Tag Archives: Comedy

Good for laughs. This tag only applies to shows that have consistent attempts at humour or are particularly funny.

Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase

 

Similar: Dance in the Vampire Bund

Karin

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Supernatural Vampire Comedy

Length: 25 episodes

 

Positives:

  • None.

Negatives:

  • Worst opening in anime?
  • Low budget visuals and ugly character design.
  • Weak and annoying characters compose just about the entire cast. Fails at being cute even after trying so hard.
  • One joke throughout. One gimmick throughout.
  • Pedobear’s favourite kind of anime.

What am I doing with my life? Why do I waste my time watching such trash? It’s because I love watching the bad just as much as the good. As long as there is something to analyse, I find it fun. Unfortunately with Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase, it doesn’t have much on offer, even in the awful department, as it discharges its contents within a few episodes before it hits the repeat button.

Kouhei is a photographer and often captures the supernatural on film by accident. When visiting a castle in Germany for work, he meets a vampire (loosest definition) girl, Hazuki, who tries to hypnotise him into being her slave, but it doesn’t work because he is ‘spiritually retarded,’ as his grandfather puts it, and the supernatural stuff doesn’t affect his thick skull. She uses him to break the seal on the castle, allowing her to escape to Japan in search of her mother.

In Japan, she forces herself into Kouhei’s life and invites herself to live with his grandfather. Meanwhile, other vampires work to take her back to Germany.

This setup has little to do with Moon Phase as a whole. A more accurate pitch would be ‘A little girl with a cat complex that we are supposed to believe is a vampire moves in with some guy and they bicker a lot. The occasional supernatural entity shows up to pretend as if there is a plot before they bicker once more.’ It’s a few episodes of mundane nothing in the family’s pottery shop while he tries to make it as a photographer for a magazine. Then we have to sit through a few episodes of so-called action. Back to nothing, then action again, and so on. You can’t imagine how painful this feels for twenty-six episodes.

Hazuki’s kitten impression makes one want to claw their own face off, wearing cat ears and meowing all the time. This is supposed to be cute? Kittens are cute; this is hideous. And she calls him ‘big brother’? Just kill it now, with fire. Kouhei is a wimp, weak-willed and never does anything about the spoiled cat-girl. Their relationship is one I have seen many times before with her as your typical moe, going from “cutesy” (loosest possible definition) to abusive to crying if anyone says anything. I have never wished more for a twist to be her blowing her own brains out at the end, ideally, because she realises she isn’t cute. They use the one joke repeatedly about him being her slave and no one is allowed to touch him. I know these writers think that having characters bickering all the time makes for conflict, but it doesn’t, not if there is no point to it. Oh, what? They argue to hide that they really love each other? Spare me that drivel. Did I mention she’s twelve and he’s an adult? Never mind the other two twelve-year-olds they bring in to complete his pedo-harem.

Later on, she gets a familiar, a mini catgirl that is just as irritating and as devoid of charm. Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase tries much too hard to be cute, failing at every instance. It keeps ramming it down your throat and punching your sanity as it yells, ‘ADORE ME!’ I don’t know how they expected anyone to take the attempts at emotion seriously when a supposed-vampire girl pretending to be a cat stands there in the middle of the scene.

Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase is trash. Don’t waste your time on this; even if you like catgirls, there must be something better to do. In vampire terms, this has a vampire that needs glasses…yes, that makes sense…

Art – Very Low

The entire budget went into making decent backgrounds. The characters have no detail, poor animation, and are ugly – the backgrounds make the low quality stand out even more. The inconsistency is the worst.

Sound – Low

What the hell is this opening? Weirdest…something…I have ever seen. If I have to listen to that opening theme on more time, I will strangle a kitten. The ending music sounds like someone on a singing contest too shy to sing and just mumbles into the mike. Forgettable BGM, often inaudible, and the voice acting sounds like a script read. I particularly hate the squeaky voices.

Story – Very Low

Whoever thought that a story about a little girl vampire pretending to be a cat was a good idea should find another job. Was it you, Pedobear?

Overall Quality – Very Low

Recommendation: Do anything else. Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase is the epitome of neko-sugoi-chan-desu-desu-kawaii rubbish. It tries to be cute, it tries to be funny, it tries to be charming – it fails at all.

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Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None.

Negative:

Awful DialogueEar Grating Voice WorkHollow World BuildingHorrendous ActionIncoherentInduces StupidityMary SueNot FunnyRepetitiveRubbish Major CharactersShallowUgly Artistic DesignUseless Side Cast

Black Blood Brothers – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Black Blood Brothers

 

Similar: Blood+

Hellsing Ultimate

Dance in the Vampire Bund

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Vampire Action Comedy

Length: 12 episodes

 

Positives:

  • A good pitch with all the right ingredients.
  • Nice, clean art.

Negatives:

  • Despite the depth of the idea, dozens of small problems hinder the overall result.
  • The younger brother can get annoying, especially with that laugh.
  • Leaves a couple of threads open with no sequel in sight, but it isn’t a cliffhanger.
  • Several stiff action animations. Low frame rate on mouths as well.

Old vampire Jirou and his little brother Kotarou travel to Japan for the ‘Special Zone’ where humans and vampires live in peace protected by a barrier that keeps unwanted vampire bloodlines out. However, the Kowloon Children, feral vampires thought wiped out by Jirou ten years ago in the Hong Kong War, kidnap Kotarou and forces Jirou to fight once more. Mediator Mimiko is sent by the Company to babysit Jirou and make sure he doesn’t destroy too much of the city. A feral infiltrates the zone, threatening to taint all vampires within.

If you were to send this pitch to an agent, they are almost guaranteed to want to see the full story. It has the makings of an engaging tale. On the surface, Black Blood Brothers has everything you could ask for in a vampire anime: ancient bloodlines, warring factions, a handsome vampire protagonist with a broken heart, a human woman forbidden from intimacy with him, sexual undertones to vampirism, a threat to the entire vampire race, action, special powers, and even some comedy. And yet, there’s something missing, something hard to define. It’s as though every aspect is one step away from greatness. Yes, an ancient bloodline is a must, but the writers never establish their significance. The powers are cool, but the writers forget they exist in certain situations. The forbidden nature between vampire and human is tantalising, but that thread doesn’t hold throughout the series. Jirou’s lost love brings a dimension of humanity to his character, BUT we don’t see enough of his past for him to grow on the audience. “That is great, but…” summarises every point in Black Blood Brothers.

I found Black Blood Brothers an enjoyable enough anime to keep me engaged until the end of its twelve-episode run. I sorely wish that they had sat down for just one more day to brainstorm the ideas, fleshing them out into something great. Lastly, Jirou has a telekinetic ability, which he uses to fling his brother around when misbehaving, all controlled with his middle finger… Weird.

Art – Medium

The frame rate is minimal, many animation jumping between two or three frames. Even when the motion distance is larger, the frames don’t increase (same number of frames for a whisper as with yelling, for example). Flying statues during some action sequences – no signs of life even when sliced open. However, the art quality is clean and looks nice in stills.

Sound – High

The voice work is good in both languages. Jirou’s actors convey his politeness and old-fashioned mannerisms well, yet still bring the anger when needed. Mimiko’s short fuse is entertaining to hear. Great ending theme and the rest of the tracks are decent.

Story – Medium

The story of an ancient vampire fighting neophyte feral vampires is not an uncommon plot type, though a flexible one allowing for much variation. Black Blood Brothers’ twist of involving the humans and a good degree of comedy is an enjoyable choice, though ultimately unfinished.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: Black Blood Brothers had all the ingredients for a great vampire story, but it fell short by a little in every aspect. Even so, if you are looking for a short, well-paced anime to relax with, then Black Blood Brothers will appeal.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None.

Negative:

Incomplete

Trigun – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Trigun

 

Related: Trigun: Badlands Rumble (movie side story, included in the review)

Similar: Cowboy Bebop

Black Lagoon

Trinity Blood

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Action Comedy Science Fiction

Length: 26 episodes & a movie

 

Positives:

  • Hilarious for a good portion of the series.
  • Art that holds up well, despite the age. (1998!)
  • The episodic arcs have believable characters with interesting stories to tell.
  • A savage, lawless world.

Negatives:

  • Consequences of pacifism ideology don’t go far enough.
  • Narrative wimps out at the end for convenience when on the brink.
  • Lack of humour in the last third makes for a deceptive setup.

It feels like only yesterday I watched Trigun, laughing with a friend at Vash’s hysterics all those years ago. One of the first anime I watched, actually. Even back then, Trigun was considered old. Trigun comes from an era that dropped the hippie hairstyles and knew audiences could handle adult themes in a medium saturated with ‘he’s-not-really-dead’ narratives. Ironic, considering the pacifist theme in Trigun.

Vash the Stampede is the man with a sixty-billion dollar bounty on his needly-haired head, for everywhere he goes, nothing but destruction follows. He’s said to be a womaniser and the worst man ever. In reality, he’s a coward and a pacifist who feels queasy at the sight of blood. The destruction is a result of bounty hunters doing whatever it takes to claim the prize. So really, he does leave cities in rubble wherever he goes, just not by his own hand. Tailing him are Meryl and Milly, two insurance agents investigating monetary claims for damages caused by Vash. Meryl, serious about damage control, acts as a foil to Vash’s idiocy, whereas Milly provides extra muscle with the minigun she keeps stashed under her coat.

Vash’s policy is one of non-violence where possible and absolutely no killing, even to the point of stupidity. He gets by on skill and plenty of luck. With only rumours to go on, bounty hunters often miss Vash as he cowers behind the bar. Vash is so pathetic in person that no one believes he’s the human typhoon when they meet him, making for easy escapes.

For the first third of Trigun, Vash switches between charm and absolute silliness where comedy takes most of the screen time. Come the middle, we see a serious side to Vash, as bounty hunters get more dangerous and his past catches up to him. By the final third, humour has all but evaporated along with Vash’s lighter side. He still clings to his idealistic views, but has little to joke about. My problem is with the third section. Starting Trigun, one gets the impression of a hilarious action-comedy with a hint of seriousness; however, the later it goes, the drearier it gets. Blind turns in storytelling are great as long as what’s around the corner is awesome. In Trigun’s case, not so much. The narrative builds, showing the consequences of his naïve pacifism, and builds further towards Vash confronting his past, facing his choices. Until the final episode, Trigun is pulling back for that knockout out punch, but when it comes to delivery, it’s no more than a flick to the nose, Vash let off easy for convenience. No sacrifice made. No lesson learned.

That is not to say Trigun is bad, but it does suffer a lot because of an unwillingness to push a character over the edge. It makes me wish they had kept the comedy for longer since the seriousness delivered a let-down. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed Trigun’s world of bounty hunters, gunfights, and shady business.

Trigun: Badlands Rumble

Badlands Rumble is a non-canon movie, akin to an extended episode. It follows notorious robber Gasback on a mission of revenge against his former crew for stabbing him in the back. Hundreds of bounty hunters gather in Macca City, Gasback’s next target to claim the three-hundred million reward. Vash is caught up in the affair, as always, and so are the regulars from Trigun.

Both visual and audio quality show great improvement, which is to be expected twelve years later. Even though Trigun still looks great, seeing it updated in Badlands Rumble makes a great case for remaking all art and sound in the original. As far as story goes, this won’t appeal to those who aren’t already Trigun fans. It still has the weak pacifism that castrates any lasting consequences throughout the movie.

Art – High

While the visuals look their age, they hold up because the artists put effort into the animation and Wild West style of Trigun. The remastered edition touches it up a little. Badlands Rumble shows the excellent visuals if remade.

Sound – High

Voice work is good in both languages; however, some lines in English are rushed to fit the lip flaps. A soundtrack of rock and electric guitar riffs for the action and sax solos when it relaxes. Sound effects are underwhelming, especially given the amount of gunfire. Ending theme sounds awful, like a Walkman running out of batteries or a drunkard drowning in the city fountain.

Story – High

Vash as a character is interesting, bolstered by a robust, even if at times underdeveloped, side cast. His journey fleeing from his past and his power is a mix of humorous and emotional elements. Shame the author didn’t push reality far enough.

Overall Quality – High

Recommendation: Highly recommended to those who like emotion layered on top of action-comedy. Trigun starts hilarious before it transitions into seriousness as Vash faces the consequences of his choices, which, outside of a few stumbles, is well worth your time.

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Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Charm

Negative: 

Weak End

Baccano! – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Baccano!

 

Related: Durarara!! (Character crossover & same creator)

Similar: Gungrave

Fullmetal Alchemist

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Historical Supernatural Action Comedy Mystery

Length: 16 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Phenomenal English voice track with a plethora of accents.
  • An intriguing mystery woven around the supernatural.
  • A varied cast – Isaac and Miria are hilarious.
  • Well-defined period setting reminiscent of gangster films and a gory version of Murder on the Orient Express.
  • Add the jazz music, and Baccano has a great atmosphere.

Negatives:

  • The narrative structure causes confusion at several points.
  • Long shots lose more detail than they should on characters.

Baccano opens with a historian and his apprentice discussing an event centred on the Flying Pussyfoot, a US continental express train that left a bloody trail in its wake. They can’t decide on where to start or even who should be the main character in their chronicle, and for good reason, as Baccano’s nonlinear narrative jumps all over the place between perspectives and times. Add in a large cast and you can understand the difficulty in deciding how to approach the story.

Baccano takes place primarily in three locations: 1930s Chicago with tensions rising between mafia groups, New York where an alchemist looks to create the elixir of immortality, and in between the two is the Flying Pussyfoot, acting as a nexus for the many plot threads including the legend of the ‘Rail-Tracer,’ a monster said to target train passengers. Baccano’s twist on the mafia genre is the inclusion of immortals, humans who can regenerate from any damage, every drop of spilt blood vacuuming back into their body after death – to disgustingly great visual effect, I might add. This is a tale of alchemy, psychopaths, gangs, thievery and loyalty.

My favourite characters were Isaac and Miria, a thieving duo with the craziest ideas for heists. “We will steal from Earth itself by digging and taking the gold we find without asking.” Genius! They make for a hilarious couple and bring much of the humour to an otherwise dark tale. Their leaps of logic are stupid as hell and oh so funny, yet somehow unexpectedly brilliant.

It would take the whole review to list all characters and tell of their stakes in the narrative. Rest assured that each character is different, bringing their own complexities and personality to the conflict. You never know who will ally with whom, who is evil. Everyone is interconnected and it’s a thrill to see how all the threads tie together in the end.

I love seeing stories told in unusual ways, such as Memento, presented in reverse and a favourite of mine. Unfortunately, Baccano went too far with its nonlinear technique. Often, I wasn’t sure how a current scene had anything to do with the plot until it caught up to another thread. The first few episodes are the same section of time told from different perspectives; however, there is nothing at the start of the new scene to indicate the plot has jumped backwards a short way. Most films that use this repeated-from-another-perspective technique have each jump start with a common event, an explosion, for example, to tell the audience we have rewound.

Despite this attention deficit storytelling, Baccano is an anime well worth watching. Just pay attention to the scene jumps so that you don’t lose yourself, and I recommend watching Baccano twice to uncover all it has to offer. I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Art – High

Good costume and setting design inspired by gangster period pieces. Nicely detailed backgrounds, but characters lose too much detail at a distance. Suitably gory.

Sound – Very High

One of the best English voice tracks in anime. Great to finally hear a variety of accents. Definitely recommend in English. The jazz music is great too, reminiscent of the era. Intro theme is perfect, giving a sense of the fun and craziness in the show. The accompanying visuals help to remind you of the characters as well. The most notable issue with sound isn’t even a problem; the ending theme is nice, but it doesn’t match the rest of the soundtrack with its piano ballad – reminds of a Japanese Delta Goodrem.

Story – High

A brutal conflict between gangs that spans centuries. From the psychotic to the funny to the weak, the cast of characters is complex and engaging. The nonlinear narrative structure, while unique and interesting, does drop a few balls as it juggles the many plot threads.

Overall Quality – High

Recommendation: A must watch if you enjoy nonlinear narratives. Baccano! is an engaging, if sometimes confusing, tale of warring mafia gangs with a supernatural twist. Watch in English.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Great MusicGreat OP or ED SequenceHilariousHoly S***Positive Recommended English Voice TrackStellar Voice ActingStrong Lead Characters

Negative:

Incoherent

The Legend of Korra – Review

Related: Avatar: The Last Airbender (prequel)

Similar: Fullmetal Alchemist

 

Watched in: English

Genre: Fantasy Action Adventure

Length: 52 episodes (4 seasons)

 

Positives:

  • Korra, as a character and through her arc, displays a rare maturity in the face of conflict.
  • A series of villains made intriguing by their flaws and motivations.
  • Gorgeous art all-round.
  • Fight choreography at the top of its game. No yelling for power.
  • A varied supporting cast, each different from the next, each with proper personalities. Also, Varrick is the best.
  • Great references to the original series without resorting to info dumps. (Cabbage Corp.!)
  • Excellent voice work, infant characters’ most surprising.
  • The inclusion of sports, political structures, advances in technology, propaganda, public services, entertainment, and the like, makes for superb world building.
  • Doesn’t feel like a re-tread of Avatar.

Negatives:

  • One mistake at the end of season one (reminiscent of Avatar’s season four’s finale error).
  • It would have been nice to see more Fire Nation.

Note: This review contains implied spoilers from prequel, Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Outside of the new Star Wars film, nothing has as much pressure to live up to its prequel as The Legend of Korra, for me. As it happens, Korra is an exemplar of what a sequel should be. Nothing in Korra feels like a re-tread; the creators knew they couldn’t get away with a ‘Hollywood’ sequel cash-in.

The Legend of Korra starts seventy years after the events of Avatar, during a time of peace, as Korra, the new Avatar, moves to Republic City (think UN capitol in a 1940s Shanghai inspired setting with added zeppelins and Model-T Fords) to learn airbending from Master Tenzin, Aang’s son. However, when she arrives, the city isn’t as peaceful as it appears, for the triad gangs torment the lower echelons of the city and the ‘Equalist’ faction of humans seek to eliminate all bending from the world. Because of their power, some benders have gained higher status, looking down on non-benders. Masked leader Amon and his Equalists begin to capture benders; Amon claims he can remove their power permanently. Korra must stop him.

Like Avatar before it, Korra isn’t this basic plot. It is layered with a half-dozen plotlines woven together to create a deep and compelling narrative. While worrying about Amon, Korra has to deal with politicians trying to seize power in tragedy, master her final element of air, compete as a pro-bender (boxing with the elements in teams of three to push opponents out of the ring, backed by a great commentator) behind Tenzin’s back, shoulder Avatar responsibilities, and have a social life.

Even with this many plotlines, the narrative never feels overstuffed where each plotline tries to choke the others out. I never grew tired of a plotline because there was always another to step-up when one needed a break. I couldn’t find, and believe me I tried, any padding. Even action scenes, the most common source of padding in kids’ entertainment, are the perfect length. There is no power yelling for five episodes, no twenty-episode fights ended with a trump card that should have been used at the start, and the choreography is phenomenal – it has spoiled me. Spoiled! Korra is an intense, close-knit experience with the right amount of quiet moments to pour emotion into the narrative.

At its core, Korra is about characters. From the main to the supporting cast, every character is well thought out and has a purpose in the world. I don’t know where to begin. Aang’s hilarious grandchildren (“Those maggots will bow to me!”)? The aged original cast? The new Team Avatar with Mako’s Batarang eyebrows, Bolin’s humour and innocence, and Asami’s confidence? The other descendants? There’s too many to cover. I could write a review for each individual character, so high is their quality of design. No one feels like a quest-giver NPC waiting for the protagonist to turn up to complete the NPC’s purpose. You get the sense that they all lead lives that don’t revolve around Korra.

In my Avatar review, I mentioned Aang as the weakest (yet still great) of the core characters because of his over-dorkiness in season one and righteous personality (not my favourite). Korra however, is my favourite here, followed closely by Varrick the eccentric inventor and businessman – think Ton Stark if he was completely mad. What I liked most about Korra is her strength and maturity. She doesn’t accept something because a teacher said so. She questions everything, forging her own path. Even when down, she doesn’t whine about how unfair the world is; she whines about how weak she is, how it’s her fault and not someone else’s. And then there is her season-four story arc (no spoilers, don’t worry); I never expected a kids’ show to have the capacity to go this dark. Love it.

There is little to complain about in Korra. As mentioned above, season one’s finale mistake for convenience was a bother. I know they made the decision under the assumption that Korra would only last one season, but still, nothing wrong with leaving a little damage. My biggest disappointment is the lack of Fire Nation. We get hints at, but never see, the state of the Fire Nation, and what few characters make an appearance don’t get much screen time. All that said, no complaint against Korra affected my larger enjoyment, just like in Avatar. Anything I consider “bad” about Korra is only bad by comparison to the rest of the show – the sort of bad that wouldn’t even have time for mention in a lesser art piece due to bigger issues.

Korra is how a sequel should be done. We still have the group of friends with loyalty, infighting, fear, jealousy, love, and the animal companion, but it’s different focus, advancements in society, tournament element, ordinary jobs, big city with a criminal underbelly, politicians, a different kind of enemy, and close-knit conflict, makes for a new and fresh experience. I had high hopes for The Legend of Korra, and I was not disappointed.

Art – Very High

Vibrant action sequences, fluid animation, hand-painted style backgrounds of high detail, and excellent character design. Even the use of CG blends in well. Improved the mouth animations from the first series. (I still can’t un-see the LFR for mouths in Avatar.)

Sound – Very High

The music has advanced with the new technology, using tunes for the era that inspired the Shanghai style setting. Jazz infused with Chinese touches are coupled with more traditional tracks of strings, flutes, and xylophones. Excellent voice work featuring lighter accents this time around.

Story – Very High

A tale of hardships, overcoming trauma, treachery, corruption, and loyalty. Every character is fully realised, filled with subtleties and depth rarely found in programming aimed at children.

Overall Quality – Very High

Recommendation: The Legend of Korra is a must watch adventure. This was a real page-turner; I did nothing but the essentials to survive while watching from start to finish.

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Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Deep NarrativeExtensive Character DevelopmentFluid AnimationHilariousPhenomenal VillainPositive Recommended English Voice TrackRiveting ActionStellar Voice ActingStrong Lead CharactersStrong Support CharactersStunning Art Quality

Negative: None.