The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star Review

[this is the continuation of my earlier review for the first episode of the promo 3 part special: Those Awaiting a Star. See the first episode review HERE. Review of series coming soon]

magus-bride

Episode 2

Warnings:
Remember how episode one didn’t really have any violence in it? Throw that right out of the window. A character gets, well, bitten pretty badly in this one (and dies. Be warned) and the way it’s done, while not showing much actual blood, is rather graphic. Think FMA: Brotherhood levels. Lots of fear and anxiety in the lead throughout keep the feeling very dark and tense as well, so I really don’t recommend this for anyone under the age of 10. And even some ten year olds will get scared… The tension is done very well.

Thoughts:
If you were looking for a cup of depressing, this episode provides. We get to see why books are important to our lead, specifically one special one. We also see some more positive, or at least less dangerous, encounters with youkai. And also some very dangerous ones.
This said, the violence near the end gave me a bit of whiplash I don’t feel often these days in anime. I was unsure about the sudden change until I saw the final part in this side story/prequel thing…

 

Episode 3

Warnings:
Same as the last one, though the violence is coming to a close. Episode 2 was more graphic overall… As an aside, language and nudity don’t come into play in this mini-series so have no fears there.

Thoughts:
This is why this show is such a big deal. Why the hype got so huge online. This mini-series closes out beautifully. We don’t see an obvious “happy ending” for the hero, but we do get gentle glimpses of things getting better. Of actual healing from mental trauma in the lead. Small acts of kindness given to her are handled in a soft, almost delicate, manner, making you feel and experience deeply just how unusual kindness is to our heroine. It’s a well thought out and executed story and one I’m looking forward to seeing in greater depth in the current streaming series.

Overall
If you’re curious about the hype around this show, this 3 parter does its job very well. You get a taste for the lead characters as well as the tone of the story itself and the world it takes place in. Nothing is overwhelming and, in fact, the story slows very intentionally. I could see a story like this easily running in a short story literary journal as a stand alone, making it a great bite sized series for people curious to try this one out.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride Review

magus-brideStory:
Hatori has nothing. Still in her teens and with nowhere to go, she is bought by an inhuman sorcerer who intends for her to train in magic and eventually marry him. Coming to terms with her new life, Hatori begins her studies and finds comfort in an old picture book from her past.

Violence:
Pretty nonexistent. That said, there are some very scary youkai in this first episode and while no actual violence occurs, the heroine does fear for her life and the chase sequence is pretty scary.

Language:
Nonexistent.

Nudity:
Nothing to report… technically. On the theoretical side, the fact that a young girl, still in high school, is set to someday marry a beast who is likely hundreds of years old… well, that’s kinda creepy. Just sayin’.

Theology/mythology:
Here’s where you make a choice about this one. The are youkai. Also, the, er, creature? Mythological beast? looking after Hatori is a sorcerer. He’s also probably older than dirt. There’s also spells and fairy things and whatnot. If you aren’t chill with any of that, skip this one. There’s no getting around these elements.

Personal impression:
Fair warning right here! This show is actually a prequel to a manga and thus is only set to have three or so episodes total. Released six MONTHS apart. As this is a unique situation, I shall endeavor to create mini reviews for future episodes as they are released, linking back here for the content evaluations (which shall also be updated as needed).
With that out of the way, this is a charming start. Well directed and with solid art, this is one of those titles that’s perfectly content to show versus tell, something I personally appreciate quite a bit these days. Characters come and go naturally and the world feels pretty expensive considering how little of it we get to actually see.
That said, this show also doesn’t seem to be going anywhere as it’s just a warm up for a manga, so plot and character-wise, I’m sad to say that there’s just nothing going on. I can see how they’re setting up for a future story. And if I had the time to go into something like that, perhaps I would. But at the end of this single episode (episode 2 isn’t due out till next year), I just found myself wishing they would spring for a real series rather than yearn for the manga. And I doubt that was their intent.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 1 (as of posting, stay tuned for future mini reviews for any continuing episodes)
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, romance
Company: Production I.G.
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

Noblesse: Awakening Review

noblesse_manhwa_coverStory:
After 820 years of sleeping, Cadis Etrama di Raizel wakes up to find a world where creatures of the night are working behind the scenes to obtain absolute power.

Violence:
This is pretty much a vampire vs other supernatural creatures kinda story, so the violence is high. It nearly surpassed my limit, but if Trinity Blood scoots by, so does this. But be warned that there is a great deal of blood, bone crunching and threats of death.

Language:
The usual d-mns, sh-ts and b-stards. Nothing over the top, but definitely there.

Nudity:
Not much for this besides some skimpy outfits for the female villain.

Theology/mythology:
If vampires and such bug you, skip this OVA.

Personal impression:
This is probably one of the weirdest OVAs I’ve watched, not because of the content itself but because it’s essentially a promo for a webcomic. I know this can’t be the only OVA like this out there, but this is definitely the first one I’ve come across. And the fact that it’s a promo very much affected the whole experience. For one thing, the enemy in this episode had to be established and wrapped up all in 31 minutes (yeah, it’s a tad longer than a regular episode). So you can imagine how rushed this felt, including the set up of the MC getting attached to his human classmates. Considering how little time they had, I think they actually did a decent job. I felt that the MC really did care for his new friends and it made the fight at the end not only valid, but a bit exciting.
All that said, this definitely has a bunch of holes and the enemy pulling the strings is, of course, not taken care of. After all, you’re supposed to go to their website and read the comic to continue this story. And I was tempted to do so, although I have not done so simply due to not having the time for it. But, hey, the promo works. It made me want to read a comic, which was the whole point. Sooo…. Maybe you’d like this? If you like vampire series that, while not really unique in terms of ideas, are well written for what they are, this OVA might be a good start for your webcomic addiction.
But if you’re not a huge webcomic fan, this will seem more than a little rushed.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 1 (OVA)
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Action, supernatural
Company: LINE webtoons
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Pokemon Origins Review

ptitleStory:
Red, a new pokemon trainer, sets out on a journey to help Professor Oak complete the pokedex. But he’s not alone. His rival, Blue, is out there for the same reason and he’s not an easy opponent to beat.

Violence:
Oddly, this little series has generally more violence than the first TV series. In only four episodes we see pokemon truly tackling and biting each other and the prospect of pokemon actually dying is addressed (to some extent). It’s nowhere near FMA levels, but it’s a tad darker than the Indigo League, that’s for sure.

Language:
Pretty clean overall here. Although the violence is higher, the language is like the first show. Pretty nonexistent.

Nudity:
Just like the language, this section really doesn’t have much to report. In fact, there’s really nothing at all to report here. A nice break, if you ask me.

Theology/mythology:
If the idea of ghosts isn’t your thing, it’s best to skip this little series. An actual ghost of a pokemon is heavily featured in one episode (and I don’t mean ghost “type” pokemon. I mean a pokemon that died and became a ghost. Which, when thought about too much, raises some disturbing questions about “ghost” types…).

Personal impression:
As someone who has never actually played the classic Pokemon console games before (I did play the TCG so lay off), I probably missed more than a few references to the original stories/missions. That said, I was surprised by how many in-jokes I did understand. Though likely that is due to how heavily internet memes feature Pokemon game jokes. Regardless, it was an interesting take. There was enough of the old series to make it familiar and yet plenty of new tones and elements to feel quite different. The music is decent, not quite as good as the first, but solid enough. The art is, understandably, better. Smoother and with far more detail. The only real downside? With only four episodes this series speeds by at an intense and pretty ridiculous pace. The last episode is especially rough and rushed. All in all, it’s far more of an ode to older fans of the games than it is a ply to bring in new fans.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 4
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TVPG
Genre(s): Fantasy, adventure
Company: The Pokemon Company
Legal streaming: Hulu
Screenshots:
p1p2p3

Rozen Maiden Review

Story:
Jun is a shut in. After experiencing a large amount of bullying in school, he closes himself off from the world and does nothing all day but order strange things off the internet. Unfortunately for him, a seemingly harmless piece of junk mail lands him in a contract with a living doll named Shinku. Sworn to her, Jun must now supply her with energy for her never ending battles against other Rozen Maiden dolls as they fight for the chance to become the perfect girl: Alice.

Violence:
Because this show is about a bunch of dolls fighting one another, there is violence. However, it is usually limited to the dolls. Occasionally Jun gets hurt as well, a scrape or a cut. However there’s no fear of a blood bath in this show. The worst the show has to offer is a plastic arm breaking off a doll or a tiny bit of red to show a small paper cut.

Language:
It’s unfortunate to note that the language is the only part that got it bumped from 10+ to YA. And even more depressing is the fact that only one character uses bad language. Although it’s blissfully rare for her to get so bad that she drops the “illegitimate-son-word” (as I term it), it still happens more than it should.

Nudity:
Again, there’s not much to fear in this sector. The closest thing to nudity would be the dolls without clothing on, which is seen during their creation. However they have the detail-less form of a mannequin and thus there really isn’t any nudity involved.

Theology/Mythology:
The dolls all strive to become Alice, a perfect girl, so they can meet their father, or creator, again. Also, the way they refer to this “father” makes him out to be rather supernatural. In one scene he is described as “changing forms over the centuries” and thus being immortal, like the dolls. However this aspect of the show is never fully explained by the end and is largely left to interpretation. Another odd character is LaPlace’s Demon, who isn’t a “demon,” but a large rabbit in a suit. Like “Father,” he isn’t explained in the series. Though he too is implied to be supernatural.

Personal Impression:
Rozen Maiden is a wonderful show, though a bit odd at times. Jun has an actual legit background that makes sense and the dolls each have to come to terms with why they were created and if they want to risk the deaths of their own kind for a shot at “perfection.” Jun’s bullying comes from academic failure, a pressure that is very real in Japan and for some kids in America. As for the dolls, they were built to love their father and also to fight one another, things that seem contradictory at times. The reality of losing each other has a very realistic affect on them. Aside from the characters, the story itself is compelling, the music well done and the artwork solid. It may not be a trend setter in many areas, but it manages itself well enough. It should be noted, however, that this series ends without much of a conclusion. This is also true of its original manga version. So if you enjoy some beautiful doll battles and interesting characters, this show is a good starter. Although you might find yourself a bit unsatisfied with the open ending.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: 26 + 2 OVAs
Languages: Subbed and Dubbed
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Mystical, fantasy
Website: N/A
Legal streaming: Anime Network (English dub)
Screen shots: