Navigation

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 104 other followers

State of the Classroom

zetsubou-sensei

After a lengthy absence from posting, I decided that I’d make a small post on the state of the blog versus simply fade out for an even greater and indefinite period. So, to be succinct, I’ll just say that life has knocked me off my feet. I’ve fallen into a cycle largely consisting of work, food, fatigued sleep that will (hopefully) finally come to an end now because of my school’s Thanksgiving holidays. I had been debating whether to continue with my first impression posts for the season, but it makes for weak content with the season well underway. I’ll likely try to do some sporadic posts if any shows catch my interest or generate interesting topics for discussion, but I’ve mostly going to be focusing on seasonal catch-up versus forcing “late” content.

I started Otaku Academia with two goals in mind: a connection to the anime community from which I felt estranged and to try to make some extra money off ad revenue. I can’t say I’ve succeeded on either goal front, but I re-invested in WordPress Premium again to dissuade myself from giving up on both. There may be some longer lapses between content for a while, but I aim to get back and begin anew. Thank you to all my readers thus far: I never believed I’d even have half of the followers that I possess right now.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans First Impressions

After much more dragging about than anticipated, I’ve finally managed to dapple into the new catalog of shows once more. As always, it comes with excitement and the actual results.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

gundam_ironbloodedA new Gundam! Certainly, there’s no other statement that will be rife with mixed receptions as much as this one among the fan community. Does it seem intelligent? War-torn or flashy? Divisive questions popping up for the most loyal doesn’t happen to be anything new with anime, but as with any Gundam title, the matter reaches critical quite fast.

Personally, I’ve been fairly checked out from the franchise for a number of years. Gundam Build Fighters renewed some interest simply because of the higher focus on mobile suits and fan nostalgia; the great classical revival attempts of the original title haven’t resonated deeply despite my attempts to immerse. I really do love fans of Gundam and the idea behind it, so I’ve always ready to make an attempt whenever a new entry arrives. By no great surprise, the episode follows the tried and true approach of character introduction with a heavy dosage of political strife that ends with a one-sided mobile suit battle until the final emergence of the Gundam. The main difference, however, boils down to the dirt and bloodiness of it all before the mobile suits enter that made me forget for a time that I was watching a Gundam title.

Still, there’s certainly the tropes of old-school Gundam that emerge with clashing views on group and class superiority, but there’s an equally heavy focus on war, peace, and survival. So, honestly, I’m more inclined to identify this Gundam as a revitalized Gundam Wing with a more modern-day grit tagged along. The usage of mobile workers, implants, maltreated workers, and childhood soldiers adds more global present day issues to compete with the typical space faction matters. As someone that can find the classic space opera motifs to be a bit dry, I was pleasantly pleased with how much better the episode seemed to flow by not trying to re-invent the wheel yet stay the same. Still, if you’re worried that you’ll miss out on full world immersion, there’s plenty of technical definitions and group identities to continue that role-playing experience.

All-in-all, I was really impressed with the first episode; I felt the desire to actually watch a Gundam-entry for the total package. It’s not as extraordinarily flashy, however, it feels as if it channels early Gundam Wing in terms of mobile suit designs.

mobilesuit gundamWhat the Wing Zero was able to accomplish by the end of Gundam Wing was quite ridiculous, but the early specialized practicality of the mobile suits in Iron-Blooded Orphans stays far away from those levels. There’s no beam cannons or beam sabers that emerge in the first episode, and the working joints and more personal form of combat should please fans that don’t like mech battles becoming a particle show. In combination with the heavier grit focus, I’m extremely curious how the suits themselves will emerge as secondary social commentary devices when they seem much cruder relative to the recent tech-heavy battle-based suits. With the first episode’s preview suggesting that the Gundam will be using it’s weapon like a javelin; I don’t think that change will come soon. However, the thrill of seeing the timeline adapt to the on-going conflicts was an additional point of pleasure.

In closing, I’d suggest any Gundam fan to give this entry a try. It’s not firmly in the bishounen pilot space, and it’s not firmly rooted in old school recreation. Instead, Iron-Blooded Orphans works in several identities while bringing in present-day war motifs versus the terroristic themes of Gundam 00. If you enjoyed the design of Gundam Wing but with a heavier initial focus on the like of Relena Peacecraft and her motivations, this new Gundam should prove suitable. If nothing else, the gunpla should be quite impressive.

Garo Guren no Tsuki & Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?? First Impressions

I wanted to apologize—for starters—at my lack of updates. Since my last post, I got super busy, and I even started to doubt whether I enjoyed anime to the same degree anymore as I looked at a growing backlog of episodes in the hundreds. Honestly, it made me feel super overwhelmed and avoidant, and I didn’t even attempt to watch an episode until a day ago because of it. I’ve always taken some odd pride in being a somewhat encyclopedic watcher that could instantly recognize almost anything as it would pop-up in conversation or by cosplay, but I had to let go of it right now to a degree. So, I deleted a few series that I knew wouldn’t be talked about outside the season in all likelihood, and I started to watch with some of the pressure off again.

Garo: Guren no Tsuki

garo2After Garo: Honoo no Kokuin ended, I didn’t expect a branch off series in an alternate setting. Still, even as a seasonal surprise, not much has functionally changed underneath the surface. The opening episode plot’s structure heavily resembles the prior season (hunt the mislead human soul possessed by horror), horrors become a buzzword, there’s still a golden knight, a mysterious villain that’s worse than a horror and loves the word “darkness,” and the returning cast once again fits the strong-willed female ally, serious male lead, and quirky supporting character molds. For fans that don’t like a lot of change, I actually did find the visuals to be a lot more polished and cleverly implemented—so it should be a win-win across the board. It may simply because the non-European style horror fantasy happens to be more familiar to the production staff, but I didn’t groan at the generic feeling as hard when it came to enemy designs.

With my cautious praise being said, the problems of the series possessing a meandering narrative and terrible, campy dialogue remains. All-in-all, Garo remains a series that should be judged by the visual action sequences and the accompanying eye candy (mostly female) that remains core. There’s some neat narrative-visual tie-ins with the “Light Palace” that horrors won’t enter, so it’s a bit fun to see the series push the light/dark angle a bit more strongly from the get-go this season. However, I just want to caution that there’s very little to draw-in anyone that didn’t make it through the first extended go-around. If we go by last season’s run, I largely expect some episodes to be strong while many others will be generic run-of-the-mill kill horror feasting on the darkness of the human soul that won’t matter at all.

I wouldn’t recommend it except to fans of the prior season or the likes of Karas.

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka??

usagi..

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka was a series that I largely tuned out during for about half of its episodic run. It’s a moe-centric show that leans especially towards harassing the unemotional loli type to reveal her feelings on the inside. With that being said, if you loved the prior season, the first episode delivers all the old jokes and borderline shoujo-ai x familial possession aspects of the last season. There’s not even much talk on coffee this episode, and it instead focuses on trying to make Chino-chan smile while taking fan service shots of the girls being quirky. If you enjoy fan service being veiled by 4koma female friend antics, it will continue to provide bountifully.

If that doesn’t interest you, well, Tippy still manages to be cute atop Chino’s head, and the soft color palette combined with pretty settings does instill a sense of peace. Still, I couldn’t tear myself away from how indirectly hard the fan service kept being pushed. If you’re feeling a gap after Kiniro Mosaic, it’s a good series to substitute with. Otherwise, well, it depends on if the innocence being dangled in front of the viewer will entice hard enough.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk & Fushigi na Somera-chan First Impressions

After a somewhat productive weekend of anime catch-up and general life necessities, I managed to partake of some more of the new season. As a warm-up for this week, I’ll be doing a full-length episode impression and a short-running title impression.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk

Gakusen-Toshi-AsteriskMore of the same. Gakuen Toshi Asterisk hits all the typical fantasy school check-box requirements:

  • World changing disaster
  • New breed of human with special powers
  • Fancy school
  • Students are expected to fight to earn their keep
  • Girl-to-guy balance is insanely one-sided
  • Entrance requirements involve the male lead meeting a “princess-type” girl and embarrassing her to set the relationship tone
  • There’s swords and magic (albeit magic/tech-inspired fusion here)
  • Missing sister

If you’re tired of the quasi-harem/action school antics, there’s very little to set this show apart. The first episode goes almost full exposition dump with the usual dangling dashes of fan service and battle to make sure the audience is still watching half-way in. From a plot perspective, it’s all very predictable albeit served in a new wrapper, and I can see myself burning out, personally, if there’s not a series of twists. With that being said, there are some good points to take-away from the first episode. First-off, in terms of visual iconography, there’s a very solid mix between magical and tech-heavy with the uniforms and associated combat gear.

If you’re an uninitiated fan to this genre type or particularly dig the visual style, it’s a very easy world to personally immerse the viewer in and role play from. As an extension of this, the episode’s pretty well animated with the usual CG prop-up that occurs nowadays. And as an unusual plus, the male lead happens to be more aware of what’s going on around him. Despite falling shyly to the fan service, he’s at least well-rounded enough to seem together while the other conditions of the world are being rolled out in front of him. It’s not an episode saving grace, but I do value when more general intelligence is allowed into a series of this nature.

In short, it’s decent entertainment albeit predictable. From a purely overarching plot angle, there doesn’t seem to be any deviation from the standard super transfer student formula that seems repeated every other season. Still, it’s together in terms of visual iconography, and the male-lead has it more together than the majority he’s up against. Give it a shot if you really love this scenario or if you dig the school’s uniforms.

Fushigi na Somera-chan

fushigi na somera-chanDuring the first part of the episode, I wondered if I was due for another Teekyuu. While there’s a lot of similarities in terms of irregular animation quality amongst random antics, it appeared if there was some attempts at a larger narrative versus slice of life antics. Somera-chan, the oldest daughter of the Nonomoto family, is the heir to a martial arts fist technique after her parents pass away. This information mattered for about the course of a minute before said technique was used to combine a dog with broken oden pieces to form some kind of odd cat abomination. The episode then ends on a bloody note for no real purpose much like it starts.

It doesn’t personally irritate me as much as Teekyuu does, but I won’t discount that as a possibility. As with any short, fans should know if they want to see a blob of animated oddness or a short narrative. Fushigi na Somera-chan‘s definitely not a good kind of weird at this time.

Concrete Revolutio Choujin Gensou & Anitore! EX

As with any new season start for me, I seem to have developed a habit of falling off on watching the shows as soon as they come out. I don’t know if it’s an indirect mental savoring for what’s to come—a quick look at most of my followed blogs’ entries seem happy—or if I simply am just enjoying the backlog too much. So, as I get back into the swing of it, I’ll start with a stop-gap post.

Concrete Revolutio Choujin Gensou

Concrete_Revolutio_Choujin_GensouBONES hype. To further explain, when producing original work, BONES has always lived up to my high expectations in what I look for in an anime title. I knew Concrete Revolutio Choujin Gensou was going to be an over-the-top anime title that would make for interesting animation freedom. Combining magical girls, aliens, and super humans together with the ridiculous mecha battles of Star Driver seemed a cinch for a fun and creative project. As a coincidental plus, the two leads having a lavender and purple hair color just personally sweetened the deal after using the same colors in so many character creation scenarios in games throughout the years.

Now, I can openly say that any viewer watching the show can easily get pulled in simply by watching. There’s a ton of neat visual details that make the episode an immediate pleasure to partake in. As I made annotations relative to the first episode, it was a lengthy list as sub-plot, flashback, and interesting action sequence occurred rapidly back-to-back. For anyone that watched Star Driver & Captain Earth, the storytelling should be similar in its method as well as equally incomprehensible for the first part of the show as mysteries and unexplained details happen. With the layer of absurdity added on, however, it’s uncertain how much of those are for visual flair versus long-term story consequences.

The traditional studio narrative mixing with animation absurdity may leave a few head’s scratching, but the promise of all shall be explained in time should help soothe any unease there. All-in-all, it’s a fun mess at times, but fans should be going in for the world where all these elements mash together to begin with. Stay for the animation if nothing else.

Anitore! EX

Anitore_EXAnitore! EX isn’t the first title trying to get the otaku masses to partake in exercise and healthy life measures. It also isn’t the first anime to introduce fan service while doing it. For three minutes, the audience is treated to a younger school age girl practicing push-ups and crunches while explaining the proper technique. During this process, the camera has fun with the usage of angle shots to the point that most particular body fetishes should be sated. Additionally, there’s a small narrative element as if the girl is talking to a friend about wanting ice cream, so viewers should feel a bit less like a creeper.

If you ignore the fan service, there’s actually educational merit in terms of proper body posturing and technique when it comes to these basic in-door exercises. So, it might actually inspire some follow-up practice. The angle shots also serve as a check-in of body positioning for these techniques. Since I recently made an attempt to be more active in my lifestyle, I found myself nodding along in learned knowledge as I was reminded of what to do and what not to do with these exercises. So, as with JK-Meshi, there’s at least some value to what’s otherwise an underwhelming product.

If you’re looking to get in shape and want some support in it, Anitore! EX might be the ticket. If you just want fan service, it’s also a quick indulgence. If neither appeal, it’s very easy to skip.

Lance N’ Masques & Comet Lucifer First Impressions

I wanted to get this post up yesterday, but I fell behind after having to pack up my classroom and move it to another room following a sudden development. Still, I hope the double fantasy impression proves worth the wait because, if nothing else, the shows are in their own unique ways.

Lance N’ Masques

lanceI’ll start by stating that I don’t believe Lance N’Masques deserves to get outstanding marks anywhere. The animation isn’t spectacular, and the anime cliche pile seems momentous: rich loli, standard male protagonist, maids, lonely girl that the protagonist can’t leave alone, white horse for the hero, annoying tag-along girl and cliche baddie thugs. As such, I imagine many first impression posts for this series will tear it down on the whole even if it’s technically above average entertainment.  However, I’ll show you my thought process-in-motion:

lancefall

Oh, she’s falling. Maybe she’ll die?

romance

Nope. The law of anime states any cute girl in distress will be saved post-haste in any standard, non-dark titles.

hero_lonelyloli

Trying to run away after stealing her heart, protagonist? Too bad, she’s going to stalk you for the rest of your life now (or until you fall in love too).

And after I took my screenshots, I realized a lot of enjoyment for this series came from the sense of fun permeating it. The core concept isn’t original or the designs, but it shouldn’t be taken seriously. As I heard the concept of the boy forced to be a knight due to familial expectation that later impulsively saves a girl in distress at a low point, I felt an odd combination of Samurai Flamenco and Hayate no Gotoku. Additionally, the rich loli-type with low people skills highly resembles a certain Nagi—and she even has a maid. Still, if you’re not a fan of either series mentioned, Lance N’ Masques somehow manages to become an anime Don Quixote that comments on the idea of modern-age chivalry (it’s still quite cheesy and self-serving) and how ridiculous lances are in this day-and-age.

Lance N' MasquesIf nothing else, the ending animation stills are beautiful.

Comet Lucifer

cometluciferAfter a quick cryptic blurb, I felt Playstation One J-RPG nostalgia drown me. In a combination of astrology/mining and fantasy and sci-fi, Comet Lucifer‘s name showcases it’s identity well. It seems like an odd mish-mash of concepts, but likable characters and immersion are the name of the game here. Classic tropes are utilized with familiar high points done very well: Boy gets hit to the chest by a comet, discovers a rare, high-quality gemstone, rides his quicker board, character introductions/motivations, and then a few story boards pass with a shadow organization that leads to a girl emerging out of a gem, and then the iconic fight!

feathers

So many feathers after emerging from a gem…

I generally hate to give away too much detail on a scene-by-scene basis when a show’s quality comes from how it’s knit together. So, I’ll note some of the apparent downsides for the show besides familiar concepts. There’s very apparent CG mechs and vehicles usage as is standard for a televised anime. However, they’re very well choreographed and utilized well to the point that I didn’t dwell on it for a change. Additionally, the outfits are kind of ridiculous for the actions at play—and feathered dress and hair doesn’t exactly scream readability for me when dealing with comets or red gem girl.

So for a series where I’m not expecting ridiculousness as much in comparison to Lance N’Masques, it does make me pause some. Still, Comet Lucifer has taken the achievement of becoming the first show that gets a blanket first episode recommendation if you don’t mind a standard story in exchange for an overall quality production. There’s some weak points, but the pieces work together incredibly overall. We already have mechs, so how about some gemstone creature hype next?

Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Returns 2nd Season & Miss Monochrome The Animation 3rd Season First Impressions

I had intended to get this post up yesterday, but life’s pressures simply happened. The next few days should be better since my students are on Fall Break, so I should get some timely blogging done during my professional learning days.

Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Returns 2nd Season

kindaichiI’ve watched a lot of detective shows over the years (both anime and live-action), and I’ve begun to become somewhat numb to the typical approach. Unless it’s comedic or has a captivating angle such as a supernatural attachment, I’ll probably watch the show while predicting most of the twists and tuning out fairly often. So with Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Returns 2nd Season‘s return, it’s hard to really drum up much excitement. It’s a very by-the-books old school detective show that will immediately either fans of its approach or viewers bored out of their minds. The charm that Magic Kaito or Detective Conan has isn’t there; Kindaichi never relents all the same.

Still, there are pluses for those that aren’t immediately drawn to the youth with superior intellectual abilities when it comes to crime and murder. The opening sequence this time around promises a lot more action and adventure versus straight clue-gathering and showy criminal reveals. The first episode actually follows through on this potential promise by starting out with the iconic villain of the franchise, Takato Youichi, Hell’s Puppeteer. There’s a return to Hong Kong, some character re-introductions, and the typical reminder of Kindaichi’s motivations based off his familial heritage. However, the main point here is that an actually clever villain happens to be trying to turn Kindaichi into a serial killer.

It’s not a completely original concept with the likes of hypnotism being brought on. But it’s a nice step-away from the typical cut-and-dry criminal of the week formula that popularizes American television so often. Literary fans as well should enjoy The Count of Montecristo reference and homage thrown in. The last season of Kindaichi had some particularly stronger arcs than others, so it’s nice to see the potential being used at the start this time. It’s still not going to be too enticing for non-crime drama fans; it’s a strong episode for a show that’s likely to fly under many fan’s radars due to dated visuals. At the moment, it’s a good start, but the test will be if future arcs hold up.

Miss Monochrome: The Animation 3

miss-monochrome-the-animation-3Nothing much has changed here. The opening remained the same, and the promotional art isn’t even much of a departure from the second season. Character reintroduction occurs, and Miss Monochrome searches for a DJ for her tour. In short, the typical mash-up of off-beat humor from Miss Monochrome combined with one advancing plot point per episode. If you’re not familiar with the franchise at this point, simply imagine a deadpan robot character attempting to be an idol without a true clue on how to do it.

Personally, over time, I can feel the character and cast grow on me more. I’m not expecting a lot to happen at this point, but with Wooser gone, it’s nice to have Miss Monochrome remain the iconic short-running anime figurehead for the season.