Anime-time: Zankyou no Terror

Oh, hey, I watched a relatively new anime, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand

Zankyou no Terror is a good anime.

First of all, let’s begin with this, so you’re not tricked into thinking this is a show about terrorism and the morals around it. Because it isn’t. It really isn’t anything I expected when going into it.

Whether or not I recommend it, is a bit of a complicated question, but I’ll ultimately say no. There are definitely some good – even very good – parts to this story, but I just can’t recommend it. Or can I? I mean, fuck, it’s difficult, alright?

Going to deep into what the story is actually about is kind of risking spoilers, but I’ll try a spoiler-free version: Zankyou no Terror is about connectivity. Not just between two people, or about someone who’s on the outside of societal norms, but a society. Also, it’s about the Japanese climate and generational gaps, in a post-war society (even if the show has a modern setting). It’s just a shame there’s so much in the way to actually get to that. Well, technically it’s always there, but it’s just not “stated” that that’s what it’s about. Sure, us viewers have to read into things as they happen, but sometimes it can’t help to kinda lead us to what were supposed to get out of it. Eh.

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Twelve and Nine, read from the left.

 

Anyway, ZnT centres on a duo of young men, Nine and Twelve, who fashion themselves terrorists with a cause. Nine is the classic silently intelligent bad-ass you often see in anime. Twelve is another stereotype – the hyper individual, with a magnetism that pulls people to him. Initially Twelve seems to have the interesting twist of being a psychotic emotional manipulator, but that quickly goes away to reveal a pretty normal guy, minus the terrorism angle. I won’t go too much into the attacks and repercussions themselves, but I will say that the show definitely veers hard away from very serious terrorism stuff – is, I guess, how I’ll put it. They call themselves Sphinx 1 and 2, and the series starts with them stealing a nuclear device. After that, they go to record and upload videos with them forecasting bombings, and basically daring the cops to do anything about it. They challenge the police to solve puzzles related to Greek mythology. So, those of us who aren’t read up on Sophocles’ Oedipus just get to kick back and watch the story unfold.

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Nine and Twelve in their Sphinx getup.

 

Among the police trying to solve Sphinx’ riddles is former detective Shibazaki, who got taken off the force in the past for investigating police corruption. He’s the series’ most interesting character, in that he actually has a fully developed character. He feels like a more mature L Lawliet, without the eccentricity. He knows what man-made disasters can do to a country, and will go far to stop Sphinx’ plans.

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Shibazaki, intellectually confronting Sphinx, in a revealing moment for both sides.

Into this mess, Lisa Mashima is pulled. She’s a schoolgirl that’s bullied by the other girls and seems to generally hate life. Her mother seems incredibly  Twelve injects himself into her life, which has huge consequences on both of their lives. There is potential to the Lisa character, for sure. She could have offered another, but still parallel, viewpoint to the Sphinxes’, and help to further explore all three characters. That doesn’t really happen, though, or at least not soon enough. She plays the damsel in distress and is portrayed as being quite ridiculously useless. Her bad cooking is played for laughs, because anime stereotype. Her arc ends up in a pretty good place before the series crashes and burns at the end.

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Lisa, unwittingly pulled into a plot that could shake the foundations of the country.

The story is excellently animated. Absolutely gorgeous. The music is also a stand-out, behind which is industry veteran Yoko Kanno. One song has guest vocals from the vocalist of one of my favourite bands, Agent Fresco (whom you should definitely check out, yo). The soundtrack does its job superbly well, and adds to some very good scenes.

You know what? Fuck it, I’ll recommend it. If you can bear the really bad (“the bad”, obviously being relative to what you enjoy from your anime) of this show, there’s a story there that kinda deserves to be seen. To quote myself from earlier, because I can, “It’s just a shame there’s so much in the way to actually get to that.” Cut a couple of episodes, especially the parts with the nonsensical and oh-so-uninteresting villain that you can see a mile away after watching the first episode if you’ve seen a couple of anime series’ before (seriously, the villain and its cadre, and its actions and reactions from the local police are fucking terrible ends up being a ridiculously awful addition), and focus on the more personal and cultural story. Hell, it could have worked very well as a longer feature film at like 2 hours or so.

All in all, it’s a troubled, yet good anime that has something to say , even if its message gets a bit lost in between its sometimes crazy antics. It’s not getting a whole-hearted recommendation, but I think it’s worth checking out. At the very least, it at least tries to stand out from most other anime released today, and that’s worth something.

Animu-time: Fate/Zero

After a gap of probably a good 7 years, I finally decided to watch the prequel to Fate/Stay Night. Woo. Anyway, I can conclude that

Fate/Zero is a good anime.

And I quite think it’s required viewing for the franchise – whether you’re just looking to get into it or are a previous fan. It offers a lot of context to actions of characters in the following works.

To the plot, then. Long story short, it’s a war between seven two-person teams for the Holy Grail. The teams are made up of a human (more than often this human is a mage) and a heroic spirit. By heroic spirit, I mean an actual historic or fictional hero that is basically reincarnated to help their Master (the human) to win the Grail. The Grail is said to have the power to grant miracles, and allows the winner to have a wish be fulfilled – any wish. Heroic spirits come in seven different classes and only one of each is recruited each war. There’s Saber (knight with a sword), Lancer (spearman), Archer (bowman), Caster (mage), Rider (mounted warrior), Assassin (stealthy bugger) and Berserker (insane warrior). The heroic spirits are called Servants.

While Fate/Stay Night (both game and anime) focus much more on a specific character and the people around him, Fate/Zero plays as more of an ensemble show, with most teams being fleshed out and given their time in the spotlight (even if that time is wildly imbalanced, given story development and themes).

So, who are the teams?

  1. Emiya Kiritsugu and Saber – Kiritsugu is hired by the famed Einzbern family after they’re unable to produce a capable representative for the war on their own. Kiritsugu is a highly pragmatic man, looking out for the greater good rather than concerning himself with being moral. His methods of fighting have many similarities with guerilla warfare, but he goes to lengths to avoid as many civilian casualties as possible. He fights in the hope that the grail can help him achieve world peace. Bears the nickname Mage-Killer, having been a hunter of magi for many years, despite being one himself. The Saber class is taken up by the King of Knights, King Arthur of Britain himself – except he is a she. Yes, in this franchise King Arthur is a lady. Strongly principled, Saber has many complaints about Kiritsugu’s tactics and prefers to fight straight-up, as a knight with a code of honour. She fights with a seemingly-invisible sword.

    Saber and Kiritsugu

    Saber and Kiritsugu

  2. Tohsaka Tokiomi and Archer – Tokiomi comes from the famed (in the magical sphere) Tohsaka family, and is one of the shows most capable Masters. He’s very clever and plays out the war very passively from his large estate, and coordinating his actions with his disciple, Kirei. Like Kiritsugu, he’s a very pragmatic man that looks out for his own family and intends to get to the Root (aka, find the centre of the universe – which is a place in the universe the Fate series take place in). He also appears to be quite an awful father, as he’s a mage first and seems rather oblivious towards his family members’ problems. His Servant is Gilgamesh (of the famed Akkadian epic), who is arrogant as can be. Not that hard to believe, as he’s a demigod in his tales. He’s also presented as easily the most powerful of the Servants, which presents a problem to me. I’d rather them all being on roughly the same level, which is what’s true for most of the others. Gilgamesh acts as the primary Servant antagonist, and doesn’t present himself as one might expect a hero to. He fights long-range by launching various weapons from what appears to be a sort of pocked-dimension or whatever (his treasury).

    Tokiomi and Gilgamesh

    Tokiomi and Gilgamesh

  3. Waver Velvet and Rider – Waver (who would give their name such an awful name?) is a young mage studying at the Clock Tower, which is basically the big magi-school of the setting. He proposes that magical skills can develop from training and experience, rather than from lineage – which is shot down by his teacher (also a Master, Lord El-Melloi) from whom Waver decides to steal an artefact and becomes a Master himself. Fights to win the Grail so he’ll finally be acknowledged by his peers. He’s joined by Macedonian legendary conqueror, Alexander the Great. Initially portrayed as a bit of a buffoon, Alexander wastes little time in becoming easily the most entertaining and imposing Servant. His clashes of both mind and blade with Saber and Archer are the series’ best moments. Fights by riding a chariot and has a huge ace up his sleeve.

    Alexander and his Master, Waver

    Alexander and his Master, Waver

  4. Keyneth Archibald El-Melloi and Lancer – Pretentious dick-bag nobleman and teacher at the Clock Tower, El-Melloi is arguably the most powerful Master of the lot, and has found a way to share his mastery with his arranged wife, Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri (holy wow, that’s an actual name that the creators came up with, wtf), whom he has sort of a distant relationship with but appears to try and prove himself to her while she scolds his efforts. Very healthy marriage, there. El-Malloi aims to win to grow his fame as a mage. His/their Servant is Diarmuid Ua Duibhne from Irish folk-lore, lover of the wife of another folk-legend in Fionn mac Cumhaill, and lethal spearman. Diarmuid is an interesting character, and it would have been interesting to see what would have been done with him if given more screen-time. His central scene (you’ll know it when you see it) is brilliant anime. Lancer fights with two spears (one red, one yellow) that have different gimmicks.
  5. Matou Kariya and Berserker – Kariya is an estranged member of the Matou family, from which he ran away after being disgusted with his relatives. He decides to compete for the Grail to save the daughter of his childhood friend and object of his affections, Aoi (Tokiomi’s wife, who Kariya gave up chasing). Due to this, he re-enters the Matou-family as their representative in the Grail War, and accepts the “aid” of his grandfather, who implant magical parasitical insects into Kariya to enable him to become a Master. As a result, he grows more end more inhuman as the show carries on, struggling to keep his humanity and stay alive long enough to fulfil his promise and thereby save the little girl. Berserker is a secret character that you’ll have to identify yourselves, but I’ll tempt you with the knowledge that he’s connected to Saber somehow (so if you know your Arthur-lore you can probably venture an accurate guess, as it’s not a big surprise). He’s ridiculously powerful and can basically hi-jack other weapons to use them as his own, as well as using a nasty longsword.
  6. Uryuu Ryuunosuke and Caster – “Ryu” as I’ll call him for shortness’ sake, is a serial killer that unwittingly summons Caster while murdering a family. He prefers targeting children and young women. Has no real objective in the war, other than to watch Caster creatively kill people. Caster is Gille de Rais, a former comrade in arms to Jeanne d’Arc, whose life ended in depravity, as he was hanged for multiple child murderers (the amount of murders he committed in real life was possibly hundreds). Curiously, Caster believes Saber to be Jeanne d’Arc reborn (if his memory is to believed, the two do look strikingly similar) and sets out to make her mine. Like his Master, Caster is basically devoid of any morality and likes to psychologically and physically torture his victims for maximal terror before he kills them. He also appears to be a cultist of Cthulhu, as he says what I’m pretty sure is “Cthulhu ftagn” before brutally killing a child in his first scene. Yikes. Caster uses a wide variety of magic to combat the other Servants.
    fatezero-teamcaster
  7. Kotomine Kirei and Assassin – Kirei is the son of the Church’s representative (the one who as a mediator and rule-setter of the war), which makes him a controversial choice for a Master. He’s also a magical disciple of Tokiomi, who he initially intends to win the Grail for. He serves as the series’ primary antagonist, and rival of sorts to Kiritsugu. He is skilled in magic and incredibly gifted in martial combat. His servant is Hassan-i Sabbāh and can take the form of many assassins at once. A stealth attacker that uses poisons and small blades.

Even if I did say that the show is an ensemble show, it still has clear protagonists in Kiritsugu and Saber. His story takes precedent over the ones of the other Masters, with Kirei being the exception, and he has a back-story that is extensively shown to the viewer. Saber has the most of the encounters with other Servants and is set on being the sole survivor to correct her past, which shames her.

The big joy of Fate/Zero is the focus on having a larger cast of characters. I always felt that the Fate franchise needed to use a broader viewpoint on the war, even if the most famous installment, Fate/Stay Night, does very well with a much-more focused story.

Thus, we’re able to be treated to scenes like the wonderful garden drinking session with Arthur, Alexander, and Gilgamesh, regaling their kingly tales and discussing ambitions. It allows for much greater characterisation of the Servants and allows the viewer to pick favourites for other reasons that the initial, “He, that bloke looks cool”.

The Banquet of Kings - probably the best scene of the entire show.

The Banquet of Kings – probably the best scene of the entire show.

Alexander is the best example for why the show should be presented like this. In F/SN he’d likely not have gotten much attention at all, and gone down as a rowdy fool. In this, he’s able to fully show what he’s like – his desires, his personality, his quirks, likes, etc. His sparring, both verbal and martial, with Saber and Gilgamesh, as well as the effect he has on people around him, makes him the most intriguing character of the entire show. The development of Waver and the relationship between Alexander and his Master is absolutely fantastic.

One of the pairings, while not wholly bad, is very frustrating to me; That pair is Caster and Ryuunosuke. Their screen-time mostly consist of them killing the fuck out of whatever people they manage to and going on crazy rants on why killing is awesome. Caster is also played like a total loonie and doesn’t feel like much of a threat for much of his participation.

The pacing of the entire show is also frustrating and is at times absolutely unbearable. It takes quite some time for some things of actual importance to happen, and the climax of the show doesn’t make up for the looooooooooong build-up. The decision to spend a lot of time on Kiritsugu’s back-story turns out to be a mistake, when you consider what that time could have been spent doing for the rest of the cast.

Kirei is a good antagonist, to be sure, but his character is so frustrating. He’s basically an emotional cold drone who follows orders because why not, and looking for something to engage him mentally and emotionally. This thing turns out to be causing pain to others and just being a horrible person in general. He’s perfectly hate-able, though, which works well for a story like this.

Also, Saber. I might be in the minority here, but I fucking hate that she’s a gender-bent King Arthur. Absolutely nothing against her character, but it feels like a choice only meant for her to be a love interest in her more famous role in Fate/Stay Night. Maybe it’s that I’m partial to the saga of Arthur that I react with hostility to this adaptation. It also makes little sense that she’d be able to rule as a man, being that she’s always noted as being a beautiful girl in F/SN. It just makes little sense that she’d show up as a girl, after being remembered as a man. She should just have been Jeanne d’Arc, in all honesty. That said, her arc in Fate/Zero is awesome, as he’s continually verbally bitch-slapped by Alexander, Gilgamesh and Kiritsugu, and it sets the table well for her part in F/SN, where you can tell her actions are strongly influenced by her experiences in Fate/Zero.

Comparison between Saber and Jeanne d'Arc for posterity.

Comparison between Saber and Jeanne d’Arc for posterity.

The animations of Fate/Zero is world-fucking-class. It’s especially apparent in battles and other important scenes. Most of the character designs are very nice, with Caster sticking out like an awfully ugly sore thumb.

The voice-acting is absolutely superb all across the board. Naming examples is worthless, as everybody are on top of their game. Kawasumi Ayako can probably play Saber in her sleep at this point.

Now then, we’re headed for spoileriffic territory, so be warned in reading on if you haven’t seen the show yet, as these are big spoilers. So, yeah, they’ll be in white text below. Just highlight that shit and enjoy?

The ending is fucking stupid. The Grail being so limited in eventual execution of Kiritsugu’s wish is fucking pathetic – especially as it states that it’s way is Kiritsugu’s way. According to his portrayal on the show, this is so far from the actual truth. He’s been shown to avoid mass civilian casualties at the pivotal times of his story, so why does the show all of a sudden portray him as someone who’d be okay with slaughtering a huge amount of people to achieve his goals. While it’s true that he will go to great lenghts to survive and win, he’s never shown to be bloodthirsty or be careless with lives. I get that this show had to end a certain way, but the way they went about doing it is stupid.

Also, again on Kirei – This motherfucker is ridiculously powerful. He literally deflects bullets with his blades, and can destroy a human’s heart with one punch. He also blocks bullets with bare skin (or an invisible barrier – but it’s ridiculous in any way. Yeah, it’s action, but come the fuck on. All the stakes and excitement of a scene goes away in just about every action scene he’s in.

In conclusion, Fate/Zero is an excellent anime with a great cast of characters and an engaging story. It has its share of flaws, but it a thoroughly engaging experience. I recommend it to basically anyone.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand done! I’ll probably do Unlimited Blade Works next. Yay. Have a nice day and thanks for reading.

Animu-time: Free!

So, I wanted a light-hearted anime to get me back into the medium after finishing my Game of Thrones-marathon. I had previously watched some of Ergo Proxy, but it felt a bit dark to hop into after GoT’s overbearing nature. I’m not sure what I expected out of it when I started watching, but

Free! is a good anime.

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And there’s really not too much more to say about it. KyoAni basically made K-ON (just going by what I’ve seen and impressions, as I haven’t actually seen K-ON!)but with dudes in tight clothing and swimming.

The story of Free! is about as simple as it gets, seeing as this is a sports anime in a school setting. There’s a group of people who like a sport. The sport happens to be competitive swimming. They start a club at their school (Do Japanese people not have local or regional clubs on youth levels? It seems like there’s always in-school clubs that are the go-to places to train. Then again, maybe I’m one of the minority of people here.) They go through some stuff to be able to start the club and get members, and then it’s off to the races (literally) after a training arc. The writing is usually pretty good, and there was some intrigue about the characters’ common past, but it wasn’t executed particularly well when actually revealed and the writing in general took a nosedive from there. Not to the extent of tearing the show down, but it feels like the show is kind of treading water until the second season, and just wanted to get all the story out of the way so it could focus on the team in the future. I understand that philosophy, but I don’t agree with it. There needed to be a better mix between the story and sport, seeing as some of the scenes towards the end felt extremely redundant.

As with most sports series that aren’t hyper-specific in the mechanisms of the sport, Free! is a character-focused show. It’s got a pretty decent sized cast (7 central characters) and most are given ample screen-time. Do note that they are extremely generic for the type of series this is. If you’ve seen a sports series, you will have stumbled into more than a few of these.

  1. Haru is the resident sports fanatic. The twist on this in Free! is that he’s kind of indifferent when it comes to actually competing (though I assume it will change in the future, since I just found out there’s a sequel airing right now), and just wants to be in the water – so much that he tends to soak in his bathtub when he’s not in school. From what I can tell, he lives alone, or at least very independently. Only time he shows some actual motivation is when his rival is involved. Always swims freestyle (front crawl), which is where the title stems from.
  2. And that rival is Rin. A member for what seemed like a short time of the same swimming club as Haru when they were kids (they’re currently 17), he later left for Australia to chase his dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer, which he chases to fulfil it for his father, who never got to reach it. While acting hostile and/or indifferent to Haru and the rest, he’s clearly no antagonist and still wants something from them, but whether that’s just competitive rivalry or friendship is yet to be seen. Said to be very good at butterfly stroke, but is shown to be proficient at others as well.
  3. Makoto is the reliable guy, and obviously also team captain (with Haru taking the supposedly superfluous position of vice-captain), keeping the group together. He’s got a deep-rooted problem that makes his life in the swimming club a bit odd when it’s time for a training camp of just vacation – he’s afraid of the ocean. I’ll get more into that later. Swims backstroke for the club.
  4. Nagisa is the energy bunny and relentless optimist of the group. He also fulfils what I suppose is the moe-role, but for guys (I’m sure there’s even a fucking term for it). Breaststroke-specialist (heh) for the club.
  5. Rei is the guy they picked up to fill final spot on the team. He’s the brains of the squad, and only joins after thinking that Haru’s swimming looks beautiful (he only likes beautiful things, apparently, so the clichés won’t stop on the Rei-train any time soon). However, as he joins the club, a problem of his might throw a spanner in the works – he can’t swim. This is used for comic relief until it’s not funny, but to the series’ credit, they do get away from it rather quickly after.
  6. To the sort of expendable charters then. First is Gou (but she likes to be called Kou), the younger sister of Rin. She steps into the position of club manager to help the club initially get started and is the one to plan training sessions and the like. She’s pretty obsessed with muscles, which is used to some comedic effect at times.
  7. And finally there’s Miss Ame, the class’ home-room teacher, and then club advisor (you basically need one to be legitimate, is my understanding after my years of watching anime). It’s hinted she’s had a job that’s related to swimsuits, and it’s strongly hinted that is was as a swimsuit model.

The cast is pretty alright, but it’s, as said earlier, very generic. The gimmick that brings the boys together is that they all have girly names, and Gou has a manly one. All the characters have a role to play, and it’s made more important than them actually having characters (even though they clearly do, but they’re moulded to fit the part).

Free!’s strength is probably how damned easy it is to watch. It’s incredibly easy-going, even in it’s few serious scenes and you can follow the story (the little there is to be followed anyhow) with ease. You could probably watch without subs and still have a good idea about what’s going on. I suppose that’s actually a pretty big achievement in itself, now that I think about it.

Adding to the delight of watching is the absolutely superb animation. The character designs are excellent and very well animated. I think they mix normal animation and CG during some of the in-water scenes, but I could be mistaken. In any case, it’s gorgeous. It’s easily the best animated show in Kyoani’s portfolio.

Voice acting is good in general, although some of the actors kind of flub the emotional dialogue at times, just reverting to the normal style of voice-cracking screaming/shouting, or just not sounding like they care.

There is some fan-service in the series, but to discuss it I would have to bring up gender roles and sexuality in media in general, which would be tedious and stuff. It’s very bearable, and you might in fact like it.

In closing, if you like watching good-looking anime boys do things, you’ll enjoy the series. If you enjoy sports stories, you’ll enjoy this. Free! is an amalgamation of the two and does its thing very by-the-book, so you get what’s on the cover. It’s good, but not more, and that’s okay.

Animu-time: Kurozuka

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Kurozuka is a bad anime

You don’t know what to expect when you dive into Kurozuka. While this is true for a lot of other anime as well, Kurozuka is a special enigma. Being about vampires (especially the main leads) can turn people off, seeing how vampires are often portrayed nowadays. Sadly, thoughts hop to Rob Pattinson as Edward in the cringe-inducing soft pornography for girls known as Twilight. Sure, Twilight isn’t the only sinner, but due to it’s popularity, it is the most stand-out. Onwards to Kurozuka, then.

On first on-look, Kurozuka seems to be a love story about vampires, set in Feudal Japan. That preconception is quickly smashed to bits after the first episodes as we skip to a bleak future version of Japan that has been a-bombed. Back in the past, our hero Kuro (known as “Minamoto no Yoshizune”, a very famous and popular Japanese literature hero) was fleeing into the mountains, and came upon the lodging of Lady Kuromitsu. He and his close ally Benkei were allowed to stay under the condition that they do not approach nor enter Kuromitsu’s room. Of course, that promise doesn’t mean all too much and Kuro finds himself outside the mysterious woman’s room, where he sees her biting and drinking the blood of a man. The place is attacked, and Kuro is badly hurt helping his hostess. The two had quickly became attracted to one another, and Kuromitsu offers Kuro eternal life with her. Kuro accepts. Then the focus shifts to the future where Kuro has become separated from Kuromitsu and ventures to find her. He instead meets Karuta and Rai and becomes embroiled in what is basically a civil war between the Red Army and the rebels, both fighting for the very prize Kuro seeks: Kuromitsu.

Omnom, human blood.

Omnom, human blood.

I was pretty excited to watch this, as it felt like vampires were treated as a big deal and it also seemed like a cool set-up for a powerful romantic saga, but alas, all the potential amounted to jack shit in this absolute train-wreck of a series.

The series jumps from different time periods, usually at the start of episodes, without giving the viewer much warning or explanation, which is the major flaw of the series in my opinion. It’s very hard to get a grip on the characters as is, so there’s really no need to confuse viewers additionally.

It’s hard to gauge what exact powers are afforded to the vampires of the series, as Kuro just seems to go all Goku on people at times when he needs to put another gear in. Besides obviously being more powerful than normal humans, there doesn’t seem to be much to vampires, other than whatever odd time dilution Kuro can cause when convenient. It’s never really explained what they can do. The reveal of how they work is also incredibly slow-played, so there’s not much in the way of flavour being given to us, except for some bursts of information at times.

As is the case with the vampirism angle, characters in the series don’t really develop. They’re very static in personalities and in what they do. Not even the main character ever develops, he just learns more about who he was. Frankly it’s very disappointing, because when things happen to our tragic heroes, it’s hard to care about them as they’ve just been one-dimensional plot-points. That can work if you have strong characters to begin with, but as noted, these characters are dull as hell. You also get some unintentional comedy in the absolutely bonkers scientist with a penchant for torture, who starts quoting Stoker (because you have to fucking shoehorn that into a vampire show like your life depended on it) and Tolstoy, and is generally weird as hell.

The story is equally odd. Parts of it just comes and goes as it pleases, like there’s a revolving door of relevance. It really is hard to care about what is happening when you don’t grasp the relevance of events to one-another. Characters just do complete one-eighties in order to provide more filler before the end finally arrives. It really is a shame, because it felt like it was to be a show that made vampires rather cool again, but the amount of plot-holes and contrivances really do get in the way of enjoying it. All of the reveals towards the end just made me laugh out loud with their increasing craziness, until we arrive in bizarro-world come the ending.

Welcome to Fuck-This-Shit City, Population: You.

Welcome to Fuck-This-Shit City, Population: You.

Visually, it’s very pleasing for most of the time and there is a lot of incredible imagery, but then you get some absolutely retarded character designs that feel like they invaded from another series.

The sound design is pretty decent, but many characters in the series are woefully miscast and a lot of the performances are really bad. The soundtrack, however, is pretty damn awesome. Both the OP and ED are great.

Now, I’ve been shitting on Kurozuka a lot, but the final scenes shows up and delivers the best possible ending the series could have had and I really freaking loved it, so I’m ultimately torn on where to go with the series; good or bad? Ultimately, with all the tomfoolery, I’ll go with bad, but there’s certainly enough good in here that a person that disagrees with what I found negative would find this to be a damn good show. It also increases my frustration with the series’ unfulfilled potential. The run-time of the entire thing is way too long relative to what it’s trying to convey. Honestly, remake this in film-length and condense the story a bit, and I’ll watch the hell out of it. I’m totally behind the point it makes about love and selfishness and I actually came away from it rather liking the vampire concept, but the length and general poor quality makes most of the series unbearable to watch.

Animu-time: Jormungand: Perfect Order

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Jormungand: PO is a good anime

Jormungand_PO-openingep

Well, of course this was coming next. The crazy hijinks and bold plans with Koko and company continue in the sequel to Jormungand. How does the second coming of Jormungand fare? I’m here to tell you that it’s better this time around. How do you improve Jormungand’s formula, you ask? You make it more focused. Spoilers for the first season finale below.

So, Koko and her friends are still roaming the world and everything is swell. Oh wait, no it’s not. The story takes place right after the end of the previous one. R is a double agent who is spying on Koko for the CIA; Hex, a woman from Kokos past, is here for blood; All this while Operation Undershaft is trying to figure out what the hell Koko is trying to do. So let’s look at the formula set for the previous season and see it it still is in place here.

  1. The crew arrives.
  2. Stuff goes awry and they need a way out / need to out-think their opponents / straight up kill dudes.
  3. Mission completed and on to next arc.

Yep. Although this time around the arcs are longer and more focused on storytelling rather than outmanoeuvring and killing enemies.

Here’s a run-down on the cast if you need to freshen your memory.

  • Koko Hekmatyar: Arms dealer, handling business mainly in Europe and Africa. Very charismatic and beautiful. Usually very energetic and behaving sometimes like a child, she has a ruthless interior and on multiple occasions called a monster.
    Although usually cool with a smile on her lips...

    Although usually cool with a smile on her lips…

    Koko has one of the most intimidating glares in anime.

    Koko has one of the most intimidating glares in anime.

  • Jonah: Child soldier. His parents were killed in an air-strike and he became a child soldier shortly after. Has a strong hate for weapons, but still works for Koko, often serving as her bodyguard.

    Jonah. Shows more understanding than expected from a child.

    Jonah. Shows more understanding than expected from a child.

  • Lehm: Ex-Delta Force operator. Used to be active in Somalia. Second in command of Koko’s crew. Veteran mercenary who takes charge when armed conflict arises. Used to work for Koko’s father. Very versatile in weapon use, ranging from long-distance sniping to close quarters combat.
    Lehm in action, sniping suckas from a car.

    Lehm in action, sniping suckas from a car.

  • Valmet: Ex-Major serving for UN forces in Africa. Her unit got slaughtered by Chen Guoming and she lost an eye in the attack. Since then, she suffers from anxiety whenever she sets foot in Africa. Very proficient with knives and pistols.

    Valmet, close combat specialist with a crush on Koko.

    Valmet, close combat specialist with a crush on Koko.

Then there are the rest of the cast, that aren’t given much other than support roles most of the time. Technically only Koko and Jonah are the only real main characters, but Valmet and Lehm are given much more time on screen than the other side characters, so they got images as well.

  • Mao: One of the regular grunts of the group. Was discharged after a training exercise went awry. Picked up by shortly after. The only one of the group to have a family (as in wife + kids). He lied to them in order to leave. Teaches science to Jonah between missions.
  • R: Former Italian intelligence officer. Revealed in the last episode of the former season to be a mole for the CIA.

    Had to give R a picture due to his awesomeness in the opening arc.

    Had to give R a picture due to his awesomeness in the opening arc.

  • Ugo: Former Mafia driver and enforcer. Spared by Koko when his family was destroyed. A behemoth of a man, he possesses immense strength. The crew’s driver when needing a getaway.
  • Lutz: Former police sniper, part of a counter-terrorist unit. Very hesitant to kill young targets.
  • Tojo: Previous Japanese black-ops operative, working in places like Cuba. In charge of teaching Jonah maths between missions.
  • Wilee: Former explosives expert and ex-lieutenant of the 20th Engineer Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps of the US Army. Assigned to give Jonah English lessons between missions. Is the only member aside Koko to be black-listed by the FBI.

The perils of having a huge cast like this is apparent in the second season, just as it was in the first one, but the show does a good job at dealing out screen-time this time around and you quickly get a good vibe where everyone’s at. It’s still the same colourful cast with no subs, so if you liked them in the first season, there’s more goodness here. The opening arc, dealing with R being a double agent and Hex coming after Koko is without a doubt the series’ strongest, with some strong, emotional moments. It sets up a season that is in its entirety better than its predecessor. The stakes are raised for Koko and her compatriots. Nobody’s safe in this crazy world.

The second season takes a step back from the group dynamic at times and focuses solely on Jonah and Koko. They’re interesting contrasts. Koko is the daughter of a shipping magnate and presumably had a very peaceful, or at least pampered life as she grew up. Jonah meanwhile, grew up in a war-zone and had his parents blown up by a bomber, coincidentally sold by Koko’s brother, Kasper. Jonah hates weapons with all his being, and Koko sells them for a living. The two make a fantastic leading duo and represent the tension and morals towards the end of a magnificent series.

The morality of the characters are brought froward into the centre this time around, and when Koko reveals her master plan that she’s been working on for a long time, it’s surprising it wasn’t brought up earlier. I can understand the reason why it’s hidden for so long, but I don’t agree with the choice. It would have been interesting to have it in the open for longer and see how it affected the supporting characters.

So, the story. It’s better, considering there’s actually a story this time. From the first episode to the last, every episode is connected to Koko’s goal, which is revealed a bit into the season. The series sheds its episodic skin, and so the arcs are more focused and character-driven, much to my joy.

The art is just as clean and well-done as it was in the first series. Maybe even better. Some backdrops are absolutely stunning. The character design is much like the first series, although a bit more realistic in general this time around, when it comes to the supporting cast of revolving antagonists/partners.

The voice acting and soundtrack of the series is way better than the first season. Actors have more opportunities to get heated here and some excellent dramatic episodes bring out the best of all. The music is still top-notch, and the opening song especially is fantastic.

The theme and pacing are still the same in this second serving of Koko’s adventures. The more story-focused approach leads to a better balanced product, with the episodes being better structured and the tone being a bit darker. With it, my pleas for the show to have less comedy are answered, as the show did turn towards the more serious in this venture, and the show is better off without the forced comedic elements.

The antagonists and threatening forces this time around are more realistic and grim. There’s not a crazy villain with ridiculous fighting techniques. It’s guns vs guns and tactics + strategy in a wild dance of death.

Enjoyment-wise, Jormungand: PO lands a step above its former series with more thrilling planning; cooler action; better humour; and tear-inducing, heart-wrenching drama. Once again with a Jormungand series, the variance is its strength, balancing several genres and giving them good time. It’s one of those series’ where you finish one episode and keep watching. Not because there’s a crazy cliffhanger, but because the atmosphere, characterisation and execution of the series is so fantastic that you can help wanting to spend more time in Koko’s mad world. Jormungand: Perfect Order is a rare gem to find in today’s anime world, a show with an identity so unique and fresh you can’t help but be swept away by its charm.

Animu-time: Jormungand

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Jormungand is a good anime

So, I decided to watch Jormungand. And it’s made by the fuckers that made Steins;Gate. Which means I’m excited. Spoilers in black text as usual. They also made the very uneven Katanagatari, but that’s a story for another time.

Jormungand is the story of a crew of arms dealers, led by the charismatic Koko Hekmatyar. The series is mostly episodic, weaving in some character arcs on the way. Usually the formula is this:

  1. The crew arrives.
  2. Stuff goes awry and they need a way out / need to out-think their opponents / straight up kill dudes.
  3. Mission completed and on to next arc.

Pretty easy formula to make a series from. I’m sure that if you’ve heard about this series earlier, then you’ve heard about the series that undoubtedly stands as a huge influence: Black Lagoon. Black Lagoon is about a small group of people who conduct usually illegal business and get in trouble with all sorts of people. Jormungand is basically this, but with a bigger group. Now, obviously Jormungand isn’t a straight rip-off of BL, it just builds from the same ground. While BL arcs usually comes together with cooperation and the combined with of the Lagoon Crew, Jormungand is basically The Koko Show. And that’s perfectly fine. Koko carries the series very well. For a more fleshed out character run-down, look below:

  • Koko Hekmatyar: Arms dealer, handling business mainly in Europe and Africa. Very charismatic and beautiful. Usually very energetic and behaving sometimes like a child, she has a ruthless interior and on multiple occasions called a monster.
    Although usually cool with a smile on her lips...

    Although usually cool with a smile on her lips…

    Koko has one of the most intimidating glares in anime.

    Koko has one of the most intimidating glares in anime.

  • Jonah: Child soldier. His parents were killed in an air-strike and he became a child soldier shortly after. Has a strong hate for weapons, but still works for Koko, often serving as her bodyguard.

    Jonah. Shows more understanding than expected from a child.

    Jonah. Shows more understanding than expected from a child.

  • Lehm: Ex-Delta Force operator. Used to be active in Somalia. Second in command of Koko’s crew. Veteran mercenary who takes charge when armed conflict arises. Used to work for Koko’s father. Very versatile in weapon use, ranging from long-distance sniping to close quarters combat.
    Lehm in action, sniping suckas from a car.

    Lehm in action, sniping suckas from a car.

    Valmet: Ex-Major serving for UN forces in Africa. Her unit got slaughtered by Chen Guoming and she lost an eye in the attack. Since then, she suffers from anxiety whenever she sets foot in Africa. Very proficient with knives and pistols.

    Valmet, close combat specialist with a crush on Koko.

    Valmet, close combat specialist who is in love with Koko.

Then there are the rest of the cast, that aren’t given much other than support roles most of the time. Technically only Koko and Jonah are the only real main characters, but Valmet and Lehm are given much more time on screen than the other side characters, so they got images as well.

  • Mao: One of the regular grunts of the group. Was discharged after a training exercise went awry. Picked up by shortly after. The only one of the group to have a family (as in wife + kids). He lied to them in order to leave. Teaches science to Jonah between missions.
  • R: Former Italian intelligence officer. Revealed in the last episode to be a mole for the CIA. Not given much screen-time, sadly.
  • Ugo: Former Mafia driver and enforcer. Spared by Koko when his family was destroyed. A behemoth of a man, he possesses immense strength. The crew’s driver when needing a getaway.
  • Lutz: Former police sniper, part of a counter-terrorist unit. Very hesitant to kill young targets.
  • Tojo: Previous Japanese black-ops operative, working in places like Cuba. In charge of teaching Jonah maths between missions.
  • Wilee: Former explosives expert and ex-lieutenant of the 20th Engineer Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps of the US Army. Assigned to give Jonah English lessons between missions. Is the only member aside Koko to be black-listed by the FBI.

The big cast isn’t a bad thing in itself, but it doesn’t help either. It’s quite logical that an arms dealer would have a decently sized squad with her, but most of the characters see very little air time. Everyone gets to have their arcs play out (some have theirs in the second season) sooner or later, but it’s a shame we aren’t given more time to know the entire cast better. Especially, since they keep being given airtime and dialogue with Koko that are defined by their characters and their pasts, both of which we don’t know. Valmet has a very strong arc in the second half of the series. The characters mostly revolve in and out when they have an arc or not. When they’re around, they contribute to the colourful group of people.

To my surprise, there is little discussing of morality around, especially considering Jonah is a fucking child soldier. Sure, it’s brought up, but quickly shot down at times. Let’s be frank about this, the characters in the show aren’t good guys. They’re varying degrees of bad, I guess. Or, a better way to put it would be that they are all in the moral grey zone. They’re portrayed romantically as the heroes, so naturally you’re going to root for them when the oddball villains pop up to kill them. I wanted to see some more discussion or feelings about war, than what we got. It is a character-driven drama/action series, which is right up my ally, but I feel they do themselves a disservice to skip some strong discussion points on the way. And it’s topical because, you know, there’s tons of child soldiers in the world.

As for the story, there’s not a whole lot to be had, except for when the supporting characters have their arcs. The story follows the crew as they deliver and/or sell weapons and other necessities to a diverse set of people. They’re usually dealing in Europe and Africa through the season. Then there’s usually a villain for each episode, with some villains lasting another one or two more. The formula mentioned before is how the episodes unfold.

Something that quickly stands out is the very distinct art-style. It’s not super drastically different compared to most other anime. It’s usually very realistic, sometimes with some exaggerated details, usually the eyes. For the most part it’s absolutely gorgeously drawn and animated. Backgrounds are usually done nicely as well, and at times with great and impressive detail.

The voice acting is excellent across the board. The only drawback is that there’s rarely chances for the actors to use a wider range than slow drama and some comedy here and there. The soundtrack is good when used. Pretty sweet electronic battle music. OP (opening theme) and ED (ending theme) are both excellent songs.

As far as the general theme of the show goes, it’s usually a slow-paced drama with some comedy blended in. Then there’s the occasional high-speed action scenes when deals either go tits-up or there’s other people that want to hit Koko’s group.

As for the comedy, it’s a bit too much. I would have prepared being almost completely without it. In the most serious episodes, there’s practically none of it, and they’re so much better off without. The comedic parts being randomly inserted here and there just disturb the pacing and atmosphere of the series. It just feels like something inserted to please the mainstream audiences. The thing is though, that this isn’t really a series made for mainstream audiences. It’s about killers and mercenaries selling weapons to guerillas and warlords. Not something that you want your kids or the family to sit down and watch in the evening. Inserting comedy into the formula is detrimental to the concept and leaves us a worse product to enjoy. I want to stress that I’m not anti-comedy, but doing it as half-heartedly and shallow as it is here it can only work badly.

The antagonists that pop into the episodes are along the lines of the comedic tendencies mentioned. They’re almost always very eccentric or have some crazy fighting style. In some arcs it works, like when the crew goes to Africa and come face-to-face with an old enemy of one of the crew members. They usually don’t take anything away from the enjoyment, but they don’t usually add to it either.

As for the enjoyment, it’s great. While not being the best I’ve veer seen, this series is highly enjoyable. It’s variance is it’s strength, and while I don’t usually like the comedy, some light-hearted scenes are always good in a series like this. From slow-paced planning with some tense meetings with antagonists; to high-speed gun-play and chase-scenes, Jormungand is one hell of a ride, and it’s a pleasure watching it. While not always ending in cliffhangers, the show still gets you excited to watch the next episode after you finish one, and that’s high praise for a series. Jormungand is a delight to watch, and should be seen by people interested in serious drama, and is obviously very recommended for fans of Black Lagoon.

If you like it, check out it’s sequel, Jormungand: Perfect Order.

Animu-time: Robotics;Notes

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

Robotics;Notes is a bad anime

I’ll keep spoilers to the minimum, but when there are some, they’ll be in black, like the following words: A character in Harry Potter kills another character. Like so. Just highlight the text to see the hidden parts. At your own risk, of course.

So I recently returned to the world of anime, after taking along time off. Most of the new stuff that comes out is terrible moe-blob shit that I couldn’t care less about. Sometimes, amazing series pop up, though, and one of those were Steins;Gate, and amazing show about A group that creates a device that lets them send messages back in time. Basically, it’s centred on one of them, Okabe Rintarou, and him and the rest realising what happens when you fuck with time and causality. It starts out fairly light-hearted with some early shocks and twists and soon evolves into a fantastic character study and a fantastic thrill ride. The characters are amazing, especially Okabe (who calls him self “The Mad Scientist” Hououin Kyouma”, but is generally called “Okarin” by his friends) who is a multi-layered and intriguing character.

I’m not sure about the details, but Robotics;Notes is related to Steins;Gate (it’s Divergence Ratio is named in the synopsis (AND MAYBE IN THE SERIES BUT I HAVEN’T SEEN IT IN THERE YET UPDATE THIS WHEN DONE LOL), something which S;G fans will notice) but like I said, I’m not really sure how. They’re both Visual Novels by the same creator (I think) set in just a differing setting.
The setting is basically this: The Robotics Club at Central Tanegashima High School want to build a huge robot (commonly called a mecha in anime), and the club follows its members in their struggles with funding and other stuff. Pretty basic. Obviously there’s more under the surface than the characters just going at it with spanners, including a mystery slowly being revealed about a conspiracy that would severely endanger a sweeping majority of the people on Earth. [After seeing ten episodes, it feels incredibly far-fetched so far, but I’m going with it.]
To begin with some negativity, my main gripe with the series, is that it feels so very standard. Generic is another word I could use, but it feels too negative. Robotics;Notes takes what you find in most series nowadays: A cast of rather quirky characters that compliment each-other’s quirk/weirdness and go with it.
  • Akiho (the female protagonist) is super energetic and ambitious, while
  • Kaito (called Kai, male protagonist) is a sloth and generally disinterested in doing anything but playing Kill-Ballad (an on-line fighting game with mechas) which he apparently is one of the top people in the world at.
  • Junna is what I like to put in the category of “moe-blob,” which I mentioned earlier. Basically, she’s a throwaway character that’s in the series to be cute and once or twice pop into the main plot-line for an episode or two.
  • Contrasting her is Subaru, ambitious and helpful dude, who was told by his father to stop building, and competing with, robots. Of course he does it anyway but is caught when his father stop by the robotics club, and smashed Subaru’s little robot he uses to compete.
  • Then there’s Kona, the epitome of stereotypic nerds in Japanese culture; She’s a shut-in; almost entirely communicates in memes; is incredibly perverted and is generally pictured as a bit of a nut-case. She does have a back-story that ties into the main story which is intriguing.

There are more examples to be named, but I can’t be arsed to find out what their names were. Oh yeah, there’s the obligatory crazy director guy who’s completely obsessed with boobs, and has a parrot that’s trained (or is just damaged for being around him too long) that chants along in his craving for beholding boobs. You know you’ve seen these character types before if you’ve watched anime more than once.

A positive to be found is that the animation is of very good quality. It’s not Makoto Shinkai level of quality, but not much out there is. I’m far from an artist myself, so that’s about all I’ll say about it. Excellent quality stuff, usually.
A big problem the series has initially, is the fact that it takes a long time to get going. It starts with an in medias res, with the group starting up a big mecha and getting it to walk. After that we’re showed the lives and struggles of Akiho and Kaito in their strife to get the robot working. They get some more members shortly, but the two are unquestionably the main characters. So, basically, the first episodes are for introducing the characters and the basic plot, which is usually fine. The problem is that the main characters aren’t really that interesting, and neither is the main story to begin with. Viewers who stick around will have a good series to watch, but there’s not a whole lot keeping you in the beginning. Let’s see why:
  • The characters, with focus on the main characters:

Kaito – the series main protagonist, mind you- is extremely bland and a terribly boring character. He rarely shows interest in doing anything at all and seems to be sticking around “just because”. Eternally sceptical and non-committal, though at times showing intense caring and emotion, “Kai” is a character that’s all over the place. Which is something you can say about the series as well.

Fuck this guy.

Seriously, fuck this guy.

Akiho – sharing main protagonist duties with Kaito – is a very energetic character who strongly believes in herself and her vision of building the robot her sister started building years previously. I can see her being a character that splits the audience, like a Haruhi. Infectious and happy-go-lucky personality that can alienate some viewers and enamour others.The most glaring problem with the characters is that they’re used mainly as plot devices. Characters pop in and out of relevance when it’s convenient to the story, and few are consistent throughout the series.

Even when there are some very emotional and gripping moments (examples are the Doc-focused episode, where you find out Jun’s back-story and why she’s afraid of robots, and Mizuka’s death, which was a shocking moment as it was a hugely contrasting scene in relation to the show’s previous tone. Not to mention that the second scene was pretty ridiculous, but didn’t suffer for it, so I’m fine with it. The main problem with it, was the fact that we never got to see what Kaito and Mizuka’s relationship was like, except for him stopping by at times to gain favours. The scene was sad, but didn’t leave the viewer devastated.), it’s hard to react accordingly, as you’re not very invested in the characters. As a role-player, I can work myself into the situation and simulate roughly my reaction, but that’s not easy for every viewer. Every scene should get some sort of reaction or give you something as a viewer. Tons of scenes and some episodes could and should have been cut out to give the viewer more information and background.

  • The story, which takes the back seat to introducing the characters. The mecha launching stuff in the opening moments of the show is a set-up for other things to happen in the second half of the series and the main story takes a few episodes to even enter the series. The story is told very episodically, in fragments between the episode-long character arcs, where you get more information about the characters and at times ending that characters arc entirely. Like seriously, what ever happened to Subaru’s dad going at him for still being into robots? Did he just chill out after Subaru picked one apart in front of him? It was never very clear in the series, or at least not given enough time to appreciate what the arc ultimately did for the character (nothing at all).

As far as the voice acting, it’s  mostly solid. Fukuda Nobuaki stands out as “Doc” in an emotional episode at about the middle of the series. Most others are good, but not outstanding. Part of the soundtrack stand out, but others are pretty run-of-the-mill pieces. Sound department ends up being a little above average, all things considered.

It does pick up a considerable amount later, with some emotional episodes and big events and twists. With the characters being horribly, infuriatingly uneven, it’s hard to fully enjoy the series. Also, some scenes are so ridiculously improbable and out of the blue that any seriousness it’s trying to get across gets lost.

Now, I’ve been ragging on it a lot, but honestly, Robotics;Notes is an enjoyable show at times. It’s passable as a watch, but if I were to decide on it being good or bad, I have to go with bad. It’s just easier to hate on stuff than be positive, and being pissed of at how much potential the series has but is never used. With the story presented, the show has great potential to be a great show, but there are like six episodes dedicated to the story when the endgame rolls in.
To summarise: The series does a poor job at getting the attention and sympathies of it’s viewers to begin with and the pacing is way off from where it should be to tell a story that you, as a viewer, should become invested in. Main characters aren’t able to carry the show on their own, and as a result the show is pretty flat in the end. Speaking of ends, holy fuck does this show fall apart in the endgame. It’s almost fun how much we’re meant to take for granted without any explanation at all. As such, it fails in doing what any series striving to be considered a serious work should do: Make the viewer care. It certainly has some sweet feel-good moments, but they hardly weigh up the series’ shortcomings. It’s a good try, but in the end it fails more than it succeeds. It falls short of the line between good and bad, and as such, I won’t recommend this series to anyone. Maybe I would recommend an aspiring storyteller to watch it, just to know what pits in writing and storytelling to avoid, and that’s certainly not something you would want written on the back of the DVD-case.
To conclude this entry, I’ll present how I would have written Robotics;Notes to make it a better series (in black, because slight spoilers):
The show opens up with Kai and Akiho’s lives, presenting what happened to them in the Anemone Incident and what their struggles are. Mizuka and Kai’s relationship is shown and explained. When Kai gets interested in the Kimijima report, Mizuka tells Kai to stay away from the reports. The viewers are told that Misa sent Mizuka the legs that ultimately end up killing her when they horribly malfunction. Then the conspiracy angle plays in with the evil people doing evil things and such. The story stays the same, it’s just the chronology that’s changed for the better, in order to make the viewers care about these characters.