Tag Archives: Ecchi

Perverted aspects. Doesn’t apply to shows where it is a minor aspect.

Strike the Blood – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Strike the Blood

 

Similar: Blood Lad

Dance in the Vampire Bund

Campione!

A Certain Magical Index

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Supernatural Vampire Action Harem

Length: 24 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Slick visuals and decent music.

Negatives:

  • Bland, forgettable characters.
  • The generic ecchi gets worse the later the episode.
  • The same as every other high school action harem anime.
  • “Monsters.”

In recent years, each anime season seems to have its obligatory high school action harem that’s always a pile of old nonsense, the same tired ecchi jokes and lazy characters. Is Strike the Blood another one such dud? Yes. Review done.

For those still interested, let’s continue. High school student Kojou is the rumoured Fourth Progenitor, an originating entity of the vampire species, and does his best to hide his power and go unnoticed. Charged with keeping him in check, Yukina, a Sword Shaman (who fights with a spear), acts as a guard of sorts to Kojou. They reside in the Demon District manmade island off the coast of Japan where monsters, sorry, “monsters” roam free. When a renegade attacks Yukina one evening, Kojou has no choice but to use his power and they set on the trail of a homunculus.

Over the course of the narrative, several girls join the cast, each personality forgettable, barely given any effort before the next girl is forced onto stage. Even Kojou and Yukina aren’t what I would call developed or structured. Interestingly, nothing interesting happens until the end of the third episode, so why didn’t the writers use that time to establish the protagonists, make us care for them and see glimpses of the greatness they could develop into. How about, instead of giving us Kojou’s rubbish schoolteacher, who is supposed to be 26-years-old but looks like a middle school girl, you put some effort into the damn protagonists, you know, the most important characters of the show. Oh yes, there is also a villain, if you can call a guy whose job extends to wearing a suit and going ‘Hur hur hur, I am evil’ a villain.

Rather than add more conflict and development as the story progresses, the screen time goes to ecchi, the predictable panty shots, breast grabs, compromising situations, etc. You know the drill. Strike the Blood is so desperate to titillate, it resorts to having a lesbian throw herself at Kojou. Don’t worry, implied pedocest isn’t far behind. The ecchi gets worse the longer you watch.

Strike the Blood’s greatest problem is how generic the whole affair is. Everything is standard for the action harem genre. We know how the relationships will go with each girl. We know every twist in the action. We know each character’s personality for the rest of the series within an episode of meeting them, and this never changes.

Strike the Blood feels created to fill a slot for the season, sticking to a safe and easy formula to bang it out the door as easily as possible. This anime clearly had a budget, judging by the visual and audio quality, so why waste it on this? Are any of these high school action harems going to try anything different?

Art – Medium

Strike the Blood boasts nice visuals on a technical level; however, the character design lacks creativity (two unrelated girls look remarkably similar) and their powers aren’t interesting.

Sound – Medium

The acting is fine and the music decent, but there is nothing special to be had here. Still, the audio department doesn’t interfere with the experience.

Story – Low

Like all high school action harems, Strike the Blood follows a standard formula where a guy is special for some reason and a gaggle of girls join the narrative one at a time, ecchi in tow. Forgettable, dime-a-dozen story.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: Don’t bother unless you love the genre. Strike the Blood is one of those anime that won’t be remembered in a few years, if it hasn’t already slipped from consciousness, that is. A single original thought would have gone a long way.

(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:

Hollow World BuildingInduces StupidityNo DevelopmentRubbish Major CharactersUseless Side Cast

Rosario + Vampire – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Rosario + Vampire

 

Related: Rosario + Vampire Capu2 (sequel – included in this review)

Similar: Love Hina

To LOVE-ru

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Supernatural Vampire Harem

Length: 26 episodes over 2 seasons.

 

Positives:

  • The art is clean and the voice acting decent.

Negatives:

  • Your typical harem with the same cast of clichés as seen several times per anime season with a premise that doesn’t try to be original.
  • Monster-girls that have nothing monstrous about them, never mind the flat personalities.
  • Repetitive episodes structure and conflicts. Manages to be formulaic in three genres at once.
  • I’m sure a joke was intended somewhere.
  • Can’t forget the paedophilia implications included in most harems.
  • Writing so poor, they included a character just to explain what the writing means.

I hate Rosario + Vampire. The harem genre isn’t great to begin with, but this reaches an all-new low in idiotic characters, repetitive storytelling, and general lack of humour. Let’s get this over with.

Like all harems, it starts with an ordinary guy moving to a new place, in this case, accidentally, a school for monsters. On arrival, a pink-haired girl drives her bicycle into him and they fall in love (just roll with it – this will end sooner that way). She is a vampire tempted by his blood and wears a Rosario that keeps her timid. But when removed, her full “vampire” self emerges, larger breasts and shorter skirt included. With no bus back for a month, the human guy must contend with hiding his lack of monster traits from others; the school however, has a policy that all students must remain in human form to practice blending into the human world – how lucky.

It isn’t long, one episode, in fact, before the rest of the harem begins to enter the picture. Each one is introduced in more or less the same way. They hate or want to attack the main guy, the Rosario comes off and the vampire saves him (she does everything) with the guy providing a “noble” act that makes them fall in love with him, including the teacher that rapes him (not hyperbole). First up is a succubus, the seductive one from every harem, then a witch, the pre-pubescent one for pedo material, followed by a snow demon, who fills the psychotically obsessed slot, another witch as Evil Spice, and a second eleven-year-old in season two, as if one wasn’t enough. What are their names? It isn’t important; they have no personalities. I’m sure they thought breast size would make up for flat characters.

The narrative in Rosario + Vampire is so lazy that it manages to not only be harem formulaic, but also monster-of-the-week formulaic (a monster after the guy or a harem girl) and transformation formulaic. That has got to be some sort of achievement. The quality for this presentation is awful as well, so much so that a bat familiar character has to tell the audience directly what the anime tries to show you.

Look, I have nothing against clichés as long as there is something worth seeing, something entertaining. If I had fun, I don’t care that I have seen similar before. In Rosario + Vampire’s case however, they always select the obvious jokes, those that a novice comedian would make in a second. The anime also plays the serious parts about “love” and “friends” (if you’re friends, then, please, enlighten me on their interests) with a straight face, which comes off as laughable, and not in a humorous way. And the attempts at eliciting an emotional response through “tragic” backstory are pathetic. ‘Oh, humans were so mean to me because I was a vampire. I hate humans.’ ‘My life is so hard as a witch. No one understands me.’ Shut the hell up and spare me.

Rosario + Vampire couldn’t be any worse if it tried.

Art – Medium

The visuals are clean, if generic. No creativity in monster design. I understand that this show was designed purely to sell sexy love pillows, but it would have been nice if the monster-girls weren’t “monster”-girls. Even with little to show, each episode relies on a repetitive transformation sequence.

Sound – Medium

Music is rubbish outside of the decent ending theme. The voice acting is okay – would have been great if the script had this elusive element called ‘emotion.’

Story – Very Low

Rosario + Vampire is a harem anime through and through. The characters are awful, the plot goes nowhere, and the jokes never attended the meeting.

Overall Quality – Very Low

Recommendation: Avoid it. Anime doesn’t get much worse than Rosario + Vampire. This repetitive harem that is fifteen years behind the originality curve is one to push off a cliff.

(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: 

Atrocious PlotAwful DialogueHorrendous ActionInduces StupidityNo DevelopmentNot FunnyRepetitiveRubbish Major CharactersShallowUseless Side Cast

Dance in the Vampire Bund – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Dance in the Vampire Bund

 

Similar: Black Blood Brothers

Tsukuyomi Moon Phase

 Strike the Blood

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Supernatural Vampire Action

Length: 12 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Technically, the visuals are good.

Negatives:

  • Incompetent main character because the creators put lolicon first, depth and character second.
  • Cliché high school plot despite the premise, if you can believe it.
  • Distracting and unfocused camera work.
  • Even with only twelve episodes, the plot drags.
  • Creepy pedocest implications.

Mina Tepes, daughter of Dracula and queen of vampires, wants to setup a vampire district island in Japan in exchange for paying off the national debt. However, government officials and other vampire clans resist her play for power. High school student and werewolf, Akira, fights as her bodyguard against assassination and is her whipping boy.

Dance in the Vampire Bund is confused about what type of story it wants to tell. Take the first episode, which follows a panel show of “experts” (celebrities, a professor, and two presenters) discussing the myth of vampires and if they exist based on a series of recent deaths. The segment is amusing, as the panel presents the same drivel that they would say in real life. This sets a mystery case vibe, only with guests instead of detectives. However, vampires burst on stage before long and the second episode moves onto a high school teen romance. Mina joins Akira’s high school, where they fall for each other instantly while another girl, who has had a crush on him for, like, evah, gets jealous. Alright, it’s a high school show, got it. No, wait; it then becomes a political narrative between different clans and the Japanese government. Hang on, it’s now has an action slant when a squad of vampires infiltrate the school and attack the student body. Learn focus, for blood’s sake!

Protagonist Mina is also at odds with the tone. Are we supposed to take a prepubescent girl seriously as vampire queen? Why did she stop growing at twelve? If her ageing were to stop at a given point, wouldn’t it be at the human prime around twenty? This just sounds like an excuse for creepy Lolita. She doesn’t have a psychotic personality with the mentality of a child or a maturity betrayed by her appearance. She’s pedobait, nothing more. The creators took any excuse to have her strip. Her hidden power is to grow older with huge breasts, fighting naked, for some reason. She’s not Alucard, where armour wouldn’t make much of a difference since he can regenerate from any damage. Mina however, is easily wounded and not that durable. And why not stay in adult form if it’s more powerful? The design stupidity baffles me.

Furthermore, Mina treats us to the most amateur political manoeuvring that has no subtlety, no understanding of the political landscape. For a queen of an ancient race, she sure is incompetent. Also, the prime minister can somehow dissolve parliament? Okay… That is the dumbest attempt at politics I have ever seen. The writers didn’t need to be so absurd; all they had to do was have a political party opposed to the vampire zone. Too much effort?

Dance in the Vampire Bund is an anime too busy with random camera cuts to have any depth to its plot. I am disappointed they didn’t make it a crowd sourced supernatural murder mystery. It would have been far more interesting to have Mina as a mysterious (and mature) vampire working from the shadows, unseen until late like monster films. Shame.

Art – Medium

Desperate to emulate Bakemonogatari in visuals, forgetting what made the odd style work over there (they share the same art director). The cinematography tries to be interesting by cutting away to random parts of the environment and an overabundant number of close ups on anatomy – eyes, mouth, ear, etc. except, there’s not much worth looking at and serves no purpose but distract you from how mind-numbingly dull the dialogue is. Screens of yellow or red flash randomly, often during action – we see the swing, then the damage, no impact in-between. Why? Haven’t the foggiest. Characters are too shiny; they look laminated.

Sound – Medium

The voice work sounds tired in Japanese and is only a little better in English. Lacks emotion. You can’t get any personality from their voices beyond the archetype clichés. Music is too low at times and gets repetitive.

Story – Low

A Lolita vampire queen setting up a new city for vampires isn’t an interesting premise, and the execution didn’t help either. Dance in the Vampire Bund has no soul to it, nothing memorable.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: Skip it. Dance in the Vampire Bund isn’t good for an action anime or a vampire anime. This anime has nothing to say.

(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: 

Hollow World BuildingHorrendous ActionInduces StupidityRubbish Major CharactersShallow

Blood Lad – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Blood Lad

 

Similar: Rosario + Vampire

Strike the Blood

Soul Eater

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Supernatural Action Comedy

Length: 10 episodes & 1 OVA

 

Positives:

  • Colourful palette.
  • An interesting idea with several good pop-culture jokes.

Negatives:

  • Deviates from the premise within two episodes.
  • Terrible visualisation in action sequences.
  • Bland characters that don’t evolve.
  • Succumbs to the tropes it parodies.

A parody about a vampire who’s an otaku of Japanese pop-culture rather than a bloodthirsty killer? Sounds interesting. What? It devolves into an action series that has little to do with otaku culture and parody? Just great

Staz is a vampire and leader of a demon gang. He’s also a nutter for Japanese games, anime and manga, which he smuggles in from the human world. When a human girl stumbles into the demon world, he pitches a tent on her property. Two seconds later, a plant monster eats her. Ah well, what can you do? Wait, she’s now a ghost! Except, Staz doesn’t fancy her anymore because he’s only into human chicks. He vows to return her to life so that his tent may once more stand upright. And so, Staz goes off in search of the Book of Human Resurrection to restore her.

As an otaku, Staz is a funny character with his pop-culture references; however, since the anime forgets he’s an otaku for the most part, we don’t get many of these jokes during all the action. This problem is at the core of Blood Lad; it sets itself up as a parody series, taking several clichéd anime tropes and mocking them. For example, the human girl, whose name I can’t remember from blandness, has large breasts despite being an early high school student, which they make fun of – once. After that, she becomes the generic, large breasted twelve-year-old (I’m sure she’s supposed to be older than that) love interest. Then they bring in another large breasted teen, (and there was much rejoicing. Yaaaaay…) same as the human, just aggressive instead of timid. One joke before a swan dive into the ocean of generic. Why not take the cliché and run with the joke? Every time Blood Lad parodies a trope, it ends up succumbing to cliché itself.

A funny idea for a character and a vivid colour palette couldn’t save Blood Lad from devolving into an anime you have seen many times before. Even if you’re into vampires, Blood Lad brings nothing of note to the mythos.

Art – Medium

Vibrant colours, which is a surprising choice considering the vampire theme; however, there isn’t much to look at. Not as creative as you would imagine for an otaku parody. Action sequences look awful because the character layer doesn’t interact with the attack layer. For example, when blood sprays everywhere, the character isn’t affected until the camera cuts to a different angle and then he is streaked in blood.

Sound – Medium

The voice work is good in both languages, but they don’t say much worth listening to. Forgettable music.

Story – Low

What starts out as an otaku parody with a vampire quickly devolves into a lame plot about saving a useless girl. At least some of the jokes are funny.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: For fans of mild otaku humour with action. Blood Lad had potential in its premise. It could have been a humorous look at otaku culture from the perspective of a vampire, but its unfocused execution makes this anime a forgettable one.

(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: 

Horrendous ActionMisleadingRubbish Major CharactersShallow

Elfen Lied – Review

Japanese Title: Elfen Lied

 

Similar: When They Cry

Mirai Nikki

Deadman Wonderland

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Horror Action Romance

Length: 13 episodes & 1 OVA

 

Positives:

  • An unsettling atmosphere crafted by contrasting the innocence of children with hyper-violent gore.
  • Haunting opening theme and soundtrack inspired by Gregorian chant.
  • The telekinetic protagonist’s volatile nature creates plenty of tension.

Negatives:

  • The clichéd humour doesn’t ever lighten the mood, which can make the constant tension exhausting.
  • The male love interest is a weak character that serves little purpose to the core.
  • In trying to imitate the Japanese voice track too closely, the English voices sound awful despite the skilled actors. The Japanese isn’t ideal either.
  • Outside of action scenes, most animation ceases.

A severed arm twitching in a pool of blood. Decapitated heads sail across the room, blood sprays the walls. Screams fill the air. At the centre of the carnage, a young girl, naked. Don’t be fooled by the innocent looking girl; Elfen Lied is violent and bathed in gore, not an anime for the faint of heart.

In the world of Elfen Lied (German for ‘Elven Song’) exists a race known as Diclonius. Human in appearance other than small horns protruding from the skull, Diclonii control telekinetic arms called vectors capable of tearing people in two with a flick. Their purpose is to eliminate humanity and spawn a population of their own. Lucy, the protagonist, is one such Diclonius, who escapes from the laboratory, massacring guards and researchers on the way out. She ends up on a beach in front of Kouta, the male love interest, and his friend Yuka. Her mind traumatised by a gunshot, Lucy now lies dormant, replaced by Nyuu, an innocent alter-personality with the mental development of a child. The laboratory dispatches other Diclonii and a mercenary to hunt Lucy down.

Elfen Lied is an anime of tension. It juxtaposes the young innocence of the characters with the violent nature of their telekinetic powers. How can something so small be so psychotic? Every scene with Nyuu is tense, for she could snap at any moment. A mere second of lost control and a character loses a limb or their head. A Diclonius doesn’t discriminate. Man, woman, child – all die in Elfen Lied. Elfen Lied is brutal and gory, contains child and animal abuse on physical and emotional levels. Do not watch this if you are prone to nightmares.

Nyuu/Lucy duality brings an interesting dynamic to the story. While her innocence is what keeps the power at bay, it is also her greatest weakness, as she is too naïve to control her power. It reminds of the 1931 Frankenstein film (which I highly recommend, by the way) where the monster doesn’t comprehend that actions have consequences, especially when those actions can be so destructive. Elfen Lied explores the nature of humanity, and what can come from it when a child is isolated, abused, and pushed to the limit. It accomplishes this goal rather well.

Music enhances these moments where a character’s psyche breaks and violence paints the screen. The opening is a tragic Latin opera called ‘Lilium,’ set to bizarre symbolist art inspired by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. The hymn unsettles, a warning for what is to come. Several versions of ‘Lilium’ play throughout the series and are an important role in the narrative.

Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end. Outside of the Diclonii, the rest of the characters are either underdeveloped or dull. Kouta in particular is weak. While his backstory is good and ties with Lucy’s plot line, as a character he has no purpose other than to serve as a romantic device. He is just so dull. A street lamp with a blown bulb would be more interesting. Yuka is even more useless. She is nothing more than the third point for a love triangle. The writers could have cut her from the series with no effect on the plot. The romance between her and Kouta is lame, filled with generic misunderstandings and anime romance tropes. What little humour Elfen Lied has is trite, seen in every anime teen romance – trip over each other, grabbing the breast, up-skirts, etc.

The average voice acting doesn’t help either. Even though Japan records all actors at once, here they sound stilted with no interactions off each other. The dub is even worse. Kouta’s voice actor is as deadpan as the character, and the female actors tried too hard to imitate their Japanese counterparts, resulting in these awful squeaky voices. No child sounds like that! What’s strange is that the English cast has done great work elsewhere (same team as Full Metal Panic and RahXephon, both great English tracks), but here they sound like amateurs.

Despite all Elfen Lied does wrong, I enjoyed the story. It’s a great example of using gore to enhance the narrative surrounding innocent characters.

Art – Medium

Mouth movements comprise all the animation in most non-action scenes; sometimes, even the mouth doesn’t bother, too exhausted it seems. Other than the action scenes, visual details are low. The manga creator intentionally chose a ‘moe’ artist for the anime to enhance the contrast between innocence and violence. However, this style doesn’t look the greatest, especially on Kouta. Gore and action is great.

Sound – Medium

A great Gregorian chant-inspired soundtrack and tension music brought down by an average Japanese voice track, and an even worse English one.

Story – Medium

Protagonist Lucy carries the violent narrative with her dual personas and volatile nature. Shame then that the other pieces of her love triangle are worthless.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: Elfen Lied is a worthwhile anime for fans of uncensored violence. Watch in doses of three episodes at a time to avoid exhaustion from the constant tension.

(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 SequenceHoly S***

Negative:

Useless Side Cast