Monday, April 27, 2015

Animation Style vs. Animation Quality

Most of the time when someone says an anime or cartoon has good animation, they leave it at that. Calling something ‘good’ isn’t very descriptive of why it’s good, and it ignores one very important thing; there’s more to animation then art quality.

No matter how well drawn technically your animation is, it doesn’t matter to me if it doesn’t have any style. Inversely, a strong style can surpass a low animation budget; the best example of this is 2012’s new anime adaption of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure by David Productions. 

This anime was practically a slideshow, very little animation happened even during fight scenes, with a lot of freeze frames for emphasis. But JoJo had style, and the lack of animation is easily excusable for the fact that JoJo looked incredible at almost all times, the use of color, ‘camera’ angles, and digital effects add up into a very good looking show.

Another example of this is the recent anime The Rolling Girls, which has an incredibly vibrant color pallet that was extremely pleasing to look at, even though the animation itself wasn’t that high budget.

I’ve seen countless anime that have very high budget action scenes but seem to think that can excuse lazy angles, often showing the scenes in the most boring way possible.
Sword art online is a prime example of this, it has incredible budget and very smooth action scenes… that bored the hell out of me.
The shots are framed in the most generic, boring ways imaginable, completely wasting the budget spent on the scenes.

Style is vastly under-appreciated; good style can counter bad animation, this can be applied to the game industry as well. Which is why 2d sprite based games, such as Japanese fighting games like the recent Under Night In-Birth exe:late (great game, terrible title) still continue to look great. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Deadpool is mainstream (but that's ok.)

Waaaay back in 2011 I posted about my dissatisfaction with the Deadpool series written by Daniel Way, hereby referred to as Volume 2. It didn’t stack up the 90s era Dadpool written by Joe Kelly, or the fantastic Cable & Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza.

Now, I have not read every Deadpool comic, I largely skip on the side-stories and miniseries, I do this with all comics I read, I only care about the main story unless I hear very good things about a side story.

As of now I have read the original 90s run of Deadpool, Cable & Deadpool, and about half of Way’s Volume 2, which is where I stopped until recently. The modern deadpool just wasn’t working for me for many reasons, it was far too silly, too many memes shoehorned in. But Then I started reading Volume 3, also known as Marvel Now! Deadpool; written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggen.

This is it, this the Deadpool I’ve been waiting for since Cable & Deadpool ended. It’s funny, it’s charming, there are almost no in your face memes. Deadpool is a goofy wisecracker who makes a ton of bad jokes as always, but it’s not ALL he does.

It also removes Way’s annoying dual thought boxes that argued with each other, though I don’t know if this change happened in Volume 2 as I have yet to finish it.

Back in 2011 I couldn’t accurately describe why I didn’t like the new Deadpool, and it shows; I really dislike that post now but it’s here if you want to read it. But right now all I can say is this; Marvel Now Deadpool is the real deal, anybody who hates the le epic meme so random Deadpool should give this series a chance, it’s far better.

I look forward to the upcoming Deadpool movie as a reinvigorated fan.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fate/Stay Night and why anime original content is not inherently bad.

My first exposure to the works of Kinoko Nasu was through the abysmal 2003 JC Staff anime of the Visual Novel Tsukihime, at the time I thought it was pretty cool. Then I played the Visual Novel; my score for the anime dropped from eight to three.

How could they have turned such an amazing story into the fucking mess that was the anime Shingetsutan Tsukihime? Trying to combine five different story arcs that all last about twenty five hours into one 13 episode series probably didn’t help.

Things didn’t fair much better in 2005, when the second game made by Nasu’s company; Type-Moon, got an anime by Studio Deen. The visual novel at the time was not translated into English so the only thing I had to go on was the anime, I thought it was decent. The anime had 24 episodes instead of 13, so it fared a bit better in terms of adaption, or so I thought.

A few years after I saw the anime I learned the Visual Novel was translated (at this time only two of the three routes were completed) so I found myself a copy and sat down to play it. Fifty hours later and I’d thrown the anime in the trash, it wasn’t as bad as Tsukihime’s anime but it wasn’t good either.

The Fate/Stay Night anime was followed up by a movie of the second route of the Visual Novel, Unlimited Blade Works (The 2005 anime loosely following the plot of the first route, Fate.) it wasn’t good but it wasn’t terrible either, it just sort of exists.

This background is all to show that Type-Moon has been extremely unlucky with adaptations of their work for a long time, or so I thought. After Fate/Stay Night and before the UBW movie, a studio called Ufotable started a movie series of Nasu’s oldest published work, Kara no Kyoukai; a light novel series.

It’s Amazing, I don’t know how I didn’t find out about it until 2014, it deserves more recognition then it has.
Ufotable has quickly become “the type-moon guys”, producing incredible adaptations of all of Kara no Kyoukai and the Fate Prequel light novel written by Gen Urobuchi.

Now come to present day, and they have started to adapt the second route, Unlimited Blade Works for a second time. Now however it’s a full TV anime and not a movie. It’s incredible, the animation work is their best yet, the story follows the beat of the VN as best you can in an anime; but it’s not enough for some people.

A vocal minority on sites like have taken to calling it “terrible” or “not canon” because it dares to be slightly different from the Visual Novel.
Anything short of a 1 to 1 translation of the novel would be met by endless shitstorms about it, interfering with anyone who actually wants to talk about the show legitimately.

I can only imagine that these guys want a 50 episode long anime that is 90% characters thinking, because that’s what a direct translation of the novel would be like. You see, they seem completely, delusionally unaware of one simple fact; Anime and Visual Novels are different mediums.

A Visual novel is essentially a book with a few pictures, sound, and sometimes voice acting, played on a PC or game console. Like a Book, its pace is largely dictated by user input. How fast are you reading? How much at one time?

Anime on the other hand, has to be paced according to episode; you can’t start an episode on slice of life, go into an epic fight in the middle then end on more slice of life, the pace would be all over the place.

Ufotable understands this, so they shorten/extend scenes in order to give the anime a good, steady pace; while also providing more exposition, backstory, or callbacks to Fate/Zero.

But the angry fanboys don’t care; they were calling this anime ruined before it even started, because the main character Shirou, had a jacket. That’s right, changing a minor character design detail got them to call the anime ruined.

Unlimited Blade Works TV is currently one of if not the only anime adaption of something else that changes things and gets better for it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why Modern Anime Doesn't Suck

Way back in 2011 I watched an anime called Sacred Seven, and it was awful, so bad in fact I gave up on anime as a medium for a long time and made a post here calling out Modern anime for being shitty ecchi fanservice and nothing more.

Since then however I have gotten back into anime full force, my kneejeck reaction to otaku pandering ended around 2012, when I watched the brilliant Psycho-Pass.

Anime is stronger than it’s ever been; not a comment to say lightly, but in the last few years I have not only watched countless new anime but many old, classic shows.

Anime like Psycho-Pass, Ping-Pong, or Parasyte set the bar for animation higher. Not just in presentation but in storytelling. Sure there are still a lot of crappy pandering shows out there, but even the fanservice shows have improved. High School DxD is one of the most pandering ecchi fanservice shows I’ve seen in years, but it remains entertaining; because it knows it’s stupid.

I hereby resend my opinion of modern anime being shit, except sacred seven; that was just terrible.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Anime Review: Mardock Scramble The Third Exhaust

(This is a copy of my MAL review, some comments in it may reflect this.)

I don’t often write reviews because most things I watch have so many reviews already there’s nothing left to be said, but at the time of my writing this there is only one other review for Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust, so I thought I’d share my opinion of it.

Spoilers for the review (not the movie): I thought it was absolutely fantastic.
The end, you don’t have to read the rest of my ramblings, watch it and enjoy.
Wait… you actually want to know HOW it’s fantastic. Well ok I guess I can do that.

Mardock Scrambled Eggs doesn’t do too much new in the cyberpunk genre, but that’s okay because what it does do is executed fabulously in all three movies. (Slightly less in the second but we’re not here to talk about that one)

Rune’s inner and outer conflicts come to a head in the final movie, and while the resolution of Rune’s case against Shell might seem too short in terms of crime drama or mystery, it fits the themes of the other movies perfectly. These movies were never really about the case, the case was the driving force behind Rune’s mental trauma and character development, and through the resolution of the case here we see how she’s changed from the first movie.

And again the weight of the action scenes falls on the arguably more main of the two antagonists; Boiled, whose feud with Rune and her shape-shifting AI partner Oeufcoque reaches a satisfying and bombastic conclusion.

The action scenes in these movies are spectacular, but few and far between, this a character focused drama first and an action second, it’s not a movie for people who just want explosions and action all the time, might I suggest Ghost in the Shell: Arise for that.
However, because the action is not happening at all times, it makes the action scenes in this movie stand out due to excellent pacing that never leaves any part of this movie boring and doesn’t make you feel a scene has overstayed it’s welcome.

The voice acting and sound direction is top notch, though as I’m not an expert on these aspects I can’t go into much detail besides two key points.
1. the soundtrack is incredible, it fits every scene so well you barely notice it’s there, it never sticks out but always complements the scene it’s in.
2. Rune’s voice actor is incredible; she gave s such an amazing performance that even without being a native Japanese speaker I could fully understand all the emotion behind each line.

Like the first two movies, Mardock Scramble 3 has some of the best animation I’ve
seen, every shot is near perfection, Easily in my top 10 for best animation, the contrast of colors leads to a drab, dark yet beautiful city.

The characters are all very well crafted and enjoyable to watch, with the standout Oeufcoque stealing the show and reminding me quite a lot of the dynamic between Kino and Hermes in Kino no Tabi.
Rune Balot, the star of the show gets a good share of development and by the end you will feel like she’s actually changed and matured as a person.
The other characters are somewhat of a mixed bag with most at the most filler for the cast, though the resolution of Shell and Boiled’s character arcs were quite good as well.

The ending, while left quite open, also felt very final, the openness really only leading more to the cyberpunk nature of the series where open endings are quite common.

In conclusion, I found the series as a whole to be a very smart, well thought out cyberpunk story, sure it retreads old ground but it has enough unique ideas and style to get past that. I would highly recommend them all to anybody who wants a strong cyberpunk drama in the vain of ghost in the shell.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Shameless self promotion part 2: electric boogaloo.

I figure since I've taken this blog out of hibernation I would advertize my other shit again for anybody who happens to get here.

My youtube channel
Full of let's plays and other random videos, haven't done much recently.

My personal account
I occasionally post random silly stories here.

My other account
This is a joint account with a friend of mine where we post story collaborations (only one right now, but it's really good)

My profile
If I write any more reviews they'll probably end up on here first, so if you liked my other reviews check it out an judge my taste in anime.

My other accounts on things like deviantart are dead, so forget about them until further notice.

Anime Review: Legendary Gambler Tetsuya

(Below is a copy of my review from

Legendary Gambler Tetsuya is an anime series that’s hard for me to recommend. Not because it’s bad mind you, it’s very, very, good; the problem lies in what it’s about; this show is about mahjong.


No, not that solitary game you have preinstalled on your pc, the real mahjong, an ancient Chinese game for four players, which resembles modern rummy or gin. The Japanese variant, often known as Riichi Mahjong; takes this game to a whole new level of complexity, establishing a large list of hand combinations and situations you MUST make at least one of in order to win at all. All of a sudden this is a massively deep, intricate game, like poker on steroids.

Why am I saying any of this, it’s very simple really, this anime won’t make any sense if you can’t play Mahjong on at least a low level, you need to know the rules, the tile names, the hands, ect in order to follow this show. Because you see, this anime is written for someone who already understands the game, as such it never gets bogged down trying to explain the rules it assumes you already know.
If you know the rules or are willing to take time to learn them, you’ll be greatly rewarded, now if you’ve made it this far, onto the actual review!

At the point of my writing this, I have seen three shows dedicated to mahjong, This, Akagi, and Saki. This show is by far the best of the three. This is a somewhat contraversal statement I feel, since Akagi is quite well received on this site, but allow me to explain why this is the best show about mahjong I’ve seen.

It’s because this show cheats.

Everything this anime does is about cheating; some of the most well thought out, genius cheating I’ve ever seen. Akagi sometimes focuses on cheating at the game as well, but more often then not the game is resolved due to Akagi’s “monstrous luck”

In Akagi, and even moreso in Saki, I feel a disconnect from the game and the characters, these shows are about the characters and their insane luck that almost always makes games go their way, things that are statistically impossible are the more here, and for no good reason.
Tetsuya makes his own luck. You not only see why he gets the hands he does, you see how he forces the games to go his way, from skilled dice throws that always get your desired number to boldly switching tiles from your hand with those on the table.

Where Akagi’s narrator would simple tell us that he’s doing something crazy, it never feels justified, he’s just lucky, this leads to a problem many anime have, the protagonist can’t lose. Not so in this fine example here, Tetsuya loses and he loses hard, making his victories all the more gratifying when he finally wins.

This is not a show for anybody; the art is dated for one, and features none of modern Anime’s “moe” sensibilities, if you’re looking for that, try Saki. Characters are never off model and every character has a distinct design, since it focuses on characters sitting and playing a game most of the time there’s minimal motion, but what is there is well executed.

The sound is nothing to write home about, the OST is unmemorable, but the character voices all fit well. As I can’t speak Japanese I can’t pass judgment on the acting level but it seemed to par with shows of the time.

But where this show shines is its story and characters, every character we meet is either likeable or satisfyingly detestable, Tetsuya himself is a great character, who unlike Akagi actually grows and changes as it goes on.

The story is fairly straight forward and mostly involves escalating battles in gambling between our main characters and an assortment of colorful “villains”, with each game essentially being standalone. That’s not to say there are no twists, there are a decent many turns in this story that all lead up to an emotional, satisfying conclusion despite being an incomplete adaptation of a manga that as of now has no translation I can find anywhere, which is somewhat disappointing as I hear this anime only covered a small amount of it.

If you haven’t the faintest idea what mahjong is, you probably won’t like this show, but if you love mahjong or even just understand it on a beginner level, this is a hell of a hidden gem.