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Joker Game (2016)
intelligent slow-burn espionage thriller
I really liked this anime, but the only thing that stopped me from rating it higher was the week-to-week feel of the show. (FYI, I haven't read the manga, if there is one, and I'm no expert on Japanese military history, I'm just reviewing this series for what it is.) The story revolves around the creation of 'D-Agency', a spy school set up pre-WWII in Japan, that recruits and trains highly-skilled civilians to move overseas and live under cover spying for Japan. Their motto is 'never kill and never die' (or at least never suicide, as it's a pointless waste). Which appeared to be the exact opposite MO of the Japanese Imperial Army.
The first couple of episodes set up a really good plot and I was expecting big things. From then on however, each week was just a seemingly disconnected series of stories about the men who graduated from this spy school and their under cover espionage activities. While that wasn't entirely a bad thing, I was hoping a running story or continuity or something. Anyway, it's still really good, check it out!
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry (2015)
pretty good...but kinda generic
Don't get me wrong, I liked this anime, but it's nothing original. If you have watched many animes, then this will feel like 'been there, done that' kinda stuff. If you're new to anime, then you may really enjoy this one...
Ikki Kurogane is 'the worst' magical knight ranked F in a school of magical knights. All his peers have better magical abilities than he does and even his father has always treated him with contempt due to his lack of magical aptitude and he only got into his school by having some strings pulled for him. There he meets Stella Vermilion, a foreign princess ranked A at their school. He ends up dueling her and wins and people begin to realise his F ranking is not necessarily justified...
The story is interesting enough, the characters likable and the animation is great. However, it just seems generic to me but maybe that's because it's probably aimed at a mid-teen audience and I prefer more adult anime. Anyway, worth a watch if you're into magical anime.
cool RPG style anime
I don't have much experience with role playing games, so a lot of the references to moves, energy, strength, skill, etc. in this anime were lost on me. Although I have seen plenty of shows where someone gets trapped inside a game, TV show or movie, so it was still enjoyable.
Momonga is playing Yggdrasil (an online RPG I assume) and the game is shut down. Instead of logging out, he decides to stay and then realises he's trapped in this online fantasy world. Since his character was a Supreme Being (practically a God), things aren't so bad for him, as he has a handful of powerful guardians to protect him. Of course, being god-like, he doesn't really need them, since he's nearly invincible anyway. He then decides to conceal his true form (a skeleton-type dude) and go on the lookout for his previous friends (who were all Supreme Beings) by becoming a low-level adventurer who wants to spread his name (now changed to Ains Ool Gown?) by defeating as many powerful enemies as possible.
At first I wasn't into this show, but after a few episodes I was hooked. Watching Lord Ains defeat even the most powerful enemies thrown at him with ease was pretty cool, and they didn't shy away from the violence either. A bit rough for little kiddies though. Check it out.
Bleak, violent and uncompromising
Ergastulum is a place filled with gangsters loyal to four main families. A violent city filled with hookers, thugs, drugs and Twilights. Twilights are humans born with extraordinary strength and speed, but who live short lives and generally have a handicap to 'compensate' for their abilities. The Twilights are ranked according to their skill level and wear dog tags, and are often referred to as 'tags'.
Nicholas is a high level tag and life-long friend of Worick (a 'normal') and together they're the Handymen. They do odd jobs around town (kill people, act as gigolos, etc) and are not loyal to any of the main families. Occasionally they help the cops solve particularly nasty crimes. The story mainly revolves around Worick and Nicholas as they try to keep the streets safe for their friends in an increasing violent turf war and as anti-Twilight factions try to kill off all the remaining Twilights.
This show was definitely my kinda thing. The character development was good (for only a 12 episode series), the animation was good and the violence factor was high. Not a show for kids though or anyone looking for light-hearted entertainment. As for why I only gave it a 7/10, well without spoiling the ending, I'm thinking they already have a second season planned, or otherwise just dropped it due to budget constraints or a lack of interest, because it seemed very abrupt. Well worth a watch anyway.
Junketsu no Maria (2015)
not sure how to judge this one...
part ecchi, part romance, part existential drama, this show seems enigmatic...but while this may sound appealing to some, overall, it was only OK at best.
Maria is a virgin witch (compared to the other witches, who take human lovers all the time) who despises war and conflict. Living in France during the time of the 100 years war, she sees a lot of war, and every day goes out of her way to break up the battles using her magic. In her spare time, she concocts potions and herbal remedies for the ailing villagers who live nearby. She is a benign witch, but eventually the church has enough of her meddling in war, since they either instigate the war or profit by it, so they plan to deal with her the way humans usually deal with benign creatures, that is to say, harshly.
The characters are all likable enough and the story is interesting, but there just wasn't enough of anything for me. There was action, but not much, same for romance and philosophising about human nature and the nature of war and conflict. There was also plenty of sexual innuendos, yet no overt sexuality or nudity. It all seemed a bit vanilla to me. Having said that, the show wasn't bad, and is worth a watch...if you have the time and nothing better to watch.
fun action/adventure anime
In a mythical world where God's live among men, adventurers choose a God to follow and join their Familia. Then they explore this huge, multi-levelled dungeon and kill the monsters inside to gain crystals (in exchange for money) and to help build their skills. Bell Cranel is the sole member of the Goddess Hestia's Familia and he's an adventurer of modest skill. He does have a lot of courage, heart and potential though and learns fast. He meets a woman of immense beauty and strength and vows to become stronger so he could be considered worthy of a woman like her.
There's a lot to like about this show. It has humour, action, a good plot, interesting characters and great animation. I only scored it a 7 because it's a bit 'young' for my taste (I'd have liked a darker, more serious tone) and at one season, it does seem a little pointless. I'd like to see a 2nd season to flesh things out more. Worth a watch.
Sengoku musou (2015)
warring states era anime
I don't know a lot about Japanese history, but I sure have seen a few animes about it! Seems like it was a pretty chaotic period, but then again, which country can say theirs wasn't? Yukimura and Nobuyuki Sanada are brothers and vassals of the Toyotomi clan under the shogun who has finally united Japan in peace. Upon his imminent death, and with a son too young to become the next shogun, his chief vassal, and head of the Tokugawa clan, assumes the mantle of shogun and immediately begins plotting to destroy the Toyotomi clan. We follow the actions of the Sanada brothers, each of whom choose opposing sides.
There's good character development and animation, but since we already know the outcome, I guess it seemed a foregone conclusion. I would have liked to see them recreate history, as this is just escapism, right? Anyway, it's pretty good if you like strategy and war stories.
Garo: Honoo no kokuin (2014)
for fans of high fantasy
I've been a fantasy fan for ages, so I knew was going to like this show. I think there's a second season coming too, so I'll be looking forward to that.
Leon Luis and his father, German (pronounced Herman), are Makai knights who travel around looking to kill horrors (demons) that take over people's bodies and turn them into bloodthirsty monsters. Leon's mother was burned at the stake as a witch when he was born in the city of Valiente, and Leon and his father arrive there when Leon is a young man, determined to kill the one who murdered his mother, Mendoza.
This is only a brief precis, and with 24 episodes, this is a long and engaging watch. There is a lot to like about this anime, but its tone is quite dark. There's lots of bloody violence, so little kiddies shouldn't watch it, but anyone over 15 should go watch it ASAP!
Death Parade (2015)
mixed feelings about this existential crisis...
Initially I was going to rate this lower, because I couldn't work out whether it was meant to be serious or not. It's too dark to be a comedy, yet not dark enough to be a horror. There's some action, but not enough to call it an action anime. So I was a but lost and frustrated trying to work out if I liked it, but it wraps up nicely and I think it's more of a thinking kind of anime than anything else...
Decim is the bartender in a bar called Quindecim. He is an Arbiter, a humanoid, emotionless puppet who judges human souls in the afterlife. Dead people arrive in his bar, not knowing they're dead (yet), and he provokes their memories of their life and death, then judges their souls either to reincarnation or to be cast into the void. One day, a girl is sent to help him, and she invokes feelings in him he has never experienced.
There's a whole host of characters, and at only twelve episodes, you don't get to know much about any of them because the show focuses on the new girl and Decim, but it's interesting enough and worth a look if you're into this kind of thing.
Selector Infected WIXOSS (2014)
watch it of you liked Mahou Shoujo Madoka...
...although, unfortunately, it's not as good as Madoka.
Ruuko starts playing a new card game called Wixoss that's all the rage at her school. Then she meets a girl named Yuzuki who tells her she's a Selector, and that she wants to battle her. Selectors can actually interact with the character on their main card. Ruuko's card has a character named Tama, while Yuzuki's card character is called Hanayo. They then go round finding other Selectors to battle. Each time you win a battle, you get closer to becoming an Eternal girl, who has her deepest wish or desire granted. If you lose three times however, you lose your ability as a Selector, and worse, which I won't spoil.
I initially thought this show would be something like Yu-gi-oh, which sounded way too kiddy-ish for me, but it's actually a lot darker than that. There's definitely similarities to Madoka as well, but I prefer Madoka to this. The animation is decent and the characters are all good, and while it was dark, I thought something was lacking, although I can't quite put my finger on what. It was certainly better than Black Rock Shooter, which I hated and was worried this would be similar to. Worth a watch if you have the time and like predominately female, special power stuff.