Guilty Crown: Final Review

Back with the first final review of the Winter 2012 season, Guilty Crown. What started back in Fall 2011 was a series that turned out to have more melodrama from the fans than the show itself. Many people dropped Guilty Crown before even hitting the double digits, some who continued watching did so only to continue making jokes or quip about its unoriginality/slow (or stupid) plot/horrible cliche twists/something else that I don’t care about.

Guilty Crown follows the story of a high schooler, Shu, as he gets pulled into an epic adventure 10 years after “Lost Christmas”, a tragic event that caused a mass outbreak of the Apocalypse Virus and prompted the national takeover by the GHQ of Japan. He reluctantly joins a counter-government organization to use his “King’s Power” (the ability to a pull a “void”, an object or tool that takes shape and power from its owners heart and personality, from anyone after making eye-contact) to fight the oppressive GHQ and their Anti-bodies military force. Shu slowly grows stronger in his power but is plagued by his own personal shortcomings through most of the first 15 episodes. Despite making good strides in personal strength, he still finds himself breaking down in moments of crisis. While also shining brighter when he’s able to collect himself and save the ones he cares most for.

He ultimately has to face off with a GHQ that’s gone rouge under the control of Shu’s adopted mother’s brother, Keido, as it declares war on the world by using it’s satellite weapon, Leukocyte, to hold Japan hostage as once friend, Gai, and Shu’s on-and-off dead sister/stalker, Mana, try to recreate the world using the Apocalypse Virus. With the help of friends and a final leap in courage and personal strength, Shu is able to save humanity from the devious desires of his insane sister and the king of butthurt, Keido. (Gai was secretly on Shu’s side all along but knew that stopping Mana wasn’t as simple as keeping her from activating the Apocalypse Virus on the world scale).

From a plot perspective, Guilty Crown is impossibly complex. By “impossibly”, I mean that I can’t really delve into and explain all the details. Mostly because I’m sure there are more than a few subtleties that I’ve missed, and also because it’d ultimately give away the ending for those who haven’t watched yet. Although it had a few slower episodes, I can’t really say Guilty Crown had any fillers, which is a plus for me. Every episode either expanded the plot or gave character development. As far as premise, Shu’s “King Power” and the setting, albeit separately aren’t too unique, were very well placed and both had it’s own characteristic impacts on the story.

The cast was rather well-rounded, from the despondent, shy (in the beginning) Shu, overzealous, energetic Souta, the always cool, brilliant Gai, and cute, smart Tsugumi to the bats*** crazy Kenji, obsessed, mysophobic Daryl, and the real man Dan, Dan the Man. Cast members bounced and played off of each other every step of the way. Hare, the calm voice of support for the group later in the series, was probably the character I most hated to see die, but her character left a present mark on the remainder of the series. Even the quieter or less seen characters had their own impact, as Rowan gave Daryl his last, parting words to be nicer to people.

Now to the part I’m most happy about, the audio. If for nothing else, Guilty Crown should be picked up just for the epicness that is the background music. All of it, βίoς, Euterpe, Hill of Sorrow, it’s all so well played into the series that every scene just seemed to double in pants-p***ing awesomeness whenever the music rolled. (I want that robot in the picture from “Hill of Sorrow” by the way) Best example is the last episode, where it seemed to have dropping every last song from the soundtrack (which made me very happy because it was well done). Supercell and Hiroyuki Sawano did a great job with the audio, as expected.

The animation and visuals were of high quality throughout most of the series, thought  the animation seemed to slip a bit leading up to the last episode, but this probably more a result of cost-limits than anything else. The final episode was fully and brilliantly animated, despite the previous few dropping off somewhat. The visuals were what originally drew me to Guilty Crown, and the visuals sold me on the ending. That and the audio are the two irrevocable tenants of Guilty Crown in my opinion.

Now, time for the rating. Reminder: I grade on a scale similar to an academic grade. If it doesn’t “fail”, it gets 6.0 or higher. Any higher shows much I liked it or how well it was, and any lower shows how much I disliked it or how poor I think it was.

Guilty Crown: better than average plot with sometimes lackluster points, a truly developmental character set, good visuals, great music…. 8.2.
As mentioned, the animation slipped a bit, but the biggest problem (for me, mind you) was that Shu’s personal growths didn’t make as big of strides as I would’ve liked (for more on developmental characters, I recommend Yumeka’s post “Why Guilty Crown Isn’t That Bad“, and Yumeka, that scene in episode 21 made me cry, so, at the very least, you’re not alone.)

Rewatch value…maybe not immediate, but probably higher than most of the series I’ve watched, because once the story has started, I’ll want to finish it. (Notice how I never brought up Inori? It’s because I neither love nor hate her, she’s a bit manipulative, but has her moments. I guess I’m indifferent towards her.)

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

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Senki Zesshou Sympogear: Massive Info Dump, Mankind’s Ageless Threat

What? Anime? Don't be ridiculous...

Back with the 11th episode of the Winter 2012 series, Senki Zesshou Symphogear. 2 episodes from the end, and Symphogear makes a potentially fatal mistake…inordinate amount of information dropped in a restrictive time limit. In a little under 10 minutes we’re informed of Fine’s true identity, the real purpose of the 2nd Division base under Lydian, and the master plan of our daring villianess. Now, individually or together at once, these things aren’t bad to know, but without any build-up or leading introduction, it certainly feels more forced and like I didn’t really know anything this whole time.

Lydian falls under assault from the Noise, at Fine’s (Ryoko’s) command. Miku stays diligent and makes sure all the students are evacuated to the bunkers before trying to escape herself. After joining Ogawa and starting down the main shaft of the base, they run into Fine, clad in her Symphogear, ready to bring her plan to fruition. But the 2nd Division isn’t to be taken lightly, as the Commander goes toe-to-toe with the former friend, nearly stopping her in her high-heeled tracks. But not before she can sneak in a cheap shot, and proceed to activate Kadingir, stealthy hidden as the 2nd Division base all along. The true purpose of the base from its inception was the collection of potential attuned and research using the phonic resonance generated by the students, along with the reconstruction of the ancient, god-reaching Tower of Babel.

Long ago, when all the world’s languages were split at the tower of Babel, Fine was merely a princess reaching out to loved god, who refused to come amongst the humans. From that day on, Fine lived as a buried consciousness, behind all the great paradigm shifts in history. 12 years ago, when Tsubasa first activated a relic, Fine’s consciousness was activated from deep within Ryoko’s genetics. Now, she’s returned to rebuild the tower, Kadingir, and eliminate “the confusion of the earth” by destroying the moon with Kadingir (a massive ion cannon). It all makes sense now (/sarcasm).

Whatever, so long as the girls use Symphogear to save the day, I guess I’m happy. But, that’s not the case, instead we’re treated to the courageous meanderings of Miku and the girls hiding underground… At least Chris has the chance to shine, when she launches herself in near orbit to take on the ion cannon, armed with her swan song…no, wait! DON’T DO IT!!!!!!

Chris launches her all out assalut swan song to counter the ion cannon blast, a fatal sacrifice that depletes a symphogear user’s life force in exchange for a massive power output. Her valor was not in vain, as the remaining ion blast only chips a portion of the moon, and she seems to be able to recover (please, let this be so!!). But now, Fine is left with a (I’d imagine) still function ion cannon that can easily bend the world at its knees. And we still don’t have much more solid information on the Noise, or how they play into this? Fine said the symphogear armors were merely toys for garnering government cooperation. What does that make the Noise? Expendable pawns in her power trip?

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Another: Another Unnecessary Nightmare

Back with the 9th episode of the Winter 2012 horror series, Another. After Naoka’s untimely demise last episode, the class is left in mourning and confusion. A long-standing tenant of the calamity has been seemingly disproven…until it’s revealed that Naoka’s fate may have been sealed before he left the city. Earlier that morning, his parents recall a loud crash, but he was out of the door before they could find anything. It’s very likely that he suffered from a contusion, and was dead before the boat entered the harbor…looks like the calamity can one-up the “skip town” rule. As we’ll see again by the end of the episode.

Now back in town, Kouichi sets out to find Matsunaga’s hidden clue to stopping the calamity. Somewhere in the school, so he sets out with Tashigawa and Mochizuki, and agrees to keep this search between the 3 of them (which lasts all of like, 3 minutes, until they tell the first people to ask what they’re doing at the school…). Mei also joins the trio in their exploration of the old class 3 room upstairs. After a few close calls (broken glass, falling lockers, y’know, the usual “Another” causes of death), Kouichi finds a hidden cassete tape in an old locker, a message from Matsunaga indicating it contains his secret for stopping the calamity.

They go to the A/V Room to play the tape, and possibly learn the secret to stopping the calamity. In the recording, Matsunaga recounts the events of the class trip to the local shrine. A run down monument, the class decides to clean it up and offer prayers, to which the teacher confidently declares that they are now safe. Almost not surprising, they’re not even off the mountain before a student is struck by lightening and another falls to her death.

Before Matsunaga’s tape retells how he stopped the calamity…A WILD TEACHER APPEARS!! So the gang takes cover until he goes away. Unfortunately, in his frantic attempt to hide, Teshigawa ruins the tape just before they hear what happened to stop the calamity halfway. Luckily, Mochizuki thinks it can be fixed. So we’re left still wondering how it can be stopped, and also why Kouichi keeps getting these nightmarish visions of his guiltiness regarding the tragedies of his friends and classmates.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

"I hope they had insurance..."

…OHYEAH! That one girl I don’t really care about died after a rock hit the family car on their way out of town, apparently. And I feel like the heavy duty equipment crushing their house was just adding fiscal insult to injury…

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon: Those Lined Up Above the Horizon/Final Review

Back with the final episode of the first season of the Fall 2011 series, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon. Now that Tori and Horizon are reunited, it’s time to book it and get back onboard Musashi.  The Far East ground forces are able to make their retreat from the K.P.A. Italia and the Pope on the airfield, but the captain of the Pope’s airship sets off to stop the escape of Horizon and their lost Deadly Sin Armament. After failing to ram the floating city, all cannons are locked and loaded, ready to blast Musashi out of the sky. It’s up to Horizon to boost the power of Lyte Katarripsi, but she still can’t do it without Tori’s help, thanks to his energy reserve sharing.  Along with decimating the K.P.A. ship, Horizon also regains a part of her original soul, and, for the first time, feels the emotion of sadness. Tori stands gently by her side, promising to recover all of her lost emotions.

The battle isn’t over, or rather, it’s just begun, because now Musashi stands against not only the K.P.A. Italia and Tres Espana, but also the P.A. ODA, who make a surprise visit, to show that Musashi’s stealth shield is useless against them. Bringing a dire warning of the fights to come for the currently festive citizens of Musashi, who are celebrating the safe return of the dear Horizon.  In style, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon leaves season 1 mid-battle, as Tres Espana forces (more like their baseball team, really) begins an assault on Musashi. But the students aren’t hesitant, and quickly jump into battle to protect their home.

While confusing at first, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon is finally moving into a forward step plot that explains (or at least recognizes the newness of new things) and shows character development (did you see that? Tori only made a few sexual remarks to Horizon, that’s called self-restraint *jk*).  Supposedly, the original novel included a long preface explain the Horizon universe, as well as the Testament which determines the path of human history and is set to end sometime during the series. This hasn’t been explained (or even touched) in the anime series, so I can understand why a majority of viewers are put off and don’t want to continue. I personally am advocating perseverance, as I feel like, given time, patience will pay off and Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon will be a series you’ll be glad you didn’t miss. Season 2 is slated for Summer 2012, can’t wait.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

(I know, this really isn’t a “Final” review, as there WILL be a second season. But just think of this a final thought on season 1.)

Fall 2011 Final Review

Back for a final review of the Fall 2011 season. For simplicity sake, I’m dividing this post into “finished” and “continuing” series. Series that have reached a definitive end (even if just for now) and don’t have any rumor of possible continuation, are deemed “finished”, and series like Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon and Guilty Crown, which are most definitely going to be continued, are deemed “continuing”.

For “finished” series, this season I followed Shinryaku!? Ika Musume, Working’!!, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Ben-to, and Tamayura~hitotose.  Shinryaku!?, Working’!!, and Tamayura are all continuations from previous seasons or OAVs, while Boku wa, Ben-to, and  are original premiers.  The more comedic series, Shinryaku!?, Boku wa, and Working’!!, offered a refreshing break in-between more action or character-driven series like Ben-to, and Tamayura.  But that’s not to say the comedies didn’t offer their own substance in way of character development or excitement.  In general, the series I would like to see more of, and think there’s a chance of a continuation are Boku wa Tomodachi ga SukunaiC³and Working’!! (I feel like there’s still room for fresh material to continue the story of the Wagnaria crew).  Ben-to and Tamayura~hitotose both reached logical, definite conclusions, and I’m satisfied with their endings. I’m almost apprehensive of asking for another season of Ben-to, as this may not live up the enjoyment of the first season (but I’m all for more Asebi, so I’d be willing to try it if it did get a second season).  Shinryaku! Ika Musume, while amusing to me, is really a hit-and-miss sort of comedy style, and it’s quite fortunate to have gotten this second season.  I’m not hopeful for a third season, but if the hit-and-miss hits enough people to generate good revenue, enough to justify a third season, more power to them.

(I’m not used to giving ratings, but I’ll see how this goes.) Overall, for “finished” series this Fall 2011 season, I’d give an 8.7 out of 10.  A lot of the series, as stated, are continuations from previous seasons or OAVs, so they bank on previous success.  But there was quite a good bit of excellent new material to give a nice blend of old favorites and fresh series to keep me thoroughly entertained.

 

On to the “continuing” series, Guilty Crown, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, and Gundam AGE.  Ultimately, the only two I’m eager to see continue are Guilty Crown and Kyoukai Senjou, as they are the only ones to truly not make me cringe 90% of the time.  Guilty Crown was poised to become the next Code Geass, but, as many other blogs will quickly remark, this just wasn’t the case. Ohma Shu is no Lelouch Lamperouge.  But I do admire the unique premise, drawing voids that take on form depending on the owner’s heart is very interesting and I’ve been surprised to the individuality and applications of the voids Shu has so far drawn.  While the main protagonist leaves much to be desired, the 11th episode, marking the halfway point of the series, shows him finally acting the part of the hero. My fingers are crossed that this will continue into the Winter 2012 season.  Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon also broke it’s pre-determined impressions, as many, including myself, spent much of the series wondering what was going on.  While normally this would be considered a minus for a series, Kyoukai Senjou pulls it off in such a fashion that makes me overlook the confusion and enjoy it more so now that everything just seems to be happening in a way that makes me happy to understand.  While this is a confusing idea to some (trust me, I’m still wrapping my head around it), I’m still looking forward to the second season, announced to air in 2012.  Finally, there’s Gundam AGE, my most disappointing series this season.  Not that there’s inherently anything wrong with it, but if you’ve seen other Gundam series such as Gundam 00, Gundam AGE seems to spit in the face of previous success. The character designs are very childish, as is the dialogue, and I’ve never found myself rooting for the bad guys because I can’t stand what they did to the Gundam design.  I’ve really only continued watching because, steadily, AGE is recovering ground inch-by-inch. Supposedly this series is going to span three generations, i.e. Flit’s son and grandchild eventually become the focus. I’m hoping for Flit to leave the cockpit soon, I honestly can’t stand the thought of someone as generally annoying as that child piloting (what is, in my opinion) one of the greatest machines ever imagined.

Rather disappointing “continuing” series, compared what I expected going into Fall 2011.  My rating is a 7.0 out of 10.  Passable because the tail-end of the season sees some remnants of what I hoped for going in.  For Guilty Crowns sake, Shu better man up or shut up, take a lesson from Dan the Man and use some “GUTS!”.   Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon needs to do nothing but continue the great plot movement of the last 4 or so episodes in the first season (I fear the first episode of the second season will be a recap of the first season, if anyone involved with this show is reading, please don’t do this, just jump right back into the story).  Gundam AGE…*sigh* just, stop ruining what I like about the Gundams. If Flit is going to lose, don’t let it be because of something so simple as type-disadvantage.  If Flit is going to whine, let someone else b**** slap him. And if the UE is an alien force, give them a good reason for attacking human colonies (may I suggest reading the Ender’s Game series? very good example of extraterrestrial misunderstanding).

Next season has less in store (for me, anyway) than Fall 2011. I plan on following Kill Me, Baby! and Another for sure. As well as continuing Guilty Crown and Gundam AGE.  There’s a high possibility that I’ll pick up others perhaps a few episodes in if I get good impressions and have the time.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Additional note, just finished Azusa Nakano’s Speed Draw :3, you can check them out here. Enjoy, and Happy New Year.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume: Episodes 11 & 12/Final Review

Hey minna,
back with the final squidastic adventures of Ika-chan.  This squiddly series ends much like the first season with a touching squidisode with the mystery girl in red showing up to give a short parable related the troubles in life.  (Oddly reminiscent, really)

Episode 11 contained the three parts “Isn’t that Hypnotism!?”, “Isn’t That an Alliance!?”, “Isn’t it Just the Two of Us!?”.  By far, my favorite part with in “Alliance!?” when Ika-chan did squidly battle with the combined product of Ayumi’s father and the three stooges. Quite the epic struggle and a nice change of pace for the show.  But I was on the edge of my seat all through “Two of Us!?”, because I truly fear the wrath of Chizuru, but (strangely), I wish they’d had more Chizuru-nyan. :3

Episode 12 wraps up the second season with “Won’t You Practice!?”, “Isn’t That a Festival!?”, and “No, Really, Isn’t That a Festival!?”.  The last two being parts of the same story and the heartwarming end to the series.  After Eiko and Ika-chan have a falling out, they refuse to interact with each other. To try and patch things over, everyone decides to meet up for a night at the festival (complete with yutaka).  After various festival-typical activities, Ika-chan gets separated from Kiyomi and the Invasion Club, prompting a search for the lost and sad squid girl.  Eiko, after sifting through a pond when she thought she saw Ika-chan is pointed in the right direction by the red dressed mysterious girl from way back in the first season.  Some tears are shed, everyone is reunited, and Chizuru makes the observation that perhaps Ika-chan’s invasion has already occurred, as she seems to really be the center of their lives now. (Things quickly returned to normal, by “normal”, I mean arguing…)

In summary, Shinryaku! Ika Musume is a very funny comedy series, with unique characters that seem to keep the jokes coming.  Even with the continuous hilarity, the cast still manages to mature and grow as the series progresses. The animation isn’t anything to get excited over, but it’s a comedy, so it’s not like I picked it up for amazing graphic expectations to start with.  Very much recommended to anyone with a light sense of humor that laughs at ironic situational comedy.

I can’t be sure if there’s a third season in store for Ika Musume, but I certainly wouldn’t miss it if it did.  You have to remember, Ika-chan still has a lot of land to invade to accomplish her mission. :3

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Ben-to: Japanese Grilled Eel 790 kCal/Final Review

Hey minna,
back for the last meal and episode of the half-priced action series, Ben-to.  Yarizui-sempai is stil bedridden as Sato takes the stand against Orthros, for half-priced grilled eel, feature plate of the Dog Days of Summer.  But all isn’t well, a veteran wolf has entered the city to take down Orthros once again.  He even seems to have made Sato run away from the supermarket, meanwhile enlisting the remaining wolves to make their stand against the seemingly unbeatable twin duo.

This newcomer, carrying the nom de guerre “Herecle’s Combo”, plans to force Orthros out, just like he did 3 years ago. By enlisting the wolves of the area to stand with him and simply allow Orthros to take their bento and leave, the rest are spared defeat, and decide the remaining half-price bento among themselves.  Planning to shun the Kyo twins, it seems as if Herecle’s Combo is about to, once again, push out the strongest fighters in the bento food chain…until Sato returns. What seemed like fleeing, was actually bold strategy. Sato run and worked up a sweat to build his hunger, in order to drive himself for the delicious grilled eel.  His growling stomach moves the other wolves to hunger as well, soon becoming a free-for-all.

Sato reminds the wolves of the city that it’s defeating strong opponents that makes the food taste so delicious, and the fights worth winning.  Despite his efforts, Herecle’s Combo is quickly pushed aside so the true wolves can begin the fight.  With Sato and Saito teaming up against Orthros, it must truly have bene quite a fight to behold. Too bad they cut to them eating afterwards, where it seems the Kyo twins are considered friends now. Meanwhile, Sato returns to Yarizui’s bedside, with fresh grilled eel and an honor seal to boot.

One of my favorite action series of all time, probably because of the random premise (high class fighting over half-price bento, that’s original). If there’s one thing to complain about, it’s the lack of fighting, maybe it was a cost thing or maybe they just wanted more non-fight plots, but (especially the final fight with Orthros) I’m left wanting to see more.  Recommended if your tired of the more mainstream fighting series, or just want a fast-paced story that you can watch over a weekend.  Not sure if Ben-to could get away with second season, but it does, you can be sure I’ll be on it quicker than Sato on half-priced bento.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

….oh yeah! Needed more Asebi!!!!!