Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 1: The Magical Girl Comes Back

93426lThis was actually a really great first episode. It was cool to see a little of the Magical Girls’ past – the monsters they fought and where they came from. The world itself is really intriguing, and I definitely didn’t expect it to be as deep as it appears to be. Alongside the flashbacks, we get to see Asuka’s attempt to fit into the normal world. The perspective of an otherworldly super-heroine trying to integrate anonymously into the public is an interesting one, and I hope that it’s developed over the course of the anime.

The thing that I dislike most about Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka thus far is something that I knew about from the beginning – the character design. I expected over-the-top, but I feel like it’s outrageous to the point of affecting the animation. The scene were Asuka was in the cafe was incredibly awkward looking, and I questioned how she could even raise her arms high enough to drink her beverage. I suppose that it’s part of the “hook” for the series, and it’s just something I’ll have to overlook.

Overall, Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka surprised me. I honestly expected to drop this anime                                                                                                                                                              after the first episode, but it was fun and                                                                                                                                                                exciting enough to bring me back next week.

                                                                                                                                                Score: 3/5 (It was okay)

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Boogiepop Never Laughs Episode 3

95454lThis episode ties the first two together and explains what happened off-screen, but it was neither entertaining nor enlightening. I’m still having a difficult time deciphering a lot of the characters and remembering who they are, and what their importance is.

The first half of this episode moved incredibly slowly. I couldn’t remember who it was the group of students was searching for, what her relationship to them was, or why she was important. I think the overarching cause of these symptoms is that I simply don’t care about any of the characters. None of them are developed enough for me to relate to, and thus I can’t remember them.

I’m still shocked at how bad a lot of the art and animation is. I realize that Madhouse has declined in recent years, but some of it is just appalling. The scene where Echoes and Manticore are fighting and chasing each other is especially bad.

It seems that this episode is the end of the first arc, so I suppose that I’ll never get any answers as to who or what Echoes and Manticore truly were. I’ll never understand where Echoes came from or what his purpose was.

The sound design continues to be the best part of Boogiepop Never Laughs. Unfortunately, this is currently the biggest disappointment of the season for me.

Score: 2/5 (I didn’t like it)

The Promised Neverland Episode 1: 121045

93426lThe Promised Neverland blew away my expectations. I knew that it was going to be a dark, vaguely horrific anime. What I did not expect was how deeply the characters were going to be developed from the very beginning. Every child at the Grace Field House has a unique look and personality, and seeing their relationships with each other instantly made me care for each one of them.

The pacing of this episode was perfect. It could have easily been rushed, and it would have been much less impactful. The fact that the majority of the episode was spent on the characters made the reveal towards the end so much more shocking.

The art and animation is incredibly well done. There were a few questionable scenes, but I still believe that The Promised Neverland is one of the best looking anime of the season. The attention to detail in the facial expressions of the characters is especially noteworthy.

Overall, this was an amazing debut. The Promised Neverland has become my most anticipated anime thus far, and I can’t wait for the next episode.
Score: 5/5 (I loved it)

The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 1: The Shield Hero

97169lThe first episode of The Rising of the Shield Hero is, in a word, mediocre. The fantasy world of Melromarc and the summoning of the Heroes are set up nicely, but there is very little that is actually interesting about any of it.

The plot reveals an intended twist about half-way through the double-length episode, and unfortunately it is a twist that anyone could see coming a mile away. It’s not something that is intriguing and, moreover, it’s a bit distasteful in the current state of the world.

The other heroes immediately distrust and dislike their fellow Shield Hero, Naofumi, and he becomes an outcast throughout the entire kingdom. This incident occurs with very little precedent, and the other characters disdain Naofumi simply because they view the Shield Hero as being weak.

All of that said, however, there are things about The Rising of the Shield Hero that show promise for the episodes to come. I really enjoyed Naofumi’s personality transformation after he is betrayed, and it will be fun to see how much more he changes under the pressures of the new world. The art and animation are really well done, and it looks like there could be some                                                                                                                                                   really cool battles ahead.

Overall, not a bad beginning. I feel like I’m in the minority with this one, but I’m looking forward to seeing if The Rising of the Shield Hero can surprise me.

Score: 3/5 (It was okay)

Dororo Episode 1: The Story of Daigo

95454l-1I went into this first episode with literally no background knowledge about Dororo. I’ve never watched the original anime, nor have I read the manga. I didn’t know what to expect.

I can honestly say that I am hooked. It was really great to see a little of Daigo’s backstory, and it was done so well. You immediately understand what kind of person he is, and immediately resent him for it. I am hoping that some of the gaps will be filled in throughout the season, and we’ll see some of the things that transpired over the course of the 16 year gap that brought Hyakkimaru to the point where he is at now.

The animation and art both look really solid in this first episode. There were a few minor issues that I noticed, but by and large it’s awesome. The soundtrack throughout the episode was sufficient, nothing too exciting but also not horrible. The ending song is good, but I really didn’t care for the opening one. The music is alright, but something about the vocals didn’t do it for me.

Overall, an excellent first episode. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season of Dororo.
Score: 5/5 (I loved it)

Boogiepop Never Laughs Episodes 1 & 2

95454lThe first two episodes of Boogiepop Never Laughs aired yesterday, so I’ll be reviewing them together.

The first thing that comes to mind is how confusing these episodes were. I understand that it’s a new psychological anime and that all my questions will most likely be answered with time, but it was really difficult to grasp what I was watching. The story is told in a non-linear fashion, meaning that it jumps back and forth from past to present. Compounding this is the fact that it follows multiple characters, and that these characters often look very similar in appearance to other characters.

I’m also very disappointed with the art and animation thus far. I expected far better from Madhouse.

That said, I did find the story to be intriguing. I finished the second episode, and immediately wished that there was more to watch. I want to know more about the world and about Boogiepop. Despite being confusing, the story is engaging and really pulls you into it from the very beginning.

The thing I love most so far about Boogiepop Never Laughs is the sound design. The opening and ending songs are incredible, and the soundtrack throughout is dark and disturbing.

Overall, I’m a little disappointed. I don’t know what I expected from Boogiepop Never Laughs, or maybe my expectations were too high because of all the hype that it’s been generating. Either way, I’m hoping that the positives will outweigh the negatives as the season progresses.

Episode 1: 3/5 (It was okay)
Episode 2: 3/5 (It was okay)

 

Goblin Slayer Review

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Goblin Slayer is one of the most polarizing anime of the Fall 2018 lineup. Many people find the over-the-top nature of it to be gimmicky and uninteresting, while others love Goblin Slayer for those same reasons. I find myself somewhere in the middle.

ezgif-1-f989b413fed8I would have to say that my favorite thing about Goblin Slayer is the references to Dungeons & Dragons. The entire anime plays out like a D&D campaign, and I love it. I really enjoyed the small nods and homages to the best roleplaying game of all time. Following that, my second favorite thing about Goblin Slayer is the cast of characters. I really appreciate the diversity, and find them all to be intriguing. It is unique that none of the characters have specific names, and instead are referred to by their role – these adventurers could be anyone. That said, I would have appreciated a little more character depth and development than what was given.

02cd6377b631c9d9abb77ce0f7f4b74eA lot of viewers had contentions about the art and animation of Goblin Slayer. For the most part, I felt like it was okay. I wish that White Fox had used less CGI and spent more time on some of the art work, but none of it was offensive to the point of making it unwatchable. My biggest issue is the character design for the Sword Maiden, pictured right. She is supposed to be this extremely powerful character, but her appearance does not say that. I realize that her character is true to the source material, and that this is a general problem for most anime, but it needs to be said anyway.

Goblin_Slayer_prepares_to_kill_OgreMy biggest complaint with Goblin Slayer is the plot. There’s simply just not enough of it. The anime meanders through several encounters with goblins and some more intimidating enemies, all the while providing us with background information about some other heroes that are saving the world from invading demons. Unfortunately, the latter plot point is all but ignored and the viewer never learns much at all. We know why Goblin Slayer is out to eradicate goblins, and it kind of makes sense that Priestess follows him around, but we’re never given much of a reason why the other three members of his party are doing what they’re doing.  The final plot arc, where Goblin Slayer and the other adventurers defend his home from the invading goblin horde, is the most interesting. Unfortunately, it also feels incredibly rushed and is over in a matter of two episodes.

0b07451e9b20be6c024833a762a2e6a81538837010_fullAll things considered, I enjoyed Goblin Slayer. There was enough brutal action, heartwarming character moments, and Dungeons & Dragons references to keep me entertained. It definitely could have been better in several areas, but I am hoping that White Fox improves upon those things for the inevitable second season.

Overall Score: 8/10

Winter 2019 Season Overview

The Winter 2019 season of anime is coming up quick! Here are my top picks:

95454lBoogiepop Never Laughs (Boogiepop wa Warawanai)
January 4, 2019

An urban legend tells of a shinigami that can release people from their pain and suffering – and its name is Boogiepop. A mysterious series of disappearances at Shinyo Academy causes some of the students there to start believing that the legend is real. Is it indeed Boogiepop, or something else entirely?

I am very excited about this anime because of its seemingly dark theme and psychological horror aspects. I have seen very few anime that pull this off effectively, so it will be interesting to see if Boogiepop Never Laughs manages to succeed where others have fallen short.

Madhouse is the studio behind Boogiepop Never Laughs, and their catalog of excellent work causes me to be cautiously optimistic. I absolutely love One Punch Man, and I’m thrilled to see Shingo Natsume and Tomohiro Suzuki collaborating again on this new project.

 

95454l-1Dororo
January 7, 2019

A samurai lord offers his newborn son’s organs to 48 demons in exchange for the ability to dominate the battlefield. The son survives and is granted new and brutal power; his only goal to hunt the demons and regain what was taken from him.

On the surface, Dororo may appear as a typical revenge story. However, I believe that Kazuhiro Furuhashi is more than capable of bringing unique and interesting elements to the anime. His work with Hunter x Hunter was great, and inspires confidence for Dororo.

MAPPA is the studio behind Dororo, and I am sure they’ll utilize their talents to make the anime visually pleasing. I really enjoyed the art and fight sequences from this year’s Garo: Vanishing Line, and hope to see Dororo follow in a similar direction.

 

97169lThe Rising of the Shield Hero (Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari)
January 9, 2019

There are myths and stories of four otherworldly heroes who defend the land from devastation. As a last resort, these champions are summoned to the fantastical kingdom of Melromarc. Meanwhile in modern-day Japan, four unsuspecting people are transported to Melromarc to become the heroes that are desperately needed.

There are many anime about modern-day clashing with fantasy, and people being transported between worlds. The Rising of the Shield Hero, if nothing else, promises an interesting delve into a new fantasy realm.

Kinema Citrus is the studio behind The Rising of the Shield Hero. The only anime I’ve seen from this studio is Made in Abyss and, while I didn’t necessarily care for the anime itself, the art and style displayed cannot be ignored.


93426lRevisions
January 10, 2019

Daisuke Toujima is a second-year high school student who was abducted as a child. He and his friends were involved in a phenomenon called the Shibuya Drift, and were transported 300 years into the future. The group will meet strange new people and encounter incredible enemies in their quest to return to their own time.

Time travel and giant robots are two incredibly cool concepts, and putting them together has the potential for an awesome anime. Revisions also provides the potential for a complex story that investigates both Daisuke’s past and the time travel incident.

Shirogumi is the studio behind Revisions. I have not seen any anime by the studio, but having Gorou Taniguchi as the director definitely causes me to be optimistic. If there is anyone who knows giant robots, it is the creator of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion.

93426lThe Promised Neverland (Yakusoku no Neverland)
January 11, 2019

The Grace Field House is a home for orphans, all of them adopted by the age of 12. The only rule is that they must never leave the orphanage. When two adventurous orphans – Emma and Norman – venture past their boundaries, they discover the horrible truth about the orphanage and the children there.

I am excited for another horror anime this upcoming season. The premise of a seemingly benevolent orphanage that is harboring a dark secret is intriguing, and could certainly lead to an interesting and complex plot.

Cloverworks is the studio behind The Promised Neverland, and I have not seen any anime from them. Mamoru Kanbe, director of Elfen Lied, is the direction behind this new anime. Though I have yet to watch Elfen Lied, I have heard nothing but good things about it and that itself lends some hope for the success of The Promised Neverland.

 

93426lMagical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka (Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka)
January 12, 2019

The Disas, creatures of soil from the land of the dead, appeared and began to attack the world of the living. Mankind was saved by mysterious magical girls that wielded some form of magical power. After the Disas were driven back, the magical girls attempted to return to their normal lives. Three years later and things have begun to happen once again, and the Magical Five may have to save the world once more.

Part of me is excited about Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka, and part of me is concerned that it will be too over-the-top. The premise seems very interesting and cool, and I’m hoping that the anime focuses on the battle between the Magical Five and the Disas. The mysterious nature of these creatures from the land of the dead is certainly intriguing.

LIDENFILMS is the studio behind Magical Girl Spec-Ops. I’ve not seen any anime by this studio, but it is concerning that they were involved with the universally-maligned Berserk adaptations. Hideyo Yamamoto is the director behind this new anime, and I’ve not seen anything that he has worked on either. I have low expectations for Magical Girl Spec-Ops, but I’m hoping that it will surprise me.