Engaged to the Unidentified Review

Story:
Kobeni has always lived somewhat in the shadow of her overprotective and extremely popular sister. She never gave much thought to her own future, being too busy taking care of her single mother and rushed sister. But when a mysterious young man shows up, claiming to be her betrothed, she realizes she must face both her future and her past.

Violence:
Nothing too extreme here. We find the male lead has a scare from an old injury, but we never see it. Besides seeing a small cut or so, and slapstick of course, there’s really no violence in this show.

Language:
As this show is a romantic comedy, the language isn’t heavy in this one. Mostly d-mns and such. But there is one or two instances of the b-word. Quite light overall.

Nudity:
We don’t see much in this category. But we do hear a lot of leading comments, mainly from Kobeni’s older sister, who has a very unhealthy fixation on younger girls. Including her sister. Yeah. Not ok. Most of the comedy is played off of her, which splits people into two teams: those who are very insulted by her and those that laugh loudly at her. Also, Kobeni has a huge chest, as to be expected. And, yeah, it’s commented on a lot.

Theology/mythology:
Little bit of a spoiler here, though the title should tip you off. Multiple characters in this show are not human. They’re implied to be some kind of youkai, but we never really see what they truly are. They have healing and transformation abilities, though. If this bugs you, steer clear. Especially as a “normal” human girl gets engaged to one.

Personal impression:
My discription makes it sound a wee-bit darker than it is. In actuality, this is a rather bright and fun show that really doesn’t focus too much on the deeper issues of the characters. A shame as I would have loved to see Kobeni really face her inferiority to her sister, but whatever. This show would much rather play up the sweetness of the couple and the comedy of the older sister. Although, as I said, whether or not the sister is actually funny is a matter of taste.
Thankfully, there are other comedic moments outside of her, balancing things out a bit. Also, the sweet moments with the romantic couple are actually, well, sweet. The male lead isn’t a perv either, a nice touch.
The art and music are all typical for a show like this, nothing fancy. But cute and bright. So if you like romantic comedies, heavy on the comedy part, this show is a nice distraction. Just don’t exact a show as nice as Love Lab, a previous work by this studio. This title isn’t quite as unique.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Comedy, romance
Company: Toho
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
 photo ettu1_zpsa9c406ce.jpg photo ettu2_zpsec37d2e6.jpg photo ettu3_zps885d7d5b.jpg

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Extra: Bad Girl

I’ve talked about the typical timid girl type in anime before, even about the disturbing trends that play off guys as chivalrous when they think girls must always “look down” to be acceptable. But I have yet to look at the “bad” ladies of anime. So, let’s lake a bit of a leer – look! – at two of the most, well, common and cringe-worthy. At the moment.

Sexy Laaaaady
This is by far the most common female villain type, and as we’re talking about Japan here we can’t blame comic books (they do have some serious issues in this area though). Big boobs, tight outfits and sultry voices are a staple here. They also tend to make leading comments to fluster the heroes and fight scenes waver between putting them and their foe in compromising situations and being hyper violent. Which is hilarious as any girl with a large chest will tell you that them things need serious binding before one can do any jumping around with a sword or gun. Seriously, that’s a lot of weight to deal with there. I mean, just look at poor Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist. Dang.
There are some very painful points to this type. Mainly in the fact that if a woman in anime is hyper sexy, and not in that kid innocent loli with boobs type of way but one who knows she’s hot and uses it for her own purposes, she must be a villain. This implies that women who are well aware of themselves and their sexuality are dangerous to society and cannot be trusted. This is more sharply driven into our brains as many anime heroines are pure and completely idiotic when it comes to sexy time, often looking down every other sentence, blushing constantly and getting flustered whenever a male looks at them for more than a second. Society’s little propaganda magic: innocence is good, sexuality is bad. Or, at the very least, earns you that coveted (enter sarcasm here) heroine’s overstrung and painfully single for good reason best friend role.

The Ambiguous
A more recent trend, these characters are pushed as male, but heaven knows if they are. Often they either identify as neither or may even be inhuman and thus don’t have a gender at all. Creatures like Envy, from Fullmetal Alchemist (revealed as originally male in the original run, but left a question mark in Brotherhood), and the main villain from Gatchaman Crowds (pictured above). I decided to go ahead and include this one as it posses another painful twist: that anything we can’t put into its proper box must, therefore, be bad. Which makes it really suck to be an alien who doesn’t even understand the concept of gender. Seriously now.
You can also dump the crazies into this category as many girls with extreme quirks and ticks end up in this weird, villain and not-sure-if-love-you-not-sure-if-kill-you ambiguous state.

Like most things in media, there’s a strong pull to conform to general society standards. In the case of anime, to conform to what Japan thinks is “normal.” Which means you unique ladies with extremes? Sorry, but you got two choices: crazy friend for comic relief or villain. Heaven forbid we have a heroine who is complex enough to be aware of her sexual appeal and be conflicted about it, knowing that using it to her advantage might be easier, but also being sickened by the thought that her chest is all anyone sees when all she really wants is just to run after her dreams, gender be damned. That’s a bit much for the populace to take in, it seems.

The Pilot’s Love Song Review

[The following review is a Guest Review by author and programer BlackWater]

Story:
The floating island Isla sets out on a journey for the End of the Sky. One of the pilot trainees that enlists for the journey is Kal-el Albus, who is hiding a very important secret. Accompanying him is one of his sisters from his adoptive family as well as a score of fellow trainees. One of the nobles living on the island, Claire Cruz, catches Kal-el’s eye when he runs into her one day. But as Nina Viento, one-time controller of wind, leads this voyage into unexpected aerial fights, they find themselves struggling just to survive.

Violence:
This is where the show earns most of its rating. Being in battle against other factions means that there is quite a bit of violence and injury. There are some minor things such as punching between the “good” guys but the real stuff comes with the dogfights in the air. Bullets are exchanged, planes blow up, people die, and a guy loses a hand. Some scenes may be disturbing even when they don’t show too much simply because the show portrays battles more realistically – with sudden and bone-chilling death. You might want to pass it up if blood, death, and a lost hand make you uneasy.

Language:
Nothing you wouldn’t come to expect in a war-related show. You have the typical series of d-amns and sprinkled b-words. There is at least one moment where a character repeats one of these over and over due to the severity of the situation.

Nudity:
Nothing. No, really. This show is too focused on war and drama to care about this. The most that can be said is that there is an episode where everyone is at the beach in swimsuits and another where a couple characters have to wear blankets while their clothes dry. Nothing is ever shown.

Theology/mythology:
Not too much here besides the usual girl-priestess-witch-possible-goddess thing. One of the primary characters used to have these magical-like powers over the wind and is basically portrayed as the spiritual leader of the people. It doesn’t get extreme with any worship or deep theology, though.
The general concept of doing something wrong and “sinning” is used on occasion, though it bears no weight outside of characters feeling bad about themselves. Some lessons about forgiveness are pushed pretty hard through the story and plot, especially at the end.
Also, the show leans heavily on this myth that the world was created from this broken flagstone or what have you and they reinforce this with the unusual setup of their planet. In other words, typical fantasy fare.

Personal impression:
It’s like a hybrid. You’ve got the love story but you’ve also got this serious war and death. I found the mixture to not work very well because of several reasons. One, the war part distracted from the love part, which left the latter half-baked and even forgotten through some part of the show. Second, vise versa. It felt like the war sections were missing something, but maybe that was just because we’re kept in the dark about a lot of information regarding the fights and what’s really going on. Think of the good guys as the Allied forces in World War 2 and the enemy as Nazis…except you’re not told they’re Nazis and you don’t know anything about them. The plot builds into the idea of multiple nations and even throws in an alliance at one part but never gives much more for the enemy than “they don’t want us here.” This may or may not have to do with the light novel and manga that exist out there, but that has little bearing on newcomers to this show.
Before I wrap up, I must mention something else that myself as well as some other viewers have felt. The show looks to be kind of like Last Exile on the outside and some of the backgrounds could even swap between the shows. The world itself is a pretty interesting place and gives the opportunity for a really interesting story. But all that promise seems to fall a little…flat. There’s just too much vanilla in there for my taste because the developments are predictable, the characters are cookie-cutter, the plot about the main characters both being royalty is extra cliche, and nothing really happens that makes me desperate for the next episode.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad watch but it’s just not a spectacular one either. You might want want to skip it over unless you don’t have any other shows you’re interested in. Or you just want to see some planes blow up.

Personal rating: Young Adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Adventure, fantasy
Company: TMS Entertainment
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
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[Review by BlackWater]

Extra: One More Crazy to the Crew

Man, I wish this pic was accurate. No dice. Kid shot up like mad in high school. But I swear I’m the older one. I swear!

Once upon a time, when someone mentioned an anime, I could give my impression of said show. Yes. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I knew of and/or had watched most of the shows that were coming out.Those days are long gone. The great part of that is: more shows! The bad part is: I can’t keep up. Not by a long shot.

So I’m happy to report that I have enlisted a fiend of mine, who also happens to be my brother, to make an occasional contribution.

Kyle Davis, also known as BlackWater here, is a highly skilled computer programer and web designer. He recently launched his own company, KDigital, with the aim of allowing authors and comic artists a way to publish their work digitally worldwide and retain all rights themselves (no more selling your soul to a company). But he doesn’t just write code all day. He’s also a lover of animation, literature and pretty much any score written by John Williams (Daniel Ingram is pretty high on his fav list too).

Once upon a time I used to be the one who watched a show first to make sure it was appropriate for him to watch (older siblings unite!). Now we’re both adults and our tastes in shows vary, meaning he’s watched quite a few shows I have not. He won’t be writing reviews for this site regularly, but I hope you enjoy a break from my viewpoint now and again when the blue moon rises. And the first scheduled rising is this coming Monday. Enjoy!

Interested in being a guest writer?
Guest writers on RRAR aren’t required to post regularly. In fact, a guest might only post once! If you’d like to post on RRAR, please fill out the form below. I’d be honored to have your voice on my site. ^_^

Golden Time Review

Story:
Tada Banri is not the same guy who graduated from high school. His body is the same, but his mind has completely changed. He no longer remembers much of his high school life due to an accident resulting in amnesia. As he tries to rebuild his life in college, he runs into the formidable Kaga Koko, a girl obsessed with his newest friend and soon to be hopelessly entwined in his fate.

Violence:
Aside from your usual slap-stick fare, where people get beat up but obtain no lasting damage, there’s not much violence. Banri’s injury is flashed back to and there appears to be blood under him, but that’s the worst it ever gets.

Language:
We get the usual sh-ts, d-mns and such in this show. Along with the occasional b-word. Not too common, but there.

Nudity:
This is the worst aspect of this show. Aside from a decent amount of leading comments and jokes, there is one scene where the leads decide to have their “first time” in Paris, in another scene the heroine is dressed only in lingerie with the intent of having sex. They don’t end up doing so, but nearly do. Another scene is a party scene where the main lead is dressed as a female and takes leading pictures with a girl. These are, by far, the worst the series dishes out and, had they been any worse, would have made me drop this show altogether. Be warned that this thing almost got a WZ for this section alone.

Theology/mythology:
Banri’s past memories form a kind of ghost, who watches over and even curses the lead. Although it arrives episodes in, this idea is a major part of the story and continues on throughout. If this idea bugs you, best to skip this one.

Personal impression:
Despite my heavy warning in the Nudity section, I’m happy to say that those “near sex” scenes actually had a point and were well grounded for anime, rather than pointless fanservice (aka they address character insecurities and provided development). I wish I could say the same for the party scene… In any case, this show got a lot of acclaim due to having a more “realistic” romantic relationship and having a decently rounded supporting cast. These are two things I agree with… to a point. My biggest critique is one I commonly throw at romantic comedies: heavy handed drama. While all relationships have ups and downs, shows like this always fall for the trap of making it into more than it likely should be.
This said, I did enjoy the show overall. Relationships were complex, characters didn’t always get what they wanted, the story actually concluded and we even had quite a few laughs along the way. Although this series didn’t quite get to me as deeply as Kimi no Todoke, it was a decent romance show, something of a rarity in anime these days. Heck, even if you’re not usually into romance you just might want to make an exception for the sake of 2D-kun’s scenes. I swear I’ve never loved a nerdy side-character more.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 24
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Romance, comedy, drama
Company: King Record Company Limited
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
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Extra: When does “unique” cripple a show?

I will fully admit to being on the slow bus for most, if not all, anime fads. I see big shows late, only remember studio names long after their debuts, and am completely ignorant of nearly all cutting edge anime styles. But despite feeling a bit lost when other fans talk about these things, I’ve found my sluggish pace to have an odd advantage. Because I’m often outside the hype around particular styles and fads, I often come across these shows with a (hopefully) neutral air. Which is why I am often just as at a loss when people are turned “off” a fad as when they were all on board.

This streaming season has bright up a rather bland collection of shows overall, but one title specifically has gained a bit of ire: Mekakucity Actors. Apparently, the studio (actually only one of many as anime shows are often collaborations of multiple studios) behind it, Shaft, is quite well known for its very distinctive styles, including sharp edges, odd camera angles and architecture that, while futuristic looking, is completely impossible/illogical. A style that’s a bit too well known now, it seems. While their first few shows made waves, the hate over this new series is pretty heated. Which brings me to my topic: When does “unique” cripple a show?

From the perspective of one who is only vaguely aware of Shaft’s previous works, Monogatari being the most notable, I’ve now watched two whole episodes of Mekakucity Actors and I honestly can’t put my finger on why the hate exists. Sure the series doesn’t seem to have a real direction yet, my biggest beef with it thus far, and heck the main lead being a shut in is just way too overused these days. But those crimes are common enough in shows these days and not too surprising. Certainly nothing to throw a desk over. And the addition of interesting camera shots, items standing in for people and crazy settings is actually helping starve off the fact that this show doesn’t seem to have a point yet. So, why the hate?

After reading more than a few impressions, it seems that this show is being too “heavy handed” with its messages. An interesting observation that does nothing to really explain the hate away. Utena, a show renown for preaching it up high and mighty without actually telling the viewer anything definite, doesn’t come under such fire. Neither do more frivolous shows like Magi, which have long, painful scenes where all the main characters do is preach on morals that often times they break themselves mere episodes (if not moments) later. Again, the hate for that show is far less than for Mekakucity Actors. So we’re still stuck with “why?”

Could it be taste? Unlikely, as Monogatari is still often praised for being revolutionary all over the web. So how is Mekakucity Actors different? Perhaps it boils down to the reason behind the symbolism. Where as the above series often have deep reasoning and social critique on which to base their symbols (Magi being a disgusting exception), Mekakucity doesn’t seem to be rooted in anything beyond the surface thus far. It’s almost painfully easy to read the symbols. That said, just because something is more simple doesn’t automatically make it bad. Simple can sometimes be better, actually. However, shows like Monogatari did seem to make a mark on how obscure one can be while getting away with it and perhaps that same level was what people we expecting, thus leading to hate when the show did not pull out the exact same card. Had this show stripped itself of all the symbols and obscurities, perhaps the show would have been better received. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with the show. It’s not breathtaking, but not bad either. It’s just slightly above mediocre. Nothing to highly praise, but certainly nothing to hate deeply either.

So is it the “unique” elements that are killing it, forcing it to live up to far higher standards? Perhaps when a type of show stands out so much due to stylistic choices it’s inevitable that every show using that technique will come under unholy amounts of criticism ever after as a result. Maybe the fans are simply bored with the concept or maybe they’re just being stuck up pigs posing as critics. Is it even possible to be a critic and not be a stuck up pig (I say this with full acknowledgment that I can be quite stuck up myself when critiquing)?

In any case, I still have no idea as to that “why.” If you hate Mekakucity Actors (or love it!) and take pity on me, please let me know why you find it so distasteful. Because, from where I’m sitting, it’s simply a very mediocre, though fashionable, show.

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