Well the season is pretty much at an end, and though it wasn’t one of the highest seasons for me, it certainly was a wrecking ball in many ways. There are a few more straggling shows behind this post, which I may or may not add to this later, or quietly make mention of on Twitter and forget about, mainly because it’s Saki, and I think we all know where Saki ends up really. But tonight, I have Nobunagun, Wizard Barristers, Witchcraft Works, Mahou Sensou, and Space Dandy.
One of these days, I’ll finish that wiki I tried to start over a year ago. Eh, who am I kidding?
“Dick Wolf could write this better”
In case you’re not familiar with Dick Wolf, his credits include Law and Order and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, two of the most popular US television shows airing. Police procedural shows are fairly popular in the US for their drama and insight into both the police and court process, as well as how it affects victims, their families, and the community at-large. SVU has been especially popular for touching on subjects like rape and bullying, often making commentary about the fact. Wizard Barristers is probably one of the closest attempts at an anime police procedural I’ve seen in awhile, albeit the use of magic. Before the central plot kicks in, it very much was a case-a-week gag where Cecil and Co. would defend the accused in court. They even had their own Benson and Stabler in Erari Quinn and Ekusou Shizumu doing the police-side, though the focus was more on the lawyers and less on the police here. Still, with the central theme of the show being against magical humans and their persecution for being so, the two shows line up much closer than one thinks.
The plot, however, lines up more with Phoenix Wright in many ways, making this really a perfect storm. A six-year incident where Cecil becomes the focus point everything makes her the de-facto Maya Fey (or Ayasato Mayoi if you prefer) in this story, possessing all these powers and having to fight for her mother and family, though there was no Mia Fey (Ayasato Chihiro) to add to the picture. Adding in a colorful cast of characters who either build on Cecil or support her, and it was very easy for me to forgive the things like the slightly-weird art, or the botched episode eleven. Also, the summoning arc’s completion was weak at best. Another episode or two might’ve made it much more palatable, especially to really open up who Moyo really was. But still, this was one of the better efforts of the season. You can’t beat a perverted Wakamoto frog after all.
Title: Wizard Barristers
Sub Group I Watched: Watashi-Koi
Rating (1-10): 8
“Crimea is now anime. Sorta.”
Hisa Masato seems to like history, between this and Jabberwocky, it’s pretty obvious he likes bending fact and fiction. Blending the tale of Jack The Ripper with Florence Nightingale was quite the touch to end the season with, if not almost a very interesting theory behind the infamous London killings. In a show where famous figures are used as weapons, I expected to see a little more bang for my buck on that avenue, and was slightly disappointed at the turnout, especially when they tease you with other names in the other platoons you either hear or see short cameos of. I mean, Rasputin? That would have been fun to see. Still, Sio and Co. save the day, and the rest of the episode winds down to real names and grabbing tits. Can’t complain there.
The quirky use of colors in the animation, the loud (no seriously, unchanged volume levels, still loud as hell) music and sound effects, and DEATH METAL opening gave it a good coat of paint, but the fairly consistent and action-packed episodes with few gaps in-between made it a solid performance. Plus, I could not say no to some of Sio’s embarrassing moments.
Sub Group I Watched: Horrible
Rating (1-10): 8
It’s hard to tell where this show wants to be a magical romcom, or a serious drama, and it seems to fail at both while achieving neither. Certainly, it starts out nicely by introducing the three to a new world that seems to be utterly perfect, and then rams them into the middle of a war that neither side has really explained beyond “Well the other side is dumb!”. The Trailers seem to be about as competent an organization as Occupy Wall Street, claiming that Wizard Brace is BIG BAD because they sink a few people in the lake with cinder blocks, but seem to think that they’re doing justice by setting people on fire or whatever. Take a shower and get a job you dirty hippies!
But even weaker than that plot is this other sub-plot involving Takashi and Gekkou and everyone connected to them. Of course I have no fucking idea what any of this means, because they didn’t really bother explaining it. Something about their mother being involved in the first war, then trying to kill one kid so he doesn’t become someone else? The hate against the other kid? It got to the point where I was seriously annoyed to see Gekkou on-screen because all he did was flash his stupid face and obsess over Takashi like a child jealous of their sibling’s success. But they barely let on that fact, instead he was just super-annoying and two-dimensional trying to be the show’s final boss despite not having done anything to really attain it until he stabbed Isoshima. Big shocker there. We all know that trope works to piss the main character off. Then the show goes and does something with time and ends show without answering anything?
I know this was a manga first, so I’m betting this is another case of green-lighting an adaptation before figuring any of the particulars out, or how much was directly referenced versus made-up-on-the-fly for the show. We already suffer through enough LN adaptations that never go right, so it’d be nice to see someone with access to goddamn visuals actually do it proper, and if you have to wait another year to do it, do that. Because really, this show was pretty good to start, and the premise isn’t half bad. So yeah, I sorta mad. Harumph.
Title: Mahou Sensou
Sub Group I Watched: FFF
Rating (1-10): 7
“More rendering time was spent on floating objects than anything else.”
I have to admit, when I read the manga and heard this was being adapted into an anime, I had my doubts. The plot is really a smattering of shows like Shana and Maburaho with a touch of Soul Eater in the styling department. But the problem with that is it borrowed one too many tropes from those shows, making almost every perceived twist obvious from a mile away. While the manga wasn’t bad, I got to roughly the eleventh episode worth of plot and ran out of chapters, which I couldn’t tell was due to being untranslated or not published.
The show however, while maybe not being particularly different than the books on story, was actually not bad on animation and effects. JC STAFF meant the show got a healthy budget from a A-list studio which you could tell went into mostly backgrounds, fight scenes, and other special effects. For fans of the franchise, it was probably the best possible outcome, because the only other studio that might’ve done it well would’ve been SHAFT, and maybe DEEN if they used any of their A-list folks from last season’s Rozen Maiden. Mahou Sensou could have been paying attention to this show when it comes to actually explaining the goddamn story, since Witchcraft Works too also swapped back and forth between school days and witch nights. So while this show was not particularly gold this season, it was better-executed than the rest, and actually made me want to watch it.
Title: Witchcraft Works
Sub Group I Watched: FFF, Horrible
Rating (1-10): 8
“A three hour bore.”
Suffice to say, Space Dandy tried very hard to be this generation’s Cowboy Bebop, but it seems to me that Watanabe was shooting for Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai, missing that even further than Bebop. I am of the opinion that this is probably one of the working examples of how today’s anime compares to that of yesterday’s. It’s not as if there is anything even fundamentally flawed with Dandy in terms of characters or premise, it’s the fact that every episode is self-contained, and therefore can’t really be summed up as a whole. There are episodes I liked, and episodes I did not like. The ones I liked were those where Dandy and Co. spoke very little and things happened subtlety behind them. The moment they started talking, or rattling off some lame joke or referential humor to something, it just became a mess. It got boring.
The best way to put this, is to take The Simpsons in context. It’s a show that has been on for twenty-five seasons, longer than any other American-animated TV show, and shorter than Saturday Night Live. It’s also a self-contained reality, where the world “resets” in each episode if something bad happens with exceptions, and the characters do not age while the world around them adjusts for “present day, present time” in order to remain relevant to viewers. Unfortunately, because they have to compete with Family Guy, one of the worst offenders of referential humor in animation, their episodes have been degrading in quality over a number of years. They used to excel at mixing comedy with story and character events. Now they’re lucky if one or two episodes a season are written well, the rest often being a mess of poorly-written jokes, or overuse of guest stars and references to things you like.
Space Dandy just reeks of overhype, both by Bandai, and by Funimation on the US side. They want you to think this is like Bebop because they want you, the pleb, to consume their show and its wares at full-force. The episodes don’t even matter, you’re supposed to take it as a whole and love it JUST BECAUSE, BABY! But it cannot be taken as a whole, it’s not designed that way. It’s designed for you to meet up with your friends at a convention and talk about “That one episode…” or “The other episode, remember? With the race? Wasn’t that SO Outlaw Star?”
Yeah, you know what? I am going to break out my Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohiko OVAs tonight and give those a watch. Done with this.
Title: Space Dandy
Sub Group I Watched: Horrible
Rating (1-10): 6
A few more reviews left, but expect the next season start pretty soon. I’ll have the chart and schedule up soon. Maybe. My legs are fairly non-functional after doing this spin cycling thing yesterday with my co-workers for charity. Serves me right for not being in better shape.