Merry Days of Anime: Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? (Re-Watch)

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Take a look with me at the genres associated with this anime as labeled by MyAnimeList. Ecchi. Harem. Comedy. And the parent source? A light novel. All of these qualities combine to mean one thing, right? That I’m going to hate it. The slop of the anime medium only created to appeal to loser NEETs that get off to having cute girls stomp on them, hiding their true feelings. I’ve made my preferences more than transparent enough for readers to know that this will not be of any interest to me whatsoever. Well… about that… Continue reading “Merry Days of Anime: Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? (Re-Watch)”

Merry Days of Anime: Infinite Stratos (Season One; Re-Watch)

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This is quite a nostalgic course for me. I first viewed Infinite Stratos in its entirety in July of 2012, over seven years ago. It was one of the twenty members of the first Summer of Anime block that started my rekindled fascination with the anime medium. I have grown substantially since then, with my expectations of anime fitting far more within a certain criteria than before, when I would consume practically anything. One thing that hasn’t changed is that Infinite Stratos was one of the few low spots of that first Summer. Why would my thoughts change seeing as even back then I felt the anime was lacking? It may surprise you to know that my thoughts have changed… for the better. Continue reading “Merry Days of Anime: Infinite Stratos (Season One; Re-Watch)”

Quick Updated Thoughts on Ano Natsu de Matteru

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A rather hard rewatch, this was for me. As a title that holds something of an emotional attachment to my younger self, I can’t help but think fondly of the time this anime almost made me cry. This, out of all anime I watched in late 2012, was the one that got me closest to actually shedding tears. Since then, only rewatching Katanagatari has gotten me to reach for a tissue. OCD in full effect, I figured I’d keep the rewatch train rolling and see if Ano Natsu de Matteru held up after nearly five years.

It didn’t.

One can almost feel how hard this anime tried to be its own AnoHana, from the interactions between characters to the love octagon that takes effect as time goes on. Both series also deal with an inevitable fact that the characters try to ignore, but are destined to face. The difference between the two is through execution, which Ano Natsu de Matteru does well only in very specific measures.

What is immediately apparent about halfway through the series is that the writing is very, very dumb. The entire purpose of a single character, Lemon, is to push the plot forward and manipulate the cast to her whim for the sake of fucking with them. And because she has a “more than she knows” background, she knows everything that’s going to happen and how to prepare for it. Don’t you love having a character that can destroy all the tension and seriousness of an otherwise tensile and serious plot by making everything feel a-ok through their Godly knowledge and dexterity? Even more so, she more often than not forces the characters to change, instead of the story giving them the opportunity to either do it themselves or slip into situations of genuine, awkward conflict. It’s a shame that she’s so hamfisted in, because the general character roster is… tolerable, with Mio, and to some extent Tetsurou, being the saving graces of the anime.

Without Lemon, the writing still deals with things that have already been done in plenty of other anime, to a lesser extent. Lots of angst, lots of surprised faces, lots of dramatic outbursts and emotional spurs. While not on the same level as a soap opera, some episodes give a little more heart than necessary. Some don’t even feel like normal characters, rather pieces set up to provide controversy.

Animation is pretty nice, which is one thing about this anime that’s fairly praiseworthy. Not always the most smooth of physical activity, but its bright and distinctive in its approach. I wish Ichika was more like an actual alien than a human being (a lot about her alien persona doesn’t make sense), though that’s more of a nitpick.

In the end, it’s not nearly the anime I used to see it as, with a lot of issues in its writing and how it incorporates its characters. Strange as it might seem, the final episode still left me with a good emotional impression, something that even surprised me considering how cynical I was of it up to that point. I really wish the audience was treated to more of Mio and her active and understandable change halfway through the series, something only a few characters get a snippet of. Lost potential and all that; Ano Natsu de Matteru leaves viewers waiting for the translation of AnoHana: Alien Edition.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Updated Thoughts on Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (1st Season)

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In a strange turn of events, instead of going by the usual style of rewatching something and then updating my thoughts on it via blog post, I decided to leave poor Haganai alone. I find this even more curious because this is the only case of it happening, at least within the years where I took my blog seriously enough to update it semi-often. Noting my penchant for waxing nostalgic, it’s an even more confusing sentiment that this anime, which was among the first five anime I ever watched in its entirety, didn’t receive any special treatment. To drive the point home, I even finished a knock-off manga version and read up until the second-to-last volume of the light novel before it was taken off Baka-Tsuki for copyright reasons. Why did I feel the need to let this rewatch wither and die within my MAL archives? Regardless, I’m correcting it here and now after a two-year wait.

“Wow,” you may be thinking. It took me two years to write this post? My only excuse is that it simply slipped my mind again and again, until finally realizing it about a year ago… and then forgetting again until a few days ago. The rewatch took place in early August of 2015, so another thing you may be thinking is, “Are you confident enough to remember what you liked and disliked about it after so long?” Fear not, as fate hath given me future perception, and I wrote myself a very detailed post explaining exactly that back in 2015, so for what I cannot recall now, I will simply resort back to my crude notes.

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The strongest argument I have toward this series’s good worth is the main duo of female leads: Sena and Yozora. Each character is blunt, stuck in their own ideals, and offer a helping of development as the series goes on. Not to mention, their chemistry with each other, and flaccid male lead Kodaka, makes for a thoroughly entertaining watch, especially within the first three episodes or so. Even while at each other’s throats, one can see the distance between the two supposed opposites begin to close with each passing day.

With this trait, Haganai becomes immediately recommendable; not just due to characters bickering with each other in a humorous way, but the set-up that justifies their behavior. Execution aside, this anime is fairly unique in its approach to popularity, hierarchy within the school system, and the concept of friendship. It’s almost like Oregairu before Oregairu, but without the cynical Hikigaya. Unfortunately, a lot of what could’ve been achieved with these themes and the characters that make up the cast are undermined as the series continues to bring in more characters. With these new characters comes more and more of what makes the high school rom-com setting so predictably bland (and popular): implied harem vibes, an aimless pursuit of having fun and nothing more, and one-dimensional personalities for the sake of humor.

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A sequence of bliss and charm surrounded the series as it began, introducing the slightly off-kilter characters and their motivations. The trio of Kodaka, Sena, and Yozora made a wonderful ensemble of fun as each played off of each other in a colorful manner, with Kodaka being the middle-man through it all. Once the series began to attract other specimens, that charm became buried under the weight of outside interference, muddying its core themes and underlying potential for the sake of appealing to the masses. There is a lot of moe present in Haganai, and much of that didn’t start until the trio became a quad, and then a quint, and so on. And these new characters, if not for some subtle growth in the following season, are completely useless. Maria and Kobato should be scrapped altogether or rewritten, while Rika and Yukimura need more than one quirk to move along with—so much so that they all nearly ruined the series for me, at least for this season.

With the mess that was made during the mid-section of this anime, I’m glad I can say that the final episodes make up for it… slightly. Again, the presence of heart and character growth are pursued with full enthusiasm, along with resolving a (horribly executed) secret that loomed in the background throughout the series. It allows some figment of closure before carrying on with the same shenanigans that the series spoils itself with time after time. Not only is it appreciated as a viewer, but the characters (or one of them) become a lot more than what her usual persona portrays.

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At one point, the art style for Haganai was a serious turn-off. Their eyes too vivid and large, with their lips protruding and their heads more like tomatoes than apples. Its expressiveness through character design is fairly strange compared to most, with even minor changes to the perspective of where things are, how they’re shaped, and what’s most highlighted making such an impact on the final product. It was weird, to say the least, but I eventually warmed up to it, and now find it one of the anime’s stronger points. With little twitches of movement better humanizing the characters on-screen and only occasional fidgets of inconsistency, it’s worth praising not just for its effectiveness, but its desire to stay true to the original light novel’s art. The only other anime I can think of with a similar style is Denpa Onna.

It’s a fascinating series to go over, seeing as it holds such nostalgic value to me, as well as having a lot of good underneath a mountain of bad. Cut the cast down to the main three, continue what they did for the first three episodes, and incorporate some more perspective on what they feel friendship should be and how they feel the general mass exploits it, and Haganai could’ve been a really fascinating piece of work. Dealing in “what if’s” does nothing here, as the way it stands, it needs to hold onto the crutch of popular exploits to steady itself in relevancy. With things such as lolis, incest, harems, cross-dressing, poop, and pre-teen angst being thrown around like it’s candy, I can only step back and ponder why I gave the series such high regard in the first place.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Updated Thoughts on Seitokai Yakuindomo (1st Season)

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Do you like sex jokes? No? Then what the hell are you doing here? Close the tab!

Seitokai Yakuindomo is a series I first viewed during the dawn of the first Summer of Anime back in 2012. It’s been a very, very long time coming, so I was looking forward to what I would think of it the second time around. Turns out, it holds up surprisingly well, considering the entire premise is all one will get out of it. While some sexual imagery in the form of unclothed women is presented from time to time, the most explicit content this anime presents is through dialogue and subtle visual manipulation. Censors block out a good chunk of what they’re saying, but if the subtitles are any indication, this is among the most raunchy anime I have ever seen.

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Be warned, Seitokai Yakuindomo very rarely holds back on being blunt, with things such as sex and any sort of variation of it, vibrators, chastity belts, vulgar terms (cock, blowjob, tits), and implications of pedophilia (through means of an older female teacher, so it’s not as bad…?) being fair game with its type of humor. The anime’s atmosphere never implicates anything being said should be taken seriously, which while is fine, still holds some pretty heavy subject matter. Thoughts of sterilizing sexual promiscuity and borderline illegal behavior never came to light while watching this series, but I could understand someone being “triggered” by the things being played with. I realize I make this series sound a little intimidating; rest assured that it’s only for the most sensitive types, as most of it is just blatantly hypersexual for the sake of being hypersexual.

To some degree, this manner of honest sexual prowess from Japan’s youth, coupled with the fact that the most sexual-minded characters are among the student council, responsible for keeping the youth in check, makes the series rather unique. As stated above, a lot of the vulgarity is through dialogue and subtle manipulation, not outright showing characters fuck each other with strap-ons. It’s a strange combination of the slice-of-life flicks that endear with the struggles of common youth and hardcore ecchi that only mean to serve the viewer’s hormones. Of course, in a realistic setting as an ordinary high school student council, the type of exaggerations of hardcore ecchi aren’t possible, so they compromise by making the dirtiness spew from the characters’ mouths, and occasionally their actions. High schools in Japan are fairly strict, so why not compensate the lack of panty shots with talk of finding split ends among their pubic hair?

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Aside from sex jokes, the basic foundation of comedy in Seitokai Yakuindomo is the “Straight Man” set-up. One characters makes a ridiculous statement, while another reacts in a realistic manner. The most immature student council members talk of masturbation, while the male lead reacts with aghast. I’ve seen various series where this set-up works, though here it leaves a lot to be desired, as it’s very rarely funny. Part of this lies on the one typically playing the straight man, Tsuda, the male lead. There’s very little enthusiasm in his responses, which only better implements how little personality he has. His presence among the cast isn’t by any means intolerable, just that he doesn’t liven up the show with his own brand of character. Times like this I wish there was a male lead similar to the type of one in Seitokai no Ichizon. Seeing as the anime is based off of a 4-koma, there are quite a few jokes packed into each episode, similarly to Nichijou, so the chances at humor are fairly high, even if most are crowded in misses.

Characters themselves fall within the type of depth predicated by their interest in sexual activities. There are characters who provide the sex jokes and those that react to them as straight men. And then there is Suzu, whose only defining trait is that she has a height complex and is constantly being treated like a kid, much to her chagrin. Despite this, she is best girl and anyone who disagrees can duke it out with me on the playground. There is an overwhelming superiority in the number of characters who provides sex jokes compared to those who don’t. There are characters who salivate over others in strange ways, prey upon the desires of younger men, take pictures of lewd material for profit, create vibrators, even SANTA CLAUS can’t escape his horny tendencies through this series! In a way, the more characters that are introduced, the more one-dimensional this series becomes, as the scenarios become more predictable as characters behave within their one joke.

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It’s a series better served if not taken seriously. It’s a parody of sorts, with occasional references and carpet-pulling of expectations playing a key part in its enthusiasm. Character development is a foreign concept. There is development between characters, though whether it’s well implemented or not isn’t really the focus the series wants to show. Much like Nichijou again, in fact, the series is quite subtle in any and all terms of character development, interaction, and purpose of inner conflict. The real “point” is decent fun and comedy. Fortunately, if one is tired of the squeaky-clean environment of anime comedy, Seitokai Yakuindomo is sure to blow your load.

While not an amazing show, I find it almost ironic that I once rated this lower than the likes of Hidan no Aria and Infinite Stratos. (God, was I young!) Hell, when I was implementing my scores from my disheveled notebooks into my MyAnimeList account for the first time, I looked at my score for Seitokai Yakuindomo and thought to myself, “Really? Why did I dislike it so much?” The nostalgia laced with this series (as with most series I viewed in 2012) allowed me to think fondly of it despite my grievances, and now in 2017, with three-hundred more anime under the lid, I can say that there was good reason for it. Not an immediate recommendation, but I can guarantee it’ll be a wild one night stand for those in the mood for it.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.