ATTENTION: 2 More Treats EVA Fans Might Have Missed!

Hello Evangelion fanboys and fangirls, it would appear that EVA-Week is nearing its inevitable end. But don’t worry, if you’re not already sick of me going on and on about this series, here are two treats to the franchise you might have glossed by. After all, they are only a few minutes apiece.

Gosh, I’m starting to sound like a teacher emailing his students the latest assignments . . . I thank Wikipedia pages for helping me with this one!

Evangelion: Another Impact (CONFIDENTIAL)

This was an anime short project from Studio Khara and the media company Dwango. It was, like everything else, directed by Hideaki Anno, but produced by Joseph Chou and Tomohiko Ishii. Released on February 6, 2015, the website of the project describes the plot as follows:

“Another time, another place. An activation test of a decisive weapon was underway. With its development and operational trials shrouded in complete secrecy, the Another Number – Unit Null, suddenly breaks free of human control and goes berserk. For what purpose was Another Number – Unit Null created?

The story of an Evangelion’s activation, rampage and howling in another world.”

Supposedly it’s cannon, but I don’t think that was the intent. The project was meant to see what Evangelion looked like in realistic CG animation, and you know what? IT LOOKS HELLA COOL!! You don’t even have to be a fan of the series to enjoy this EPICNESS! Just enjoy the little clip:

This is the full thing, HD quality, though there is a voiceover in another language.

For those English buds who need the translation, here it is with subs, though in lower quality.

 

Evangelion: until You come to me.

Now this one was specifically directed by Anno and released with more serious intent and style. It was an entry in the 2014 Animator Expo, and is designed as a sort of prelude/possible 3.0+1.0 hype/just-for-art for the Rebuild series, specifically set after 3.33 as it had “emotionally drained him.” The background song is Shiro Sagisu’s rendition of the popular Irish tune, “Danny Boy.”

You’ll have to click on this link to watch it:

https://vk.com/video1785371_170606473?list=07610468a6ce66812c

Don’t get parts of it? All of it? Here is an excellent analysis which I encourage ALL EVA fans to watch REGARDLESS of having seen the original, as YouTuber GoatJesus does a wonderful job picking apart this piece of art and appreciating it for the sadness, beauty, and hope it inspires.

 

Had you seen either of these Evangelion shorts, or were you living under a rock like I was? I do hope you enjoy something out of this, whether it was the high-energy Another Impact or the more delicate, melancholic, emotionally-touching until You come to me. Both are more Evangelion, and both do it pretty damn well, providing not only new material but different medias the franchise can be viewed through. If you’d like to chat about any of it, drop me a comment below! Until the next and final EVA-Week post, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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THIS IS WHY WE CAN (NOT) REDO | Comprehensive Review

Here lie my thoughts on the 2012 anime film “Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo,” also known as “Evangelion Theatrical Edition: Q Quickening,” produced by Studio Khara and Gainax, original story by Hideaki Anno. Specifically, this is a bit of a review, analysis, and diatribe . . . thing . . . over FUNimation Entertainment’s February 2nd, 2016 release of the prolonged English dub and translation. Be forewarned, we breech SPOILER TERRITORY, and this post will be rather lengthy and out-of-the-ordinary in comparison to my typical reviews. This compilation will (not) be for everyone, clearly, but if thus far you have enjoyed the musings of Takuto the host as a person, do consider taking the time to carefully read. I would greatly appreciate it.

While my Eva celebration concluded a week ago, I held off on this review. It’s not only hard to talk about from a statistical standpoint, but difficult to pass judgement on an emotional level. I think I’m finally ready to wrap this up, though. No spoiler, I enjoyed myself. However, my voicing of CONCERN for a franchise has NEVER been stronger than what is contained below – And I watched PMMM: Rebellion! For both of us to navigate this wasteland of crushed dreams and abundant thoughts, I’ll be dividing this into sections. Read parts of it, all of it, just the end, none of it – Whatever you’d like.

CG Evas never weighed so little! Also, best soundtrack to date!

This’ll be the easiest area to cover, as the quality of the Rebuild continues to impress. The dynamic perspectives in space, the desolate tone of old NERV HQ, the unbelievable action sequences, that godly piano scene, oh my!! I only hope that the last film (whenever it gets here, *sigh*) doesn’t rely so heavily on CG mapping because seriously, the entire first third of the series (which really feels like its own episode) is all CG, save for the characters. It’s not a bad thing, per say (the Mark.04’s last form looks like a shitty CG fan blade and the Wunder, Misato’s flagship not only lacks explanation for its abilities, but also looks dorky), I just remember when the Evas had so many moving CG parts and details, and now just a black line down the middle can replace that? Um, no. Also, not sure how I feel about the sharper face designs.

Neon Genesis Evangelion wallpaper

Yeah . . . ten-year-old me might have been a fan, but now . . . 

Capture

Unit-08 in the trailer in 2.22

 

What we actually got in 3.33. Yeah, it sucks.

This was from the trailer (not that we should trust them anymore) for the last film. Doesn’t it look kinda ugly?

And why are they now weightless?? Giant robots are flyin’ all over the place towards the end looking like sprinting drunk fools. Also, do you remember when beast mode was a special thing only Shinji could do in NGE and 1.11? Well, not only can Mari do it (2.22) but so can Asuka now *facepalms*. Is best mode just a gimmick now, because it’s not even cool, neither does it make sense. The animation otherwise is absolutely stunning, and I mean that with every sense of the word! I still hope Khara is saving the good stuff for last . . .

Shiro Sagisu has done it again, that is, knock the atmosphere of EVANGELION OUT OF THE PARK!!! This was probably my favorite part of the entire film, his epic and otherworldly soundtrack elevating the stakes on every scene. While I love the reprisal of his old stuff, his new pieces, full orchestra or melancholic piano, are not something to cast aside. “The Ultimate Soldier,” “The Wrath of God in All its Fury,” “God’s Gift,” and “Scarred and Battled” are all bone-chilling masterpieces. They add SO MUCH to the movie! While at first I was very disappointed with Hikaru Utada’s new ending theme “In the End (or Sakura Nagashi), as the anticipation from the first two blew me away, I have come to delight in this change of pace. As for the English dub, it too is excellent! Not sure why a translation took so long, but hey, the acting is wonderful, and it’s so great to hear Allison Keith as Misato and Tiffany Grant as Asuka once again.

Not the world we thought we knew: Reintroduction and Basic Summary

Following the cataclysmic Third Impact initiated by Shinji Ikari at the end of 2.22, 14 years of undefined strife have passed, leaving the Earth stained red. SEELE, revealed to be nearly crippled by mysterious attempts behind the scenes, has entrusted “World’s Best Dad” Gendo Ikari to carry out the remaining mission of returning mankind to a world free of human suffering and sin: Instrumentality. But Dr. Ikari has anticipated this, and instead proceeds with his own selfish plan of using the Evas to eradicate God in return for a reunion with his wife, Yui, who is revealed to be “trapped” inside the purple Unit-01.

Not all of the adults were very pleased with NERV’s true motives, however, and as a result Wille was born out of the crimson fires of rebellion. Headed by Misato, Ritsuko, three familiar NERV faces, and some new recruits, this “Will” is the only remaining organization fighting for the People.

While a decade and a half has transformed everyone around him (the “Curse of the Evas” preventing Mari and Asuka from physically aging, though), Shinji remains the same old idiot brat. He clearly still hates himself, and, upon hearing that he is no longer useful to anyone he loved AND that he failed to save his beloved Rei, fleets in anguish and rage.

Upon returning to old NERV headquarters, the third child encounters SEELE’s boy, Kaworu Nagisa. The majority of the film develops their intimate relationship, but when even more lies and secrets sneak their way out, Shinji once again mentally teeters on the brink of destruction, setting the stage for the beginning of the end of humanity.

The first ten minutes were fascinating – that space battle entranced me and left me dazed! What was so promising, however, became unexplained motives just for SHOCK VALUE. I wasn’t digging the Wunder or any of Wille’s musings at all simply because I don’t recognize anyone there! I can’t sympathize with something that has no feelings for its viewer! After, when we return to Shinji at NERV, things get a little more interesting but continue without regard to us watching. It was a deadly cycle of WTF after WHY?

This is how felt.

3.33 is set in a world gone to shit. Our favorite mentally-disturbed NERV-lings now grit their teeth and point guns at each other. I understand wanting to shock the individual through Shinji’s dusty reopened eyes, but there is a difference between sudden character development and dun-dun-dun PLOT TWIST. The tonal shift is absolutely effective, but everything just feels wrong with this movie. It’s as if I’m stuck in the worst dream of my life, yet waking up is impossible not because I’m trapped, but because this intangible hope still fascinates me; an urge to scratch an itch.

Despite my love for its previous “Angel of the week” setup and watching the robots fight, Evangelion has always been more than that – It’s an assessment of the human condition, how we cope with loss, and the relationship between troubled individuals . . . With the Rebuild, I almost have to discard both of these beliefs because, after reading the pamphlet the set came with, it read:

“Volume 3 plunges headlong into unknown territory as it presents the viewers with unconventional plot twists that they never could have imagined. At the same time, it brings together all the story elements as “Shinji Ikari’s Story.”

That second bit could possibly explain the entirety of this new direction. It’s “Shinji Ikari’s Story” now, not necessarily being about the others. Shinji’s new development is much less noisome compared to the original. That might be a plus for some, but for others (NGE fans) the choices he makes and the unexpected backbone grown feels even more disconnected than before. He’s suddenly able to save chicks and initiate Third Impact just by going berserk, which makes NO SENSE considering that Third Impact is a ritual of sorts contained with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then you want us to believe that Third Impact was prevented, yet it still managed to destroy the world?? What the hell?! 3.33 is more emotionally invested at the cost of its linear storytelling built by the first two films, and that investment is totally dependent on ridiculously high stakes timed with over-the-top action sequences – NOT character mentality. I want my real characters with real problems back, not heroes saving princesses.

Familiar faces . . . or are they?

I’ll get right to it. I hate this new Misato. The Misato that we’ve come to love from the previous two films would have understood Shinji and tried to comfort him like a mother. At the end of 2.22, she even remarks that he shouldn’t care about the rest of them or the world. “Do what you think is right” coaching. The only subtlety of her kindness is when she refuses to detonate the DSS choker around Shinji at the end of the first third. That part makes sense, but THAT’S ABOUT IT. It doesn’t help when she, being a main character in the first two films, gets a combined 5 minutes of screen time, if that. I despise those who keep comparing this series to the original, but we were cheated out on the beautiful relationship between Kaji and Misato. It was one of my favorite moments from the show that dives into the complex mind of NERV’s bossy gal.

And Ritsuko, HOLY GOD WHERE IS YOUR HAIR?!?! Like Misato and the rest of the crew, no explanations as to what occurred during that 14-year gap were given. In the original series, this would’ve been the point when Ritsuko fought with her past – her mother. While the absence of Misato and Ritsuko’s stories isn’t world-crushing for fans of the original series, it would be such a disappointment for someone who only knows of the Rebuild. At this point, Misato and Ritsuko are just hot husks for shock value, and that makes me cry.

Don’t even get me started with Asuka and Mari. At this point, they’re both in it just to say they were in it. Asuka is mad at Shinji and continues to bring the best fights in the entire franchise. Wow, that’s new. Had I only watched the Rebuild, I wouldn’t have even thought that she suffered from acceptance issues by her mother, and that the Eva is the only way of showing how awesome she is. Want to know why? BECAUSE WE DON’T KNOW IT! It’s that stupidly simple!

And Mari, oh poor Mari. She gets 2 minutes of screen time standing in the background sniping things that DIDN’T MATTER IN THE SITUATION. She’s clearly back up for Asuka at this point, but god is she unappreciated. Also, her psychologic state receives zero background, adding nothing new here. It only adds fuel to the fiery debate that Mari is pink fan-service that serves no purpose in the Rebuild. Is it sad that I’m starting to side with them? I feel disoriented with the Rebuild’s characters, much like Asuka spinning around in the dark loneliness of space.

As for Touji’s sister Sakura and the other old/new recruits? Either give us more than 10 minutes of Wille interactions or don’t add them at all. To quote the new Misato, “You do nothing.” Interestingly, for as much that explodes in our faces, 3.33 is the shortest film in the series. Would 20 extra minutes of integral building on Asuka, Misato, Mari and the others have helped the movie? You bet your sweet ass. This is yet another reason why I feel so cheated on by 3.33.

. . . Rei fans? Not anymore . . .

Ignorance of the hedgehog

SHINJI IS FOR ONCE A RELATABLE CHARACTER. If you woke up after a 14-year-long coma and everyone wanted to wring your neck – yet not tell you why – How angry and disoriented would you feel?? Shinji has every right to storm out of the Wunder. Wille did NOTHING to better the situation. By leaving Shinji in the dark then getting mad at him and scolding him, of course he’d be sick of it all! He didn’t intend to destroy the world, let alone do it a second time at the end. Why doesn’t someone inform him? Kaworu tried, but he’s too cryptic for Shinji to understand. Fuyutsuki told him about his mom, but this information only explains Gendo’s motives – NOT what he has done “wrong” as a human.

Finding love in a war-torn world, A “fanfiction come to life?”

Sittin’ in the cock . . . pit.

That’s right you KawoShin fans, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. The film takes on the emotional side of the franchise, especially the pinnacle of Shinji’s depression: The rejection of others and the loss of a dear friend. 3.33 invests more emotional build up through this pairing and the opposition that Shinji is once again faced with, though this time feeling more artificial. In a world where no one will accept Shinji for whom he is anymore, seeking refuge with a new-found friend was the happiest thing for me. I was ready for the movie to end when they were tangled up in the magic of music, THE MOST beautiful scene in the entire movie in terms of emotion – I dare say of the entire Rebuild. I fangirled HARD. Kaworu filled the holes (in more ways than one *wink*) left after everyone’s betrayal and gave the first child a purpose for still living. More than that, he gave Shinji a friend. He needed that. The DSS choker, bearing the weight of sin, is taken by Kaworu, which signifies that atonement can be achieved through hope. “What was caused by an Eva can be fixed by an Eva.”

The HOPE for rebirth is out there . . .

I read a comment on YouTube a few days ago:

“Don’t worry Shinji, Rei’s got your Walkman, Asuka’s got your hand, Mari’s got your back, and between them they’ll eventually talk Misato around.”

The only problem with this is lovely statement is that in order for Shinji to cope with his depression in this route, the radio has to be left behind. It is, in short, the unwillingness to open up; the grudge against a cruel world and his father; a pact with solitude. I have a strong feeling that we won’t be hearing the next track in that same old player – It’ll be something new and full of hope because it HAS to be. 3.33 leaves us with Shinji, Asuka, and Rei (no Mari, see, even Anno doesn’t care anymore) ready to traverse the bloodstained wasteland. By themselves. No one else. This is very exciting!

The Rebuild has given up on coping with issues like depression and loss. That much is clear. Instead, it goes for a more conventional theme: Hope. 3.33 ends with neither closure nor satisfaction, and that is very frustrating. If EVERYTHING is explained and built upon in the fourth installment, then cool, this is a masterpiece. But that is highly unlikely. The Rebuild doesn’t need to look back at this point. The stage is set for the final act, and its heading is definitely fixated forward. In its third chapter, we were thankful that the ROE was focusing all of its energy on cohesively developing its main character, “Shinji Ikari’s Story.” Sadly, this comes at the incredible cost of its other leads and a cohesive plot. I fear more than anything that these great sacrifices and risks won’t be worth it.

Consider me shocked and impressed, but I’m not at all comfortable with these new developments quite yet. The Rebuild of Evangelion is still in the closet (with this film, in more ways than one). Not a whole lot was accomplished, as yet another step in Gendo Ikari’s ever-expanding, world-deconstructing plan was fulfilled, and it only leaves us on another verge as to what will ‘impact’ us next. Though it has blinded us with myriad shades of red, it has yet to show us its true colors. What will unfold? Only God knows.

– Takuto, your host

Bakemonogatari Review

So I decided to take up another large anime project and have settled on the Monogatari series. Famous for its dialogue-driven stories full of supernatural phenomenon, I thought “hey, sounds like a blast.” What I got instead, sugar coating scraped off, was a hit-or-miss subtitle-heavy anime that, with all careful decision in mind, I might not explore to its fullest.

“Ghostory” centers on Koyomi Araragi, a high school boy who, after surviving a vampire attack, became half-vampire himself, giving him various powers such as regeneration and heightened vision. To the best of his abilities, Araragi lends a helping hand to five different girls who have also become entangled with ghosts and spirits. His first encounter with the sadist tsundere Ms. Senjougahara Hitagi, however, sets him down the path of frustration yet eventually love.

I came into this anime expecting dark, twisted stories about ghosts and the occult, but instead I got a romance harem. *sighs* The series is divided into five different arcs – one for each girl – and while each one is interesting and rounds out a particular character to a considerable degree, the lack of coherence to each story chops up Senjougahara and Araragi’s overarching relationship. In an anime filled with nothing but dialogue, each arc manages to keep the story fresh, but their relationship suffers heavily.

In terms of character dialogue, there is nothing wittier than this, well, besides Okabe and Makise from Steins;Gate. Crafty wordplay, playful teasing, and intense argumentative banter are so well presented in Bakemonogatari that often times than not, it’s even worth reading in subs. Sure, some of the comical value of the puns is lost, as I sadly do not know Japanese, but the interactions are still super entertaining. A downside to this factor is that these quirky conversations can last the span of half an episode, where the characters are just standing around or sitting on a park bench. AS SUCH, THE SHOW CAN BE EQUALLY BORING.

Another disappointing thing was that arcs would begin mysteriously and uber creepy (YESS!!), but then they sometimes build up to a lackluster finish. For instance, I really liked how “Nadeko Snake” started, but man, it was such a boring finish. This show was good, but not a masterpiece by any means, and I honestly don’t know if I want to watch the second season.

Each of the girls have been “cursed” so-to-speak by an apparition, and as a result carry some sort of deformation that affects their body: Hitagi’s physical weight was stolen from her, Mayoi can’t seem to return home, Suruga’s arm became that of a monkey’s, so on and so forth. In addition to their dilemmas, each girl is a personification of various anime girl stereotypes – but with a twist. Take Hanekawa: class rep, studious, kind, but has parental problems at home. Suruga is the loud athletic girl, but she’s extremely perverted as well as a hardcore lesbian! These additions not only help personalize characters, but they feel more realistic, too.

Watching all of the characters interact with each other is where this anime shines. Because the show has such a small cast, each of the characters are explored and developed quite thoroughly. Even Araragi is hilarious to watch, witnessing his switch from lolicon to pervert, serious man to joker! The comedic skits are fast-paced while the “return fire” in arguments are just as quick-witted! Great voice acting, especially for Araragi and Senjougahara, also helps to bring out the sass talk!

Animation studio Shaft brings it all together with its attractive presentation. Silhouettes, background shadows, geometric lining, extreme symbolism and color balance are all presented with such unity that it’s truly remarkable to watch! Not to mention, varying camera angles and flash frames attempt to keep those long conversation scenes as exhilarating as possible. Also, it’s hilarious to watch the characters anger Araragi; I love all of the cartoon faces that he makes!

About the flash frames, though –  while some shows flash a couple of words that can easily be read, Bakemonogatari seizures us with occasionally paragraphs of plot-important text. I found myself slamming the pause button every five seconds during the episode openings where they are most abundant.

As for OST, the fight scenes are not necessarily well-supported, but the lengthy conversations have several strange and upbeat scores playing in the background. While the OST is not worth mentioning, the fourth opening “Ren’ai Circulation” by Kana Hanazawa and the fifth opening “Sugar Sweet Nightmare” by Yui Horie are both really catchy!

Bakemonogatari is a very surreal anime built around cursed characters that try to fight their own nightmares. They speak cleverly, some a bit smart-assy than most! I strongly recommend walking into this anime with an open mind, as lots of information are thrown at you – and you gotta read fast! Underneath all of the jokes is a memorable cast of colorful and deep characters, each complete with a story of their own no matter how grim, and it’s all about diving into their personal hell and finding the cure so that they can be at peace once again.

“If I kill you, that means I’ll be the one closest to you when you’re on your deathbed. Isn’t it romantic?” – Senjougahara to Araragi

+ Incredibly well-developed characters with entertaining dialogue

+ Sense of “something’s not quite right” establishes great tone

+ Shaft’s unique animation adds to the series quality

– Lots of subtitles to read

– Drastically boring during periods without suspense

Haha, Senjougahara, I’m not sure if that’s romantic, but it’s definitely true (and freakin’ weird)! If you want, you can watch the first 12 episodes of Bakemonogatari on Crunchyroll for free, and you’ll have to find the last three episodes somewhere . . . umm . . . on the web. What did you think of this anime? Does it get better after the first season? Staplers and head tilts!? Let me know in the comments, thanks for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Parasyte -the maxim- Review

I kid you not, as I was following this show during the fall season, I found myself acting in this more “unemotional or robotic” way. I didn’t really talk to people, I only ate and slept for energy, and I even recognized all of the unnecessary and disgusting things some of my friends do. Upon finishing my simulcasts as of late, I noticed what was manipulating me – possibly one of the most influential anime I’ve seen to date – Parasyte -the maxim-.

They called themselves alien beings, but we know them better as Parasites . . .

Izumi Shinichi is a lanky and awkward 17-year-old high school boy who lives peacefully with his mom and dad. One night, tiny aliens silently rained from the sky, burrowing themselves into humans and taking over their brains. As one of the worms tries to crawl into Shinichi’s ear, the headphones he wore while sleeping blocked the entrance. It tries to drill itself into his right hand, but Shinichi rips off the ear buds and ties them around his arm, preventing the bug from entering his brain.

Forced to coexist with “Migi,” the two form a close bond (literally!). And while the separately conscious pair stumble into other Parasites on the streets, the two form strategies and acquire new skills to ensure their survival.

Though I don’t care much for this survival of the fittest concept, Parasyte at the very least deserves the award for one of the most well-paced anime I’ve ever seen – and it keeps this effort up until about episode 18/24, after which it dramatically slows down to introduce the core villain, but picks back up again in the last couple episodes for a satisfying conclusion. The only con to this ending is the still-unknown origin of the Parasites, but hey, I really didn’t care about that by the end.

So an impressively-paced anime must include some interesting characters, right? Absolutely, and Izumi Shinichi’s dynamic yet gradual change from absolute human to slightly less than machine couldn’t have been more fleshed out than this! The struggles, externally and internally, of what it truly means to be “human” that Shinichi overcome are seriously scary – Do you think you could kill another (or several) human(s), one bearing a child at that? Sure, his foes are technically Parasites, but it’s damned hard to tell in some cases! Great developing character; an ideal lead for the “did nothing wrong” trope.

Representing the cold, harsh truth is Migi, Shinichi’s newly named right hand after the Parasite took over it. Because he is attached to his body, he receives nutrients from the food Shinichi eats, meaning that he has no need to kill humans for food. He doesn’t understand humans. The rational Migi values his own life over all others, threating to kill anyone whom Shinichi leaks the news to. As the series progresses, however, Migi slowly reveals a human side, and as it happens, Shinichi is absorbed more into the monstrous nature; the Parasite lifestyle. It’s a brilliant concept that is executed without flaw.

Shinichi and Migi deserve another round of applause for their superb voice actor and actress, Nobunaga Shimazaki and Aya Hirano, respectively. Shinichi’s confusion, transformation, and choking on blood sounds convincingly realistic, and Migi’s emotionless yet matter-of-fact speech is one of this show’s charms. Migi is so gosh darn cute – especially when he/it detaches from the arm and waddles around :3

The only other interest is Tamura Reiko, Shinichi’s substitute math teacher who is actually a Parasite. I won’t spoil the crimes that she commits, but she almost outdoes Shinichi in the transforming humanism aspect. She is a key character because, though she does kill to survive, Tamura is among the few that question their own origin by “experimenting” on other Parasites and humans. Let’s just say that when she’s taken out of the picture, the story as a whole loses some drive and fundamental curiosity.

Shinichi’s friend/love interest Satomi Murano is an annoying piece of sh*t.

If you enjoy more realistic animation, then you’ll enjoy what Madhouse has to offer. With the exception of the “anime eyes,” everything is pretty proportional. To me, the flesh-colored tones and dull colors are boring, but despite that the animation is indeed solid. The UNSENCORED BLOODY Parasite fights nice; intense and fluid in motion, using bright colors during quick and deadly execution. In contrast, emotional or romantic scenes feature cool/rich colors to mellow out the mood and add a sense of hearth.

And while Migi had some personality, all of the other Parasites were just the same monster; variety is not prominent in this anime.

I am torn when it comes to the OST. Parasyte is infamous for its use of dubstep BGM, even though there are killer monstrosities on the run. That, I can understand, makes for some lackluster encounters. On the other hand, there’s a music box-sounding track that plays during parts where you’re like, “Oh man, something really bad is going to happen any minute now.” The soundtrack is very enjoyable when it plays the right song, but otherwise it can draw away from the mood.

The first part of the strong opening (verse) “Let Me Hear” by fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas is really freakin’ cool, however, from the chorus and on the opening is just a screamo song. My thoughts aside, it fit the show quite well. The ending, “IT’S THE RIGHT TIME” by Daichi Miura beautifully wraps up each episode with melancholy and a longing to just go home. Though I absolutely love the song, it doesn’t fit well when some episodes end on the world’s largest cliffhanger. 😀

Parasyte -the maxim- succeeds at appealing to all levels of relationship: maternal, paternal, friendship, mutuality, comradery, and by distant acquaintance. Its address on the qualities of humanity attacks your very soul, challenging and questioning you as to what it truly means to be “human.” This anime does lack notable supporting and antagonistic roles, but it’s nevertheless an exciting story of power struggle. Because of its uncensored, slasher gore, the horror that is Parasyte is not for young or soft viewers. But for those who can handle the gripping thrill ride, do yourself a favor and check it out!

“I might be about to commit an irredeemable sin as a human being, but can I say that an organism has no right to live just because it’s harmful? Even if it is not beneficial to humans, to Earth, it may actually be . . .” – Izumi Shinichi

Parasyte -the maxim- has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks, so we can expect an English dub soon, fingers crossed – this is Sentai, after all. For legal streaming, the whole series is out there on Crunchyroll for FREE! Did you like this anime? Feel free to like and comment! Until next time, this has been

-Takuto, your host

ALDNOAH.ZERO 2nd Season

One of the most controversial anime to come out these past couple of seasons finally comes to a close. But who comes out on top? Slaine fans get “Slained” and you Inaho dogs, just sit there and don’t smile. Nah, I’m just kidding! Caution: Spoilers for both seasons are present!

Picking up from the first half’s suspenseful ending, silent protagonist Inaho undergoes a surgery that connects some sort of calculating machine into his shot eye. No. He’s not dead, but the thing’s pretty cool. The Deucalion suits up for battle, and while the Terrans celebrate their temporary “victory” / prepare for any Martian activity, the Martians step up their game.

As Slaine, the Terran-born Vers soldier accompanies Count Saazbaum, who seeks revenge on Earth, an “accident” occurs and Saazbaum is killed. In an attempt to restore the Vers Empire and reclaim the blue planet, Slaine ascends to Count status and primitively the throne with a new gal who literally came out of NOWHERE, wheel-chair-bound, lavender-haired Princess Lemrina.

Rather than stand by twiddling their thumbs, the Terrans take the fight to the Martians, and an all-out space war rages! But the fate of the two races ultimately resides in Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia, whose preserved body in Martian Custody slowly reawakens . . . a bullet to the brain and she didn’t die either. Damn.

I’ll admit – I really enjoyed the first season, especially the end. Sure the plot and characters went downhill after the first 6 or so episodes, but it kept me thrilled to see what would happen next.

Season two is a bit different, however. First the pros. The show starts stronger than ever before with the inclusion of Asseylum’s sister Lemrina was probably one of the series’ best moves. While my favorite moments in the first season were obviously the glamorous, high-energy robot battles, season two’s were the drama talks among the Martian hierarchy. The manipulative Lemrina is an essential part of Slaine’s motive for justice, for she can change her appearance to mirror Seylum’s, masking any idea that Seylum had died. In turn, she is a thorn in his side, desiring his affection and secretly wishing that she could replace her comatose sister for good. Though these additions couldn’t save the series in the end, the spicy and dramatic relationships really turned up the emotional dial for this sequel – I only wish I could’ve see more of Lemrina.

Now the cons. The plot is an obvious wreck. Poor pacing, bad balance of characters, and a much different (lesser) tone than the first half resulted in a LACKLUSTER ENDING. Seriously, after two seasons of killer alien robots and explosive combat and emotions – no one died. Not even any of Inaho’s friends took the fall. I’m not saying that death is a good thing in anime; it’s simply that ALDNOAH.ZERO went through a lot of trouble and no one bit the bullet.

Overall, season two values a softer and more emotional approach to a very different story. While the franchise still retains its innumerable plot holes, lacks proper character attention, and frankly sh*ts on its own design, A.Z is still passes as a decent tragedy.

Characters, what’s to say? The sequel drops any supporting Terrans, so you can all forget about Inaho’s friends. Well, maybe besides Inko and his sis. That Marito guy doesn’t even get any follow up to his problems, whatever they were. Just poor balance of characters.

More of the Martian counts are introduced as distinct personalities, which ties back to one of the greater things this sinking ship of a show offered. Their intense qualms regarding loyalty to the almighty dick Slaine made for more interesting views.

Inaho is still pretty meh. He still swoops in to take out the Counts, calibrating all of their weaknesses and eliminating them in the last second. His eye causes him suffering, but he endures the pain for the computer’s benefits. One part of the show really startled me, and that was the smooth transition from Inaho to the eye “talking” to Seylum. Supposedly, the eye grew a consciousness of its own or something cause it carried out Inaho’s last words to the Princess. Just goes to confirm Inaho is nearly no different than a robot, cause I hardly noticed the shift in dialogue – and they even stated it.

It felt really weird when Asseylum woke up from her coma, as if Lemrina’s whole world came crashing down on her – and it kinda did. Too bad Asseylum wasn’t as near as complex as Lemrina, for she remained the same old boring, dutiful Princess. However, she grew some balls in the end and surprised everyone. When that happened, A.Z woke up from its nightmare and ended things right then and there.

Slaine was by far the most developed, but that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. He went from being an obedient servant of the Vers monarchy to a stubborn, stuck up b*tch. I guess it proves once again the power is greed trope. I can distinctly recall him saying that he had pretty much started down the road to hell, and that there was no turning back. His decisions make absolutely no sense; he does retarded stuff, and in the end gets blamed for everything that happened. Humanity will remember that the whole war was because of him. Like . . . wut?

A-1 Pictures’ animation didn’t drop in quality whatsoever. It’s still pretty solid, so if you’re one for the Kataphrakt CGI fights, then you’ll be satisfied. Characters are colored in lighter tints to contrast the black nothingness of space. I love the characters and their expressions! Also, the Martian Kataphrakts are freakin’ cool, even if their design makes little to no sense.

The OP “&Z” by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:mizuki mirrors the softer appeal the anime presents while the ED “GENESIS” by Eir Aoi, to me, captures the downfall of Slaine and the ultimate tragedy of the show. Beautiful.

Hiroyuki Sawano continues to impress with touching, somber piano solos and full orchestra tracks. Though the small OST is repeated over and over again to where you can predict what song will play next, the tracks are still great, supporting the mood admirably. His attempt to milk what he could out of A.Z wasn’t in vain; there are several touching moments centered around Slaine, Asseylum, Inaho and Lemrina that were particularly beautiful despite their relevance to the plot.

If you watched ALDNOAH.ZERO’s first season, then go ahead if you haven’t already and finish this thing off. To others, I would avoid this franchise in general for its inconsistent plot, poor distribution of character development, and at times nonsensical scheming. The show is not bad, it’s just messy, and I would only watch it if you are searching for high-energy, well-animated, robot space combat or political drama, though do realize that that part eventually goes down the drain. I’m glad ALDNOAH.ZERO is over. It’s just a shame that the writers couldn’t learn from their mistakes – the show had A LOT of potential.

I guess that’s it. THE ANIME DOESN’T END HORRIBLY WHATSOEVER. If you watched A.Z, please leave a comment below with any of your thoughts. I’m a bit lost when it comes to this show. If you had similar musings, hit the like button for more anime reviews. Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Kill la Kill Review

It’s been a while since I have been wowed like this. Mocha-quality Kill la Kill strips down a basic yet stupid idea, over sexualizes women, showcases butt-naked men, and gets rough, rowdy and ridiculous all for the sake of boldly venturing where not many anime go. The burning question at hand: “Why do humans wear clothing?”

Hot-blooded high school girl Ryuko Matoi is in search for “the girl with the scissor blade;” the same girl who killed her father. Her clue hunt has led her to Honnouji Academy, a militaristic school structured by the “Goku uniforms,” uniquely ranked suits that grant students superpowers. As such, there is a fine line drawn between the mighty and the weak. Law and order is maintained through the school’s “Elite Four” and their supreme student council president, Satsuki Kiryuin, who rules over the domain with unquestionable judgment and absolute authority.

As the unwavering Lady Satsuki and fierce Ryuko meet face-to-face on the bloodstained battlefield that is Honnouji Academy, the threads of fate begin to unravel, and the whole school – as well as the world itself – is at risk of destruction.

Starred uniforms that give students unimaginable power? Yep, it sounds stupid. Very stupid. But through countless fights against a variety of opponents, Kill la Kill makes it work. Why they were made, how they were made, and what they actually are made of are all concepts that the anime explores thoroughly. Don’t try to wrap your head around things – Kill la Kill is NOT a “concentration-necessary” show.

Though fast-paced, the show never seemed rushed. Starting from the fateful encounter, the series gradually builds up to about the ¾ point, after which like any other 26-ish episode anime, it becomes a dramatic and serious blaze to the finish! The anime never seems convoluted in plot and serves as a great storyteller.

Ryuko Matoi is our main heroine. She will do anything to uncover the truth about the powerful Scissor Blade and to avenge her father, including “sacrificing” her body to Senketsu, one of the most powerful sailor suits in existence. While she’s hot-blooded and eager to fight aggressively, Ryuko always seems have issues with Senketsu; the two struggle to agree on matters and as a result have bonding troubles. “Losing her way” would be the proper term to explain her conundrum.

But Ryuko undergoes numerous transformations that make her easily likable and somewhat old-fashioned. Her character reminds me of the typical heroine, yet one embodying the resolve of the classic male hero, too. Because we get to see both sides to her, feminine and masculine, Ryuko becomes a relatable and rather enjoyable lead female – one of the best I’ve seen!

On the other side of the coin is Satsuki Kiryuin, the commanding figurehead and rival to Matoi. A Machiavellian leader, Lady Satsuki is calculating, observant, influential, and above all, sexy. Her iron rule comes from her infamous tagline, which I’ll put in quotes at the end of the review.

In a very similar style to Ryuko, Satsuki exemplifies the feminine and masculine qualities of the archetypical hero. While I can’t leak too much for spoiler’s sake, I can say that she carries a softer side as well. Satsuki is brilliant and inspirational – a rare beauty and one of my favorite characters in general! “HAIL SATSUKI-SAMA!!”

The supporting cast can be broken down by simple goals and stereotypes. The Elite Four consists of 3-star fighters who serve and protect their Satsuki at all costs: the guardian, the fighter, the brains, and the little girl you should probably be terrified of. “Nudist Beach,” the organization opposed to the Goku Uniforms also resembles the usual resistance team.

One other character to point out is Mako Mankanshoku, a goofy, hyperactive student at Honnouji Academy. After literally diving into Ryuko’s life, the two become best friends. Even though she is the moe girl, Mako and her wild family stand as a constant reminder to Ryuko as to what a good family is. Mako is a bit too much at times, leaping in at the last minute to save Ryuko from inescapable doom, but beyond that she is entertaining, friendly, and loving.

Animation by Trigger – hate it or love it. The style is rough, extreme, and lacking in detail. It’s a great change of pace compared to the typical class room setting, however, the obnoxious bold lines sketched all over the place occasionally take things too far. Tension, comedy, and impact are perfectly-balanced strengths, shown best through the very first 10 minutes of the show. Sometimes the animation is very expressive and does the show justice, but other times it’s indistinguishable. The best things about the animation are the communicative facial expressions and high-energy fights. Trigger clearly wasn’t scared to show anger and explosive rage, as they hit that ball out of the park!

For the OST, this is by far Hiroyuki Sawano’s best work. Superior tracks such as “Blumenkranz” are pure evil (fitting for the f*ck-tastic villain Ragyo, might I add), while Satsuki Kiryuin’s theme or Jakuzure’s anthem match their character PERFECTLY. And as much as I hate Nui Harime, even her theme gave off this bizarre feeling of creepy. I NEVER got sick of Kill la Kill’s over-the-top, epic soundtrack! 😀 (PS: 2nd OP “ambiguous” by GARNiDELiA is really awesome)

The only possible turn-off is the surplus of fanservice. Naked men from Nudist Beach and Kamui crop-tops with miniscule panties are overbearing. The director probably wanted to attract as much attention as possible, and hey it worked; thin straps covering well-endowed breasts and sword-wielding beauties? Yep, that’ll stop traffic. But also consider this: the show rebels against clothing, so doesn’t the nudity in a sense support the main message . . . ?

Kill la Kill is great because it is not afraid to show some skin and express itself boldly, however brash it seems at times. It doesn’t hold back when it comes to furiousness, fiery combat, or majestic speeches – it let’s all hell loose, and it’s fantastic. I full-heartedly recommend Kill la Kill for an awesome story, memorable protagonists, and the best rainbow-haired, purely evil antagonist IN EXISTENCE – just get past the nudity first and you’re golden! If you like action and overwhelming emotions please do yourself a favor and check it out. Its nearly mindless-fun approach to storytelling might intrigue you.

“Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! Those are the facts of this world! And you will all surrender to them, you pigs in human clothing!” – One of the greatest leaders to live, Satsuki Kiryuin

Thanks so much for checking out my thoughts on Kill la Kill! I love this anime so much it’s crazy! IT HAS A VERY SATISFYING ENDING. If you enjoyed the review, hit that like button – I’d really appreciate it. Feel free to drop a comment below, too! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone. Review

Hideaki Anno had already captured the minds of millions when his most popular series Neon Genesis Evangelion was produced way back in 1995-1996. In 2007, he started the Rebuild of Evangelion, a series of movies that would reaffirm and branch off of the original series, hence, a rebuild. Today I’ll look at his first film, 1.0 (later to be released as a special edition, 1.11), and see if it meets his grand intent of pleasing fans and drawing in a wider audience with better visuals, music, and hopefully, an improved story.

2015. Tokyo-3 is the only remaining city in Japan after the Second Impact devastates the world. The lone city is not at peace, however, as gigantically scary extraterrestrial life forms known as Angels seek to exterminate the human race. As young boy who has not seen his father for over eight years, Shinji Ikari is called to NERV, an organization assembled to take down the Angels, where he will be piloting Evangelion Unit 01. Ikari’s father, the head of NERV, demands Shinji’s combat against the Angels; choose to not fight, and the already-injured and mysterious pilot 00 Rei Ayanami will be forced to. Getting himself into much more trouble than a robot fight, Evangelion 1.11 features the first three Angel clashes in remastered HD quality.

As far as changes go, this movie is almost an exact adaptation of the first eight or so episodes from the original series. As such you can check out my Neon Genesis Evangelion review here for a more in-depth review. The movie does a great job at recapping the old material, but of course, it drops quite a few scenes for time’s sake. Veterans of Evangelion might be disappointed with this, despite the new, incredibly detailing scenes that were added, but to newcomers it gets straight to the point.

The characters are also the exact same, with the exception of Shinji Ikari receiving less annoying dialogue. He just seems like a troubled 10 year-old instead of some rude brat when he refuses to fight at times.

For pacing, the show is rather rugged. It’s almost always on the edge of its seat, seeming like a string of intensity instead of a smooth-running film.

Another reason fans were let down was because it just didn’t feel like Eva. Everything is clear-cut and dialogue is cleaned up, making for fewer interpretive scenes and lessening the overall enigmatic effect. For unfamiliar people, this is a good thing, but for those who had seen the original, it doesn’t maintain the shady and “distorted” Evangelion quality.

I was pleased to hear that all of the main characters and some of the side were portrayed by the same English and Japanese voice actors. Props to FUNimation for the great dubbing!

The music is top-notch, though most of the tracks are just pulled from NGE. Model examples include “Decisive Battle” and “Angel Attack,” two of the main battle themes of the show. The ending, “Beautiful World” by Utada Hikaru, is simply a beautiful song, no joke. It was a cool way to end the film. I listen to it off and on as one of my alarms – it’s a great way to start the day!

Studio Khara revives the original series with amazingballz visuals! CG for the Angels, specifically the complete makeover of the 6th Angel (blue diamond one), is brilliantly done. Architecture is clean, for when Tokyo-3 goes into Angel alert, the sunrise combined with the colossal rising and falling buildings is a splendor. And of course, the Eva Units’ new computer graphics are glorious!

For a 2007 film, it easily rivals and surpasses most of the animated films of today. Fans will be pleased, as I was for sure. However, since it only encompasses the first quarter of the show, this will raise more questions than answers for newcomers to the franchise. Though it lacks footage and original atmosphere, Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone manages to be a great reaffirmation of the old anime, and masterful edition to the Evangelion series.

I hoped you enjoyed my quick few thoughts over the Rebuild of Evangelion’s first film! Drop a comment below if you had similar or different thoughts, because I love reading them ~ Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host