Category Archives: Anime Spotlight

Anime Spotlight #15

KanColle, on steroids:

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Robots, aliens, warships, and magical girls all meet in Arpeggio of Blue Steel!  Basically, if KanColle and Strike Witches had a baby Arpeggio would be the result.  The best aspects of robotic warcraft and magical girls from those two Anime are on display in Arpeggio; gynoids (“Mental Models”) control powerful alien vessels, known as the “Fleet of Fog,” that take the form of various 20th Century warships (mainly Japanese).

The main character here is a starfish-loving loli gynoid named Iona, who controls the overridden Fog submarine taking the form of the Japanese I-401.  Her “heel turn” isn’t revealed until the movie Cadenza, but upon making contact with Chihaya Gunzou — her only directive upon being slate-cleaned is to find and then unquestioningly obey this man — virtually every single Mental Model-driven Fog vessel who fights her either dies or does a heel turn themselves.

I’m glad to see that Iona and Gunzou both remind me a lot of similar protagonists from prior Spotlights:  Hibiki and Genjuuro from Symphogear, Akane from Vividred, and Miyafuji from Strike Witches.  They’d rather try to reach a mutual understanding with their foes, but will still take up arms and fight if they must.  It’s no wonder so many Fog turned Good after facing the “Blue Steel” team!  Also:  Happy endings!  Yay!

One can only hope a second season is in the works here….

Anime Spotlight #14

Get a load of this Anime!

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Ore, Twintail(s) ni Narimasu!

“Weird” doesn’t begin to describe this show, yet still I enjoyed it immensely (not sure why…maybe because it’s so weird it’s hilarious).

On the flip side, it certainly is unique:  What other Anime has a male character that transforms into a little girl in order to fight invading reptilian monsters that have serious fetish problems, all in one show?!  It’s still a Magical Girl Anime in the same vein as Sailor Moon and Strike Witches, but the similarities largely end there.

It ain’t just the foes who are tapping into their inner, deepest lust for the sake of power; in order to power their respective “Tail Gear,” even the protagonists need to get cozy with their “attribute power” (a deep desire/lust for something, basically like a fetish).  Not all attribute power is created equal, apparently, and the twintail hairstyle attribute, according to this show, is the most potent of them all — great news for Mitsuka Souji, the main protagonist!

Not much in this series really makes any sense, but then again I’m sure it wasn’t meant to.  You basically watch Ore Twintails for the same reason(s) you’d watch KonoSuba or Monster Musume….

 

Anime Spotlight #13

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Another Harem Anime….

Anime shows starring a boy with a harem of magical girls is definitely nothing new, and it sure is nice that “Trinity Seven” takes a unique spin on the magical girl and harem tropes in Anime.

Firstly, magic in “Trinity Seven” is portrayed as being the exact opposite of that which is “natural” and “logical.”  Those that can wield magic, the Mages, do so according to a specific discipline — kinda like Science; however, Mages study their discipline’s inversion — with Science, when one studies a discipline like Biology that is exactly what they study.  Magical disciplines are divided via the Seven Deadly Sins, so a Mage chooses a Sin that best suits them and then becomes everything that Sin isn’t.  For example, Lilith, the red-head, is a Mage of Lust yet she is the farthest thing from lustful in “Trinity Seven”; indeed, she is actually one of two tsunderes in Arata’s harem.

Speaking of tsunderes, Arata is actually fairly tsundere-proof.

Of course, some things never change, like the fact that every good Anime harem needs a loli or two:

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Appearances are deceiving in “Trinity Seven”; these three girls are in fact grimoires.

Unlike boys in other Harem Anime, Arata is well aware of the harem he’s acquiring as he keeps on his quest to get Hijiri back.  Meanwhile, he discovers he’s pretty-much Satan’s left-hand man and he’s actually meant to use the Trinity Seven to destroy the World and remake it anew again.  Thanks in part to Hijiri, though, all Arata wants to do is control all magic in the Universe so that he can return her to Earth and keep his new friends safe.

Because Mages gain the most of their magic when they’re irrational, it makes sense that “Trinity Seven’s” plot also be irrational.  Characters flip sides on a whim, and they sometimes do things that make absolutely zero logical sense in the scheme of things.

The rest is best left to watching the show itself.  The first season is also dubbed!

Anime Spotlight #12

Tachibana Hibiki:  Fisting the Cabal and their plans one Noise at a time!

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That’s basically Senki Zesshou Symphogear (or, “Swan Songs of the Valkyries”) in a nutshell….

However, this Anime is actually a lot more than that — once you start to really watch it (even for a Magical Girl-type Anime).  First off, it’s an Anime version of a Musical; the protagonists must sing in order to make use of their empowered “outfits,” and at least one of them must continue singing in order to keep these outfits at full power.

But wait, there’s more!

“Symphogear” is one of the most pro-humanity kind of Anime I’ve seen yet, but even more interesting is that this show goes almost David Icke-levels of depth into the Occult.  You pretty-well gotta watch one of Icke’s 4-6 hr-long talks on YouTube to be able to fully appreciate all the Occult references made in the show’s three-going-on-four seasons so far.

Back to Hibiki:  This isn’t the first Anime I’ve seen where one main protagonist and their actions basically make the entire show.  Prior examples include Amane from “Ange Vierge” and Akane from “Vividred,” but Hibiki puts them both to shame!  She alone is responsible for all the foes that become friends over the course of the three-to-four seasons, and so far most of them have turned, and that is primarily because she refuses to fight other humans especially when humans can be reasoned with and thus understood.  When she does fight, it’s to protect friends and civilians alike by disabling human enemies — not by killing them!  In fact, not a single human death in all of “Symphogear” has ever occurred at the hands of a protagonist; not a single one (yet — suicides don’t count).  Hibiki and Genjuuro are mainly to thank for that; that said, there is now one instance of a protagonist willfully causing major bodily harm in the form of Yukine blowing off Sonia’s brother’s leg in Season 4 in order to prevent him from succumbing to an Alca-noise.

I’m a big fan of Happy Endings, and as such “Symphogear” is big on such Happy Endings.  I always enjoy shows where most, if not all, of the protagonists vanquish Evil and survive to live another day; even better are the shows where the protagonists don’t kill off the “bad guys,” because — like it or not — even bad people are still people.

Anime Spotlight #11

…I wonder, which one is the illusion?

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This one’s a bit different to the other Spotlight’s I’ve done, as this post is being made while I’m still watching the Anime itself (I’ve watched the first 9 episodes so far).

Alright, Scooby Doo, let’s try to solve a mystery ~~Spoilers!~~:

The Golem:  A “golem” derives from Hebrew folklore; put simply, it is a being that shouldn’t exist, yet does.  Usually, it is willed into being through the actions of several people in unison.

The Golem of Yomi North:  Another is set in 1999 Japan, in the town of Yomiyama at a middle school named “Yomi North.”  26 years prior, an intelligent and popular student named “Misaki” suddenly died.  Instead of moving on after mourning, the students of his class — class 3 — began to believe he was, in fact, still alive.  This belief built up until the day the graduation photo was taken of the class — with Misaki’s likeness even present, just off to one side.  Thus began the “Calamity”….

The Calamity:  For each year since Misaki, a student suddenly appears in class-3’s roster — a student who shouldn’t exist, yet does.  This upset alters the rosters themselves and even the memories of the students in that same class; most importantly, this upset, if left unchecked, results in the death of a student, and/or anyone within two degrees of separation from said student, per month of that school year (on average).  At the close of each year, the Golem vanishes alongside any trace of its existence during that past year.

The Counter-measure:  Treating one of the students in class-3 as “non-existent” was found to mitigate the Calamity to a notable extent, in some years even holding off the Calamity virtually altogether.  In theory, this counter-measure works because it offsets the upset created by the Golem.  If only someone told Kouichi that on his first day….

The Special Case of 15 Years Ago:  Something happened during a class trip to Yomiyama mountain 15 years ago, that ended that year’s Calamity prematurely.  This “special case” has thus far only been observed once in the 26 years of the Calamity’s existence, and the one who pulled it off even left an important clue behind for the sake of future classes.  What was left behind was a cassette, left inside an old locker in the original class-3 room; the recording told of the trip, of the two student deaths that occurred while the class was trying to descend the mountain in a sudden thunderstorm, and crucially of what happened once the remaining classmates returned to the bottom — but, of course, that’s when the tape cuts out!

The Current Calamity — is there a pattern?  The first death of the show is Mei’s cousin, who dies on the same day Kouichi is met by three students from his new school (which he begins attending the very next day) and then proceeds to meet Mei herself for the first (herself there to see her cousin’s corpse) — this is the only death that goes virtually unnoticed by the characters of the show and likely also by many of the people watching.  The first unquestionable death of the Calamity, though likely the second death of the Calamity in reality, is a female student who is skewered by her umbrella after freaking out at the sight of Kouichi standing with Mei.  The next death is the nurse who, up to that point, was the only one who was telling Kouichi anything — she dies to an unsafe elevator while the phone with him.  Next up is one of Kouichi’s friends, who (in)conveniently dies of a heart attack right as he’s about to open up to Kouichi about the Calamity while Mei was walking him home.  Next up is the very unsightly death of class-3’s teacher, performed in front of all the students.  Another student dies while Kouichi and some classmates and relatives take a road trip to a beach-side hotel located outside the limits of Yomiyama in order to talk to the man who halted the Calamity 15 years ago; this is the first death to occur outside of Yomiyama, but only on the surface as the cause of his death still occurred inside the town; as it so happened, Mei was also present at the beach that same day.  Finally, there are the two deaths that occurred at the close of episode 9 — one student dies with her family in their car, while the other loses her brother to a runaway loaded flatbed truck (both girls happened to meet with Kouichi and his friends just prior, where Kouichi told them they were going to search the old class-3 room for clues to what happened 15 years ago).  From here on, now, is mostly my speculations….  So…:  Kouichi was either present, had communications with, or was in the vicinity of all the above deaths mentioned.  Excluding Mei’s cousin and the teacher, all the above deaths occurred just before or shortly after an important piece of information regarding the Calamity was given to Kouichi; the two exceptions to this are indeed outliers, as Kouichi never had any contact at all with Mei’s cousin (he only finds out about her via the nurse in the days afterwards) and no contact beyond being a student in class-3 with respect to the teacher.  The teacher could’ve succumbed to prolonged exposure to the Golem, but what about Mei’s cousin?

Who Is the Class-3 Golem of 1999?  If the upset caused by the Golem’s existence is the cause of deaths of the Calamity, then might it stand to reason that the Golem should be in the vicinity of the victim when they die?  If so, then Kouichi is an obvious choice for this particular year’s Golem.  BUT, the two prominent outliers noted above point to another, perhaps more likely candidate:  Misaki Mei.  Kouichi had no contact with Mei’s cousin, but surely Mei herself did; she would also have had prolonged contact with the teacher.  Then, what about the nurse and the two students who die at the close of episode 9?  The only two deaths wherein she wasn’t in the vicinity of the victims when they died?  Mei was also at the school when Kouichi spoke briefly with the two girls (who were just leaving the school).  As for the nurse, while Kouichi was talking with her while she died a careful watch through episode 4 confirms that Mei was absent from school that day (she even says she wouldn’t show up that day) — she may have been at, or near, the hospital at the time of the accident.  During episode 7, Mei confirms that Kouichi is not the current Golem — how does she know with such certainty?  She’s also the only student with abnormal behaviour:  She loves the dolls her mother makes because they are dead and hollow inside.  She is completely devoid of emotion and completely unfazed by death.  She had a near-death experience, concerning her left eye, the only one in the show thus far known to have experienced such a thing (in other words, she “remembers dying”).  Her family members are completely disconnected from each other and herself, and she to them; even the place she calls “home” is abnormal in appearance.  As of episode 9, only Mei and Kouichi are viable candidates for the Golem; even though Mei rules out Kouichi, she could’ve lied to him.  The death of Mei’s cousin, as well as the life circumstances surrounding Mei, to me still make Mei the prime candidate at this point.

How to end the Calamity — for good!  Regardless of what happened 15 years ago, only one sure-fire means exists to end the Calamity once and for all — not simply for the year.  This is based on what I have seen thus far in the show….  The solution is TO DESTROY MISAKI’S DESK.  Don’t matter how it’s done, so long as that desk is no more!  Even though class-3’s room had changed locations between the catalyst 26 years ago and the present setting of Another, the Calamity associated with class-3 persisted.  That 26-year-old desk is the only vestige from that old room, and is the only thing that’s 26 years old in the new room.  Because the Misaki of 26 years ago sat there, it’s logical that his Golem also have been created at that desk as well (which is in line with the story of Misaki).  It would also follow that the other 25 Golems also have been made manifest from that desk.  I would think if that desk was moved into a different room for a year, the Calamity would continue unhindered (assuming what’s known thus far is true) but in that new room; that said, eliminating that desk should eliminate the Calamity permanently as no more Golems would be created that are ultimately responsible for the Calamity itself.

Other clues…:  Misaki Mei is the only one in the series who asks the vital question of “who is dead?” — who is this year’s Golem?  She also expresses interest in Kouichi’s mother’s class photograph, because his mother was present in the photograph that is claimed to show the original Misaki as the class’ first Golem; Mei tells him directly that she wants to see that photograph once he finds it.  Kouichi’s mother also died the year the Calamity was ceased prematurely, at around the day he himself was born; an older girl related to him — a sister or cousin? — was also in that same class 15 years ago.  The only student in the class not perturbed by Mei is Kouichi; why?  Mei chooses to be the “non-existent” for that year, something that rarely, if ever, happens; also, the current class’ “Counter-measures President” position was filled by someone who volunteered to fill the role — which also rarely, if ever, happens.  The Misaki of 26 years ago is said to be a girl in the tales about this student, yet the official year-book for 1972 notes Misaki as being male; what gives?  Another notable point is that the class’ first Golem has the same name as Mei — are they related in some way?  Finally, it appears that, at least for the current year, most of the deaths (if not all, if the remaining three episodes I’ve yet to watch shed light on the notable exceptions) were the result of someone trying to identify, or otherwise prove the existence of, the current Golem; depending on the level of knowledge being pursued, the consequential death appears to occur more immediately otherwise a death occurs more-or-less within a day or so of a revelation.

Well, that’s all I can come up with at the moment!  It’s now time for me to go ahead and watch the last three episodes (and an OVA, too?!) and see if anything I’ve just put down here was in anyway accurate or at least on the right track.  If anyone else comes upon this post while also in the process of working through Another, then perhaps this post here may help give you things to ponder as well.

*Reminder:  The term “Golem” is what I’m using to refer to the student that suddenly appears in class-3 at the beginning of each year.  This is NOT the term used within the Anime itself! (at least, not yet…)

 

Anime Spotlight #10

More pantsu…:

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This show takes the ever-popular “magical girl”-type Anime and removes all the “magic” from it; here, the “power of friendship” drives advanced tech instead of wizardry.  Series-wise, ‘Vividred Operation’ is an interesting mix of ‘Dimension W,’ ‘Momo-kyun Sword,’ ‘Strike Witches,’ and ‘Sailor Moon.’

Akane is the “Amane” (see ‘Ange Vierge’) of ‘Vividred,’ if the latter weren’t locked in stasis for much of the series; without Akane, Kuroki and the “Alone” succeed in their plans and Dr. Isshiki’s hopes to stop them are doomed to fail.

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Obligatory ‘Gurren Lagann’ reference…

Setting aside all the “docking” and “naked”-ness, ‘Vividred’ was actually fun to watch.  The moral of this story is also quite simple and powerful:  Humans, you see, require water, air, light, and friendship in order to survive.  If we look lightly upon friendship or upon life, we lose our right to live. ~Isshiki Kenjirou

The only effective way to face anyone who’s lost their will to live is thus with friendship and compassion!

Anime Spotlight #9

Speaking of young girls wearing machine parts and fighting aliens…:

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Strike Witches!!

With two full seasons, an OVA, and three stand-alone episodes, one could say that Strike Witches did pretty well.  It also has a spin-off, the Brave Witches, which didn’t do nearly as well as Strike Witches did (with only one season completed).

In this parallel-reality Anime rendition of WWII where an alien AI race has invaded Earth, many of the most successful WWII flying aces from our reality have been incarnated in the form of magic-wielding teenaged girls called “Witches.”  Squadrons of these Witches ultimately take inspiration from the three Russian all-female airborne divisions that existed during WWII, the most well-known of them being the 588th division called the “Night Witches.”

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The “Strike Witches” and their real-world inspirations — chart….

Similar to Fubuki in Kantai Collection, the main character in Strike Witches, Yoshika Miyafuji, occupies the first season working to prove herself as a capable member of the squad.  She ends up quickly surpassing many of her comrades, only deplete her magic executing the most OP ability in the entire series — only to, somehow, gain it all back again in the OVA.

Then again, who actually has watched this Anime for the “plot” anyway?

;P

Anime Spotlight #8

POIII!!

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Upgraded Yuudachi action shot (from Wallpaper Abyss).

Girls with the souls of (Japanese) warships past go to battle against alien foes!  In other words, Kantai Collection:  KanColle….

Fubuki — “Bucky” — is the “little warship that could,” in this series.  Fubuki, like her friends Mutsuki and Yuudachi, is a destroyer which means poor guns but good torpedoes.  Adding the three Cruiser sisters (Sendai, Jintsuu, and Naka the “idol”) to the mix, and it’s no wonder this particular fleet is named “Torpedo Squad 3.”  Torpedoes for days!

Many of the girls in the show display one or two traits that hearken back to their real-life warship counterparts.  For example…:  Kongou was “born” in the UK but used and maintained by the Japanese, and as a result Kantai’s Kongou likes to throw English words into her speech.  Kongou, Hiei, Kirishima, and Haruna all belong to the Kongou class of battleships, and not surprisingly the Kantai counterparts are sisters.  Destroyers like Fubuki are small, fragile ships, and in Kantai Collection most of the “lolis” are indeed destroyers (conversely, the tall, mature girls take up the battleship and carrier classes in the show).  Speaking of battleships and carriers, Kantai‘s Akagi and Yamato are shown to be “big eaters” — perhaps to imply their real-world counterparts required a LOT of fuel to run.  Finally, there’s Yuudachi and her near-incessant use of “-poi” which is essentially a “maybe” in Japanese (maybe a reference to the Battle of Guadalcanal, wherein Yuudachi and other Shiratsuyu-class destroyers did a number on American ships — maybe).

This particular Anime is based on a Japanese video game of the same name, and theoretically there’s also a second season of the show out somewhere….

 

Anime Spotlight #7

It’s Street Fighter meets “Magical Girls” — ViVid Strike!

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Fuuka and Rinne, once friends, grew into adversaries — only to become friends again at the very end of the series.  That’s basically the ViVid Strike plot in a nutshell….

The most powerful fighter in the ring is Vivio (not to be confused with “ViVid” of the show’s title) — the girl with the Christmas-coloured eyes.  She’s the girl that Rinne spends so much time training to beat.

A street-borne fighter her whole life, it wasn’t until a chance encounter with a professional fighter as a teenager that Fuuka (the show’s actual protagonist) was finally given an opportunity to show her fighting skills to a much wider, public audience.  There, she also has a chance to reconcile with her old friend, Rinne, once and for all — will they continue as adversaries, or can they truly rekindle that old friendship they had as orphans?  All is settled, at last, during the epic, no-holds-barred duel held in an abandoned town as Fuuka ultimately emerges victorious (though both are absolutely drained of energy afterwards).

Fighting in the ring, in ViVid Strike, is not your average old-school style boxing tourney!  The girls have to wear special shock-absorbing belts because punches thrown in this ring come with an added punch of magic!  Even so, girls facing Rinne tend to wind up on hospital beds all beaten up.

I found this show entertaining and well worth the time to watch, so hopefully you’ll feel the same!

Anime Spotlight #6

When Science and Magic meet….

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In Academy City, students study Science in order to obtain special abilities called “Esper powers.”  The more advanced one’s powers are, the higher their “level” becomes — and thus the higher their status in the city becomes.

The lowest level is “0”, and Touma Kamijou, the main character, is one such person; he’s quite an unlucky person, and he has an odd ability called “Imagine-breaker” which nullifies all abilities it touches, including magic.  Even though the show is named after the white-haired girl (whom we meet draped over Touma’s balcony — her name’s actually Index…), in terms of the show’s story-line Touma is actually the center of focus character-wise.

That’s probably a good thing, though, as many of the other characters don’t really do all that much; Railgun (Misaka) and Index in particular just come along for the ride, it seems.  I like that he isn’t deterred from action by his low level; he’ll even fight against the most powerful individuals around, if he feels he must.  He has only his right hand to rely on, but still he pulls through for the good guys.

Happy Easter long weekend, all!