Monday, April 28, 2014

Kill la Kill (by RamuneRoxy)

Kill la Kill was a 24-episode series from Studio Trigger, which premiered in Fall 2013; being their first full TV series. Given that the studio is formed of former Gainax employees, with the writer and director for this series being Kaziki Nakashima and Hiroyuki Imaishi, of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fame, people were very interested from the moment it was first announced. After hearing a friend speak highly of it, I decided to check it out a few weeks after it began.
Our heroine, in a nutshell

The series revolves around a high school student named Ryuko Matoi; who is on a mission for revenge after a mysterious person murdered her father. Her quest leads her to the Honnouji Academy; a high school that is known for it's Goku Uniforms (Special uniforms, granted to those deemed worthy, that grant their owner enhanced strength), and is run with an iron fist by the school's student councel, headed by Satsuki Kiryuin. Having a feeling that Satsuki might know something about what happened to her father, Ryuko declares war on her and the school; armed with just a giant half-pair of scissors that she uses as a sword, as well as a sentient schoolgirl uniform known as Senketsu, which enhances her strength much like a Goku Uniform.
Although, her uniform looks like this when she transforms; much to her dismay

The art style has a look and feel to it that envokes memories of Gurren Lagann; a very stylized appearance that looks great, and lends itself very well to the fight scenes (Which are spectacular to watch; being a major highlight of the series). There is plenty of fanservice; especially with many of the higher-tier Goku Uniforms when their wearer activates the synchronization (Most famously, Ryuko with Senketsu; as her school uniform transforms into a sling bikini with giant shoulder pads that leaves her nearly naked, which is actually joked about in early episodes), and a few instances of nudity (Aside from one brief scene, you never see anyone's privates, and even in that scene it's undetailed and almost something you have to pay attention to spot. Otherwise, it's no more graphic than seeing a naked Barbie doll).
Although having foreground objects stratigically placed is quite common here

The plot manages to capture that Gurren Lagann feel; managing to balance the serious with the over-the-top, without one feeling out of place in contrast to the other, which is often a difficult feat to accomplish. While it does move rather slowly during the early episodes (The earliest ones mostly revolve around Ryuko having to fight another Club President), but it starts to pick up after a while; as it begins to develop the characters and setting more. The series even slips in some very subtle references to other anime series, especially to Gurren Lagann and Evangelion.
Did this suddenly turn into Girls Und Panzer?
The voice acting is great; all the voices feel spot-on for the personalities of the characters, and generally works great. Also, the music is great; featuring many energetic themes, and of course, the song "Before My Body Is Dry" (Perhaps best known as "Don't Lose Your Way"), which quickly became one of my favorite songs from the series; often popping up during a particularly badass moment, much like "Libera Me From Hell" would in Gurren Lagann.

I think if I saw a guy with glowing nipples, I'd have the same reaction as Ryuko ^^;

This series is easily one of the best new series I've seen in years; definitely a must-watch if you want a series with plenty of memorable characters and over-the-top action, although given the fanservice, it's definitely not something you want to show your parents or other relatives who might find the prospect of scantily-clad people fighting objectionable. I feel comfortable suggesting this to people about 15 or older, who want a series that feels like Gurren Lagann but manages to stand out well on its own, or if they have just finished a darker series, such as Madoka Magica or Evangelion, and want to watch something more upbeat as a pallet cleanser.
Plus, what's not to love about Ryuko's best friend, Mako?

Kill la Kill is avaliable from Underwater and Aniplex USA; with their official subbed version being hosted on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Daisuki.
I'll set you right here...


Monday, April 21, 2014

Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki

Spanning 52 episodes, Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki ran for the entire year of 2012. The lighthearted, slice-of-life series only ran for about 3 minutes an episode, so the whole thing only ran for about 5 to 6 and a half episodes by usual anime standards. It follows an extremely round orange cat named Poyo during his daily life and that of his friends and family. The title literally translates to Poyopoyo Observation Diary, so episodes tend to show events from Poyo's perspective most of the time.

It's never too hot out for cat love.

Poyopoyo was one of the most relaxing series I have ever seen. It is cutesy, calm, and super-sweet, with plenty of hilarious moments woven in. Each episode is so short that it's easy to digest in between heavier series, and you can watch several at once when you have some time to kill, such as on a lunch break or while waiting for someone.

They really do, ha ha...

Keeping in line with the super-light nature of the series, the art style is very cutesy and chibi-fied, with even the guys having huge eyes. Poyo's natural charm is impossible to resist, even if he weren't the spherical love he is. The interaction between characters is delightful as well, such as the Satou family (Poyo's family) and the little old lady next door. Poyo even makes friends of his own, and spends episodes interacting with them, human-free.

Poyo makes an excellent Mr. Mom.

Provided you don't mind the occasional Discovery Channel-type joke or same-sex relationships, this would be an excellent series to show to children. There's no swearing, no violence (though Poyo occasionally scratches some people), and really just nothing questionable about it. There isn't even any yelling, really. This could also be a good series to introduce someone to anime, or to change someone's perceptions about it were they introduced to something violent initially.

This is probably the raunchiest joke of the series.

Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki is available from Bakabt (in a combination torrent with Mukteki Subs for the first 16 and HorribleSubs for the rest), Sushi Tacos (Spanish), and Akuma Subs (Italian), though the latter 2 seem to have been dead for some time. On the upside, plenty of streaming sites have it.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Detroit Metal City

12 episodes of insane, Detroit Metal City is a Seinen series released in August 2008. Perhaps due to its raunchy subject matter, it never enjoyed a TV release, but has seen (in addition to the anime) a 10-volume manga and a live-action movie. It follows aspiring musician Negishi Soichi and his band as they rise through the ranks to become stars. 

The road to stardom is paved with many things...

Negishi, a gentle soul, moved to Tokyo from the countryside to persue a career as a folk or soft pop musician. Fast forward 5 years, and Negishi IS in a just happens to be the hottest metal band in Japan's indie scene at the moment. Despite his success, Negishi loathes this fact, and keeps after his original goal of singing sweet songs about love and romance and the like, even as his metal band continues to rise and grow with their songs about raping and pillaging.

This is rather mild compared to some of the other stuff that's been shown.

Let me start off by saying that I probably found this show funnier than I should have. (If you knew me personally, you'd know I have a very "interesting" sense of humour, which may be the reason this show didn't shock me so much as amuse me.) Despite the song titles like "Satsugai" ("Murder") and "Death Penis", this show is extremely the right person. The writing in the show is solid (though the episodes are a bit short, so the show as a whole feels rather stunted), the voice acting spot-on, and the jokes numerous, but none of this will matter if the viewer doesn't find this sort of humour funny. There's not really any ACTUAL violence, but there is a lot of talk of sex, drugs, booze, and murder, so needless to say this isn't a show for kids. At its core, though, DMC is a comedy.

Oh come on, that's hilarious!!

The show is rapid, in pace, jokes, and speech. There were times I had to pause, go back, and listen/read over again. As previously stated, the show is rather short (it was released as an OVA box set rather than getting a network run), so perhaps this is the reason for the quick-draw issues, but all the same it got a bit annoying at times.

Admit it, you totally do.

The art style and animation were quite unique, and seemed to be perfect for what it was telling, but as with everything else, it was also very, very fast. It was rather impressive actually, how fast some of the thrusts and hand motions were (perhaps they digitally sped it up after production). The faces were much more realistic than your typical anime, which may be more appealing to an older audience, and there was a marked difference between personas (not just due to makeup and hair colour), which, perhaps to highlight the show's main fare, made the scenes with "normal" people sort of.....boring. This alone makes me laugh, though.

Go back, Krauser, you don't want to be here.

I'm not sure if I should be worried or not over how much I enjoyed the series, but frankly, I don't care, as I was rolling with laughter the whole time. Despite my feelings on it, I cannot stress enough that this series IS NOT for everyone. DO NOT show this to kids. DO NOT show this to the elderly (unless they're as twisted as I am). If you have some liberal-minded friends who make dark jokes and laugh at some of the dirtier stuff on Comedy Central, go ahead and give them this. They'll think it's a hoot.

Oh, how this show can deliciously twist things around.

Detroit Metal City is available from, Huzzah & Scum Scans, Kona Fansubs (Italian), Tanoshii Subs (Spanish), and Gurenn-Dan (Finnish). It is licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks.

SERIOUSLY not for everyone.


Monday, April 7, 2014

B Gata H Kei

B Gata H Kei (Yamada's First Time in English) is a 12-episode series released in the Spring of 2010. It follows pretty, popular high school freshman Yamada on her quest to lose her virginity, so she may complete her ultimate goal of having 100 sex friends. The only things standing in the way of her ambitious goal are her own anxieties and the density of the hapless dope she picks to be her first partner. Along the way, she gets advice from her friends, her younger sister and the poor sap's older sister, and comes to realize that sometimes trailing sex is love.

She talks a big game, but in reality, Yamada's about as experienced as a Nun.

B Gata H Kei, while quite fanservicey, is very bubbly at its core, and it is reflected in its style, with plenty of bright colours, patterns, and big eyes (even on some guys). Everything is very sparkly and bouncy and it gives you the pleasurable-yet-almost-too-much feeling of drinking a very VERY flamboyant drink (such as strawberry-grapefruit-mango with ginger ale). Needless to say, if you're into more serious anime, you should stop here. B Gata H Kei, if it wasn't already obvious, is a romantic comedy.

Expect a lot of Demon Seal jokes, it's a running gag.

The series is rather average fare, though a bit slow for my taste (perhaps on purpose, to further the comedy). It takes them FOREVER to just hold hands, which was a little frustrating given how initially fast-paced it seems. Still, this was sort of charming in its own way, seeing the awkward (so very awkward) interactions between Yamada and Kosuda (the poor shlub she's trying to bed), and the both frustrated and amused reactions of their friends. There are a host of other girls, meaning that the harem can cater to the tastes of many, but (thankfully) this is not a harem-style series and most of the guys going after poor average Kosuda do it not because they're actually interested, but because they have an ulteriour motive.

This is not an appropriate response to realizing you like someone--

Perhaps this sounds like harsh treatment for an anime, me saying something that evokes imagery of all women being hell-bent on manipulating men for their own personal gain. On the contrary, there are one or two who have purer motives at heart, and even scheming Yamada is a protagonist worth rooting for (despite her ego) if only because she is so in tune with her sexuality (well, sort of). Even in western media it is rare to see a girl so championing her rights and desires for sex, and to be so well-adjusted about it. No girlish screaming over perverts, no blushing at the mere mention of a kiss, just simple, frank "I want to do it"-type statements, as a girl in charge of her life should be able to deal with. Yamada even goes so far as to procure condoms, which is extremely forward-thinking for an anime series, as it was not too long ago that, in the shadow of a growing teen pregnancy problem, Japanese teen magazines published articles and passed out condoms with their circulation on the subject just so that SOMEBODY was telling these kids what it's about, since their parents and schools sure as hell weren't.

That's an understatement, Honey.

Besides the pacing issues, I didn't find much fault in this series. Indeed, I think I enjoyed it even more since it was just so blunt about what it really was. It's a real treat to not have a horrible, harem, ecchi tirade disguise itself as a cutesy series to draw in viewers, leaving them with something the complete opposite of what they were expecting. B Gata H Kei is about sex. It's also about love, and coming of age, and blossoming into your own self, but mostly it's about sex. And that's okay, because it's not going to lie to you about it. There's fanservice, there's tons of pervy moments, but that's just the way this works, and that's okay.

Pretty haughty for a fumbling idiot.

B Gata H Kei is available from Unlimited Translation Works, Task-Force (Italian), Tekeremata (Spanish), and Funny & Fantasy Subs (Italian). It is licensed for release in North America by Funimation.

Yeah.....stuff like this happens too.....