Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Review

moribitoStory:
Balsa is a bodyguard for hire, but in all her travels she has never been tasked with a more challenging ward than Prince Chagum, a sweet and caring child with the misfortune of housing a water spirit’s egg, a thing the royal house will not allow to live. Fearful for her son, the empress hires Balsa to keep him safe but her skills alone may not be enough against the entire royal house’s army…

Violence:
This show doesn’t use violence for shock value, however there is a lot of it considering the set up. Expect cuts, blood and death. It’s tastefully done, but definitely a show deserving it’s TV14 rating.
Side warning: At one point, the prince learns how to kill and skin wild animals to eat during winter. Again, it’s not focused on for long, but seeing animals being gutted can be extremely disturbing for some, regardless of how short the scene is. Be well warned.

Language:
Some b-words and d-mns are the worst, but they are rare things.

Nudity:
We don’t get any of this besides a scene of Balsa being shirtless while her wounds are tended to. It’s not sexual at all and the screen keeps to her face. Is it sad how happy that made me? Probably, but honestly I loved how clean this show was in this sector.

Theology/mythology:
This is probably going to be the determining sector for a few people. This story’s world has it’s own folklore, religions and customs. This makes the story incredibly believable and rich, but it also means the idea of the afterlife, magic and monsters can’t be ignored. These are active parts of the story and if anything like that bothers you, skip this title.

Personal impression:
This show was amazing. Easily the best show I’ve watched in a long time. The world is vivid and has a rich history of its own. Despite how much background needs to be revealed it’s never done in the dreaded info-dumping manor. Instead, it comes about naturally or through conversation. I never felt as if the information being given was forced in any way.
The characters are also unique and their development is slow at times, but very deliberate. There’s no point in which I felt their arcs were wondering aimlessly. The lead Balsa is especially amazing to watch. She’s a strong woman but is not treated the way most “strong women” are in anime. She gets a mixed bag of opponents, some which see her for her skill and some of which only see her gender, but the series, and her character, take this in stride. I never felt as if the show was pushing any agenda. Things in that world simply were and the characters dealt with it as best they could.
The music and art are also exceptionally good, as expected from a Production I.G. work. But still I felt as if this show’s art was especially so. The movement was amazing. Balsa’s weapon of choice is a spear and her movements in combat with it are beautiful to watch. Even soft scenes of nature are skillfully rendered, from dragonflies in the air to frogs leaping around in a rice paddy farm. The fact that this level of art remains consistent for twenty-six episodes is… well, let’s just say that it’s rare enough to see mediocre shows keep up these days.
If I had to find a flaw in this show it would be one arc in which, for around five to six episodes, there is a massive communication failure between leads. For no reason. It’s actually pretty obvious the creators wanted to make a plot reveal later more dramatic, but it’s very frustrating to watch as both characters are walking side by side for DAYS without discussing things they would normally be discussing. It’s a break from an otherwise very well written script and that makes it stand out all the more as a bad chunk. Thankfully it does get resolved eventually and the excellent scripting from before kicks back into place.
Overall this show is amazing and a very high recommend from me. My only regret is that I didn’t see this show sooner.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 26
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, adventure, action., drama
Company: Production I.G.
Production: Media Blasters
Official streaming: Yahoo View

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Hinako Note Review

hinakoStory:
Girl who has a hard time interacting with others moves to a big city to become an actress and ends up living in a strange dorm with strange girls and maybe comedy comes from this but mostly it’s just an excuse to tick off all the moe boxes anime seems to demand these days.

Violence:
Slap stick only over here. If you see blood, it’s only for comedy and never graphic.

Language:
Maybe some sh-ts here or there, but rarely and overall this sector is pretty clean.

Nudity:
This is where it goes downhill from a nearly All Ages rating and lands squarely in the YA sector. Most of the time this show’s art keeps the characters in either chibi form or a very generic style prime to be more cute than sexy. However, randomly, and at least once but often more per episode, the art swings right into heavy ecchi territory (if you aren’t familiar with that term, it’s essentially “soft porn”). We don’t see bare details, but it’s obviously sexual and yes it will give you genre whiplash.

Theology/mythology:
Aside from some usual shenanigans concerning school ghost rumors and going to shrines, not much here. No discussions or deep theories on life. This show is shallow and does nothing to hide that.

Personal impression:
I played this show whenever I was doing the dishes. That probably tells you everything you need to know, but I’ll elaborate a tad just in case.
This show isn’t horrid. It has a few chuckle worthy moments here and there. But generally it’s boring. The characters are all stereotypes watered down to keep them as moe as possible at all times. No true conflict ever occurs. No character development ever occurs (the show’s lead even admits that in the final episodes).
This is a filler show. It does nothing well, but also isn’t insulting enough to warrant a drop from the get go. Unless, ya know, you’re bored. And you probably are.
The art and voices aren’t jarring though, so it’s decent background. Especially as you can trust nothing will really change in the moments you have to change the drain or put a cup away and miss a few minutes as a result. Nope. There will be no change.
This is a show I’m sure moe addicts would love, but for the rest of us, background noise is about all I’d recommend this one for.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Slice of life, comedy
Company: Passione
Production: Kadokawa Pictures
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

GRANBLUE FANTASY: The Animation Review

granStory:
Gran would like nothing more than to leave his village and set off to find his father, long sense missing after he pursued a tale of a mysterious island. But those dreams go on hold when a girl plummets to the forest, dropped from a military ship and with little knowledge of what she is.

Violence:
This is the only reason this show got bunked up to YA. Creatures are cut in two and in a dream sequence our heroine is walking in a lake of blood. Although this show still remains tame overall, it’s juuust enough that I felt I needed to bump this one a rating higher. That said, even if violence isn’t your thing, it’s really not that bad in this one. I’d say this is an avoid for you if any blood at all sets you off. Otherwise, this show is pretty tame.

Language:
Tame. Sh-t and d-mn are the most common, but they happen rarely.

Nudity:
We’re spared this for most of the entire show. Until the last two episodes. Then the overly skimpy outfits and boob fixations began. A shame as most of the show is in the clear for this sector.

Theology/mythology:
The ideology of this world doesn’t seem to put much stake in God or any normal variant. However there are these “beast” creatures that seem to have demigod abilities and are treated as “guardians” of specific elements or locations. If that kind of thing bugs you… Also, magic is used in this world. No details are given on how it works though.

Personal impression:
Remember that Phantasy Star title awhile ago? Yeah, this is like that one but with less character development and far more obvious “see isn’t this a cool world? Wouldn’t you like to play this as a game?” vibe.
Overall A-1 really did a nice job with what they were given. The world is crisp and the animation nice to look at. It’s nothing unique at all, but it’s not bad either. In fact, the relationship dynamics between the main cast are kinda cool. No typical anime romance triangle garbage. Just old school comradery. And we get two female leads that have a solid relationship with each other that has nothing to do with the male lead. So not a horrible show character-wise.
Until that second to last episode when they dump in every other party member you could have chosen instead in the game version out of nowhere. But if that makes you cringe, it gets better. The last episode goes back and switches to a female lead and the story doesn’t change AT ALL. It’s such an obvious shrill for the game that it hurts. To make the pain more grotesque they then take full advantage of the new all female cast and drag the rest of the episode into a -yooou guessed it!- beach vacation. Because anime boobs. I should have known the clean of fanservice angle would die, but this method really takes the cake.
The only redeeming bit about that last episode is how surprisingly more reliable the female lead seems than the male, Gran. When we finally see her in combat, she often isn’t even looking at the enemy, slicing one after another as if she’s making a grocery list while chatting on the phone. Think Wonder Woman on crack. It was actually kinda cool, in a funny and very unexpected way.
Overall, this show isn’t offensive (until the end) but it also offers absolutely nothing new. If you like the game or like generic RPG stuff, this will do the trick. But there’s nothing else to be had here. Nothing at all.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, adventure
Company: Aniplex
Production: A-1 Pictures
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Taste Test: Summer 2017

We have a HUGE taste testing this time with SIXTEEN titles to try out. I have a feeling not many are going to make it past episode one, but the only way to find out is to dig in. Let’s test these suckers out!

6f23cba5886611b854a147890757cdfa1475754586_large
I see you trying to be THIS show, 18if… I’m onto you….

18if

Flavor: Sand; almost no taste, but the crunch of the tiny rocks makes you want to smack someone

Thoughts: From the way this anime is presented visually, I could tell it was really trying to become this season’s artsy hit, a la Flip Flappers. But if you thought that show was boring, wait until you try this one out. It sets itself up right off the bat as a monster-of-the-week, uninteresting male character saves women from themselves while a little “sister” looks after him type of show. On their own those cliches are sins. Together in the span of a few minutes makes for quite the nasty taste. How a show using strange dream worlds manages to be more boring than watching paint dry is beyond me. Maybe because we don’t have time to attach ourselves to any characters. Maybe because the set up itself makes no sense. Maybe the show was written by a twelve year old. Who knows. But I have zero interest in watching more, honestly. I’ll probably be fair and give it one more episode, but I’m not holding my breath.

A Centaur’s Life

Flavor: Bland and a bit slimy

Thoughts: When “slice of life” opens up with a heavy fanservice kiss scene between two female leads, I mentally check out. That is the very first scene. I was dead the rest of the episode. Ya know how uncomfortable I was with the fanservice aspects of Interviews with Monster Girls? That uncomfortable feeling is all I had for this show. Another one I’ll probably just skip.
As an aside, I don’t mind characters of various genders legitimately falling for one another. That’s not what was going on. It was a scene very obviously curated to get male viewers hot and bothered. I’m beyond done with that.

ahogirl01AHO-GIRL

Flavor: Basic, but might have something there.

Thoughts: As I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, I love a good straight man in a comedy and this show definitely has a solid one. The fact that I actually chuckled a bit in the first episode shows some hope. Unfortunately the episode ended on a sour note by having the female lead grope another girl for no reason. Japan needs to stop having that a thing. It doesn’t occur. It’s not funny. Just stop. I’ll be giving this show more watches for now, but if it relies on cheap fanservice it WILL fail for me as a comedy.

Angel’s 3Piece

Flavor: Rotted flesh of a pedophile

Thoughts: Minutes in and we’re sexualizing 10 year olds. Why do I ever trust you Japan? Why? Solid drop.

 a18936-1382072408-1497548231Chronos Ruler

Flavor: Nice and crisp, if not all that fresh or new

Thoughts: I actually enjoyed this one (hallelujah). The premise has promise and the characters aren’t messing it up by being overly bland or creepy to the extreme. The biggest downside to this show I can see is them rushing the intro to our lead hero brothers. There’s a lot of exposition during combat that really glazes over their story and cheapens the tragedy of their situation. I can only hope future episodes take more time with these characters and allow them to endear themselves to the audience more naturally…. I’ll definitely be watching more of this one.

Classroom of the Elite 

Flavor: Basic, but a bit murky

Thoughts: I wanted to enjoy this, but I didn’t and I can 100% chalk that up to the incredibly boring male lead and hyper stereotypical female leads. I’d much rather a male lead that has some goals or at least doesn’t constantly speak in a monotone over the current anime trend of the most bland cut outs possible. It really kills potential for a show… That said, I wasn’t insulted by this title, so it will get a few more episodes watches from me. I don’t have high hopes though.

clean-freak-aoyama-kunClean Freak! Aoyama-kun

Flavor: Basic at first but with a hint of spice

Thoughts: Not a bad start, actually. I really do hope the comedy is put first before the sports considering the setup is pretty perfect for it. The opening episode is a bit tame joke-wise but it was a nice ease into the show’s setup. Even though I wasn’t enthralled, this it wasn’t insulting and even shows a bit of promise. I just hope they don’t try the drama road as this show doesn’t seem to have the makeup for that…

Convenience Store Boy Friends

Flavor: A hint sweet, but pretty tasteless overall

Thoughts: If you dig romance this one is…. fine. It’s not great by any means and the animation is pretty cheap here and there, but this show didn’t offend my senses and thus, despite it not having that much going for it, I’ll probably give it at least one or two more episodes. No clue if I’ll finish it though…

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life

Flavor: Slightly sweet with the barest hint of salt

Thoughts: This is one of those more laid back shows concerning youkai that I will likely neither hate nor love. It just is. A human is living with youkai (gasp!) and shenanigans ensue. It’s not at all unique, but, if done right, can be charming. Ideally I’d like for this to be a great comedy, but the first episode felt far too at ease to be setting up for that… Maybe I’ll be wrong. Since I’ll be giving this show a few more episodes, we shall see.

Fastest Finger First

Flavor: A bit of heat, but still bland…

Thoughts: The sports anime genre is hitting the bottom of the barrel here. Quiz games? It’s true that there are tricks about hitting the buzzer quickly and stuff, but it’s really not this dramatic. Not even close. It’d be a bit funnier too if all the lead characters weren’t so darn serious about it. As episode one stood, I couldn’t quite laugh at it, but the serious tone didn’t really fit either. I hope better interactions between characters might smooth out the mood of this…. I’ll give it a few more episodes…
Also they really needed someone fluent in English to double check that title… xD

76470Fox Spirit Matchmaker

Flavor: Definitely not local cuisine but it’s not entirely from somewhere else either….

Thoughts: You can tell from tonality alone (especially dialog) that this show isn’t a run of the mill anime. That said, it still falls for some of the classic anime tropes and cliches. Interestingly enough, many of those cliches are quite dated and aren’t typically seen that much anymore, such as the male lead who will do anything for food but really does have morals under all his devil-may-care-attitude. I’ve never been too fond of that cliche in particular, but, hey, it’s better than those monotoned, lazy leads we seem to get so often now. It’s not much, but I’ll take what I can get.
Overall I feel weird about this one and can’t place whether or not I liked it… At the very least I’ll give it another episode to see… Kinda confusing taste, to be honest.

Hina Logic – from Luck and Logic

Flavor: Bland. I can sense sugar is in this, but it still retains no flavor

Thoughts: Boring. So, very boring. And when this show isn’t being boring, it’s being incredibly stereotypical. If the leads weren’t the most snooze-inducing tropes in anime, I might find the world set up vaguely interesting. But, alas, we are denied such luxury. To be fair, I’ll probably give this show another episode to see if it can try to be even the barest hint entertaining, but I doubt anything will change.

In Another World With My Smartphone

Flavor: Clean rice with a hint of jasmine

Thoughts: This isn’t a new concept. This isn’t a unique show. But I will say right here and now that I was very pleasantly surprised by how non-creepy the lead is. Yeah, I know that shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but these days it really is. Honestly. It was incredibly refreshing to watch the hero focus on learning bits and pieces about the world he now lives in without staring at a girls chest in every scene. If fact, he doesn’t do that at all, despite being surrounded by girls very early on. He treats them with respect and, interestingly enough, as if their gender doesn’t even register for him. No leering, no weird comments, just respectful let’s-build-a-team-and-hunt-monsters attitude. And I enjoyed that so much it hurt.
We also get hints of more interesting ideas, like the fact that the hero’s cell phone can tell him about news from a world he can no longer be a part of. That might become a very interesting plot point in the future… In any case, I liked this one, even if it was pretty bland. But it was a pleasant sort of bland that goes well with a meal, so this show will definitely be getting a few more episode watches from me.

main-4-450x320Knight’s & Magic

Flavor: Crunchy potato chips

Thoughts: Another shocker for me as this was another title I expected grade A creeper lead and instead, well, he may not be super lovable, but creepiness isn’t on the radar yet, thank goodness. As can be gathered from Crunchyroll’s synopsis this is another typical nerd boy gets set to a fantasy world after dying prematurely type thing. Except the heavy fanservice I expected would throw this show out the window never came up. At all. No boob shots, no panty shenanigans, none of that. The most cringe-y thing about this show is how tech nerdy the lead can get about robots, but honestly? That doesn’t bother me much. Maybe that’s because I myself own some Gundam models and really love them so I can somewhat relate (though not quite to this show’s extent). In any case, I found a lead who really does just care about robots and NOT about gettin’ some from every female on screen with mech on the side, wonderfully refreshing. It’s too soon to say if I like the characters as a whole or the world yet. So far they’re pretty typical, though they do show promise. Without messy fanservice taking up precious screen time we just might get a decent story arc or two out of this. We’ll have to see.

My First Girlfriend is a Gal

Flavor: Sewage

Thoughts: The only reason I even tried this was because all I knew was the title and thought we might get a nice romance about not judging by appearances and have a rounded cast of both guys and girls and… nope. Mistake noted after the first shot very obviously (and poorly) “censors” the lead female’s panties. Solid drop right there. Don’t think I’ve ever dropped a show faster in my life. Knew the cleaner anime premiers would end eventually, but that was still jarring. Crunchyroll really needs to get on with a better tag system for this stuff….

Netsuzou Trap -NTR-

Flavor: Slimy with a bad after taste

Thoughts: Another drop only a minute in. Again, I don’t mind if your show is yaoi or yuri or whatever. But date rape is NOT ok. Stop it. Do NOT want. Again, Crunchyoll, PLEASE get a better tagging system.

srsly
Am I so dead inside that for an anime to be good all it needs to do is have a non-pervy lead? 

End thoughts:
Well, out of a total of sixteen (!!) premieres tried, we have twelve that will at least get one more episode to redeem themselves, though only around half of those seem to show promise. As is pretty common, I doubt that many will get full reviews, but ya never know. It does have more titles going for it than last season, but we’ll see if any turn out to be anything beyond just “ok.”

What are you watching this season? Am I wrong about any of the titles I’m dropping or find lack luster?