Tag Archives: anime

No Game No Life (Anime)

Title: No Game No Life

Episodes: 1-12 (Complete)

Sora and Shiro are sibling gamers, collectively known as Blank for their habit of not putting any username in when possible. They never lose, except to each other. One day a god named Tet summons them both to another world, where everything is run on games. Humanity is at the bottom here. But now that Sora and Shiro have arrived, that’s about to change.

I have mixed feelings on this one. There’s a huge amount of gratuitous fanservice, and a number of the girls getting stripped are very young. Steph, the granddaughter of the previous king of Imanity (humanity), is treated with casual abuse and humiliation, mostly because she’s sincere but naive and not good at games. So there’s a lot to dislike.

The games themselves are better. In a world with magic, even familiar games can have interesting twists. The best one is probably the chess match with living chess pieces, but this doesn’t go at all the way you might expect (well, it’s not exactly a “chess” game by the end). The other highlight was a word game that has the power to materialize or de-materialize the words in play, which leads to some interesting strategies.

There’s also a lot of references to other games or media. I’m sure I didn’t even catch half, but that can make watching it a sort of game in and of itself, as long as you’re sufficiently familiar with the sources to recognize the callouts.

I like the art style too. The colors are more bright and illustration-style, and gives it a unique aesthetic.

The story unfortunately only gets a small way into what’s clearly a larger narrative before cutting off. Sora and Shiro’s ultimate plan—to challenge Tet again to another game—is barely laying the groundwork in the 12 episodes available. Given that the series is older, it’s unlikely that a sequel will show up, so keep in mind the show doesn’t really accomplish much plot-wise due to its length.

Character-wise, Sora and Shiro have enough personality to carry the show. They’re geniuses in different ways, but even the outgoing Sora is a social wreck. I dislike how Sora pervs on pretty much every girl, especially his 11-year-old sister, who he’s constantly trying to take pictures of in the bath. Their codependence, however, is a nicer touch. They can’t interact with people at all outside of games, so they only rely on each other. I also thought the attempt to paint Steph as competent in her chosen field is undercut by the fact that she’s too much of a moron otherwise to make a brilliant ability for diplomacy plausible. Maybe if it was all deskwork.

Overall, I can’t really recommend this, due to the incomplete story arc and the huge amount of fanservice on underaged girls. I might at some point watch the movie, which is supposed to do better in both of those aspects. I rate this Neutral.

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Planet With (Anime)

Title: Planet With

Episodes: 1-12 (Complete)

Soya has no memories of his past, but he’s intensely interested in the weird UFOs that have suddenly started appearing in the world. A group of mysterious heroes shows up to fight them—but Soya’s companions, the maid Ginko and the gigantic cat Sensei, have asked him to fight. Fight the heroes, that is. It turns out Soya may be the key to this odd invasion of Earth. But whose side is he fighting for?

This is an odd little show. Despite only being 12 episodes, there’s enough packed in to feel more content-rich than some 26+ episode series I’ve seen (although really, did they HAVE to include a hot springs episode?).

If the amnesia plotline bothers you, at least there are enough twists that it’s not totally standard. Soya is male, for starters, and the dream he’s having in the first episode is a big clue as to why he lost his memory—shock. Soya isn’t from Earth, and neither are his two housemates (well, that’s patently obvious once Sensei shows up, even before he turns into a giant robot). But the details of the alien conspiracies, Soya’s history, and why that matters, get doled out bit by bit.

In particular, the moment when Soya finally broke down and started crying as he expounds on his true feelings was powerful. The show is too short for anything to get excessive time, but I like how the plot humanized everyone. Soya’s grief, anger, and confusion in particular come through loud and clear.

He’s also got an extremely colorful cast of characters surrounding him. Whether it’s Takamagahara of the difficult name, the normal and not-so-normal hopes and dreams of the Grand Paladins who all have their own hangups that the UFOs target in interesting ways, the tangled relationship between cat and dog . . . There’s a lot of humor, but also a lot of good character moments, as people wrestle with ideas about power, responsibility, duty, and forgiveness.

Overall this was an enjoyable ride, and given the extremely short length it’s easy to watch in a session or two. I rate this show Recommended.

Your Name (Movie)

Title: Your Name

Format: Movie

Taki lives in Tokyo, and Mitsuha lives in the country. They’ve never met, but one day they begin waking up in the other’s body. They want to find each other, but it’s difficult when their swaps are their only clue, and the memories fade like a dream . . .

This was an interesting movie. It’s kind of a romance, but the main characters have never actually met. They get to know each other through friends and family, setting, and living each other’s lives. Eventually they start leaving notes for each other to try to keep the other person aware of the important things going on, but they haven’t directly talked.

I liked the twist of why the comet is so central to the story, and what that means for the two of them. And what Taki, especially, tries to do about it.

I watched the movie in English. One surprising touch is that this meant the music RADWIMPS provided ended up playing with English lyrics as well. That helped during some of the dramatic scenes, where the lyrics were just as important as the sweeping melody. The voice actors were also good. I liked how Taki sounds more feminine when Mitsuha is in his body, giving him a vocal tic as well as the physical ones to indicate he’s not who he used to be.

Overall, even though I’m not sure why it got as popular as it did, this is still something I would watch again. The sci-fi angle on this unconventional romance is fun, and the movie is something that can be enjoyed by anime fans and non-fans alike. I rate this Recommended.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower (Movie)

Title: Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Format: Movie

Mary Smith is living with her great-aunt in the countryside, waiting for her parents, for school, for anything interesting to happen. When she finds a mysterious flower in the forest, she’s drawn into a world of magic greater than anything she could have imagined . . .

This is a cute movie. It is based on a British children’s book, which was noticeable to me. As I haven’t read the original, I don’t know if anything was changed in the adaptation.

The scenery is gorgeous. The backgrounds are all bursting with detail and color, from the English countryside house to the floating island that harbors the witches.

The characters are okay. Peter felt really passive in the later parts of the movie, especially when he’s getting led around without protest (and apparently not under a spell). Mary is the focus of the plot, and she’s better, although she’s still basically a blank slate. She’s a bored child who discovers a world of wonder but she doesn’t seem to have much personality beyond hating her hair.

The one thing that did stand out to me is that the cats do not really behave like cats. They come out from their little hiding hole during a loud storm to watch it, even though they’re clearly frightened, they track each other down, etc. I kept expecting the cat to reveal it was actually a former human, but that didn’t happen.

Also, I really hate “I’m never using magic again” endings like this. Mary seemed to be using her own power by the end, as the flower’s power should have run out by then. Just when she’s getting started, she decides to reject it entirely instead of looking for a better way.

The dub is very good. I watched the movie in English and all the performances were solid.

Overall this is a nice movie but not one I’m particularly wanting to rewatch. I rate this Recommended.

 

Cells at Work (Anime)

Title: Cells At Work
Episodes: 1-13

This is an oddball little show that’s half education, half entertainment. It’s a collection of little adventures inside the body, following various types of cells around, with the main character being a certain klutzy red blood cell (and the white blood cell who ends up as a love interest).

I’m not hugely into biology stuff, but this one caught my attention with the hyperviolent humor. Because there’s something really fun about a show where over half the characters introduced are some form of rampaging killer—and this is known by everyone, and applauded, because it’s just their jobs. There’s a scene late in the show that sums it up perfectly: Red Blood Cell is explaining to another red blood cell “He’s perfectly nice, really!” while White Blood Cell is rampage-murdering a pathogen right in front of them, which is only visible as huge gouts of blood splashing up from below.

I love White Blood Cell.

For that matter, most of the immune system is hilarious. There’s the white blood cell tendency to flip into rampage mode shouting “DIE, GERMS!” or the SWAT-team-like T-Cells or the axe-murderer Macrophage (who also teaches preschool) . . .

Basically cell behavior looks really weird when you transpose it onto humans.

On the downside, because much of the show depends on some rather technical information, it keeps stopping to throw up WALLS of text explaining some biology fact. I think to a large part these were not needed, as the most pertinent bits could have been worked into dialogue or something the characters did.

Overall this is a fun show that offers something a bit different from everything else out there. If you like more science-focused shows, or you just want to see some germs get their just desserts, this is a good one to check out. I rate this show Recommended.

My Hero Academia S3 part 2 (Anime)

Title: My Hero Academia

Episodes: 52-63 (Season 3 part 2)

It’s now time for Class 1-A to begin preparation for the job of becoming a hero. Special moves, a provisional license exam, and a glimpse of the new horizons ahead of them are a heady incentive to improve. But not everything is as it appears . . .

To be honest, the license exam is one of my least favorite arcs in the manga. Add to that this arc manages to put a filler episode in the middle of it, and that’s how I ended up getting distracted away from following it week-to-week and only marathoning it out at the end.

That said, even MHA at its worst is still pretty good. Special moves and a huge exam are both good times to show off some of the rest of the class. Other schools finally get a decent amount of focus. And MHA also uses the natural conflicts to examine some of the bigger implications of All Might’s retirement for both heroes and villains.

Both of my favorite episodes come near the end. Deku vs. Kacchan part 2 is an amazing fight on so many levels. The visuals are stunning. Bakugou’s explosive energy sometimes masks his real genius for fighting, but here his moves are on full display. And because all the best fights also have a lot of emotional depth to them, this is Bakugou’s chance to finally break down over everything that’s happened. (He’s not exactly the kind of guy who can talk things out. At least not without punching them too.) I think this episode does a lot to soften some of Bakugou’s rougher edges, showing that he’s not just some angry bully, but underneath it all he’s a kid who is trying to figure out how to grow into his dream. And he’s clever enough to be a real obstacle to Deku if he wanted.

Then the last episode for this season technically starts the next big arc by introducing three of the upperclassmen who will have a big role in the near future. Mirio’s little demonstration fight is a riot, as he’s just as concerned with staying dressed as he is throwing punches (the problems inherent in a quirk that lets him phase through things). His efforts not to traumatize the girls don’t seem to have been entirely successful . . . but it’s all played for laughs, and he’s just as quick to turn to a more serious and inspirational side.

All in all, this ranges from decent to excellent, and with season 4 confirmed in the credits of the last episode, it’s just a matter of time to see where it goes from here. I rate this show Recommended.

Overlord III (anime)

Title: Overlord III
Episodes: 1-13

Enri has had a crazy life ever since her village was invaded by soldiers and she was saved by Ainz. Now the goblins who call her master are informing her of problems in the forest. When the forest’s most dangerous denizens begin to move, can Enri and a handful of goblin warriors stand up to them?

Meanwhile, Ainz is still struggling to figure out how to rule Nazarick. From the hired workers who invade his tomb to forming his own nation, he’s got a lot to do to keep up with his subordinates.

This season covers novels 7-9, although it shuffles the order of a lot of the events to happen more in chronological order.

We start with Enri in Carne village, where life has changed a lot and yet not at all. She’s still living a relatively simple country life, but the news of monsters in the forest is worrying. I really like this arc, because Enri has one of the best character arcs in the series, and this season touches on a lot of that. From the banter with the goblins under her command who are trying to get Nphira to buck up and confess to the new goblins she takes in under her wing, there’s plenty of non-humans now looking to her for leadership. (And that comes home to roost at the end of the season in a major way).

After that we get a few episodes following freelance adventurer groups called Workers who get commissioned to investigate this strange new tomb (Nazarick). This was my least favorite book, because it ends about as badly as you’d expect for everyone involved. The one nice thing here for me was that it also introduces more about the Empire, particular Jirciv the Emperor and Flueder the mage.

The final arc involves Ainz finally mobilizing to make Nazarick its own kingdom, and not just a hidden fortress. Since this naturally involves taking land away from other people who already claim it, he’s siding with the Empire to come against the Kingdom. This arc also had a number of interesting moments—unfortunately the anime’s heavy reliance on bad CG brought some of the best scenes down.

Overall this probably won’t be the arc to sell you on Overlord if you don’t already like it. The weaker bits in the middle and towards the end do drag it down, and some of the callous cruelty of Nazarick can be divisive. For myself, though, I liked it (especially all the bits with Enri). I just hope if there is a season 4, it takes more time to bring up the quality. I rate this show Recommended.