Category Archives: Episode Reviews

Fall 2010 At a Glance: Shinryaku! Ika Musume

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Time to clean things up a bit after yesterday’s review and make the big jump over the pure and innocent side of the scale. Today’s Fall 2010 Review will focus on “Shinryaku! Ika Musume (Invasion! Squid Girl), Diomedea‘s new comedy series with some rather goofy “aquatic” themes. At the time of writing we are two episodes into the series so be sure to check out this review and get to watching if it interests you!

Brief Summary: Attempting to retaliate for the reckless pollution of the world’s oceans, Ika Musume (Squid Girl) launches an all out invasion of Japanese coastline, attempting to establish a foothold on her path to world domination. Sadly after one damaged wall and a gaggle of irritated cafe patrons, our heroine’s invasion seems to hit a bit of a lull. Entirely unprepared for what awaits her on the surface world soon finds herself in the care and unintentional employ of the Aizawa siblings, who run the Lemon Cafe on the beach. What follows is a series of hilarious misadventures as Ika Musume begins to explore and experience life of the surface with the help of her new found friends (subjects? enemies?).

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Fall 2010 At a Glance: Yosuga no Sora

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Starting tonight I will be bringing back the Anime Insights “At a Glance” Series as we attempt to go through the Fall 2010 Anime Lineup and discuss our early opinions of this season’s titles. I decided it might be wise to come back with a little “flare” so lets kick this off with one of the season’s edgier and yet most stereotypical titles: Yosuga no Sora.

Before going any further lets make it clear that Yosuga no Sora is not a PG-13 anime, in fact with some slight nudity and much suggestive content it is definitely in the upper bounds of the rated R category. If that kind of thing or one of Yosuga’s main premises: implied and realized incestuous relationships, is too much for you to handle I would recommend avoiding the series. Another in a long line of anime-adapted VNs and eroges, Yosuga no Sora, definitely pushes the boundaries of what is commonly seen in mainstream anime while yet in many ways proving to be yet another run-of-the-mill Harem show.

The basic premise: Following the death of their parents in an accident (stereotypes begin here), newly-orphaned twins Haruka and Sora Kazugano decide to move into the house of their late grandfather in the small, tranquil village of Okukozome-chou. From the outset it appears that the twins have drastically different outlooks on their new life. Haruka (Haru) seems to look forward to the opportunity to reconnect with the past, rekindling the friendships and memories of yesteryear. His sickly and fragile sister Sora however seems much more stricken by past events, exhibiting a shy and isolated personality while clinging selfishly to her brother. As the twins settle into their new environment and attend their new school, a whole host of new relationships and potential romance awaits them. Not to be forgotten however is the mysterious reason for which they first decided to return to the town, and the long-lost item which they are searching for…

descent’s take after the jump…

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High School of the Dead Episode 1

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Here we go, the first episode of the personally long-awaited series. The art remains much the same with lots of risqué shots and simulated physics. The story remains pretty faithful to the opening chapter of the manga and the animation really does bring the story to life. Add on the proper music for a series such as this and overall we have a nice opening chapter to my beloved series.

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Angel Beats Episode 2: A Descent into Awesome

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I really didn’t think Angel Beats could continue to impress me like this. I was willing to chalk up a good amount of my excitement about this show’s potential to the hype, a solid first episode, and some nice music. But this week PA Works and Jun Maeda just kept it coming and convinced me once again that there is no better show yet this season. If you couldn’t tell by my last post already, I was entranced right for the start by the opening sequence. The second I saw Tenshi’s fingers on the keys of a piano my first thought was simply “oh no you didn’t”! But yes Angel Beats, you did, and I absolutely love you for it, I am a sucker for showing off random and awesome talents in this fashion. In that first 1:30 of greatness an expressive Tenshi and the beautiful voice of Lia guided us through an excellent OP sequence that highlights Yuri and Tenshi in contrast, showed a series of clips to setupt the episode (a trend I hope continues), and gave us a view of the afterlife-world beautifully illuminated in golden lights. The song itself has a very emotional feel and combined with the on-screen expression during the performance helped create a subtle sense of desperation and yearning amongst the characters trapped in this eternal struggle. The closing seconds also gave us some symbolism (or perhaps foreshadowing) and we saw Tenshi live up to her name:

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It was beautifully executed and had me at the edge of my seat before the episode even began. It should be noted that Jun Maeda composed these works himself and deserves all the credit in the world. Episode 2 again saw the SSS led by Yuri undertake another critical mission, this time descending into the depths beneath the school to reach Guild, their source of weaponry and supplies. But path isn’t easy and Tenshi once again makes an appearance to put a halt to their plans. Let’s continue this review after the jump:

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The Season at a Glance: Spring 2010, Part 2

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Hero Man

descent’s take: To be honest I only wanted to watch this show for one reason: my morbid curiosity with a Japanese studio’s take on American  culture. The show itself is based in “Center City”, “West Coast”, USA and so far as we have seen has no East Asian influences what so ever. A school full of kids NOT wearing uniforms? Gotta give’em credit for drawing it all. A bunch of American teens with All-American names talking to each other in Japanese, yes!  Jocks, jerks, the cool guy, and a cheerleader love interest, yessir this is the good ole’ US of A indeed. The show itself is about a kind-hearted but initially weak-willed protagonist Joey who works hard to care for his grandmother and seems to be the subject of some rather unfair bullying to top off his rather difficult life. By repairing a broken toy and after some lightning-related shenanigans he finds himself in the possession of the powerful robot “Heroman” which he controls with a nifty remote. I assume this means Joey will proceed to save the day for the rest of the series at it appears that some rather ridiculously looking evil aliens are on the way to co-opt earth for its resources.

The animation is average throughout and is mostly interesting only for its attempt to depict of western culture and scenery.  None of the characters are really all that unique though Joey is likable and Lina deserves credit for being a girl who isn’t shy about her feelings (though this is probably the writer trying to make some kind of overwrought shoutout to “American culture”). Heroman looks cool and his mouth lets you think he is about to start talking and reveal his personality but he’s only been the stoic and silent-type so far. The downfall of this show from an older viewer’s perspective is that the antagonists already look extremely fail and the action hasn’t even started yet. While I enjoy the spectacle this show presents us with and love seeing my own country depicted in some way or another the lack of interesting action and drama will probably keep people from liking this too much.

The Music: The OP is ok and the animation here does a great job of showing off what Heroman is all about. The ending has a great western comic book theme that makes you want to give props to the creative mind at work there. Honestly the background music is top notch throughout and actually enhances the feel and atmosphere of many of the scenes quite well. Props in this department.

[easyreview title=”” cat1title=”A First Glance” cat1detail=”It was pretty fun but lacks depth and probably won’t maintain its appeal” cat1rating=”7.5″]

The rest after the jump…

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The Season at a Glance: Spring 2010, Part 1

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It has been an exciting start to Spring 2010: moe, maids, robots, romance, and even American mecha are all part of some of the season’s most anticipated series. As the amazing banner (thanks panda!) above suggests, the Anime Insights crew will be bringing you our thoughts on what we have witnessed so far, some first-glance ratings, and an indication of whether we will be following it as the season goes on and thus worth you time as well. For your convenience this rather lengthy post will be divided into three parts, feel free to chime in with your thoughts! On to the reviews! (Alphabetically of course)

-descent

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Angel Beats Episode 1 Review: There’s an Angel but this ain’t Heaven…

So today begins my episode recap/review series of the much anticipated P.A. Works/Aniplex original production, Angel Beats. Beginning its run this past Saturday, Angel Beats will be a 13-episode show that is accompanied by a significant amount of alternative media goodies including several illustrated short stories and two manga series which we will eventually get around to reviewing. Many anime and visual novel fans will be very familiar with the story’s creator (Jun Maeda) and original character designer (Na-Ga) of associated Key fame stemming from such well known works as Kanon, Air, and Clannad (and in Na-Ga’s case definitely think Little-Busters).

You might ask why someone like me who has never experienced any Key works and has honestly only watched one Visual Novel anime adaptation (Higurashi) would be so interested. Well, lets just say I can’t help but be interested in shows that attempt to do novel things with somewhat stereotypical premises. Shows of this nature can often result in stunning success (for me So Ra No Wo To), or sometimes just straight up fails to deliver (think Dance of the Vampire Bund). In Angel Beats you have a show that is going for the big one by mixing it all together, just in the first episode you get almost equal doses of yet another high school setting, supernatural drama and mystery, action (Guns! Handsonics?), physical comedy, rock bands, and the yet another ahem, “different” interpretation of the afterlife. I have to admit that along with the premise the concept art and TV spot trailers suckered me in as well, you can find these here, here, and most poignantly here (pretty muzak in all these).

Well so far its lived up to the expectations I’ve had for it and now without further ado, lets get to the (Caution: spoiler heavy) fun after the jump…. Read the rest of this entry