Shirobako Review

ShirobakoStory:
Five girls in a high school animation club make a promise at graduation to get into the anime business and make their high school project a full blown show. Fast forward and all five are steadily working to realize their dream despite all the trials to come with the industry.

Violence:
The only time violence is an issue is when we are shown clips of the show the characters are working on. In one instance a character is very badly injured in a cockpit and blood is shown all over her. Honestly, that’s the only clear example besides the run-of-the-mill slap stick.

Language:
Another common one, a few d-mns and sh-ts.

Nudity:
Aside from getting an occasional glimpse of a failed animation from yesteryear called “Jiggly Jiggly Heaven” where girls are in bikinis for… well, look at that title… Yeah, besides that, nothing much to say here. Pretty clean.

Theology/mythology:
Nothing to report on this one…

Personal impression:
I was afraid this season would be a bust for me, but I actually heavily enjoyed this series. At first I was worried I wouldn’t as episode one begins with a stereotypical high school setting. But five minutes or so in and they graduate, jumping the story months into the future as the girls are trying to get into their chosen industry. In other words, FINALLY we have a realistic (for anime, anyway) show about young adults entering the workforce.
To say this change in pace is refreshing would be an understatement. No one becomes instantly proficient at their art or gets where they wanna go right after graduation. And many graduates are still finding out what they want to do with their lives too. The fact that this show focuses on all those points was amazing.
In addition, we also get to see smooth character development alongside steady art and music.
Overall, although I found the comedy didn’t pull as strongly as the drama, it was a very well crafted show and rather educational to boot (I’m glad to now know what all the departments do in animation. I was fuzzy on just what each does prior to this show). I cared not only for the characters but also for the projects they were working on. So far this show has definitely been my top pick this season and if you want to learn more about the making-of process of anime, this is a fun way to go about learning the basics.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 24
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Slice of life, comedy, drama
Company: Showgate
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

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Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! Review

cutemagicaldefenseStory:
When a mysterious pink wombat appears to the members of the Do Nothing Club one day, little did they imagine that the fate of the planet would rest on their shoulders….

Violence:
A bit of blood, usually in comedic scenes where no “real” damage takes place. Also, large nose bleed scenes, also for pure comedy.

Language:
Thankfully there’s little to put in here besides a few sh-ts.

Nudity:
Considering we kick this off in a bathhouse with our male heroes, it’s there. Everything from behind and top front stuff (male only). Nothing really bad, but there. Also, the typical Sailor Moon transformation deal: naked outlines in light, no details.

Theology/mythology:
Unless you consider magical transformation and aliens to be unholy abominations, there’s not much to note here…

Personal impression:
Considering that I forgot I even watched this show until I was going through some old link backups… well, that kinda says it all really.
This show wasn’t bad. But it certainly wasn’t all that good or memorable either (kinda reminds me of the current streaming season, actually). The animation is pretty solid, and the parody aspect is a near painful level of obvious. That said, I really wanted more legit comedy in this parody and I was disappointed in getting a rather lukewarm serving of that. A few chuckles here and there isn’t quite enough to entice me. When I first heard of this show I was hoping for a parody like Nozaki-kun. Sadly, we didn’t really get that.
Again, not a bad show. And if you want a parody (a gender bent one to boot) of magical girl shows like Sailor Moon, it’s not bad. Just don’t look for any truly gut busting moments. It’s not that kind of “comedy.” Light, easy and over-the-top is as far as this show ever gets.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Language: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: magical, fantasy, comedy
Company: TV Tokyo
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Rage of Bahamut: Genesis Review

rageStory:
Long ago a great and terrible dragon was sealed away with a key. One half was kept by the gods and the other half guarded by the demons. But when a young girl steals the gods’ half of the key, the world is thrown into chaos and the great and horrible dragon threatens to once more wreak destruction upon all.

Violence:
High. This title deserves its TV14 rating. In addition to battle injuries, like bullet wounds and sliced limbs, there are also zombies at one point. And they aren’t pretty lookin’.

Language:
Another high, for anime anyway. The b-word is the most common, although our MC uses sh-t a lot too. If you have a tender ear, avoid this title.

Nudity:
While not quite as high as I had feared considering our MC’s foul mouth, it’s still there. Revealing clothing, groping, innuendo, ect. There’s also that whole naked in glowing light stuff for the female lead. It’s always the female lead. Gettin’ real sick of this trope.

Theology/mythology:
Honestly, the Story portion should have warned you. We have “gods” and “demons” in this show. Although, interestingly enough, they are all seen as just super powerful beings, not really things to worship. At least, not how we see worship. So it’s less religion based and more super human/alien powers kinda thing. Oh yeah and the zombies… there is a girl who can call up the dead (aka zombies). Yeah, it’s a weird add in.
Soooo if this set up makes you uncomfortable, skip this show. Cause it has a lot going on to ignore, no joke.

Personal impression:
I have very mixed feelings about this show… On the one hand, it was beautifully rendered and rather unique in flavor compared to other titles. This said, there were more than a few times, especially at the beginning, where I did not exactly look forward to watching this. The biggest reason being the “hero” character, who is a 100% idiot/scumbag. Now I’m all for flawed heroes, but this guy has zero principals and tries to betray the female lead many times. Thankfully the show often tries to recover from this issue by causing him to be very unlucky, thus he often pays for his foolishness in a rather comical light. Even so, it can be frustrating at first until he starts to loosen up a bit and actually supports the heroine. Once that starts to kick in, the series takes off rather well, actually. While I wouldn’t say this was groundbreaking, I did find a few twists to be interesting. And I did very much appreciate how focused on her mother the heroine was. A nice change as parent figures are usually ignored in anime shows. And, ya know, getting your MC from loser to somewhat hero-ish standard is not and easy task, so that’s actually a decent accomplishment too.
Overall this show definitely courts the line between Young Adult and my Warning Zone, what with the combination of heavy violence, language and inappropriate scenes. That said, considering how many shows I watch, the fact that this didn’t really feel like many other shows was… refreshing. If you need a break from your typical anime set up, this might be a good one to try out. Just remember that the MC will grate on your nerves for a few rounds.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Action, adventure, fantasy
Company: FUNimation
Official streaming: Hulu

Warning Zone: Mawaru Penguindrum

penguindrumThe why:
Besides random scenes with near naked characters/let’s get down-and-dirty with our sister except she’s not really our sister so it’s chill cliché? Defiantly the attempted “rape” scene. Long story short: a girl thinks getting pregnant will keep this guy in her life and she attempts to get him drugged so he “rapes” her. Although, technically, he’d be the actual rape victim in this case?? Honestly, the reasoning the character uses for this is so messed up that trying to explain it is headache inducing. And disgusting. AND does a lot of damage to people who legit are rape victims as it perpetuates the idea that victims want to be raped or are straight up mental cases.

Personal thoughts:
This show is seven shades of fail for me. Now, keep in mind that I actually liked Utena. So my issue with this show is not planted in the fact that it had heavy amounts of symbolism. Rather, my main issue is that the symbolism had less of a purpose outside of looking nice or being vague. Where as Utena was a theme and story with symbolism born from that, this anime felt like the exact opposite. As if the symbols came first and they tried building a show around them.
Why do I feel that way when both shows contain around the same amount of vague symbolism? Simple really: I could understand Utena enough to fully enjoy it as a show, regardless of sometimes not catching the finer points of said show. What I caught enhanced my viewing. But if I didn’t completely get something, I could either figure it out myself later or simply move on. With Penguindrum, that wasn’t the case. I had to intentionally go looking for analysis to understand half of what was being thrown and when -not if!- I missed stuff, the show became a chore to watch.
And before some self-righteous otaku loser comments that I’m just not “smart enough” for it: I’m a literature major and an author. Analyzing is my job. If I can’t get something without serious amounts of research, the material is made for a very narrow audience.
Of course, if that’s what they wanted, cool. Writing/making art for a specific audience isn’t bad, parse. But most anime are not made for such a small group. They’re made for the public. Which is why finding a good balance between art/symbolism and more common/easy-to-understand story lines is a fragile one. Where as Utena seems to have found a decent spot on that scale (could have still used work in spots), I think this one missed it rather badly.
If you like stuff that requires research and essay reading, go for it. Enjoy. But if you’d like something a bit more coherent -not to mention something without a “rape” scene- skip this one. I know it looks pretty. Skip it anyway.