Saturday, April 23, 2016

Heavy Object Anime Review

In a world where the various nations have been fractured by war, a new power comes into play, one that has changed the very face of war. Objects. Mechanized monstrosities that look a lot like a Death Star with a shit ton of guns attached to their hull. These Objects have become synonymous with war, changing the rules of engagement, turning what had once been a serious and deadly affair into something more closely resembling a board game. This is one of the most serious, thrilling, and brutal anime ever.

I'm being serious here.

I'm serious, damn it!

Joking aside, this series does have some intense moments. It's basically a modern action series that centers around Qwenthar and Havia, a student who's studying to become an Object engineer in order to get rich and a blue blood noble who's trying to succeed as the head of his family. Much of the story revolves around them fighting Objects, defeating Objects, and making crass jokes about porn and boobs.

One of the aspects that I really enjoyed about this series was the concept of Objects. As I mentioned before, Objects are basically massive constructs that take the basic mecha idea and turn it on its head. These are nothing like Gundams. Objects are basically large spherical weapons of war. With heavy armaments, armor that can withstand even a nuclear explosion, and the ability to devastate everything in their sight, it is said that only another object can defeat an object - well, at least until Qwenthar and Havia come along.

The anime follows a series of arcs, with each arc being dedicated to Qwenthar and Havia fighting against a variety of Objects. Each Object that they fight is different from the last, with different weapons, a different configuration, different strengths, and different weaknesses. Not only does the anime showcase how each Object is unique, but it also does a good job of maintaining a certain level of suspense by having Qwenthar try to figure out how to defeat each Object. While you pretty much know that he's going to win in the end, you still have to wonder about how he's going to do it. In this regard, the anime does an excellent job.

One area where I feel the anime doesn't do as good a job is in the relationships between some of the characters. While I dig the bromance between Qwenthar and Havia, I felt like the relationship between Qwenthar and Milinda was stagnant. Milinda is the Objects pilot. Dubbed Princess, her role in the anime is as the stoic yet badass female pilot of the Object known as the Baby Magnum. However, you don't see much of her. Sadly, it seems her role is basically to battle other objects and then be a fan service girl for the rest of the time. One thing I hated about their relationship is how oblivious Qwenthar is. I get that the oblivious trope is a big thing, but there's only so much dense main character that I can take. Everyone except for Qwenthar is aware of her feelings, but lord curse us if the main character ever gets a brain and realizes it as well.

Now, Frolaytia Capistrano is one of the characters who I feel was actually done well. She's a badass commander who doesn't take other people's shit and has a sadistic side. I think what makes her such an appealing character is that she's confident. She doesn't hesitate to make decisions that she feels are for the best, and she's also not afraid of using her looks to get her way. While there are a number of times where she's shown in a sexual light, I think it fits her character as the badass but sexy commander. I also like how, rather than simply putting up with Havia's blatant sex jokes, she fires them back. She can shoot the shit with the best of them, isn't afraid of getting down and dirty, and knows how to use assets to get her way, both on and off the battlefield.

Artwork: 8/10
Animation: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Characters: 7.5/10
Story: 8/10
Personal Enjoyment: 8/10
Total: 8.3/10

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Certain Magical Index, Volume 6

とある魔術の禁書目録 6 (Toaru Majutsu no Index, #6)とある魔術の禁書目録 6 by Kazuma Kamachi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In keeping with the traditional storytelling of a Japanese light novel, volume 6 of A Certain Magical Index blends action, humor, and the high school setting in an entertaining tale that, while unoriginal, never ceases to be amusing.

I know that volume 6 has gotten some low ratings for whatever reason, but I actually think this was one of the better volumes of the series - especially compared to volume 5. The story starts off with Touma Kamijou attending his first day of the new year. Given that he doesn't remember anything about school aside from general knowledge, it's an awkward time for him. Still, like the main protagonist that he is, Kamijou pulls through.

The book introduces us to a new character of the series: Hyouka Kazakiri. For those of you who are curious, yes, that image up above is how Touma and Kazakiri first meet. He walks in on her and Index changing. I know. It's weird. But hey, this is a Japanese light novel, which is like a western young adult novel, and for whatever reason, fan service is the word of the day in this sort of story. I just rolled with it and continued reading.

Fan service aside, I feel like this volume was a lot more cohesive, than the previous volume. From page one all the way to the end, everything in this story connects in a way that A Certain Magical Index hasn't before. Until now, it's mostly felt like a series of really unfortunate coincidences, but this volume makes me think that everything that has happened up to this point is somehow connect to a grand scheme.

The writing in this volume is pretty solid. Since it's translated, there are some mistakes, but I think the translations are getting better. There's not as many spaces between paragraphs, and it looks like the spaces now represent POV changes instead of just random spaces. Occasionally, an important one-liner will gets it's own little space. Something like:

(Insert paragraph here.)
- Space -
And Toma Kamijou suddenly realized that having a harem was more trouble than it was worth. Nom nom nom.
- Space -
(Insert another paragraph here.)

But for the most part, it's gotten a lot better about formatting. As a whole, I think I liked this volume more than several of the other ones to have been translated thus far.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Rosario+Vampire, Volume 3

Rosario+Vampire, Vol. 3 (Rosario+Vampire, #3)Rosario+Vampire, Vol. 3 by Akihisa Ikeda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rosario+Vampire, volume 3, is where the Rosario series really begins to pick up the pace. While volumes 1 and 2 are something of an introduction, introducing us to some of the characters and going through the daily life of a harem protagonist trapped within a school for monsters, volume 3 deals with the culmination of what I consider the first true villain and expands on the characters in a way that takes us somewhat out of the typical harem tropes.

I feel like volume 3 is a lot more intense and plot driven than the previous ones. There's still some typical shonen romcom stuff going on, but more than that, we're delivered a combination of character driven plot, drama, and a little bit of action. Of course, at heart, this story is still a harem manga, so while we have some intense action, the ending remains true to the story's original theme.

Despite how the story ends on a harem romantic comedy note, I can't bring myself to complain here. The amount of development given to our main protagonist, Tsukune Aono, is impressive. Generally, protagonists like him remain weak and useless throughout the series until the very last chapter of the whole manga. In this volume, I feel like Tsukune has taken his first step on the path toward becoming an actual badass and not just a wish fulfillment character. This volume also sets the stage for further development.

On the whole, I would say this is my favorite volume of the series so far. I look forward to seeing where the rest of this series takes me.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Snow White with Red Hair, Review!

Snow White with Red Hair is a two season anime that's... how should I put it? Really cute. It doesn't have an amazingly intense story, and it doesn't bring anything new to the table. However, it does give us a fun take on the Disney princess theme and gives us a highly successful take on classic shoujo tropes in a fantasy setting.

The story is about Shirayuki, a young woman living in the fantasy country of Tanbarun. Because the prince of her country is a jerk and wants to turn her into his concubine, she is forced to run away. I guess the prince had a thing for her red hair, which is noted to be an unusual hair color. During that time, she meets Zen, strange boy who is a little standoff-ish at first, but comes around quickly thanks to the "Shirayuki Effect." Through a series of circumstances, Shirayuki learns that Zen is actually the prince of Clarines. With Zen's help, Shirayuki leaves Tanbarun for Clarines and starts living in the castle with the prince.

I feel like I should mention this right off the bat - this anime, despite not possessing many of the typical tropes found in a shoujo, is still very typical of its genre. The reason being? Disney. This story is mired in what I call the "Disney princess cliche." You've got the strong and independent Shirayuki, who strives to follow her dreams and rarely requires help. Everyone she meets can't help but respect her by the end of their meeting. And despite not being royalty or from Clarines, she lives in the palace with Prince Zen, where much shipping between these two characters goes on. Now, some people might find this off-putting, but I actually enjoyed seeing an anime with a Disney twist. It was oddly refreshing for me.

Following on this theme, Snow White with Red Hair is a very character driven story. If you're looking for an intense plot filled with political intrigue and epic sword fights, then you should look somewhere else. This anime focuses mainly on developing its characters, revealing their backstory, and reveling in the way they all interact with each other. It's a nice, calm story with the occasional twist. Plus, Shirayuki and Zen are adorable. That said, they aren't the only characters. There are plenty of other characters who get developed to the point of being fully fleshed out. Mitsuhide and Kiki, Zen's retainers, are given plenty of time in the spotlight. They're loyalty to the prince and their strength is something to be admired. Obi, a bit of a rogue who ends up working for Zen, is an interesting character who has something of a smart mouth and a sharp wit. It's always interesting to see how he teases everybody else. I could go on about how fun the characters, but I think I'll end here so I don't gush.

One thing I liked about the series was that, while it does follow some typical shoujo plots, a number of them are subverted. Yes, there is a bit of character O likes character S who likes character Z, but it's not really a focus here. What's more, we pretty much know the pairing right off the bat. There's none of that "Oh, who should I choose! They're both so hot!" that we often get in the shoujo series. While this means that there are other cliche's, namely, Disney ones, I don't feel bothered by that like some people might. I believe I already mentioned this, but the use of Disney cliche's in an anime is kind of refreshing. Besides, I'm a sucker for a cute romance.

Artwork: 9/10
Animation: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Story: 6/10
Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Total: 8.5/10