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12:45 AM on 04.15.2014

Annotated Anime Roundup: Spring 2014 Week 2

Oh man, there's too many anime out! We can't handle it! This is the Annotated Anime Roundup! In case you've gleaned your first impressions from our top men and women of Spring's latest sensations in our Annotated Anime s...

Josh Tolentino


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Annotated Anime: The Irregular at Magic High School Ep 2 photo
Annotated Anime: The Irregular at Magic High School Ep 2
by LB Bryant

When I wrote my First Impressions for the first episode for Irregular at Magic High School, I said that I was sure that the series would be building toward something and I was very curious to know what it was. Now, after watching the second episode, I'm not so sure that I'm that curious anymore if it means that we're going to be spending the next twenty-something weeks listening to Tatsuya and Miyuki casually flirting with each other. 

The story behind this week's episode is that Miyuki has been invited to join the student council. Before she accepts however, she implores all of the present members to also invite her brother, Tatsuya, to join as well because... well, I'm not not really sure why. She just wants him there. Unfortunately there's a rule in place which doesn't allow members of the reserve class to join. You'd think that this would be the end of the discussion, but a member of the disciplinary committee thinks up a loophole which would allow Tatsuya to join. This goes over well with everyone except for the vice presiden,t whose full name includes Hattori Hanzo. Yes, seriously. 

After Hattori goes on and on about how a Weed shouldn't be allowed to join, Tatsuya challenges him to a magic battle in order to prove that his sister wasn't just being a raving, brother-crushing loon when she said that Tatsuya could hold his own on the disciplinary committee if he had to.

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7:00 PM on 04.11.2014

First Impressions: Ping Pong

Ping Pong is one of my most anticipated shows this season. It has an all-star cast, both of voice actors and animators, backed up by a talented auteur in the industry, Masaki Yuasa. However, you can have all the skilled staff in the world, but if the show itself isn't compelling, people won't stick around. How does Ping Pong hold up? I'll tell you, friends.

Ben Huber

4:30 PM on 04.11.2014

Annotated Anime: Mushishi S2 episode 2

It's so nice to be back in the Mushishi saddle. It's like a warm, cozy blanket that wraps around and comforts you with soothing music and beautiful art. We had a strong opening episode but I've got to say: episode 2 was even better. Yup, you heard me. Let's jump right in to my impressions.

Ben Huber

First Impressions: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders photo
First Impressions: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
by Josh Tolentino

Well, this is it. This...is JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.

Of course, I'm utterly wrong on this one, factually speaking. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure started with Phantom Blood, way back in 1987, after all, as a manga. 

Then again, I'm also utterly right, because for a goodly number of folks, Stardust Crusaders IS JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. There's a reason Jotaro is the biggest guy on the cover of All Star Battle, and not Jonathan, Joseph, Josuke, Jolyne, Giorno, or Other Josuke. 

This isn't to say that Stardust Crusaders is the best JoJo's arc, or even the most well-regarded, but there's no denying that this what quite a few fans have been waiting for since David Production first started with Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency.

And now, after a brief dabbling with Hyperdimension Neptunia, they're back and ready to get down to the real thing. Was it worth the wait?

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First Impressions: Lady Jewelpet photo
First Impressions: Lady Jewelpet
by Brittany Vincent

It's been a while since I got started with a sugary-sweet bit of shoujo. There's Happiness Charge PreCure, but even that has a balance of action and life lessons to go along with its girlish charm. Lady Jewelpet is all girly, all the time. It's a little strange, given its propensity to lean toward cousin love (which I absolutely abhor) but there's also an underlying sincerity that makes it a pleasure to watch...even if it does tend to lean toward the creepy side of things here and there.

Momona is a middle-schooler who was innocently attending her cousin's wedding to fiance Lady Diana. It's clear Momona harbors more than a crush on her cousin, and she's jealous that another woman is taking him away. When Diana walks down the aisle, however, Momona is blown away by her beauty and grace. But before the two marry, Momona is whisked away into the bizarre world of Jewel Land with no explanation, and drafted into a program as a Lady Jewel Candidate. Did you dip into some weird punch, Momona?

Momona is aided by her very own Jewelpet, Ruby, who has chosen her to become the next Lady Jewel, or the fairest lady in all the land. The winner will be chosen by the Queen herself. There are trials and tribulations Momona and Ruby will have to face together, and Momona will be competing with other candidates and Jewelpets, who all want the same thing. There's also Prince Kaien, who looks suspiciously like Momona's cousin.

The candidates all have their own Jewelpet friends and training they have to go through to become "proper" ladies, and the fact that they're competing for a fluffy title make it easy to pass on Lady Jewelpet. But despite its insistence on putting female characters in silly circumstances like these, I genuinely enjoyed this episode; it's got all the pep and color you'd expect from a shoujo anime, from magical items to transformations and special outfits. I also really dug the opening song, which sounded more like a regular pop song than anything else.

Lady Jewelpet is going to go a long way to act as my smallest bastion of hyperfeminine charms this anime season, assuming I can get past the cousin love overtones. I get that it's not a big deal in Japan, but it's such a rampant trend that it honestly begins to grate on my nerves. I'm not sure it's the best thing to be teaching children in any area, either, but as long as it's not too pronounced I suppose I'll hang on. It's just so weird to see in a story like this that's so traditional about marriage and the way women should behave. I don't know what's going to happen, but I do know it's the cutest show this side of Spring 2014's anime season, and I'll be following it. 

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First Impressions: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara photo
First Impressions: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
by Brittany Vincent

Last season, I was pretty into Noucome, a series that forced the protagonist to randomly choose from three actions to take during daily life. They ranged from bizarre to extreme, and caused the lead a whole bunch of undue stress. The "Absolute Choice" scenario was an interesting premise, simply because of its obvious ties to dating sims. I wanted to check out Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara for the same reason, but it's not funny, touching, or even entertaining.

If it says anything about the quality of this series, I fell asleep within the first ten minutes and had to go back and rewatch the episode to remember even a sliver of what happened. These are the types of series that make me weary of modern anime. 

For one thing, it doesn't even begin to make sense. Hatate Souta can see "flags" on top of people's heads. He can prevent deaths, sadness, and other negative things by behaving in a manner that reverses the flag when he sees them, just like in a game. When princess Nanami Knight Braidfield witnesses him save a man before getting hit by a bus that day, she knows something's up and has to get to the bottom of it. Cue an insta-harem with an angsty teen at the center of it all who has a Dark Past so You Shouldn't Get Close to Him.

While at the very least Noucome made no attempt to hide its connection to dating sim tropes, Kanojo ga Flag doesn't even acknowledge there is one. When the whole "flag" idea stems from dating sims and visual novels to begin with, you'd think there'd be a bit more explanation or even a nod to the concept, but instead it's as if the characters simply live in a world where these things are happenstance.

After finding out what Souta's power is, Nanami is simply okay with it, which seemed weird to me. Also, the episode really seemed to go off the rails after Nanami's first accosting of Souta. For whatever reason, Mahogasawa Akane, a ditsy classmate of theirs, seems to be so into Souta at random that it couldn't be any more contrived. What's more, Nanami doesn't have any "flags," which throws Souta off, so of course you already have to know there's something special about her. They'll end up together by the end of the show. Done. Wrapping it up now.

I didn't know these characters and I certainly wasn't given any real reason to care, and the fact that I'm really racking my brain to come up with anything useful or helpful to say regarding this first episode should be a warning to those of you who are going into the show looking for a memorable bit of entertainment. Awful animation, bizarre clothing (how do those school uniform jackets go with those skirts?) and boring, by-the-numbers conventions had me super turned off before the credits ever rolled.

I won't be returning to this show...unless I have a cold and the NyQuil just isn't working. 

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Annotated Anime Roundup: Spring 2014 Week 1 photo
Annotated Anime Roundup: Spring 2014 Week 1
by Karen Mead

Since we're in the middle of that weird season-opener grace period where most of the previous season's shows have ended, but all the new shows are still in First Impressions territory, the only episodes eligible for the roundup this week are Yowapeda 25 and Tonari no Seki-kun 14. This means that this installment of Annotated Anime is all mine, a prospect which excites me so much that I actually bothered to look up how to spell the word "eligible."

In all seriousness, we're still working out behind the scenes which shows are destined for the roundup and which ones will be getting the solo treatment, so as of right now, no one knows what this feature will contain next week. It could be athletes, could be giant robots, could be schoolgirl assassins, it's all up for grabs; the future is, as of yet, unwritten. I'm getting chills.

And if you're looking to get our at the real new shows of Spring and the last word on winter's leavings, check out our First Impressions and Final Impressions, going up throughout the week!

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First Impressions: Keroro photo
First Impressions: Keroro
by Brittany Vincent

Sgt. Frog never appealed to me during high school. I had joined 1Up to be part of the gaming community and noticed a few people were excited for the manga release, but it didn't strike me as very interesting -- especially given the fact that series like those tend to rely heavily on Japanese pop culture references, which I don't have that great a handle on sometimes. It wasn't until the first 51 episodes came to Netflix, dubbed by way of FUNimation, that I gave the series an honest chance.

To my surprise, I was hooked instantly. Everything about Keroro and his ragtag bunch of "invaders" made me laugh, especially the English voice actors' line deliveries and the endless stream of jokes running throughout each episode. I'm still waiting for the rest of the series to be dubbed, but there's a new series floating around now simply entitled Keroro. The verdict? It's cuter than ever. 

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6:00 PM on 04.04.2014

First Impressions: Mushi-shi S2

I never expected to be writing that headline. A second season of Mushi-shi, the melancholic, atmospheric anime by Hiroshi Nagahama and the crew at ARTLAND never really seemed like a likely event. But yet, here I am writing first impressions of Mushi-shi season 2. I'm really excited, guys -- but in a relaxed, mystical way. You know, just like the show.

Ben Huber

Final Impressions: Golden Time photo
Final Impressions: Golden Time
by Chris Walden

We're finally here. The finale of the hottest amnesia-driven romantic comedy aired last week, and while it feels like it's taken several days just to digest what on Earth happened, I feel we've left the show in a good place. But hey, that's just my opinion. What I'm certain of is that Golden Time has been quite the ride, and I'm definitely sad about it ending. Yep, that's me being selfish!

Episode 24 was not without a few more head-scratching moments, but then, would you want it to get this far only to watch it play out any other way? No, if we're going to finish this series, then we need a few explosions to go with it. 

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Final Impressions: Gundam Build Fighters photo
Final Impressions: Gundam Build Fighters
by Pedro Cortes

It’s finally at an end. After 25 episodes of unfiltered Gundam love, Build Fighters has reached its climax. Starting off as a kid who couldn’t find the right pilot for his beloved gunpla, Sei has gone farther than he ever could have imagined: He not only got to the world stage for gunpla fighting, but he managed to win the tournament despite the odds being stacked against him at nearly every turn.

However, there’s one last obstacle for Sei and Reiji to overcome. Thanks to Chairman Mashita’s tantrums, the giant Arista crystal underneath the arena has gone berserk. With Plavsky Particles shooting all over the place and sprouting crystals, what will our heroic duo do? Well, they’ll just have to destroy it. Thankfully, they won’t be doing it alone.

Hit the jump to read my recap of the final episode and my impressions of the series as a whole.

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