Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Winter 2013/14 Final Thoughts: Kill La Kill, Chuunibyou Ren--DON'T LOSE YOUR WAAAAAAAY

Kill la Kill Review Screenshot 7

After a year of only being able to finish a few reviews each season before work/school/whatever else ended up taking time away from the shows I really wanted to talk about, a review revamp was in order. That's not to say that I won't do long-format reviews anymore, but I'm hoping that this style will fit better into my schedule.

Kill la Kill Review Screenshot 1

Kill la Kill

Where do I even begin with this thing? When it started airing, I could only really enjoy it for it's crazy animation and references. While the outfit designs that leave nothing to the imagination didn't put me off, I do remember frowning at certain parts in earlier episodes. At one point, Ryuko is surrounded by shards of glass that act like mirrors so that you can see everything from every angle, clearly for the benefit of the male otaku audience. Aside from it's energetic animation style, not a lot gripped me in the first part aside from Mako (who is the best character of 2014, I'm calling it now). There were even weeks when I forgot that it was airing.

Kill la Kill Review Screenshot 2 Kill la Kill Review Screenshot 3

However, that changed in the second half when it all kicked into overdrive. The characters, the storyline, the power-ups, the plot twists, the animation, everything went up to levels of insanity that I haven't seen since Gurren Lagann. This was the only show that I ended up consistently following in the Winter season when I was two to three weeks behind on everything else simply because I wanted to know how the heck it was going to top itself next. This show has several episodes that were finale worthy by any other standard, yet it still kept going. Even the nudity stopped bothering me, since the characters got to a point that they were so strong in their personalities that it didn't matter what they were wearing (or not wearing, depending on the episode). I'm not on board with the whole "it's deep and symbolic" train--it's a show about alien vampire school uniforms, come on--but it still deserves a lot of credit for making me completely forget about those concerns in the final few episodes.

Kill la Kill Review Screenshot 4 Kill la Kill Review Screenshot 5

There's not much more I can say without spoiling it (just be aware that Ragyo has stolen the title of Worst Anime Parent from Gendo, and that's putting it lightly), but I'm glad that I came back to it despite the first several episodes not really working for me. I'm not sure if it'll end up as one of those big pillars of anime fandom (a "must see" show, that is), but it's definitely an experience that I don't regret if only for the sheer entertainment value of the whole thing.

Kill la Kill Review Screenshot 6
Definitely my kind of nonsense

Chuunibyou 2 Review Screenshot 1

Chuunibyou Ren

And now for something completely different! I was a little concerned that this season wouldn't have a lot to cover after the solid finale from the first season, but the premiere episode was fun enough for me to stop worrying. That said, this season is a lot more meandering and unfocused than the first season was, taking over half the episodes to get to the main plot involving Shichimiya, Togashi's past as a chuunibyou, and his growing relationship with Rikka. I felt like Shichimiya in particular got the short end of the stick here, since I thought that she was a pretty interesting character that didn't get nearly enough screentime. She's a good foil to Rikka (or maybe the term I'm looking for here is alternate version?) in that they're very similar but have made different key decisions about how they want to move forward with their lives. I would've liked to have spent more time with her.

Chuunibyou Review Screenshot 2 Chuunibyou 2 Review Screenshot 3

In addition, something that really confused me was how they treated the fantasy battles this time around. In the first season it was my favorite running gag; one second you'd be looking at a fantastically choreographed and animated fantasy fight sequence, and then it would cut to reality where their giant swords were actually brooms and their armor was cardboard or something. This season, they treat the fantasy battles as real for some reason. And this isn't just with the chuunibyou characters; Togashi and Nibutani get into it too. I couldn't really enjoy any of these fights anymore because I kept expecting the show to cut out to something else. Since it never did, I was left wondering what was really happening instead of just enjoying the scene. It was a great gag. Why did they decide to play it straight?

Chuunibyou 2 Review Screenshot 4 Chuunibyou 2 Review Screenshot 5

Overall, I can only recommend this season to people who liked the first one, and even then only to people who really enjoyed the character interactions and don't mind watching them do random stuff before the little bit of plot kicks in. But if you were happy enough with the first season, it might be better to pass on this one, since not a lot changes. It's a fun diversion, but lacks the emotional pull that the first season had.

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  1. So...what happened to Phi Brain xD

  2. IT WAS GREAT and that review will be in a different post.

    This is why I shouldn't write posts when I'm coming up on big school project deadlines

  3. Kill la Kill: There'll be a bonus ep 25 included with the final Bluray this September, which is graduation-themed. Check it out if you have the time.

    Chuunibyou: I think Isshiki Makoto got the shortest end of the stick. Not only does he become an uninvolved side gag character, he finally becomes another ethnic race with an unwanted boyfriend. *shakes fist at Chuunibyou 2 's director* o(-`д´- 。)

    Kamigami Asobi: Scans of the male gods in their divine forms.
    The Greeks & Japanese:
    The Norse:

    Which designs do you like the best? I personally favour Tsukuyomi/Tsukito's aristocratic kimono look, although the glowing tattoo network on Apollo's whole body does add a certain mystical quality.
    Not sure what to make of Loki's design though. I wonder what the artist was thinking. >_>
    Mahouka: How do you find the OP by LiSA? I say it's boss. ヽ(^Д^)ノ
    LN readers say the first anime arc is just (dull) worldbuilding and infodumping, as per the first 2 source LNs.The later arcs get more action-packed, I hear.

  4. Kill la Kill: Awesome. Will do!

    Chuunibyou: Agreed. I hated that they did that to him. I didn't appreciate the implied racial jokes either. It might've been better if he hadn't shown up at all.

    Kamigami Asobi: Those are really nice! I like Baldur's. And I agree on Loki, not sure where that came from...

    Mahouka: Haven't seen/watched anything about it yet, so I don't have an opinion on it. The worldbuilding early on sounds like par for the course as far as LN adaptations are concerned though.

  5. We had many of the same observations in our reviews for Kill
    la Kill. The

    Agreed, Mako for best character of 2014! She was so much fun
    to watch! And I agree, Ragyo is the worst parent in all of anime for sure.

    I will say that since I marathoned the series rather than
    watch it weekly, so I enjoyed it a little more than I would have otherwise.

    I have not seen Chuunibyou Ren though, but maybe I should
    look into the franchise.

    Great reviews for both of them!

    Also, do you mind if I link to your review at the end of my review post? At the end of my anime reviews, I usually post links to others that have reviewed the series that I am reviewing, so I want to add a link to yours if you are OK with that.

    Here is the link to my review if you are interested.


  6. Yeah, it looks like we did! Definitely check out Gurren Lagann if you can, since it shares a lot of the same staff and overall feeling. This did seem like a good show to marathon, but I had a lot of fun riding the hype week to week. (Also, people were not very good about keeping spoilers under wraps, so it was better for me to follow it and see it for myself.)

    The first season of Chuunibyou is definitely the better of the two. I highly recommend that one, since it makes for a good modern coming-of-age story. At least, I think so.

    And yes, feel free to link as long you're giving credit! Thanks!