iDOLM@GIC?

This title is a joke. I apologise.
So my Hoshii Miki model came, completing the trio of iDOLM@STER characters I ordered. To refresh, that’s Iori, Miki and Chihaya.

And while talking with my friend today we posited the idea of “What if the idols at 765 Pro were magical girls?”

So of course we got carried away and went ahead to create a world where Idols were actually Magical Girls battling monsters called Noise. Meanwhile rival group 961 are up to their usual no good, trying to upstage their rivals. Somehow it felt like we just ripped off Symphogear and Omega Quintet there but it’s not like they were original either right?
So The 765th Test Platoon at Magic Academy………ahem.

So the idols we actually managed to settle on magical abilities for are the following:

Chihaya Kisaragi- Her power comes from her voice, and her magical weapon is a transforming megaphone capable of amplifying sonic waves. Her trump card is converting her megaphone into a Sonic Sniper Rifle, capable of pinpoint long rage attacks.

Iori Minase- Her power comes from her charm and her magical weapon is embedded in her bunny. She is capable of inflicting status effects such as Charm and Confuse. Her trump card is resizing her bunny and creating two clones for a total fighting force of three, Usa-chan, Charles and Sebastian respectively.

Hibiki Ganaha- She has no iconic magical weapon to speak of, as her power comes from the ability to summon creatures for battle. Her summons are in fact just magically transformed versions of her pets. Her trump card is simply summoning multiple at once.

Makoto Kikuchi- She has no magical power?! Her combat ability relies entirely in raw physical strength and not magical powers, something that thoroughly annoys her.

Yukiho Hagiwara- Her magical weapon is a transforming shovel and her trump card is turning it into a drill, capable of literally undermining the opposition.

Ami and Mami Futami- Their magical weapons are numerous transforming gadgets perfect for any situation from combat to pulling pranks. Their trump card is combining their weapons into a single giant hammer.

Takane Shijou- Her power is [REDACTED] and her magical weapon is [REDACTED]. She mostly operates as a mysterious solo agent and rarely works as part of a team.

Ritsuko Akizuki- Her magical power is Coordination, and her magical weapon is her glasses. She plays the roll of support, capable of receiving and transmitting information to the other idols from the office.

That just leaves Haruka, Yayoi, Azusa and Miki.
Debates are open for most, but the current arguments are that Haruka could be a tradtional magical girl or perhaps have the ability to apply status buffs to allies via a standard microphone.
Meanwhile Miki’s ability would be related to dance, and maybe the ability to inflict Sleep?

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iFIGURE

No that’s not a pun on Apple’s products, it’s a pun on iDOLM@STER.
Why iDOLM@STER you ask?
Easy! That’s because two of my iDOLM@STER figures arrived today!

This brings my total figure collection to 7.
From left to right as seen on my shelf we have:
Takao Arpeggio of Blue Steel
Noire Hyperdimension Neptunia
Asuka Evangelion
Iori iDOLM@STER
Chihaya iDOLM@STER
Milinda Heavy Object
Iona Arpeggio of Blue Steel

I am looking forward to expanding my collection soon, I currently have Miki, also from iDOLM@STER, on the way.

For the record I also have the manga for Toyko Ghoul, Kokoro Connect and Arpeggio of Blue Steel. The light novel for Sword Art Online Progressive. And the anime for Byrnhildr in the Darkness, Buddy Complex, Date A Live, A Certain Scientific Railgun, Love Chunibyo & Other Delusions, Kokoro Connect, Sword Art Online and Steins;Gate. All on the shelf above.

Casual Stroll in the Parallel World

I recently read James Beckett’s opinion on episodes 1-2 of Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody, which you can find here, and I spent most the time wanting to correct him constantly so I thought I would write about it here.

James writes that it seemed like little more than a poorly written, cliché-filled bore that added nothing novel to the isekai genre, which was already being stretched to its breaking point through years of overexposure. Which I can only see as a personal attack on the isekai genre as a whole rather than the animes own merits. I can only see it as nothing more than someone hating SAO because it’s popular. Isekai rather than a genre is more like a MacGuffin to take a relatable character into a story larger than life. It’s like hating anything with a spaceship in it because Star Wars and Star Trek have done it all before.

Ignoring subjective comments on his preference of animation style he goes on to say even the “normal person stuck in a video-game setting” premise felt mishandled. “Death March makes the mistake of obsessing over the minutiae of menu management in the illusion that it adds some depth to the scenario instead of making the proceedings tedious to watch unfold.” Which I want to scream about, Death March shows great promise because it’s about a game designer inside a game world, of course he’s going to look at in and outs of his software. In fact, the use of a HUD or GUI consistently throughout the anime is something I want to praise, it’s there constantly just like it would be in a game. You can achievements (Titles) and you gain stats just like a game, it’s a huge part of the setting and something that they can even play to dramatic effect. Just imagine a boss fight where the protagonist is unrolling windows to min-max his stats with some in time music.

More importantly, we don’t see the protagonist cast off his understanding of his situation straight away, he’s unsure if it’s a dream or not and rationally analyses the situation. Since he doesn’t come to a full conclusion he decides to just enjoy his circumstances rather than fight them. As a result he just plods around making the most of what he can, this isn’t some fast paced isekai with an otaku highschooler wanting to make a name for himself. It’s a professional game designer taking a forced vacation.

This leads to my next complaint, James claims “The plot sputters and stalls without going anywhere”. Which shows he doesn’t understand what Death March is, this isn’t an isekai like I mentioned above, it is a slice of life coincidentally set in another world. He wants to see the sights and taste the food, his stats are just there to make things easier. There is no more plot than watching a grown man visit the seven wonders on TV, occasionally getting dragged into some wacky event. Rename the show Seven Wonders of Another World and maybe he’ll stop complaining.

Now I suppose I should talk about the protagonist himself. The complaint that most Isekai protagonists are self insert isn’t wrong, so I will let it slide, but that’s because most of these novels start as community fiction where the author or readers are self inserting  before they get novelization. The complaint that Ichiro still thinks he’s dreaming, or at the very least he believes he’s merely playing a video game, I feel is wrong. I actually think this is exactly how most people would take this situation. Who sees a HUD of a game they are familiar with and goes “Oh yup this is another world”. I’d be more inclined to believe it’s a dream. Even in this circumstance he doesn’t go on to to abuse this fact, and he just takes what comes. Which is why the next part of this article annoys me.

I will be using loads of quotes here. “He enjoys the opportunity to brush up against 13-year-old Martha’s breasts” and “He’s quick to point out that he’d bang the girl’s mom too if only she was 20 kilograms lighter”. Okay hands up who has never thought things like that? He’s also a rational person, so he just rationally examines the situation and makes the most of it. Martha pushes herself up to him, so he just goes with the flow. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t seen a person and gone “oh if they were taller I’d like them more”? It’s a bad thing to say for sure, but scolding someone for thinking it would just end up requiring the entire planet to line up.

I’ll wrap up now I think, but this anime isn’t some supernatural battle show or anything like other isekai genres. It’s probably closer to Restaurant in Another World than anything. Sure his stats are broken, but he doesn’t laud is power more than is necessary to keep his daily peace. He’s not brainwashing young girls into obeying him, or becoming a hero to gain wealth and fame, nor does he force his world values on the inhabitants with his superior might. He could easily have strong armed the city into ending the slave trade and discrimination. The skills are nothing more than an assistance, if you haggled every day then I’m sure you’d get good at haggling, he just expedited the progress by dumping some points into a skill stat. There is no power fantasy because he doesn’t exhibit it. The powers are just there to expand his horizons.

Crunchyroll Anime Awards Speculation

With just over 7 days until the Anime Awards hosted by Crunchyroll open their doors, let’s take a look at some of the categories and the candidates I hope to see out of the anime I watched last year. We will leave anime of the year and best continuing series open (because can anything top the final season of the Monogatari series, not including the epilogue), so I’m going to get right down to my personal favourites in each category. So where will I place my votes?

Best Action:
Best action is an easy one to find candidates for, whether it be espionage, superpowers or magic duels we’ve had it all in 2017. But which are the best?
Earlier in the year in we had Rewrite Season 2 and Chain Chronicle, in addition to my guilty pleasure Schoolgirl Strikers. The season after, we had My Hero Academia Season 2 and Re:Creators offering a plethora of varied power matchups. Summer granted us Fate/Aprocrypha, Princess Principal and Knight’s & Magic. Then the year ended on notes such as Kekkai Sensen & Beyond and UQ Holder.

Frankly speaking my personal favourites as anime are Princess Principal and Re:Creators, however on action alone I think the well thought choreographed and dramatic one on one matches from My Hero Academia won this year.
I will give special mention to Symphogear for such scenes as punching tank shells aside.

Best Animation:
This is such a subjective category that anything goes, as long as it isn’t Fate/Aprocrypha.
If you’re a fan of the dramatic comic style of My Hero Academia or the gritty feel of Princess Principal it doesn’t matter. This year had throwbacks to the hand drawn era and was at the forefront of digital animation. So just what could be best animated? I’ll leave it up to you.

cough Tsuki ga Kirei cough

Best C.G.I.:
Land of the Lustrous

Best Comedy:
We’re entering personal preferences entirely now, because the best comedy should be the one that makes you laugh most and not all jokes make everyone laugh. So which anime didn’t need a laugh track to masquerade as a comedy? KonoSuba for starters, with season 2 starting at the beginning of the year this comedic deconstruction of the isekai genre is etched into everyones memories as the anti-Re:Zero, airing alongside Dragon Maid we have two strong contenders right out of the gate. Spring gave us its own share of comedies like the infamous Eromanga-Sensei, Sakura Quest and the best girl war that is How To Raise A Boring Heroine Flat. Summer refused to let us recover from our laughing fits though, both Gamers and Tsurezure Children reminded us that student love comedy misunderstandings still have their charm. Finally we have the most gif’d comedy of all time, Blend S, and it’s competitors Recovery of an MMO Junkie and A Sister’s All You Need.

So who are my favourite contenders for top spot? Well I’m going to put my money on Blend S, but my personal favourite is Gamers. That’s probably my bias as a gamer talking, and not my attraction to Karen Tendou. Probably.
But then again Blend S has Kaho.

Best Drama:
I personally don’t like drama, drama is the technically term for “how moronic can we make our characters for the sake of plot” for those who don’t know. Apparently people like stuff like that, so I’m going to look for an anime I watched in 2017 that has the drama tag and just roll with that.

And apparently favourite to win is Classroom of the Elite.

Best Boy/Best Girl:
I’m not even going to start listing candidates because it will just incite a war of unknown proportions. So I will skip to my biased opinion, and the winner for best girl is Noire!
Wait what do you mean she wasn’t from this year? She’s my waifu does it matter? Then what about MikiMiki? Takao? Okay fine Weiss then. She’s not from an anime? Tsk.

Okay let’s get serious and look for the Best of 2017….
…..hmmm….
Nope this is impossible, forgive me! How can I possibly pick a single girl from all this 2D wonders?!

Oh, Best Boy? Uhm…let’s just go with Araragi from Owarimonogatari. What do you mean that’s a continuing series? Eugh you’re too picky.

Best Film:
Does anyone remember how we spent all of 2017 ranting about how amazing Your Name was? Well too bad, because that was released in 2016! So let’s go look for our lucky winner!

Let’s be honest though is there anything that can trump Sword Art Online in popularity and action?

Best Manga:
I’m going to be biased towards the manga I own so I hereby disqualify myself from speculating.

Best Opening/Ending:
I could be here for hours thinking of openings and endings worth voting for, albeit Gravity Wall from Re:Creators to Mirai-kei Strikers from Schoolgirl Strikers. In this case I would consider voting as my mood takes me. I do wonder what other peoples favourites are.

Best Score:
I had to put a lot of thought into this one between Re:Creators, Princess Principal and Kekkai Sensen & Beyond. I still couldn’t come to a conclusion, so let it be known that one of these is the one I hope to win.

Best Slice of Life:
2017 was a strange year for me, in that I spent a lot of time watching Slice of Life shows that I normally don’t watch. Enough so that I actually got sick of shows lacking plot arcs.

However, hand in hand with the Comedy I am placing my bets on Blend S.

Best Hero and Villain:
I think we can all safely say the best and truest hero in every sense of the word is the fan favourite Deku from My Hero Academia. So who do we have as our villain candidates? Let us take a look, my personal favourites are the spider freak from Kekkai Sensen & Beyond for successfully putting our protagonist in a place of sheer terror and Ougi from Owarimonogatari for the plot twist being that she was the protagonist all along. I think I hated Ougi more though, so she… he… it… wins.

So what do you think? I can’t possibly go through every anime that was shown this year and do a breakdown of them all, some of the ones that made it on this list I haven’t even watched aside from gifs and clips in an attempt to be as comprehensive as possible. Let me know what you think!

Record of Grancrest Failure

I mentioned just a while ago that Grancrest Senki, butchered the manga in episode 2. I will now expound upon that to explain why episode 2 has signaled the failure of the adaptation to me. The biggest reason is: Characters.

I’m not sure what farce the anime is trying to pull, but it seems to be following a rule that Theo must look as mediocre as possible and Meletes must be made to look amazing at the expense of everyone else rather than her own merits.

Let’s get into what episode 2 of contained as spoiler free as possible.
First we see Theo marvelling at his new territory before getting shoved into reality by Meletes. Meletes gives some orders, then introduces us to her two allies and they prepare for battle. Meanwhile we get a glimpse of the opponent Lord and his mage prepare for battle. Meletes and her allies split their forces on three fronts and engage the enemy. Theo later joins the battle.
Do you see the problem here? How many times did I have to type Meletes.

The manga however is vastly different, and much better for it. I will try to limit the spoilers but if you’ve read this far then you’ve probably already watched Grancrest or no longer plan to. In either case you should read the manga.
I won’t go in exact chronological order of the scenes, but will mostly place emphasis on the order of character importance.
The first is Theo, in the manga he plays a much larger role in what would be episode 1.5 or so. Theo convinces Meletes to allow him to accompany her on the village inspections. Where we see a lot more about him as a charismatic peoples person who truly cares for others, earning the heart and loyalty of his people to Meletes surprise and somewhat annoyance. Shortly after Theo realises that in order to protect these people he needs greater strength and begins training, where the others realise despite his low ability he has an aptitude for defence and high capacity for endurance. He’s also lucky enough to get an eyeful of Meletes’ softer side which lowers his wariness of her and opens him up to appreciating and trusting her more. I will come back to Theo later, but it is clearly shown here that he has talents beside being a useful tool for Meletes.

The biggest problem I have with episode 2 though is the way it deals with the would-be antagonists of this so-called arc. The rival lord, and his mage.
In an all-so important flashback NOT in the anime we see a lot about these people which fleshes them beyond being run of the mill antagonists to be beaten.
The first thing to know is the Lord is actually somewhat like the protagonist, he has a goal and is scouting talents to support him. His status and ambition is a means to and end, and he is far from corrupt and malicious.
The second thing is the mage, who is portrayed as a generic egotistical womaniser in the anime, however the manga shows that while he was overshadowed and below Meletes while training as a Mage, he had a much more solid grasp of reality. Fully aware that he would have to fight on the frontline with his future Lord he put time and effort into practicing practical skills and swordsmanship because the world doesn’t work like a book. This is the exact opposite of our paper based Meletes. This explains Meletes later trouble when she is forced to duel him.
The last thing is a nameless character in the anime, the young boy commanding one of the flanks. His ingenuity and loyalty is barely shown in the anime, let alone explained. He was picked up, saved and trained by his Lord as a commander and is highly talented and hard working. Really just go and read the manga, he’s one of the crucial supporting characters and the anime only showed him out of compulsory requirements.
NONE of this is shown in the anime, what’s with that?! Is this some generic shounen?

The icing in the cake is the finale of the battle, so spoilers ahead.
Meletes is backed into a corner when her lack of practical training rears its ugly head, until Theo, who blatantly disobeys her orders charges in at the last second and protects her from a fatal blow. He instantly takes up the mantle and continues the duel in her stead. What’s important here is two things he defends her from a fatal blow, and disobeys orders. Two things not displayed in the anime, and two things crucial to developing the currently onesided relationship the two of them have with Theo being a puppet. Theo’s defensive ability eventually tires his opponent enough for capture, which ends the duel. The anime however gives all the credit to Meletes for tiring him out before Theo arrives.

But I’m not done yet! The lord then surrenders to Theo after the mages capture. Something that goes against his gambling and ambitious persona, that is only explained via the comradeship the two display in the flashback. With a crucial quote being the two promising to achieve their goals together. The anime cuts out all this world and character building in favour of the express-way to combat scenes. Reinforcing the vision of a pathetic Theo dragged around by the grand Meletes. That is not what this story should be about.

Well, I have probably ranted enough, and if I haven’t convinced you to yet, you should read the manga and make your own comparison. At the very least my end review of Grancrest probably won’t be pretty.

2018 Starto!

Hello ladies and gentlemen, waifus and traps, humans and aliens,

I’ve been away for an unprecedented amount of time and am finally getting back on my feet. (Though my status as NEET hasn’t changed). Things have changed a lot since my last post, I’ve broken through 500 anime, my waifu has more competitors and I know have a collection of physical merchandise. So let’s start off with a breakdown of where I will go from here and what I’m watching this year.

The basic format of my blog won’t change, I’ll be pumping out reviews more frequently now to make up lost time and I will be spending more time writing about anime as a whole. In short you should expect more news and personal opinions on goings on.

So let’s get personal. This year is BIG in anime for me. A lot of important anime to me are getting sequels. This includes but is not limited to, A Certain Magical Index, My Hero Academia, Sword Art Online and Steins;Gate.
There’s also plenty of newcomers I’m excited for like Darling in the FranXX, Fate/Extra and Arifureta.
(I refuse to mention Grancrest Senki after episode 2 butchering the manga but I will give that it’s own post in just a bit)

So lets look forward to a new year of anime!

The Magic of Blue Hair

This was a really hard one to title but I think I nailed it pretty well. This is just a little tidbit post that I thought of.

Until recently there was a solid theme in my top five favourite characters:
Number 1-They all had blue hair and Number 2-They all used magic.
This isn’t even an exaggeration! If it wasn’t for Mikoto Misaka (A Certain Scientific Railgun) it would have stayed that way much longer.

Let me give you a breakdown of those all important five.

Wendy Marvell (Fairy Tail) – I started with Wendy because she is one of the odder ones in this list. The reason she was among my favourites was not because of some weird fetish, her recognisable voice actress or anything strange like that. It’s just because I genuinely like the character, honestly against the exaggerated other members of Fairy Tail she seems normal.

Levy McGarden (Fairy Tail) – Okay so I would normally try to avoid having two from the same franchise in one list, however when you’re like me and intelligence means more than sex appeal…Levy can not be avoided. Genius bookworm, capable and of course pretty she’s almost perfect. What I don’t understand is her interest in Gajeel, but it probably doesn’t help that he is the exact type of character I dislike.

Tabitha (Familiar of Zero) – The original Levy, I say this because Levy replaced Tabitha in my top five listing. Genius bookworm, capable and pretty…basically the same as Levy. The only problem I had with Tabitha was her lack of screen time once she came out of her shell, but that wasn’t too bad.

Lelei la Lalena (GATE) – Again I promise no ulterior motive here! I just think she’s cute and her ability to incorporate our scientific understanding into magical ability is really something I love. Any situation where modern meets fantasy I also love the bits where our world impacts theirs. It’s part what makes GATE, Familiar of Zero and Log Horizon interest me.

 Shiroe (Log Horizon) – The first male on this list! Also the only. Shiroe is my ideal self, well not ideal. However if I saw myself in anime it would be as a Shiroe-like character. Smart, manipulative and a support magic user.  Tackling problems with brains instead of brawn is my style, and that fact he’s not too social but chose a people dependent role is also something I’d do.
Again, he also incorporates his knowledge of our world with others to create new things using magic.

I felt like I should add an honourable mention, she has potential to work her way into this list in the future:

Aqua (KonoSuba) – As an anime that’s only just starting airing it’s impossible to say with certainty, however her personality and physicality certainly meet enough criteria to qualify. She may be lacking in brains but she certainly has enough energy to be likable…at least that’s what I think as of episode 1. I wonder how this will go.