Aku no Hana – A Polarising Anime


shot0016

When Aku no Hana first aired you would have thought that the series was the anime equivalent of the antichrist judging from peoples reactions on Twitter and other social media. The outpouring of rage and abuse thrown at the series, along with the counter abuse thrown by those who proclaimed it to be the saviour of anime without any hint of the maligned and hateful moe was something to behold. From my perspective I thought it was rather silly of people to proclaim it to be the best series ever simply because it annoyed those who ‘only watch moe-blob anime’, and the general polarising nature of the series seemed to feed into debates, or more accurately arguments that have been circling for years. From my own personal perspective I have so far found the series quite boring and haven’t actually enjoyed it at all, which is not to say that it is a bad series, just that it has a few fatal flaws that mean I am not going to complete it. But, before we get onto these flaws, a quick discussion of what is interesting about Aku no Hana, and why I like these elements seems in order. Read more of this post

Suisei no Gargantia – Cultural Divides and Collateral Damage


shot0033

The story of Suisei no Gargantia seems to be one about the differences between cultures and how they shape our perspectives on life. Ledo, for all of his combat experience is currently incapable of understanding the way of life on Gargantia. As we found out in episode one he has spent 145,000 hours in combat, effectively living his entire life inside the cockpit of Chamber either in combat or stasis waiting for the next deployment. We have seen him flying emotionlessly into battle, neither fearing death, nor worrying about what the future might bring, instead he is utterly focused on the task at hand and carries out his duty as a soldier with ruthless efficiency. This is the kind of attitude towards his and others life that can only really be created through constant exposure to war and the fight for survival. Ledo’s society, what little of it we saw, is militaristic, with citizenship and the ability to breed only granted to those that survive. In effect, their fight against the Hidengauz acts as a form of natural selection, one that weeds out the weak elements and attempts to breed strength – although this way of thinking is inherently flawed and largely reinforces the strict, militarist governance that they have to live with. Read more of this post

Guilty Geass: Attack of the Vampire Mecha – aka – Kakumeiki Valvrave


shot0675

Guilty Geass: Attack of the Vampire Mecha (Aka, Valvrave The Liberator) is a truly wonderful series, one that plays with the giant mecha genre in a way that is both entertaining and self-aware. I have never been a massive fan of mecha anime, with the Gundam franchise, and a few other seem far too serious minded for my taste. There is something truly brilliant, but also rather ludicrous about giant robots fighting each other with flashy weapons and special moves, unfortunately, by taking themselves seriously, the comedy that could come from such things is often lost. This doesn’t mean that I dislike mecha, just that I tend to gravitate towards the more light hearted side of the genre, where giant robot series like Gravion and Aquarion reign supreme. What Guilty Geass: Attack of the Vampire Mecha does is take the more serious elements of global politics and super weapons and present them in a far more self-aware form that is serious enough to be entertaining. Read more of this post

Suisei no Gargantia – Giant robots and water worlds


shot0732

I have to admit that I was rather cautious when approaching this series, largely because of Gen Urobuchi’s involvement. As a writer he comes up with some interesting ideas and settings, but over the years I have watched series he has written and been consistently disappointed or generally bored by his approach to character and plot development, and largely horrible dialogue. So with this in mind I was wary of something similar happening to Suisei no Gargantia, and the first episode surprised me with its energy, colour and overall feel that made me want to watch it again. The first half of the episode was well directed, although the space battles felt oddly lifeless, without the same sense of energy and life that battles in Macross frontier, Vandred and Mouretsu had. Not that it’s a bad opening first half, but more that it didn’t grab me in the same way that other series have, and while it looked very pretty, it felt slightly like a throwaway scene, one whose purpose was to set up Red’s back-story so that we understand his actions on a strange, and to him, dangerous new world. Read more of this post

Hataraku Maou-sama! – Conquering the world one burger at a time


shot0642

Hataraku Maou-sama took me a little by surprise actually. I had expected it to be silly, but the first episode was truly entertaining and the series really plays its jokes as straight as possible. As a premise it is far from unique or new, but in terms of execution, this series seems to take what could have been a slightly bizarre idea and turned it into one that was genuinely funny and entertaining to watch. The episode started with a nice introduction, similar to other fantasy anime, one that set out the laws of a strange world one full of magic and all manner of curious creatures. The shift from fantasy action to the everyday of life in Tokyo was fascinating to watch, not least because Maou and Ashiya truly acted like fish out of water. This is where the enjoyment of the episode came from actually, because, instead of tying together hundreds of gags, these characters played it perfectly straight, with the humour coming from their various misunderstandings and strange reactions to what many consider normal. Read more of this post