Title: 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
“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.”
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. . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
Title: 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
“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.”
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Title: 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
“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.”
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.
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
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.