Stay in touch
Subscribe to our RSS!
Oh c'mon
Bookmark us!
Have a question?
Get an answer!

Say, I love you


There are a few anime music intros that have made me want to listen to the entire song every single episode. Say, I love you, is one of those intros. It's not often that a song and intro sets the scene so well and matches the characters and story of the anime perfectly. When the song first starts, and the intro does that blur effect, you get a real feel for the romantic tone of the anime. Unfortunately, that's where the positive side of the anime ends.

Say, I love you, is your typical clichéd teen romance drama, akin to the dreadful shallow characters that was Twilight. The story tries to delve into a plot revolving around school bullying and the troubles school kids face when dealing with social expectations placed on them by others, but unfortunately, the main couple of the show, Mei and Yamato, leave much to be desired in the way of character development. Thankfully, we see the supporting characters, Aiko and Megumi, filling in the gap and giving us a true glimpse into the horrible mentalities of the "popular" kids in school. Megumi's story is certainly the plot to follow for this show, rather than the protagonists.

At the beginning of the show, we are told of Mei's past, the bullying she suffered, and the betrayal of people she considered her friends, which drives her to give up on making friends altogether and cut herself off from the world. This seems to work well for her, and in the first episode we are shown Mei as a character who doesn't need friends, strong enough to go at things by herself and just get on with school life, regardless of what anyone thinks of her... until she kicks Yamato in the face and que "love at first sight" entrance. After this point, Yamato pressures her into being friends when she doesn't want to be, going so far as to give her his phone number. But when a stalker starts following her home from work, instead of calling the police, which would be the sensible thing to do she instead calls the guy she didn't want to be friends with to come save her, and in doing so, he takes liberties with her vulnerability by stealing her first kiss.

I would like to think that Mei gets stronger, and that she is able to deal with her issues that stop her from making real friends, but in the end we are treated to the typical plot of a female character who changes herself to suit the guy she likes for no explainable reason. Mei's love interest in Yamato is completely unfounded, no reason given, and comes across as the average YA "he's so perfect" trope that has many viewers shaking their head in dismay. Unfortunately for Yamato, he comes across as an inconsiderate emotional blackmailer. His character truly does reflect Edward from Twilight, and it is made worse when every mistake he makes is forgiven without any argument from Mei because he is just too perfect in her eyes to do any wrong. What happened to the Mei we met in the first episode? He has turned her into a weak character that lacks any mind of her own, instead deferring to other people's opinions on how she should act. Her character instead of growing, actually gets worse as the episodes go on, and even by the last episode she is still the awkward shy mess she was back in the second episode. One day, I'm ever hopeful I'll find a romance anime that actually progresses with the relationship beyond a kiss or heartfelt words. When the first episode started with a kiss, I thought this might be the anime to do that, but as the episodes came and went, and no more progress beyond that was made I lost hope. We saw more progress in Aiko's story than the main protagonists.

We can at least be thankful for Nagi and Kei, who come along to help Mei open up by sharing their own similar experiences with her, and for the most parts, their stories tend to be stronger than Mei and Yamoto, even though they are only minor characters. In fact, Kei's background is the only glimpse we get into Yamoto's character to make us think there might actually be something behind that superficial exterior he exudes, but it is gone within one episode and never mentioned again. Which is a complaint for much of the story; every problem is solved far too easily with none of the expected drama that should go alongside it. The anime was trying to be "lets all be happy" so much that it lost any credibility to the problems the characters faced.

The real depth to the show comes from Megumi, the amateur model who buys people's friendship with money. Her story provides insight into the true nature of the superficial-popular-girl-type character we often see on TV when her whole world implodes on her when attempts to win Yamato's affection away from Mei, as well as that of Yamato's friends who befriended her, backfires on her and she ends up loosing everything and discovering that she had no friends after all. The consequences of this story arc drive her into a psychological breakdown that ends up being far more interesting of a story than the romance between Mei and Yamato.

Overall, I was hoping this show would be better than it was. I still found it entertaining enough to watch the entire series, but was left at the end thinking, 'That's it?' when the outcome of the show was no real different to any other romance anime, and possibly in a way, worse.


First Impressions of the New Season

The Winter 2013 season has begun and the first episodes of several shows are available for public viewing. While the season has shown a weak start so far, full of 5-min shorts that leave people desiring anime shows with more meat, we can be glad to see the return of Blast of Tempest and Psycho-Pass which are strong anime carrying over from the previous season. We can only hope that the season strengthens as it continues.

First up is Amnesia, which on paper sounds like it is going to have some considerable potential to become a good story this season. The concepts look promising, the animation is beautiful, especially the detail they have gone into with the clothing and eyes, but there is also something different about the world and culture the story is based in. With the introduction of a floating spirit creature and the mention of some kind of special ability using their unique eyes, I can't help but think we are going to be treated to a unique and refreshing twist on Urban/Contemporary Fantasy. The show is also a reverse-harem, which is a rarer genre than it should be. My only complaint so far with the show is the incessant telling. I felt like I'd slipped into an educational show preaching to me about mundane activities that I really had no interest in knowing in detail, or how the writers felt they needed to explain every emotion and detail to us as if they thought the audience wasn't intelligent enough to pick up on the clues themselves. I hope that as the episodes continue they learn to trust the audience more and tone down the telling.

Vividred Operation has us venturing back into the magical girl genre but with an added sci-fi twist that gives it a feeling reminiscent of Eureka Seven AO, just without the need for mechs. We are introduced to the main protagonist, Akane, who has a fear of heights, yet seems destined to take on a role that requires her to face her fears. While the flashbacks showing where her fears came from makes for a deep character background, I couldn't help but feel they threw away the chance to build upon her fears too easily; she appeared to get over it within the first episode. We can only hope that her fears relapse in following episodes and that it continues to be a struggle for her, making her character feel more real. This anime shows potential but I couldn't help but feel I'd rather have mechs than a spiritual successor to Strike Witches. Even so, I believe this anime will be a strong contender for the season. The characters are well designed and thought out, the animation is good, and the musical score suits the scenes perfectly, although they could do with focussing a little less on the characters' posteriors - they are only fourteen after all. I wouldn't go so far as to call it ecchi, but it is borderline and I feel quite unsuitable for the age the characters are representing, and it gives me the creeps a little each time one of those scenes screens. At least the clothing transformation scene typical of magical girl anime doesn't focus on the breasts, it's only saving grace. Overall though, it appears to be an anime well worth watching.

Next up is the ridiculous childishness that was the first episode of Da Capo III. I know the anime series is popular but I felt like I was watching an immature kids show that had drifted into the ecchi harem genre. Every chance the artists got, they had to include scenes with bouncing boobs. The sexual jokes were very overdone, even for an ecchi. While the mystery of the island was interesting, and might provide enough reason to watch another episode, I can't help but feel the story is lost beneath the stupidity of the characters and their childish dialogue. The dialogue especially grated on me when the writers felt the need to include a piece of dialogue from every character in the scene, skipping from one to the next showing their responses to a certain piece of dialogue from another character. The first time it happened was funny, but when they continued to repeat the pattern it just became annoying and stilted.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha yet. The concept of the story has the potential to be good, and the world design should certainly interest fans of Fantasy-themed anime, but the ecchi component that was made so prevalent in the episode felt completely out of place. I can understand the sense behind a political marriage between demons and humans, but professing it to be more than that, love at first sight even, and the childish reactions of the "Demon King" destroyed any sensibility and made it into a comedic situation that ruined the potential the anime has to take a good long look into the effects war has on nations and the motivations behind it. The story has a lot of potential, but I fear they are going to waste it chasing the naive and weak protagonist uncomfortable with becoming romantically involved with the excessively developed and attractive girl who likes him for no apparent reason trope. Saying that, we did get some glimpses into her past, and it showed the potential for there to actually be some depth to her character, but perhaps they would have done better to actually tell us her name first. I ended the episode seeing them agree to form a relationship to bond the nations together when they didn't even know each others names and instead just referred to each other as "Hero" and "Demon King". That along with the sexual jokes ruins any credibility the story could have had.

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited treats us to a dark action story that would suit fans of fighting-themed anime. I see it as Code:Breaker meets X-men, with characters that come across quite similar to those of Code:Breaker with very similar powers, yet their existence is common knowledge and just like with X-Men, it shows us the reaction the rest of the world has to their powers. The characters appear solid and well thought out, the story has potential, yet I found the abilities of the protagonist excessively overpowered. I do worry that the show will turn into the "lets get beaten up by the bad guy of the week until I am forced to release my full powers and instantly win" trope. The animation is well done, and the backgrounds of the characters might just well continue to surprise us as they did in the last few minutes of the first episode. The show certainly takes a much more mature and serious spin when compared to the original series that was released back in 2008. I believe though that the anime will be one worth watching.

Ninjas are back with Senran Kagura, and so are bouncing boobs. The combinations should be any ecchi fans dream anime. Unfortunately what makes ninjas great is lost beneath the childish portrayal of the characters, with the protagonist being made into a hopelessly ditzy girl who makes the early days of Naruto look like a master shinobi. With the exception of Yagyuu, the antagonists of the anime have more potential to be entertaining characters than the girls we are supposed to be rooting for. The script and plot leaves much to be desired, but the last few minutes of the episode hint at possible improvements to come, so this anime might need a couple more episodes chance before being dismissed completely. I just hope Katsuragi gets over her breast groping fetish already, it's incredibly irritating and out of place. I don't hold out much hope for Senran Kagura being any good, which is unfortunate, because I believe many anime fans would love to see an anime about Ninjas compete with Naruto. This won't be that anime.

In Hakkuden: A Strange Tale of Eight Dogs of the East we are introduced to three characters who are the sole survivors of a village that was burned to the ground, and each one of them gifted with some special ability that sets them apart from the other people in the community where they sought refuge, trying to hide from their past. The premise of the story is interesting and has some potential, but I found the episode too rushed, as if they were trying to fit several episodes worth of plot into one 25 minute slot. This served to make much of the episode feel like a series of random events. When the episode first started I was a bit put off by the talking animals, felt the Lord of the Lake and the frog a bit much. I didn't mind Murasame once I understood a bit more about him, but wondered why they even thought of including that algae eyeball creature. When this show was labelled as Shoujo, there was a big scare that, considering the protagonists are two male characters, that there would be a boy love theme as the main focus  of the story. Having watched the episode I found no evidence to suggest they would take that direction with the show, but not having read the manga it is adapted from, I cannot say for sure that it won't include anything like that at all. But at this point I'm certain you will find a stronger BL theme in Da Capo III than this. Overall I feel the anime is worth watching, but I just hope they slow things down a bit now that they have introduced the characters and background.

But the best episode of the week has to go to Kotoura, which has come out starting very strong with a heart-wrenching emotional plot, driven by deep characters that, in the style of last season's Chu-2, soften the darkness in the background with light humour. The anime takes a good long look into the effects having the ability to read minds has on the life of the protagonist and her family, the way it effects friendships, the harm knowing everybody's inner thoughts does. The animation style is a bit below-average, but the story should more than satisfactorily make up for it - although the style of animation does suit some of the very strange glimpses Kotoura gets from the mind of her hopelessly stupid friend, Manabe. So far, Kotoura is easily the anime of the season to watch out for, and I can only imagine the insane hilarity Manabe is going to get Kotoura involved in as the series progresses and he helps her to deal with the darkness of her past.

Keep an eye out for more detailed reviews of this seasons anime as the stories progress.


From the New World

Saki and Soratou

Following the outbreak of uncontrollable psychokinetic powers that nearly destroyed the world, a secluded set of villages are recovering from the devastation by separating children from the rest of the world and teaching them to control their fledgling powers. When their powers manifest, they go through a trial to test their ability to use the powers referred to as 'Cantus'. If the child succeeds in passing the trial, they are reunited with friends and family who went before them in a special school designed to train them in how to use their cantus. On the surface, the village appears to be a normal, every day community, with people living out their ordinary lives with the assistance of their cantus, but in the background lies a mystery hidden behind lies and deceit, not the least being; what happens to the children who don't pass the trial, or the ones whose power never manifests?

Queerat LeaderMany rumours and tales surround the secrets of the villages - secrets that only the adults seem to know and are deliberately keeping hidden from the children. These rumours set our protagonist, Saki, and her classmates on an adventure with the sole purpose of discovering the truth behind the rumours. What they uncover will be far beyond what they ever expected.

I have one word that sums up this anime, and that is: strange.

Saki and Soratou with friendly queeratFrom the New World is a dark anime reminiscent of M Knight Shyamalan's The Village, driven by the series of clues that lead us through a deep and complicated mystery that keeps us wondering just what is going on until the very end. Half the reason for this is the random, completely implausible, and disjointed plot arcs that tend to make very little sense in the overall scope of the story.

Queerats negotiating terms of surrenderWe are first introduced to a worker race of ratmen who assist the adults of the village in menial duties, foraging and dealing with complicated matters discretely when the limitations of the adult's cantus doesn't permit - like the suspected murdering of innocent people. One limitation of the cantus is that they cannot use it to harm other humans. The first quarter of the show throws Saki and her friends right into the middle of a battle between queerat tribes for no apparent reason other than to show us a bit of the world outside their village.

One very strange creature
During their adventure that sees them caught up in the queerat war, they find one of the many creatures that the tales speak of, which appears to be some I-Don't-Know-What-Like glowing creature. The tales say that whoever sees one of them dies, but then, the question is raised; then how did the tale come to exist? Using their cantus to capture the creature, it is discovered they aren't just any normal animal, but some sort of cybernetic animal that acts as a computer AI  to access a library containing forbidden histories of the world. Not only is the creature one of the strangest things I've ever seen in anime, it's physical design is completely illogical when taking into consideration its intended purpose.

Amazing artwork of a imaginary house
Having learnt what they shouldn't have, the next major complaint I have with the show is when the children are taken captive by a mysterious man who has cantus powers far superior to their own. He seals away their powers, preventing them from using their cantus permanently. The only way to get their cantus back is to return to the village and recover their diaries, which have recordings of the process they went through in the trials when their powers first manifested. But by the time they return to the village to recover these diaries, Saki's older, narrators voice tells us their powers came back on their own, as if that part of the plot element was completely brushed aside. If their powers came back without the diaries, then why mention them in the first place? This is only but one of the illogical plot developments in this series.

Saki caught in the mind world of a karma demon
Following this narration scene that dismisses their sealed powers as nothing important, the story skips forward two years, totally dismissing the fact that they were scared out of their wits with what the adults of the village would do to them knowing they had discovered part of the forbidden knowledge; which ended up being nothing at all. No, in fact, the village council wants to reward Saki, who is constantly going out of her way to uncover truths and pry into things she shouldn't by making her the next in line to take over the head position of the village council. Why they would ever want such a rebellious child who is determined to destroy everything the village has worked towards I can't possibly understand.

The next strange plot development I can't understand in the show is after they have skipped forward two years and it shows the relationships Saki and her friends have developed. At the beginning of the show, we are given the hint that Saki is secretly in love with her male friend Shin, but come this stage in the story, it is revealed her other male friend, Setarou is actually gay, and in a relationship with Shin. I was completely surprised by this unexpected development which seems to serve no other purpose than being a complete shock tactics twist with the purpose of causing controversy, which becomes even worse when it is also revealed that Saki herself has formed a lesbian relationship with her friend, Maria.

These relationships appear to last only a matter of a couple of episodes before they are nearly forgotten about and Maria starts encouraging Saki to pursue a relationship with a newly introduced character even though they are supposed to be together. Scenes involving them walking through the school show practically every single student involved in some form of relationship with another student, over half of them being same-sex, which can only lead me to suspect there is some strange genetic bonding and manipulation of feelings going on behind the scenes. On several occasions it is referred to as animalistic relationships and compared to monkeys. I can only suspect this is some sort of political statement made by the writer to support such relationships and was completely unnecessary for the story - hence how easily they where thrown away. Either way, I found these developments hard to deal with because they destroy any potential romance story that could have developed as the episodes progressed. Honestly, before I found out that Setarou was gay, I was suspecting him and Saki might at one point end up falling in love, based on the way the first part of the story was going. No way that is going to happen now.

There are many other strange twists that seem to have no apparent reason, from killing off characters unexpectedly and then forgetting about them shortly after, to having characters running for their lives out of no fault of their own when they'd spent years prior in what appeared to be complete safety.

The whole team together

To add salt to the wound, I am at a complete loss at the writers need to make the queerat races so childishly annoying in the way they act and talk. Their incomprehensible nattering continues to grate on my nerves.

Unfortunately for the writers, it is safe to say this anime is one that deserves to be passed by and forgotten about. The only reason that kept me watching as far as I did, was the intrigue of the mystery that, even though I know the answer to, continues to interest me enough to wonder what they are going to do about it. But seriously, this anime barely makes any sense at all and I'm afraid I have to rate it as one of the weakest anime I've watched this season.