Saturday, October 26, 2013

Anime Shuffle? A Quick Rundown of the Fall 2013 Anime Season

Shh... Don't tell Sifu, but I dig anime, too. Shocking, yes?

So, I was going to do an anime review on the sly focusing on 30 of the new anime in the Fall 2013 season. But due to technical difficulties (you may have noticed the sound problems I have), expect some postponement of both projects. I did, however, work my way through watching all 30 new shows for at least one episode. Ye gods, we got some interesting ones and some HORRIBLE ones. Consider the following minicapsule reviews of a sort. Not counting sequels demanding some backstory I don't know and ongoing shows, here's what's new:

The Hall of Maybe?

There aren't quite the standout, yell and scream WATCH ME shows this season the way there usually are. Maybe it's just a slow burn this time around. What follows are some promising shows, but each has their issues. I'll probably give these at least 6 episodes or so until I decide whether to finish.


Ace of the Diamond: Not as good as Touch or Princess Nine, but this baseball anime has gumption and its (naive) heart is the right place. You can watch it streaming on Crunchyroll.

Beyond the Boundary: The characters are likeable enough, but right now it's the gorgeous animation selling me. In terms of fluid and lush artwork, this is the top of the pile this season. You can watch it on Crunchyroll.

Galilei Donna: Reminds me of R.O.D. the TV series. Three different girls/women descended from Galileo, wondrous inventions, and a mysterious bad guy with style. You can watch it on (SURPRISE!) Crunchyroll.

Kyousougiga: Welcome to Kyoto beyond the Looking Glass, a dimensional sidestep made by a priest and his drawing of a rabbit. Yep, shades of Alice, but it's actually one of the most imaginative shows I've seen in a while. And yes, catch it on Crunchyroll.

Samurai Flamenco: Hands down one of the most bizarrely awesome superhero names of all time? Sure. So far it seems a homage to the movie/comic Kickass, but the opening hints that it may be the Kickass of mecha sentai shows. Guess I'll stick around to find out, especially since the two male leads so far have a great "Odd Couple" vibe. The idealist and the pragmatist! The wannabe hero and bored cop! Yep, Crunchyroll.

Yowamushi Pedal (Yopeda): Ah, there's my self-referencing otaku-bait, but this might be a cut above the normal fare (For a cut below, see Outbreak Company). Sure, he's a nerdy, introverted otaku, but so far no signs of being pervy, and he bikes. A lot. Over 40 kilometers one-way to visit Akiba. And yet this is a sports anime about high school biking. As someone who used to bike a ton in the hill country and loves the film Breaking Away, I'm hooked. And hey, is it my fault all the good anime (and about 2/3 of ALL the new anime) is on Crunchyroll?

The Hall of Meh.

Not all anime is either a slow burning shining star or utter dreck. Some of it is just... meh. It might speak to you, hit you with the nostalgia mallet, or just leave you fuzzy and ill-defined. Or it might leave no impression at all. As usual, that's the bulk of the season.

There's a lot of Crunchyroll out there (and by the way, you can usually get it on Hulu, too). So let's make this easy and divide it up into Crunchyroll and Not Crunchyroll (to save my fingers from constantly linking Crunchyroll; you want it, you find it!).



Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Poor Aquaman can't get a movie, but these battleship-/submarine-/kawaii-girls get a full season of episodes. There is no justice. Still, the set-up is actually a good sci-fi concept, and the submarine's crew are interesting. But right now they're vague and the captain and ship AI are paint-drying exciting, so I'll give it another couple of episodes. If it doesn't gain any sea legs, I'm tossing it overboard.

Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods: It's cute, and I like the kitsune serving the shrine. But it might be too cute, too safe. I'm reminded of Hanasuka Iroha, which grabbed me early for its easygoing style but fell down in the drama department a third of the way through. I'll give it another couple of episodes to see if the plots become more interesting than "Find the lost kitty!" If that plot sounds just your speed, check it out.

Golden Time: I feel this might become a guilty pleasure. Harem love story, meh. But in a university law school? Hmm. Probably I'm just having Genshiken withdrawals again. I'll give it another couple of episodes to be sure...

Log Horizon: Didn't you love .hack//SIGN? Didn't you love Sword Art Online? Then move along, grasshopper. Nothing new to see here.

Miss Monochrome: I liked it much better when it was called Key: The Metal Idol. And wasn't a tiny gag show. And had no creepy CGI idol dancing at the end... Excuse me, I need to find someone to hold me now, and tell me there are no plastic dancing dolls under my bed tonight. Shhh... Shhh...

Nagi no Asukara: Interesting premise. Burgeoning adolescent love quadrangle. Civl rights and religious issues in play. I ought to dig this. Maybe you will. But for me... THEY LIVE UNDERWATER AND ONLY SWIM MAYBE TWICE IN THE WHOLE EPISODE. Underwater characters should SWIM. Aquaman gets yet another slap in the face from anime.

Non Non Biyori: Cute girls do cute things in the country. And... I dug it. It's not great. It's just... soothing. Not pandering, but tranquil. Watch it and see if you don't feel at peace and at One with the universe when that loooong shot of the cherry blossom tree shows up. Disclaimer: I grew up in the middle of Nowhere, U.S.A., so some nostalgia is in effect.

Outbreak Company: More otaku-bait. Encounter an otherdimensional fantasy world? Clearly an otaking (what, you didn't see Otaku no Video?) should be your ambassador. There is potential here, but I'm not sure this anime has any intention of mining the subtext of "soft power" in international relations. I'll give it a couple more episodes to find out if the otaku can find the show a brain, a heart, or some courage. I'll take two out of three at this point.

Strike the Blood: There's vampires and other supernatural characters living on an artificial island. And some panty jokes. Pretty standard urban fantasy anime. Blah as it can get.

Wanna Be the Strongest: By all rights, this ought to be in the Hall of Shame. But, I feel like its reaching for something more than big breasts and fanservice ogling of humiliation. Likely this reach will exceed its grasp, and quickly. But I don't want to dismiss these wrestling ladies too quick, if for no other reason than it's a unique concept. I'll give it another couple of episodes, then probably jump on the bandwagon condemning it.

White Album 2: Yes, a sequel. But I really did like the original White Album, and this doesn't bother to continue that story (although it hints at it). I'll probably watch a lot more. There's no strong contender for High School Romance this season anyway, but it's still a bit cookie cutter thus far.

Non-Crunchyroll

BlazBlue: Alter Memory: Based on a fighting game. Interesting "eternal recurrence" theme. Annoying "catgirl" bounty hunter. Done. Watch it at Hulu or Funimation.

Coppelion: The backgrounds might be the most beautiful I've ever seen. However, the thick-lined characters themselves clash horribly. Add the fact that the mysterious plot is so mysterious I couldn't begin to describe it to you without outside sources, and I'm not digging it. If there weren't so many better options, this would stand out more. You can watch it at Hulu or Viz Media.

Gaist Crusher: Because don't you want to watch Pokemon, Zoids, and Saint Seiya all at ONCE!? So far I haven't seen anyone even bother to fansub this kid show, much less simulcast it.

Tokyo Ravens: Urban fantasy with government sorcerers and young love. Think I'll give it another couple episodes just to be sure it has no soul. Catch it at Hulu or Funimation.

Unbreakable Machine Doll: Want to have sex with your Pokemon? No? Well, it wants YOU! Watch it at Hulu or Funimation.And no, this doesn't deserve Hall of Shame. It gets much, much worse...

The Hall of Shame!

Some anime deserve death. Hand it a butter knife and order suppuku. These aren't the ones that give otaku a bad name... These are the ones that give those anime a bad name. They wish they were as good as La Blue Girl. Yeah, the sub-basement of sub-basement anime.

What I'm saying is... these are bad for you. Evil. Rot your brain. Radioactive. If you want to poison your soul, find it your own damn self.

Diabolik Lovers: Everything you despise about Twilight and the entire current vampire craze in one ugly little package.

I Couldn't Become a Hero, So I reluctantly Decided to Get a Job: This wins as most offensive. Not for the T & A, but because the premise is good. It's interesting. I'd like to see that show. But this is not it.

Kill la Kill: Probably this will have a ton of fans, actually. Me? Somebody thought they'd be the Tarantino of anime, and ended up Michael Bay instead. And for all the griping at Wanna Be the Strongest for its depiction of women, how come I've seen nobody rip this for its fetishizing barely-there schoolgirl uniform?

MEGANEBU: You promised me a giant mecha show in the opening. You lied. Your boring one-trick pony gag of "WE LOVE GLASSES!" doesn't hit me. And I wear glasses. I love glasses. I'm easy prey. Loser.

My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy: Often, the worth of a show is in inverse proportion to its title length. Silly premise, silly execution, ridiculous fanservice.

Walkure Romanze: Jousting. JOUSTING. I should love this. Don't get me started on my love of Romero's Knightriders. But this? Harem fanservice with lousy animation and more lens flares than every Bay, Abrams, and Spielberg movie combined. Why do you even bother with lens flare in an anime?!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Down in the Dojo, Episode 02: A Review of "The Crippled Masters"

While the video did indeed get uploaded to Veoh by Sunday night as planned, it was by the sin of my teeth! So, this post is only following a day after. Boushi-san is still trying to figure these interwebs out.

Just like he's trying to figure out how to make these videos. Bear with our intrepid reviewer as he fumbles his way through video and sound editing. Get one thing right, get ten things wrong. I'm no Yen Hui.Who? Yen Hui was the favored disciple of Confucius, of whom the Master said: "He understands one thing and learns ten more!" (I paraphrase heavily here, but you get the picture.)

Maybe the ridiculous lesson of combining the prowess of the two lead martial artists in Crippled Masters just by playing with jade ponies isn't so ridiculous after all...

No, the movie is still ridiculous.


Watch Down in the Dojo 02: "The Crippled Masters" Review in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Down in the Dojo, Episode 01: A Review of "Come Drink With Me"

Salutations, and welcome to the official home of Down in the Dojo!

When at the lowest point in my life, grasping for direction, I encountered a Craigslist ad that changed everything:

"Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person."

Realizing that sounded way too hard, I opted for the next one:

"Sifu seeks disciple. Must have an earnest desire to learn kung fu through film. Apply by email."

Now that sounded perfect! Thus did Sifu, my new kung fu master, dub me Boushi-san and charge me with reviewing martial arts movies. Once I've accumulated enough reviews under my belt, I'm sure the ancient arts of kicking butt and taking names with flying kicks will leap into my mind and body like a raging dragon. So he assures me. Sifu wouldn't lie, right?

So with that introduction out of the way, I present the first episode of Down in the Dojo, where I don my new martial arts robe and  examine the King Hu epic "Come Drink With Me" (1966).


Watch Down in the Dojo Episode 01 in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

For now, I'll be using Veoh as my distribution channel primarily. I'll upload to Youtube when certain matters of "fair use" are ironed out. I'll also be apply to Blip in hopes of furthering this project and making Sifu proud! So like, share, and discuss! If the movie appeals to you, track it down and tell me what you thought in the comments.