Gundam AGE: Final Review

There’s always that one series I don’t want to write about, I finally finish it and I just want to put it away, but noooooo, I have to write about why I’m glad to see it done. Gundam AGE owes me about a year of my life, 3 arcs and a bulls#@t ending later and I want to repair my phone microwave to send myself a message to never start this series. Despite the few interesting characters and a galactic bromance (that was heartlessly killed off in the final battle), Gundam AGE really was only a giant waste of time.

The plot: what plot? You mean Flit’s lifelong desire to throw giant robots and his son/grandson at an ultimately unfulfilled attempt to commit genocide on a planetary scale? All because they killed the girl he would’ve married instead of the girl who followed him out into space and eventually bore his son (and my favorite space pirate). And then she tells him (nearly 100 years after the fact) that he should forgive the Vagan…that would’ve been helpful when he was coordinating a planet-wide war on these people.

The animation: never improved. Never reach a minimum level of quality for a series about fighting robots in space. And what was the deal with the junkyard-styled , awkwardly structured EXA-DB suits rendered in 3D animation towards the end? Nothing seemed to meet the standards of previous Gundam series, either in design or even concept.

The premise: That sins of our past come back to haunt us and that if you try to select the “best” humans to start a utopia, you’re gonna have a bad time. It’s not a particularly bad premise, if it weren’t so poorly executed. You don’t need 3 arcs to tell the story of one man’s blind racism towards a certain group of people that he one day saves and then becomes a hero.

You’re about 40 episodes too late, Kio…

I keep trying to come up with good points to be fair, but other than Asemu the space parent who left his family to fight the man, Fram Nara, and the universe’s greatest bromance cut short, there isn’t much to say. I think it’s impressive that Kio managed to actually get away with not killing Vagan soldiers, barring that one dickish commander, but it really didn’t matter or leave an impression because I still find X-Rounders to be horribly laughable and a stupid name. I hope to never have to go back to Gundam AGE for anything, much less re-watch it.

Final rating: 50 (Fram, Zeheart, and Asemu kept it from going too low)

Gundam AGE – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Advertisements

Accel World: Final Review

If this were just a episodic post, the title would be “The demise of that insufferable prick, Noumi”. So glad to see he’s finally been dealt with, and even more excited to see it wasn’t solely the work of Black Lotus. Chiyu reveals her ability’s secret and turns the tables on Noumi, returning Silver Crow’s wings and crippling the bullied bully until he’s a helpless mess pleading for his life as a burst linker. And so, peace is restored amongst the members of Nega Nebulous, for now…

With Noumi’s Brain Burst uninstalled, his memories of acceleration were removed as well. Even though this is the first time this was mentioned, it makes sense as to why the program has remained secret all this time. Without the memory wipe, disowned ex-accelerators would be free to wreak vengeance on his victors in the real world. Though Noumi still creeps me out, I guess at least now he’s not a real threat to anyone. But there’s still that research group using illegal brain implants to cheat the normal operations of the Accelerated World. If Accel World were to continue, I don’t imagine Nega Nebulous would be able to rest for very long until these “researcher” rear their ugly heads again.

With Haru’s fiercest opponent finally behind him, he also manages to fluster Kuroyukihime as well. And for the first time in the whole series, he returns affections towards her and asks her to stay with him forever. That’s romantic and what-not, but I find it difficult to get past the fact that he played the ignoramus for the first 20 episodes…whatever, it’s progress, I guess.

Accel World certainly isn’t the best mecha, sci-fi, action, shounen, or romance (certainly not romance) anime out there, but it does have a few pros to be proud of. The premise is very interesting to me, the ability to “accelerate” is a concept that’s just plausible enough to keep the story both appealing and realistic. The power to increase your mental abilities to near light speed using a neural interface and the prevalence of “social cameras” is also subtle enough to keep the idea that the program is secret viable. It doesn’t offer any physical traits that are noticeable by a non-Burst Linker, while still providing an unheard of advantage to users. Throw in duels for Burst Points that fuel acceleration and you have an underground world of legions and lifetimes inside a world that moves as hundreds of times the speed of the real world and you have Haru’s source of personal growth.

I can understand many viewers’ apathy towards Haru. He’s doesn’t inspire much confidence from the outset, but isn’t that the point of character development? To go from a lackluster character to a matured, more appealing character? Aside from looks, Haru does become more proactive and stops letting what others think about him influence how he thinks about himself. Sure, Kuroyukihime’s affections are irrational and sometimes unjustified, but it’s not like she has very many other people who can relate to her in her quest to reach Level 10.  Haru is relatable to many low-esteem individuals who go to high school, get picked on, see their friends succeed, and find comfort in video games where it’s their minds, not their bodies, being pushed towards success. His character is also very realistic, no one changes from a 3 foot tall, 2 foot wide gamer into a superhero in a single year of high school. If you want to go the extra mile with it, Haru also represents being content with who you are, but I should digress.

For a series centered around an action game, Accel World’s animation leaves some to be desired, but overall gets the job done. I personally don’t like it when the lighting is non-existent, but it does add the darker, more consequential scene effects the series needed at certain points. The real visual talent was in the background design, but that doesn’t really sell a fight when the motions are jumpy or blurred, does it.

I’m looking forward to more Accel World, despite the faults it had. I want to see where Nega Nebulous goes from here and the “researchers” were only somewhat touched on before the final episode. We also didn’t get to see very much in the way of Legion fights other than the short fight with the Yellow King and the few times Yuniko teamed up with Haru and Kuroyukihime. And there’s also the myriad of side characters with more in store (or so I suspect). But I’m also willing to wait for it, Accel World is the sort of series I enjoy, but not raving to see the next episode.

Final rating: 86

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Tari Tari: Final Review

Managed to finally cram the last few episodes of Tari Tari and now I’m kicking myself for putting it off for almost a week. Truly, a beautiful ending to a beautiful series. I stand by my initial statement of “It’s K-On!, but with music”, except I want to add “and backstory”. Much like the ending of K-On!, I hated to see Tari Tari end, but cheered it on through the final episodes. Leading to an ending I hate to love because it means no more Tari Tari.

While none of the characters (except maybe Wein) really stand out to me, the group as a whole leave an impression that’s hard to compete with. The Choir and Sometimes Badminton Club was just a ragtag group of individuals who were dragged into a project to spite a vice principal who turned out to not be so mean-spirited after all. As the group learned the meaning of music in people’s lives, the character stories expanded beyond the main 5 to include almost everyone teacher and parent in this music-loving town. And as the story progressed, I ended up hating the spineless principal more than the ice queen of a vice principal (maybe because I was more sympathetic to her towards the end).

As serious as the characters took music, there was always time for comedic interjection. I absolutely loved the Market Rangers, Red Ranger Wein is now my favorite superhero, but the whole scene with Wein reclaiming Konatsu’s stolen possessions helps to show just how important music is the lives of the characters while developing them steadily throughout the whole story.

If I have any complaint with Tari Tari, it’s that the ending left a sign of stories to come. While I feel the series has come to a reasonable, well established ending, I get the feeling it’s left open for future seasons which I don’t think would fare very well. Part of the interest in Tari Tari is seeing the 5 high schoolers developing closer bonds together where they used to be simply classmates, leading to an experience none of them could’ve imagined possible as they overcame obstacles and kept true to the music they love.

Tari Tari had a strong set of character backstories and development with a plot that moved with the characters instead of a set, determined goal. Though slow at times, the events around the high schoolers were strongly written. The animation was nothing short of brilliant never seemed to slip.

Final rating: 91

Tari Tari – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Hyouka: Final Review

Well, here we are. 6 months and 22 episodes later, Hyouka has finished its story. What originally began as a quirky attraction to everyday mysteries with uncommon explanations has turned into a full-fledged dual-personality trait shared between Houtatrou and Eru. It seems a day can’t go by without them delving into the unseen and uncontemplated to over explain the mundane events that lead to the otherwise unnoticed minutia surrounding us all the time. And Satoshi was there too, along with Mayaka.

Together, the four consist of the once-fledgling Classics Club, though they’re soon better known for Houtarou’s uncanny ability to logically work around any conundrum or puzzle. But the solutions become more complicated as it’s not just the clues Houtarou has to deal with. Also taking in the feelings and impressions of his friends, especially Eru, he has to continually break his edict of “energy conservation” to meet the compelling demands of Eru’s curiosity, while preserving her air of innocence and purity in what’s he’s found to be a newly interesting world.

Hyouka’s entire premise seems to throw many off, as a “mystery” series devoid of any actual consequence of action. All the “disappearances” are of easily replaceable items, such as tarot cards, kitchen utensils, or a copy, amongst hundreds, of the yearly anthology. Even the ghastly turn into stories of minor cover-ups under the cloak of night. Though Eru’s own past wove a story of grim victimization tied into the history of the Classics Club itself, the message behind each of Houtarou’s cases proved to be that there’s always more than meets the eye and connections always exist whether or not they’re seen.

You can spin “mystery” around Hyouka until Houtarou is blue in the face, but the real motive behind the story is the character development between Houtarou and Chitanda, and Satoshi and Mayaka. Though the latter seems to at least set itself up in the final episodes (I feel like Mayaka would understand if Satoshi would be honest with her about how scared he feels), Eru and Houtarou’s relationship seems to only begin to blossom in the final moments. My heart skipped a beat when he made the offer to Eru, and then it stopped altogether when it was merely his imagination. As much as I’d love to see the two continue to grow closer, I feel like Hyouka was wrapped up nicely. Enough to give me a taste of the what the characters will become, but not enough to feel like the story is entirely finished.

Final grade: 91
A solid A minus for KyoAni’s latest work. Though I agree sometimes the lack of actual consequence made the mysteries…inconsequential, Hyouka gave me an appreciation for the long, twisting stories surrounding the ordinary things filling our day-to-day lives. Animation was brilliant, as to be expected, but Eru’s eyes took character design to new level, in my opinion. Has good re-watch potential, but I’m definitely going to miss catching it week-to-week. Highly recommended for SoL fans looking to branch out into something a bit deeper, or mystery fans who want to become astounded at the mundane.

Hyouka – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Accel World 21-22: Burst Linkers v. Users of Acceleration

Got quite a bit done in this two episodes. The Incarnation System gets a basic rundown, the mysterious Users are uncovered somewhat, and Noumi is slowly getting backed into a corner. With the help of Niko’s maid-servant, Blood Leopard, Silver Crow takes down another visible burst linker, Rust Jigsaw, who’s been intruding Accel World battlefields in Akihabara. Though he managed to slip away, now the whole BG is on the lookout. The whole underground group of illicit linkers is starting to seem pretty small and unorganized, just like they’re a bunch of kids who shared a few tricks for trolling proper Burst Linkers.

While Haru makes strides elsewhere, Taku works on reaching his own incarnate powers. The incarnate powers, as Yukino explains, are derived from the fears and shortcomings of the user. There are four types, and a user can only access two as they relate the user, and the mark of a true incarnate user is a glowing upon activation. But these powers aren’t meant to defeat others, they’re designed to help defeat your own self, primarily, parts of you that are inhibiting you from reaching your full potential. Yukino warns that these powers are only to be used against opponents who also use the Incarnate System. The system also seems to be a precursor to the Calamity Armor seeded inside Haru, and Blood Leopard hinted that they were already aware he had it.

Now to the biggest question: can anyone explain the scene with Chiyu and Haru? Was she coming onto him? Or were the subtleties just lost on me? I really don’t understand the purpose of the stripping. I’m trying to figure out if she was just trying to code something for Haru to figure out so he could get a message Noumi wasn’t letting Chiyu deliver, but I got nothing. Perhaps the simplest answer is best: Just fanservice, nothing more. Either way, now Haru knows about Noumi’s bio-chip, which he caved in on rather quickly. But I don’t see how that leaves an even playing field; worst case scenario, Haru is pinned for peeping, but Noumi is convicted of using illegal tools and most likely cheating his way into school. One of these is much more severe than the other, considering there’s no solid evidence that Haru planted the camera, but was only caught peeping by said camera. I feel like I’m over-analyzing it, so I’ll digress.

Finally, Haru is reaching a climax with his conflict with Noumi. He seems pretty confident and I’m sure he’ll have a few strategies up his sleeve, but you can’t forget that Dusk Taker will be backed up by Lime Bell (unless Chiyu has some betrayal in mind, which I hope she does). Only a few episodes left, and it’s time for all of Haru’s growth to show and for him to man up or shut up. I have hopes for the former.

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Gundam AGE 46: Battle for Eden

Gundam AGE has managed to get me excited, somehow. Maybe it’s the climaxing romance between Zeheart and Fram, or maybe how Kio is this close to being forced to kill. Maybe it’s just that I know Flit is bound for a stress-induced heart attack soon. But I do know that both the Vagan and the Federation are going all-out for a final battle over the Earth Sphere. The Vagan’s Second Moon lies guarded behind the orbital cannon that took out the Big Ring, Digmazenon. And Kio is struggling to avoid using the Gundam AGE-FX’s new FX-Burst mode; though, to be honest, Zanald has been asking for an ass-kicking for a while now (I’d count it as a mercy killing…).

For once, both the Federation and Vagan seem evenly matched as far as suits are concerned. Even the Genoaces can manage enough firepower to combat Vagan suits, and once the Digmazenon is dealt with, the field will be largely even until it becomes (inevitably) a fight for X-Rounders. But, new to the battlefield, Deen has returned. Not sure yet if he joined the fight simply to track Kio down as some thanks for helping his sister (kind of), or if it’s part of some revenge for…I don’t know…letting his sister die happy(ish)?

So with a mixture of anticipation for the ensuing battle and hopes of the series ending soon, I’m eager for episode 47. Odds say that “FX-Burst mode” isn’t as super amazing as they make it seem, and Kio will only use it for a short period of time, and not against Vagan. That giant suit guarding the EXA-DB is still out there, remember?
At least the battle animation has gotten better since the first two arcs.

Gundam AGE – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Tari Tari 5-10: Red Ranger Wien, Hero of Justice!

Apologies for not covering Tari Tari so well, blogging has to take back burner lately as I’m being forced to actually give 100% at school. But now I’m ready to go, as are the Market Rangers! So far, Wein’s internal conflict is the most interesting. Not to diminish the value of the other character’s arcs, especially Wakana.

With only 3 episodes left and Wein’s arc seemingly closed, I’m guessing it’s time to put Konatsu in the limelight, or perhaps simply wrap up her choir’s story at the festival. I’m personally hoping for a big finale to Wakana’s personal bit when the group sings the song started by her mother before she passed away. I think I’d also like more of the Market Rangers. And Sawa still doesn’t have a solid closure as to what she wants to do in the future, either. Is Taichi’s story finished for that matter?

If Tari Tari is building like I think it is, all the closure will come in the last two episodes. I have high hopes for the ending as the series thus far has been quite the emotional ride and I just hope I’m not setting the bar too high, asking too much from the story.

I still stand by an early statement, Tari Tari is like K-On!…but with music.

Tari Tari – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket