Monday, April 22, 2013

Reversal of Fortune : Kokoro Connect

  (Note: I should add that Kokoro Connect is based on a manga series that I haven't read as of yet.  The review concentrates on the anime only)

  Five students (Two male, three female) form a club to satisfy school policy.  Then, without explanation they begin to switch personalities.  Thus is the start of the anime series Kokoro Connect.


  The show starts out with two of the students, Yui Kiriyama and Yoshifumi Aoki trying to explain to club president Iori Nagase and other club members that they had switched bodies the previous night.  Of course they aren't believed until the same phenomenon starts to the others as well.
  Of course, it pretty much goes without saying the problems that occur considering the gender difference.  Bathroom use and unaccustomed body parts are the first thing addressed right from the start. No surprise there.


  While trying to discuss what to do about the situation, we are introduced to "Heartseed" a spiritual being,  who has taken residence in the body of one of their teachers.  He explains that they are set with a undefined task that they are to fulfill and just to go on about their lives.

  One of the big problems early on with this show is that the swaps happen without rhyme or reason, so getting the characters and their traits straight can be a chore.  This is kind of a turn off for anyone who doesn't want to put too much thought in their anime watching.  Thankfully, it mangages to work itself out as the series continues.

  Of course, the situation gets sticky when the male students Taichi Yaegashi and Yoshifumi are caught filming themselves giving fake love confessions while in female students Yui  and Himeko Inaba's bodies.  To make things more complicated, Yui has a fear of men due to a past trauma.



  Meanwhile, confessions are made and complications arise between the friends when dishonesty about switching takes place between Iori and Taichi.  In the aftermath, Taichi confesses his love for Iori, just to be disrupted by Heartseed and causing catastrophe.

  Here in the series it changes from bittersweet romantic comedy to tense drama, almost emulating the very story it is trying to convey.
 To be honest, the series seems to use this theme throughout.  It is safe to say that was the intention of the writers to do just that, but that seems to make the whole story muddled.

  In episode six, the rules change when Heartseed informs them that instead of  switching bodies, now their bodies now act on pure impulse in accord to their deepest feelings.  They are also told that it will continue until he finds it no longer entertaining.  If the anime could only follow the same rules. 



  
    This, of course causes them to act in odd and impulsive ways that causes chaos in their personal life's...sound familiar?
It should, considering it is about the same thing that happened in the first six episodes, just the premise is different.

  Kokoro Connect would work out fine if the characters had been fleshed out a lot better and it would have stayed with one situation or the other, instead of breaking the series up with two stories that uses (for the most part) the same formula.
  In fact, it makes the show drag considerably.  Instead of holding ones interest, it just seems to ramble endlessly.  The potential is there though.  Not for the easily bored.

Overall Grade: C

Availible Streaming on www.crunchyroll.com 
OTAKUMG QUICK PICKS

Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san Z


 Yet another offering this spring from Production IG, anime short where Hell comes to Earth...in plushie form. 

Bartender


 The title pretty much says it all here in this 2006 anime about...well, you know.  Different cocktails are featured in each episode. Recommended.

  I am going to try and push out a couple more reviews before Fanime, but that all depends on the schedule at hand up to that point!

Until next time!!  Cory JS 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Remainder: The rest of Spring Season 2013

  The titles I covered so far are the stand outs this season...but is there anything else worth watching?  Well, good question..so I figured I would explore the other titles released this season to see if I could find just that.  Just as a side note, I didn't give any real long amount of time indulging in them, just the first impressions I was left with.  So don't be surprised if I hit or miss the mark here.

                                                                                                Sparrow's Hotel              
                                                                             

  Centers around the staff of Sparrow's hotel, mainly Satou..who acts as the hotel's bouncer.  Not long enough to dislike at a running time of just under three minutes, but not all of that interesting or funny either.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru


  Also known as "My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU", the title pretty much says it all.  I am not a huge fan of so called "slice of life" anime, but a can't say I dislike like all shows in this genre.  Teenage high school student gets berated...hilarity ensues.  For fans of this type of anime, and probably worth watching for a timewaster.

Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko


    Yoto, a high school student prays to a stone cat to be more open about his feelings.  Girls are involved. Pretty much run of the mill fare here, but I will bank it gets quite the fan following.  One of those shows you will either love or hate in about the first ten minutes.

Arata the Legend


  Shounen Action/Adventure series based on the manga by Yuu Watase (Fushigi Yugi).  A high school student ends up trading places with another in a fantasy styled world.  Almost shocked that this passed by me.  Pretty strong first episode, and looking forward to the second.  Recommended.

 Muromi-san on the Shore


  Yet another anime short, this time involving mermaids.  The humor here is pretty hit or miss, but good when it makes its target.  Twelve minutes in length, so not too much time is wasted if you don't like it.
                                                                                  
                                                                       Ore no Imoto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai 2

                                                                  

  To end up, I bring you the second season of "There is No Way My Little Sister Is This Cute".  Well, not much to say here that hasn't been said already.  To be honest, I stopped watching the first season after about two episodes.  Don't get me wrong, it isn't that it is bad or anything...just lost interest.  Season Two (at least from the first episode), brings more of the same from the first season. Fans won't be disappointed.

  Overall, this season is fairly well rounded, with something for everyone's tastes.  Personally, I would have loved to have seen more JoJo's Bizarre Adventure this season, but no dice.

  Until next time! Cory JS

  P.S.  Feel free to leave comments, either bad or good.  Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @coryshwadlenak! Check out the Facebook page as well!  Oh by the way, give yourself a big pat on the back if you can figure out what links the titles of the blogs together!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

By Design: A look at Gargantia of the Verdurous Planet Episodes 1 and 2

  Out of all of the offerings this spring season, none has been quite as anticipiated as Gargantia of the Verdurous Planet.   Bringing together the writing talent of Gen Urobuchi (Puella Magi Magica Madoka/PsychoPass) and Production IG (PsychoPass/Ghost in the Shell) comes, for the most part, the best shows to come out so far.


  O.K., I might be jumping the gun here after only two episodes, considering I expected more out of the aforementioned PsychoPass, but I am going with my gut here on this one.

    Episode one opens with a introduction to Ensign Ledo being woken up by his battle robot Chamber (Voiced by Tomokusa Sugita, great as always),  preparing him for battle against a flower-like species called the Hideauze. 
  Hopelessly outnumbered trying to defeat the enemy, a order to retreat is given.  While Ledo is trying to land, he is attacked and thrown into a wormhole that finds him grounded on a primitive planet six months later.

  He is awoken to find his robot Chamber being accosted by humans trying to take the machine apart, to no avail.  Here we are introduced to Amy and her pet squirrel (?) , who is as equally curious to what has landed on their planet.
  While the workers are absent, Ledo leaves the robot craft to explore, just to be discovered by Amy and one of the workers named Pinion.  Here Ledo decides to abduct Amy, just to find himself in a standoff when he reaches the outside.


 With the help of Chamber translating the strange language that they speak (which doesn't always work out, by the way), Ledo discovers that he has landed on Earth, a planet long thought uninhabitable.  Come to find out, Earth was covered in ice and now is covered by water.
  Left confused and stranded, Ledo ends off Episode two assisting the people of the Gargantia fleet by warding off a attack by pirates.
 
  There is alot being left out of this summary, of course.  Quite honestly, this is a series that should be more watched than written about.  If the first two episodes of this show is any indication, this show could be the hands down winner this season.

  Next up:  A brief overview of the rest being offered this spring (for better or worse) and my thoughts on the spring anime season overall.

  Until then!  Cory JS

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Deeper Than Inside: A look at Attack on Titan Episodes 1 and 2

 The problem with discussing a series at it's beginning is that it could go anywhere, for better or worse. One can only hope that Production I.G.'s latest offering Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) stays on track.


  Our story takes us to a alternate world where civilization has walled itself off from malevolent, man eating giants.  A hundred years has passed without these creatures being able to penetrate their fortress, leaving them to go about life without incident.
  But not all are happy with being confined.
  Enter Eren, our protagonist, who is seemingly unhappy with not being able to see the world where he is held captive.  After seeing the defeat of soldiers trying to secure a fortress outside the walls they are enclosed in, he also wants to join in the fight to get past the imprisonment he feels he is trapped in.
  This is faced with resistance from his parents and adopted sister Mikasa, until a unusually large Titan breaks down the outer wall.
 
  Now that passage is allowed for other Titans to pass, carnage runs rampant. 

  Houses and buildings are torn asunder, people are devoured, including Eren's mother while Eren and his sister watches in horror.


  This prompts Eren to vow vengeance on each and every Titan for the death of his mother.  The surviving town people are forced deeper into the circular walled structure with others yet affected by the attack.
  Of course,this causes unrest with the overcrowding and lack of food for the refugees.  People are either forced to fight back, or live by meager farming and off the charity of others.
 
  Episode two ends finding Eren, Mikasa and friend Armin joining the resistance force to fight back.

  Director Tetsuro Araki (Death Note/Guilty Crown) spends as much time on the violence, as he does on the anger and hatred that Eren seems to have on his foes.  It doesn't always make for a comfortable watching experience, but that seems to be the point here so far.
 
  Of course the main question remains...How can the small guy win in the end?  The odds surely aren't in our main character's favor, to say the least.  The main problem within this anime is if it can be answered in a satisfactory manner without losing itself or just plain out befuddling the viewer. Only time will tell. 

  Well worth watching just to see where it will all go.

  Next up to bat is yet another offering from Production IG, this time teaming up with writer Gen Urobuchi to bring us the Sci-Fi series Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet.

   

Until next time!  Cory JS

Monday, April 15, 2013

For Want Of: A look at Aku No Hana Episodes 1 and 2

To open up my look into the 2013 anime spring season, I figured I would start with the most outstanding of the crop this time around with "Aku no Hana".

   The story involves middle school student Takao Kasuga, a bookish teen who seems to only have interests in two things: Baudelaire's Les Fluers du Mal and fellow student Nanako Saeki.  While returning to the school to retrieve his beloved book, he finds Saeki's gym clothes and decides to take them home.  Unknowing, he is spotted in the act by Sawa Nakamura, a troubled girl who sits behind Kasuga in class. The controversy opens the door for Nakamura to begin to blackmail Kasuga into a "contract" that gives her control of his personal life.   
 

 Episode one is a slow watch, with nothing of interest happening in the first fifteen minutes of the anime.  Thankfully, the use of rotoscoping gives the viewer alot to take in.  Sometimes maybe too much.  The drama that begins to unfold here does not run at you, instead it paces like a snail in sludge.

 That is not to say that the anime is bad, it just has alot of distractions.

  Episode two picks up the pace with the initial confrontation between Nakamura and Kasuga, leaving him shaken and confused how to handle the situation, just to be shown how much power that Nakamura holds over him.

 
  Overall, pacing issues are to be overlooked here.  It just gives the viewer time to take in the beautiful (and sometimes disturbing) imagery.  It is, honestly, refreshing to see a change of pace this spring season.  Recommended.

  Next time, I will take a glimpse into the world of "Attack on Titan"


  Until then!  Cory JS

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Convictions....

With the new spring anime season approaching , as well as upcoming conventions, I will be turning my attention to those subjects these next few weeks.
One that has came to my attention is London Anime Con 7. Here is their press release:




London Anime Convention returns this Summer
Anime League kicks off with their Summer London Anime Convention 20-21 July at the London Rocket Complex, Holloway Road. Over a thousand people are expected to attend this weekend which is jammed pack full of anime, gaming, Japanese culture and cosplay. London Anime Convention offers not just a convention, but a vivid night life with J-pop and rock club nights.
This Summer, sees special guest voice actor Mike Pollock whose key roles include the voice of Dr Eggman, Bonaparte in Yu-Gi-Oh, and the infamous narrator in Pokémon. Mike will be doing a special free signing for attendees on the Sunday, as well as taking part in a Q&A and a voice-acting workshop.
New to this London Anime Con is the launch of special guests, the Cosplay Stars. Selecting the best cosplayers from the UK, they will be launched officially during the Cosplay Masquerade. Attendees participating in the cosplay masquerade have an extra special prize this year, as well as getting a £50 cash-prize they will also become a Cosplay Star for the next event.
Fashion lovers can show off their unique style in our Summer Otaku Fashion Show, which offers attendees who are aspiring models and fashion designers to show off their unique style and collections, whether it be it be lolita, goth or steampunk. Anyone is welcome to enter, no matter their shape or size. The show celebrates creativity and individuality.
Attendees can play a variety of games, and compete with other attendees in organised tournamnets including: DDR, Smash, SSIV, Blazblue, Marvel v Capcom, Mario Kart, Halo 4, Gears of War, Modern Warfare 2, retro speed runs on Sonic, Mario etc, FIFA, Rockband, Slenderman, Super Meatboy and more. As well as console games, the convention will be organising trading card tournaments, including Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon and Vanguard. All gaming tournaments have cash-prizes to be won. As usual London Anime Con has a strong music line up and welcomes new talent; headlining Yama-B, co-founder of top power metal band Galneryus. Other top performances shall include Of Fire and Fate, Legend in Japan, Suffering Silence, and YouTube sensations, j-pop dance acts Kimono Time and Abi Pop.
Showing anime screenings throughout Anime League have teamed up with Third Window Films to screen the new Takashi Miike (director of 13 Assassins and Audition) film 'For Love's Sake'.
“London Anime Convention caters to all anime and gaming fans. It’s a non-stop, day and night weekend of fun! I had an amazing time at the last convention and made some awesome friends who I can’t wait to see again” Phillip Allen.
For more information please visit http://www.londonanimecon.com/activities.php and contact Rebecca Moriarty at pr@animeleague.com EVENT DETAILS Opening Times: 11am to 1am. (10:30am entry if you're pre-paid) Pricing: Reduced price entry if you pre-pay now. On the day entry is £12 for Saturday, £10 for Sunday. £5 Evening Entry. London Anime Con Website: http://www.londonanimecon.com Follow @londonanimecon or @AnimeLeague join the forums at http://www.animeleague.net/forum

    If you are in the UK or find yourself there this summer, be sure to check them out!

 To remind everbody, Fanimecon is returning this year here in San Jose, California May 24-27th, 2013!  Of course, I will be in attendance..so expect to hear more on that in the upcoming weeks.  Their website is www.fanime.com for more information!
 
 That is about it for now, of course if there is any conventions you want mentioned here...feel free to e-mail me at otakumachinegun@gmail.com.
  
  Cory J Shwadlenak