing that this is only a 24 episode series, especially since it ends in the middle of a tournament arc, but at least everyone gets a chance to show their stuff before we have to say goodbye.

You can come to this anime for several reasons, the cooking, the animation, or maybe you just want to check out this ‘food porn’ (for scientific study of course), but you will stay for the characters (Even if it’s the voluptuous women, though we do have a guy who walks around in just an apron, so at least the anime is attempting equal opportunities fan service). Their emotions feel genuine. They make you want to cheer as they win, or pick them up when they fall. This series really knows how to do drama. It knows how to draw you to the edge of your seat, and keep you there, giving a few moments of relief, pitching you back into nervous tension, before giving you that triumphant finale. It leaves you feeling completely satisfied, yet still wanting more. In short, this series has the recipe for some great drama.

The Verdict

This series is a cooking show that I can get behind. It’s full of action, drama, comedy and some really loveable characters. It also happens to look great. While I do wish there was more of this series, I am happy with what we got (and quietly praying for a second season). This series may be a little formulaic at first, but stick with it and I guarantee you a great experience. Now if you’ll excuse I’m heading to the kitchen to try out a new recipe, honey-coated squid anyone?

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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: Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers Review

Blog Rokka Review Title

Who’s the Bogus? (Do people still say bogus? It’s been ages since I’ve ever heard anyone use the term in a conversation.)

What’s the Story?

When the Demon God attempts to rise and spread terror across the land, six warriors are chosen by the Goddess of Fate to share her power and vanquish the monster. This is the way it has always been, yet when the six warriors, or Braves as they are known, gather this time there are seven. One of them is a fake, but can they figure out who it is before it’s too late?

The Review

Good mysteries are hard to write, and this anime proves it. Don’t be fooled by the first few episodes into thinking this is an adventure story, this is a mystery first and foremost, and that’s kind of the problem. A lot of this anime feels like its wheels are spinning round and round. It’s just a series of arguments and counter-arguments as Adlet comes up with theories and then they get shot down. Instead of prolonging the tension the series just starts dragging around the middle and never really recovers. Really this entire anime feels stretched to breaking point, want an example of how badly? The majority of this series (about 9 or 10 episodes) takes place across a single day. There’s no time travel, only a single episode of flashbacks, the series just spends most of its time running around a foggy forest. Yay! (Since you can’t hear the tone of my voice, that was sarcastic.)

I think the main problem here is that the mystery is too impenetrable. It spends too much of its time pretending that the fake could be anyone. There’s never any definitive proof to cross someone off of the list, so you never feel like you’re making any progress. Add in the fact that the seventh’s plan is so foolproof that the characters only solve it with two things 1) an incredible stroke of luck where some characters (off screen) discover a clue that comes right the hell out of nowhere, and 2) the bad guys are morons for leaving it there! I mean you might as well have stuck a huge sign up saying ‘This Is Evil Plan, please don’t read’. It doesn’t help that we never see them discover this either, some characters just turn up with it at the end. You never learn what led them to look where they did to find this, which just makes it feel like even more of an ass-pull than it already is.

A good mystery draws you in, it feeds you tiny little breadcrumbs, gradually building up a picture piece by piece, so that when the final one slides in you see it in its entirety and slap yourself for not being able to work it out sooner. Now I’m not saying its easy, no, in my opinion writing a good mystery like that is one of the hardest things to write and get it done perfectly. Rokka’s style of mystery though is to never show you the picture at all until the very end, which isn’t all that satisfying. You never get a chance to work it out for yourself, or feel as if you’re getting anywhere. You just feel like you’re running round in circles until the anime decides to tell you the answer, which a good mystery does not make.

I will give Rokka this though, the fake does make sense. There are tiny clues and hints throughout the series, but they’re miniscule and buried beneath so many red herrings that you don’t stand a chance of seeing them (well I didn’t). Still that character works as the bad guy, it makes sense with the evidence presented, though the motives behind the fake could do with a little bit more explaining. You’re given a reason as to why they’re doing this, but you don’t really understand how they’ve come to think that way. It just needs a bit more exploring. Of course then the show had to go and ruin it with the ending by introducing another Brave, so we have to start the whole show all over again. (Honestly I’m with the characters at the end, screw the mystery, let’s just go fight some demons! Unfortunately that is the end, so we never get to see that part).

Now I can’t really talk about the characters all that much, because I don’t want to spoil the mystery for those of you who want to check this series out (which admittedly won’t be too many judging by how much I’m ranting against this show). Mostly the characters are fine, though we never do learn all that much about them, and some of them can get really annoying at times (looking at you Chamot and Maura). There’s no one who I really gravitate towards outside of the two who I knew weren’t the Fake from the start, mainly Adlet and Flamie.

I mean Adlet can get a little annoying sometimes with his “I am the strongest man in the world!” bit, but I found him quite a fun and entertaining character. I love all of his gadgets and tricks. To me he’s kind of an Aztec Batman, he even has a tragic back story! Speaking of tragic back stories, that brings me to Flamie, now at first she’s just the emotionless sniper, but you get to see her development across the series and see the hurt she has buried underneath that cold exterior. You really want her to be happy, and hook up with Adlet, speaking of which…

I like Adlet and Flamie together as a couple, they’re cute and fun, but then that whole ‘the majority of this anime takes place over a single day’ comes back to bite them, because they’re relationship doesn’t half pick up steam quickly. They go from just meeting to declaring their love in a span of days (I mean what is this, a Disney film?). There is a wonderfully hilarious line where Adlet says something along the lines of “For a while now…well, since yesterday” while declaring said love. I love that scene, but it just reminds you how stupid this is, and the one thing you don’t want in a mystery is for your audience to acknowledge that you’re being stupid.

The animation for the most part is pretty good. I really like the Aztec setting, the anime has some interesting building designs, and some beautiful landscapes in the first few episodes, but those are quickly replace by the one boring temple and a forest covered in fog. They’re not bad to look at, but I just got sick of looking at the same locations over and over again. The fights (few that there are) are really quite well animated, very exciting and dramatic. The animation does start to drop in quality towards the end of the series, there are a few off-model moments, even in static shots, which is disappointing.

The Verdict

Ok, I’ve probably ragged on this series far too harshly. It’s not a bad anime, there are several points to enjoy, the setting and back story is great, the fights are cool, the powers are unique, and some of the characters are really interesting. It’s just the mystery aspect that I have a problem with. The idea and set up are great, but it starts to drag in the middle and the conclusion isn’t satisfying for me. Maybe you’ll be different though, maybe you’ll pick up on clues that I missed, or find the characters more engaging so you can get sucked in more. This anime is worth a try.

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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: Summer 2015

Another season, another first impressions post. Let’s see what’s on offer this time around.

GATE

A mysterious gate opens up in the middle of Japan and forces from a fantasy land begin to invade. The Special Defence Forces manage to fend them off, and soon an expedition is sent through the gate to explore this new world. But who will win between the modern army, and knights armed with swords and arrows. My money’s on the guys with the guns.

I really like the concept of this anime, the whole modern army vs. Knights and dragons, though in all fairness this is shaping up to be just as much about die hard otaku meeting fantasy creatures. It is very funny to see a lot of the soldiers getting excited over meeting elves and cat-girls, and making King Ghidorah references when discussing a dragon. The animation is really nice, especially during some of the fight scenes, the way the camera whirls around gives a hectic, out of control feel to some fights, though I may get dizzy if they overuse this style. I do like the characters, even though we don’t know any of them that well yet. I’m interested in seeing where this is going.

Ushio and Tora

Long ago, an evil monster terrorised the land, until a samurai wielding the demon killing “Beast Spear” sealed him away. Now, 500 years later, a student named Ushio uncovers the demon with the Beast Spear still embedded in his shoulder. As demons begin to rise and attack his friends, Ushio is left no choice but to release the demon, who he comes to call Tora. Now Ushio and Tora form an unlikely alliance to battle demons and save those Ushio cares about.

I can’t help getting a nostalgic feel when I watch this show. It’s not that I’ve ever even heard of Ushio and Tora before, but the way the characters are drawn, and even just the set up. It feels like an old school anime, but it’s animated so well. Even just beyond the retro feel, the characters are all very fun, the action is great and I have really missed my dose of monster-of-the-week shows that were so frequent during my childhood. I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on this show.

Classroom Crisis

In the near future the mega corporation Kirishina Corporation runs a private school to foster young talent for the company. In this school there is an elite class called A-TEC, where the best and brightest work within the company to develop new and innovative creations. However, when the boss’ brother transfers in and takes over running of the class it’s clear that A-TEC’s days are numbered. The class is bleeding money, and the higher ups want it gone. In a battle between innovation and profit margins, can the students survive?

Now this is an interesting one. From the synopsis I’d be expecting the story to be about how a ragtag group of students win the day through creativity and sheer hard work, showing those penny-pinching old men in charge that money doesn’t matter, but while I believe that will play a part, this anime takes a more even-handed approach. It’s clear that A-TEC is in a bad way, it’s spending far too much, and working its students too hard. The students have become too reliant on money and hi-tech facilities. Something has to change. And the brother now in charge isn’t portrayed as a wholly evil person, sure he has a major attitude problem and I wouldn’t exactly call him likeable, but he’s clearly up to something. He may not care about A-TEC at the moment, but you kind of get the feeling that he’s helping the class where he can. His real target is the head of the corporation, and whatever he’s up to. There’s a fair few mysteries surrounding the brothers, and that will keep me watching for now.

Charlotte

Yu has a special ability. He can take over another person’s body, but only for about 5 seconds. He uses this ability to cheat in exams and become popular and academically successful, that is, until he gets caught out by others with special abilities. Now he’s been drafted into a group of high schoolers who track down others with abilities, and who also happen to be abusing their gifts.

So far this anime is very middle of the road. The animation is fine, it’s not bad, but it’s nothing spectacular either. The characters are ok, except for Yu, but I’ll get to him in a minute. The powers so far aren’t all that amazing or original, and all of them have some oddly specific drawbacks that make them less than useful, though I must admit that the drawback for the “teleporter” is kind of hilarious every time I see it. My main issue with the series so far is the main character, Yu. I really don’t like this guy. He’s a liar, a cheat, and he’s just a basic jerk to the people around him. I have no sympathy whatsoever for him and the more pain or embarrassing situations he gets put in, the better I find. I think the series’ goal is to rehabilitate the character, so that he’s a good guy by the last episode, but they better start soon because I’m quickly losing interest.

Rokka – Braves of the Six Flowers

Legend says that when the Demon God awakens from his slumber, the Goddess of Fate will summon six warriors, known as Braves, granting each a portion of her power to defeat the demons and restore the world. But, wait a minute, there are only supposed to be six Braves, so why have seven gathered?

I can say without a doubt that this is my favourite series so far this season. The animation is utterly gorgeous, seriously I could spend twenty minutes just watching the scenery in this anime. I also really like the Aztec/Mayan setting for this fantasy series, it’s not something that we see often enough and it adds a unique flavour to the culture and architecture of the environment. The mystery of the plot is also very good, why are there seven Braves instead of the usual six? Could one of them be the Brave Killer that we’ve heard about? If so, which one is it? It’s an intriguing prospect and has potential for some great drama. I’m really looking forward to where this series is going.

School Live!

Yuki is a cheerful middle school student who is a part of the School Living Club, where the members live and sleep in the school. Life isn’t entirely carefree though. Beware of zombies.

I just want to stand up and give a cheer for the first episode of this series. That twist at the end is brilliant, and though it’s completely obvious once you know it, and you can go back and see all the little clues that were staring you in the face, but it completely got me. I suppose a part of it is the shock of spending twenty minutes with this lighthearted, cute and colourful slice of life, then suddenly swerving into this really dark and tragic reveal. It’s a great twist and I’m really interested in where this series is going now that we know the twist.

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