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

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La Corda d’Oro ~primo passo~ Review

lacordaStory:
So there’s this fairy that owes a human for saving its life so it decides to repay him generations later when the guy is dead and buried and doesn’t care anymore so it gives a random girl the ability to play the violin with no prior training and thus enter the school wide competition because reasons. Yeah, it’s just an excuse to surround our heroine with hot guys.

Violence:
Pretty low here. Aside from a character getting a few cuts on her hand from broken glass, you’re in the clear here.

Language:
Nothing too heavy here. Usually only a d-mn or two. I don’t readily recall anything worse, nor anything too frequent.

Nudity:
Another thing we’re spared. I honestly have nothing to note in this section.

Theology/mythology:
There’s a fairy in this. And a magic violin. If that bugs you, this show ain’t your cup o’ tea.

Personal impression:
For a romance title, this show certainly isn’t horrible. It even has a few elements of our lead character addressing her own issues with her friends, something we don’t always get in these kind of shows. We also get a decent amount of legitimate character development, the kind that aids the lead and has little to do with the male cast.
That said the music is subpar overall (all the classical music is nice, but that’s not really something this show can take credit for) and so is the art.
Again, this is a decent romance show. It’s not as good as shows like Ouran or My LOVE Story, but if you’re craving a reverse harem show without the usual flimsy leads, this one is… fine.
But that fairy is pretty obnoxious, gotta say… I just can’t stand these cute-for-cute’s-sake characters anymore. I’m too dead inside.

Personal rating: 10+

Episode: 28 (includes season one and two)
Languages: sub
Official rating: PG
Genre: Romance, fantasy, drama
Production: Yumeta Company
Company: Aniplex/Sentai Filmworks
Official streaming: Crunchyroll 

March Comes in Like a Lion Review

march-comes-inStory:
Rei Kiriyama is a 17 year old pro shoji player (Japanese chess) who makes more at what he does than most adults. Even so, he feels incomplete…

Violence:
Nothing much here. Most of the story revolves around shoji, which isn’t exactly a contact sport. That said, there is a bit of domestic violence implied with a few characters. Nothing too graphic, but it’s uncomfortable at the least.

Language:
We get spared anything too bad in this sector as well. A few d-mns is about as bad as it gets.

Nudity:
Aside from one scene of a girl changing, with a bra flying through the air, nothing here either. And fear not. It’s played for comedy and we’re spared any details.

Theology/mythology:
Nothing here besides seeing a few characters at shrines, praying for success and such. No discussion is had on these things, however.

Personal impression:
This was a wonderful show. It’s second season was one that seemed to lose momentum for many reviewers, but I personally enjoyed the second half better than the first. We get a lot of character growth from our lead. That said, I can see how if one pauses too much between seasons, it can feel as if there’s a lull in the story as the flow from the first to the second arc is pretty seamless.
Overall, I really do recommend this show to anyone who needs some solid characters and a heartfelt story. Not to mention artsy graphics that add to the wonderful “show don’t tell” theme within the series. The only thing I will warn about would be that this anime is like literary fiction put to screen. This isn’t really… genre stuff, which might put off people who are used to genre works. Technically you could say this is a sports anime… Except it’s not. It’s not traditional drama either (drama doesn’t happen just to happen, but often only occurs as a natural state of progression for story and characters). It’s not a love story or an action show… And I certainly wouldn’t call it a slice of life. This is just one of those shows that’s hard to put in a box and is all the better for it. If the slew of genre sludge that gets pumped out every season has you down, give this show a shot. It might just be the breath of fresh air you’ve been looking for.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 22 (seasons 1 + 2)
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Drama (not sure how else to mark this)
Production: Shaft
Company: Aniplex
Official streaming: crunchyroll

I’ve Always Liked You Review

screen-shot-2015-07-14-at-15-58-59Story:
Natsuki Enomoto has a huge crush on her childhood friend, Yu Setoguchi. When she manages to confess her feelings towards him, she chickens out halfway through, claiming the whole thing was just “practice” so she’d be ready to confess to the one she really loves later. Believing her, Yu keeps his own feeling for her hidden as day after day she continues to “practice” confessing her love.

Violence:
Pretty non-existent besides some characters staring each other down (dem angry gazes tho).

Language:
Super light. Besides a few d-mns, it’s not really there.

Nudity:
Aside from a few shower/bath scenes where no details are shown at all, nothing here to report either, which is nice.

Theology/mythology:
The usual shrines and charms for good luck are here and there, but no discourse on religion or theology take place.

Personal impression:
This whole mini-movie has no point or substance to it beyond getting two characters together. And maybe seeing her friends get together too. That’s… really it. Nothing else is going on. There are no points being made outside of that. Now, if you’re chill with that, you might like this one. It does a good job of portraying friendship and early love which is really the whole goal of this title so there’s nothing really to gripe about. I suppose if you like more comedy alongside your romance, this might not do it for ya, but other than that, there’s little to fault this show for.
Even the music and art are… fine. Not great, not bad, just fine. Which is overall how I feel about this whole production. It wasn’t something that blew me away or made me super happy to watch (like Kimi ni Todoke or My LOVE story!), but it didn’t made me angry and want to slit my wrists (like Say “I love you” or Wolf Girl). So if all you want is a sweet romance that doesn’t try to be or do anything else, give this one a go. I think you’ll find nothing too objectionable in it (besides perhaps finding the leads to be a bit less interesting than the side characters).

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 1 (movie)
Languages: sub
Official rating: TVPG
Genres: Romance, slice of life
Company: Aniplex
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Qualidea Code Review

QualideaStory:
When the earth is invaded by the Unknowns, children around the world are put into cold sleep in the hopes of awakening them in a safer future. But when they do awake, the world is still defending itself and they find they have special powers which they can use to help defend their planet.

Violence:
Decently high. We see blood wounds and a few characters supposedly die (some aren’t really dead though).

Language:
Another one that isn’t too far from the TV14 norm, sh-ts, d-mns and a few b-words are sprinkled throughout, but no excessive uses.

Nudity:
We get a bikini episode right at the get-go, so this show is not above petty fanservice. I wouldn’t say it gets too out of control, -everything is covered- but it was hardly needed.

Theology/mythology:
Aside from aliens and the implications of having children fight wars for you, not much to say here.

Personal impression:
Welcome to the worst show of the season! Well, the worst one I finished. There were a few that got tossed out the door episode one (see my last Taste Test post for more on that).
Back to this turd of a show – I honestly feel like this title is a poster child for We’re-Flying-By-The-Seat-Of-Our-Pants. The opening episode, while not super unique, showed promise. It went downhill from there faster than an overloaded trailer with bad brakes on a rarely maintained mountain pass. The plot had more holes than a pair of Crocs, the dialog made me want to rip my own head off to stop my brain from transforming into a void, and while the characters were consistent, they were such painful stereotypes that watching them was akin to being punched in the gut after overeating at Taco Bell.
Comparisons aside, it was clear when we got a playful bikini episode near the beginning that the creators had completely given up and any chance this show might have had at being even remotely interesting was dead.
Then the last few episodes happened. Somehow they managed to turn the plot around into something kinda entertaining. Not that it made logical sense or fit into the mood of the show at all, but, hey, I’m happy to take a break from the constant grind battles and brain killing “banter.” The sad part however was the timing. It was too little, too late to save the show and just ended up feeling strange, like two shows had been sliced into one to save the studio on air time. That last bit was far more interesting than over half the show and it’s a shame it took the creators that long to figure out which story they really wanted to tell.
Overall, the only solid this show had going for it was a sweet ost. It’s just too bad the show couldn’t keep up with its own background music.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Action, fantasy, science fiction
Company: Aniplex
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Nisekoi Review

[this review goes over both the first and second season, which have the same name, but are often separated on streaming sites as Nisekoi and Nisekoi 2]

nStory:
Being the heir to a Yakuza gang isn’t easy for Raku Ichijo. It’s hard to hang with friends and it makes finding the girl he made that promise to when he was little near impossible. But when he comes home one day to find another gang from overseas is declaring war and the only way to stop it is to pretend to be in love with the rival gang leader’s daughter…. well, there are worse ways to get your first girlfriend, right?

Violence:
There are far more “humorous” violence scenes than actual violence. A bit of blood here and there from falls and slap-stick, but nothing too big.

Language:
Another section that isn’t all that bad. A few sh-ts and b-words, but very few overall.

Nudity:
Although there is a face-into-chest cliché here and there, other than that, there’s not much in this section, thank goodness. There is one character that is taken as a boy at first, but is really a girl. Of course the whole thing is exposed by, well, her chest being exposed a bit. Cause there’s no other way to go about these things (I bet my sarcasm was so light you barely felt it). It’s more insulting to my intelligence than anything else.

Theology/mythology:
Besides the typical shrine visit on New Years/ charms at festivals, there’s nothing much to say. As usual, there’s no doctrine being pushed.

Personal impression:
This series was frustrating to me. Not because it was cliché. Many romance driven anime are. But because there would be some bursts of good writing randomly throughout. Juuuust enough to get me to keep watching, but not enough to actually pull this series to where it would need to be to get on any recommendations list. Which is a real shame as the best part of the entire series occurs early on in season two concerning the heroine’s mother. The entire arc is actually touching and I would have signed up for far more episodes like that, looking into the relationships the characters have with their parents and how it affects their other relationships. Unfortunately the story shrivels up right after and we default right back to a borderline harem with some sparse comedy thrown in.
Overall, this anime was fine to play in the background as I did other work, with the exception of a few moments (and the mother episodes) truly catching my eye. But it couldn’t really keep up decent writing for an extended period of time and what potential it had at times it usually stabbed to death by overused anime romance clichés, such as the tsudere character type (which I despise) and the timid, pure girl without a voice trope. If the usual romance stereotypes don’t bother you, this series will probably be a fun watch. But if you tend to be hard on the genre, this series will likely just frustrate you. Especially when it ends having gained nearly no ground at all…

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 33 (includes season 1 and 2)
Language: sub
Official rating: Not rated
Genre(s): Romance, drama, comedy
Company: Aniplex
Official streaming: Hulu

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