S.W.A.T. Reviews: Fall 2011 Pt. 2

With the success of the S.W.A.T. reviews last season we’re trying it again with the autumn line up. The premise of these reviews is simple: watch the first episode of a series and then immediately sit down to record a review mini-podcast. The reviews are five- to ten-minutes long and entirely off the cuff. As always we only review new shows (so no sequels or continuations) and try to avoid anything that just looks outright awful. These are the next five shows of the new season:

RSS Feed     –     iTunes Feed

Listen – Episode 1 of Persona 4 is from AIC A.S.T.A. with the opening “Pursuing My True Self” by Shihoko Hirata.

Listen – Episode 1 of Gundam AGE is from Sunrise with the opening “To Tomorrow” by Galileo Galilei.

Listen – Episode 1 of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is from AIC Build with the opening “Friends Making Group ★★☆” by Marina Inoue, Kanae Itou, Nozomi Yamamoto, Misato Fukuen, Kana Hanazawa, and Yuka Iguchi.

Listen – Episode 1 of Future Diary is from asread with the ending “Blood Teller” by Faylan.

Listen – Episode 1 of Ben-to is from David Production with the opening “LIVE for LIFE ~Ookamitachi no Yoru~” by Manami.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #110

Bihada Ichizoku is, sadly, a show that most people never watched. I remedied my ignorance over the Christmas holiday. These 12 8-minute episodes follow the two Bihada sisters, a family that “battles for beauty,” as they become rivals for the most beautiful skin in the world. Yes, I swear that is the premise, and I also swear it is perfectly executed and hysterical. The show was created to promote skin care products. The show is a near-perfect riff on all things shojo from the 70s; from the character designs to the expressions to the desperate seriousness of it all. Sara acquires a mysterious benefactor, who leaves her a random assortment of objects such as purple sweet potatoes, and teaches her the ways of skin care in order to defeat her sister in the final battle! There is hardship, death, doomed love, and so much more; Bihada Ichizoku plays it straight and entertains amazingly well. And at this length you can shoot through the whole show in less than 2 hours!

hisuiconI decided to delve back into the work of Kill em’ all Tomino with the first 15 episodes of Aura Battler Dunbine. This story does not start with much foreplay in the regular world before throwing the protagonists, Shou Zama, in the magical world of Byston Well. Byston Well is a medieval fantasy land with insect like mecha called Aura Battlers. Shou finds himself pressed into the army of Duke Drake who plans to rule the world with an elite fighting force of pilots from Earth. Apparently people from Earth have massive amounts of spiritual power in Byston Well and can power up any device they control exponentially. After a few battles Shou find himself fighting on the side of the rebels. The fact that he is keen of the red-headed Marvel Frozen who is also part of the resistance is no small part of his decision. This feels very much like a Tomino work despite its fantasy setting.  You will notice a very standard Tomino style of pacing and characterization for better and for worse. So far Shou is a solid lead with a good mixture of knowing when to be aggressive and when to be passive in his personality as opposed to other Tomino leads. Neal Given has really only gotten on my nerves so far and I am still undecided on Marvel. All the villains so far are pretty despicable and we don’t really have a gray Char like character so far. So far Garalia is the most over manipulative and the top insanely evil character but Shot Weapon looks like he is saving his full crazy for a later date. I am curious to see how the Tomino does his version of Escaflowne over a decade before Escaflowne. Continue reading

Narutaki & Hisui VS. 2009

Narutaki & Hisui VS. 2009 is in part an award show, in part an exercise in humor and snark, in part a challenge, and in part a love letter to everything great this year. We picked several categories and each of us picked titles, characters, and people who we felt best summed up our feelings on the year. Take a peek into what we thought on the anime and manga of 2009 and the people who bring it to us. Feel free to suggest new categories and challenge our picks.

Would also love to hear other people’s picks for some of these categories as well! By the way, some of this stuff happens to have come out in years gone by but we first watched/read/whatnot this year so that’s why they’re here, I’ll hear no guff about it! I really enjoy this part of the year, all the posts seem to be more fun and this one is no exception.

Best Anime of 2009 or Show that Infuriates You to No End When Someone on MAL says “If you like this show you will love Dance in the Vampire Bund.”

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
The noitaminA is your go to animation slot when you are looking for something that is simultaneously different, mature, well produced, and smart. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is no exception to this rule. An exceptional look at ordinary people involved in an extraordinary but still extremely feasible situation. It is a superb mixture of intense character study and survival drama. I know some people feel the end is weak but I thought it did well in capping off this  powerful and thought provoking show.

Eden of the East
It is a little bit mystery, a little bit drama, and a little bit suspense wrapped around an intriguing concept. It’s a wonderful series to watch unfold and since Takizawa doesn’t remember what has happened there is a wonderful element of discovery that comes. Takizawa himself is a refreshing and mysterious guy but you always get the feeling, or I did, that he was a good guy even when things looked dubious. Also he loved dogs, can’t be bad. The game was able to engross and impress me from episode one and continued to do so throughout its broadcast.

Anime Man of the Year or You Must be Swift
as a Coursing River

Battler Ushiromiya
Have you ever wished Phoenix Wright could be the star of his own supernatural murder mystery anime? Well if so then someone heard your prayers. In Umineko no Naku Koro ni we have Battler Ushiromiya who is a clear homage to Phoenix Wright with dramatic finger pointing, manly crying, and split between having to do detective work and acting like a lawyer. He may have his flaws but no matter what he keeps marching forward despite numerous set backs and tragedies. Plus he is just plain cool whenever he is on the counterattack. His casual charm and iron clad will set the tone for the anime as much as they do the games it was based on.

Guin
After thinking this over way too much, I finally decided on Guin for a few reasons. First being that after more than 100 books about his quest on the bestseller list, Guin finally got an anime. Adding to that is that Guin may arguably be the most manly character animated in 2009. If you watch just the first episode, this will become obvious. I also read about Guin in novel formthe first time this year myself. And finally, and sadly, Guin’s creator Kaoru Kurimoto passed away in 2009, a woman who was still writing about her most popular creation.

Anime Woman of the Year or I am Woman Hear Me Roar

Canaan
Canaan is a competent kick arse girl with a gun. That is usually all that you need to sell me on a character. The fact that Canaan has her rather slick synesthesia ability which I thought was a very original superpower. She has a stoic and cool feel to her but it she still cares for the people she wishes to protect and gives her all to do so. I also think that her competence on the battlefield but her awkwardness in personal relationships gives her a good mixture of strength and weakness that make her a serious version of Sousuke Sagara. I also think makes her an interesting character to me.

Sawako
Picking a woman of the year became a lot easier the more I watched Kimi ni Todoke. Sawako has a special strength of character that uplifts you, just as she does to the many characters around her. She is humorous and endearing and you never doubt that she will succeed and grow in each new scenario she encounters. Sawako’s positive attitude, even after endearing so much isolation is a true testament to the human spirit and the ability to change.

Continue reading