Thursday, 9 February 2012

Anime Music

This post is devoted to music. All my favourite music from anime will be compiled in here, categorised into "proper" music, and soundtracks, in no particular order. I think this is a great way to find new songs for your playlist, so go ahead and bookmark this post, since it will be constantly updated.

Please let me know if any of the video links are broken, incorrect, incomplete, low quality, have some crap over it, or anything that doesn't make it perfect, pretty much. Also, please let me know of any songs you like, so that I can listen to them and possibly add them to this list.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Hare Hare Yukai

Angel Beats! INS - Alchemy

Angel Beats! INS - Crow Song

Angel Beats! OP - My Soul, Your Beats!

Angel Beats! OP - My Soul, Your Beats! (GirlDeMo Ver.)

Guilty Crown ED - Departures

Steins;Gate OP - Hacking to the Gate

Bleach ED - Hitohira no Hanabira

Kamisama no Memo-chou OP - Kawaru Mirai

Amagami SS OP - Kimi no Mama De

Mirai Nikki OP - Kuso Mesorogiwi

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica ED - Magia

Fate/Zero ED - Memoria

Fate/Zero OP - Oath Sign

Asura Cryin' INS - Spiral

Darker than Black S2 OP - Tsukiakari no Michishirube

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica OST - You Should Become a Magical Girl!

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica OST - A Duel with a Witch

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica OST - Greetings, Worlds of Magic

Bakemonogatari OST - Hyouri

Clannad OST - Sora ni Hikaru

Clannad OST - To the Same Heights

Clannad OST - Ushio

Death Note OST - Low of Solipsism

Sora no Woto OST - Amazing Grace

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Information Update

ITT: I'll be going over a few things related to my blog.

#1: Spoilers
Due to my overestimation of the general public's common sense, or my experience with anime reviews, I'm required to inform you that my reviews actually DO contain spoilers. They aren't particularly spoiler-heavy, but they exist, nonetheless. I'm assuming it would be hard to review without using SOMETHING as a reference, and without explaining that. However, I'll try to cut down on this as much as possible in the future. Just a warning, the reviews before this post haven't had any attention paid to the level of spoilers given. Especially the Madoka one.

#2: Formality
If you couldn't tell by my Meguka review, I've decided to go slightly more informal with my blog post titles. My standard of writing the actual reviews, however, will remain as seemingly professional as always. I think doing this would add a bit more humor to my blog, as well as cut down on seriousness.

#3: Post Frequency
For anyone that actually follows this blog, you've probably noticed that I don't post very frequently. I've only posted 3 other times so far, over the course of three months. Previously, I've only posted for a review, but I'm feeling like I should post more often, now that I'm getting more into this whole blogging business. Problem is, I don't know what I should be writing. Any suggestions?

#4: Top Songs
I'm planning to create a post, which will be constantly updated, containing videos and titles of my favourite music from anime. Soundtracks, OP/ED songs, INS songs and all of those will be in it. As such, the post will be edited a lot, but it won't get bumped to the top. I advise anyone following this, whom are interested in my taste of music or just looking for songs to add to their playlists, to check that post frequently. I'll get started soon, I promise.

#5: Advertising
As everyone knows, my blog only has like 5 readers. And only because I tell them that I've posted something I'd like them to check out after I've posted it. I'd like to have a few more people following my blog, so I'm looking for any suggestions on how to advertise this. If you know people who are into anime, please introduce them to my blog, and get them to do it too. Also, any suggestions on how I could go about advertising this myself would be great.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Meguka Review

A small animal happens to meet an adolescent or younger female, and they set up a contract, and suddenly, the girl is thrust into a world of magic, battling against creatures with destructive powers, or other girls with similar powers to themselves. I detest the Magical Girl genre, premised on the ones I’ve seen. However, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica takes innocent girls and forces them into a dark world, where death is ready to greet you at any moment. Any anime fan should be familiar, at least in passing, with one of Shaft’s best selling works, Madoka, and the following is going to be my review of it!

When I first watched Madoka, I hated it. I vividly remember forcing myself to watch all of it, so I could add it to my anime list. When I rewatched it in preparation for this review, I was thinking “what the fuck was wrong with me that time?” So, I’m forced to conclude that, back then, I liked One Piece, and therefore had terrible taste. Nowadays, I’m no longer into shounenshit, so I can actually appreciate a good show.  

No, actually, I think it’s due to the complexity of the story. I might’ve just been stupid back then, but I feel like the story is extremely convoluted. Once you reach the ending, everything clears up and it all makes sense, but before that, you’re left wondering. Now, that’s not a bad thing if you have the patience for it, and leaving viewers in suspense is fine. I personally didn’t like it too much, but it doesn’t ruin the show. Once you reach the ending, everything works out and makes sense.

I wasn’t expecting Mami to die, but she did. And then a few episodes later, Sayaka died too. Then after that, Kyoko decided to go off and die too! Killing off half the cast isn’t something you’d normally do, and it would seem like a desperate cry for attention at first. However there is more depth to it than just the characters dying. The way Homura doesn’t care about those deaths, since she can just restart the time period and try again, shows how many times she’s seen death: enough times to easily ignore it. Once you look further the superficial happenings and actually start to think about things, you can see the complexity of the story and how everything works to fit with everything else.

Due to the not-oversized cast, we’re able to get a backstory for just about every character where it matters. Kyoko’s story was quite dramatic, but it makes sense, helps sugar coat her previous hostility, and serves as a great expanation of her actions and thought processes. Sayaka’s story gives her a reason to become a magical girl, as well as serving as her motivation for half of the show until she decides to go and kill everything. Homura’s story is the whole premise of the series, and once revealed, it gives a reason to why everything happens, which, believe me, is a question you’d be asking yourself a LOT when watching Madoka.

Unlike in most American cartoons or shounenshits, people actually DO die in Madoka. And the main character is one of them. But this doesn’t mean that the writer decided to leave no resolution and have a happy ending. The main character dying IS a happy ending. The great thing about fiction is that you can say whatever you want, and no one is allowed to disagree.

Another aspect of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica worth mentioning is its animation. There is only one word that comes to mind to explain the character designs, and that word is bland. The unproportionate faces and bodies of the characters can only be differentiated from each other by their colour-coded hair and costumes. However, once we get inside the barriers, the animators show that they’ve experienced being EXTEREMLY high, and decided to inject that into the show.

Rocks with mustaches and real-life objects and people in an anime. I’ve never seen that before, and I didn’t like it when I first saw it either. But when I first saw it, I was watching it in 400p quality, along with the fact that I liked One Piece (the latter is a major contributor to any bad thoughts I had about the show). Shaft’s animation is great, and anyone that says otherwise should be tossed out the Moon Door. The real world and anime world are two separate dimensions that should never interact, but Shaft shoves them both into a blender, and the end result is always spectacular.

When the girls change into their magical girl suits, there’s no sneaky camera angles trying to make you lust for the flat-chested (Mami being dead) heroines, nor any real nudity. This suddenly dropped at the end when Madoka and Homura were floating around naked in space, but before that, they weren’t trying to win points by showing naked chicks. Even in that scene, it added to the overall effect and impact of the importance of Madoka’s wish. And they didn’t really show anything other than the girls’ figure at that point too.

The fight scenes in the show are excellently animated. It was well co-ordinated, and everyone had their turn on stage properly. No one stood around and waited for their turn to get hit, they were only in the scene when they were actually fighting. All of the effects during battles, with camera panning and zooming, greyscale filters or silhouettes on a white background, and the general animating of the girls’ attacks are just brilliant.

Along with the animation, another notable point of Madoka is the sound. I’m not an expert in this field, but Madoka’s soundtracks were excellent. They’re not blasting in your face, and most of them are fairly subtle and minimalist. But they add greatly to the feeling the show gives off, and work awesomely. As well as the ED, which was just glorious. After hearing it once, I had to go and add it to my playlist.

Overall, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is an excellent series. The quality of pretty much every aspect of the show is great, and it’s in my list of “anime that people HAVE to watch”. Even if you hate the magical girl genre like me, you still need to watch Madoka. Period.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Durarara!! Review

A country bumpkin decides to leave his hometown and move into the city; but not just any city. This boy, upon a close friend’s invitation, decides to move to Ikebukuro, one of Japan’s most busy cities. How will he handle the stress? Will he be all right? Will he get a girlfriend? Is this going to become another crappy generic romance? Far from it, my dear friends. If you stopped watching Durarara!! on the first episode, you’ve missed out on quite a lot. The first episode is amazingly misleading, so keep watching the show before you read this. Once you’ve done that, I welcome you to read my second review, of Durarara!!!

Right off the bat when you start the show, Durarara!! throws seemingly way too much information onto you. If you, like me, watched it after it finished airing, you’d think this would be terrible. My thoughts on this, however, are as follows: if you’d watched it while it was airing, which was likely intended by the producers, you’d have been given a week to ponder all the information shoved down your throats, which is a reasonable amount of time.

During episodes 1 and 2, we are told that there are two dangerous people the loser MC should avoid: Orihara Izaya and Heiwajima Shizuo. We are also shown a teenage girl getting kidnapped, Kida Masaomi and his gang of friends, the people in the chat room, the headless rider, those infamous “colour gangs” and “the Dollars”, the “special” colour gang. Normally this information would seem like a desparate attempt to keep you as interested as possible. And it is. However Durarara!! does it in such a way that you don’t actually notice it’s being done, and you are kept interested so you can find out whether the headless rider actually has a head or not, to look for some colour gang/Izaya+Shizuo fight scenes and those interesting conversations in the chat room.

Before this, however, the main character gets off a train, and a narration begins to explain the setting. Just when you begin to lose hope, and are about to close the video, a blonde-haired dude shows up and initiates a conversation with the MC. So this keeps you interested enough to watch for a bit longer. Then when that blonde kid explains about the town, you begin to think “hey, this might not be generic harem #9999 after all”.

The quirky characters and fast-paced action keep you interested enough to want to watch the show in one sitting (which would be quite possible, considering that it’s not an endless shounenshit). The complex stories of each character interwine and weave through eachother’s plot holes to fill them up, and you find it hard to get up to empty your bladder and large intestine. A rather unconventional method of telling the story, and with a few bouts of dull narration, but it works excellently nonetheless.

By the second half, around episodes 15-18 and onwards, we were previously told things like Shizuo and Izaya’s backgrounds, Celty’s story and the colour gangs. Then we are told about the Slasher incidents, and after that, the story begins to drop. A large cast usually results in characters remaining forgotten and undeveloped. I regret to admit that Durarara!! did the same. Instead of providing a proper ending for Celty’s story, it decides to end with “I am me, I don’t need my head after I’ve been looking for 20 years, screw it, I give up!” and then Durarara!! shifts to focus on the three LEAST interesting characters, being Anri, Kida and Mikado. I was told that the show is called "Durarara" after "Dullahan", which in Romaji is "Durahan", so why not tell us more about the Dullahan?

Alright, given that the protagonist and his best friend are the leaders of two rival gangs in the city, and the last in their love triangle being an urban legend is pretty interesting, but the way it was told was completely different to how it had previously been. Instead of the fast and quick barrage of information, Durarara!! decides to drop its unique story telling method to spoon-feed the viewers using a person to narrate the character’s thoughts. Instead of showing the events played around from different characters’ points of view, it’s all focused on Kida and Mikado. Instead of this crap, Celty could’ve gotten a proper ending, or Ikebukuro could’ve erupted into a warfield as planned by Izaya and have Celty’s head awaken.

On the more technical side of things, Durarara!!’s animation was not spectacular, but it was certainly great. The character designs for most people were pretty average, but for characters like Mika with the scar on her neck, Celty, lacking a head, and Shinra’s father sporting the gas mask, Durarara!!’s ensemble of unique characters is certainly very appealing. Additionally, Celty’s shadow powers and how they writhed about, and the scenes with the slasher’s hair blowing ominously in the wind, however generic they may be, were certainly drawn and animated quite well.

The realism in the animation is all too clear, and it doesn’t falter unless intentional, such as when showing off Shizuo throwing around street signs and vending machines. When the gangs get into a brawl, they get hit, fall and bleed realistically. None of that blood squirting out of your eyeballs 200 meters after getting punched in the gut. Also, the “crowds” of insignificant people being toned out in grey was an unheard of practice, and it turned out great. Not only does it save time by not having to colour in each individual person, it also allows for drawing attention to the more important things. Brains-Base has taken this up a notch by making Penguindrum’s characters white, floating cardboard cut-outs.

As for the music, the first ED, OP and this soundtrack were really catchy. The OSTs in the show were played around with, and there a fair few of them. One of them sounded like a three-year-old non-child prodigy playing a violin like Kotomi Ichinose, and yet that soundtrack was excellent due to the usage, not the actual sound of it. Also, the way that the old episode’s recap that’s usually shown before the OP is actually shown halfway through the OP. Quite unorthodox, but it works well and it also lets me skip to the same spot each time.

Durarara!! is a unique, and exciting show for the most part, and if you’re looking for something fun, quick and just plain different to everything else, Durarara!! is the way to go. Don’t expect too much of the ending, but most other aspects of the show were definitely approaching perfection.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Highschool of the Dead Review

On Western TV, a zombie apocalypse would be easily comparable to shounenshit like One Piece and Bleach to our anime. However, once you get the zombie apocalypse in anime, it becomes a whole different thing altogether. To mark the occasion when I happened to stumble across such genius, I present my first formal anime review, of Highschool of the Dead.

This type of setting and plot is a first in anime to me, so it is difficult to compare it to other shows. As such, the only other similar story to this I’ve encountered lies in a Ninendo DS game: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. If you’ve played this game before, you’ll notice quite a few similarities in the scenario. The Demons in HotD are animated corpses, the means of fighting them are realistic weapons, and the lockdown is… Well, a lockdown. But the largest difference lies in the ending. Devil Survivor has a solution to the problem. In HotD, there is no solution. While watching, I acquiesced that it most likely would have a “happily ever after” ending, with an impossible situation. Upon arriving at the end, however, I was surprised, yet pleased, at how well it played out (for the viewers).

Ending with the main character making a “cool” quote isn’t the best way to end, and it reminded me of those damn One Piece episodes I got so addicted to before I came to my senses. That aside, they ended with “there is no solution to the problem, but we’re still alive”, which was an excellent choice. Instead of all of the zombies disappearing for no reason, we are given something to ponder on.

Not only the ending, however, but the body of the story deserves some things said about it as well. It tries to be realistic, and show the darkness within people. In one episode, two girls were running away from the horde and promised each other that they’d be fine if they were together, and to never betray each other. And then, one gets caught, and the other immediately kicks her away, attempts her own escape and gets caught herself. An excellent display of how humans react in a panic-inducing situation. I probably would’ve kicked her away before she got caught.

HotD gives you quite a lot to think about. In the first episode, the main character had to kill his best friend. As soon as you forget about him the next two episodes, he’s brought up again with a “what if he was here?” Since that character was portrayed as the intelligent, professional person who always does the right thing, you have to think about how things may have played out differently. And then as you forget about that and continue, he’s brought up again, but more subtly, and to express other things. Using dead people to progress the story and intrigue the viewers is not exponentially uncommon, but in this case, it was used quite well indeed.

Not all of the story is good, though. Like I’ve stated previously, it tries to be realistic. But a high school girl who can use a sword like a samurai from five thousand years ago or something is not realistic at all. A fat military nerd should not be able to shoot at all, even if it did get explained off by having a month of training. That one thug guy, who had to kill his family and tried to kidnap the girl was amazingly knowledgeable. The time he said something along the lines of “I saw my own family turn into those things! I had to smash their heads!” Now, how did he, and every other character know that smashing their heads was the way to kill them?

Some things also seemed too convenient, but that’s a given for any show. In this case, though, there are a reasonable amount of TOO convenient things happening. When Takashi acquired his motorbike, it just happened to be because only ONE zombie was around who just happened to have a bike. Who infected the biker? Additionally, when Hisashi was bitten, the zombie held on for much longer than the rest of the victims, and yet he didn’t die instantly when a tooth touched his arm. He happened to stay alive just long enough to help ensure the safety of the two others before dying, and much more slowly too.

Throughout the show, I noticed a few things. It’s full of gore and nudity. That doesn’t make it “good” or “mature”, though. I felt like the constant pantsu shots and oppai scenes were just there to say “hey, keep watching, something is going to happen but zombies aren’t too interesting, so look at this in the meantime.” I don’t think that’s the best way to grab an audience’s attention. If you wanted porn, you would look for porn. If you looked for anime about zombies, that’s what you should expect. Though this doesn't really down the animation, it does intrude on the plot a fair bit.

The group is made up of of a high school boy who is amazingly skilled with a baseball bat, a girl who should’ve been a man and lived a few thousand years ago, a girl who only knows how to complain (which isn’t too rare), a fat guy and three other girls that do nothing. Almost a harem, but not quite there yet. Do fat people count?

There is no backstory to any of the characters whatsoever. We don’t even see the main character’s family once throughout the show. At one point we’re shown one of the girl’s parents, and all they did was cause problems and slow down the story. The characters don’t really develop, but we are shown the samurai girl’s sadism and the main character’s indecisiveness, and other useless things like that on a few occasions, but they get dropped in five minutes and resume smacking ugly people in the head.

In itself, the animation was perfectly average. The character designs weren’t anything spectacular, but they all still looked good (except that nurse with the disgusting pig tits). Sticking to the normal and accepted way characters look isn’t very impressive, and gambling can lead to the show being quite a hit, even if it is just with uniquely styled characters, proven in pretty much all of Shaft’s works (that I’ve seen).

The fight scenes looked pretty good, in comparison to the rest of the show. But if they didn’t, something would be terribly wrong. The way that the girls’ hair and skirts flutters around while they swing around lethal weapons, and the movements in general of the characters are quite eye-catching.

There are numerous scenes which would be considered “epic”, such as the time when Takashi had to kill Hisashi after he became infected. That scene had a fair amount of dramatic zooming around, different camera angles and panning on the scene, but they didn’t show the moment when Hisashi was hit. This could’ve been something like hiding the moment when he kills his best friend for added effect, but it could also be an attempt to cover up them being unable to animate such a scene. Either way, before the moment bat meets head, it was a nice display of what they are capable of. I just wonder why they didn’t animate the rest of the show like that.

I can’t say anything about the blood squirting around, since I’ve never actually encountered that in real life (and don't plan to any time soon), so I can’t say too much about it. It was drawn and animated realistically to match what I think it should look like, and doing that so many times each episode must’ve been a real hassle.

Personally, I’m not the kind of watcher that watches the OP and ED of every episode of every show I watch. Given, I don’t just ditch them straight away. I normally listen to both once or twice, to decide whether or not I should purchase download the song and add it to my playlist. HotD’s OP and ED didn’t make it onto my playlist, but they weren’t terrible. I just don’t particularly like the style of music the OP and ED have. The soundtracks played through the show are also not the best you’ll find, and they didn’t appeal to me too much, but they set the mood like they’re meant to, and work at least for that.

The seiyuus weren’t greatly skilled, but the voices matched the characters well, and all of the screaming and crying in the show didn’t sound too much like a sex scene, and seeing as how they almost always do, I thought that was quite good.

There are a large number of noticeable flaws in the show, but it was an enjoyable watch for me. The story also had its share of flaws, but it was solid, well told and original (to the Japanese, from what I know). At the time of watching, I had no internet, so I probably enjoyed it more than what I should have. Like when you’re hungry, food tastes better. Something like that. There are a number of better things that you could spend your time on, but viewers would see a nice change from your usual anime in Highschool of the Dead.

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Classic Introductory Post

Hello and welcome to the Hipster Anime Blog. (The name of this blog is as original as it can get, and I most certainly did not copy it from an inactive blog that was shut down by a spineless normal.) That being said, this is to be the most popular anime blog of all time. I'm fairly new to reviewing, so please bear with my amateur mistakes that may pop up every now and then.

My reviews are full of my opinion, and my opinion alone, backed up by facts in the shows themselves. If you disagree, it's not my place to force you otherwise, and it is not your place to do so either. This is the place for me to express opinion, whether or not you may agree is entirely up to you. If you would like to discuss a conflicting point, feel free to comment and engage in a likely heated, but civilsed discussion with yours truly.

That aside as well, another point I would like to make is this. I write reviews for two main reasons. One is for fun, and the other is to improve my English, which seems to be dropping. As such, there is currently no clear timetable for me to post reviews, unlike most others who would post once a week and such. Also, due to this, there will be no scoring/rating system for anything. That way, numbers that don't mean shit aren't the only thing that you're looking at, and you'll need to read for yourself. You can work out a rating by yourself after you read it, if you want a rating so badly. A direct quote from someone who also dislikes scores and ratings:

I hate how people don't use the ten point scale to its full extent. Ten points is such a wide scale to use to support your opinions yet people are terrified of using anything between 1 and 5 and it ends up a 5 point scale between 6 and 10 with 6 being god-awful and 10 being just 'average.' The gaming community is particularly horrible about this. Perfect scores used to be applied to only classics such as Ocarina, but terribad sites like IGN get paid off to give 9.5's to pretty much every AAA title that comes along. They get their money and fans don't flip their **** so everybody wins I guess. I'm not Mega64's biggest fan, but they have the absolute most perfect parody of this situation:

So when I first made a MAL, I took down the score section so people could actually ask me what I thought of a series and not just compare an arbitrary point scale. Before people were *****ing at me for not using scores, and now that I've put them up they're *****ing that I gave their favourite show a 5 when that qualifies as a completely average and enjoyable experience for me.

My (second) final paragraph shall be devoted to those who wish to request a review. By all means, please do. It would help if it were a show I haven't watched yet, but I will likely be willing to review shows that I had already watched, and enjoyed in the past. You can find my anime list here, complete with the status of the show (watched, stalled, dropped, etc.) which may aid you in your choice.

And this concludes my introductory post. Look forward to slightly-below-professional level reviews, coming at you every so often.