Uncurrency Anime – The Idolm@ster

After days of getting my thoughts straight (and raping the replay button of the animated dances), my body is now l@dy to talk about the Idolm@ster.

If you’ve been around the anime community for a while, you would know what Idolm@ster is or rather, what it is infamous for. It spearheaded the whole otaku craze on 2D/CGI idols with the game selling like hotcakes back in 2006/2007. Basically the game has a huge fanbase. It got itself an adaptation in 2007 called XENOGLOSSIA and basically the reaction to it was it’s either bad or it’s bad. It kinda used the characters and turned them into mecha pilots. Casual viewers got bored after a while and Fans of the game were insulted in how the anime changed the characters personalities. It definitely felt like that was probably it for the Idolm@ster franchise in anime form. There was one OVA back in 2008/2009 that tried to do something with it but it pretty much failed too.

Four years later, this got announced. Idolm@ster will be turned into an anime again, this time with more respect to the game itself. They got themselves A-1 Pictures to animate with ex-GAINAX members. Safe to say, this was gonna look real pretty. The big question then was, is sticking to the game itself gonna be a good choice? The characters themselves are walking stereotypes that cater to every single otaku fetish; it felt like a huge gamble. Safe to say, at least for me, this succeeded.

The anime had a pretty slow start. The first episode was fairly unique. It introduced all 12 idols in a documentary format. Back then my impression was that it had a really unique layout but the characters really were walking stereotypes. Slowly though, episode by episode, things get developed. Each Idol has at least an episode centered around them (with the exception of the more popular ones like Miki and Chihaya and our MC Haruka). Most of the idols don’t have much development in them but with the episodes catered solely for them, somehow we do get attached to them. I guess it’s just good characterization overall.

The characters that do have a fair amount of development are Miki, Chihaya and Haruka. These three got it real good. Miki, stole the first half of Idolm@ster, no doubt about that. It’s like watching someone slowly become a star, with the way she was focused on. Haruka got the last few episodes of the series, and A-1 Pictures/ex-Gainax peeps gave her a real got drama which just oozed awesomeness in an aesthetic stanpoint and despair in an emotional standpoint. The highlight for Idolm@ster for me though is Chihaya Kisaragi’s little story. Like most people, I shed a few tears on her song Yakusoku. Somehow, drama is not what you’d expect with a series like this but they pulled it off.

Idolm@ster is a work of love. Our ex-Gainax staffer/our director is a HUGE fan of Idolm@ster and it really shows how much he loves what he’s working on with how this series played out. The animation is nothing short of phenomenal, especially when dances/concerts are concerned. EVERY MOVEMENT IS DRAWN. In case you’ve never noticed, most dances are just CGI (AKB0048/Macross F) or just full of retouches and repeats (EDs with dances on them). I swear, watch the dances. . . it’s crazy how well made all of it are. There’s also singing (hey Chihaya!) and a lot of insert songs which makes watching this a real treat.

In a sense, Idolm@ster let me accept my inner-otaku self, even for just a bit. I started loving all the characters, even though most of them never really stepped out of their stereotypes, and I started getting sucked in into its world. Anime that are works of passion and love (and not a “if we have a chance for budget cutting, DO IT) are rare to come by so I really suggest if you want to watch one that is a work of love, go watch The Idolm@ster.

Execution: 37/40 (Only a work of love can pull something like this off)

Engagement: 26/30 (Started slow, ended amazingly)

Characters: 18/20 (Great characterization, especially considering the fact that this series had 12 characters to work with //excluding the producers which are also well developed)

Production Values: 10/10 (Dances are phenomenal; lots of insert songs)

Overall: 91/100 

Sword Art Online could be so much better. . .

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We could have had more of this rather than that Yui drama.

I’m really frustrated with Sword Art Online as of lite. Episode 12 was like. . . icing on top of a rotting cake. It really dropped the bombed. It made me realize how pathetic this adaptation is.

I think the premise of SAO, “what if people got trapped into a game in which they can die?”,  is a misconception or at least the statement is fairly incorrect. It’s more of “what if anime stereotpyes got trapped into a game in which they can die?” for me. All these “Moe Girl of the Week” kind of episodes. . . why SAO WHY!?!?!?!?!

I actually don’t mind anime stereotypes as long as in the end they grow out of it and become actual characters(Idolm@ster anime is a HUGE example of this). SAO’s character development revolves around putting plots twists and having emotional cheese rather than letting characters have “actual” development time. This is most apparent in Kirito and Asuna’s relationship. One episode they’re friends, and the the next episode they get married. AND THEN THEY START HAVING A FAMILY WITH YUI IN WHICH SHE DIES THE EPISODE AFTER. God SAO stop it STOP IT!

SAO adaptation is pathetic in a sense that it’s scared to tarnish the novels (Index is another example of this but I like Index but it’s nowhere near pathetic). To the SAO Staff aka A-1 Pictures: THIS IS AN ANIME ADAPTATION, NOT A PROMOTIONAL TRAILER FOR THE NOVELS. Then again, it IS a promotional trailer through and through but by golly  things can be changed up from time to time AND NO — ARRANGING IT INTO A MORE COHERENT TIMELINE DOES NOT EQUAL TO THE ADAPTATION BEING DARING.

I can see what SAO is trying to do. I know Yui’s arc is gonna be used somehow to develop SAO’s story even more. That needs to stop though, the whole “Guys, we’re gonna create a character, kill it, have you cry cus you guys like crying, and then you’ll like SAO even more”. That’s not how a STORY works; this is actually a crime to a story since it has absolutely no respect to the characters themselves!

I’m definitely seeing SAO through and through (I’m never gonna drop this) but I really wanna like what I watch so I’m just hoping it gets better after this (actually it was already starting to get better until this Yui thing showed up).

1+ Million Monogatari DVDs/BDs sold

ANN

SHAFT really is swimming with money right now. I guess this just proves that hardwork (Shinbo) and adapting as many weird titles as possible (SHAFT/Shinbo) will equate to so much dosh. If you add Madoka sales to this. . . SHAFT REALLY IS SWIMMING WITH MONEY.

Now Shaft, can you please stop with your delays, corner cutting (though it wouldn’t be SHAFT without it I mean part of getting shafted is that after all) and deliver anime with insanely high production values and creativity (well they already started with Nise).

Hyouka (END) – 91 points

I’m a KyoAni fag so when I first heard about Hyouka, there was no doubt in mind that I would like. 22 episodes later, that fact still remained . . . and more I guess.

Hyouka is about four guys who pretend to be solving mysteries and such, but most of the time it’s just an excuse to laze around and waste time. Sounds boring? Well thinking about it now, a lot of Hyouka’s episodes are pretty damn boring when you state it. Episode 6: Chitanda gets mad; Houtarou figures out why. Episode 18: Houtarou gets a little curious; Chitanda is fascinated. Episode 19: Houtarou and Chitanda chitchat.

Objectively, Hyouka should be fairly boring. Well, in fairness, most premises of KyoAni shows are fairly damn standard too. The thing that Hyouka excedes on though, is its execution and the addictiveness. You CANNOT watch an episode of Hyouka without watching the one before. If you did, the episode will be fairly boring. The thing with Hyouka is, is that it slowly builds upon itself. Layer by layer, characterization by characterization, Hyouka grows on you like a mold in a bread. Houtarou slowly becomes more involved, Chitanda slowly becomes more open and involved, Satoshi slowly becomes a guy we can all probably relate it, Mayaka slowly becomes more compassionate. Character dvelopment isn’t forced; it happens naturally. Houtarou didn’t suddenly become someone who would care about whatever Chitanda did; He slowly went to that point (he hasn’t even reached it yet after 22 episodes) and it just makes it oh so real.

The thing that helped Hyouka pulled off what it did is its narrativistic/novel-like tackling of the dialogue, narration and monologues. everything is laid out, explained andthen laid out some more. At first I thought this was pretty annoying and boring (I mean did they really hae to spend a minute explaining why Houtarou conserves energy) with the way it tell more than it shows, and most shows that do this end up failing miserably since it doesn’t take into account that it has animation that can explain it (Hi Index, Accel World), but the thing with Hyouka is that it also shows. I guess it helps that a fucking awesome Animation studio is behind this (otherwise Hyouka wouldn’t work at all). Anyway kudos to Mr. FMP man for writing such a detailed script.

Another thing that Hyouka managed to do is to create the best Cultural Festival anime has ever witnessed. Better than School Rumble. Better than Haruhi. I guess it helps that they gave 6-7 episodes for it. Actually at the point of the cultural festival, I was pretty much ready to say that Hyouka is a masterpiece (just to justify how great that Cultural Festival was).

Animation = Self Explanatory. KyoAni in movie-levels except its a TV series. Overall, Hyouka ended up being one of the best series that aired in Spring and it was my favorite series throughout Summer.

Execution: 36/40 (Risky but worth it)

Engagement: 25/30 (Uses a lot of buildup and it pays off quite well)

Characters: 20/20 (KyoAni breathe life into them that no other studio, or series for that matter, can.)

Production Values: 10/10 (Almost Movie-like)

Overall: 91/100 (A-)

Uncurrency Anime – Bakuman. S2

With the manga ending a few months a go and the 3rd season starting soon, it was about time for me to get watching the second season of Bakuman. Surprisingly, I liked it much much much more than I thought I would.

Bakuman, the manga, holds a special place in my heart. Not only is it far and away my favorite manga of all time, it also gave me a lot of motivation in times that I needed it. Bakuman’s a very inspirational manga, no doubt about it, but the anime, especially the first season, never managed to carry over its charms. It over emphasizes the parts that aren’t Bakuman’s biggest assets and completely forgets the reason why the manga is amazing as it’s supposed to be. I think a big part of me not liking the anime is basically the presentation. The manga emphasizes its “shounen essence” by giving it speed lines, exaggerated poses, different angles. . . basically “The Rush” sort of feeling (kinda like what Death Note did). The anime presents it more subtly (most definitely because of budget constraints) and the manga-anime translation doesn’t go that smoothly.

Nonetheless the second season definitely improved from the first season. The anime is still basically the same besides having the execution slightly sharper so it must be the content itself. It introduces characters that I love like Hiramaru, characters that I felt strong pity for like Miura, characters that just made things more fun like Iwase and characters that get more screen time like Aoki Kou. Everything felt livelier because of this and they finally got to the point where Bakuman just rolls. Competition on rankings, what it means to be serialized, what editors feel. . . all those inside the industry sort of stuff that we never see, the second season tackles with great confidence.

I don’t want to be overtly negative since I really enjoyed what I watched so I’ll stop it here with a positive note (especially since all I wrote about season 1 is bitchiness) kinda like how season 2 ends with Ashirogi Muto finally reaching one of their dreams. I honestly can’t wait for season 3 since this is when Bakuman finally completes the message it wants to give not only to Shonen Jump (or Jack lol) but to every manga reader and editor out there.

Execution: 33/40 (Slightly sharper than the first season)

Engagement: 24/30 (Exciting content made up for a rather lacking presentation)

Characters: 18/20 (They got this one on the dot.)

Production Values: 6/10 (Terrible)

Overall: 81/100 (B-)

Summer Season Update

This summer is pretty arid. There’s a handful of shows that are REALLY good but that’s about it for the summer season. I can’t even make a Monthly Roundup because it’d be too small.

Humanity as Declined: Still weirdly amazing.

Kokoro Connect: It’s getting a bit to melodramatic as of late but it’s still really solid overall.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous: Still fairly dramatic and depressing but it’s lacking a bit on empathy.

Rinne no Lagrange S2: Still has dat amazing soundtrack and I like that it’s building up to a nice climax.

Sword Art Online: After its first two episodes, it got really terrible with side stories of girls falling in love with Kirito. Lately though, it’s been surprisingly good. The latest episode got me pumped up for the series again. Also, the animation continues to be really solid in action scenes.

Tari Tari: Nothing special, nothing new but I don’t really have anything bad to say. It does have amazing background art and a quirky style of comedy.