Saturday, March 26, 2016

GATE! Review

GATE: The JSDF Fought There is by far one of the best anime series this season. It's a two coir anime with 24 episodes, and the plot suffers none of the degradation that often comes with having more episodes than it can handle. I can honestly say that I loved this anime.

When 33 year old Itami Yōji, an otaku who works as a member of the JSDF (Japan Self-Defense Force), travels to the biggest con of the year, he never imagined how his life could change. A giant gate appears during the convention, and strange people wearing fantasy armor come out and start attacking others. Fortunately, Itami is a member of the JSDF, and even if he's a lazy otaku who works only to support his hobbies, he's still a soldier and well-versed in combat. During the chaotic battle, he directs the police and various forces, saving many lives in the process. Unfortunately, this causes him problems later on down the road, when he and several other soldiers get sent on a mission to travel beyond the gate. Perhaps he would have been better off not acting at all.

This anime is what I imagine it would be like if you were to combine Game of Thrones with Call of Duty. It blends fantasy and modern warefare in an intriguing way that I haven't actually seen before. It also takes the "travel to another world" storyline in a unique direction. I thought it was interesting to see how they combined our world with a fantasy world that reminded me a lot of medieval Europe. Ah, but of course, I don't think medieval Europe had goth lolis wielding big-ass scythes, so there are some differences.

One of the things that I really liked about the series was its blend of humor and serious moments. There were times when the anime would become really intense. There's a lot of political intrigue, the battles are gory as hell, and many of the themes are more adult-oriented and not necessarily for children. However, for as many dark themes as this anime possessed, it had just as many light-hearted themes. There's a bit of romance, a dose of comedy, and watching Itami and his gang get into trouble was positively hilarious.

Something else that I really loved about this anime were the characters. There are a lot of really awesome characters in here. Going off just the main ones, we have Rory, an immortal demigoddess dressed in gothic lolita fashion who wields a giant scythe; Lelei, a 15 year old mage training to become a master magician; Tuka, an elf whose village was burned down when a fire dragon attacked; and Itami, a 33 year old otaku who works in the JSDF for the sole purpose of supporting his otaku hobbies. However, while these are the main characters, they aren't the only characters. There are a lot of supporting cast members who get some serious time in the spotlight - a badass female soldier with a streak of violence, a female officer who works mainly as a nurse, another otaku who looks up to Itami as his senpai, kickass female warriors and Princess Pina of the Empire. There are so many characters that look like they'd be a joy to watch.

I also feel like all of these characters give the anime more depth. Yes, Itami is the main character, and yes, he sort of gets three girls to fall in love with him, thus ensuring that the "Harem Effect" is in place. However, many of the supporting cast members get time in the spotlight, and there are a lot of relationships that develop outside of Itami's relationship with Lelei, Rory, and Tuka.

I mentioned the action before, but it deserves to be mentioned again. This anime is violent. There are a lot of battles that take place, and unlike standard shounen anime, which feature stupidly long 4 to 5 episode battles that are half monologue and half explanation of techniques, this series takes a more realistic approach to combat. Battles are fought using a combination of modern tactics and fantasy warfare. Of course, you've got Rory, who is unconventional simply because the idea of a loli tearing people apart like they're made of wet paper is unusual. However, this only adds more spice to an otherwise awesome anime.

Overall, this has been one of my favorite series to come out recently. And since it's based on a light novel series, I can proudly go up to anime snobs who claim "LN adaptations are trash" and shove this in their faces.

Artwork: 9/10
Animation: 8/10
Sound: 8/10
Characters: 10/10
Story: 9/10
Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Total: 9/10

Sunday, March 20, 2016


I'm here to speak with you today about the most hilarious anime that I've seen in a while. KONOSUBA is an anime that takes a traditional Dungeons and Dragons RPG fantasy setting and flips it on its head. Before I begin, I should state this point right now: KONOSUBA is 100% parody. It's entire purpose is to make fun of fantasy RPGs for shits and giggles. That's what makes it so damn funny.

So... let us start off with an introduction. Basically, KONOSUBA is about a guy named Kazuma, who is a hikkikomori NEET, or in other words, a useless shut in who never leaves his house and spends all his money on figurines and video games. During the one time where he leaves his house, he dies in the most humiliating way possible, and is given another chance at life in a new world with new opportunities...

... Well, he would have gotten another lease on life - if this wasn't a comedy. Since half of the story is him getting caught in stupid situations that are hilarious beyond belief, and the other half is him doing stupid stuff that's funny enough to make people piss themselves from laughing too hard, his new life is a tenuous and ephemeral thing.

Starting right off the bat, anyone who knows typical D&D will know how the mechanics here go. Characters in the world that Kazuma has been sent to are divided into classes. His companion, a goddess named Aqua, ends up becoming an arch priestess. He ends up with two other companions as well, both of which have arch in their titles as well. Kazuma, unfortunately, has really low stats, so he's at the bottom of the barrel. Not that it matters, since all of his companions are useless despite their power.

I think it's the characters specifically that make this series so funny. All of them are basically typical characters that you would expect to see in a fantasy setting turned on their heads. I like to think of them as mentally unstable at best and bat shit crazy at worst, and there's no denying that they're not necessarily the smartest bunch. The goddess is an egotistical idiot, the arch mage is a  chuunibyo with a love for explosions, and the arch knight is a traditional beauty with a masochistic streak so wide you can park several fuel tankers on it and still have extra space for that Death Star. Kazuma himself is also quite the character, though he mostly plays the straight man - when he's not doing stupid things himself. It is here where the story truly shines.

KONOSUBA doesn't have much of a story. I mean, technically, it's supposed to be about Kazuma getting sent to another world where he has to beat a Dark Lord, but we never even see the Dark Lord, so there. The story is essentially Kazuma and his harem of eccentric women getting into a lot of misadventures. I personally don't have a problem with this. Since this story IS a comedy, the comedy is what's supposed to make up the story. However, some people don't like it when anime don't have any linear progress. I figured I'd mention that for people who are looking for something with more plot development.

On the whole, I'd say this anime, in terms of pure dumb humor, was awesome. It has everything that I need in my mindlessly fun anime series. Though I was disappointed that it ended with only 10 episodes. Fortunately, a second season has been confirmed, which is nice because it means that other people have acknowledged this anime's awesomeness. I always like it when people understand the fun of watching something that's not meant to be taken seriously. I can only hope that seasons two us every bit as ridiculous as the first season.

Artwork: 7/10
Animation: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Characters: 10/10
Story: 7/10
Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Total: 8/10

Saturday, March 12, 2016

No Game No Life, Volume 3 Review

No Game No Life, Vol. 3No Game No Life, Vol. 3 by Yuu Kamiya
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hmm... I'm not exactly sure what to say about volume 3 of No Game No Life. In many ways, it was worse than volume 2, but in some ways, I liked it more. Since I'm a jerk, let's start with what I didn't like: the grammar.

Like volume 1, the grammar in volume 3 makes me feel like I'm losing brain cells from reading, which I never thought I would say. The English in here is atrocious. At the same time, I'm 100% certain that this is a stylistic choice of the original author, which means the translator is being true to the author's writing. That being said, even if someone wishes to keep their translations accurate to the source content, if that writing doesn't work well in another language, then it is the translator's job to make it flow more smoothly. Here, I feel like the translator stopped at the translating and didn't even bother trying to make it better. The paragraphs in this volume were all like: "Sora stood there. Wearing a smug expression. Looking like a douchenozzle. King. Eighteen. Virgin. Stop being a n00b."

If you look at the paragraph, the only complete sentences in this entire paragraph are the first and last sentences. The rest aren't. Now, while I can deal with this sort of writing if it serves a purpose, such as to increase the pace and flow of a story, when 90% of a story is written like this, it pisses me off.

So, I bet you're asking yourselves: If he hates the writing so much, why does he continue reading? That's because the story is interesting. For all its faults, this is probably one of the most entertaining light novels I've read. The characters are intriguing, the story is awesome, the humor is hilarious, and despite how horribly written it is, I really do enjoy reading it. I wonder if that makes me a masochist? Aw, well.

One other thing that people should be aware of is how awkward some of the dialogue can be. Yuu Kamiya apparently doesn't believe in adding dialogue tags. This isn't a problem when only two or three people are talking and each person has a distinctive speech pattern. However, when six or more people are talking at the same time, even with distinctive ways of speaking, it's impossible to know who is saying what. Toward the end of the book, this issue becomes even more prevalent.

All this being said, if you can enjoy the story for what it is and not remain hung up on the grammar, then you might just like this. Sora and Shiro are in fine form this volume, Jibril is as hot as ever, and Steph makes for excellent comic relief. I think the only awkward thing was the bath scene with Shiro and Izuna. I don't know about you, but reading about an 11 and 9 year old taking a bath is just awkward. I know that Japan has different beliefs on nudity than America, and I don't really get hung up on stuff like that, but it's still awkward when the characters are that young. I almost skipped that part because reading it makes me feel like a pedobear.

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

No Game No Life, Volume 2

No Game No Life, Vol. 2No Game No Life, Vol. 2 by Yuu Kamiya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What is there to say about No Game No Life, volume 2? Well, it was a lot better written than volume 1. A LOT BETTER. I enjoyed this story way more than the first volume. In terms of writing only, volume 2 kicked volume 1's ass. It was like watching Kakashi Hatake give Naruto the One-Thousand Years of Pain.

And now that your mind has been thoroughly robbed of all reason by my super awesome gif, let's get back to the review.

Like I said before, this volume has way better grammar. There are still a large number of run-on sentences, but with the much improved grammar, I can state with some certainty that this was likely a stylistic choice of the author. While the run-on sentences annoyed the crap out of me, I could put up with them since the rest of the story had some damn fine English.

Writing aside, I feel like the story is about the same as the last one. It maintains a healthy dose of humor, but it also deals with a few issues that would've cropped up for kings and queens during the renaissance period in Europe - except problems here are solved through games, not war. Sora and Shiro are in great form. They're probably the most mentally unstable pair that I've ever read in a light novel series, but that's kind of why I like them. I enjoy reading about batshit crazy characters.

Also, we've finally been introduced to my favorite character in the series. Jibril. Jibril is a Flugel, which is like an angel of death. She's also crazy - both crazy powerful and just crazy. Before the Ten Commandments forbade all forms of combat, she was a creature who spent her years slaughtering just about everything in sight, and, as part of a race that was created specifically to kill gods, her power is undeniable. I think what I like about her the most is her personality, which can change at the drop of a hat. No joke. One minute, she's all polite and kind. The next, she's talking about how she used to collect the heads of her enemies. Jibril is also a knowledge junky who gets her fix by collecting books from around the world.

I do feel pretty bad for Steph, though. As is the case with the first volume, Steph is basically comic relief. Shiro and Sora spend a good deal of time by beating her at games, and then making her do stuff that normal, sane people just wouldn't do. Reading this story, I would often wonder if I was a bad person for laughing at all of the crazy and mean crap that those two did to Steph. It's cruel, but undeniably funny.

Overall, this was a good installment to the series. I'll be reading volume 3 shortly, and I have some pretty high expectations for awesome this time.

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