Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Aura Battler Dunbine

SUMMARY: Shou Zama is recruited by Lord Drake Luft to pilot his newest weapons, Aura Battlers, a combo of Byston Well magic and Earthien technology. Marvel approaches Show during battle and convinces him of Luft’s sinister intentions. (summary taken from HIDIVE)

I first encountered this show thanks to Animag issue #2* and immediately fell in love with the presmise. Fantasy world with mecha. How cool is that? 

I read the episode synopses withe delight and awaite the day I'd actually get to see the show.

Fast forward 30+ years later. Thanks to HIDIVE, I gleefully added the show to my queue and prepared myself to ride the Awesomeness Train. With breath held in anticipation of all the potential goodness I remembered from that Animag article three decades earlier, I hit the play button for Episode 1.

Oh, the disappointment.

I got bored.

At Episode 1!

23 minutes long (not counting closing theme) and I was bored at 11 minutes in.

Not just bored. But dozing off.

The Awesomeness Train didn't just derail. It jumped the track, flipped end over end five times, slapped the trailing cars into the side of a hill while the locomotive plummetted off a cliff, ripped through a single-engine Piper Cub on the way down before burying itself into the nave a cathedral at the base of the cliff, exploding into a fireball, and killing a now defunct order of nuns who had assembled there.

But wait.

Surely that had to have been a mistake, right?

I was probably tired that day, right? Got easily distracted, right?

Red flag.


If you allow a distraction to steal my attention, Anime Show, you're shit out of luck.  You've lost me.

So...tired. I must've just been tired. Hence the dozing off.


No prob.

Let's try that again.




Dozed off.

About the same time again.

11 minutes in.

And right in the middle of a scene of a mech and some large beastie duking it out in an arena before an assembled crowd.

Frankly, the problem I had was with Shou, our main character. I didn't give a damn about him. Okay, he's a motorcycle racer. Okay, he jumps a car when some punks try to mess with him on the highway.

But that was it. You didn't give me anything else about him. 

Not even a hint of a personality.

Suddenly he's in this fantastic world and I don't care. 

So what?


Sorry, Aura Battler.

I realize that under normal circumstances I'd give a show at least 3 episodes before handing out a verdict. But I don't think I can slog through even the rest of this episode let alone two more.

Despite the promise of that age-old article, a no-go for me.

Filing this under DNF**.

*back in the late 80's
**Did Not Finish

Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction, Drama, Fantasy, Mecha
Length: TV series, 49 episodes
Version Viewed: Digital streaming on HIDIVE
Review Status: Full season (1/49)

Note: All images are used only for purposes of review/critique/commentary. No infringement is intended. All images copyright their respective creators.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Best Girl (WIth Weapons) Wednesday: Maya Tendō

Maya Tendō - Shōjo Kageki Revue Starlight

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Tari Tari

SUMMARY: Wakana Sakai was involved in music, but gave it up one day. Konatsu Miyamoto loves singing and can't be torn from it. Sawa Okita would do anything for her closest friends. They laugh, they fight, they worry, they love... Through their very ordinary lives, little by little the girls learn to move forward. Sometimes they feel as if they can't go on alone, but as long as they have their friends, they believe they'll make it someday. Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa, and the music they make in their ensemble weave a tiny but dazzling story of the power of music. (summary taken from Crunchyroll)

Tari Tari is a wonderful underdog story (there I go again) of the little choir club that could. Despite obstacles (a hostile school administrator and equally hostile classmates) and little support (the school principal who seems more absentee parent than involved advisor), Konatsu and Company brave the odds and prove themselves to everyone.

Of the FeelsKicker Anime I've seen thus far, this one is definitely a contender for the top spots on my list. Six episodes in and I'd already shed tears 3 times, flat out bawled twice, and had my feels kicked at least 7 times.

That's damn impressive in my book.

Wakana's story was the main draw for me here. That it conincided with the choir club's story was a bonus and, I felt, made it all the more richer. And that's where the majority of the emotional punches come from. In ep 6, even though Wakana was adamant about it, I knew--I just knew down deep in my bones--that piano wasn't going anywhere. And when Wakana asks and her father responds:

I totally lost it.

Thank the gods for the pause button.

(Even now as I'm writing this and recalling the sequence, it's taking all my energy not to start tearing up.)

Music. Let's talk music now.

The song that did it for me was “Kokoro no sumitsu,” originally written by Wakana's mom, Mahiru, and her friend, Naoko. It's a poignant piece and when Konatsu and Sawa perform the song in public at the end of episode 2 their voices lend it a sense of longing (much like Asuka's lone playing in Sound! Euphonium) and a sound that evokes a vast field of gently swaying tall grass beneath a sunny yet hazy sky. Sawa's airy soprano floats above Konatsu's mezzo in a pairing that gave me goosebumps.

When we hear all five members sing at the end of episode 6, we first get Wakana on the opening lines over a recording of her mom and other ladies. This is followed by all five members in unison, then into two parts, then three, and then a briefly soaring harmony as they all slide into four parts. The men's voices nicely complement the women's; it's a young tenor quality without the deeper baritone/bass sound but which works extremely well here to keep the overall tone light and airy, and almost hymn-like. A joy to hear.

And now, I pick nits.

Konatsu's and Sawa's duet at the end of episode 2 gave me goosebumps, as noted above. And the quintet singing the same was a joy, also noted above. But the quintet version felt anticlimactic, especially since they only sing in a classroom. Why didn't all five of them perform in public? Why was it only Kontsu and Sawa?

The final performance felt a bit underwhelming. Nothing wrong with it per se, but for a “musical”, even a short one, I expected at least a Les Miz “One Day More.” Instead, I got a lackluster, half-hearted Lloyd Webber. I really expected a mindblowing final performance and was a bit dismayed at the result. A definite 180 from the evocative “Kokoro no sumitsu.” 

The fun banter I often expect in a series like this was sadly missing. Another nit to pick. Wien's ethusiasm for the tokusatsu/super sentai-style series Nettou Hero Ganbaraigers, while charming and makes for a cute homage, didn't quite fill the gap.

Much to my dismay.

In the kawaii department, however, Tari Tari delivers. The end credit sequence in the majority of the episodes is one of the cutest I've seen. An energetic, bouncy closing theme song paired with Konatsu and Sawa seated, swaying in time to the music, and Konatsu's little legs swinging rhythmically to the beat made me clap and squee every single time.

Despite these few nits, I enjoyed the show. While it doesn't quite land on my Rewatch List, I will recommend it to anyone interested.

Genre: Music, Slice of Life
Length: TV series, 13 episodes
Version Viewed: Digital streaming on Crunchyroll (also available on HIDIVE)
Review Status: Full season (13/13)

Note: All images are used only for purposes of review/critique/commentary. No infringement is intended. All images copyright their respective creators.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Best Girl (With Weapons) Wednesday: Karen Aijō

Karen Aijō  - Shōjo Kageki Revue Starlight