I have a stack of more season-end reviews, a couple for shows that actually ended, and a couple that I think are safe to review now based on their second-to-last episodes airing this week. Overall, I actually am impressed with how this season ended, it kind of stalled midway and sort of had me not paying attention to it, but many shows pulled out the stops for their final episodes and it paid off.
“In space, no one can hear your GUTS AND HOT BLOOD”
Just as I figure the goal of some anime houses is to groom characters in their show for Saimoe status, I assume Sunrise, Bandai, and other prominent houses of mecha groom their shows for inclusion in future Banpresto Super Robot Taisen titles.
If Valvrave had SEED’s basic plot, Majestic Prince had something more akin to Nadesico or more recently, Gundam AGE. It’s almost become obvious that any mecha that introduces the enemy as “faceless automated robots” or some derivative of, they will most certainly be human, and almost double-certainly be related to Earthlings and have been banished centuries ago for wanting their toast butter-side down. What goes for MJP though is that they actually HAD Hirai Hisashi doing the characters, so SEEDface.png was all over this show. I mean, do you not see Lacus in Teoria or Kira in Izuru or Toshikazu? But that’s the only real connection to SEED the show shares, the characters, the plot, the setting, it all sort of spins in an almost Super Robot Taisen OG direction, and actually, that’s where I felt more at home with this show. The ASHMBs never seemed like real robots to me, or at best, like Evangelion, they were real robots encased in super robot features. The only thing that bugged me was how OP they were compared to the rest of the military. I know shows like this focus on the heroes and reduce everyone else to cannon fodder, purely to show how formidable the enemy is, but even in the last episodes when they brought out the mass-produced units, they didn’t highlight them nearly well enough to satisfy my mecha-needs. A minor point though.
The problem with MJP really came down to the pacing of the show. The first quarter was like watching the training arc in Nanoha only much worse. Their ascension from being the worst team in school to being the star of the military seemed lopsided at-best. They would be put into skirmishes-of-the-week with the Wulguru before they even know who they were, and monitored like guinea pigs. It was only when Izuru first fought Jihart that we finally found the real plot of this show, but by then we were so deep in these feelings and one-offs that it seemed like a trivial matter. Don’t get me wrong, the space battles were great, and when they fought, they fought. But I was really rather disappointed that only Izuru awakened his unit while the rest just kept leaning on how to be the big hero where it would have been far more awesome to me if at least he and Toshikazu both awakened and made Jihart cry back to Teoria, or Tamaki went Super Saiyan at Patrick’s death after learning of his love for her and owned that female Wulguru on the field. There were so many oppurtunities for this show to take a hold of the super robot rope and really pull that show into the realm of high-powered fast-paced fighting that makes the genre appealing. If they wanted to stick with the real robot theme, leave the super shit out and just stick to their better tactics and Suruga’s awesome sniping abilities.
As a whole, MJP is a very good mecha show for folks who like mecha, and it offers a good watch, but if you’re like me and you appreciate the form and grace of robot fighting, you’ll probably want to pan-scan some of the middle of the show where it tries to fall into “As The Galaxy Turns” the space soap-opera featuring Kei and her immense sadness of Izuru not drawing her like one of his french girls.
Title: Majestic Prince
Sub Group I Watched: Horrible/Commie
Rating (1-10): 7
“~/o Hold the Line… Love isn’t Always on Time. Woah-woah-wooooooah~ ~/o”
We’ve seen a lot of shows in recent years focus on sports, games, or otherwise niche hobbies enjoyed by Japanese folks as well as those worldwide. Just as we were all thrilled at competitive mahjong or karuta, an anime about girls playing airsoft seemed like it might be something they could easily spin up Saki-style. Rather, they didn’t try to shoehorn in three dozen characters and focused on one small club of players and one girl’s quest to open herself up to the sport, and to her friends. I was prepared for thirteen episodes of cute girls shooting each other cutely with airsoft guns. But it very much went into pretty rough territory to the point where even I was impressed they’d dig deep into the sort of underpinnings that airsoft, like many other hobbies, sports, and clubs cycle through.
I almost wrote an entire post on it, but stopped when I felt that shit was getting a little too heavy. I feel for Yura, actually, I do. When you’ve been taught from an early age that only success is measured, that only success matters, you become obsessed with being the best you can be at something, and it’s always about impressing your parents, your peers, your boss, whomever. I’ve struggled through most of my life trying to open myself up to people and be accepted by a group of friends, or co-workers, or anyone, especially if they share my hobbies. I am eccentric, awkward, will often say things that I am thinking that aren’t complete sentences, and you have no idea how much I hate people who pit it against me and try to make me out to be the bad guy in situations because I’m just trying to communicate. Here you have a new girl trying to fit in and be accepted and here comes along a group that does just that, through airsoft. She could have just been part of the team, part of the experience, but I feel that Sono wanted to take her under her wing and make her into something she thought was correct, but ended up baiting her into her world-view of how to play the game, telling her she was wrong to surrender, telling her she needed to up her game, and when Yura did, and she sought Sono’s approval, she recalled her view and scoffed at her for not living by her code. Now, that was a probably hyper-unrealistic view of what actually happened. Yura did go too far into something that really should just be fun, but it still struck a nerve with me just how coldly Sono treated Yura just to “teach her a lesson”. It reminded me of all the “lessons” people have tried to teach me over the years. People who had no business doing so. See why I need to stop talking about this?
Getting back to the anime at-hand, even with all of the SERIOUS MOMENTS IN SERIOUS AIRSOFT, C3-bu is a great slice-of-life show in the art of airsoft that seemed to be way too short. I almost would have preferred the Saki approach and had them do the big tournaments with other teams more often just so it might’ve been interesting. It’d have been like Garupan without tanks I guess. This seems to be a theme in Japan lately, but maybe airsoft wasn’t high enough to warrant the full treatment. Or they have set us up for an S2 that does just that. Any way you slice it, it’s a show that you’ll like if you like the subject matter, or just want to watch because it has girls with guns. Though with GTAV out, and VIDYA GAEM VIOLENSENESS back in the news, maybe you want to stick with girls playing guitars.
Title: Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-bu
Sub Group I Watched: Commie
Rating (1-10): 7
“Monacintou: What’s Yours Is Mine… When I Am Not Feeling Tsundere!”
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical of how DEEN would pick up the great Rozen Maiden mantle after it has been dormant since 2006’s end of Ouverture. Even then, this adaptation is actually based on the new manga that succeeded the old manga and while the story roughly picks up where the previous leaves off, it changes some details and goes into a different direction. DEEN actually did a very excellent job not only preserving the character animations of the dolls, but dare I say exceeding them to where I can’t even watch the old Nomad shows without wanting those seasons to be redone with such sharp faces and animations. Sugintou’s wings especially have the level of detail not found in the first seasons. The great thing is they maintained that consistency throughout the show, so it was just as good from the beginning as it was to the end.
The story stuck to the manga, and if you have read it, it will not be anything new for you, but if you have not, it will be a great experience, especially for those who saw the first seasons but forgotten the franchise. The ever popular DESU makes her appearance also, much to fans delight, and the standoff between Shinku and Sugintou hasn’t faded in the slightest. Hinaichigo is absent for most of the series due to the circumstances of her character in this story, but she does make a flashback appearance in episode twelve, allowing even her to be animated in the show.
Rozen Maiden fans, this is your show. It will not disappoint. New fans, you’ve got a bunch of older material to watch and read. Get on it~ desu~
Title: Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen
Sub Group I Watched: Horrible
Rating (1-10): 10
You might be wondering why I gave it a ten. Tens are rare for me. In fact, only eight shows/franchises have the honor of being rated a ten in my list, and that denotes that a show is a personal favorite of all-time. It’s a very small list, and I keep it that way because I feel it is superficial as a reviewer to give something a perfect score unless it transcends space and time itself. Instead, I’d rather give tens to shows that I feel have moved me so strongly that I cannot forget it even decades into the future. Nadesico was one of my first animes I’ve ever watched outside of US-shown Toonami shows, and one of my first real “mecha” shows. Angelic Layer was something that I stayed up all night and almost missed class over in high school to watch, even going so far as to leech episodes off their network via DCC bots. Rozen Maiden was a show that I felt was just great on so many levels, and it came at a time when I was single, employed at a shitty dead-end job, and trying to fix my shit. It is one of the few shows my wife likes a lot and kind of drew her into anime when we first met. That’s how tens work for me. Deal with it.
Three more down and a handful still to go. Most shows end next week, so a bulk will be done up then. Especially Symphogear, which will probably be my ninth ten-rated show to the list. It’s so goddamn awesome.