Magical Girl Raising Project: Being Irresistibly Drawn to Death | OWLS “Grotesque”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” For the OWLS blog tour’s  tenth monthly topic for 2018, “Grotesque,” I wanted to revel in the spooky fall festivities by cross-examining an unconventional magical girl throwback from 2016 with humanity’s intriguing obsession for death and the macabre. As someone interested in human behavior, it’s a fascinating area to study, and hopefully I’ll be able to make some science out of the magical!

In honor of Halloween, we will explore what we find vile and ugly in pop culture. For this month’s topic, OWLS bloggers will be exploring characters or aspects of the grotesque in a piece of media and how it is a metaphor or allegory for society, human nature, or some other philosophical or humane idea.

Heads-up! This post will dabble more into studying the human condition than evaluating the series itself. My personal thoughts? It’s a twisted little title with an engaging battle royale setup that turns out somewhat lackluster in the end but is still stupidly entertaining. Watch it. I liked it, and seeing as how we seem to be irresistibly drawn to that which is gruesome (even if for no apparent reason), you should like it to, right? riGhT??

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A brief, spoiler-free discussion on the 12-episode fall 2016 anime “Magical Girl Raising Project,” animated by Lerche, directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto, and based on Asari Endou’s light novel series of the same name. This will also include a light historical context analysis on how pop culture and the media make a spectacle of death and gore.

Again, this will be SPOILER-FREE, so enjoy!

“You’ve been selected to become a magical girl, pon!”

Magical Girl Raising Project. It’s the latest fad to dominate the mobile game sphere, and it seems that every young girl and adult woman alike in N-City can’t seem to stop playing the app game. Jumping into combat with your sparkly avatar, beating up shadow beasts, collecting candies—it’s the closest thing they have to being a real life magical girl! For Koyuki Himekawa, however, the app offers more than a mere simulation. One day, she receives a peculiar notification from Fav, the game’s mascot, saying that she has been selected to become a real magical girl. Unknowing the full implications of their contract, she eagerly accepts the offer to become her adorable in-game avatar Snow White.

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Gifted with the ability to transform at any time, Koyuki viewed her new life with a newfound optimism and excitement. That is, until the game admins sent out a startling notification claiming that “the number of magical girls in this region must be halved,” as the system couldn’t support the whopping 16 players who decided to take on the magical mission. The one to collect the least amount of Magical Candies—which are awarded for their magical girl activities—at the end of each week will lose their powers. But when a real-world tragedy befalls the first player to drop out, they find that their powers aren’t the only thing stripped from them.

As the magical girls perilously try to avoid their fate by cheating on their fellow players and throwing one another under the bus, the enigmatic Fav continues to add more twisted rules, forcing these young hearts to realize that what started off as a shining opportunity to help others has become a desperate struggle for their own lives.

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I’ll be frank with y’all: the story suffers largely from its systematic approach to execution and trying to develop its immense cast within 12 short episodes. While not Juni Taisen levels of predictability (God, that show disappointed me so much), you can pretty much tell who’s gonna go next based on the placement of their backstory. Ahh yes, the it’s the typical “Here I am and now I’m gone!” approach to character writing. In the instances where the show is able to catch you by surprise, however, those are the thrilling moments when the entertainment value shines through. Call it underdeveloped, or rushed, or even lackluster at times (I mean, the ending could’ve at least been more intense), but to call it “boring” would be a great underestimation of its twisted imagination and off-the-walls fun characters.

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From Wild-West to the Wicked and the Blessed

I can guess what stood out to you most—16 characters, right? Yeah, even for a battle royale that’s quite the large ensemble. Like they did with Danganronpa: The Animation and Assassination Classroom, Lerche was able to communicate the variety of personalities through unique dialogue patterns and intricate character designs. One of my fiendish favorites, the brazen and dangerous Calamity Mary, for instance, dons wild-west gunslinger apparel (boots, spurs, hats, tassels, leather, cow print, you get the picture). In the English dub, Mikaela Krantz even voices her with a low syrupy tone and a heavy southern accent. While I may not remember the specifics of her life before becoming a magical girl (as these important backstories are often rushed through in a couple minutes before their untimely demise), I will remember who she was and how she acted based on the distinctive character designs.

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A good pal of mine and genius essayist Irina wrote about my other favorite magical girl, the almighty, all-knowing QUEEN Ruler in a neat character analysis that I absolutely loved. She vouches for the same opinion that I do, in that “Raising Project isn’t perfect by any means but it certainly isn’t shallow. The writing is on point in many aspects.”

Although some characters look more put together with a theme than others (looking at you Swim Swim), I really enjoyed the diverse cast of tropes interacting on the battlefield: the sparkly one, the innocent one, the queen, the twins, the cowgirl rebel, the ninja, the witch, the badass protector, the nun, and even the freakin’ ROBOT. Some last longer than others, and some go out with a bigger bang while others exit the stage silently. A huge criticism many people have about the series is that the deaths feel too structured—I mean, we all know that someone’s gotta go by the end of each week, and the anime is true to its word. What this creates is a lack of empathy towards most of the girls and ultimately a mere “meh” or “aww that sucks, I liked her” when they die. More than anything, the show plays off these deaths as thrilling over depressing, and that got me wondering:

When did we become so fascinated with torturing little girls in anime to the point where it has dominated nearly every magical girl title in recent times? 

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How Horror Works in the Mind

I took to Psychology Today for a bit of research on the topic, which led me to the article “Why Do We Like Watching Scary Films?” Briefly, it examines psychological horror at the cinema and how the genre works in the mind. When answering the question, author Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. quotes Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, a professor of social and organizational psychology at the University of Utrecht, in a 2013 interview for IGN:

“People go to horror films because they want to be frightened or they wouldn’t do it twice. You choose your entertainment because you want it to affect you. That’s certainly true of people who go to entertainment products like horror films that have big effects. They want those effects . . . Even though they choose to watch these things, the images are still disturbing for many people. But people have the ability to pay attention as much or as little as they care to in order to control what effect it has on them, emotionally and otherwise.”

That last bit especially got me interested. He claims that we are the ones who choose our entertainment, and that we also have the ability to let the content affect us (in this case potentially scare us) based on how much we care to pay attention to the film. And I can see this as true—if I were to attend a scary movie and cover my eyes half the time (which I wouldn’t go to in the first place cause I’m a wimp), my desire would be that the film frightens me as little as possible.

Now, would the same apply to the film maker(s)? I mean, the director is essentially the one deciding how much gruesome content to put in front of our eyes, so if a series were nothing but moments of shock value (interspersed with some touching backstories, of course), wouldn’t that be what the director also cares about most in the series? Maybe seeing Madoka Magica receive immense fame gave him the idea to go all-out with the suffering. Besides, what’s more shocking to us anime fans than watching cutesy moe girls get massacred? Once one series showed us it could be done, everyone else wanted to do it too.

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A 2004 article in the Journal of Media Psychology by Dr. Glenn Walters proposes that “the three primary factors that make horror films alluring are tension (generated by suspense, mystery, terror, shock, and gore), relevance (that may relate to personal relevance, cultural meaningfulness, the fear of death, etc.), and (somewhat paradoxically given the second factor) unrealism.” In a 1994 study on disgust, college student participants found videos of real life horrors (like a cow slaughterhouse and a surgery involving removal of facial skin) to be incredibly disturbing. Yet many of these same individuals would think nothing of paying money to attend the premiere of a new horror film that had literally ten times more blood than what was present in the real-life documentaries! Why is that? It was posed by McCauley (1998) that:

The fictional nature of horror films affords viewers a sense of control by placing psychological distance between them and the violent acts they have witnessed. Most people who view horror movies understand that the filmed events are unreal, which furnishes them with psychological distance from the horror portrayed in the film.

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Oh, so if we know it’s fake, it doesn’t inherently terrify us as much, despite blood and guts leaking all over the floor. I suppose that makes sense. Even I don’t see clowns as scary when I remember that they’re likely just unshaven middle-aged men dancing around in colorful costumes. But even if it’s fake, some people enjoy the thrill of being confronted by gruesome death because it’s an experience that, for the most part, it’s something available only in fiction, and fiction intrigues us. One last look at Dr. Dolf Zillman’s Excitation Transfer theory (ETT) offers this:

“Negative feelings created by horror movies actually intensify the positive feelings when the hero triumphs in the end. But what about movies where the hero doesn’t triumph?  . . . Some small studies have show that people’s enjoyment was actually higher during the scary parts of a horror film than it was after.”

Alright, so you’re saying that perhaps the scary parts of a horror film are more enjoyable than the rest of the film itself? That perhaps explains why pop culture hits like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and heck even Attack on Titan delight in killing off major characters in fantastical ways—During these “scary” parts, we find ourselves at peak enjoyment, and if the writers can capitalize on this enjoyment through constant narrative twists and turns, then the viewers will stay glued to their screens. But hold on a second . . .

Magical Girl Raising Project isn’t horror, not even close. It’s barely a thriller series at best. Fair point, but think about the content itself: Purposefully designed cute children under the innocent guise of “magical girls” get brutally slashed or decapitated NOT by the forces of evil, but by fellow magical girls. Tension caused by suspense; relevance caused by a magical girl’s fear for her own life; unrealism given that magical girls shouldn’t exist within our world or theirs . . . Doesn’t that mark MagiPro as gruesome as horror—as grotesque as horror? And how about this: The most grotesque part about it all is that as fans, most of us enjoyed watching this series. Sure it ranks in the 3000s on MAL, but a  7.11/10 could be implied that 7 out of 10 people liked this series—cute girls, competition, and all the bloodshed in between. 

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At Least I Had Fun

Regardless of whether we should count MagiPro as a horror anime or an anime with horror elements, I did find myself enjoying it. A lot. Probably more than I should have. With each passing episode and character elegy, I truly found myself helplessly and irresistibly drawn to death. As more characters bit the bullet, I eagerly clicked on to see not necessarily who would survive, but rather who would fall out of the competition next. As unnecessarily dark and edgy, unnecessarily gruesome, and unnecessarily sophisticated as it tried to be, Magical Girl Raising Project won me over because it shamelessly played with death. And isn’t that the true spirit of the macabre?

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“As a means of contrast with the sublime, the grotesque is, in our view, the richest source that nature can offer.”—Victor Hugo, French Poet


Afterword

Yikes, went on a bit of a ramble there with the research, but maybe you learned something new! Magical Girl Raising Project is an interesting title that has gotten me thinking more than it probably should, but hey, a series that has me reflecting this much over it has to be doing something right. MagiPro isn’t the darkest of its kin, but definitely one of the sweetest. Thus, I award the series with the “Cake” rating, and a recommendation to check it out if you enjoy the thrill of a decent survival game. Not sure if Crunchyroll has it, but Funimation’s got it all with an incredibly well-done English dub that just finished airing for your viewing pleasure! If you have seen this series, you definitely have to let me know what you thought about it (I need more MagiPro friends)!!

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This concludes my October 19th entry in the OWLS “Grotesque” blog tour. Aria (Animanga Spellbook) went right before me with a nice and short post over the recently-aired Phantom in the Twilight that you should check out right here! Now, look out for Flow (Captain Nyanpasu)  this upcoming Monday, October 22nd! Thanks for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Death Parade: That’s Just the Name of the Game | OWLS “Dreamers”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s  tenth monthly topic, “Dreamers,” I decided to incorporate what would have been my standard Death Parade review into this retrospective look at beauty stopped short by a cruel twist of fate.

Every individual has a goal or ambition that they devote their whole life to with passion and courage—whether it’s landing your dream job, traveling, or finding the love of your life. However, there are those who spent their whole life working towards a dream, but were cut short due to an unexpected occurrence. Those people are left only to dream and wonder about the possibility. 

We are not going to focus on the individuals that achieved their aspirations, but instead look at characters that weren’t able to. We will explore what happens to characters who had their wings forcefully cut off, as well as those who gave up before they even started their journey.

I’m a little late to the Death Parade game, but better late than never, right? Also . . . IT’S FRIDAY THE 13—KARMA IS GOING TO EAT ME ALIVE AND SPIT ME OUT. Thanks Lyn for the prompt!

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A brief discussion on the winter 2015 anime “Death Parade,” produced by Madhouse, directed and based on the original story by Yuzuru Tachikawa. SPOILERS WILL BE PRESENT.

“Welcome to Quindecim”

What awaits us in the afterlife? Is there even such a place? As we understand it, nobody will remember how they died. There is living, and then the moment after death. So how did I get here—and why is there a bar in the afterlife?

Such is the state of mind of those who—fortunately or not—awaken in a mysterious bar remembering only that they lived, and that they are now here at a chic bar called the Quindecim. You cannot escape, but you are invited to participate in a game where the value of your soul is on the line, and weighed by none other than the discreet bartender Decim himself. Darts, bowling, air hockey—your typical watering hole time-wasters. Terrible joke, right? Honey, that’s just the name of the game.

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As pairs of strangers stumble into the ethereal pub, they quickly ingrain it within themselves that winning is absolutely dire to making it out alive. Little do they know that despite having come from different walks of life, human nature is unchanging, including the worsts parts of it. That precise moment of despair declares the true winner and loser, and just like an arbiter Decim passes judgement based on the revelations alone, sending them to either heaven or hell following the game—that is until, however, the arrival of a strange black haired woman causes Decim to reevaluate this cruel system of judgement he employs upon his poor guests, as well as his own existence as a heartless arbiter.

“Tell me, bartender . . . we’re already dead”

Death Parade centers its focus on three important themes: the act of passing judgement upon others, self-realization, and death itself. What’s really special about this anime is how it breaks down these notions and turns them on their head, causing the lives of the characters in the show to fall short of any real achievement or happiness:

3. Judgement For one, Decim does not believe that the games bring out the true hearts of his guests, but that true shock and terror for one’s own being does instead. He draws forth these intense emotions by the games: slowly, he might re-implant the memories of their deaths back into their minds; or perhaps, he’ll break or disable a function necessary to win the game in order to see how those essentially “cheated  on” accept these brutal circumstances. Actions define your character, after all. But could you even call this fair judgement? Decim thinks so.

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2. Self-Realization All of our guests awaken without a clue as to how they got there. None of them even remember how they died, which is crucial to the game Decim wishes them to play. As the matches progress and the memories begin trickling back, these individuals start to reveal their true colors to one another, some exploding with hypocritical violence like they used to back when they lived, others merely crying at the tragedies that befell them pre-death. What’s common between both the winners and the losers is that they are all struggling while coming to terms with the realities that fate has placed them in. That shock is a lot to take in. All at once, you remember the person you used to be: the sins that you committed, or the evils that were done to you unknowingly—how you were stabbed in the back, or how you yourself took another’s life. Here, self-realization isn’t used to instill individuals with hope, but rather complicate matters, causing some to break because of the pain.

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1. Death One of the anime’s greatest secrets is revealed come episode two: the guests who believe that they’ve just been kidnapped or imprisoned are, in fact, deceased, presumably stuck in a purgatory of sorts until the arbiter judges them, sending them to either heaven or hell. That’s when the second great secret is revealed: there is no life after death, only reincarnation or the void. Adding more trauma to the hopeless situation, Death Parade anticipates that its viewers are left praying for the purest of the two guests, only to have that purity snapped by the ultimate revelation: There are no second chances, in life and after it.

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Why do it all? To Show us Chiyuki, a Dreamer

This is the name of the black haired woman with no name, no memories, but a passing thought: she knows that she’s already dead. Inconveniencing Nona, Decim’s “boss,” the nameless woman is granted a working shift at Decim’s side until . . . hmm, well we don’t really know how long she was supposed to work, just that towards the latter half of the series memories of her past life start resurfacing, creating an unstable existence trapped with little time left to remember everything. Luckily, she does, only to realize that she, too, was ruined long ago.

She was heralded as one of the nation’s top ice-skaters, and as a child growing into an adult, everyone only saw her for that, an athlete. Chiyuki was thrilled with the praise and success, but overtime (especially as a full-grown adult woman) we get the feeling that she wanted to be more than that—to be known for who she was, not what. And nobody cared to explore that side of her. She was judged by the world for what she accomplished, not how she lived.

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To balance the scales, Chiyuki is sent as an assistant to Decim to judge souls herself. She finds herself frequently bumping heads with Decim’s cool demeanor, though, frequently voicing her human emotions and opinions quite loudly—about how wrong Decim is, or how unfair the things he does are. She opens Decim’s eyes to the way of the world, allowing them both to tragically realize that, whether it’s in life or whatever comes after, no soul deserves the unbearable weight of judging others.

She was judged, she had a realization, and then she died. But not in the traditional sense. No—her death came with losing what connected her to others: ice-skating. After suffering a career-ruining injury, she was forced to give up her passions, aspirations, and biggest dreams of becoming one of the greatest ice-skaters to ever live—THIS was what truly killed her, for now, without a purpose, she merely exists and walks along a destination-less path. When Decim shows Chiyuki the world without her in it, she realizes that her suicide marked the finality of her regrets, not her death. The pain she caused her mother absolutely tore her apart, and she is left heartbroken because she wished she had valued her own life.

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Where Justice Lies

Given the once-in-a-“lifetime” chance to return to the living, Chiyuki denies the ultimate wish. Why? Why wouldn’t she want to apologize and reunite with her mom?? Causality, that’s why; give and take. When a soul leaves the earth, a ripple of cause and effect impacts the lives of others. By reclaiming the impossible—a second chance at everything—her soul is exchanged for another. This brings us back to the first theme, where YOU do not get the chance to weigh another’s life, nor the sorrows that would come with that stranger’s death. The revival of one brings about the unfair ruin of another, and if justice has taught her anything by this point, it’s that this is the greatest taboo.

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At the story’s end, we find out that Decim’s existence is part of an elaborate experiment crafted by Nona all for the sake of searching for a better judgement system. Though Quindecim’s tactics are arguably fairer than the ones we have now, it’s still a far shot from true justice. That begs us to ask the essential question:

How long will it take to find where justice lies, and at the smallest cost possible?

Death Parade takes an exceptionally accurate stab in the dark and concludes that, though trial and error brings us inches closer towards the light, true justice still lies many, many lifetimes away. In a story rich with irony where dreams are crushed and lives are weighed like pennies, those parading into the bar of the afterlife died long before they even realized they lived.

“I don’t regret the things I’ve done. I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.” – Chiyuki


Man, I didn’t even get into the slick animation (with amazing texture designs), atmospheric and emotional soundtrack, or the other characters besides Chiyuki and Decim, but perhaps I’ll leave that all up to you to explore yourself! It is, after all, regarded as a “Cake” here at the Quintaku. 🙂 But yeah, Death Parade, it’s a wild ride for sure, though I can’t help but feel that it, like its poor characters, had its expectancy cut short. I doubt there’ll ever be more, considering it’s an original source (the best kind of anime), but who knows, maybe Lady Luck will throw us a curve ball, or an extra toss at the dart board. (Just please, avoid the eyes. That would suck immensely.) Let me know what you thought of this anime!

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This concludes my ~spooky~ October 13th entry in the OWLS “Dreamers” blog tour. The incredible YouTuber Gigi of Animepalooza *FINALLY* put together a video captioning the flawed life and broken dreams of Yuri!!! On ICE‘s KING JJ which you can view right here! Also, look out for our fearless leader Arria’s (Fujinsei) post about the lovely Silver Spoon this upcoming Monday, October 16th!  Thank you so much for reading, and 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