Gosick

(Now that the semester is winding down, I’m going to try to get back into regularly writing. I’ve marathoned a few series so that seems like a good place to start.)

27906Nestled in the European Alps, “Gosick” follows the tale of superstitions, folk tales, and legends surrounding the country of Sabure, and it’s foreign exchange student, Kazuya Kujou. Alienated for his strange appearance, dark eyes and hair, he happens across “the golden fairy of the library”, Victorique. Victorique de Blois, the daughter of a powerful Sabure nobleman, and the half-sister of one of Sabure’s most noteworthy (and fake) detectives, spends her days in solitude, reading and handily solving the mysteries her older brother can’t wrap his head around. Little does she know the weight of history that has been placed on her shoulders through the deviousness of her unloving father.

With Kujou in tow, Victorique makes easy work of many of Sabure’s legendary myths, including a fantastic tale of a runaway African turned queen’s alchemist. While also retracing her dark past, she comes to the forefront of a new war that’s set to overshadow the Great War, the ashes of which Europe is just beginning to rise from. With help of friends, faculty, and Victorique’s ever watchful mother, Kujou rescues Victorique from her dismal fate, only to be torn away by new tides of war.

preview03124b38ad1acb9e5e1a73cf9bb90256A continually progressive plot set in a very superstitious country, Gosick manages to blend clean logic with impressive character sets to cut through mystery and lay truth bare. No back-handed scheme is too much for these two who defy prophets’ visions and historical epics in search for one another. I may sound like I’m gushing or being emphatic, but Gosick really does weave an intriguing story that was a joy to experience. No spoilers, but the final episode left me speechless and very satisfied with this series.

Coupled with visual detail I wish was the standard, Gosick is a series I wish I’d watched earlier.
Final rating: 9.3
If anything, and this may sound greedy, Gosick needs more stories, maybe not with Victorique or Kujou, but the rest of the cast surely has more to tell.
(In retrospect, this is just the sin of a greedy fan. Even though the series has a solid ending, I enjoy the ride so much that I dare suggest augmenting it for more content. How selfish…)

Rinne no Lagrange: Final Review

Time to wrap up the Winter 2012 season with final, final review for the series Rinne no Lagrange. This mecha/not-sure-what-to-qualify-this series follows the story of Madoka who discovers a powerful secret hidden just outside of her hometown of Kamogawa. Human history, as we know it, was merely the tip of the iceberg, as Kamogawa becomes the scene of a galactic struggle over the legendary Vox mechas. Supposedly to have nearly destroyed the Earth thousands of years ago, humanity took it’s technology into the stars, leaving the Vox behind, all for the preservation of the human home world.

Along the way, Madoka becomes friends with the alien princess (and moe incarnate) Fin E Ld Si Laffinty (“Lan” for short) and starcrossed refugee, Muginami. As the trio pilot the three Vox units against the Kiss forces attempting to take the Vox for themselves (and probably nefarious purposes as well). With an OVA and second season to come, I really don’t feel I can review the plot. It’s hardly begun and I think there’s much more in store for our trio of heroines. Though, so far, I’m very much emotionally attached and was heartbroken to see the group split up at the end of this first season (I hope they don’t wait too long to reunite in the next season).

Animation was stellar and I loved the streaming trail that followed the Vox units in flight, as well as the detail in, well, everything. The action and fight scenes were superbly framed and my only complaint was that the best parts of the fights were shown after-the-fact, leaving me upset for a few minutes (or sometimes a whole week) that they had cut out the action-y goodness. I’m also not very pleased that Muginami returned to Kiss with Villaguilio WITH THE VOX IGNIS!!! She just delivered the super weapon into enemy hands… At least Lan (the one I like) is on the hunt for her in the Vox Rympha. I can’t imagine Madoka sitting on Earth for too long. Pretty soon she’s going to be itching to get back to Muginami and Lan, so she’s not going to wait much before she jumps in the Vox Aura and scares everyone on the base half to death (and I eagerly await July for exactly THIS scene…)

 

Final rating for Rinne no Lagrange:….9.0 Great animation, compelling story, but maybe a little lax with the giant robots. I’d like more giant robots. More giant robots…would be nice. Not that the cute schools scenes weren’t…cute, but a certain point, it just feels like filler. I have high hopes for the continued story, and more giants robots.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

 

…….giant robots, please :3

Black Rock Shooter: Final Review

Back with the 4th final review of the Winter 2012 season, Black Rock Shooter. This series adaptation of the OVA goes more in-depth into the mysterious world of the Black Rock Shooter. Acting as an alternate to the high school girl, Mato, BRS locks into battle with the alternates of other girls Mato encounters in her life, such as Yomi (Dead Master), Yuu (Strength), and Saya-chan sensei (Black Gold Saw). Ultimately leading up to Mato’s confrontation with her powerful alternate, Black Rock Shooter, in an attempt to save the girls who have become disconnected with their emotions after their alternates were killed by BRS in the other worlds.

After being stunned with quality animation in the OVA, it’s a bit of a let down to see the slight dip in quality, but overall, this series still ranks high in quality relative to other series. For the same reasons (cost, mostly) I was also disappointed that it was only eight episodes. A full cour would’ve allowed for more awesome-tastic fighting, would it not? The plot was well suited for eight episodes, so it’s not such a big deal. The BRS series certainly gave more of a glimpse into the mysterious world that operates so near to Mato’s own world than the OVA did. And to see Mato come into conflict with Black Rock Shooter herself was a treat in and of itself.

Though I would’ve liked to get more information on BRS, I think that if too much is explained, she loses of her mystique and intrique. This seems like a good place to leave off…for now. Final rating:….9.1 I don’t really have any complaints, this is a good addition to the OVA and the style of the show is really cool (thinking of making a cosplay using BRS’s general design, actually). Though, like I said, more episodes=more awesome fight scenes (in my mind, anyway), and I wish Koha-sempai could’ve had an alternate so her emotional part would’ve been involved with the others.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Senki Zesshou Symphogear: Final Review

….*sigh*…I kinda don’t wanna do this *just do it* but *do it*….okay, here we go. Back with the 4th final of the Winter 2012 season, Senki Zesshou Symphogear. If I don’t sound very enthused with this one, it has almost everything to do with the ending, I rather enjoyed this series, until around episode 11 or 12. But…that ending…all the laws of physics and time continuation…broken…and the power ranger outfits…and the cut back to episode 1.

Even a bad ending? I don't know...

Senki Zesshou Symphogear follows the story of Hibiki, an average over-enthusiastic girl with a yuri-esque best friend, Miku. One day, at a Zwei Wing concert, the “ageless threat” to humanity, the Noise, attacked. Sacrificing her life, Kanade, one of the two singers of Zwei Wing, saves Hibiki, and scatters fragments of her Symphogear relic in Hibiki’s chest. Cut to a few years later, Hibiki and MIku are enrolled in a musical academy, as is Tsubasa, Kanade’s duet partner from Zwei Wing. Originally upset to see HIbiki using Kanade’s relic to activate the secret power of the Symphogear armor, eventually they become close and even form a bond with full time tsundere, Chris, also a wielder of Symphogear armor. As Noise attacks become more frequent, and harder to fight off, an age-old conspiracy comes to light, as the trio use the power of song to save the world from a Babylonian priestess who locked her spirit within her descendants and has re-awoken to try and unite the world (or destroy it, or destroy the moon, I’m not sure, it was kinda confusing).

Go! Go! Sympho-Rangers!!

If you enjoy mahou shoujo, then you’ll like Symphogear, but, at the same time, being a musically based series, the soundtrack isn’t half bad (don’t take my opinion when it comes to music, audio is subjective, head over to youtube and listen for yourself). The overall theme of the series is that the power of song can unite us all, and words aren’t the only way to bring us together and communicate (a throw back to the Tower of Babel, and how the people of the Earth, attempting to reach God, were scattered across the Earth, their languages differentiated so they couldn’t come together again to reach God).

The Tower of Babel is (what I gathered) where the priestess came in, taking over Ryouko’s body, Fine first attempts to destroy the moon (because that solves so many problems, am I right?) because it embodies the god she tried to reach out to back then, but was rejected. Using the power of completed relics, Fine puts up an impossibly hard fight for the Symphogear trio. But, with song (or rather, boosted phonetic resonance) of their friends from the school, the trio dons newly unlimited armors, but Fine sees their new power, and raises them a city full of Noise legions. *Cut to about 90 seconds and half a dozen atomic sized explosions later* They’re all defeated, now all that’s left if Fine and her devil/red snake/ancient evil weapon powered by the two complete relics. With teamwork, Chris and Tsubasa move the Durandal relic into Hibiki’s hands. With her friends cheering her on, she fights back the “darkness” and cuts Fine down to size.

“Good guy Hibiki”, humble in victory, carries Ryouko off the battlefield for an inspiring end-of-the-series speech on we can all be friends. Big surprise, Fine makes one last move to win, using up her remaining strength to extend Nehushtan’s chain out to the moon-shard and pull on a trajectory with the Earth (I’ll address the physics issues in a minute). Crumbling to ash, she leaves the scene with Hibiki promising to protect the Earth for the future where people can come together. The three girls make a fantastic last shot to eliminate the approaching threat, and really show off the power of their unrestricted armors…ending with a meteor shower that Hibiki leaves for Miku…

I herd u liek rockets...

Miku and the rest of the world continue life in light of the battle and near extermination of the Earth, without the three girls, announced dead. But wait, they just had to keep their survival a secret for secret reasons that are a secret. *sigh* So, on top of not actually dying, they didn’t actually defeat the Noise, they still attack, they’re still a big threat (but wait, I though Fine was the one summoning them? *shut up* but, then, where are they coming from? *don’t ask questions* whatever). Speaking of undefeated Noise, remember all those Noise Fine summoned and the girls defeated? *Yeah* Remember all those explosions as they destroyed the Noise? *Of course, they’re hard to miss* WHY IS THERE STILL A CITY STANDING? *whatever, anime logic*

Now onto physics-related contradictions and other continuity problems with the final two episodes. First, anyone notice how, in the span of maybe 7 minutes, the setting went from early morning, to sunrise, to mid-day. *What happened? Were they taking breaks for meals? Large amounts of daylight time are missing!* Now let’s hit the big problem, Fine pulling the moon onto a collision course with Earth. Let’s address distance, Fine used her chain to grab the moon, in approximately 15 seconds to 1 minute (I’ll allow for the time lapsing and such). In the real world, it took astronauts (in 1969) nearly 3 days to reach the moon (that’s one way). That’s nearly 250 000 miles/minute (more than 20 000x the speed of sound) for Fine to be sending her chain to the moon shard. Now, Fine pulling the moon shard in Earth’s general direction. Let’s break out the Newtonian laws and remember Force (F) equals mass (m) multiplied by acceleration (a) (F=ma). If the shard is approximately one-eighth (being generous) of the moon’s mass, and it was moving at a speed fast enough to reach the upper atmosphere of the Earth (it started heating and glowing, denoting entry) within a matter of minutes, she generated more than enough force to merely crack the rocky ground she stood on. (Unless the dying Nehushtan armor has some magical properties that render Newtonian physics moot, then if that’s the case, forget everything I’ve said). Not that a little bending of real world mechanics bothers me (Hollywood does it all the time, just watch some Mythbusters, they’ll show you), but this sort of blatant misunderstanding of the basic principles around us bugs a former engineering student, like myself.

Don't cry, Chris! I still love you very much! :3

Not really sure how to wrap this up, on the one hand, I really enjoyed the series until it got ridiculously convoluted and hard to understand, then there’s the convoluting and hard to understand ending. On top of the fact that they really haven’t solved the Noise problem or even answered really any questions regarding the Noise. A good soundtrack, B-grade animation, and interesting premise can’t save Symphogear from the jarring conclusion. Final rating:….6.8 It has some good points going for it, and if you like mahou shoujo or musical series, go ahead and try Symphogear, but if you’re looking for a plot with a solid ending (and a better grasp of mechanical physics), I don’t recommend Symphogear.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

 

Kill Me, Baby: Final Review

Back with the 3rd review of finals week, the Winter 2012 comedy series, Kill Me, Baby! Going in, I was very excited. I had read the manga before, and loved it. Unfortunately, KMB turned in a case example that some things that work in manga, don’t work in anime. What was a funny, familiar setup in the manga, became repetitive and predictable in the televised series. The only breath of fresh air seemed to come from anyone other than Sonya or Yasuna…

Kill Me, Baby! centers around the daily school lives of child assassin, Sonya, and superhumanly tough girl, Yasuna.  Also occasionally joining the fun, highschool ninja girl, Agiri, and the jilted Unused Character. With bits ranging from word-play to physical comedy, the characters constantly bounce the joke around, usually only ending when Yasuna falls to Sonya’s wrath. As mentioned, the setup is what really hurt KMB. It can easily be boiled down to 1.) Yasuna gets excited about something (usually something she’s seen on TV) 2.) Yasuna tells Sonya about it 3.) Yasuna proposes activity related to her excitement 4.) Sonya refuses 5.) Yasuna begins anyway.  Sometimes seasonal, sometimes random, Yasuna and Sonya’s exploits were very humorous at first, but eventually stale and predictable. The only respite from the same-old same-old was when Agiri (my favoritest ninja of all time, now) got involved. And Unused Character’s few appearances were just that, few (I would’ve liked to see more, possibly even a more plot-driven approach to this under utilized girl).

In the end, Yasuna had to resort to shock value to get laughs...

Being a comedy, animation and visual quality aren’t very important, but I’ll note the character songs and the ED as being very catchy and appealing.  Final grade for Kill Me, Baby!:…. 8.0
Again, the comedy became repetitive and predictable, but Agiri shed a few lights of comedy gold here and there. Could make for a fun afternoon if I ever feel like re-watching.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Another: Final Review

Back with the 2nd final of the Winter 2012 season, the horror series, Another. Truth be told, this is honestly the first horror series I’ve ever genuinely watched. And while most definitely scared like 80% of the time, I did enjoy the ride and wasn’t just a senseless gore-fest like I had feared it would turn into. With a premise that became more mysterious with every episode, Another became one of my favorites of the season (despite the somewhat sleepless nights).

 

The story revolves around the strange phenomenon that results in the deaths of many students and the relatives of students in class 3 of Yomi North High School. After Kouichi moves to town, he finds a class held in the grip of a 20 year old curse, and sets out to find a solution with the strange, Misaki Mei. In an attempt to stave off the deaths, the class decides to treat a student as if they didn’t exist, each year, a student from Class 3 is ignored, in hopes the dead will return to death, and the rest will be spared. After not going over so well, with both Kouichi and Mei being treated as the dead students, the gang from Class 3 puts their heads together to try and stop the deaths halfway…

After following leads and a blood bath of a school trip, the curse was ended (at least for the year), with both Mei and Kouichi safe and sound (though, most likely mentally scarred). I was very pleased that the actual “dead one” totally caught me by surprise. No “it was an un-named student always in the background” or not actually a character from school, a character you would’ve never guessed (unless, I don’t know, you read the book or the manga) was the “dead one” the whole time.

With characters you’ll hate to see die, but love to see go bats*** crazy, Another has depth that’s hard to compete with. As well as a visual portfolio that rivals anything else this season, Another gets top scores from me. Rating:…. 9.1
Though horror is definitely not my thing, I’m really glad I gave Another a try. Though…not looking for any more horror any time soon. Let’s run down the things Another has made me scared of: umbrellas, slippery stairs, lightening, panes of glass, idle construction equipment, burning houses, crazy classmates, motor boats, falling rocks….

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

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