End of December Update 1/4/16

Evening all, I hope your new year has kicked off with a marvelous bang! Mine was a bit anticlimactic, but at least the snacks were oh~so tasty! As we all usher in 2016 with open arms, high hopes, and huge wishes, I’d like to proudly say that not much will be changing around here. The café will still welcome guests, host reviews, and whatever else intrigues me! That being said, here is, as per the norm, the first casual update of 2016!

Recently finished:

Redline – Oh man, where to start with this one? How about watching those Star Wars races (yes I saw the new movie, pretty good, even coming from non-SW buff) while huffing every shroom on the face of the planet, wearing one of those old blue/red 3D glasses, and chugging Root Beer. Sounds pretty damn wild, don’t it? I’m not very good at writing reviews for movies, so if I don’t ever get around to it, just know that my socks were blown off of my feet five times even after tying them down with duct tape. In other words, go watch Redline, and FAST!

Diamond Daydreams – This is one of those anime that you feel is so crappy just because it has meh reviews, regardless of how much you’re actually enjoying yourself. This light drama about 6 women in the winter has just enough empathy to tie yourself to each of them and make you want to just give ’em a box of chocolates after a grueling day 🙂 Review more than likely on the way!

Charlotte – Yeah, I remember this one! In fact, I wrote a review about it right here which you should totally check out if you haven’t already! This sucker’s got so many plot twists that it’ll keep you on your toes. Unless its surprises don’t appeal to you, to which I still reckon you finish what you’ve already started ^.^ It doesn’t seem to know what it’s going at for over two-thirds of its run, but the rush to the finish is chaotic and emotionally stirring. I’m still trying to recover from the damage – good and bad – it has caused.

Fate/stay night (2006) (rewatched) – If you caught my mini “Happy Holidays” post a week or so back, you’d know that I spent a nice time with this dubious show. Much like the first time I saw it: Bland animation, boring story, Shirou’s a big baka, etc. But despite its numerous flaws, it felt right to revisit Fuyuki City. Glad I got the chance to witness the original Fifth Holy Grail War on DVD!

Danganronpa The Animation (rewatched) – OMG OMG I finally got to reunite with my favorite courtroom mystery show after two years!!! Supposedly the game is 100 times better, but I don’t have a PS Vita to join in the fun. That said, the animation has to suffice, and I think it does so marvelously! Revisiting all of the characters, the story, and the creepy mystery-enshrouded high school was a high in my winter break – AND THE DUB, OH GOSH, FUNimation did a bloody fantastic job with it 😀 More to come on the physical release of it, and I might even write a review!

Sword Art Online Light Novel Volume 3: Fairy Dance Part 1 – I am halfway through my exploration and research on the infamous fairy arc and I’ve got to say, it’s much more exhilarating and less distracting in novel format. I thought it was good.

Fujoshi Rumi Manga Volumes 1, 2, 3 – GUILTY PLEASURE FUJOSHI STATUS: ACHIEVED. I fell in love with this manga after YouTuber Animepalooza recommended it in a video of hers. This obscure shoujo school comedy/romance absolutely entranced me, and I plan to find the remaining three novels translated on the web sometime, as they were never licensed, discontinued, I think. That’s a tragedy considering that I would’ve bought the SHIT outta it 😉

I’m still sad my smut is gone 😦 Why didn’t they license the rest? WHY??

Currently watching:

Cowboy Bebop – “That’s right. 3, 2, 1, let’s go.” After I told my dad it was getting a rerelease, he flipped his sh*t and I went and bought it for us to watch. So far, with my family, we’ve watched 11 episodes, and loving each and every one of them! The characters and their quirks are unforgettable and its episodic nature with a boiling overarching storyline is handled perfectly. I completely understand why it’s a classic, and I can’t wait to see how these unlucky bounty hunters finish their journey 🙂

Currently reading:

Sword Art Online Light Novel Volume 4: Fairy Dance Part 2 – Yep, my work to bring this half of the anime justice continues with the fourth novel. Very peculiar thus far, as so far the books have followed the anime in a parallel fashion. Now, we diverge a bit to reveal other musings that happened during Kirito’s rescue trip. Hopefully  it proves to clear its name in novel format.

Seraph of the End Volume 1 – So I haven’t started it yet, but I know I will either this week or the next. Not much to say other than it better be a step up from its anime adaptation -_-

On the convention side of things, I have settled on cosplaying as character from . . . Seraph of the End, in fact! As to whom, I want you to guess, muahaha! Let’s just say I chose this character because A) They were pretty cool and B) They look EPIC. Betcha can’t guess, haha!

And there you go, my second half of December in a nutshell. Lot’s of watching, but now that school has started back up (TOMORROW OH GOD SAVE ME NOOOOOOO), I assume that all of this will be set off to the side. I’ll try not to let that happen, but it is what it is. How was your December and the holidays? Breaks are always outstanding for me, so you all know I had a wonderful time 🙂 I’ll try to warm up my typing fingers and find my reviewing spirit so that I can get some great content to you guys, and in the meantime, I’ll be wishing on the diamond dust we all survive this after-break train wreck. This has been

– Takuto, your host

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Charlotte Weaves an Entertaining Web of PLOT TWISTS | Review

A spoiler-free review of the 13-episode summer 2015 anime “Charlotte,” produced by P.A. Works, based on the original story by Jun Maeda (Angel Beats!, Clannad).

 – View in browser, not app, for best experience –

“What the heck, Takuto? Charlotte? Really, Charlotte??” Actually, yes, I’m not pulling your leg. I originally wasn’t going to watch this anime, as I heard it didn’t live up to the hype, but something in me clicked (my love for P.A. Works), and I found myself attempting to marathon this thing at 1 A.M. It took me three days to finish (sad, really) but I thought I’d share why you actually might want to check Charlotte out. Surprised? Keep reading.

Yuu Otosaka is what I would call a lucky bastard (at least in the beginning). Blessed with charm, wit, and outstanding looks, he also possesses a secret ability to take over a person’s body for five seconds at a time. Being a teenage boy, Yuu abuses his gift to slip into female bodies (wouldn’t blame him), have some fun with bullies, and cheat on tests to slide into a prestigious high school

Just as life couldn’t be more sunny for Mr. Cheater, camcorder-wielding Nao Tomori, a deadpan invisibility-user, catches on to Yuu’s tricks, leaving him and his li’l sis one option: Transfer to Hoshinoumi Academy, a school for students with these supernatural abilities. Yuu, incredibly flustered, agrees solemnly.

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BUSTED

 

There, he is forced to join the student council led by Tomori, where their task includes stealthily tracking down ability-abusers like himself and dragging them back to the academy. As these reconnaissance missions push the student council to their limits, however, Yuu unravels more shocking truths of the world around him, and that his own ability holds much, much, more potential than merely peeking down a girl’s shirt.

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Jun Maeda has this gift for instantly allowing me to fall in love with his characters through simple, occasionally childish actions. That said, he’d be a lot better writer if his stories didn’t have 500-FREAKIN’ teenagers in them! I’m not criticizing him in ANY way at all, and I understand that the story needed a new dude or two, but the anime’s latter half could have gone without the introduction and glossing over of ten new characters. Why not just use-rinse-repeat with the student council members? We already fell in love with them.

Before I move on, I’d like to enforce how much I love the Otosakas, Tomori, glasses-friend-kun, and the moe idol “Yusarin~”/fiery sister. Had this been all the story had, I probably would have enjoyed it much more. Frankly speaking, less characters = more time for others to shine, and in Charlotte‘s case – sparkle. I waltzed into Charlotte thinking, “Hey, we learned our lesson with Angel Beats! right?” Apparently not. But much like its angelic-battlefront predecessor, it only takes a three-minute cafeteria scene to score big with the heart.

On another note, boy, Maeda certainly prefers his supernatural teenagers “paying the price for being special,” eh? You’ll explore that with Yuu Otosaka and his unsteady mental rise and decline. Charlotte doesn’t sugarcoat depression, and it’s scary good.

 

 

P.A. Works puts on yet another flawless depiction of high-school livin’ on the animation front. It’s fluid, high-powered action scenes contrast with the gorgeous backdrop to create a very supernatural and off-putting vibe when it wants to. I always thought of P.A. Works as KyoAni’s older sister, showcasing maturity over cuteness yet still being very youthful. Character designs are attractive, comedic moments will make you laugh, and that signature P.A. Works sky is simply to die for!

The only disappointing scene from this department was the concert snippet we get. It wasn’t poorly animated, it was just so lackluster compared to its predecessor’s, which even gets a blatant reference when Otosaka is watching anime at a computer cafe. At least the story involving the ‘post-rock’ star was a touching one.

For soundtrack, what we get is . . . actually pretty nice. It’s apparently arranged by ANANT-GARDE EYES and Maeda himself, so make of that what you will. The feeling I get listening to these tracks is in fact similar to Angel Beat!‘s, but again, make of that what you will. Playful and relaxing, energetic and intense, grim and remorseful – It all blends in really well with the atmosphere.

“Bravely You” by Lia is our opening, and if I haven’t made enough comparisons to AB! by this point, then you’ve got to be blind . . . kinda like half of the cast (OHH, BURN). The song fairs particularly well, growing on me as the series progressed. What really got me was the animation sequence that pairs with it. Lia has always been good at breathing life with P.A. work’s visuals (or vice versa, rather), making them seem like they belong hand-in-hand; It’s not just a sketch set to a song, but a moving, breathing piece.

I held my opinion of the story until now because here’s where things get real messy, really fast. Charlotte is pretty much firing on all cylinders until we hit the last third portion of the series. Until now, we’ve been wasting time at school steadily chugging along, makin’ memories and enjoying ourselves with a memorable cast, but a second sudden PLOT TWIST throws everything into the shitter. Maeda must’ve gotten bored with the slice-of-life school romance and PLOT TWIST shot the anime down a rugged path looted with amnesia, sudden-death, insanity, identity disorder, the questioning of humanity and sin, and PLOT TWIST, time travel. Great. Fans are never going to live this down, are they? Granted, it handles these attributes immensely well, but the PACING is horrible – as if the situation wasn’t drastic enough – and then BAM, another PLOT TWIST. Charlotte fell of the map in the last leg of its race, and I won’t even mention the final episode – An episode so diverging and literal that it could’ve been the foundation for an entire series by itself. What the frick???

While I can’t say I was in love with Charlotte the entire time, I still give it props for knocking me off guard at least a dozen times. Its unpredictability matched with likable main characters, stellar animation, and a semi-linear plot is still enough to hold much emotional appeal. Charlotte was trying to accomplish way too much in such a short run, and it begs the question as to whether some of its PLOT TWISTS were even worth sacrificing a good batch of characters (Yuu’s journey was excellent, though). Entertaining? Oh God, hell yeah! Artistic? Meh, it felt like several great stories mashed together to create something pretty wicked. It could have taken many different directions, but instead Charlotte decided to swing us waaaaaay outta orbit, sprinkle on its character development, hammer the plot, then soar right back out until the very end . . . Kinda like a comet.

“Do you know the story of the geocentric model? Today, we know it’s complete nonsense, but it used to be accepted as common knowledge. However, reality did not agree. What do you think happened to the first person to ever question it? They were called a heretic, cast out, and stripped of all their power.” – Scientist Tsutsumiuchi *cough theme cough*

+ Core characters highly likable (and PHENOMENALLY VOICED!); Yuu has one crazy journey

+ Balanced comedy, action, drama, and even romance nicely

+ Emotionally gripping even when plot goes down the drain

+ Absolutely gorgeous and consistent animation

– You don’t need a dozen PLOT TWISTS to keep me invested

– Plot pacing so horrible it hurt to breath

– Misplaced character focus (too many of them); glossed over vital characters

So that’s Charlotte. If y’all are scrounging for something unpredictable, here’s a winner. It’s a sweet “Cake” for me! Fans of P.A. Works should also get a kick out of it, despite its misleading direction. Lastly, consider watching if being critical isn’t your thing – it’ll at the very least keep you very entertained (watch me on Crunchyroll for FREE)! Did Charlotte mindf*ck you repeatedly until you didn’t even care anymore, or were you pleased with the end result? Let me know in the comments and we’ll chat! Also, I figured out how to put in videos thanks to the Otaku Judge and Rocco B!!:) Thank you for spending your time to visit little ol’ me, and until another review next year, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Cafe Talk #3: Sacrificing My Soul to Simulcasts

Ahh, konnichiwa, it has been a while since I last sat and talked with you guys ~

Everyone in the aniblogger community has been spreading the good cheer about all of the fantastic new 2015 summer shows, yet Takuto hasn’t peeped a word. Why isn’t he speaking to us???

The answer is simple. This season, I wish not to sacrifice my soul to simulcasts. Let me fill you in.

Last spring included the largest amount of simulcasted anime that I have ever followed at one time. I’ve only been watching anime like this for two years now, my first technical simulcasts being A Certain Scientific Railgun S and Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club (two fine anime, might I add), but when you up the count to +7 anime, it can be a bit hard to juggle your thoughts.

Who is this? What is that? WHAT IS GOING ON NOW!?

The season started off phenomenally! There were too many shows with interesting concepts and superb animation that I couldn’t resist myself! It was a free cake eating contest and I was the judge, who could blame me.

But that’s when I made my first mistake.

Best not to mess around with cake . . .

You see, the more shows you add to a watch list, the greater amount of stories you’ll have to keep track of. While it was all fine and dandy for the first five or so episodes, I found myself eventually caring less and less as the season went on. Dan Machi made me ‘hoop and holler’ for more SAO-quality fantasy, but I was sighing more and more by the end. Plastic Memories ripped out my coal-black heart with intense robot x human drama, only to spend all of its remaining tickets, despite the other thriller rides it could have ventured through, on one boring-ass unmemorable Ferris wheel ride.

LITARALLY.

Really? I didn’t even know it had started! AHAHAHA [Gendo Ikari abridged voice]

On top of it all, I feel inclined to not only finish the shows (damn you, completionist me) but to write a review containing all of my thoughts just to feel closure. And unless it’s a rant, it’s quite frustrating to write about a show that was just ‘meh.’ Do you ever feel this way?

Though I had my fair share of disappointment, there were stand out shows like the rather vulgar Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma, the enduring Sound! Euphonium, and occasionally more twisted Fate deliciousness. *drooling mouth at production quality*

With all of the confusion stacking up on my plate, I didn’t dare start an already-completed show that had been chillin’ in my dusty backlog. So I stuck it through, thank heavens, and have emerged enlightened! After clawing my way out of the pits of weekly trials, it occurred to me that, and hold your seat folks, here it comes, OH GAWD:

Why don’t I just wait the season out, in the meanwhile start hacking at my back log, and see which shows came out on top from you guys?

*gasps* This might actually WORK!

Sure, I’ll be sad not to chase after new sights with all of you, but I have my own personal nightmares that, in due time, need to be faced head on. As they say, “The list of anime only grows longer, not shorter.” So that’s the scoop. Takuto will ‘man the battlestations’ while you lot are off fighting in the summer simulcast war, and upon your return, shall present your finest treasures to the café king!

I will keep my soul thank you very much and hope for the best that this summer turns out great! I already keep eying Charlotte, Snow White with the Red Hair, and God Eater among several others, so hopefully they yield bountiful fruit. But regardless, how are you? Do you ever feel the weight of many simulcasts just crushing your soul at times? What’s piqued your interest this 2015 summer? We are well into the introductions for shows, and your guys’ reactions are enjoyable to read, so the judging can commence! Comment below – let’s chat!

And just watch: I’ll more than likely buckle in and hit up the first episode of Gate or Prisma Illya. 🙂

Because ” By the Gods, you are one sexy beast”

For now, however, if you’ll excuse me, I have some more Code Geass to watch *mischievous hehehe* Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host