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Short Reviews: Part 16

September 6, 2009

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More short crappy reviews! True Tears, Night Wizard, Bus Gamer, Kaiji and Monochrome Factor after the cut!

True Tears: Standard plot line, but very nicely done – 3.5/5

PLOT: True Tears has a pretty standard plotline, but the execution was nicely done. The love triangle ended up being the entire drive of the story rather than just a plot device and as such the drama felt that much more real. It’s a slow burner, building the characters up slowly and giving lots to development avoiding any feeling of shallowness. The characters themselves are fairly likeable, but I personally do not see why Shinichiro had 3 cute girls lusting after him! Oh well this is anime! The drama took a while to develop, but it was nicely done and the series ended nicely. My favourite character was definitely Noe – she’s very quirky & appealing. Hiromi on the other hand bugged the life out of me and I just couldn’t see her appeal. The side characters also got adequate development and Shinichiro’s parents had an actual role to play rather than just being soulless cardboard cutouts. I did feel that there was still something lacking, although I just can’t put my finger on what – maybe its because I just didn’t really like Shinichiro and began to feel that he didn’t really deserve to have so many women lusting after him! 😛

ANIMATION: I have to say that this series is beautifully animated. The character designs are appealing and the backgrounds wonderfully detailed. PA Works have done an excellent job on this series for a relatively recent studio. The festival scene near the end of the series is nothing short of stunning and the wintry backdrop of most of the series was really atmospheric.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: The OP & ED were cute, nothing overly spectacular but decent. Same with the voice acting, no one really stands out too much though.

Overall I liked True Tears, but felt that there was something lacking. It’s a slow paced romance, but the wonderful animation and well thought out characters make it a superior example of its genre.

Night Wizard:The Animation: Pretty average action series, but entertaining nonetheless – 3/5

PLOT: I watched this weekly when it aired, and it managed to do its job, in that it provided me with a decent slice of wizarding action every week. Night Wizard is a game conversion so there is plenty of action. At first it’s more like a comedy adventure series, with the main focus being collecting jewels and battling the villain of the week. In the latter episodes the focus shifts to the bigger picture and most of the comedy is lost, as the plot turns serious. I found this threw me quite a bit, as earlier episodes were very light and comedic. However I didn’t expect much from the show to begin with so I was quite pleased with there being an actual plot! Overall an entertaining show that does not demand too much from the viewer, so worth a look if you want some mindless action.

ANIMATION: Its not going to win awards, but it was pretty enough and quite consistent. The action scenes were well done and the character designs were generic, but attractive.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I really liked the ED and the OP was also OK – BGM was fitting for this type of show as was the voice acting (if kind of bog-standard and uninspiring).

So yeah, a pretty average gamer conversion, but there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with the series. Recommended for light viewing.

Bus Gamer: Interesting premise, but way too short and therefore rushed 3/5


PLOT: Bus Gamer was strange – these 3 episodes feel more like a pilot for a longer series than anything self-contained. I suspect that there will be a Bus Gamer anime at some stage, since the characters are sort of left in limbo at the end of the final episode. It was oddly paced; the first episode was slow and lacked tension and all the action was squished into the last 5-10mins when the trio finally get their act together and get into their 1st ‘Biz Game’! The other 2 episodes sort of repeated that pattern – every time a bit of tension builds Saitou, the comic relief character, quickly defuses it by saying/doing something stupid (his OTT-ness makes me think its an act though – I’m suspicious like that, but nothing is resolved in the end). There is a lack of character development and everything is shallow feeling, but the concept itself is interesting and I would happily watch more!

ANIMATION: I wasn’t very impressed with the production quality of this show – I felt that it could have been better, some scenes just came across as cheap. The character designs just screamed ‘bishie’ at me and I found myself expecting some random shounen-ai to develop (it doesn’t – think its just my warped mind ). The thing that really annoyed me though, was that Nakajou’s eyes were permanently hidden by his hair = bloody irritating.
MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: The music is decent enough – nothing spectacular. The voice acting is good, I liked all the main characters and the opening titles are sung by the 3 (not the best song in the world though).

Overall I feel that an interesting premise was somewhat wasted and hope that there will be longer series in the future as this show does have promise.

Kaiji: Tense, atmospheric show with very striking animation – 4/5

PLOT: Fairly straightforward plot, I was worried initially that they couldn’t milk enough episodes out of the concept, but I need not have worried. Kaiji is a show full of tension and twists – its all very entertaining! I don’t much like the actual characters themselves as it’s hard to sympathise with them as people, but it’s interesting to watch them struggle to outwit each other. The constant narration does occasionally get on my nerves though as its sometimes a touch too OTT, but that’s a minor quibble. By the end I still didn’t much like Kaiji as a person – he’s a bit of a hopeless case, but does demonstrate a bit of backbone and a touch of intelligence – the man needs to stop gambling though, he’s really crap at it! 😛

ANIMATION: In a word the animation is UGLY! Nothing will get me to change my mind on this – the character designs are just plain ugly! However the actual animation quality is extremely high. The detailing of the backgrounds and excellent use of bright colours and heavy shadowing just oozes style. A very well put together show as one would expect from Madhouse. If only the characters were not so ugly, I’d be so much more enraptured of this anime – but not every show can be stuffed full of bishounen! (unfortunately!) What can I say – I’m shallow like that! 😀

VOICE ACTING & MUSIC: Voice acting is very solid, you can tell that Kaiji’s VA is mainly a live action actor as he really does emote every well. The narrator is great (well he is Zaraki Kenpachi himself!), and the supporting cast does a great job too. Music wise the score is brilliant – really enhancing the tension in the right places. The OP is really short and I’m convinced I’ve heard it before somewhere – the ED does the job but is mostly unremarkable.

Overall I’m enjoyed Kaiji quite alot and highly recommend it, however felt that it was a touch OTT at times and perhaps slightly overlong.  Although saying that I’m still really looking forward to the live action version!

Monochrome Factor: Shallow and predictable, yet somehow extremely entertaining! – 3.5/5

PLOT: Well its very generic, straightforward and blatantly pandering to BL fangirls, but somehow still manages to be interesting! I was pleasantly surprised by the series as I had zero expectations from it when I was previewing it. The series is from the same team as Loveless, but where Loveless is heavy on the drama, Monochrome Factor is much more comedic. The characters are fantastic fun (if completely stereotypical) and the script is very witty. There isn’t much closure at the end of the series and stuff tends to happen with not a lot of explanation – there is also quite a lot of filler material. However Monochrome Factor was great for light viewing, I even picked up the manga because I enjoyed the series so much! 😛

ANIMATION: The bishie character designs are nice – I like them, but I dont like the whole pink lipstick thing Shirogane has going on. I think the fact he has a 5ft braid and dresses Traptastically is enough to indicate the gayness of the character. The series clearly has a low budget, but it does use it well – things are simple but pretty. Excellent use of chibi’s to enhance the comedy too.

MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: Great voice cast – love each and every one of them though Shirogane is a favourite ^_^ The OP is brilliant (have it downloaded) and the ED and BGM are decent enough too.

Overall a very enjoyable show, surprisingly one of my favourites from the Spring 2008 season!

As ever, more when I have time! 😀

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