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Anime Group Review 2021 Part I

Anime

Anime Group Review 2021 Part I

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (1995, Sunrise)

The year is After Colony 195. The inhabitants of Earth has been expanding into space creating colonies but as the United Earth Sphere Alliance's military might grows, it uses that to conquer the new found five colonies. To rebel against their invasion, each of the colonies build their own giant humanoid "mobile suit" fighting machines using a rare powerful alloy that could only be refined in space, Gundanium, thus giving them the nickname "Gundam". Each of them are sent to Earth as part of Operation Meteor in an effort to stop the masterminds behind the invasions, the OZ organisation who supplies the alliance with mobile suits.

When Heero Yuy one of the five pilots gets caught and gets dragged down into the sea, Relena, daughter of the Vice Foreign Affairs Minister who pushes for peace between the Alliance and Colonies, happens to find him drifted ashore. Captivated by his mysterious background and the kind look in his eyes, she finds herself caught up in the manipulative Colonel Treize Khushrendada of OZ's ruthless schemes.

As the five pilots who were completely unaware of each other discover they have similar objectives, they find themselves playing straight into OZ's hands, throwing Earth into war. Now they must unite their efforts against OZ and the Romefeller Foundation that backs them.

Never watched a Gundam show before but I've seen enough screenshots and hear enough of the mechas to know when it's a Gundam show... Despite that, I went along to see the giant 1:1 Gundam statue while I was in Odaiba anyway since you don't see it anywhere else (well, Shanghai's getting its own Gundam statue too now). I also see this meme of Heero tearing up an invitation a lot on Twitter too so I thought, why not start with this one which is the 6th show in the franchise.

I've seen Sunrise mecha shows before but they've the millenial shows such as Valvrave, Code Geass, Cross Ange which were all filled with giant mecha battles, drama, romance and friendship. It's a power struggle show along with a bit of coming of age as you watch the young characters grow though the conflict and their fight. While their personalities are quite close to your modern day show of cliche characters, hot-headed, nice, easy-going, quiet etc but they're not quite as pronounced.

Sunrise is best known for their mecha action shows and the animation quality was already very high here. Battle scenes are fluid and plenty of attention to detail as you can see parts shatter when mechas are destroyed, even though you notice a number of blatant repeated animations. "To be continued" episode screens are framed well too which is better than the cliff hangers you get in most modern day shows that just cut off quite abruptedly.

Over the top action, romance, drama like their other mecha shows. Only differences it isn't heavy in sexual fan service  like their modern day and more recent shows I mentioned earlier. It's also not perfect of course like Relena's obssession with Heero just feels silly. Some of the assassination attempts feel taken too lightly.

Endless Waltz movie takes place after the TV series. Just as the team were about to rid the universe of the Gundam weapons, the flames of war are stoked again when a relative of Treize's appears. It's good to see the characters again and you get short glimpses of each Gundam pilot's past along with the goal behind Operation Meteor. It's a pretty good sequel apart from your silly bossy little girl enemy that's so common in modern day shows. On the whole it's a good wrap up to the story though.

There's also a 4 part OVA series called "Operation Meteor" but it's just a recap of the TV series with part about an hour long. The very last part has a few extra minutes of new scenes towards the very end that the last episode of the TV series didn't have. Then there's also "Frozen Teardrop" which was a serialized novel that feature everyone as grown adults.

If you enjoy sci-fi then you should like this. See if you can spot the random Adobe Photoshop text in it... Oh, and Intel processors too. Not many shows have 2 recap episodes.

Gundam Wing

Worth A Watch

Doraemon 2020: Nobita's New Dinosaurs (2020, Shin-ei Animation)

Nobita is out at a dinosaur exhibit and after being ridiculed for failing to find fossils, he proclaims he will find real live dinosaurs to show to Jaian and Suneo. As he rushes away from the exhibit, he trips over an egg-shaped rock and had a feeling it could be a dinosaur egg. Returning home, he begs Doraemon to lend him his time control cloth so that he could hatch it. Doraemon was skeptical but one morning, the egg moves and from it, hatches not one but two baby dinosaurs and ones that aren't recorded in history too. And so, Nobita decides to raise them until they are old enough to survive themselves.

It's mostly a mish-mash of ideas from past movies, mostly from the two dinosaur movies before this. However, there's a few new gadgets to replace the ones used before and enough of a twist to make it different. It feels back to the old more gadget focus than the more character centric it's recently been. Funnily enough, they made the Fujio Doraemon Museum in Kawasaki the dinosaur exhibit; maybe because it was the 50th anniversary during the year this movie was screened. Unfortunately, the art didn't feel as great to look at as before.

Most of the newer original movies after Fujio's time haven't been that great but this turned out quite good with a great cameo too. Doraemon fans should like it.

Doraemon 2020: Nobita's New Dinosaurs

Plunderer (2020, Geek Toys Inc.)

In Alcia everyone has a number tatooed on their body which counts a certain something such as walking a certain distance, helping others. When this number reaches zero, they are sent to the Abyss. Hina's mother was taken away from her when she was just a little girl and her last words was to seek the legendary heroes of the past Waste War known as "Aces" from 300 years ago.

After walking over 4km for 5 years in search Hina finally comes across someone who possessed one of their features, a white star and almost falls into the hands of a corrupt officer. Anyone with a higher count can command someone with a lower count unless they agree to a Star Stake battle. Ballot Holders on the other hand can have an accessory known as a "Ballot" that can help change that Count. However, a famous local pervert known as "Licht Bach" whose negative Count shows how many times he's been rejected and beaten by girls, saves her and turns out to be one of those Aces, "Flashing Strikes".

Despite Licht's best efforts to distance himself away from Hina to keep her safe, Hina's determination allows her to track him down again and again. As she journeys together with Licht, they meet new friends and discover the truth behind Ballots and Aces.

Picked this show randomly not knowing what it's about or what studio produced it.

You can pretty much tell from the story it was going to be a very silly show. Right from the get go, you have blatant fan service as a pervert openly going around groping ladies and of course, get beaten in the process. Wasn't too impressed with the last Geek Toys show I watched, DErideD so I wonder if that's why they've decided to go with a fan service filled show instead. You don't actually see anything as with other fan service shows, it's mostly sensual poses, lots of sound, cleverly censored scenes and a lot of cheezy lines to go with it. Even the episode previews are just making fun of cliches.

It feels like a bunch of ideas very loosely tied together like a poor version of Gate. Some of the battles felt like the early Dragon Ball where the Count would determine how powerful someone is although, I guess the bounty in One Piece is similar in a way.

Despite that, things do get a little more interesting about 8 episodes in. There's actually romance too despite the harem element; Hina chasing down her and believing her man like Relena does from Gundam Wing. Second half of the show the story becomes more focused and character driven but the fan service also increases.

Nothing really stands out and it may seem like your average fan service filled action fantasy, harem show but there's the odd little twist to keep things interesting. It's not the kind that turns your brain to mush by focusing on fan service one scene after the other only either so at least that's good. It has its fun moments and while it's not the kind of silliness like from Trigger shows that are filled with energy and great animation, I still quite enjoyed it so kind of looking forward to a second season.

There's the odd episode with bonus scenes after the credits so don't miss those.

Plunderer

Kado: The Right Answer (2017, Toei Animation)

Kojiro Shindo is the top Foreign Affairs Ministry negotiator in Japan. One day while on a plane ready to fly off to an international conference from Haneda Airport, a giant 2km edged cube appears and envelopes the plane he is on. When Kojiro takes the initiative to explore the strange new space they are trapped in, an anisotropic being who called itself "Yaha-kui" appears before him. The cube was named "Kado" and Yaha-kui claims to help the human race advance and reach "the right answer", offering technology they could not achieve yet such as compact infinite sources of pollution free supply of power.

As such, Japan was now quickly becoming the centre of attention within the international community. As talks are underway with Yaha-kui to discern his true intentions, Japan is under huge pressure from the United Nations to handover such powerful technology. The Japanese government sends in their next best negotiator, Saraka Tsukai to talk with them. Are they friend or foe? That is for mankind to work out as their talks begin and are broadcast worldwide. Now Kojiro must take up his role as a negotiator to allow the alien being to communicate with the rest of mankind.

All seems well as humans are exposed to new alien technology of great benefits but is it really what's best for humans?

Saw a bit of this show on Japanese TV and it piqued my interest. A original story by Toei Animation who you'll probably know behind popular mainstream shows such as One Piece, Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon etc.

The serious tone from the start of the series is pretty good as we watch adults go about their job. A kind of fresh take compared to your common high school students with super powers setting. That said, the characters are still fun not all business despite their position and the situation as they are colleagues who have been working and getting along well for some time.

Art work is pretty bland as with their other shows and they make use of a lot of 3D models which have stiff animation. Interestingly enough, they used Unity for some of the 3D because they wanted fractal patterns. Since fractal patterns are infinite they needed something continue generating the patterns as they animated rather than a loop. If you're sensitive to flashy lights and colours you might not want to watch this because that's how the fractal patterns are used to depict the alien objects. At the same time, it also allowed them to keep the quality between the other models more or less the same.

There are some familiar sites around Haneda airport and Skytree which you might recognise if you've been. Character art shown in the ending probably looks better than the 3D. Music is good and dramatic too.

Someone had written in a review once that alien movies can usually be split into two types; one the guns blazing action type and the other, a proper sci-fi where science is used to discern the foreign beings. This show is... mostly of the latter where both sides try their best to communicate instead of your average alien invasion flick. There's plenty of chat and lingo going on. Anyone expecting an action show will best be skipping this.

I thought it was fun guessing what new alien technology Yaha-kui would reveal and how the world would change with each one but as we neared the end of the series, it kind of felt silly. I guess at least the characters make up for it. I think it had the potential to become something better if they wrapped it differently. Starting point with the giant structure reminded me of Arrival (2016) but this came later so this might have been partly inspired by it. Both stories don't exactly go in the best direction IMO. Maybe it was due to time constraints.

Kado: The Right Answer

Sorcerer Hunters (1995, Xebec)

The Spooner Continent is overrun by sorcerers using Forbidden Magic. Carrot and his team's job as Sorcerer Hunters is to hunt them down to prevent another war from breaking out.

Very simple plot with a familiar troupe and a perverted protagonist that's motivated only by the prospect of pretty ladies. The show is as silly as the character names really and your skirt chasing protagonist Carrot who always gets punished by his teammates Tira and Chocolat every time. This setup seems to be pretty common during the 80/90s with shows such as Urusei Yatsura and City Hunter although at least Ryo was a highly skilled marksman.

It has its share of fan service but the two heroine sisters don't actually walk around in revealing outfits. They transform into them instead, a very sadist version of their usual reserved attire with a change of personality and physique to boot too. Kind of like Sailor Moon without the transformation sequence and a lot more revealing outfits. You see the sequence every episode.

Other than that, the male oriented fan service is really mild compared to modern day shows. Revealing outfits is as far as it goes as far as the TV series is concerned. Probably why the original title is gorgeous hunters as both the hunters and the series is filled with pretty female character designs.

First episode focuses on how the bond between two sisters are broken as they fall for the same evil sorcerer. After the sorcerer gets defeated, they are somehow reunited... They don't even try to set up anything elaborate. Enemy, fall in blatant trap, be surprised, turn the tables and win. There's just no build-up and sometimes the direction doesn't make sense at all. It's all very straight forward. Not much impact.

Most episodes are self-contained. There's no character development, no continuity or more of a bigger story being unravelled apart from the odd episode. Every couple of episodes it returns to a main plot but I doubt you'll care about it much.

Despite all that I guess your cliche troupe is fairly fun to watch. There are the odd episode with a bit of of sob story as to why some sorcerers turned evil like 5 (depending on how you look at it...), 6, 12, 14.

If you like your shows with a bit of fan service you might like this although a show like Strike The Blood at least tries to build up a good world view and story as silly as it is.

Music is good too I guess. Kenji Kawai best known for his music in many classics such as Maison Ikkoku, Ranma 1/2, Patlabor and Fate/Stay Night series composed it. The OP is catchy enough for me to not skip it. Can't miss that silly looking rustle of the hair in the animation, lol.

I think it's one of those shows that is so silly it's good. The wrap-up is just as silly and just gives you mixed feelings.

The 3 part OVA on the other hand hasn't been toned down.

First part is full on fan service and uncensored nudity since it isn't inhibited by public broadcasting rulesy. It features the Sorcerer Hunters taking a break at a hot spring resort and introduces some of the characters from the original Manga. It also means it's very boring since it's your usual fan service with what little story the TV series had completely scrapped. Tira and Chocolat are in much more (ridiculously) revealing sadist outfits. Their transformations looked better in the TV series. Only the second part returns to its TV series roots so you won't miss anything by skipping the OVA. Well, maybe just a brief childhood flashback scene in part three.

Bakuretsu Hunters

Miss

Hello World (2019, Graphinica)

One day a strange orange aura appears in the sky and indecisive bookworm Naomi Katagaki ends up finding himself chasing a three-legged crow that flies off with one of his books. He meets a mysterious man in a white cloak that only he could see and soon he discovers he is himself 10 years from the future, claiming he was from the real world and the younger him was just a simulation of the past. His purpose now was to rewrite the records with the aid of knowing future events via Project Chronicle Kyoto "Alltale", a quantum computer system that records every tiny event that happens in Kyoto. It was the only way he could watch what could have been of his relationship with Ruri Ichigyou.

No, this movie isn't your first programming lesson in coding but it is sci-fi... or more like magic. Other than the whole simulation of history, the rest of it feels more like magic because the whole plot and direction is just really silly for the most part. A lot of it doesn't make sense.

It feels like Orange where it couldn't decide whether to be sci-fi or fantasy. As Naomi puts it, "sci-fi isn't just fiction, it's an extension of our real world" and that's what makes it interesting. Girl Who Leapt Through Time was given a device that allowed her to time leap within limits and the plot stuck to it. Steins;gate on the other hand goes even further, giving a detailed hypothesis about how the human memory could be saved and then transferred through space time. Here, we are just told about how there's a quantum computer that can simulate a whole city and that's all there is to the science part of the movie. Nothing about what's so special about quantum computing or how the simulation is structured or works so it feels more like magic. The movie might as well just been an Isekai, another world story.

Other than that it's fairly good eye candy if you enjoy detailed backgrounds with pretty lighting similar to Shinkai's movies.

Right from the start it's got some nice upbeat music and beautiful bright vivid backgrounds to look at; which fits well with its romcom genre. 3D character models don't look too bad too and blend in fairly well. Admittedly, it was really the eye candy that caught my attention as I watched this knowing nothing about it. Voice acting on the other hand is kind of flat and it's your familiar high school setting again.

Character designs looked familiar but I couldn't quite put my finger on it... Turns out they're done by Yukiko Horiguchi who worked in the designs for K-ON and Lucky Star.

It tries to be sci-fi but leaves the science out so unfortunately I'd have to give it a miss. If you're really after a sci-fi romcom, I'd suggest watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) instead.

Hello World

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