Catching Up On Anime – January 2015

[HorribleSubs] Shingeki no Bahamut - Genesis - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.25_[2014.11.17_22.19.21]Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis

Biggest surprise of the past season for me. I stepped in with no expectations, and had I known it was based on a card game, I probably wouldn’t have even watched it. Not that they try to hide the fact that it’s based on a game, mind you. By the time I was watching the show, I was drawn in deep enough to not mind the fact. Even if most of the times I hear about the game, it’s not positive. I can’t comment on how the anime ties into the source material though, having no real interest in TCGs or mobile games at all. From what I heard, the source material’s plot doesn’t amount to much more than some concept art for the cards and  a paperthin backstory as an excuse for those characters to exist.

That said, Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis is really enjoyable. The plot and setting are pretty simple and straightforward fantasy tropes presented in a somewhat darker tone. A Bounty Hunter named Favaro leads a demonic girl to believe that he knows a shortcut to Helheim, which she desperately wants to go to in order to find her mother. In the meantime, a gigantic battle between heaven and hell with the human realm used the in-between playing field. Favaro comes across as your typical wildcard screwup main character, not too dissimilar from Dandy during the previous season’s Space Dandy. At the start I was kind of annoyed about how the demon girl, Amira, was written, but there was a surprising amount of thought put into her behavior throughout the show. If I’d known Miyuki Sawashiro was voicing one of the main cast members in the show, a zombie girl, Rita, I’d have likely picked it up much faster.

It’s a decent enough fantasy show with all the whistles and bells you’d want to see from the genre. The ending felt a bit too clean, though.

[Chyuu] Magi - Sinbad no Bouken - 01 [576p][617FC191].mkv_snapshot_18.57_[2015.01.29_23.37.03]Magi: Sinbad no Bouken

I’ve already written about my love for Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, and I can confirm that the second show, The Kingdom of Magic is just as good. Which is what makes Sinbad no Bouken especially disappointing. Sinbad’s life, which follows a much more stereotypical shonen main character line, is not anywhere near as interesting as the lives of Aladdin, Alibaba, or Morgianna. It’s worth keeping in mind that Sinbad no Bouken is released as bonus material alongside the manga and not sold as a separate product. While that makes it much more forgivable that the quality of the work isn’t as great as the original, it’s still disappointing to see the backstory of a character who seems like he’d have an amazing history just falls flat compared to the original.

Because it’s released as a sidestory next to the main product, the animation quality is also much lower than what aired on television. It’s jarring to see new anime released below what qualifies as HD, but as Sinbad no Bouken shows, it still happens. Such a shame.

Mobile Suit Gundam F91 (BD 720p) (OZC) (NakamaSub).mkv_snapshot_01.12.29_[2015.01.03_13.06.35]Mobile Suit Gundam F91

Speaking of shame, Mobile Suit Gundam F91 is a huge shame. Not because it’s bad, in fact, it’s not. F91 is amazing. The reason it’s such a shame is because it was originally planned as a 51 episode television series, but due to issues that arose between the staff during production turned it into a theatrical film release instead. Because of this, entire parts of the story and characterization feel rushed and oversimplified because they’re no longer given the time and space to fully develop or grow on the audience. Despite the lack of depth or time to fully develop into a proper story, it’s still a great entry to the Universal Century timeline. There’s a lot of characters who give a good sense of being fully fleshed out personalities that we never quite get to know completely, probably because they do have an entire history and series of events exploring them dedicated to them that we never ended up seeing.

Thirty years after Char’s Counterattack, the Earth Federation is struggling with overpopulation on Earth. Because of this, they make another venture at creating space colonies so as not to strain Earth’s resources. A group called the Crossbone Vanguard moves to seize the new colonies so to create their own empire separate from the Earth Federation, as they despise the elitist nature of the Federation and the way they made the Earth into an area only liveable for the powerful and wealthy. The concept of Cyber Newtypes remains stupid.

build fighters try burningMobile Suit Gundam Build Fighters Try

Kids fight with Gundam model kits as an excuse to initiate kids into the franchise and sell more toys. Not as good as the original show, but still very enjoyable. All the references to older shows are still amazing if you can catch them. It’s all one big budget toy ad, but at least it’s a very good one. Whether or not its a good thing that this show is outshining an actual Universal Century show created by Tomino is up for debate though.

kiseijuu sei no kakuritsuParasyte

It’s always great to see an old must-read manga translate over to anime very well. Parasyte has been known as a masterpiece for years already, and the anime is living up to its source material’s legacy. Anime often shines as science-fiction and horror, and this is one of those shows that really showcases why.

Parasitical aliens have quietly invaded Earth. Seeking the brains of human hosts to live amongst their prey without any hassle, one such parasite’s failed attempt at taking the brain of a young boy, Shinichi, ends up with him taking his right hand instead. Now they have to coexist in a shared body, relying on one another for survival while more successful parasites banding together view their shared existence as a threat due to Shinichi’s brain still remaining intact. In fact, the parasite living as his right hand, Migi, doesn’t fully trust Shinichi either, but it’s too late for him to split off without dying.

The way Parasyte explores Shinichi’s psyche as he not only lives with the knowledge of these creatures being out there, but also has to live with some of the terrible things he sees or is forced to do is amazing. Death Note tried to highlight the loss of humanity in a similar fashion until it outright tried to claim that Kira was a different persona than Yagami Light and that both of them somehow are still alive within the same person. In Parasyte’s case however, Shinichi outright loses his shared connection with the people around him and starts to push away his emotions to look at things which much less empathy than he previously did, while simultaneously damaging him further emotionally.

The series isn’t finished yet, so I will leave it at that. Of all the recent shows, Parasyte is the main one I would recommend though.

[HorribleSubs] Kaiji - Ultimate Survivor - 21 [480p].mkv_snapshot_10.18_[2014.12.27_23.26.23]Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor

A young man puts himself into a hug debt he cannot pay off and is put on a boat to gamble for a chance of freedom. And that’s the part of the show that isn’t completely off the deep end yet. Kaiji is great, although I liked the main character from Akagi a lot more, the quality of Kaiji as a show was much better because you get a better sense of drama from a main character who actually feels like he has something to lose. In that respect, it’s the complete opposite of Akagi, where nobody knows what Akagi is doing most of the time and he makes the one move that shocks everyone in the room after the other.

Kaiji on the other hand involves a main character who is constantly led around by higher authority figures, usually depraved rich people using the poor as a form of entertainment. Their mutual disdain for one another is one of the larger central themes, as is the understanding that to gain something, you have to be prepared to make losses, which puts people who have nothing at a distinct disadvantage, giving them tunnel vision and stopping them from succeeding in other ventures in life.

[HorribleSubs] JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc - 27 [720p].mkv_snapshot_22.11_[2015.01.29_23.45.27]JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Egypt Arc

The third JoJo series, covering the second half of Part 3 of the manga. The way JoJo initially covered the first two parts in the first anime and is now taking two series to cover Part 3 has got to sound confusing to people with no clue what JoJo is. Originally it was planned for the Egypt arc to be covered in a much more condensed form, but with the popularity the franchise has been enjoying since the start of the new anime, they decided to cut Stardust Crusaders in two and properly give the second half the full treatment. Which is great, because the second half is where things finally start falling into place.

The Oingo and Boingo episode made me feel much more at ease about the possibility of a Part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable anime and how that would go, and I especially appreciated the special credits theme the characters got during the episode they had devoted to them.

[HorribleSubs] Kuroko's Basketball 3 - 51 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.16_[2015.01.29_23.49.24]Kuroko no Basuke 3

What can I say, it’s sportsball anime. Very good sportball anime at that. In terms of brute animation quality, it’s actually one of the better things airing right now. It hits all the sports anime tropes hard, but does it in such a way that I don’t even mind it all that much. The characters are good, the show keeps up a decent pace. And even as someone with no interest in basketball whatsoever, it’s enjoyable.

[Coalgirls]_Serial_Experiments_Lain_04_(1008x720_Blu-Ray_FLAC)_[260D7CF9].mkv_snapshot_17.57_[2015.01.29_19.28.12]Serial Experiments Lain

I know. I’m late with this one. Very late. You’d expect a huge fan of Haibane Renmei to have already seen Serial Experiments Lain, but even though it was always somewhere in the back of my mind as something I’d wanted to watch at some point, I only got to it just now. It’s worth all the hype it gets. Worth noting that it aged very gracefully too, even after being upgraded to Bluray quality. I don’t want to say too much about Lain just yet as I might end up writing a full post on it soon. That, and it’s one of those shows where it’s all too easy to give away too much early on.

You can read my February report here!

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