Allison and I watch a lot of television shows while eating. As we started to run out of “real” TV shows to watch, I started to watch Anime and Allison didn’t seem to mind. This means I’ve actually gotten the time to watch anime from 2012 while simultaneously fulfilling my “spend time with Allison” daily quota.


Fate/Zero is supposed to be the best anime of 2012, according to several web sources and a random candidate I interviewed at work. When it first came out I was very hesitant to watch it as it’s a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, an anime I consider to be awful. However, having heard all the great reviews, I finally watched it and was very pleased by the results.

So the story is essentially the same as the original, 7 masters summon heroic spirts of the past to fight to the death over the Holy Grail, an object that can supposedly grant wishes. The only difference is that it’s executed ten times better. The animation is top notch, with everything looking crisp and detailed. There were some fantastic and memorable scenes, like the fight between Emiya and Kotomine and of course all the Noble Phantasms.

The biggest improvement over the original anime was just how much more serious everyone was about the entire ordeal. The #1 thing in the original anime that pissed me off was that every master was essentially a random highscool kid or some other irrelevant character. In Fate/Zero, most of the masters are adult mages who have trained for years to prepare for this event. I cannot stress how much of a difference this makes in the overall feeling of the anime. It adds so much impact to the motivation and tone of the story, compared to a bunch of kids that randomly got dragged into a fight. Fate/Stay Night would never have serial murdering of small children but an atrocity like that completely fits the tone and motivation of the characters in Fate/Zero. And yes, there are a lot of little kids getting killed in this. It sounds awful but it fits and I’m glad they didn’t shy away from something like that simply because it’s too shocking.

The main characters are very well developed, and Emiya Kiritsugu has a fantastic back story and personality. I really liked the direction they took with the main character, as he would frequently shock you with his brutality, yet it would always fall into his “ends justify the means” philosophy. What was really fun was looking at the wiki and reading about the real-life characters that the heroic spirits were based off of. I was surprised how much actual history went into recreating the personalities and motivations of the heroic spirits.


Unfortunately, Fate/Zero is still plagued by the annoying fact that it has to be 25 episodes. Thus, we get to see people employ the “teleport away before I lose so that we can drag the fight on to another episode.” There are probably 3-4 times when two people decide to not finish the fight because it’s not honorable, it’s unfair, or they’re just tired.

Regardless, I was very pleased with Fate/Zero overall. The fantastic action and engaging story make up for the anime dragging it’s feet. It’s definitely a must watch and one of the best animes I’ve seen in the last few years.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

I’ll admit that I’ve been putting off watching this anime. This is an anime about Magical Girls, prominently featuring tons of Lolis. That’s typically a good sign for me to stay away. BUT, I heard from several places that it was an amazing anime, probably one of the top three from 2011. AND I saw that it was created by SHAFT (the studio that did Bakemonogatari, Ef, and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei to name a few) which I have a studio boner for. SO I decided I might as well get over the Loli and watch it anyway.

This anime is no fucking joke. Based on all the reviews, I expected it to be awesome and it was. I watched all 12 episodes in about a week, which means it was so good that it even surpassed video games in the bid for my free time.

The story takes a typically happy and cheerful genre of Magical Girls and applies a super dark, twisted look on it. It provides a very interesting and unique perspective; something fresh that I haven’t come across in a long time. In terms of spoilers, I will say that I sort of predicted a lot of the twists and turns, but that may be because I went into it with the knowledge that this would be a dark anime. However, even if I kind of knew what was going to happen, it still didn’t make it any less exciting to watch.

The pacing of this anime is spectacular. The short 12 episode style means each episode is straight to the point and doesn’t dilly dally around for no reason. I will say I didn’t really connect with any of the characters very well, but that might just be because I’m not a 13 year old girl.

Ultimately, what won me over was the amazing animation styles that SHAFT tends to put in. During dialogue, anime tends to switch to pans of nearby scenery or objects, while the characters continue to talk. This was originally used as a way to save on animation costs, but SHAFT goes way past this and shows the most random things possible. Characters will be talking in a room, the scene will shift to water falling down a drain, and then the scene shifts back to the characters in the room, with seemingly no reason for that switch. SHAFT also makes boring, everyday environments look absolutely ridiculous. Yet, somehow it ends up looking great. How awesome would it be if you got to brush your teeth in this bathroom?

Overall, this is definitely one of the better animes of the last few years (on par with Steins;Gate) and is worth a watch from any anime fan. It also reaffirmed my belief that SHAFT is my favorite studio.


This anime is good. I’ve heard a lot of good comments about it throughout the internet and I have to say the anime lived up to the hype.

The plot centers around a scientist who accidentally discovers he created a way to send text messages to the past. They initially start changing the past which results in a bunch of crap happening and a quest to return things back to normal. It’s not a particularly unique concept, but they do approach it very well and leave some nice twists in turns in there to keep viewers on their toes. There are a few doubts about the way they executed everything in the end (it seemed like kind of a cop out) but overall, it was well done.

The characters are the focal point of the anime, with the time traveling just acting as the plot driver. The main protagonist Okabe, is voice by none other than Mamoru Miyano, who is responsible for Light in Death Note, Tamaki in Ouran High School Host Club, and Masaomi Kida in Durarara (also Setsuna F. Seiei from Gundam 00 but Setsuna is an emo, quiet bitch in that so I don’t really care for him). He gives an outstanding performance and really helps to add a lot more emotion to the series.

But really I like dthis series because of Makise Kurisu. She is such a well designed character, from her overall display and style, to her slightly arrogant yet caring personality. She has a touch of tsundere in her, but it’s pulled off in the “right” way. Animes tend to milk the “tsun” part to death, making for some very unnatural and exaggerated situations. Makise behaves like a real person would, acting initially annoyed by Okabe’s strange mannerisms but slowly getting used to it over time. After they work together and accomplish some things, they grow to enjoy each other’s company. However, there is always a hint of “tsun” left in there, manifesting in minor teasing or scolding. The banter between Makise and Okabe is extremely well written, and it’s wonderful to see their relationship develop throughout the series, without any kind of stupid situations coming between it. The moments when they are talking together are much more memorable and interesting to me than all the rest of the time traveling science fiction.

I highly recommend this series and anything more I say will just spoil it more. It is one of the best anime I’ve seen in recent years and definitely deserves a watch.


I’ve recently been hearing a lot of hype about Steins;Gate. Based on that, I figured I would first watch Chaos;Head because they both originate from the same visual novel publisher and they both use semi-colons in their names. In retrospect, it was probably a waste of my time considering Chaos;Head is basically a harem with sword wielding schoolgirls and Steins;Gate is (as far as I understand it) some sort of time traveling/warping thing. Anyway…

The main character of Chaos;Head is probably one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever seen. Typically the male protagonist of a harem is either extremely clueless, or passive and indecisive about choosing what girl he wants. I mean, that’s the only way you can get away with 13-26 episodes of filler episodes. Unfortunately, this character is just awkward at everything he does and constantly whines about his social problems. Instead of doing something about them, he just sits around waiting for someone to help him.

The girls cover pretty much every standard stereotype (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when voiced right). None of them were particularly annoying, but none of them left any substantial impact. Animation overall was clean and good looking and the actual character designs looked fine.

The plot was kind of boring and the ending was so anti-climatic that I can’t even remember what happened despite just watching it a few weeks ago. Something about a machine that can control what people perceive as reality, thus allowing you to control them. Of course the guy who designs it is trying to take over the world with it and our hero goes to fight him and rescue the princess, supported by the rest of them. Despite all the focus on the magical swords, fighting was pretty non-existent throughout the series. Any fighting that did occur was short and clumsy looking. There wasn’t a very good amount of character development as far as I’m concerned, which may have been due to the 13 episode limit. Everyone had some stupid, tragic back story explained in 5 minutes.

Overall, extremely mediocre and not worth the time to watch. Onward to Steins;Gate.


My viewing of anime has been lacking recently, whether it be due to time constraints or general lack of interest in new series. I had a few non-redeye plane trips with nothing else to do, so I actually got some time to finish watching Katanagatari.

The original reason this anime caught my eye was that it is based off a light novel written by the author of Bakemonogatari. The story revolves around two main characters: the head of a sword style that doesn’t use swords and a girl trying to collect 12 legendary swords. The plot isn’t particularly deep or thought provoking, but that’s not he point. The way they deliver the story works and it is paced reasonably well.

Whenever you have some quest to gather a bunch of parts, it has to be a manageable goal. This can’t be Inuyasha where some power orb shatters and breaks into a million pieces, resulting in hundreds of episodes of collecting. Katanagatari has 12 swords and 12 episodes. They collect one sword in each episode (mostly) and don’t drag things on. Each episode you get to meet the original owner of each sword and they spend half the episode setting up that character’s personality and background. Meanwhile, you get to see development of the main two characters, how their outlooks on life change, and how their relationship gets closer.

When it comes to artstyles, I tend to like the two extreme ends of the spectrum. One is the shiny, stereotypical anime look where all the girls have shiny colorful hair and big eyes. The other is when the characters are clearly “drawn”, with jaggedly drawn lines and they almost look like paper cut-outs (e.g. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei). I really dislike the “realistic” anime style that tends to be in those serious, award-winning or slice-of-life animes (Spirited Away, Girl Who Lept Through Time, Summer Wars, etc). I want my anime to be about as far from real life as possible. Katanagatari has the style where the backgrounds are realistic but the characters themselves look goofy and unreal.

The fight scenes are good. The 12 swords are interesting and unique. The series is extremely dialogue heavy, but I tend to like that about anime. The ending is a bit confusing but I think I was generally pleased by it. Overall, a good experience.


First of all, I didn’t watch this movie yet in it’s entirety. I’m not sure if I ever will, because it looks mind numbingly boring in all the non-fight scenes and I’m sure I’m not missing any Oscar-worthy acting. Anyway…

I saw a preview for Suckerpunch a while back and thought to myself, “I definitely fall into the target audience of this movie.” A movie about a hot chick in a school uniform and thigh highs killing monsters? Talk about a subject packed with great things. There is no way you could make a movie more like an Anime, short of having a Gundam flying around in the background.

I watched the first fight scene where the girl fights three giant samurai monsters. It was here I noticed something terribly wrong. Human beings cannot move in a way that makes fighting giant samurai look cool. The samurai monster is blitzing about the room at breakneck speeds. Meanwhile the girl is somehow able to keep up with his impossible speed by jogging around and daintily swinging her sword.

It just doesn’t work. When you watch fight scenes in Anime, everything flows smoothly and people move FAST. Maybe not DBZ fast where they stop showing the actual moves and just animate flashing lights to save on production costs, but fast enough that a human body could not endure the acceleration without bones splintering. There is literally a part of that fight where the girl dodges a strike with an elaborate flip and then jogs up to make a slash. You can’t have gravity defying acrobatics but still move like a slug.

Honestly, I think the problem is just that they make her walk around on her own. When you watch people fighting in Anime, do they run around on their legs? No, they fucking leap. If you want to get from point A to point B in the fastest possible time, you jump and fly through the air. So sure, you can have dramatic scenes of her walking slowly away from a collapsing building. But the moment the bullets fly, the only reason for your feet to touch the ground at any point is to push off for another jump.

And there are just so many other parts in this fight that just make me cringe. How can you get hit so hard to make a crater in the ground but look like you just landed on a pillow? Watch her walk out of the dojo in a dramatic fashion after killing the 2nd samurai, only to have the scene ruined as she fails to holster her gun smoothly. Was there really a DBZ power up moment followed by the goofiest looking single sword slash I’ve ever seen? This is about as good as watching the live action DBZ movie.

I’ve always wanted to see live action versions of Anime. You see such amazing fight scenes and think that it’s perfect for a big budget movie. Then you see Suckerpunch and realize that the American movie industry is never going to get it. Seriously, some random music video cosplayed the Tifa fight from Advent Children and made it look cooler than your entire movie. How does that make any sense?

Summer Wars

I downloaded and watched Summer Wars because it’s very highly rated on the Anime News Network’s Top Anime. It’s from director Mamoru Hosoda, who also did another highly rated Anime movie, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Frankly, I’ve watched both movies and they’re both boring as hell to me.

This one involves a geeky math guy who get’s invited by the popular girl to go visit her grandmother. Then she pretends he’s her fiance so the grandma will be happy. Oh yeah, there’s some virtual world called Oz where basically everyone conducts business and some virus is released. Math guy has to solve some advanced math equations (because all math geniuses can solve advanced cryptographic problems in their heads) and saves the world from annihilation.

Seriously though, I really don’t get this movie. You never get a real taste of what life in Oz is like because they never explore the world. They have a short narration explaining how it works and how everyone uses it. The only time you ever enter Oz is when they are fighting the virus, which basically makes it feel like a fighting sim instead of a virtual world where everyone does everything. It never draws you into the environment, despite it being extremely well animated and colorful. The main guy and popular girl get together at the end, but I don’t feel any attachment towards their relationship because they never develop the characters.

Basically, there is just a ton of crap happening and then all of a sudden the movie ends. This kind of reminds me of Spirited Away, where there is a sequence of totally random things happening and then all of a sudden the movie ends. But at least in Spirited Away I was so drawn into the world and characters that when it ended, it was like “What? Two hours just passed? Holy crap I didn’t even notice”.

Summer Wars is boring and I won’t be re-watching it ever again.

Infinite Stratos

This past season I’ve only been following one anime.

Well, if I had to say one thing about this anime, it’s that it caters to its target audience extremely well. What’s better than mecha wielding big ass guns? Women wearing skin tight clothing piloting mecha wielding big ass guns. It’s not often you get to see harem mecha anime, so I guess that’s a point in their favor.

Animation is done pretty well. There seems to be a lot of these CG scenes nowadays that make for some really nice action scenes, with explosions and lights flashing all over the place. It reminded me a lot of Macross Frontiers in terms of how much crap was flying across the screen at one time. Normal scenes are crisp and well detailed, and character design is pretty good overall. The mecha design is pretty decent too, with a very wide assortment of weaponry and ass-kicking utilities.

Being that it’s a harem, you have pretty much no character development and it’s all just focused on relations between the male and the girls chasing after him. I feel like they went a little overboard with all the Tsundere types, and in general I didn’t like most of them other than Charlotte and Houki. You get maybe 1 minute of back story for each character, and most of the time it is something dumb that is completely irrelevant. But I guess that’s not the point of the show.

The story was pretty much non-existent. There was some random episode where it looked like some evil thing appeared, but they destroy it and never hear from it for the remainder of the series. This is one series (like Angel Beats) where the first half is spent on merely introducing cast, which leaves zero time to actually develop a story. It also irritates me when you have these all-powerful teachers who could basically wipe the floor of all the bad guys, but instead they send out inexperienced students to fight. This kind of stuff really pisses me off, and is incidentally a reason I really hate Harry Potter.

The fan service in this series steadily got worse and worse. I mean, you already have everyone wearing a bathing suit while piloting the mechs, but there was an annoyingly large number of revealing camera angles. And of course, despite having only 12 episodes, they managed to shove in a beach episode and a hot tub episode, where absolutely nothing happens except fan service. Like I said, this series knows how to cater to its target audience.

Overall, the series was a bit of mindless, harem fun. I definitely enjoyed it, but it’s not something you put on a pedestal.

Darker than Black

From the outside, it would appear this anime is perfect for me. Extremely laid back, peaceful guy is actually a super powerful psychic that can manipulate electricity and he has to fight a bunch of other “evil” psychic people with unique abilities. I like his character type and I like the premise.

When I watched it, I couldn’t help but be extremely bored. I think the biggest problem is that I have no idea what is the driving plot of this series. All I could gather was some thing called Hell’s Gate disappeared and all of a sudden people started gaining psychic powers. They throw around all these words and organizations, like Pandora, and I have no idea why they are there, whether they are good or bad, what their motivation is, etc. Like seriously, who the heck is the old lady/fortune teller at the police station?

In general, you get only very small glimpse’s of the main character’s past, with the last 2 episodes giving you a bit more detail. All you can assume is at some point his sister disappeared during the Hell’s Gate event. Nobody explains how he gained his powers and why they were there in the first place. Why is he listening to these orders to kill people when he’s actually a peaceful guy? I guess he’s trying to find out what happened to his sister? I didn’t know while watching, and I still don’t know.

Who are you and why do I care?

In general, the ending was anti-climactic and didn’t tie up the tons of loose ends left over. They killed one bad guy but he has an entire organization behind him, so that’s completely irrelevant. I guess since they have a Season 2, they need to drag the story on to fill up another 26 episodes.

I really wanted to like this anime, and a lot of the psychics have neat abilities and prices for using their abilities. Individual episode plots were alright, but the overall story just made no sense. I feel like I’m missing some background info or maybe I fell asleep during a critical dialogue portion. Actually, watching this anime reminded me of playing FF13. Everything is great about it, except it’s boring and I have no idea what’s going on or why I’m doing it.

Angel Beats

This is probably a year overdue but oh well.

I first started watching Angel Beats and I was completely blown away. The animation is beautiful in every aspect, from background images to character design. Music is outstanding, with some excellent and touching insert songs. Characters are mostly interesting (except Yui, who is just fucking annoying), each with potentially deep backgrounds to explore. There is a great mix of comedy and seriousness, that is well done and delivered. They have some amazing concert scenes (similar to the ones popularized by Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi). I really thought it would be one of the best animes I have ever seen.

So here’s the plot. Main guy wakes up and discovers he is dead and is living in an afterlife for young people. There is a group that is trying to revolt against the apparent god of this afterworld in attempt to not disappear forever. However, the main guy discovers the point of the afterlife is to allow the dead to fulfill some regret or dream they had while alive but were unable to accomplish. The main guy takes it upon himself to try and help everyone out and put them to rest.

Bam! That sets up so nicely into a 26 episode series. You spend the first 10 or so establishing plot and introducing the group of characters. Then you spend an episode or two exploring the background of said characters, such as how they died, what they need to still do, etc. Once that’s been discovered, they make peace with themselves and disappear. Move on to the next one. The main characters are last with more in depth stories. Meanwhile, you develop the 3 main protagonists over the course of all these adventures and a romance starts up too. I literally just spit out a top 10 anime of all time.

I waited anxiously every week as a new episode came out and for the first 10 episodes, everything followed the exact plan I mentioned above. They developed the main character and discovered the secret of the afterlife. In episode ten, they focus on him helping one character to pass on. Wait…this anime is only 13 episodes? HOLY CRAP.

Let’s randomly introduce some sudden bad guy that tries to destroy the world and defeat him in 1 episode. Let’s just tell everyone in this group of 15 people the purpose of the world and they all disappear on their own with no additional provoking. I really think that the studio must have missed the memo saying their series would only be a half season. It’s absolutely terrible how they ended the series and completely destroys all the great buildup of the first 10 episodes.

So that’s all I have to say about this series. The first 10 episodes are some of the best achievements in anime production history. Then they crap on themselves and try to wrap up the story in 3 episodes. Angel Beats is the perfect example of wasted potential.