One Punch Man is Absurd, Out-of-this-World Fun! | Hero Week Review

A brief review of the 12-episode fall 2015 anime “One Punch Man,” produced by Madhouse, based on the web manga by ONE (story) and Yusuke Murata (manga art).

Travel back one season from ERASED and you have the anime that etched 2015 in history: One Punch Man. Its grossly over-popular yet dorky concept captivated web manga fans, and when an anime adaptation by THE Madhouse was announced people went hysterical; cosplay, fan art, and “OK.” memes circulated like no other. But what gives OPM a fiery kick like no other, and why do fans gloriously rave about this bald athlete?

In a world under siege by gigantically wacky monsters and bizarre extraterrestrials, Saitama wanted to be a hero. So, he trained ruthlessly for three years, got abs, but lost his hair. Now he has arguably become the world’s strongest hero. Unequivocal strength comes with a price, however, as now all it takes is a single punch—ONE PUNCH—to knock is opponent into next Tuesday. What was thought to be a thrilling and rewarding hobby became tedious and unsatisfactory. Because he defeats his foes in an unbelievably swift manner, people and the media are also unable to credit him properly.

To keep the story fresh, life must change for Saitama. And it does. A cold, brutal, 19-year-old cyborg by the name of Genos stumbles upon the one-hit-wonder’s performance, and urges Saitama to take him as his disciple, admitting he has much to learn from him. Genos then leads his master to the Hero Association, where the two can become certified heroes and *fingers crossed* be officially recognized (and rewarded) for their work saving City Z. As anticipation reignites in odd Saitama’s eyes, he clings to the hope that tougher enemies will head his way, and that one day soon, the people might actually turn to him for help in this chaotic world.

One Punch Man is simple; a tough guy follows his all-powerful master in hopes that the two find excitement in experience, challenge, and fame. While most of the intent is on the explosive battles, much of what people took away from this experience was the comedy, in that it doesn’t try too hard to make us laugh because it’s inherently goofy. The whole scenario of a bald, self-proclaimed hero in a mustard-colored onesie running through the streets yet managing to obliterate any target in one punch is satire in itself. Saitama is an unapproachable fool who defies the typical superhero because he’s an egg-head who exercised a sh*t ton—not receiving any supernatural/monetary help as we know it—to become strong. Since battles are nothing for him, where we see Saitama struggle is against the public eye and the Hero Association’s ranking system itself.

But with the crudely drawn monsters and frankly disgusting defeats, I was turned off by the extreme ends of the repetitive earlier fights. I admit, I thought the anime would run out of steam quite early on, making it just another shounen series out there (but epic-er). Then episode 5 came around—the bout between Genos and Saitama—and I fully realized that this was going to be a good show.

I should applaud Makoto Furukawa’s performance as Saitama because holy crud, how can anyone sound so bland and ordinary yet make me sh*t bricks whenever he opens his dumb mouth?? He really did capture our Egg-head’s nonchalant dialogue, yet appropriately ramped it up for intense battles. I ended up enjoying Saitama as a character much more than I thought I did, for even though he’s clearly the world’s strongest man, he grows as a human in seeking attention and ‘raise’ Genos at the same time. Like the seemingly basic plot, much more development boiled within each emotional scene.

Genos is your typical knight in shining armor (literally, hah!), needing little introduction to sway the crowd in his favor. He’s a straight-up badass cyborg, after all, though he too knows his flaws and overly criticizes himself for the few things he couldn’t do rather than celebrating his accomplishments—there’s always room for improvement. I sympathize with Tin-can on this one. Good thing Genos has a buddy to support him.

We also get to see the variety of heroes, low and high rankings, which are part of the Hero Association. Most A Class top dogs tend to do it for the fame and luxury life, while the C Class underdogs usually put the good of the cause before themselves. Such is the instance of MUMEN RIDER, a “catch-my-flying-balloon” hero who cycles all across the atomically-wrecked City Z to fight evil (even though he’s typically too little, too late). More than that, he represents the “man at the bottom of the totem pole,” and though his arms are weak, his heart burns passionately like a fool trying to stop the rain by yelling at it.

Madhouse. Ah, Madhouse. I’ve seen very little by them, and honestly, the first couple episodes made me cringe more than anything . . . until that episode 5, man, I’m telling you that’s the crazy action I was anticipating from the beginning. Each match just tries to absurdly 1-Up the one that came before it. After that, I was pretty much glued to the screen, appreciating the contrast between Genos and Saitama’s menial routine (hilarious faces and gestures, oh god) and the ridiculously high-octane fight sequences.

A musical score rides side-by-side with the energetic animation. Makoto Miyazaki combines fierce electric guitar rifts with overpowering strings and techno beats to form the definition of “action film music.” Personal favorites include the eerie “Kowa,” the epic “Crisis,” and of course, the “Theme of ONE PUNCH MAN” and its many acoustic and piano renditions. It’s enough to make you want to jump out of your bed each morning, shout a bloodcurdling cry, then proceed with air punches and a billion push-ups.

Where would I be without mentioning the show’s anthem OP “THE HERO!!” by JAM Project? While it alone contains enough awesomeness to serve as a substitute for your morning coffee, I also speak for the ending, “Hoshi yori Saki ni Mitsukete Ageru” by Hiroko Moriguchi. It was just such a nice balance between “GOOD FREAKIN’ MORNING, NOW GO GET ‘EM” and “Welcome back ~ it’s been a long day. Rest.”

HERO WEEK SEGMENT: Archetypical Hero qualities represented by Saitama

(Why not Genos? Because that cyborg fits the formula all too well. With One Punch Man also being an adaption of a longer-running series, we do not know how the overarching story ends. I have taken those bullets out to accommodate this cut-short adaptation.)

I’ve taken a quick trip to Google to provide qualities of the typical hero. Let’s briefly exercise each prompt:

  • Unusual circumstances of birth; sometimes in danger or born into royalty
    • We assume that Saitama is as average as middle-aged upstanding Japanese citizen as you can get.
  • Comes from humble origins
    • Saitama is about as humble as you can get. You’d frequently encounter him at the local convenient store.
  • Leaves family or land and lives with others
    • Again, we don’t know about his family background, but we can guess he lives alone and has bent his life’s goal on becoming a hero for the fun of it.
  • An event, sometimes traumatic, leads to adventure
    • No trauma here. Just a monster-invaded world that needs a hero to combat evil. I guess he trained daily with “100 PUSH-UPS, 100 SIT-UPS, 100 . . .” yeah, enough of that.
  • Hero has a special weapon only he can wield/always has supernatural help
    • Actually, no. This is just a normal dude who exercised like a maniac to be fit.
  • The Hero must prove himself many times while on adventure
    • It’s quite hard for Saitama to prove himself if every challenge just isn’t challenging. Instead, he must be deemed heroic by the public, and as frustrating as that often is, he somehow manages to push through if even just by a tiny margin. He must also prove a worthy master to Genos and a notable hero for the Association, which though humorous at times, it’s all ultimately not enough to bring about complete development (that is mostly due to it being a mere adaptation).

Notice the lack of similarities between typical heroes? Unlike ERASED’s Satoru Fujinuma, who received supernatural help, fought on to improve himself and save others, and even challenged fate, Saitama is a laughing stock, and his anime, the “proclaimed satire of hero genre” is more just for action and comedy than anything. HOWEVER, Saitama still manages to mangle himself into the hero mold—especially by the end—and I only wish we got more. I’m sure much deeper and emotional struggles await ALL of the cast, but based on these 12 episodes, you’ll walk away giggling rather than contemplating heroism and life as we know it, that blah-blah stuff. We like Saitama because he’s different—because he’s a dork.

Watch One Punch Man for the grotesque, energetic, explosive, out-of-this-world action scenes and the natural hilarity and fun that is Saitama. Should neither of those things intrigue you, then it wouldn’t be a crime to skip it (Genos might say otherwise). I had an epic time with the show, and I’ll leave you with an inspiring quote to contrast the nonsense the anime is more infamously known for. One Punch Man is A-“OK.”

“The true power of us human beings is that we can change ourselves on our own.” – Saitama

ZOOM-BANG-POW! These are my thoughts on 9/10 “Caffé Mocha” One Punch Man. As you can tell, I was pretty darn satisfied with what I signed up for. Most people were. Did OPM satisfy your craving for brutal bashing, or did the quirky facial expressions fuel your smiles? You really ought to let me know! Also, do you have any Saitama or Genos-like figures in your life? I’ve known this guy who’s always trying to do the right thing, but his clunky demeanor and unsuspected heroic deeds hardly ever get credited. Haha, the whole situation just makes me laugh, but should I? ‘Till next time everyone,

– Takuto, your host

This is why people are awesome. See? I’m not crazy. He does look like an egg.

Rokka Ushers in a Fresh and Bloody-Fantastic Fray | Review

A spoiler-free review of the 12-episode summer 2015 anime “Rokka no Yuusha” or “Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers,” produced by Passione, based on the light novel by Yamagata Ishio.

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

Whenever you’re out driving, do U-turns scare you? Oh man, they do me in. Usually swift and unannounced, what was the car ahead of me casually cruising along suddenly burns rubber and whirls around to oppose me.

So maybe I’m dramatizing U-turns a bit (also, they’re probably illegal in most areas), but doesn’t that abrupt 180-degree flip potentially ruin a nice drive? Well, if the other driver knows exactly how to pace it, direct it, and drive it on home, then no, not at all.

That’s what Rokka here did, and boy was it a spectacular turn.

setting

This setting is gorgeous.

Long ago when the Demon God plagued the world with darkness, the Goddess of Fate came down and sent the demon back into the shadows – Not before splitting her powers amongst six heroes, though. Now in a present-day yet still fantasy-Aztec land, the Demon God has awoken numerous times, only to be quelled time and again by new rotations of these “Heroes of the Six Flowers.”

legend

adlet.PNG

See? Not lying at all.

The self-proclaimed “strongest man in the world” Adlet has been selected to be one of these six braves. To prevent the Demon God’s next return, the six heroes band together and venture into the dark lands in hopes that they will save the wor–

Woah woah, slow down there. It sounds like a feasible action/adventure anime thus far, but right after episode four, it’s time to slam the breaks – Rokka wants a complete change of pace. What happens to our heroes?

Nothing. All seven meet up at the rendezvous point before plotting their attack. Wait . . . I thought there were just six braves . . .

There are. A magic barrier goes up around the temple, thick fog fills the air, and everyone is trapped in. Someone is an imposter

seven not six

If that’s not a 180-degree flip, then I’m not sure what is (I get chills just reading it). Rokka spends the first third showing off its heroes and their skills as such. It acts like your normal fantasy anime but then decides to try something new. The introduction of mystery to the fantasy/adventure genre is something I’ve never seen before. And through its fresh direction and pre-establishment of the cast, it moves forward without hesitation.

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Squad goals.

The sheer amount of suspense that Rokka builds up is absolutely incredible. Its clever hashing-out of your typical fantasy party members makes it a hot game of Dungeons & Dragons runnin’ around on the Clue game board. You wanted adventure? Not anymore. Take this murder mystery instead because it’s cooler. The gimmick works so well because we know these characters – All we have to do is roll the dice and start throwing accusations. You’ll have so much fun watching your options drop out as the game soars to its climax.

temple.PNG

Spooky spooky ~ Who is the Seventh???

As a side note, I was a bit spoiled by the identity of the fake, but even that didn’t faze me. Seeing how all of the clues slid into place and watching the insanity unfold gave me more than my fill of entertainment. The anime still kept me guessing to the very end, regardless of those damn trolls. That goes to show how exciting Rokka is.

hans.PNG

I have to mention the studio behind this anime because their name was completely new to me: Passione. I was 100% impressed by the superb animation quality and fantastical artwork. Due to the unusual yet intricate designs of each hero and their unique repertoire of arms, action scenes were bloody intense and wicked smooth.

fremy

nachetanya

“I am the bone of my –“ Not now? Oh, okay.

For music, we had the reoccurring yet beloved fantasy artist Oshima Michiru (FMA, Sora no Woto) who filled the still, foggy air with an engaging score. Of its many OPs and EDs, my favorite was “Secret Sky” by MICHI for being everything I listen for in this wonderful genre.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf13gKeZOW4

With puzzling motives, characters we’ll all recognize, and shocking plot twists at each episodes’ end, Rokka no Yuusha was without a doubt 2015’s hidden gem. The only reason you don’t remember this title was because you stopped after episode three.  Rokka‘s not without its flaws, however: Some less-major characters could have used more backbone, the opening is admittedly a bit slow, but biggest of all – This is ultimately only a preview into Rokka‘s grand scheme, and as such leaves us with jaws dropped begging for a sequel. I hate this. Don’t worry, we still get an ending that ties all of this up, but for those wanting to know how the legend ends better start supporting the franchise.

You should watch Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers because it’s something new. It takes a wild idea and runs hella far with it, leaving you clinging on for your dear life! Fans of the adventure genre especially won’t be disappointed with Rokka‘s new entry to the fray.

“That’s the first thing my master taught me. To laugh.” – Adlet

+ Despite being abrupt, fantastic new direction taken with strong, clever writing

+ suspense, Suspense, SUSPENSE

+ Studio Passione did an incredible job putting everything together

– ‘Supporting’ heroes could have been given more background, little more depth for all

– Unfavorable localization (Ponycan’s ridiculous prices without an English dub)

– Cliff-hanger ending = WE NEED MORE ROKKA, DAMMIT

poster

Now, I’m still cautions with those U-turners, but Rokka really impressed me guys. It’s a solid “Caffe Mocha” in this little establishment, but again, you should spread the word so we can eventually devour more! You can watch the entire anime on Crunchyroll for FREE if that site is available to you, to which I recommend “full speed ahead.” I only cry because Ponycan USA is releasing this epic without a dub. If you took a liking to my tentatively new and less-wordy format, let me know by hitting that “like” button and commenting below. It helps me immensely! Thank you all for reading and as always, until next time this has been

– Takuto, the Seventh Brave

The End of Evangelion Review

Between Neon Genesis Evangelion ending with two episodes of solid ideology talk in Shinji’s mind, and the lack of explanation by SEELE regarding their “Human Instrumentality Project,” how did the series physically end? The End of Evangelion finally gives fans resolution, but does it raise more questions than answers?

First off, the soundtrack for this movie includes many classical pieces that provide an epic feel to the battles. Robots and Angels would be shooting lasers and fighting like crazy, yet all you would hear are the powerful strings and band waltzing around. Really neat touch to the already-unique qualities of Evangelion.

The animation is surreal; especially the spiritual ending the movie is famous for. It’s breathtaking, yet makes you feel strange and without an appetite. Invoking a sense of rejuvenation, the movie’s high quality fight scenes and godly interventions are a splendor. Asuka’s fight against the mass-produced Evas in particular is one of my favorite fights I’ve ever seen in anime – and this film was released in 1997! You can just feel the weight of the colossal metal swords she’s swingin’ around!

There are a few curious shots, however, and particularly when real-life video clips are present for some odd reason –  but it all adds to the feel of the film (WTF) . . . I mean, I guess. . .?

This movie is divided into two 40-ish minute long episodes, which are supposed to break down what actually happens outside of Shinji’s mind in those last two episodes of the series. Making more sense now?

NERV is being attacked by SEELE, which causes pandemonium to break out everywhere. Shinji goes hysterical over the death of Kaworu and spends the first episode confronting the three lead females as to his remaining humanity, each represented by Naoko Akagi’s philosophy of herself: Asuka, the woman, Rei, the mother, and Dr. Akagi, the scientist. Misato embodies a ‘lil bit of each, and continues to act as the free spirit and love, which is why she is one of the last ones Shinji confronts. This is one of Evangelion’s most crucial themes, which is exploited quite thoroughly in this movie. Following Asuka’s last fight and when the three “are rejected by” or reject Shinji himself, they curl up in despair, which is continued in the second half. Shinji then sinks into the next and final phase of his development.

In the second episode and finale, Gendo Ikari attempts to acheive his ultimate goal – the bringing back of his dead wife Yui through the Angel of humanity’s creation – Lilith. Previously, an “accident” during Eva-01’s creation absorbed Yui’s soul and she was absorbed into the Eva as LCL. When Gendo tried to salvage his wife, the first Rei was born instead. This small detail is the cross point of many questions in the series, including why Shinji, Yui’s son, would have been the ideal pilot for Eva-01, and why Gendo was so insistent on Shinji piloting it.

By using the Rei models as clones for his wife, he had planned to unite her with the embryo form of Adam, the First Angel and genetic basis of the Evangelions, to supposedly “bring himself to his wife” or whatever. This fails, however, as Rei grows consciousness (plus a freakin’ personality) and rejects Gendo.

Rei proceeds to unite herself with Lilith, awakening the Second Angel in the process and creating an Anti A.T. Field that turns all humans but Shinji into LCL – the lifeblood of Lilith. The stage is now set for its grandiose climax!

Yui reacts to the rebirth and as a result, Shinji, piloting Eva-01 against Angels, must make a decision:

  1. a) allow instrumentality to succeed, “dissolving” the A.T. fields (ego) of humans so that humanity evolves to become one individual, or
  2. b) reject instrumentality and God knows what happens. . .

At the beginning of Instrumentality, before and during a Shinji’s decision-making,”Komm, süsser Tod” (Come, Sweet Death), an upbeat song plays in the background. I’ve never felt such feels like this with anime ever, and that scene right there was pure bliss. I feel I can just let everything go, that I’ve reached my own salvation with my anime journey.

Because the movie is so intriguing and justly satisfies with a divine ending, I have to take back a comment regarding Neon Genesis Evangelion, in that it is not a “timeless classic.” This movie, however, definitely deserves the title.

Hideaki Anno’s The End of Evangelion does indeed answer the painful questions pondering fans, yet it does so in a very artistic (interpretive) and “spiritual” manner. At its heart, Evangelion is a beautiful story about life. Whether its religious references even make any sense, the movie pulls all of its strings together, ties them in a knot of a balloon called “hope,” and lets it soar into the heavens, so-to-speak. The End of Evangelion is one of the best films to follow an anime ever, and if you haven’t seen it – you’re missing out on a masterpiece. Truly, you are.

“Anywhere can be paradise as long as you have the will to live. After all, you are alive, so you will always have the chance to be happy. As long as the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth exist, everything will be alright.” – Yui Ikari

Whew! What an experience! If you haven’t already seen Neon Genesis Evangelion, go watch it. Like now. I’ve been in such a ponderous mood ever since then it’s not even funny. 🙂 Enjoyed the review? Click the like button below and follow me for more material. Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

PS: Here is a video or two I used to help recap all of the history of the film. If you’re confused about Evangelion, give it a watch – THEY REALLY HELP:

History Explanation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho07Ag6lV9g

How Rei is present in the beginning and the end – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNx-wsaEkZ4

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

Guilty Crown Review

If I ever were to become a writer, should I ration out all of my “good” ideas for other works or use them on one? Well that depends, really. Am I writing to cover my point only; for no sequels whatsoever, am I trying to make my work the next big series, or am I trying to get famous for the sake of being such? The anime Guilty Crown attempts all three ideas and, let me say, puts all of its eggs in one, crushed basket.

Ever since “Lost Christmas,” an apocalyptic virus pandemic that swept through Japan in 2029, Japan has been under the influence of a government organization called GHQ that is set out on curing the virus while managing public safety. Shu Ouma, your average normal high school teen who is bound by “fake” friendships, is thrown into a rebellious group by the cold name of Funeral Parlor when he gets infected with a stolen Void Genome. Given the “King’s Power,” a biological weapon that allows him to draw out voids, which are physical manifestations of one’s heart or soul, distraught Shu is forced to fight on the front lines against the twisted government and their ultimate plan to resurrect the “Eve” of the apocalypse virus.

When I summarize the plot for my reviews, I do so with the intent of leaving out any spoilers that might ruin one’s experience, like ya do. But in this anime’s case, I left out A LOT. For spoiler’s sake? No. Simply because there is way too much going on in Guilty Crown. I know this anime was wanting to be the next “end of the world” type that covers every single detail to the finale, and that’s fine, but some of these ideas don’t even flow well together. The show’s story steals something precious from every solid robot/action anime prior to its own existence, so why would I not want to watch it? It’s too choppy; fails to explain itself and its motives by just throwing in ridiculous action scenes, one-liners, or ways to put the main character through hell.

While many people disagree with the many, many characters, I think that they are one of this show’s few saving graces. I found Shu Ouma to be a very relatable character (I love his hair). He lacks confidence and so he regrets his mistakes too much – but that’s what makes him such an ideal protagonist. He is, in his friend Hare’s words, “The Kind King.” You can especially witness his behavioral changes a little more than halfway through the series. There is the most powerful and memorable event in the anime (I cried, and I don’t ever cry for anime).

Gai Tsutsugami is the other male lead. He acts without feelings to his followers yet when he does express the slightest emotions, they are meaningful and inspiring. Leadership is one of the story’s main themes, and Gai presses that issue to the point where you’d follow him to the end, too. Though corrupt, he truly is a good leader.

I was actually a bit disappointed in the show’s female lead, Inori Yuzuriha. I can’t mention a whole lot about her for spoiler’s sake, but she is pretty static as a character. I mean, she’s a famous Japanese pop singer, a dangerous fugitive of Funeral Parlor, and more. She plays the role she is given, but you’d wish she did a little more in the first half of the show. However, she does have brilliant costume designs if that counts for anything!

As I mentioned earlier, the animation by Production I.G is stunning. Everything from the vivid voids, the sharp, geometric architecture, and detailed characters are brilliantly done up. There are many unique character outfits, so that is also a plus. The animation quality remains strong to the end.

The openings, “My Dearest” written by Supercell, performed by Koeda and “The Everlasting Guilty Crown” by Egoist, a unique band from the show featuring the voice of Inori, show rapid flashing images with upbeat tempos. The sweet first ending, “Departures – Anata ni Okuru Ai no Uta,” is also performed by Egoist. A shout out to “Euterpe,” the best insert song I have ever heard and have even memorized the lyrics to J which is also performed by Egoist.

Hiroyuki Sawano brings to the show epic techno soundtracks that add to the wonderfully choreographed battles. He provides suspense and drama in softer times, too. “Bios Delta,” the main theme of the show, is just mindblowing – a perfect interpretation of Shu Ouma’s struggle! Give all of the songs I listed a listen – you won’t regret it!

Now back to the top, Guilty Crown is a huge, disastrous train wreck, but at that, one hell of a ride. In a similar way to Sword Art Online, I feel that younger viewers would see past the bi-polar character motives and glaring plot errors to just focus on the action and character relationships – well, that and the awesome music! At its time in 2011, the anime tried to be the next big thing, and sadly because of that goal, it was just visually epic; failed to deliver a consistent story to the end. If you enjoy a decent crack at science fiction and the apocalypse, amazing action and intricately romantic scenes, then hey, give it a go. Otherwise I think you can skip this one; it’s just a messy conglomeration of past sci-fi anime. I liked it way more than I should have, though, and its impact on me couldn’t be replaced by any other anime!!

I admit I LOVED GC, and presently, FUNimation’s limited edition copy of Guilty Crown occupies a neat section of my shelf, waiting to be downloaded and heard by the world as the song of the apocalypse. “The right to use my friend as a weapon – that is the sinful crown I shall adorn.” What a great caption for Shu.

And with that I hope you all have a less complicated day! I say “Hi and welcome to Takuto’s Anime Café” for all new followers and viewers. You’re awesome 😉 Hit that like button if you enjoyed this review and until next time, this has been

– 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

ALDNOAH.ZERO Review

Fellow Café members, let me just start with what this experience was – a coincidence. Ever heard of one? Yes, I thought so. I’ve seen the masterpieces that are Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero prior to this series, and little did I know that this one was written by the same guy. Gen Urobuchi, for the better, you got me again!

Humankind began migrating to Mars when an ancient alien hypergate was discovered on the moon in 1972. Using the Aldnoah technology they had additionally discovered, the VERS Empire was formed. Soon after, the VERS Empire declared war on Earth. This war caused the destruction of the Moon and the gate, creating a belt of debris around Earth and disabling any known connections. Presently in 2014, the princess of VERS travels to Earth only to be attacked and “killed” during a peace mission. The people of VERS are now furious and stand determined to take Earth this time around as both races are thrown back into war.

Isn’t that a cool concept? Aldnoah.Zero dives into the aspect of human separation, and how it is not Terrans versus Martians so much as it’s humans on Earth and those on Mars against each other. They all want each other’s’ blood even though it is actually the same type. Add this dark theme and giant robot, or “kataprakt,” fights and you have yourself a show that is interesting and worth one’s time.

Speaking of, one flaw that I would like to point out is the fact that the Martian’s could have easily squashed any human resistance with their super powered Aldnoah kataprakts, but what would be the good in that, right? Like seriously, one of the enemy robots can create a dimensional barrier that absorbs all forms of energy, allowing it to walk through buildings without any struggle. WHY DID THEY NOT MAKE MORE OF THESE?? This forced the opening fight to require Inaho’s smarts, as he literally couldn’t go rushing in at the enemy. Perhaps if a fight on this scale of strategy was at the end, then maybe the final boss wouldn’t have been such a snooze.

Our true story centers on the triangle between the Terran Inaho (Orange), Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia, and the Terran Slaine (Bat). Inaho is quiet, resourceful, and a calm, quick thinker. This makes me love him yet dislike him at the same time, for although he rarely says stupid stuff, he follows the bland archetype hero.

On another note, Asseylum receives asylum by Inaho and co. upon her arrival (Hehe, puns). She is a dutiful young lady who, for housing the mysterious power of the Aldnoah, one would think she would have some kind of combat skills, but it’s whatever. In that aspect, she reminds me of Princess Lenessia from Log Horizon. They both act in amateurish ways, thinking that a simple meeting would solve planetary war.

Slaine is the crux of emotional occurrence in ALDNOAH.ZERO. Throughout the entirety of the series, the Terran-born boy struggles between supporting the Terrans and/or the Martians. He doesn’t fully support the Martians, but simply Asseylum. When I think of it this way, it clears a lot of the mud that crowds Slaine’s decisions.

In Slaine’s regard, the end of the first half of the series is probably one of the most suspenseful and unexpected twists I have ever seen. Because I don’t want to spoil too much it will remain your unknowing secret. I can understand complex emotions, but wow, I was not expecting that. For those who have seen the end of the series, how shall we encrypt that last line? I guess we’ll just have to wait for season two in 2015. It’s going to be a long wait. . .

The animation quality for this show is phenomenal! Not only that, but the soundtrack by Hiroyuki Sawano contains epic, pumped up techno action pieces that engage me into combat. It fits the high-tech battlefield mood perfectly. The show is filled with awesome robot combat and explosive maneuvers that left me swerving in my seat to dodge flying metal fists or energy blades of death! It is interesting to note that the studio that animated ALDNOAH.ZERO also did the infamous Sword Art Online, a series which had a second season running at the same time. A-1Pictures must have been very busy, as the animation quality for both series is top-notch – definitely some of my favorite animation.

With Urobuchi comes Kajiura, as Kalafina performs the series’ amazing opening “heavenly blue.” Jesus, I love this music so much! Kajiura pulls out all of the stops in this new opening: the techno groove is hot and upbeat. The show’s ending theme, “I Say Cry” by aLIEz (also by Hiroyuki Sawano), also deserves an honorable mention. Both of these are a must-listen.

I fully recommend ALDNOAH.ZERO to fans of Urobuchi’s works and for people that are looking for something with sci-fi action-packed fights with great background music, and a well-paced plot to where you want more after every damn episode. So isn’t that everyone? Well, yes and no. The last few “bosses” are lack luster and require Inaho to just hack and slash; no real strategy is required. Because of such a loss, the crafty interest in both Inaho and the Martain generals drop tremendously. Nevertheless, I will be awaiting the second half for this great adventure of revenge, tragedy and hope. “Let Justice Be Done Through The Heavens Fall.”

At the moment, you can watch all of ALDNOAH.ZERO on Crunchyroll.  I really hope the show receives localization and a dub, because yeah, I thought it was worth watching again. Leave a comment below and thanks for reading! Till next time this has been

– Takuto, your host