S.W.A.T. Reviews: Spring 2012 Pt. 4

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. Here are 6 more from the new season:

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Listen – Episode 1 of Saint Seiya Omega from Toei Animation with the opening “Pegasus Fantasy ver.Ω” by MAKE-UP w/ Shoko Nakagawa and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine from Po10tial and TMS Entertainment with the opening “New Wuthering Heights” by Naruyoshi Kikuchi and is streaming on Nico Nico.

Listen – Episode 1 of Polar Bear Cafe from Pierrot with the opening “Boku no Invitation” by JP and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Gakkatsu from Fanworks and the NHK.

Listen – Episode 1 of Kuroko’s Basketball from Production I.G with the opening “Can Do” by GRANRODEO and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – Episode 1 of Accel World from Sunrise with the opening “Chase the world” by May’n and is streaming on Hulu.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #118

I finally finished up Part 1 of Saint Seiya: Lost Canvas thanks to Crunchyroll. The destined for tragedy friendship between Tenma, Alone, and Sasha and the fate of not just the world of Gods but also man maintains its level of melodrama very well. And the violence and battles that the series is so well known for is here at an enjoyable rate. It doesn’t come off like Saint Seiya for the modern viewer, it is just another line in the Saint Seiya world which is fine by me. However, this doesn’t make it very new viewer friendly as the series is filled with the familiar faces of the Gold Saints with little explanation. New additions though get a good amount of screen time like the amusing Yato, totally cool Yuzuriha, and of course head strong Tenma. These three are a lot of fun as a team, though nearing the later half of the series we don’t see them as much. However, the final episode promises excellent moments to come. Part 1 ends at a turning point, but by no means has any closure. I’m looking forward to Part 2 which has recently started up.

One of the main purposes of Ongoing Investigations is to talk about things that might not warrant a whole article but show what Narutaki and I read and watch outside the articles we write. It is also where we talk about things we utterly hate. And so I talk about Vampire Cheerleaders which has to be one of the worst thing I have read in recent memory. It is actually two stories in one with the first part being the titular Vampire Cheerleaders who are a squad of catty blood sucking mean girls who take a shy goody two-shoes girl and turn her into an undead ho to fill a hole in their squad. For an OEL manga it is remarkably like its Japanese counterparts in the sad fact that it is one of those racy comedies that it is smutty enough that it feels it does not need a good plot but never quite racy enough to be good as pornography. So you are inundated with cheap fan service strung together with lame jokes that never goes all the way. One of the characters actually uses the phrase “riding the meal missile to Mars” as a euphemism for losing your virginity. Theoretically none of this has to be this bad. I always thought that Exploitation Now did this formula right but I found every one of the jokes in Vampire Cheerleaders fell flat due to annoying characters and tepid delivery. After the main feature and the threat of a sequel there is the bonus story called the Paranormal Mystery Squad. While this was not as bad as Vampire Cheerleaders it is still light years away from good. The Paranormal Mystery Squad starts of as all girl squad mostly so they can be the PMS girls which is a joke I thankfully missed at first but the comic helpfully beat me over the head with. The PMS is a monster slaying service that is hounded by a PETA analog (cleverly named PETM) with a nerdy overseer who wants them to capture monsters alive. One of the girls fails to heed the words of Friedrich Nietzsche and winds up becoming a werewolf. This causes conflict in the group and leads to the stories’ oh so charming title that I will not torture you with besides saying it is quite awful. In fact the whole thing is quite awful. The art in Paranormal Mystery Squad was slightly more detailed but the character designs were less attractive. It is very obviously try to sell itself as manga as it reads right to left despite its American origin. But in the end it does not really matter if it is a bad manga or a bad comic; all you have to know is that it is just bad.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #066

I received a copy of the first book of The Lizard Prince from CMX last week. It seems to follow in the footsteps of many of their shojo fare of late, not bad but not great and a bit forgettable.

In this short (just two books) story, we follow the misadventures of Sienna a Prince who was turned into a lizard only to have the spell (semi)broken by true love. And we and his new love Canary find out quickly he can still transform into reptilian mode though getting back to human is a bit dodgy. This is a running gag and makes up for a good portion of the incidents in the book. Woven into these frantic moments are some cute trials and growing affection between these two young members of royalty.Though they keep trying to make Canary into this tomboy princess it rarely comes through. Sienna’s kind of a weenie but very trying and sweet though he a lot more amusing in lizard form.

The humor, like the love story, is kind of just middling without really making you laugh out loud nor moving you to cheer.

There is also a one shot about a girl who is always burning hot and a boy with nice, cool hands. This story I liked a bit better than the main but that might owed to it being just a one off.

As a whole The Lizard Prince is cute but nothing that seems all that special.

With the gentle urging of a fellow Hitohira fan I finally decided to go and watch the anime. I prefer the manga but the anime is a wonderful adaptation.

Hitohira is the story of a painfully shy girl who after being roped into joining one of the two competing drama clubs learns to be more confident and peruse her dreams.

The anime captures all the powerful moments of the manga with the added force of voice acting for any of the scenes where they play is taking place. I enjoyed the manga a little more because I feel it was a tighter story. Everything happens pretty much the same they just take more time to do it in the anime.

Also Mugi Asai seems less hopeless when we spend less time with her running away from her problems. I was glad to see a bit of resolution to things that were only coming to a peak in volume three of the manga, which is the last volume of the manga that has been released in English.

The anime has a good stopping point but I know that the manga continues the story. I wish that we could finish the manga in the U.S. but I am not holding my breath until that happens.

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