Friday, August 22, 2014


I feel like this show maybe flew under the radar for a lot of people, I haven't really seen a lot of buzz about it on the internet, so I'd like to take a minute to talk to you all about Sabagebu!

Point of fact: I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode of Sabagebu!  It delivered the slice-of-life with a healthy spoonful of absurdity that I was hoping to get out of Stella-something-or-other-C3bu.  Sabagebu! is the "K-On! with assault rifles" I've been looking for (for those of you that don't get what I'm talking about, K-On! was an anime slice-of-life comedy about a light music club in a girls' school.  The description doesn't do it justice, but I thought it was absolutely charming and hilarious).

Sabagebu!, named after the "Survival Games Club" (SABAibalu GE-mu BUkatsu, see?), is a colorful trip into the world of airsoft tomfoolery and doofy antics of its members, created by Hidekichi Matsumoto and brought to us now by studio Pierrot+, the same studio as the dark, graphic Tokyo Ghoul.  Now that's juxtaposition for you.

Quick synopsis: Momoka Sonokawa transfers to a new school is making her way when she catches the attention of Mio Otori, who tries to get her enrolled in her club, the titular Survival Games Club.  Momoka refuses, thinking she's above all that weird crap, but after Mio feeds her poisoned bread (not kidding), she's in.  Hilarity ensues.

This show is bizarre.  To expound, it lets its freak-flag fly and is absolutely hilarious.  There's a strange platypus creature that nobody seems to feel the need to address, a shop owned by Japanese Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a bit about a girl avoiding being noticed because she was wearing a ghilliesuit in school, just to name a few of the gags the first episode had to offer.

There's really nothing I find wrong about this show.  It's not really serious, so if you need that, than Sabagebu! is not for you.  But if you want a light-hearted comedy, or maybe need something that's funny and doesn't take itself too seriously to take the edge off from this week's Tokyo Ghoul, than this is just the show to do it.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sailor Moon Crystal

Alright, I guess I really ought to talk about this one, as much as I really would love to avoid it.

Chances are, if you've been alive at any point in the past fifteen or so years, you've at least heard of Sailor Moon (Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon).  It's one of the classic icons of anime, one of the most popular series worldwide, and put magical girls on the map.  In my life, Sailor Moon was enjoyed during its hayday by middle and high school girls.  That being said, I never drank from this particular punch bowl.  I was much more into Gundam, Dragon Ball, and Outlaw Star.  So Sailor Moon was largely lost on me during that time.

So, skip time forward, I'm in my twenties, and anime and manga is more readily accessible to anyone with reliable internet.  And the strangest thing happens. Sailor Moon starts trending with my friends on Facebook, and not just with late teenage and twenty-something girls, but with twenty-something guys, too.  It was the damndest thing and I couldn't really make heads or tails of it.

So, you can imagine the collective brick-shitting that the internet underwent when the series reboot, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal, was announced.  Well, Sailor Moon Crystal is here at last, so I thought I'd take a look and see what all the fuss was about.

I'll save you from any unnecessary suspense: I was largely unimpressed with SMC.  It was just...exactly what I expected.  It followed the old magical girl setup.  Audience meets girl, Usagi Tsukino, an average middle school girl just going about her life.  She meets a handsome stranger and a magic talking cat, Luna, who gives her her mystic amulet and tells her that she has to fight evil.  There's also some mysterious evil master that's...doing devious things.

So, with the guidance of her talking head, Luna, Usagi transforms and fumbles her way through her first fight against some villain.  And there's Tuxedo Mask who...despite wearing literally the same clothes from earlier that day, still manages to hide his identity.  I know the whole superhero-domino-mask thing was never really plausible but...just damn.

I wasn't kidding about LITERALLY the same clothes...>__>;;
So the first episode is over and I'm left wondering what all the fuss was about.  I won't say that the first episode of SMC was bad, but it wasn't amazing by any stretch of the imagination.  So I figure I'm not going to be continuing, and then I see more of my friends giving rave reviews of episode 2.  So I thought I'd give it another shot, maybe episode 2 was where it really gets good.

Same result.  It was okay, but not something I'd write home about.  I tried, my friends, I really did, but I just can't see what all the hype is about.

The way I see it, it's probably something similar to what went on with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  That was another reboot of a show for little girls that twenty-something men lost their shit over that I just couldn't get into.  To be fair, though, I would pick Sailor Moon Crystal over My Little Pony in a heartbeat.  Good god, I would pick waterboarding over My Little Pony...or being in the room with a brony.

But I digress, Sailor Moon Crystal was alright.  It was good, but didn't blow me away.  It's had a major visual upgrade from the original, which is cool, though there were some CG segments that were a little heavy-handed from my perspective.

To put a finer point on it, I would recommend Sailor Moon Crystal to people who liked the original.  Unfortunately, like with Persona 4: The Golden Animation, those people don't really need me to tell them whether or not they should watch this show.  However, unlike P4:GA, Sailor Moon Crystal is a legitimate remake and covers all the information, so no one who is new to the series will feel left behind.

So, if you were ever into Sailor Moon, or ever WANTED to be into Sailor Moon, that I'm very pleased to say that SMC loses none of what made the original series what it was.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Persona 4: The Golden Animation

Whoa, boy...this is a complicated one, but I feel like I need to talk about this before any more weeks go by.

As I explained in my Summer preview post, Persona 4: The Golden Animation is something of a second season or, more accurately, a retelling of a previous series (Persona 4: The Animation).  Truth be told, it's the anime of Persona 4: Golden, the PS Vita port of the PlayStation 2 game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4.  See, look, things are already getting complicated.

So I've been religiously watching P4:GA, now into it's fourth week, and have come to a very...involved...opinion of it.

Short version: I love Persona 4: The Golden Animation, but I would absolutely not recommend it.  NOW LET ME EXPLAIN!

As I've previously stated (several times), P4:A, that is to say Persona 4: The Animation (not to be confused with Persona 4: Arena...we'll acronymize that using its Japanese suffix 'The Ultimate' as P4:U) has already come and gone (you can catch it on Hulu if you like, I recommend it) with a 26 episode run in 2012 and, with the assistace of one movie, The Factor of Hope, covered all of the core plot.  That being said, I went into P4:GA under the assumption that it was going to cover it all again, but with the addition of the new content that came from P4G (that's the Vita game...yikes this is turning into a labyrinth already).

Well...I was half right.

As it turns out, P4:GA focuses only on the additional content and pays no nevermind to the the central overarching story, the P4 part of P4G.  Well, that may be a little unfair of me, it gives it a passing nod in the first episode and then abandons it in episodes 2 and we haven't really heard from it since.

I'm not kidding, folks.  Characters are just showing up in P4:GA and we're just expected to be okay with that shit.  Allow me to put this in a bit of perspective for you.


Let's make an example out of Kanji Tatsumi, my favorite character in the game.  Now, in the story, Kanji doesn't join the Investigation Team until after he's been featured on the Midnight Channel, preliminarily investigated, kidnapped, faced his Shadow, and then saved by Yu and the gang.

In the original anime (P4A), this takes 7 episodes, after which time we know who Kanji is, know what his deal is and have a general idea of who the hell he is and what his role in the group is.

In P4:GA, he just...shows up in episode 2 with no...anything!  He's just there, and nobody addresses it.  AND THEN THEY DO IT AGAIN WITH RISE IN EPISODE 3!

To this end, I have come to the conclusion that P4:GA is very much a companion series to P4A.  It's for people, like me, who have seen the original show or have played the game.  It's for people who already know about the Midnight Channel, the murders, the Shadows, the Personas, and like it.  And, honestly, those people don't need my recommendation, they're going to watch this show or not no matter what I say.

And to the others, who wouldn't know...well, it would just be an exercise in confusion, so to them I say, watch the original and then come back to it.  Without going into an instance-by-instance explanation, the show plays like a New Game + anyhow (let's just say that the Hero, Yu, makes choices in the show that would only be accessible in the game on a second playthrough)

Which brings me to the first thing I said about this P4:GA.  I absolutely love it.

Because I've already played through the game, thrice, and I've already seen the original series.  What I wanted out of this show was to explore all of the new and exciting bits that I've only experienced one-and-a-half times now (I'm currently working on my second playthrough of P4G).

I wanted to relive the Okina station event, the beach event, the concert, and the Winter break ski trip.

I wanted to meet Marie again.

And that's really what P4:GA is about: Marie.

Marie was an entirely original character introduced in P4G, she was one the defining aspect that changed it from a simple port to a completely new experience.  And P4:GA is ultimately about her journey.

Without giving too much away, I'll just say that Marie is very connected to the other world, the fog, and...all that stuff.  In short, Marie is a big deal and has been featured in every episode so far, even appearing in events that she was absent from in the game.

To put an incredibly long opinion short: do not watch Persona 4: The Golden Animation if you are new to the whole universe of it.  It will not make any sense if you have not played Persona 4, or at the very least have seen Persona 4: The Animation.  That being said, I'm finding it wonderfully enjoyable and an absolute treat, so you should make the effort, go the distance, reach out to the truth, and get yourself caught up.