Japan’s Two Favourite T’s: Trains & Tits – anime Critique: Rail Wars!

Rail_Wars!_light_novel_volume_1_coverTitle: Rail Wars! (Rail Wars! Nihon Kokuyu- Tetsudo- Koantai, Rail Wars! Japanese National Railways Security Force)
Format: TV anime
Genre: action, alt universe, harem
Series Creator: Takumi Toyoda, Vania 600
Series Director: Yoshifumi Matsuda
Studio:  Passione
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: July 3 – September 18, 2014
Reviewed format: high def with fan subs


Synopsis:

“The series takes place in an alternate version of Japan where the nationalized railway system was never privatized. Naoto Takayama is an ordinary high school student who aspires to a comfortable life working at Japanese National Railways. He ends up working as a security force trainee, where he unwillingly has to deal with his strange colleagues and all the mayhem that they cause.”


Review:

Once again, off the bat, this series is for people who are obsessed with one or both of two things: trains & large bouncing breasts.

They can’t be escape in the series.

Always taking up the centre of the screen whenever they are show.

The only difference is that there are longer, more porno graphic linger shots of the trains.

That is not to say that breasts are also the entire central focus of series. It also shows arses, legs & hips every chance they get. Putting women in awkward, insipid, impossible poses -yet doesn’t go for any panty shots for some reason. Like after showing so much strange jiggle physics suddenly panty shots are beneath them.

It's like looking at a Lava Lamp.
It’s like looking at a Lava Lamp.

The whole excessive boobage/female body thing aside, Rail Wars! truly fetishises trains. With characters pouring out extensive details of their models, uses, origins, running dates & tones of other surplus information. It’s basically stuff that only s true train otaku could get &/or appreciate. I lived with a guy who really liked machines, engines & vehicles, so I learnt a bit about railways & trains from him but even the level of info that Rail Wars! pours out would be too much for someone of his incredible understanding of machines. More so that they are all Japanese trains & engines, going into the minute details of running -often making them vital plot points or easily seen twists. The creator obviously loves trains, as does the producer(s) & director of the anime.

Yet the series isn’t about anthropomorphic trains, like Thomas the Tank Engine with tits (although that may be an awesomely fucked up so to make!), there has to be actual human characters involved. & that is where my biggest gripe begins; this also being a harem series & all.

The thing to be said is: SATAN SAVE US FROM FECKLESS, IGNORANT, NICE GUY PROTAGONISTS!

They are so criminally the staple of harem (& most male centric) anime these days. I’ve already bitched & moaned about it in my Strike The Blood & Dragonar reviews but this time I’ll go a step further.

It is the Nice Guy Gets All The Poon Because He Is a Nice Guy trope that is pretty much creating generation of self entitled fucktards who think that they if pretend to be nice & do all the right things, women will sleep with them. It’s series such as this that has a hand in fuelling their pathetic delusions, causing them to turn into whinging little maggots online & then go attack anything with a vagina online to reinforce their fragile dissonant belief that the universe owes them sex due to some force, affected behaviour. Anyone who does this is scum! Anyone who uses it as an excuse to attack, threaten & belittle women -online or in real life- are worse then scum. & THEY’RE FUCKING TRILBYS YOU’RE WEARING NOT FEDORAS! LEARN THE FUCKING DIFFERENCE!!!

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Am OK. . . Am OK. . .

I’ll write more about that at a later date, so will continue on with the review now.

The feckless wonder at the centre of this story is Takayama Naoto, who has no less than 5 women eventually competing for his affection. With a possible 6th but she shows a more big sister approach to him & a lesbian-like relationship with the head of Railway Security.

the 3 other feckless wonders of the team: Haruka, Aoi & sho.
the 3 other feckless wonders of the team: Haruka, Aoi & sho.

The first 2 are his co-workers in 4th Guard Squad. Both polar opposites of each other & what they want from Takayama.

The first is the calm, quiet, highly intelligent Komi Haruka, who has supposedly carried a crush on Takayama since a chance meeting in childhood. She’s physically in the weakest on the team but makes it up for her exceptional knowledge of the technical aspects & designs of trains -especially the safety features of little known or older models. She also has the largest breasts of the main female casts, which seem to bounce free from gravity’s constrants.

Aoi doing what she does best: fucking up & hurting people.
Aoi doing what she does best: fucking up & hurting people.

Her eventual rival is the amazonic tsundere Sakurai Aoi. Her violent, impatient & overbearing nature often gets Takayama into trouble. She constantly berates him for not being a better guard because he wants to be a train driver but it is his unwavering nature to protect the passengers that eventually makes her turn her affections towards our inept hero.

Nao the idol, looking decent so you know she's going to be a bit of a bitch.
Nao the idol, looking decent so you know she’s going to be a bit of a bitch.

The other 3 include: a tsundere idol, Nao, who comes to love Takayama because he risks his life to protect her from a crazed fan; school friend & fellow train otaku Mari, who loves Takayama because of his passion for trains & his general niceness; & a female crossdresser whose name I forget right now, who falls in love with Takayama because of a mixture of why the other two aforementioned girls love him.

Naturally, Takayama is totally oblivious to how all these ladies feel about him, despite them being very very veeeeeeeeeeeeery obvious & open about it at times (especially Haruka, who’s always shoving her tits in is face). Of course, Takayama is always awkward & embarrassed whenever he is left alone with any of these ladies for more than a few minutes; blushing red like a baboon’s arse.

There is also a 4th member of the 4th Guard Squad: Iwaizumi Sho & he is, to put it lightly, a fucking idiot.

He’s also pretty much a non-entity during the majority of the series. He tends to stay in the background, say something stupid that’s related to food or being macho & then go off to eat or do something man related -or something macho that involves food. He only really plays part of the plots towards the end of the series, where he helps run a small proto-train with the rest of the team but nothing much beyond that.

The series as a whole doesn’t go much on character or plot development. The basic plots revolve around some criminal activity around the trains & in areas easily reached by trains. It reeked a bit too much of the old Simpsons gag Knightboat (can’t find a video for it unfortunately). Yet it is logically, because a lot of it are terrorist or ransom demanded related to the rail system, which in this alt world was never privatised & stripped down. Making it carry an old sense of nostalgia for the railway & the type of crime that should go along with it. The only thing they didn’t have was a damsel tied to the rails but they did the rope would lift up her tits & she’d spout facts about the train that’s about to hit her.

As harsh as I’ve been in this critique, I honestly found it hard to hate this series -although that might’ve been the hypnotic nature of the jiggling breasts. Aside from the usual fan service sexualisation, there wasn’t anything really terrible about it all. It entertained well enough, didn’t drag along or make me want to throw something at the TV (too much, aside from the feckless wonder Takayama). It’s not the best series but it’s far from terrible. The animation, especially the trains, is exceptionally well done. The action scenes are all brilliantly rendered, with lots of nice details that come from the blending of traditional & CGI animation without any obvious clumsy seams separating the two. There are the aforementioned annoyances with characters & plot but nothing terrible or offensive (or terribly offensive). There are some logic issues but it all breezes by at a good enough pace that you don’t really linger on them too much, nor do they jar or break the flow of the episodes.

If you like trains, you’ll love this. If you like tits, you’ll enjoy. If you love both, you’ll be in One Hand Heaven.

Pretty much how train fetishists will react to the series.
Pretty much how train fetishists will react to the series.

It would only be 3 episodes long if they took out the awkward pauses – Anime Critique: Nisekoi

Nisekoi_Volume_1Title: Nisekoi (Nise Koi, False Love, Fake Love)
Format: TV anime
Genre: comedy, romance, harem
Series Creator: Naoshi Komi
Series Director: Naoyuki Tatsuwa & Akiyuki Shinbo
Studio: Shaft
Series length: 20 episodes
Original Airing dates:
Reviewed format: HD downloads with fan-subs

 

 

 

 


Synopsis:

Nisekoi follows high school student Raku Ichijo, the son of a leader in the yakuza faction Shuei-Gumi, and Chitoge Kirisaki, the daughter of a boss in a rival gang known as Beehive. They unexpectedly meet when Chitoge hops a wall and knees Raku in the face. After she runs off, Raku realizes he has lost his locket which was given to him by his childhood sweetheart with whom he made a secret promise. After discovering Chitoge is a new transfer student in his class, he forces her to help him look for the locket. During the search, they begin to dislike each other.

Upon returning home, Raku learns that the Shuei-Gumi and Beehive gangs have agreed to settle their feud by pairing their leaders’ children. Raku learns that his girlfriend-to-be is none other than Chitoge. For the next three years, they must pretend to be in a relationship to maintain peace between the gangs. This turns out to be quite a challenging task, not only because of their hatred for one another, but also because Raku has a crush on another schoolmate, Kosaki Onodera, whom he secretly wishes was the girl who bears the key to his locket. Various developments complicate the situation, including Chitoge’s over-protective bodyguard, a female hitman, a girl who claims to be Raku’s fiancée, and the existence of multiple keys.”


Review:

There isn’t really much to say about this series, other then it finds a pretty cliched formula within the romantic harem comedy genre & goes Hell-Bent-for-Leather to stick to it.

Naturally, there are some changes to the formula, such as the central protagonist Raku not being caught in situations that make him seem like a pervert but still ends up in huge misunderstandings due to people not actually expressing themselves (which is actually an on going social issue in Japan & more & more in the West as well).

But the other hallmarks are all there within the harem structure: Chitoge is the tsundere who lashes out with violence when flustered but has a surprisingly sweet side to her, actually just wanting to be normal & fit in with her classmates (despite her mafia family); Kosaki is the sweet, quiet shy girl who has a distant crush on Raku but is too timid to say anything because she doesn’t want to be rejected or upset the status quo; Marika is the loud obsessive openly declaring her love whenever she can. The cast is rounded by the hitwoman Tsugumi Seishiro who gets easily flustered due to unknown emotions; Raku’s best friend Shu, who, because of his sharp observational skills, loves putting people in awkward romantic situations; and Kosaki’s stoic glasses wearing best friend Ruri, who’s constantly trying to push Kosaki into confessing to Kosaki into confessing her feelings to Raku, physically if necessary.
nisekoi-episode-9-12
As the series progresses Chitoge & Raku going from despising each other to becoming friends & then maybe something more. This is mainly through Raku genuinely being a nice guy & helping her out whenever he can, such as with trying to make friends with others in the class (which is hard because she has more limited Japanese language skills yet speaks in a complex fashion). But this kind of development is pretty basic & by the numbers. Same with Kosaki slowly coming to terms with her own feelings & the introductions of other “love interests” as the series progresses. Because it’s part of an ongoing manga series, some parts felt rushed whilst others dragged out too long & they added some twists far to late for such an oddly episoded series (20 instead of the usual 24).

Well, since there isn’t much plot to speak of, let’s talk about the visuals for a bit.

Nisekoi, despite having two directors, has the visual fingerprints of Shinbo Akiyuki all over it.

Shinbo, a very prolific director, is most famous for his work on the Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei & Monogatari animes -which brought to the fore his more unique & disjointed visual style.

Nisekoi is stung by so many of Shinbo’s now cliched hallmarks. Such as how female characters clasp their hands behind their backs & twist around to talk to camera (a feat that is physically impossible), linger external shots, scenes absent of people, sharp contrasting colours, characters staring at each other from either side of the screen with the eye focussed on the empty space in the centre of the screen & random non-sequitur animations.

Shinbo does add some interesting little visual gags. Such as every spit-take being depicted by little puppetry like cutouts held up by sticks yet these are really dwarfed by Shinbo’s typical and grating visuals.
horriblesubs-nisekoi-04-720p-mkv_snapshot_10-36_2014-03-10_21-52-53
Everybody get ready as I get out the old whacking stick for that old bugbear: hypersexualisation!

From his work on Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei & Monogatari, both Shinbo as a director & Shaft as a studio have employed especially degrading & stupid ways to depict & look at female characters on screen. Usually these are just the camera focussing on clothed chests or thighs as skirts flutter above them but Shinbo loves having his female twist into impossible & suggestive poses as they spout long monologues to the point it almost becomes like a bloody fetish for the man. He seems to be the anime version of Rob Liefield in terms of hypersexualised poses but with, you know, actually drawing talent & that.

Yet every anime that Shinbo touches is visually pretty & interesting, even if the content is disturbing or stupid. The man really knows how to control the mise-en-scene as well as challenging what is perceived as typical anime style. It’s not for everybody but he does bring an exceptionally amount of visual polish & interest to Nisekoi, more so then his other 2014 production Mekakucity Actors -which is just a basic rehashing of all his tricks from Monogatari.

In the end, Nisekoi is an extremely competent & visually pretty if very cliched series but it does at least stand above your average pathetic harem series (coughOnigaisenseitwinscough). If you don’t have much else to watch, there are worse ways to spend your time. But they said the same thing about the waiting room of the STD clinic too.

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