Ergo Proxy Review

Story:
Re-L Mayer is called into action when the normally obedient robots of her city, Auto Reivs, begin to go crazy one after another. At first it seems as if some strange virus has taken a hold of their systems, but as she investigates further it begins to be clear that the government she has been raised to survive so faithfully has been hiding more than a few big secrets about the domed city of refuge she lives in as well as the desolate world outside.

Violence:
The worst aspect of this show is defiantly the violence, which is what earned this title an M rating. Like Trinity Blood, however, I feel like this show can still qualify as a YA title, abit one with a strong warning. Blood is splashed here and there, people are stabbed, shot at, limbs hacked off, etc. If blood and violence put you off your tea, skip this title. You’ll sleep better.

Language:
This is the second downside of this title. You’ll find your typical YA arrangement, d-mns and sh-ts with the occasional b-words flung in for good measure. Except when it comes to one episode in particular where one character just goes off on another, flinging out the “female-dog-in-heat” word repeatedly. It’s a pretty vicious scene, so be well warned before hand. This alone nearly got the show kicked from my line up, but, thankfully, it only happens once.

Nudity:
We’re pretty good on this end overall. Re-L does like wearing a short tank and panties to bed and when exercising though, which constitutes pretty much all of the “fanservice” for this show. To be honest, we don’t see all that much really. The detail whenever she is dressed like this is pretty light to nonexistent. In fact, the art’s line count usually goes down a bit. Also the focus is rarely just on her during this time. Think the first Alien movie: skivvy strip down scene that goes nowhere. Beaches have more skin and scandal.

Theology/mythology:
Here’s where we get into weird water. I can’t say too much without spoiling some very major plot points, but lets just say there are a few creatures in this world that essentially live forever. As such, they are likened to “gods” at times. No worship or anything goes on. And there’s very little religious connections that aren’t simply skin deep. For example, one of the main characters has a necklace that looks a bit like a cross. Also many of the robots are shown in a prayer position. I’ve little doubt the creators were making comments on how mankind tends to “lose faith” and thus showing robots to still have faith was a jab at society. But symbolism is as far as it goes and even that is vague most of the time. Any commentary made is more what the viewer makes of it themselves.

Personal impression:
I really enjoyed watching this show back when it was first coming out. Dystopian shows aren’t as common as you might think. Well, not well done ones anyway. In order for me to really buy it, the world needs to be very well written with appropriate art and mood to fit. Ergo Proxy has all of that and more. From the dark music, somber colors, sharp art and more realistic character design right on through to the fully written world and plot, this is a true dystopian work to the core. And I’m sure having a few people from the Ghost in the Shell team helped out a bit, too.
Of course, what’s anime without random bursts of wth moments? There are one or two episodes that feel especially odd, like side stories or filler that place the characters in impossible situations. However, these were actually rather welcome breaks from the dark universe the world exists in the rest of the time. Although it should be noted that they can be a bit frustrating as the end of the show wraps up quickly, as if the creators had thought they might have more time than they did, and you can’t help but wish that bizarre quiz show style recap episode had been used for something more important.
All in all, if you love deep science fiction, with brain twists here and there, and very dark world settings, you’ll probably find this an amazing ride. Just be well warned that they gave it an M rating with violence in mind. While I seem to be a bit more flexible in that area, it’s nothing to make light of. Go in with caution.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 23
Languages: Sub and dub
Official rating: Mature
Genre(s): science fiction, action, fantasy
Company: FUNimation
Legal streaming: Hulu
Screenshots:
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Extra: Be gentle, it’s my first time

I’m such a liar. I’m not going to be gentle. I’m a critic and the first episodes of these shows are going to get what’s coming to them. Look out Spring 2014. Your new streaming shows are just about to get taste tested!

Wizard Barristers 
I’m not huge on animation styles, but I’ve gotta admit that this show’s animation was rather enjoyable for me to watch. And the fact that they opened this up with cops trying to nail a criminal helped keep my interest. Until the “heroine” showed up. Now this show is focused on a topic that, if done right, can really be unique. It’s a courtroom show that has two vary different sides, the cops and magic users. This shakes up the usual criminal show scenarios as it adds an extra layer of prejudice. But then that heroine… Our first encounter with her is the typical “oh no I’m late why didn’t you wake me up on time” scene complete with cutesy voice and school girl attire. We later learn she’s a super genius, which is how she landed a job so young. I call that BS right now. The creators just wanted an excuse to feature a schoolgirl. Man, is that getting old. On the bright side, we do see a bit of a deeper element to her as it looks like someone she cares for is a convicted criminal. But considering how naive her character is (complete with annoying mascot character and fanservice scene first episode), I fear it might not be enough. But who knows. Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll get more interesting as this goes on. But for now I’ll just pay more attention to the cops and other side characters.
Impression: Pretty display, but side dishes might be a bit more flavorful 
New episodes aired on Sundays

Noragami
Alright, I might be a bit more gentle on this one, but for good reason. This show’s first episode was a good hook. You have a god no one really knows down on his luck, but still putting up the good fight for world domination and a very hysterical, martial arts loving girl who gets herself stuck between life and death who needs his help. The weirdness of the art on occasion (when the girl wakes up to see Yato in her bed, the art is wonderfully creepy) along with the free spirit attitude of its hero are all interesting enough to make a good first impression. The problem is, will it get better, remain on the stable but midlevel ground it’s currently on or slide down into the mess of horrid clichés tread upon by so many others?
Impression: Nice burrito, but could use a bit of salsa
New episodes aired on Sunday

Nobunagun
My first impression only a few minutes in was: that voice does not match that character/the art. After that my thoughts ran along the lines of: this art is…weird. Wait, it’s horrible! Wait! It’s…artsy? What the heck is going on? Then there’s the op which is a Japanese screamer? Well, at least it’s different (unlike the plain Jane ed). And that’s certainly what this show is overall: different. Although considering that the lead’s voice grates on me and none of the characters have felt genuinely unique of themselves, the art and music might end up as the only interesting bits of this show. That and the excellent gun fire sound effects. I’ve heard fake gun sounds too long. Dang this gun sounds good!
Impression: That one weird drink you down more for the experience than the taste
New episodes aired Sundays

D-Fragments
Dumb comedy. That’s the best way to describe this show. The art is extremely mediocre, the music forgettable and the female characters all essentially the same. To tell the truth, I’m not sure how much of this I’ll watch. I might give it one or two more episodes, but it doesn’t really have anything going for it besides the male lead’s punk friends. Currently they’re more interesting than any of the main characters. This said, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I admit to a chuckle here and there. But this was primarily because of the references made and the fact that the guy’s face reminds me of Kyon from The Melancholy. That’s not gonna last long.
Impression: Candy corn. You eat it for the nostalgia, but can usually only stomach one or two
New episodes aired on Mondays.

Hamatora
My first thought was: pretty colors! My second was, hope this picks up soon. My final thoughts: I love how they’re handling the special powers. Requiring characters to make some kind of action first before they can bust out the special moves adds an interesting touch. Overall, I like the start off okay, but I’m really hoping the characters get fleshed out properly and the plot doesn’t end up as a case an episode deal. Those can get old fast when the cast isn’t interesting enough on their own. And I have a feeling they’re not going to be, so hopefully the plot will at least pull out a few more stops.
Impression: Snap of flavor, not much to eat
New episodes aired on Tuesdays

Hozuki No Reitetsu
Since I’ve caught a few gifs on this one last week when the first episode aired for premium Crunchyroll members, I was happy to note some unique designs, such as the goldfish plants. But in the end, I’m a bit let down. Oh the plants were everything I wanted. Cute, yet disturbing. And Momotaro even showed up (I know that story backwards thanks to Japanese 102). But I’m sad to say that I was pretty much bored the whole way through. There were moments where the show seemed to struggle to be funny, but all I ever managed was a smile for a cultural reference. That’s it. It wasn’t funny to me, and although the ideas and creatures are interesting, the characters were just dull and lacked action. I might watch another episode or two of this, but if it doesn’t pick it up its game it’ll be dropped.
Impression: Nice bag, stale chips
New episodes aired on Thursdays

Engaged to the Unidentified 
Please don’t pull the catching girl while she’s following cliché, please don’t – Dang. There are a lot of romance clichés in anime these days, but this one in particular really grates on me. I mean, how do you not hear someone walking that close behind you? That and the cliché is used so much now that it really has no punch left.
That said, I enjoyed this show’s pace, even if the designs and such as all pretty mediocore. The fact that the main heroine has trouble with being compared to her sister might really spice things up, if it’s handled right. But I’m scared this will be the typical romance type, where the guy is always magically there to help out and they legit fall in love and junk. For once I’d like the leads to realize they like someone else and for that to not be some bump in their relationship with the other lead, but they really fall in love and stuff goes in a different direction. Cause that’s life. It doesn’t always shoot straight, but the journey is well worth the twists and turns.
Impression: Sugary, with the barest hint of tartness
New episodes aired on Thursdays

(Please note: This post is scheduled and thus, by the time you read it, these shows should be in their third week of streaming)

Love Lab Review

Story:
Riko never meant to walk in on that embarrassing scene. She really didn’t. But after it’s done, she can’t back out of it. She saw the much admired, beautiful, graceful, kind, council president Maki practicing making out with a weird body pillow in the club room. No doubt about it. There’s no way her life will ever be boring again. Not when she has to pretend she’s a heartbreaker and lead the way for a group of romantically challenged girls to practice “being in love.”

Violence:
There’s really no violence in this show aside from slap stick and one or two nose bleeds. That’s it.

Language:
We’re pretty light in this area too, actually. D-mns and such, but nothing too heavy.

Nudity:
Oddly enough, we’re spared the usual cheap shots. Mostly. We still have jokes on chest size and misunderstandings about “doing it.” And there’s one scene where a young boy bumps into one of his female classmates from… behind. Down and behind… Yep. And there’s that one brother who has the weirdest ideas about what’s attractive and says strange stuff. But, frankly speaking, there’s nothing in this show to worry too much about. We never see anything, not even a bath scene.
Ah, also quite a few girls get heart-eyed (that’s totally a thing in anime) over their student council members due to their popularity. There’s no official romantic tilt to it, but it might be weird to anime newcomers.

Theology/mythology:
Aside from some visual jokes where Maki tries to look attractive, but goes too far and looks scary, nothing supernatural or religious is discussed.

Personal impression:
This show really surprised me. I mean, the art is mediocre, the character designs plain and the music isn’t memorable in the slightest. Plus the story is really straight forward and predictable. And yet I enjoyed watching this show!
Simply put, while the story and characters aren’t exactly Shakespeare, they are well crafted enough to be one thing: entertaining. Heck, one scene actually made me emotional. Not an easy feet.
While their designs and personalities are rather plain, the dialog is snappy enough in the comic department to remain funny as well as true to each character, and the members are all just crazy enough to make it interesting to see what they would do next, even if you knew well in advance where the plot is turning.
The only downside (if the art level and music aren’t counted), would be a lack of real character development. We get a little bit here and there, but not all that much really. Mainly just the plot point of Riko’s lies are addressed. Maki still can’t function around guys and all the girls in the club are no closer to being functioning relationship potentials. So the whole series felt like more of a single arc than a complete story. Seeing as this is a recent show, there’s a chance a second season might be in the works. But maybe not considering how low the views on this show are currently.
If you like light comedy with a sprinkle of heart on the side, this is a fun show to watch. But like so many shows from the last streaming season, don’t hold your breath for everything to wrap up.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 13
Languages: Sub
Official rating: n/a
Genre(s): Comedy, romance
Company: Dentsu
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
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Extra: Aren’t we the best ever?

Now I can’t stop thinking about it. About nationalism. About how often we toot out own horn for America. Because when Japan does it, it’s certainly not round about at all.

The first time I noticed an anime blatantly praising Japan was in La Croisee, which takes place in France. The heroine’s new “guardian,” of sorts, brags endlessly on the food from Japan. He even has the heroine make some for them, which the male lead logically doesn’t like. At first. He returns to find he really likes it later (which is funny to me as I’ve found with many foreign dishes: if I don’t like it round one, I won’t like it later as the taste difference is just too big). It wasn’t too bad of a back-pat, but it was still pretty obvious.

Then there’s Galileo Donna, where the main characters all come from Italy. It was almost painful how loud they blew Japan’s horn. Not only does this girl from Italy idolize Japan and want to go there out of all the places in the world, but she also imports Japanese candy to eat. Now later we find they’re actually part Japanese and have family there, which eased me quite a bit. Then the whole time plot comes in. So this kid’s great-great-great grandpa likes the same Japanese candy? Remind me again how they would even know much about Japan back then in that area or how one would even get Japanese candy in Italy in that era? Heck, I can barely get Japanese sweets where I live. Talk about a stretch!

How you guys noticed this stuff in any of the anime you’ve watched? The more ridiculous, the better!

Galilei Donna Review

Story:
Earth is in the depths of an energy crisis. The globe has cooled to such a low degree that many people around the world are freezing to death. At first, the three Ferrari sisters don’t even realize how widespread this problem is. Their town has hardly been touched. But once they’re threatened by a pirating group, a sinister energy company and the local police, they can no longer ignore the plight of their world. Or the fact that they’re ancestor Galileo Galilei’s reputation haunts them.

Violence:
This is a pretty typical YA violence level show. We see people shot to death, stabbed to death, that sort of thing. Nothing overly grotesque, but definitely not for younger audiences. One of the worse scenes is when a bunch of arguing people are shot in cold blood and when a child tries to rescue his dying father and gets severely injured by falling debris.

Language:
This section isn’t all that bad, but I do recall a few b-words. Not often, but they’re in there alongside the usual d-mns and sh-ts.

Nudity:
Oh Japan and your baths… Oh, yes, we don’t get away from that. Thankfully it’s really the only nudity to worry much about in this show (aside from the opener and ending themes where the lead sister wears overalls but nothing underneath, which is weird from a few angles…). Water and/or bubbles cover anything telling in these scenes, and there are only a few in the whole series, but they’re there, showing you scandalous bare shoulders! *gasp*

Theology/mythology:
Aside from some time bending stuff that kinda feels creepy, there’s nothing to say for this section. Ah, well a visit to Japan does show the girls praying at a shrine. Nothing is said about it and it doesn’t last more than a second or two, though.

Personal impression:
Just-fun-enough-for-a-single-watch seems to sum up this show nicely. You see, the show isn’t bad really. It’s pretty decent. Better than many shows that were airing at the same time. That said, it still isn’t quite riveting enough to be something I’d want to own or see again. Beyond the Boundary was far better at capturing my attention, to be honest.
That said, this show does hold its own reasonably well. The art is nice, even having a few rarely seen character designs to spice things up (hair rollers, anyone?). In today’s world of dull character designs, that’s a solid positive. The music isn’t stellar though and the story has a few odd hiccups. For example, two characters get quite close to one of the sisters and later die. She only thinks on this for a second or two in the next episode and then pretty much forgets about them. This made their whole story seem insignificant and a waste of time to me. Also a relationship begins to form around another sister and a pirate, but at the very end it’s like it never even happened as he runs off without her. It doesn’t help matters when a rushed time travel arc is forced in and reveals that great great great grandpa is has creepy feelings for his future relative and his granddaughter is fine with it? Yeah, weird. If these elements had been handled batter, this series might have been more interesting. But as they are, they drag the show down.
In the end, this show is better than some of the cliché and tired stuff out there and even has a bit of character development, but it still struggles to be anything other than midrange. If you like adventure style stories with a bit of political stuff sprinkled in, you might find this a decent watch. Just don’t have your heart set on the best wrapped up ending.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 11
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Adventure, fantasy, action
Company: Fuji Creative Corporation
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
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Extra: Wisdom vs World-wise

In most shows you have a pretty typical cast set. You have a jester type for comedy relief, a dumb blond type, a pervert, an intense character (also usually brain dead or hopelessly dense) and at least one smart character (who often wears glasses and has dark hair). It’s all rather predictable. And that’s why I was so pleased with the main cast for Spice and Wolf.

Holo is a “wise wolf,” and while I was worried about that being in name only at the start, I am pleased to report that she is indeed very wise. She often has a different perspective and a sharper sense about others than Lawrence does. But this is where things got really interesting: she’s not street smart. At all.

When it comes to the real world, its economics, basic human relations, culture, traditions, ect, Lawrence is the top dog, not Holo. He may not have as much insight as she does, but he knows how to apply what he does know in the best way depending on where he is. He also knows how people tend to work when logic and common sense isn’t factoring in, which is often.

This distinction between them really made the show all the more interesting, not to mention unique. It’s rare for any form of the media to differentiate these concepts. Media would far rather oversimplify things and spoon feed the audience. But the gap between wisdom and world know-how is quite a big one in the real world. Trust me, as one whom others often call “wise,” I’ve been taken for a ride more than once during college. Simply put? It was my first interaction with the real world. I didn’t have the world experience to properly apply the wisdom I had.

Now if only the shows coming out this streaming season could take a few pages from this show and admit that just because someone is “smart” doesn’t mean they never get tricked. And just because someone is “focused” doesn’t mean they’re ignorant of all else. And just because a character is “a dumb blond” doesn’t mean they don’t have moments of amazing acts of both kindness and simple common sense.
After all, just because I’m an anime nerd doesn’t mean I don’t nerd out on anything else. Anyone else a fan of the old British Avengers series? Anyone?
It’s fine. I like playing solitaire. Endless solitaire.

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