Anime Review – “The Seven Deadly Sins”

[ Between the episodes of the ever-growing anime that is Fairy Tail, I managed to squeeze in another. So, please enjoy this newest review of the Netflix exclusive, The Seven Deadly Sins! ]

1When you mix a group of people that have special powers together, often times they are given a collective name. Just look at the X-men, Powerpuff Girls, or Crystal Gems, for example. This rule tends to also apply in the anime world, specifically the Kingdom of Leones. The Seven Deadly Sins in their world are a group of seven people with special powers as well.

While the story is simplistic, it’s the characters that really make it stand out. A young girl, introduced as simply Elizabeth, is seeking out the Sins to save her family. She comes across a quaint tavern and meets the owner, Meliodas, and his talking pig named Hawk. Events unfold quickly as the pair are forced to face down a strong opponent who claims to be a Holy Knight. Elizabeth is revealed to be the third princess of the kingdom, and Meliodas the leader of the Sins.

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Promising to help her on her quest, Meliodas travels with her using his moving tavern pig-vehicle. They quickly meet up with Diane, one of the Sins who also happens to be of the giant race. They rescue another Sin, Ban, from prison. Well, Ban actually rescues himself, due to his inability to feel pain and heal extremely fast. It’s revealed that there is a new generation of Holy Knights that, instead of training for many years, can drink a potion to give them power. Ban’s actions cause a Holy Knight in training, Jericho, to take on these new powers.

2As the group gathers the other Sins, it becomes apparent that these new Holy Knights are connected to a rather sinister plot by those that have overthrown the kingdom. This was the original reason for Elizabeth seeking the sins – her father and family are in danger due to the Holy Knights coup. Besides the coup, the usurpers seek to bring demons into the world to use as tools. But the new Holy Knights cannot control their powers well, and some become strange human-demon abominations.

Facing a number of these before racing into the capital, Elizabeth and the sins eventually3 have to face the leader of the Holy Nights, Hendrickson. This opponent is coursing with demon power, having become something more than human. The Sins gather forces, even combining with previous enemies to defeat this opponent.

At first I thought a lot of the characters were going to be cliche, especially Elizabeth. But, she reveals a hidden strength that redeems her early on. Hawk can be seen as an unnecessary character, but as true to form, he turned out to be one of my favorite, especially in the end, making a huge sacrifice for the good of his friends. It was also nice to see the Seven Deadly Sins show in a new way instead of how they tend to always be (see Fullmetal Alchemist for an example).

Final Words

While it was somewhat cliche, it was a very decently put-together anime. There were all the classic characters: the perv, the shy boy that doesn’t want to reveal his true feelings, the sap that pretends to be tough, the tsundere, and the delicate female. But they were presented in a way that didn’t make them boring. I was also glad that the giant girl didn’t have a skirt that everyone could see up when she walked around. I would have liked to see the characters have a bit more depth, though, as Elizabeth is the only one that seemed to have any of it.

I would give this anime a…7.5/10 (my rating system)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Slayers, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

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Anime Review: “Pokemon Generations”

4Pokemon has been a much beloved series since the late 90’s when the first games came out in America. As a child in middle school I was completely obsessed. I played all the games, bought a ton of the merchandise, and even to this day, get excited when I see some new Pokemon collectible on the shelves at Walmart. What originally started as a collecting adventure based on the creator’s love of collecting bugs, blossomed into a world-wide sensation, spawning tons of main series games and countless side games even to this day.

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However, one thing about the franchise always seemed to fall short: the anime. When it was localized by the infamous 4kids Entertainment, known for its awful name localization and cutting out of full episodes (case and point: Yu-Gi-Oh! Series 1), Ash Ketchum (awful name, as expected) was made the most annoying and stupid character I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching in an anime. He made dumb choices, had a predictably obstinate nature, and the most annoying voice, second only to Naruto.

1Thankfully in recent years, The Pokemon Company released a short “mini-anime” called Pokemon Generations that delivers a much more serious and slightly darker take on the anime. Each episode spans less than five minutes and highlights various story arcs of the portable games up to Generation VI (Kalos Region). From the first episode showing Giovanni’s disappearance after being defeated by Red and Blue (Gen I) to the two teams of Generation III, Team Aqua and Team Magma, plotting to use the legendary Kyogre and Groudon to change the world to their liking. The final episodes even shed3 light on the fabled Pokemon War that may have happened before the games began.

This anime seems to have been made to be enjoyed by older fans, such as those that were children during the first games’ releases. It’s much darker and down to earth than the original anime. If it were expanded on, it could bring back older fans who have grown tired of the still-child-geared canon games and anime.

Final Words

The animation has been greatly improved, as has the voice acting, but I am disappointed that it was not expanded on. I would have liked to have seen much more of this, as it seems to be a kind of continuation of the mini-series made just before entitled Pokemon Origins. I feel like The Pokemon Company misses a huge opportunity when they just produced this as short highlights and not full episodes. I found myself wanting much more after each episode was finished.

I would give this anime…8.75/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Cardfight!! Vanguard, Digimon Adventure, Monster Rancher

Anime Review: “Aiura”

Ayuko-aiura-34209007-400-225When the new season of anime is full of high action shounen tropes, it’s nice sometimes to calm down with a cute, short anime. This is exactly where Aiura comes in. Each episode is only a max of four minutes, including opening and ending themes. Normally, I tend to avoid these “micro-anime” like the plague as I don’t feel they have enough time for plot development, but it was a nice repose from some of the crazy anime available today.

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Focusing on three high school girls, this charming little anime introduces Ayuko Ueharaa new high school student. Just finishing up middle school last year, she is accepted into a high school where she knows no one. She meets the two friends, the energetic Kanaka Amaya and the unmotivated and laid back Saki Iwasawa. At first, Ayuko is shy and confused at Kanaka’s energy, but the trio quickly become close and the series follows the three girls in their first year of school together.

shorts_spring2013_06_2Each episode focuses on a few short events including introducing the homeroom teacher, who is ironically a lot like Saki. The class representative takes attendance, and the girls chat. In one episode, the girls have to study for finals, and the go over to Kanaka’s house. Instead of hanging out in her room, they meet in Kanaka’s brother’s room. When he arrives home, he complains, but allows the girls to stay, as Kanaka’s room is a disaster zone.

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Despite how short it is, this is an adorable series for anyone that needs a slight break.The characters are fun and though there is not really a plot, it’s still worth a watch. You could probably finish all twelve episodes in less than an hour. The style of animation is a bit child-like, but this only adds to the charm.

Final Words

At first, I didn’t expect much when I turned this series on. But, that really wasn’t the point to this anime. I looked up the manga, and it turns out this short format was perfect for the original format. It’s a simple four panel manga that is meant to do exactly what I’d enjoyed the anime for: a simple, cute, and refreshing break. If you have a bit of time to kill, I definitely recommend it.

I would give this anime…9/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Azumanga Daioh!, Lucky Star, Cromartie High School

Visual Novel Review: “Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony”

4“It isn’t danganronpa without Monokuma!” While this phrase rings true now, if you haven’t played the game yet, you’d be surprised at just how hauntingly true it is after you’ve played it. The mascot has become the infamous symbol of this popular franchise known for it’s shocking twists and turns. The third killing game of the franchise does not disappoint, either.

The game starts off as most others in the series as students wake up in a classroom, confused and not knowing what’s going on. They all make their way to the gymnasium and find there are others like them, each with an Ultimate Talent. Pretty close to the other games so far, right? But this time, there’s new characters known as Monokubs piloting gigantic robots called Exisals. Monokuma, of course, steps in before the irresponsible Monokubs decide to kill everyone. The famous announcement follows, letting the students know they must kill each other to escape.

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The main character this time is Kaede Akamatsu, at least for a while. Her talent is the Ultimate Pianist, and it shows when she references classical works throughout chapter one. However, the first twist is just around the corner, when perspective is forced onto the Ultimate Detective, and Kaede’s friend, Shuichi Saihara.

The trials feature a few brand new minigames and revamp of old minigames. Hangman’s Gambit has become a bit trickier, where you’re unable to see the letters without the special spotlight on them. Logic Dive has become Psyche Taxi, where you drive a car and crash (yes, crash) into people that represent the answers. Panic Talk Action has become Argument Armament, where you still keep a beat, but its laid out more like a boss battle with a geared-out version of the person you’re facing.

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony_20170912195355New minigames are plentiful, and make class trials a bit more interesting. You can now optionally lie during Non-stop Debate, and in some places you have to lie to continue the trial. When the trial comes to a standstill, Monokuma activates Scrum Debate, where the class is split in two, and you have to counter the other side’s argument effectively to win. Mind Mine, similar to Hangman’s Gambit, clears a picture clue by removing same-colored blocks until the answer is revealed. Finally, a nice addition to Non-stop Debate is Mass Panic Debate, where three people talk at once and you must pick out the correct phrase to counter or consent.

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As for the characters, I didn’t feel as connected to them as I did in the other games. Those that were similar (Gonta Gokuhara vs. Sakura Oogami) didn’t connect to me very well. I was suprised, however, to find that I actually liked the antagonistic character, Kokichi Oma, more than the heroic characters. But, instead of having a few favorites, like I did in Super Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, I really only liked two characters a lot.

Final Words

I was very unsure about this game until the very end. I won’t spoil it for you in this review, but I make no promises in later articles. I plainly didn’t feel I connected to characters as well. However, this could have been the original intention, as it relates to the ending a lot. Overall, I don’t think it was my favorite of the three killing games, but it definitely is a strong entry, and a very popular one.

I would give this visual novel…8.75/10 (rating scale)

If you like this visual novel, you might also like: Persona 4, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Anime Review: “Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma”

2The idea of “super schools” has been around for a quite a few years. Schools like these often specialize on one thing and all its variations. Take Naruto for example – kids go to a special school to become ninjas. Food Wars! is no different in this idea, featuring a super elite school, called Totsuki Tea Ceremony and Cooking Academy for high schoolers that want to become the best of the best at cooking.

Many animes these days tend to make their official titles both English and Japanese, and often they mean the same thing. Take Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit – the word Moribito means “guardian,” basically making it redundant. However, Food Wars! title is a little different, even if its similar.

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shokugeki is a term that combines the Japanese words shoku, meaning “meal”, and geki, which refers to a type of spear also referred to as a ji. It’s also the name of cooking competitions students can participate in at the academy. Shokugeki’s can be used to settle a bet, an argument, or in a few cases, save a student from expulsion. So, the best localized version of the Japanese title might be something closer to “Soma’s Food Battles” or “Iron Chef Soma.” But, I think Food Wars! works well since it’s simpler and more eye catching.

The plot itself in the first two seasons basically shows off all of what Totsuki offers. The first few episodes establish that Soma Yukihira is confident in his cooking skills, and rightfully so. He’d grown up working in his father’s diner, competing with the older man, Joichiro Saiba. His transfer exam is judged by the “God Tounge,” Erina Nakiri, who finds him classless, but changes her mind after tasting his food. However, she denies him, and is suprised to see him at the opening ceremony anyway, thanks to her uncle Senzaemon Nakiri, where Soma makes a statement that angers almost every student.

4Despite his new enemies, Soma makes new friends with those in the Polar Star Dormitory, his new home for the next three years. He attends classes and helps the nervous and unsure Megumi Tadokoro, also a member of his dorm, and helps her grow in confidence. They attend the Totsuki summer camp together, which is known for being extra tough, and both make it through.

However, year two has other plans for Polar Star and Soma. A new headmaster, who also happens to be the exiled Azami Nakiri, and Erina’s abusive father, shows up and starts paying off the Elite Ten to change the school to his will. But, after all they’ve been through, the motley crew of Polar Star won’t let things go his way. Soma challenges Azami’s right hand man to a shokugeki and wins despite the paid off judges. There’s still hope for the school yet, even now, and Soma and Megumi won’t let Azami get his way.

Final Words

I feel like the first two seasons was just showing off the idea of this “amazing new idea” that is the cooking academy. Also, food apparently makes people’s clothes fly off. Apparently, this is a popular part of the show, as I saw a lot of people upset when there happened to be less in the third season. This is probably due to the fact that the third season actually seems to have formulations of a plot, which the first two seasons seemed to lack. I feel the third season actually kind of saved the anime in a way, but not quite enough.

I would give this anime…6.75/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Girls und Panzer, Kill la Kill, Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)

Visual Novel Review: “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attourney”

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Do you have dreams of becoming a famous defense attorney? Have you ever wanted to be in a courtroom and shout at people? Does the sound of a gavel make you happy? Do you like pointing at people and finding contradictions? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should talk to Phoenix Wright. I heard he’s hiring.

This game is actually very broken up. Each chapter is a brand new case that make almost no references to previous cases. In the Nintendo DS version of this game, however, a bonus case has been added for fans of the Game Boy Advance version to have some extra content.

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The first chapter is a sort of introduction to the idea of the game, running through the procedures of the courtroom including cross-examinations and using collected evidence to find contradictions. This is probably the shortest of all cases in the game, as there is no investigation time, however, jumping right into the events is a good way to start. In this case we find out that Phoenix’s boss and mentor, Mia Fey, is murdered as well, and her sister Maya comes in to assist him instead.

1As the cases continue, Phoenix learns to investigate to find clues to the truth. Each case becomes a little more complex, and even reveals a bit about Phoenix’s past and why he became a defense attorney. This game also introduces Miles Edgeworth, a much-loved prosecutor who’s past is a little different than his former classmate Phoenix seems to know. The final bonus case even reveals corruption in the police department extending all the way to the prosecutor’s office, which poor Edgeworth feels he must atone for.

The characters are amusing, with some hilarious moments as well as serious ones. One case has Phoenix defending a large man that looks like Hugh Jackman and cries a lot. However, since the cases are so separated, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for character development. There is a bit between the final original case and the new bonus case, plus this bonus case runs a bit more smoothly than the previous ones. The original disappointment looks to be changing, thanks to the bonus case.

Final Words

Being the first game is a long series, what this game lacks originally, it makes up for in the bonus case. Though I’d grown to really like Maya as Phoenix’s sidekick, Ema Skye is a bit smarter and more useful than her. As a first game, it’s a solid start, and I hope the next ones will improve on the changes from the bonus case.

I would give this visual novel…7.5/10 (rating scale)

If you like this visual novel, you might also like: Danganronpa 2, “999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors”

 

Anime Review: “Cardfight!! Vanguard”

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The Card Game anime genre has it’s crazy characters and gravity-defying hairstyles – it’s naturally just part of the genre. That’s not something that Cardfight!! Vanguard has forgotten. Having watched quite a few of the genre including Yu-gi-oh!, Beyblade, and even a bit of B-daman, it’s actually nice to come across a member of the genre that’s not a complete 23-minute commercial for the namesake. Besides the logo looking like someone is trying to find the square root of ANGUA times RD, it has it’s good and bad points.

The story starts off with a young, blue-haired, boy named Aichi Sendou is shy and reserved. It’s not made clear, but he may have just transferred to his school. He’s easily embarassed and soft-spoken, always taking a sort of retreat route when asked a question. This is made quickly clear when one of his teachers asks him how he would survive in the Sengoku (Warring States, or feudal) period of Japan. He simply replies that he’s always make sure there’s a clear retreat route when going into battle.

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It’s quickly revealed that he’s had an interest in a popular card game called Cardfight Vanguard, a game that is popular is real life Japan as well. He’s never played but it’s revealed that a boy he used to know name Toshiki Kai gave him a Vanguard card one day after rescuing him from a bully. A classmate, named Katsumi Morikawa, spots this card one day as Aichi is peeking at it. Katsumi swipes it, realizing it’s a rare card, and races outside after school.

Aichi gives chase, and they both end up at a card shop. Kai happens to be there, but it appears neither of them recognize each other, until Katsumi demands a game using Aichi’s card. Kai recognizes it instantly, but says nothing, winning the card from Katsumi. Aichi explains the situation, but Kai says “What’s won in a Vanguard fight must be regained in a Vanguard fight.” So Aichi challenges him and loses, but recognizing his potential and the kid he gave the card to, gives it back.

maxresdefaultAnd thus, Aichi is hooked on Vanguard. He challenges numerous people, slowly coming out of his shell. He joins a shop tournament where he and three others, including Kai, all place top. The other two are the reluctant Misaki Tokura, and the excitable and young Kamui Katsuragi.

They enter the regional Vanguard tournament and make it all the way to nationals where they meet Team Caesar and Team Foo Fighters AL4. The latter is made of the three time national champions including the powerful Ren Suzugamori, who seems to have a special power called Psyqualia.

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After losing to the powerful AL4, the train over the summer with Team Caesar, who they’ve become good friends with. But Aichi is summoned by the mysterious Ren, who offers him a new deck. This seems to awaken Aichi’s own Psqualia powers and changes him for the worse. He never loses a game, but his attitude toward his own teammates is rough, and he pushes himself much too hard, fainting after every battle. Kai sees this and challenges him to a Cardfight, causing Aichi to realize what’s happening. He quickly rejects the power and gives Ren back the deck.

But, the final battle calls on Aichi to accept both parts of himself – the good and bad parts. It’s revealed, too, that this final battle between the dark and the light would apparently influence a battle far away on the planet Cray, where Vanguard was born. Unbeknownst to the two fighters, they were actually fighting for the fate of another world.

evil_anime_aichi_you_die_face_by_aspiringemperor-d4nq4vkIt’s hard to say I liked this anime. As with all Card Game type animes, each episode is literally a game. That’s all that happens. There is obviously some character development, with Aichi coming out of his shell and having to make difficult choices, but this was 65 episodes, and I had to force myself through them.

The characters are predictable, don’t change all that much, and full of common tropes. Kamui has an obsession with Aichi’s sister Emi, but the younger sister of another player is obsessed with Kamui, creating a sort of love triangle that I could have lived without. The only character I really thought was any kind of decent was Misaki, who actually has a complex background which causes her to avoid Vanguard altogether. She’s very reluctant in the beginning, but then is able to use the game as a way to heal her trauma.

Final Words

Even if it’s a lot nicer and more realistic than other Card Game animes, it’s still a Card Game anime. It’s predictable and there’s not really a plot except “let’s go to nationals and be the best.” Though it is a very Japanese plot, it’s still not very original. It’s even got the “strange power transforms main character” cliche from Yu-gi-oh! we all know and love.

I would give this anime…6/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Phi Brain, Rozen Maiden, Haikyu!!

What do you think? Do you like Card Game anime? Tell me in the comments below!

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