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

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Triumph! Sound the Euphonium!

A review of the 2015 spring anime “Sound! Euphonium”

I’ve been joined at the hip with music since a young age, and, having been a first-chair orchestra member for seven years and counting, I have not only the right but the responsibility to announce that this series exemplifies the hearts and minds of every concert band and orchestra member to T. Putting KyoAni’s ideal cuteness aside, Sound! Euphonium accurately depicts how rigorous classroom music can be when kids become critical of themselves.

Talented euphonium player  Kumiko Oumae enters Kitauji High School’s brass band club during her first year (‘Euph’: a “good sounding” small tenor-pitched tuba, sometimes referred to as a baritone). There, she encounters her old classmate Reina, and memories of a previous junior high incident flood back, causing Kumiko to be hesitant. As Kumiko remains strong buddies with other girls, though, Reina slowly opens up and the two become very close friends. Looming in the darkness is the national contest, which their meticulous new teacher, Taki-sensei, proposes to have the students decide for themselves whether or not they should pursue the gold.

Much like in real life, hours of practicing, enduring hardships, insanely challenging musical passages, kids who have talent that start to waver, competition among new and old recruits, wanting to drop out to focus on education and countless other issues bring a shining realism to the table – a characteristic that I haven’t sampled for a while now. From start to finish, the show knows exactly where it wants to go, and as much as I want to say it was the practical setting to thank, it’s because of the characters that this drive was so truthful.

Euphonium‘s cast does not rely on one or two characters, but rather the entire ensemble. Kumiko herself is strong-willed, though sometimes acts a little empty-headed, and her budding romance with the silent yet brilliant Reina is certainly our sweetest relationship. But there are several other duos that bring the issues listed earlier to light. The vigilant Asuka and occasionally sheepish Haruka tackle youth leadership with unsurety. The lackadaisical yet easy-going Nakagawa manages to keep Kumiko on her toes in terms of skill. Sub characters like the hot-headed Yuuko and gentle Kaori pose a nagging trouble to the professional Reina when they all duke it out for the trumpet solo. Seeing as how I play a string instrument, I was dying to hear more dilemmas from the only string player in the band: On the oversized contrabass everyone, Midori “Sapphire-chan” Kawashima! Too bad she only existed to cheer on the other girls 😦

I was overly pleased with what the anime had in terms of cast, as nearly each member of the band, major and minor, received standout character designs and individual thoughts and scenes. Having Taki-sensei  as a rather disoriented teacher also made situations more ambiguous. For instance, he’d ask “Are you having trouble with that?” Then instead of following up, Taki would declare, “Please have that ready by next week.” There were just certain aspects to his character that made me want to cuss, but then he would return on scene with a heartwarming smile and encouraging speech, kinda how a real director would.

If I had to pick something about the plot that seemed off, it would be the sudden love interest and misplaced drama. In the first few episodes, we clearly see that things between Reina and Kumiko are really awkward. After climbing a mountain trail path in a certain middle episode, however, POOF! The two become super intense friends – for some, too close for comfort. It’s not really yuri, but you could ship the two by just looking at the poster art now.

The non-music drama stems from a miniscule love triangle between Kumiko, an energetic girl pal Hazuki and Tsukamoto, Kumiko’s childhood friend. Seeing how Tsukamoto only cares for Kumiko, who feels indifferent, Hazuki becomes a forced trope just to milk some sort of depressing drama out of the whole shebang, not that the show already played perfectly fine without it. But like the sudden love, it’s all only one episode, so it can easily be overlooked.

I KID YOU NOT when I claim that Kyoto Animation performs their finest job I’ve ever seen from them in terms of animation!! All of the shining brass instrumets, the natural movement of people breathing during practice, the beautiful people themselves, and that side-of-the-river bridge where Kumiko always goes to chat and play the euphonium – it’s all so soooo gorgeous; a true crime not to watch the opening at least once to get a glimpse of BREATHTAKING EVERYTHING!!

The OST is also remarkable! Orchestra tagged along with a piano for melody hits up feels from slice of life to cliff sunsets to tension in the classroom . “Flow of Destiny,” the simplest variation of the main theme can be elegantly heard throughout the series. Real classical music is also pulled into the soundtrack for during performances and practices. Especially noted is Reina’s ditty of the “From the New World Symphony’s 2nd Movement,” which everyone stopped to listen to. 🙂

Hitting off each note is the exciting opening “DREAM SOLISTER” by TRUE! I love the inclusion of the brass instruments – it makes the song coherent to a show about a brass club, ya know? The ending “Tutti” by the Kitauji Quartet is also tons of foot-tappin’ fun!

In terms of character interaction, the featuring of the entire class as a whole and as individuals, stunning animation, topnotch voice acting, realistic musical presentation and content, Sound! Euphonium did several things right and executes everything with near perfection! The ending is also standing ovation-worthy for including the uncut concert performance rather than just cutting that out to view the results. Concert band and orchestra kids were given the best representation in anime – for most, more than what we could ever ask for. 5/5 stars, a triumphant “Caffé Mocha!” Congrats, Kitauji High School Band – You most definitely deserve the Gold in my eyes!!

+ Relatable and realistic anime for high school band and orchestra classes (or at least some); best representation anime has given us students

+ Themes of hard work VS raw talent are executed quite well

+ Absolutely breathtaking visuals, instruments look excellent, actual music is awesome, too

+ Story knows exactly where it’s headed, and delivers with a triumphant, satisfying end

– Sudden romantic relationship drama unnecessarily threw plot off course, though only for an episode

Thank you for reading my review over the wonderful Sound! Euphonium! It was definitely one of the most fun and fulfilling shows to follow this past spring. Did you have similar thoughts on this show? Were you as impacted as I was? Leave your comments below so that we can chat! Now while the inspiration is hot, I’m gonna go work hard myself and practice my cello! Haha, until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Psycho-Pass Review

I haven’t watched a lot of “good” sci-fi anime, for instance, Ghost in the Shell. Because of that I can’t really preach in this department. I have, however, seen a couple of works by Gen Urobuchi, so I kinda expected your average themes to be turned on their heads in the dark and thrilling anime that is Psycho-Pass. But does it live up to the reputation?

Set in the near future, law and order are maintained through the Ministry of Welfare Public Safety Bureau. Behind the scenes, however, is the all-knowing Sibyl System, a complex system that can quantify any person’s state of mind or personal tendencies. Once this number, one’s “Psycho-Pass,” becomes cloudy in hue and their “Crime Coefficient” reaches too high in count, you’re pretty much screwed.

As such, simply thinking about crime is enough to earn you a lifetime behind bars or even death.

Justice is served through the Dominator, a destructive weapon connected directly to the Sibyl System’s judgment that can either stun or instantly blow someone to smithereens if fired. Though, if Sibyl deems one’s Psycho-Pass clear or low in number, then the Dominator will enter safety mode and ceasefire.

Two divisions exist between maintaining this peace: Investigators, who are tasked with unraveling civil cases and Enforcers, contained criminals who chase down the target(s) in the Investigator’s stead so that the Investigators’ Crime Coefficient remains a healthy number.

Akane Tsunemori is a newbie to the PSB. She lives a simple and idealistic life granted to her by the Sibyl System, yet slowly begins to question its judgment throughout her career as an Investigator. Even though she can be naïve at times, Akane never comes across as weak, as she quickly adapts to the new, shady lifestyle as a detective.

Many people ignored Akane, dismissing her because she was boring and dull – realize that this was Urobuchi’s goal! In the beginning, she is meant to represent your average, clean citizen. But like anyone would, she changes as she discovers the secrets behind Sibyl. I was drawn to her scenes and found Akane to be a very great lead character.

And yeah, her eyebrows are jacked up and her haircut is styled kinda funny, but people this is anime – at least she has a few stand-out characteristics instead of being some indistinguishable moe chick.

The male lead is hunting dog Shinya Kougami, a rough young man who was once a talented Investigator, but because he got too invested into a case regarding the series’ main villain, his Psycho-Pass became cloudy. As a result he was demoted to Enforcer status.

Akane and Kougami share a unique and respectful relationship, for the two get close enough to understand each other, yet never get romantic or lovey-dovey either. In the second half or rather last few episodes, Kougami splits off from the crew in an act of challenge against Sibyl to hunt down the antagonist, Shougo Makishima. Because of that, along with her recently acquired knowledge of the truth behind the Sibyl System, Akane must step up her game as a leader. I am quite fond of both Akane and Kougami’s balancing act.

The rest of the PSB’s Unit 1 include Ginoza, the statistical Investigator who follows the Ministry of Welfare Chief’s commands, usually no matter how messed up; Masaoka, a worn-down Enforcer who receives gracious amounts of screen time despite his roll; Yayoi, an ex-musician who only gets an episode to herself then is tossed to the side; Shion, an analyst for the PSB who is presumably a lesbian; and finally Kagari, a rebellious joker who lacks any kind of characterization besides one scene with Akane, in which we find out that he was taken in at age five.

Yep. You heard me. He could barely read and write before being written up as a criminal. Messed up sh*t, this system is.

All in all, the cast is well supported, giving off a vibe similar to that of Black Butler’s characters. My only problem with them is their lack of background information, though it’s not really necessary to fully enjoy the show.

The animation by Production I.G does a great job at drawing the line between the cleanliness of this utopian society and its corruption behind the scene. Action scenes are well choreographed and quite entertaining. The concept art for the Dominator is deadly yet sophisticated, too!

Thing is, as a whole the animation tone is quite drab. Neutral colors are used so often that no other emotions pop out. I suppose it does its job, but it could have shown more color (for example, all people have the same pasty white skin).

On the other hand, the OST enhances drama, suspense, and all of the action. The OST includes everything from dubstep and techno for fights, blues for laid back moments at HQ, and thoughtful, curious beats for mystery. Hats off to “Kansatsugan.”  Excellent stuff.

The show’s first opening, “abnormalize” by Ling Tosite Sigure, depicts rapidly flashing visuals reminiscent of Guilty Crown’s opening. While this first opening captures the law and order side of Psycho-Pass . . .

The second opening, “Out of Control” by Nothing’s Carved in Stone, questions that same justice, and instead focuses more on chasing down the enemy.

These are very fitting openings, as they accurately symbolize both halves of the show.

Half one establishes the laws and rules of society, what is wrong and what is supposed to be right. Build up is met through confusing mystery cases that try to establish mood, setting and characterization.

The latter half dives into the burning question behind Psycho-Passwhat is justice, and what is humanity willing to risk for a utopian world, if even achievable? Makishima, the mastermind of all evil, seems to be able to bypass Sibyl’s judgment by containing his emotions, even though he commits multiple crimes and murders. Is it really that simple to undermine the great and mighty Sibyl?

Psycho-Pass is a show that, although implies a very cool setting, never manages to reach the heart of things. It encompasses a powerful system of understanding and is even a likely future for humanity, that is, if we just go along with society’s ways. I just wish there was more depth to this anime – in all categories.

Nevertheless, Psycho-Pass is an outstanding and notable piece of science fiction. It does contain a fair share of gore, however, so it’s not for everyone. Otherwise, I recommend this series to those willing to challenge the boundaries of the human mind and psyche. It’s thrilling to the end and I enjoyed every bit of it!

Part One and Part Two of Psycho-Pass, with a nice dub by FUNimation, await the order from the Sibyl System as to whether I should blow up my own brain after watching this series to protect its true identity . . . “Your Crime Coefficient is above 165; Destroy Decomposer enabled. Carefully aim and destroy the target.” – Dominator

Whew! I had a lot to say about this anime. Thanks for reading and hit that like button if you, well, liked this review! Follow for more reviews and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

selector spread WIXOSS Review

I should be able to watch a season one and if I didn’t care for it – or was satisfied with what I saw – no big deal. I can drop the series, yet still retain a complete story given from the first season. Sequels are follow-ups designed to add more character depth, continuation of new plot (if any), answer lingering questions, and build upon/improve the first season if need be.

I usually find myself disliking sequels, however. They either make or break my impressions of the first season even though they should be just as good, right?

Season one, featuring the dark fantasy card game, selector infected WIXOSS, leaves off on a very large cliff hanger. As such, its second season presents more of a continuation rather than a whole new idea. I had to continue selector, whether I liked it or not. So while ‘sequel’ might not be the correct term for this season, selector spread WIXOSS is nonetheless twisted, thrilling, and overall successful. Though keep reading to find out why.

selector spread WIXOSS picks back up on Ruko, a distressed WIXOSS player who had recently lost her LRIG, Tama, to the wicked Iona in their last fight. Things are also different now, as Iona has become Ruko’s LRIG, and Tama has supposedly been swept away to the “White Room.” Without one of her closest friends, all seems lost for Ruko. She quits battling for a while and even ignores Iona. That is until she and her other friends begin to unravel the darkness surrounding the selector games by visiting the creator and author of the WIXOSS book series – a series that has already foreshadowed the fate of the girls.

Already the premise of this season is ten times more intense than the last. Ruko must cope with her worst enemy, which requires forgiveness on a whole new level. Their current relationship forces the two to come out of their shells, providing the much needed depth missing from the first season. It’s a good kind of weird feeling ~

And their meeting with the author of the accompanying novel is like chatting with that of a god! It was just such a clever and well-thought out solution to the girls’ issues. But although helpful, there were still many questions surrounding their minds at the time.

There is also a shift in character leads. Akira (my fav from last season), Tama, Iona and Mayu (hinted at the first season) all receive major development and backstory. Akira on a psychological level whiles the others on a more emotional level. The supporting characters also hop aboard the improvement train; Chiyori and her LRIG, Hitoe’s current LRIG and friend Yuzuki, and Ulith become crucial contributors to the plot. Even Ruko rounded out nicely – and I was satisfied with her already! Character development was well executed in this second season.

For the main part, the animation (J.C. Staff) remained just as boring and dull as it was in the first season, the only exception being the furious battle scenes and Mayu’s “White Room.” The shady atmosphere and bright magic attacks contrast brilliantly on the battlefield. Mayu’s world encompasses light pastel patterns followed by glimmering shapes and stained glass works on the vast walls. I Love the concept design for this room, and when Mayu seems particularly angry, she shifts the room around to her pleasure. Quite cool indeed.

OST-wise, it’s the same dubstep and techno groove the first season sported. There are a few more dramatic tracks for the new developments, but otherwise it remains decent at best. I say decent because while the battle scenes are awesome, daily life or casual scenes are very empty and unfulfilling. The new opening, “world’s end, girl’s rondo” by Kanon Wakeshima, rivals that of the first in terms of powerful string melodies, upbeat tempo, and sauciness. I love them both sooo very much! The songs represent the world the selector series paints, and the new ending, “Undo –Ashita e no Kioku-“ (Undo –A Memory For Tomorrow) by Cyua also follows that trend.

At first, selector infected WIXOSS is too easily compared to Puella Magi Madoka Magica, for they both support the same twisted and dark themes behind the magical girl genre. But after selector spread WIXOSS, I can officially say that the series continues to step away from Madoka’s shadow to create a purpose and end for itself. I recommend all of the selector series to anyone! The card game part of the series is also further explored in this sequel, so never fear that aspect. WIXOSS is different, and deserves so, so much more. “We cry OPEN!!” – opening lyrics

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my thoughts over selector spread WIXOSS! FUNimation Entertainment will be releasing an English dub on blu-ray and DVD later this year, and I definitely plan to pick up both seasons. Check out my selector infected WIXOSS review if you haven’t done so already! Have a great one and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Winter Holiday Haul 2014

Hi everyone! I hope you are having happy holiday season! This year, I valued quality over quantity, so here is my holiday anime and game haul. Enjoy~

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First up are the two gift items for my sister and brother. Betcha can tell who got what, right? Both Princess Jellyfish and Blue Seed were bought from Rightstuf.com as part of their holiday sale.

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These games were bought from GameStop as part of their “buy 2 used get 1 free” sale. I was excited to see that they had a copy of Hyperdimension Neptunia, and I went ahead and picked up Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch because I thought it looked neat a while back. Journey was an inspired buy from YouTuber “Lucahjin” and her “Let’s Play” over it. I gave it to my older brother since he was the one who showed it to me.

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This was a random pick-up, as it looked funny as hell. Marathoned the whole thing and even wrote a review about it, so check it out!

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One of FUNimation’s “staff picks” was Psycho-Pass from the writer of Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero – Gen Urobuchi. With $20.00 for each part on Cyber Monday, it was a must-buy. I’ve seen part one so far and am drawn in, so expect a review on it soon!

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The final items of my haul are Fate/Zero Seasons 1&2. I have been debating for the past several weeks about whether I should get the ridiculous blu-ray priced ones or the lesser DVD versions. Well I am proud to say that even in DVD Fate/Zero does not disappoint, and the dub is soooo good. Expect a review from one of my favorite anime here soon as well! Definately worth the buy 😀

And that’s all! Did you get any new anime or games this winter season, if so, what? Leave a comment below and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Sword Art Online II (Phantom Bullet) Review

It’s funny that I do this review before the prequel, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen the first season and I didn’t want to half-ass a review. Enjoy ~

It’s been one year since Kirito escaped the deadly game that is Sword Art Online. Meanwhile, ALfheim Online has gained much popularity, for it serves as a peaceful outlet for Kirito and his friends to escape from real world troubles.

Evil doesn’t die so easily, though. Roaming around another famous VRMMORPG by the name of “Gun Gale Online” (GGO) is “Death Gun,” a cloaked man rumored to kill individuals in real life through the game’s avatars. Kirito once again risks life and limb through virtual means to apprehend the mysterious assassin, but he’s not alone – the best sniper in the game, Sinon, with her highly destructive PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II, proves worthy of battle herself in this world of guns. As the world tournament Bullet of Bullets commences, Sinon, Kirito, saber in hand, and Death Gun enter the arena among many other foes, guns locked and loaded.

After the events of last series, SAO had a little repairing to do, and GGO was the best tool to do so. This arc in the light novel series by Reki Kawahara made up for the lack of action and strength in the first season’s Fairy Dance arc. Phantom Bullet reminds us of the quality characters and themes that the SAO series was famous for; a powerful sequel that matches the strong will and survival feel of the first arc, Aincrad. Sword Art Online II is engaging and thrillingly eerie through to the end of the arc.

Kirito logs into GGO as a . . . girl? Yep, and it’s just great. His particular model possesses long dark hair, and his breastplate, well, yeah, adds emphasis. While he continues his unwavering badass style, he crumbles when he finds out that Death Gun must be a member of the “Laughing Coffin” guild, a player-killing group from SAO. The vibe from the first season returns as Kirito realizes that he could actually die in this harsh, cold, foreign world. He starts to recall haunting memories of the PK-ing he committed himself when fending off the Laughing Coffin members. This new revelation builds on past his one dimensional superb fighting skills.

Asada Shino is weak, quiet, and had shot someone when she was very young, and that terrifies her. She can’t even hold a weapon without trembling and then vomiting. But in GGO – a virtual world, she’s not actually killing anyone, so she masks her fears through Sinon, the cerulean-haired, lime-armored heroine. In the gun world, she’s stronger, faster – better. She doesn’t have to worry anymore, because Sinon protects her and fights for her. Sinon puts a new spin on “the will to fight” that makes her my favorite character. When she meets Kirito, she thinks they are both girls, and acts in a friendly manner, but quickly goes tsundere when she finds out the truth.

Kirito and Sinon balance each other out very well – I couldn’t have asked for better pairing besides maybe Asuna, who supports Kirigaya Kazuto on the other side of the amusphere. Sinon does, however, fall to Kirito’s irresistible charm when she becomes weak, but hey, that’s just her real-world self breaking through, not a whole new and sudden change.

I would tell anyone to watch SAO for the character costume designs alone because holy sh*t this is where it’s at! Match these colorfully crafty armor and weapon designs with fluid visuals pumped with action and A-1 Pictures really has something going on! As mentioned previously, there are many more battle scenes in this sequel, and quality never dipped once. The landscape of GGO is give a desolate color palette to that of a ruined desert city. Graphically and artistically, the anime does take me to the mature and virtual world of GGO.

Yuki Kajiura adds to this unique universe by providing an adventurous soundtrack. There’s not really much to say, as it is still just as amazing as the first season’s. She did, however, take the “Survive the Swordland” track, the epic main theme, put it on flute, and up the tempo to add a new sense of glory to the Kirito and Sinon action. Nice 🙂

While the opening “Ignite” by Eir Aoi was befitting for a show with this quality of animation, the true delight is in the lovely ending, “Startear” by Luna Haruna. It features Asada Shino young and old along with her avatar, Sinon, providing a reminiscent feel of childhood and maturation.

Sword Art Online II is a strong follow up to its first season, as it contains much action, brilliant music along with fluid animation, and reminds us of the themes the very first arc held. I recommend all of the SAO series to young viewers because of its genuine romance and characters. While more mature viewers might get bored of the concept , I still recommend this season for its high quality animation and soundtrack. This second series definitely lives up to the hype, so I’d get aboard the SAO train before it’s long gone.

You can watch all of the anime for free at Crunchyroll! Sword Art Online II continues to cross the bridge between the virtual and real worlds, proving to us that they might not be as different as people think. “The virtual world is just a different form of reality.” – Asada Shino
It has been tons of fun following this thrilling adventure! Till next time ~

– Takuto, your host

Attack on Titan Review

I actually watched the anime this past summer and my god, why didn’t I see it earlier? I guess I was put off by its gruesomeness and the fact that it looked too . . . I don’t want to say stupid, but seriously, it looked dumb. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but whatever; I gave it a go since it was so popular. Well, let me fully retract that outdated statement and write wrong (cause this is a written review, get it) with my anime review of the epic, Shingeki no kyoujin – Attack on Titan! Caution: a spoiler or two ahead!

Mankind retreated behind 50 meter tall walls Maria, Rose, and Sina in order to survive an onslaught of giants known as titans. To avoid extinction, humans began to fight, at first by cannon fire, but soon by omni-directional mobility gear, AKA their little hook-shot gas-powered motors that let them fly. Now in year 845, the “colossal titan” breaks a hole in the outermost wall, Maria, causing the titans to flood in. Eren Jaeger, a witness to his mother’s death by titan, vows to “destroy every last one.” Humanity must rise to fight once again, willing to sacrifice everything, or else be eaten alive by the blood n’ flesh-coated terrors!

Attack on Titan has outrageous pacing. Five years fly in five minutes, while one afternoon might span nine episodes. I didn’t really fancy that aspect, as it meant that there would be periods of epic combat followed by droughts of political chatter. I also found myself lost in their debates on occasion because they talk like real politics, speaking for the good of people and for themselves.

To counter those many moments of boredom or repetition, AoT did something truly neat. At the end of each episode, they would reveal something stunning, be it another way to defeat the titans, a death of a character, or a secret key to the underlying plot. Those last few seconds caused the series to roll and roll and roll until you found yourself out of episodes to view! The show is a bolder on a hill, only gaining momentum until it inevitably crashes into a house or a tree . . . or a wall . . .

All of the characters in Attack on Titan are just amazing. Even the guy who just cries about giving up his life like 300 times! They are all important because they symbolize the one thing that drives this show: fear, and what better way to represent such a characteristic than with the masses of soldiers marching to their inevitable death? Specifically speaking, Eren Jaeger is a badass! Like seriously, he is my favorite character, as he makes me remorseful when he makes mistakes, flinch when he takes on pain, and he makes me internally cry when he suffers. There are very few characters that have the balls like Eren does, and I respect that. God I love Eren.

And that’s not all, Mikasa, Armin, Jean and the rest are all just so cool. Mikasa’s amazing skills along with her faith in Eren and Armin make her a very strong female lead. I can see why many people like her. Sure many of the characters don’t have back stories, but they are not necessary to the plot, for before the titans came, they lived average lives. The squad members are brave, cowardly, innocent, greedy, appealing, dark and human. For once, there is a cast that actually fears the enemy to death! “Why risk my damn life out there when I could be with my family?” They make me stronger the more I think about them. By the way, the deaths in this anime are realistically carried out. I honestly felt sick when they were bringing in carts of the dead. It makes me realize that “this world is so very beautiful, yet so cruel (Mikasa Ackerman).” As a side note for those who haven’t seen this series, this is where that “potato girl” is; took me a while to figure that out LOL.

I was drawn away from the animation, but after finishing the series I was totally used to it. The bold lines on faces and on character outlines drove me insane at first. They do, however, add to the intensity of the show, so maybe that is why they are there. Regardless, it is interesting and new. Also, the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed from many angles, making them thrilling to the bone! The effective use of CGI in the buildings and ODM gear is also spectacularly done. By far one of my favorite action anime; it’s worth watching just for that.

Along with great animation is an epic soundtrack that beckons with awesomeness! Hiroyuki Sawano, the guy who composed such brilliance, did a very good job at keeping up with the thrill and suspense that is generated by Attack on Titan. My favorite parts of the OST would be when the chimes are just hammered away on, creating a creepy and rushing feel that was to die for! I also love both of the openings, “Crimson Bow and Arrow” and “The Wings of Freedom” by Linked Horizon. While the first one keeps with the idea of fear and death, the second song is about celebration, breaking free, and victory. Both songs accurately depict Attack on Titan. The show couldn’t have had better openings. Seriously, go listen to them, like now.

Attack on Titan is a visual masterpiece, telling the tale of humanity’s fear of something that is above them on the food chain. Would we act in the same manner? This anime is worth the watch for anyone who can stand the bloody gore of human flesh being ripped apart. Other than that, this show has a nice set of characters that will inspire you to be stronger, physically and mentally. The show is thrilling from the very beginning up until the last seconds of the final episode. It’s seriously great, so check it out if you haven’t done so already. Once you get past the first episode, though, you might as well finish the rest of the series – it’s that addicting.

Presently, the limited edition copy of parts one and two in the exclusive ender box that is available by FUNimation entertainment with a wonderful dub (besides Eren’s English voice being a little too raspy for me) and subs included rests valiantly on my shelf, awaiting my next visit to the year 845 – the year that “mankind received a grim reminder. We lived in fear of the titans, and were disgraced to live in these cages we called walls (Eren Jaeger).”

Thank you so much for reading my opinions on Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan! Did you watch this anime, if so, what did you think of it? Please feel free to leave a comment below! Until next time, this is all that is on today’s menu.

– Takuto, your host