Again: why did I bother? – Anime Critique: Hitsugi no Chaika ~Avenging Battle~

Title: Hitsugi no Chaika ~Avenging Battle~ (Coffin Princess Chaika: Avenging Battle, Chaika of the Coffin ~Avenging Battle~) [2nd series]
Format: TV anime
Genre: fantasy, action, steampunk, spellpunk
Series Creator:  Ichiro Sakaki
Series Director: Soichi Masui
Studio: Bones
Series length: 10 episodes
Original Airing dates: October 8 – December 10, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fansubs

Light novel cover
Light novel cover

Synopsis:

“After the events of the 1st series, Chaika, Toru & their companions are still searching for the remains of Emperor Gaz. But now Chaika is beginning to question her own identity as well as her mission. Spurned on by the mysterious Guy, Chaika leaves Toru & heads to a hidden island to recover the ‘Emperor’s Fortune’ & learn the secrets of her past. Toru, unable to abandon his duty as a saboteur & realising his growing affection for the mysterious girl, sets off the save Chaika from whatever dangers she may face -even if that danger is the truth of her own being.”


Review:

I vaguely recall not being overly found of the 1st season of this series when it screened earlier in the here. In fact, my review of it was rather blunt in my general dislikes of it -especially the unresolved ending- because of its rushed yet dragging narrative, dull visuals & loli fetishisation. In fact, re-reading my original review, I saw how nice & generous I was being towards the series as a whole. No idea why but that’s how it was.

Anyway, now we have a 2nd season of Chaika, which does bring resolution to many dangling plot points & backgrounds but it all feels meaningless in a way. No matter how it all resolves, it still feels both rushed & slow. The pace is broken, the characters flat & uninteresting & motivations as murky as some of the visuals.

What it does have going for it is resolving the mystery of the various Chaika who pop up & why the character Vivi was turned into a half-Chaika at the end of the previous series (at the shock death of her beloved captain who, surprise surprise, isn’t actually dead -yeah, who couldn’t see that coming except for mister thicko over there).

Going to go into SPOILER territory right here & say that our protagonist Chaika Trabant (AKA the White Chaika) isn’t actually the real Chaika. In fact: there never was a real Chaika. They were all orphaned girls programmed with magic & reacting to certain triggers to transform into Chaika. Each pre-programmed with various skills & reasons for wishing to gather Gaz’s remains. This revelation is spread out over the entirety of the series, making it the focus of it, unlike the haphazard “collect the parts” driver from the previous. Of course, Chaika (& Red Chaika) can’t accept this but central Chaika begins to question her reasonings & resolve to see her mission through -which in turn affects Toru’s resolve & motivations.

This should’ve been a big emotion kick & play but since the characters are so poorly rendered, it doesn’t do anything. The twists to whether or not Chaika is actually the REAL Chaika don’t matter in the end.

This is because the characters are so poorly rendered, cliched & two dimensional (aside from the fact they are traditionally animated that is) that nothing that happens to them matters in the end.

Add to the fact that the entire last few episodes of the series are rushed & clumsy because they only had 10 episodes to work with rather than the 12 of the previous series & because the source material is still going. They basically pulled an ending out of their arse but unlike Akame ga Kill! (Akame ga Kiru! -review coming soon), this one feels haphazard, inconsequential & relying on a sudden, stupid case of Apò Mèkhanès Theós using a typically emotive device that evokes no emotions & a boring Good End coda to finish that also does nothing to stir the heart strings because it is entirely riddled with cliché.
hitsugi_no_chaika-01-chaika-coffin-gothic_lolita-mysterious-quiet
In fact, things that were once interesting become boring with explanation. Primary how magic is created & used within the series. I had complained that they didn’t really go into this in the last season but their explanation for magic & Emperor Gaz’s desire for it just seems so ham-fisted & half explicated that it becomes an entire waste of a plot point. More so with Gaz’s Treasure (also translated as Fortune) being a gundo (magical weapon) that then becomes a useless Apò Mèkhanès Theós is also a waste. Same with Gaz’s ultimate plot & resurrection, how he manipulated almost all events to achieve his goals. It was so all rushed & hand-waved through that I stopped caring.

A lot of the plot seems, again, both rushed & dragging. It had the grand ambition of wanting to philosophise on the ideas of war, human nature & what it means to be true to yourself vs. a task that you are driven to achieve but it just rings so hollow. All of these themes we have seen tackled in much better anime over the decades & it just gets stuck on such basic concepts. Mainly the idea that once someone has tasted war or conflict or been solely designed/trained for it, they cannot live in peace because they cannot change their fundamental nature. I personally find such concepts to be bullshit & utterly demeaning to those who have suffered through conflict & trauma. Saying that they can never find peace or cannot be happy unless they are killing. Some people do get trapped in such mindsets but there are those who can move on -especially when aided by others (such as I have done over the years with people I know with PTSD)

It also has to be mentioned how blandly this show is animated. There are so nice notes in the character design but the scenery & extra details are so fundamentally lacking that they might have well just reused any generic fantasy anime background. The fights are still fairly well done but lacking in excitement. The colour palate is dull, especially the toned down blood splatters.

The only good thing to note is the reduction in Fan Service & the (hyper) sexualisation of the loli-like Chaikas. They still have fetished appearances but so do most of the females in the series. I pretty much chose to ignore it this time around between it becomes “Sky blue, water wet” syndrome (stating the fucking obvious in other words).

In the end, I have no idea why I bothered with the series overall & curse my compulsion to find narrative resolution, even in things that I don’t really like or care for. Can’t recommend. Try the manga & original Light Novel, they actually look good & tell a better story.

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Lustful Lascivious Little Lolis – Anime Critique: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei!

64175Title: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei!
Format: TV anime
Genre: fantasy, magical girl, comedy, parody
Series Creator:  Hiroshi Hiroyama
Series Director: Shin Onuma
Studio: Silver Link
Series length: 10 episodes
Original Airing dates: July 9 – September 10, 2014
Reviewed format: High def download with fan subs


Synopsis:

Illyasviel von Einzbern is an ordinary elementary school student who becomes a magical girl when the magical Kaleidostick Ruby deems her a more suitable master than the sorceress, Rin Tosaka. Rin, who had been tasked by the wizard Zelretch to collect the seven Class Cards containing the spirits of Heroic Spirits from legend, finds that she is unable to change Ruby’s mind and must supervise Illya in completing the task of collecting the Class Cards. During Illya’s adventures, she receives a friend and rival in a girl named Miyu, the contracted master of the Kaleidostick Sapphire, which similarly abandoned its original master and Rin’s rival, Luvia Edelfelt.

After a series of battles, Illya and Miyu were able to collect all Cards and became good friends, while Rin and Luvia remained in Japan by the order of Zelretch. However, the appearance of Kuroe, a girl with a striking resemblance to Illya, soon complicates their lives as she attempts to eliminate Illya.


Review:

To begin with, it’s hard to criticise a series for (hyper) sexualisation when it’s a spin-off of an ecchi game/Visual Novel. Yet the original (& not terribly great) Fate/Stay Night anime wasn’t as sexualised as the Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya franchise is. What kicks F/klPI and its sequel series into low cheer is the hypersexualisation of lolis. I’ve already beat the drum over my extreme distaste for this with the previous season’s reviews but I just have to kick it again.

 PUTTING LITTLE GIRLS INTO SEXUAL POSITIONS, POSES, CLOTHING & VISUALISATIONS IS WRONG, DISGUSTING & PATHETIC! STOP PRODUCING PAEDOS & DEMAND FOR PAEDO RELATED MATERIAL, MEDIA INDUSTRY!

& don’t get on your high horses & say that it’s strictly a Japanese thing & we shouldn’t judge them too harshly for it. Have you seen Toddlers & Tiaras?! That shit makes you want to puke!

Anyway, anyway, the review, the review. . .

My general expression watching this series.
My general expression watching this series.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! Is the direct sequel to last year’s loli-fest Magical Girl parody Type-Moon spin-off series, basically picking up right after the events of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya. There are still many plot threads to address from the get go, such as Miyu’s true identity, but that is all put aside for the introduction of Kuroe (Clo in the fan-sub, short for clone) -Illya’s doppelganger who is an incarnation of the Archer Heroic Spirit (it all makes sense if you know the main Fate/Stay Night series & characters). At first, Kuroe wants to kill Illya so she can legitimise her own existence but, with props to the writers for this, it actually goes deeper than Kuroe merely being a doppelganger, being back connections to the original Holy Grail Wars from Fate/Stay Night & why that battle never occurred within the Fate/kaleird liner universe.

Type-Moon always interconnect their stories with transdimensional crossovers, with various characters having different connections or incarnations. It comes from their Visual Novel/video game origins to explain their multiple endings & how they can all be canon. F/klPI is deep within this but you don’t need a knowledge of the tie in series to watch it.

The other thing that F/klPI2 has in it is lots of underage lesbianism. Because in someone’s mind the only thing hotter than sexualisation underaged girls is making them perform homoerotic acts as well.

More of the yuri stuff is more connected with Miyu’s growing romantic attachment to Illya, her jealousy over little actions & wanting to connect more to her -not only as a fellow Magical Girl but also as a firned. Where it crosses the line is when Kuroe deep kisses the other female cast members to drain them of their mana so she can power herself (mana = life energy for her). Part of me things that I can ignore it because it’s played off for comic value (Illya’s friends angry at her because they think Kuroe is her) but when they show Kuroe really going for it on Miyu, I really had to fast forward.

If this gets you off, you're one sick twisted piece of shit!
If this gets you off, you’re one sick twisted piece of shit!

To be honest, the comedy stuff is what kept me watching (that & my pathetic addiction to knowing what happens in narratives & solving loose plot threads). They play off a lot of the comedy on altering or playing up certain character traits. Like Illya’s adoptive stepbrother’s ignorance of the women around him, Illya’s near yandere affection for him (especially in the face of Kuroe) & her extreme reactions to what her magical want Ruby makes her do.

The act of a extremely lustful loli.
The act of a extremely lustful loli.

To be honest: the majority of the plot is focussed on Illya trying to protect her everyday life. She likes being a Magical Girl but this series falls more into the Mahou Madoka style of making a Magical Girl’s life as brutal as fuck. The previous series dealt with the life/death struggle that people with power on a mission must endure, so this 2nd series falls more into the trope of protecting one’s everyday mundane life but also protecting those whom you love. This plays out in the last two episodes, where the brutally powerful character Bazett Fraga McRemitz is introduced & Illya realises what her real duty is. Fighting on despite being drastically underpowered.

Unfortunately, that whole plot point won’t be resolved until next year, when Part 2 of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! is released. Which is a bit of a pisser but they are supposedly combining it with plot elements of the ongoing 3rd manga series.

In the end, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! has its moments & its connections to the larger Type-Moon omniniverse is a nice hook but it pretty much is a series for paedos because of the extreme hyersexualisation in some scenes. If you have issue with that, well: Come At Me, Bro!

That being said: I will probably watch the 3rd series just to know how it all ends & the series overall connection to the Fate/Stay Night universe but part of me would rather just wait for the upcoming new Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works anime which is out later this year.

So, paedos & Type-Moon fans feel free to watch but the latter better not mix with the former less bad things happen.

FateIllya2wei1a

The Lolis of the Apocalypse – Anime Critique: Black Bullet

Before we begin with the critique, we’d just like to point out that this is our 69th post, so please insert childish Bevis & Butthead style laughter here.


 

Black_Bullet_Light_Novel_Cover_Volume_1Title: Black Bullet (Burakku Buretto)
Format: TV anime
Genre: sci-fi, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, action, harem
Series Creator: Shiden Kanzaki
Series Director: Masayuki Kojima
Studio: Kinema Citrus
Series length: 13 episodes
Original Airing dates: April 8, 2014 – July 1, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fan subs

 

 


 

Synopsis:

“In the year 2021, mankind is decimated by the epidemic of Gastrea, a parasitic virus, and is forced to live within the Monolith walls, which are created from Varanium: a metal that is able to subdue Gastrea. Soon, children who were born with the Gastrea virus and obtained superhuman abilities as a result, are discovered and dubbed “Cursed Children”. Due to the Gastrea virus’ intervention, the Cursed Children could only be female. Civil Securities are formed to specialize fighting against Gastrea, operating with the pair of an Initiator, who are cursed children, and a Promoter, serving to lead the cursed children. Ten years after the epidemic, Rentaro Satomi, a high school student who is also a Promoter in Tendo- Civil Security Agency owned by his childhood friend Kisara Tendo-, along with his Initiator, Enju Aihara, conducts missions to prevent the destruction of the Tokyo Area and the world.”


 

Review:

This is the last series of the previous seasons Loli-fest that sexualised massively underaged girls that I shall be reviewing & am glad that the trends of anime in this new season have shifted from the hypersexualisation of little girls to the hypersexualisation of teenage girls as they struggle to become idols (shudders).

Yet despite the loli (& general) hypersexualisation, I actually enjoyed this series (for the most part).

Either expressing her affection or sexual desire, hard to tell in some anime
Either expressing her affection or sexual desire, hard to tell in some anime

The main reasons for my enjoyment of the series is the plot & the characters. Unlike other drag-rush series this past season, Black Bullet actually progresses & develops with each episode. Giving you enough info about the events before the start of the series to understand the narrative universe but not getting bogged down in useless exposition. Unfortunately there are some illogical in the character development, which I shall touch on later, but the fact you have 3 clear arcs within the 13 episode time frame means that the series, as a whole, needs to keep moving & developing.

Like so many dystopian post-apocalyptic/post-disaster narratives, the story is both about restoring the social order in the face of the threat of an “Outside Other” as well as restoring trust & connection between individuals (for more on this subject, check out my lecture here). Yet Black Bullet is actually more focussed on using the latter to deconstruct the former.

The central protagonists have all have issues with loss, trust & how the world of their present wishes to be. The narrative drive is how these characters seek to overcome not only how they feel about themselves & those in their lives but to tear down the world that wishes to ignore & destroy those who protect them; preferring instead the safe peace of ignorance rather than acknowledging that they owe their lives to an army of mutated little girls & their (sometimes abusive) human partners.

The look of loli lust

The three centre protagonists -Rentaro, Enju & Kisara- are all broken in some way by the on going war with the Gastrea mutations. Rentaro lost his family in the first attack on Tokyo & was then adopted into the Tendo family, where he lost his limbs protecting Kisara from a Gastrea attack. During that same attack, Kisara watched her parents die, which caused so much stress on her body she suffered catastrophic kidney failure (which is odd but, hey, it’s fiction, right?), leaving her unable to do prolonged physical activity despite her high level martial arts training. Whilst Enju was born as one of the Cursed Children & abandoned in the ruins of old Tokyo before being dragged in to serve as Rentaro’s partner, leaving her with huge trust issues as at the treatment of other Cursed Children (she can hide the red eyes that give the girls away) by the rest of society as well as the constant fear that she could die from her Gastrea infection before she grows up.

Her boobs are just out of shoot but you know they are the focus of the scene
Her boobs are just out of shoot but you know they are the focus of the scene

It is this constant, pressuring knowledge that drives Enju to act; especially in regards to proclaiming her constant love for Rentaro, claiming that she’ll be his bride -much to his annoyance. This can be read as a way for her to push away the fear of her own mortality, as well as possess a shred of hope that there will be someone who won’t abandon her. Similarly, Rentaro is crippled by the dread of losing anyone, which makes him hesitant in his actions but eventually allows him to reach out to the other Cursed Children, helping them normalise their lives for the chance to be integrated into regular society without having to bare the stigma of their births. Whilst Kisara is consumed by the need to discover the truth as to how her parents could’ve been killed by Gastrea in a protected zone balanced with the need not put her beloved Rentaro at too much risk or lose him to her rivals in love -such as Miori, who isn’t shy in showing her affection for Rentaro.

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Typical emotionally stunted shonen & affectionate loli in their natural environment

These personal drama are set against a larger socio-politic conflict that is common in post-apocalyptic reconstruction narratives. It’s mainly focussed on the issue of the public’s view of the Cursed Children, mainly mitigating the authority’s hatred & murder of them, as well as trying to reunify Japan from fractured city-states to a full nation once again. With many conspiracies & old hatreds lying hiding in the background.

As mentioned in the 2nd or so paragraph, there are 3 clear arcs to the series, each building upon the last (except for the 1st obviously, duh!). It is honestly refreshing for this past season to see a series so clearly sign posted for its intention for pushing the narrative forward & doing so without losing any character development or the external context, pressures & personal oaths/commitments.

The 1st arc focuses on establishing character & narrative context, where a rogue Promoter, Hiruko Kagetane, & his psychotic Initiator daughter, Kohina, steal a device that can summon the highest class of Gastrea, which can ignore the barriers & destroy all of Tokyo with an army of Gastrea drones as well as its own power. This arc allows Enju & Rentaro to come to terms with their position as Civil Security Agents, their abilities as well as working more smoothly as a team. It also helps Rentaro come to terms with the lose of his limbs & their replacement with special cybernetic technology, putting him on an even front with Kagetane -who is entirely augmented with cybernetic & military technology. The Hiruko pair are a dark reflection of Enju & Rentaro, a what could have been if Rentaro let his anger & thirst for vengeance get the better of him. In the end, turns out the summoning device was actually a bunch of kids stuff, deepening the mystery of the Gastrea.

He needs to wear a mask because he so ugly even yo mama wouldn't touch him!
He needs to wear a mask because he so ugly even yo mama wouldn’t touch him!

The second arc focuses more on Rentaro’s moral & social development, as he is made head bodyguard/security chief to the nominal head of Tokyo Area, the pale & mysterious, Seitenshi (not real name). Who wishes for freedom for the Cursed Children but is kept in check politically by Kisara’s grandfather, Tendo Kikunojo, who is also Rentaro’s adoptive father, the one who turned him into a weapon. The reason for Seitenshi so suddenly promoting, other then his defeat of the Hiruko pair, is because she’s meeting a rival leader of the Japanese territories, Saitake Sogen, an ambitious man who wishes to rule all of the island nation with an iron fist but one who Rentaro is personally familiar with, due to having meet him when he [Rentaro] was still a child. Whilst there is a genuine fear of an assassination of Seitenshi, Rentaro has more issue dealing with the power politics within Seitenshi’s palace, as her regular bodyguards are murderously jealous of Rentaro being given a position of privilege so close to their beloved (read in a stalkerish fashion) leader. Enju & Rentaro also finds that they can no longer turn a blind eye to the injustices set upon the Cursed Children, especially when Saitake leaks information to Enju’s school that she’s a Cursed Child, causing her to be removed & for her then to run away. Even whilst dealing with all that, Rentaro encounters new Loli jailbait, Tina Sprout, rendered in an overly sexualised way with lulled eyes & exposed shoulders (because loose women in Japan always show their shoulders, never understood that cultural hang up). But whilst she appeals to be utterly docile & helpless -Rentaro had to help her a few times- she’s actually a living machine weapon like he is, sent to assassinate Seitenshi on behalf of Ayn Rand (no, not that one even though she is evil enough to be a supervillain). There ends up being a pretty cool series of battles between the two of them, especially after Tina fucks up Enju because they didn’t know she was weaponised & when Tina tries to kill Kisara without knowing that Rentaro works for her (because she now wuvs him, makes it hard for her to explain things when she finds out). It ends with a cool action scene & Rentaro sparing Tina’s life because she is the tool for another but he ended up fucking up Seitenshi’s head of security because he tries to shoot a wounded Tina. Rentaro grows them big nutz & blows the dude’s finger clean off before demanding a better position of power from Seitenshi, which she agrees to because she wants to bang him like a screen door.

 

Now for the lazy lustful loli look
Now for the lazy lustful loli look

The 3rd & final arc is the most traditional in terms of an action series plot but still pretty good. A giant Gastrea has corroded one of the Monoliths that keep the Gastrea away from the Tokyo Area & it’s only days before it collapses, meaning that all the mutations can destroy the city. So, we have a Ticking Clock scenario yet one that plays out well for the most part.

Rentaro has an X number of days to assemble a team in order to be part of the Civil Security fighting force. Which doesn’t make much sense in a way, because they never explain why they need group teams & not the usual partnerships in the fight. Rentaro & Tina (who is now partnered with Kisara) are rejected by almost everyone that they ask, which is again strange because Rentaro has a serious rep within the Civil Security community now, but means that he can approach those whom he trusts the most. Unfortunately this is few people, so he only managed to recruit one pair who are old friends of his & Kisara & Tina join, much to Rentaro’s objections over her poor health. They eventually find another member in the form of a former student of Kisara’s family martial arts school & senpai to Rentaro (but Rentaro addresses him as nii-san or elder brother).

Parallel to this, Rentaro has taken it upon himself to become a teacher for a group of Cursed Children who live in the ruins of old Tokyo but the Gastrea attack on the Monolith has brought public tensions to the boil. Many normal humans see the Cursed Children as the cause of the Gastrea virus rather than it’s victims. So there are more violence against the Cursed Children, represented by a blind beggar girl whose mother burnt out her eyes rather than look at the accursed red of them. This all comes to ahead when, before the big battle, someone bombs the school group that Rentaro teaches, killing all of the girls who had just come to trust him & have faith that they will have a future. Naturally, this causes huge grief for both Enju & Rentaro but steels their resolve to win the battle so that they can prove that the World is worth saving.

Another aside to this is Kisara’s investigation into how a Gastrea could corrupt the Monolith, which all leads back to the overarching meta-plot of her family’s schemes.

After the first big battle, Rentaro’s team disobeys orders in order to prevent a surprise Gastrea attack but are blamed for the deaths of other Security Officers -including the leader’s son, who turned chicken shit at the last minute. In order for everyone to save face for everyone, Rentaro has to go off on own to destroy a mysterious Gastrea that protects the huge monster that controls all of the other Gastrea in the area. After being attacked by wolf-like Gastrea, Rentaro is saved by Kagetane, who has returned from the dead, & his daughter Kohina, who still wants to fight Enju. Kagetane is still obsessed with getting Rentaro to see his point over view: that humanity is doomed & only enhanced superhumans like them & the Cursed Children will survive (ignoring the fact that the Cursed Children never survive into adulthood). Yet Rentaro is determined to stick to his Hero of Bitter Justice routine, so Hiruko father & daughter stick with the stubborn lad in his mission. Together they defeat what they have to defeat & return to find the Civil Security Agents slaughtered & their stupid selfish leader killed (yay!), which means Rentaro is in charge. He takes on the persona of a ruthless commander willing to cut anyone down who stands in his way but this is merely an affect in order to hold the broken survivors together. In the end they win the day but with very heavy losses, both numeral & personal, as well as being betrayed by political figures with petty grudges (namely Seitenshi’s bodyguards looking to see Rentaro killed no matter the overall cost).

The unexpected coda to the overarching plot is Kisara getting revenge on one of the people who caused the death of her parents as well as being responsible for the disaster with the Monolith’s collapse. This shows her damaged psyche & how far she is willing to go, chiding Rentaro for being unable to punish evil because he has Batman-like boundries.

This was a very good series, despite the lolis & hypersexualisation of the adult characters but it does deal with some very dark themes & images.

Mainly extreme violence being perpetrated against very young girls.

This is an exceptionally bloody series; with dismemberments & blood fountains being par for the course. The fact that it’s performed on young girls does make it more disturbing; more so when it’s also dealing with the idea of suicide rather than become corrupted by the viral evil that is within their bodies.

Like any good dystopian narrative, Black Bullet has a very bleak outlook but edged with hope that if one fights on things can be made better, no matter the sacrifices made. It also talks a lot about love & hope. The reason that the girls, mainly Enju & Tina, are so passionately devoted to Rentaro -declaring their intentions to marry him- isn’t about the sexualisation of children (even though that sickening does happen in the series) but is more about their hope for the future. In that they may become adults & find true love; with marriage being the greatest representation of love & the bond between two people.

Yeah, I won't make a gangbang joke here.
Yeah, I won’t make a gangbang joke here.

In the end, this is a heavy series with more than a few issues -both in terms of imagery & plot coherence- but it is something that I do recommend if you like dystopian sci-fi with over the top action & violence. It won’t be for everyone & there are plenty to make most uncomfortable it does stand high upon the mundanity that plagued the previous anime season.

Black_Bullet_Anime_Promotional_Poster

Uh, yeah, well, that’s about it really – Anime Critique: Hitsugi no Chaika

chaika 01Title: Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika of the Coffin, Chaika ~the Coffin Princess)
Format: TV anime
Genre: fantasy, action, steampunk, spellpunk
Series Creator:  Ichiro Sakaki
Series Director: Soichi Masui
Studio: Bones
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: April 9, 2014 – June 25, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fansubs

 

 


Synopsis:

5 years ago, the 200 year war between the alliance of six nations and the Gaz Empire comes to an end when Emperor Arthur Gaz, the Immortal Emperor of the Gaz Empire, is finally killed by eight warriors known as the Eight Heroes. After the war, the Empire’s lands were divided by the alliance who later formed the Council of Six Nations to bring peace and order to the land. In the present, Toru Acura is a former Saboteur who lives with his sister Akari. Toru is unable to settle in this peaceful era as his Saboteur skills are useless and sees no meaning in his life. While out foraging at the forest, Toru encounters Chaika Trabant, a white haired Wizard with a white headband and a coffin, saving her from a man eating unicorn. Seeing their skills as Saboteurs, Chaika hires Toru and Akari for an important task; to steal the remains of Arthur Gaz from the Eight Heroes.”


Review:

I’ve detected a trend in this season of anime (other than sexual assault & the hypersexualisation of underage girls) & that’s that pretty much all series that I’ve seen so far seem both rushed & drawn out.

That is to say: they seem to skip a lot of important character & background development, rushing through so many what should be crucial foundations to understand & enjoy a series yet they get bogged down on certain scenarios or tags of information, devoting too much time what isn’t really important or using vital time to dangle plot threads that might never get resolved within the span of the series.
hitsugi_no_chaika-01-chaika-coffin-gothic_lolita-mysterious-quiet
I really wanted to love the anime of Hitsugi no Chaika, I truly did because the universe is full of amazing ideas & details. Almost all of which are skipped over & then we are hit by a huge chunk of background at the end (leading into a 2nd series in October). This is very particular to the primary characters, Toru, his adopted sister Akari & the titular Chaika.

I genuinely wanted to know Toru & Akari’s backgrounds, especially their roles in the last days of the war. What we are left with is unexplained info, just showing Toru as a moppy spod longing for the action & mindlessness that the war provided whilst Akari is rendered too much like Mikasa from Shingeki no Kyojin -in that she’s a total bro-con who is obsessed with protecting & deferring to Toru despite being the better of the duo (’tis a pity that she lacks Mikasa’s bitching abs). At least Chaika is supposed to be mysterious with trickled out development but they tend to rush over what should be crucial emotional development of the character.

You see, Chaika claims to be the daughter of the Wizard-Emperor Gaz (or Good Old Gazzah to his mates) yet that affirmation is constantly called into question by those who seek to stop Chaika in regaining the magically imbued pieces of the Emperor’s body that were taken by the 8 warriors who killed him. Primary to counter her claims are other Chaika’s, who look similar to her in terms of face but the two others seen within the series (referred to as Red & Blue Chaika) have differently rendered bodies. Yet all have silver-white hair (denoting supernatural connections) & scars around their necks like their heads have been severed. This confrontation of the self should cause an ideological & psychological schism & in most others (darker) series this would carry a lot of the internal action yet it’s pretty much brushed over in favour of focussing on less important things (in my opinion at any rate).
Hitsugi no Chaika - 03 -5
Similar rushed development can be seen in the erstwhile antagonists, the Post-War Kleeman Agency (similar to Section III from Pumpkin Scissors but with a cat-boy instead of a tank killing super-soldier). I think it took about 3 episodes before I learnt their names & what their goals were. They appeared at first to be agents of violence, under the command of the driven & uncompromising Captain Alveric Gillette, seeking to stop Chaika through any means they can but as the series progresses you see that they are more a desperate group trying to stop a return to a war that could destroy the world. Again: I really wanted to know more about them & how they came to be formed. Especially the cat-boy Leonardo, who was supposedly created as a tool for war. His backstory should have naturally parallelled with Toru & Akari’s, who come from a village who’s only function is to produce Saboteurs to fight in the once endless (200 year long) war. There should have also been parallels drawn between the driven nature of Gillette, who is willing to do whatever he must to ensure a stable peace, & Toru, who is so willing to give up his agency as a human & become a tool for Chaika to use just to feel as though he is of some use.
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The strengths of the series though lies in its fairly original use of magic & technology. Wizards are actually a form of sniper or riflemen, who use weapons called Gundo to channel spells. Since these often take a bit of time to set up, they either do this from afar or under the protection of mid or close range fighters. The spells that the Gundo can cast range from complex attack formulas to silencing spells to producing simple light sources. The Gundo, & all other magical technology, are powered by Magic Fuel which is produced from fossils because it relies on memories & trauma to convert thought into energy. In a pinch, a Wizard can use their own memories to operate their weapons or vehicles but they can’t select which memories to use.
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The nature of the magic & the technology of this world is fascinating but under-explained in the series. With a lot of exposition being dropped on you in the last three episodes, where supposedly major antagonists are brought into the fray yet they basically do nothing. The idea behind their floating fortress was pretty cool but under played & developed.

The other plus of the series are the numerous action & battle scenes, where you see Toru & Akari in full effect. They are both agile combatants, leaping & dodging as well as throwing blades in the midst of close quarters conflict. Akari is more of th powerhouse that Toru, wielding a spiked hammer whilst Toru has twin blades with wires hidden in the pommels, allowing him to escape or entrap opponents. Both the siblings also use what is called “Iron Blood Transformation” which heightens their abilities & lessens any pain felt -although there are some logically inconsistencies in their use but that stems from the lack of explanation. The Red Chaika also wields a Snake Sword to great visual & battle effect.
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Visually, the series is pretty fantasy standard. Not as flashy as it could’ve been, not as visually dull either. There is an odd thing with the blood in the TV broadcast being toned down so it’s a weird browny colour & the series does get pretty bloody towards the last few episodes. Nothing to complain about but once you notice it, you can’t stop seeing it throughout.

One last complaint & it is pretty petty but I DESPISE the fashion in which Chaika (& Red Chaika) speak. It’s a clipped broken fashion where so can only say the most basic form, usually object & action without any joining words. So, if she wishes to express her belief that Toru is safe she’ll say “Toru, safe!” or similar such thing. Yes, it’s a petty petty gripe but enduring 12 episodes of it is pretty annoying. Plus I do DREAD how they’ll render her speech in the eventual English dub.

I’m genuinely hoping that they put more development into the upcoming 2nd season because there is so much to otherwise recommend the series. I managed to read a few chapters the manga adaptation (originally a Light Novel) some months back, so my expectations were high for the series. Yet it is still highly original in parts with interesting visuals. I will make my usual criticism of the hypersexualisation of a (gothic) loli character (the main Chaika) as well Akari’s cleavage always being on display but it seems like a moot point right now. The Blue Chaika is also hypersexualised but she’s depicted as an adult with a loli’s body rather than a child or teenager (unlike so many other series this season).

This is one that I’ll leave up to you, the reader, to make a decision on -especially if I am right or wrong about the rushed yet dragging nature of the series. I dig have high expectations coming into the series, so that would’ve affected my opinion somewhat but as long as you, the reader, likes it, it’s all good.

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“Then I’ll make my own series -with lolis & tentacles!” – Anime Critique: Seikoku no Dragonar

Seikoku_no_Dragonar_light_novel_vol_1Title: Seikoku no Dragonar (Dragonar Academy, The Star-Marked Dragonar)
Format: TV series
Genre: fantasy, ecchi, harem, action, hentai
Series Creator: Shiki Mizuchi
Series Director: Shunsuke Tada & Tomoyuki Kurokawa
Studio: C-Station
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: April 5, 2014 – June 21, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fan subs


Synopsis:

“In a land of dragons, where citizens called breeders tame their dragon pals. Races of dragons are born from breeders who are given a Seikoku: a dragon star-shape brand.

Learning to ride and tame dragons comes easy to most students at Ansarivan Dragonar Academy—except for first-year student Ash Blake, who is known by his classmates as the “number one problem child.” Despite his unfashionably large star-shaped brand that marks him as a future dragon master, he has nothing to show for it. His dragon has never appeared. Until now, that is. One fateful day, Ash’s dragon awakes in full glory, but appears different than any dragon ever seen before—in the form of a beautiful girl! What’s more, Ash soon discovers that this new dragon has attitude to spare, as she promptly informs him that she is the master, and he, the servant. Ash’s problems with dragon riding have only just begun.”


Review:

When I wrote my review for Strike The Blood some time back, I had a check list that cited the genericness & cliche of that series, so here we shall repeat that list to see what Seikoku no Dragonar adds to the realm of anime (other than sweet fuck all!).

So, for the sake of repetition & making a point, here’s the list:

Does Seikoku no Dragonar have the following?:

  •     One male protagonist with hidden power? Check!
  •     Also slightly perverted? Check!
  •     Redeems himself by having a pure heart & protects his friends to the risk of his own life? Check!
  •     Tsundere style violent love interest? Check!
  •     Female characters as potential love rivals for the female protagonist? Check!
  •     Secret supernatural powers? Check!
  •     Plenty of useless fan-service? Once again: Check & motherfucking check!

So, what does Seikoku no Dragonar add?

Well, lolicon & tentacle rape. (SFW link)

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That’s pretty much it.

I despised this series so much.

Despised it for being cliche. Despised it for rewarding the male gaze every chance it got. Despised for pushing the hypersexualisation of female characters to new lows in a TV broadcast (although I think Kenzen Robo Daimidaler still holds that title, which is why I warned you all from watch it). Despised it for being everything wrong with modern Japanese media.

When the tentacle rape happened in such a blatant & disgusting way I honestly should have stopped watching it & wrote a rant about why it was despicable. Yet it was so like a car crash & I couldn’t turn away out of the dissonant belief that it couldn’t get any worse than it did.

Oh, how wrong I was, dear reader. As the tentacle rape & extreme hypersexualisation only got worse & worse as the series progressed. Every shot of the female characters was sexualised in same way. From the camera just staring at a pair of tits as their owner talked -their head out of shot- to how every female action is performed in a way that the camera pans up & down their bodies. How even if the female characters are powerful & empowered in their own right, they are still turned into nothing but a pile of meat for the eye to absorb. How during the attack of the tentacle rapey undead dragons (not a phrase I’d every thought I’d write yet anime does it to me again) all the women’s clothing was torn off yet the men remained dressed, despite being restrained in the same fashion. The two worse things were how they had the tentacles probe every part of the female anatomy whilst the victims gave off pleasured noises Actually even worse than that were the two loli characters & how they were brutally sexualised by the oft mentioned tentacles or spent the majority of their onscreen time either naked or in a state of general undress.

The non-female designs are also just plain ugly. Especially the dragons.

They all look the same (just like white people really) but are so brutally ungainly & clumsily designed it borders on the sickening. They don’t look in any way graceful or powerful, just lumps of scaled muscle with stubby wings & hideous heads. I suppose this is because they spent the majority of their animation budget on the female characters tits (or the lolis’ lumps).

Maybe I’m just a media sadomasochist who can’t crawl away from what he hates (see my rant on the Little Busters! series).

I should spend more time deconstructing the series, saying how badly rendered all the characters are, how cliched it is or how the relationships between the characters & their various overlapping backstories are formed but it’s all fucking meaningless when the series is so devoid of taste, charm or moderation.

I don’t recommend this series to anyone & if you like you are one sick sad fucker you needs serious help in the form of a knee right to your fucking jaw.

It’s also based upon a Light Novel series & I despise to think how close the anime is to that. The manga is worse in terms of hypersexualisation, so avoid that more.

Now have to scrub my skin with acid to get this series off me!

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Warning! Do not support the anime Kenzen Robo Daimidaler

Kenzen_Robo_Daimidaler_volume_1_coverI’m really not one to get on my high horse & attack people for what they watch (at least on this blog) but there is a new series that I cannot condone in the slightest.

& that is Kenzen Robo Daimidaler.

The reason why?

Pretty much because the central protagonist gains his superpowers through sexual assault.

Not only does he grope women to gain power but is actively encourage to do so, with some scenes bordering on rape.

Now, fan service & hypersexualisation is the bread & butter for so many anime series but there must be a line drawn on such matters are sexual assault & molestation (speaking as a victim of the former). I mean, there are plenty of series -new & returning- these season that uses hypersexualisation & fan service as their selling points –Blade & Soul, Date Alive II, No Game No Life, et cetera, et et cetera but they at least (for the most part) actually do not cross lines (more on that below), where as Daimidaler not only crosses that line but burns it & salts the Earth so no protest can grow back.

Now, this rant may encourage you to watch it & I won’t belittle or insult you if you do. As a consumer you must make an active choice in what you watch & participate in but such series as Daimadaler are abhorrent & the producers of such media should be told the damage that they are doing to society, media & participation culture.

The other abhorrence of this current series is the hypersexualisation of underage characters (referred to as Loli after Lolita & the act of Lolicon [link NSFW]). Series such as No Game No Life, Black Bullet and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka put pre-teen females into positions of sexual submission & suggestion. It’s bad enough when fan service focuses on girls between 14 & 16 but lines should be drawn to stop this loli shite on screen, thus condoning it for society.

Here Endth the Rant!

I have no idea what I just watched – Anime Review: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

Sekai-Seifuku-Bouryaku-no-ZvezdaTitle: Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~ (World Conquest: Zvezda Plot)
Format: TV anime
Genre: sci-fi, comedy, parody, ecchi, superhero
Series Director: Tensai Okamura
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: January 11, 2014 – March 29, 2014
Reviewed format: HDTV download with various fansubs

 

 

 

 


Synopsis:

World Conquest Zvezda Plot (lit. Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda) stars a little girl named Kate Hoshimiya (also known as Lady Venera), who is at the helm of an organization called Zvezda, which has the purpose of World Conquest. One day Austa Jimon, a middle school boy who ran away from home due to family issues, ends up meeting Kate on the street, and subsequently getting roped into joining Zvezda with them. However, in order to conquer the world, they must defeat an organization called White Light, which is contracted out by the Japanese Government to defeat Zvezda and put an end to their plots of World Conquest once and for all.”


Review:

I honestly don’t know how to describe Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~ let alone review it.

It’s pretty weird but not fully out there like Level E or FLCL but still odd.

Part of the oddness is being thrown right into the plot of Asuta pretty much being kidnapped (though he did run away from home first) but the strange loli, Hoshimiya Kate, in order to fulfil her dreams of world conquest. Asuta is then thrust into strange situation after strange situation, all while trying to resist falling too much in with the Zvezda leaders & while still trying to protect his boring life at school.

One reason why the series is confusing is because while it has it’s own internal logic, which it adheres too very strongly which, as mentioned in my Buddy Complex review, allows for the Suspension of Disbelief but the actually plot itself seems to be missing vast chunks of backstory, so you are missing out important details for many of the characters.

This isn’t of itself a vast problem because it allows you to fill in many of the gaps yourself with the scant info that the show provides in random flashbacks & asides but it does drag a lot of the pacing down as well as leaves some of the jokes to go begging (though that can also be the cross-cultural translation issues as well). Another issue is the inconsistent tone, shifting from absurd comedy to action & trying to make some serious social issues as well (such as stopping public smoking). Plus a lot of the actual plot is left until the last few episodes, revealing part of the true adversaries (though not the real evil behind them) & kind of rushing things to reach the conclusion.

Factor also in my usual issue with hypersexualisation & Fan Service (especially of the extreme young looking Kate) & there is more than enough issues to warrant my disdain.
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That being said: I actually enjoyed this series (whenever I got a sub that didn’t make my video player crash).

When it plays to the strengths of it’s absurdity & parody, it can truly hit the mark. Especially making you support & follow the supposed bad guys (Zvezda) despite them never actually doing anything bad -apart from Yasu, who is a perpetual loser looking to make himself appear important. The so-called heroes, White Light, are excellent parodies of Tokusatsu style heroes in terms of their costume but their goals are far from noble (though they aren’t out & out villains).

The other great strength is the characters.

Asuta is your typical everyman protagonist, dragged into situations beyond his understanding but always does his best in the end. He also has the knack of surviving the most unlike of situations, either from dumb luck or skilfully running away. & is eternally bullied by Kate, who may or may not be attracted to him.

Kate is odd, because at first she appears to be your typical over-sexualised loli  (NSFW link) but actually has a great will to see things through & the ability to see deep into the human heart. This actually comes from her being an immortal being who stopped aging the moment she swore that she would conquer the world, a reveal -while interesting- comes a little too late. I was interested in seeing how she transitioned from her white appearance to the villain uniform that you see her in but that isn’t explored in the anime at all.

Her offsiders are equally weird & interesting
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Goro, AKA General Pepel, is a sweets & confectionary addicted ex-Yakuza gang boss who renounced his criminal life in order to help Kate achieve her dream. There are a lot of hints at his past life, such as his wife Tsubaki, but it’s never properly exploded.

Itsuka, AKA Lady Playma, is the frontline leader of the Zvezda attack forces. Always seen wearing an eyepatch & carrying her sword. She also has a near sexual attraction to Kate, who is the only person she shows affection to. However it is revealed that if she loses her eyepatch, she resorts to her original personality of being a crybaby who sees Kate as a big sister (Onee-chan) figure. She is also Goro’s daughter but this isn’t revealed until the end.

Natasha, AKA Professor Um, is one of the weirdest members of Zvezda & the one with her backstory most exploded. A genius from a young age, her parents were afraid that she would never make any friends because she spent all of her time making robots. One day they took her from their home in Ukraine & into a series of caves that were the home of an ancient civilisation (hinted at being where Kate’s origins coem from), where they were apparently swallowed by some evil entity. She was eventually found by Roboko & Kate. Natasha has the most Fan Service costume -being black undies & a cape over a bare torso- but, oddly enough, the least Fan Service body -being childlike.

Leaving Roboko, because we’ve already talked about Yasu, who is a mysterious robot with bunny ears & glasses who wants to be & occasionally acts like a typical shy high school girl. She’s Zvezda’s main fighting strength & may have a crush on Asuta because he treats her like a normal person.

Much of the comedy comes from Asuta trying to get his school life & life with Zvevda completely separate -mainly because of his crush Renge, who unbeknownst to him (but well known to the audience) is actually his sworn enemy, White Robin of White Light.

Overall, despite the lack of explanation, this is a light & silly comedy with a good pace & excellent parodying of established genres -such as when they hark back to Goro’s Yakuza past, which is often told like an old gangster TV series. There are hints of a 2nd series coming with an Anti-Udo (the plant that grants Zvezda their powers) force in the US attacking them but am unsure if it will be made or just continue in manga form. If they do make, I’ll probably watch it.