Archive for the ‘Anime Reviews’ Category

DVD Review: Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Hello everyone! I hope you had a fantastical year so far! You probably forgotten about me because these holidays I was either working or too damn lazy to make a post, which clearly is a terrible failure on my part… well enough of self-loathing! I am de_geso893 from and  I plan on reviewing a bulk of anime that was sent to me by Kidd over the Christmas break (thanks Dennis!). I’ll kick of the reviews with the movie Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva! And finally I hope you have a safe and awesome year!

I have to admit I have never played a single Professor Layton game despite owning a Nintendo DS (first generation to be exact). Watching the movie seemed out of the question for me. At first I thought it would be like watching a movie based of a popular video game without actually playing the game itself, which normally leads to confusion and inevitably less appreciation of the movie. I’ve had some bad experiences with video games having their own movie, especially the other way round. Companies like Disney feel compelled to have a video game released along with their new movie no matter how bad or incomplete the game is, as games based off a movie tend to be rushed, half-hearted and low-budget. This however was how I felt about Professor Layton prior to watching it, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!

The Professor receives a letter from his former student, a famous opera singer known as Janice Quatlane about to perform at the Crown Petone Opera House. Both Layton and his young student Luke are invited to help her solve a mystery surrounding her deceased friend that has returned as a young child, claiming that she has received the elixir of  eternal life. Shortly after the performance, a mysterious man claims that he has the secret to eternal life and is willing to grant it to the winner of his game. Now Professor Layton and Luke must compete in a mind-game and solve the greatest mystery of all: the secret to eternal life!

Even though I never played the game, the beginning explained the Professor Layton universe without going into long and excessive detail. It gave me enough background to understand the characters and the charisma of Professor Layton, especially by starting of with a small puzzle to give a taste of what the movie is all about. Although it introduced some characters that were never further explored, possibly because they were referencing some characters within the game which made me feel a little left out.

What I liked: the problem with some murder/mystery films is that the story can become horribly convoluted, with a mystery thrown into the heap somewhere. The story in the Eternal Diva was easy to follow, and all the plot twists felt justified. Fortunately, I didn’t have to back-track to different segments just to grasp the concept. The objective was straight-forward and it didn’t sacrifice the plot for a pointless clue or fight scene.

I also liked the eccentric character designs, It felt like a good change of pace and gave off a unique personality to each character. The side characters were very interesting and had their own motivations and reasons for partaking in this dangerous game. It also worked well with the 19th century London setting, becoming apparent that Professor Layton gives off a Sherlock Holmes sort of personality which adds to the personality of the film. It also adds diversity by changing locations from the crowded London streets to the mysterious tropical island, which didn’t feel forced or unnecessary as it was actually relevant to the plot.

Now I do love a good mystery. Although the puzzles were relatively simple at times, some of them were surprisingly well thought-out and cunning which required you to think outside the box (along with a few “I see what you did there” puzzles).

What I didn’t like: there wasn’t much to not like about this movie, but then again no movie is without flaw. This film does contain 3D effects in certain scenes, and I felt it was inconsistent at times. It looked strange compared to the drawn 2D background and didn’t run so smoothly. This may seem like a minor issue but unless done right, it really makes me uneasy.

The beginning of the movie introduces several characters that remain unvisited throughout the rest of the movie, which was misleading and didn’t exactly establish the cast until later in the movie. Also some of the rival characters could have had more of  a back story on their own motives, rather than just being “killed off”.

Bottom line: overall it was an enjoyable film for what it was. Since I had never actually played the game, I felt I couldn’t truly appreciate the movie. Since I don’t plan on playing the game at any stage of my life, I doubt I would see this film in a different light. I recommend this to those familiar with the game as they can truly appreciate it, although actually playing the game is not absolutely necessary. This movie is also good for a younger audience, as the puzzles aren’t too difficult and the story is fairly easy to follow. I wouldn’t consider this film to be in my top anime movies, but it is ultimately entertaining (which is the most important factor for a successful film obviously). This film appeals to a wide audience and has the vibe of a family film, appealing to both the Professor Layton fandom and the family genre.

+Easy to follow story
+Nice character designs and setting
+Puzzles are fairly consistent and cunning

-3D sequences are odd in comparison to 2D
-Forgettable characters/villains
-Unexplained characters
-Not playing the game may tarnish the experience

Categories: Anime Reviews

Ani-Bloggers Choice Anime Awards Top 12 Picks 2011

December 16, 2011 2 comments

2011 has definitley been a prolific year for anime – both awesome and lousy. Before even writing my top picks on the blog I already have several favourites cycling in my head. Before you start raging at the list, think about this: this is my own personal picks for the ACAA awards on and I’m not necessarly labelling them the best anime of all time, just what I feel that had an impact on me during this year. Now without further ado: here are my top picks starting from the bottom to the number one! Note that I put images of my top three – I wanted to emphasise their importance to me!

12. The World God Only Knows
This show took dating-sims on whole new level! Keima employs his vast knowledge of dating-sims to capture the escaped souls plagueing the hearts of numerous heroines of vastly different personalties, and his life literally depends on it! It’s quite easy to pick a favourite girl (I may get some rage for this but I have to say shiori the shy librarian is my favourite of the first season!)

But what stops this from reaching higher on the list is that although there are huge strides in character development for the heroines, Keima himself doesnt really make any progress himself and pretty much remains the same throughout the series: naive and painfully snide.

11. Mayo Chiki!
I think Subaru is one of the cutest reverse-trap characters in anime (I hope that didn’t come off wrong). While Mayo Chiki doesn’t really break new ground, it was a very entertaining show filled with likeable characters. And I really feel out for Kojiro, considering that he is constantly tormented and used as a human punching bag. And there is a girl wearing neko-mimi and glasses! What more can you want?

10. Denpa Onna To Seishun Otoko
Denpa Onna is an amazingly beautiful show, and I could expect nothing less from Shaft. While Denpa Onna doesn’t really have a coherant plot line, it outlines trying to live a normal teenage life. But this proves difficult for Makoto as he has to look out his cousin for Erio Towa, as she believes she is an alien after mysteriously disappearing for six months. Very similiar character designs to the more recent show Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, so very moe indeed!

9. Astarotte no Omocha!
Not many gave this show a chance due to the premise set by the HYPERBOLIC show description: “…Astarotte Ygvar, the first princess for the kingdom of Ygvar, has just reached the age of 10. For the upcoming years of a young succubus’ life, it is necessary for them to have a male harem. In order to maintain their body and preserve a beautiful appearance, they must consume a substance only found in males…” and you can figure out the rest. Despite this supposedly “dangerous” premise, it was a very sweet and sincere show and nothing in the show description actually happened. I suggest that you give this show a chance and watch it without precedent.

8. The Idolm@ster
Since the Idolm@ster had been announced at first to air for 12-13 episodes, I was a bit concerned whether this would be rushed and the individual idols won’t get enough screen time respectively. But as I watched each episode I was pleasantly surprised! Each idol got an equal amount of air-time, without absolutely overwhelming the rest of the cast (especially the quiet achievers). What made me even more ecstatic is that they decided to prolong the series into a full season! Now each idol can get more screen-time without time constraints, and I do love my moe idols!

7. Kimi Ni Todoke
This show frustrated the HELL out of me, but I’m glad to say that it was good kind of frustration! This romantic comedy kept me hooked on right to the end, and I would ask myself: “is it going to work out in the end?” but the answer was of course painstakingly obvious. But sometimes I would get irrationally angry when Sawako would talk herself down and retreat to square one for the smallest things, but all the good points of this anime definitely makes up for this slight shortfall.

6. Nichijou
Probably the most unpredictable comedy to emerge for quite some! I would have to take a long break after each episode to gather my senses, as I’m left thinking “what the hell was that?!” and re-watch it on YouTube to make sense of it. My favourite character would have to be Yuko, the things that happen to her! Besides from her awful jokes and poor word-play, to summarise her daily life: anything that can go wrong will go wrong! Despite all these crazy events, they treat it as if life was normal which painfully ironic (hence the title Nichijou a.k.a My Ordinary Life).

Nichijou would have been in my top three, however! As the series progressed, it started to stretch out the gags and ended up feeling a little tired and repetitive. In the first half of the season it was “set-up and punch-line” and each episode was jam-packed with gags. In the second part of the season, the gags lasted a lot longer and it felt like the show had lost some of its energy in regards to humour. At times I would want the skit to hurry up and finish and move on to the next segment (ehhhhh?!), as I was getting bored very quickly and made me feel unsatisfied when the credits rolled. They also added some new segments to the anime such as “like love”. I understand that it was to add variety to the show, however it felt so incompatible with the nature of the show – hilarious and random. If this anime aired for the first half of the season, it would have been in the top three at least. But because of the sudden change of pace and drop in intensity in the second half, I felt reluctant to place it higher.

5. Steins;Gate
Riddled with incredible plot twists and conspiracies, this anime achieved many feats. It was moe with Mayuri (tutturu!) and presented exciting and mind-blowing plot twists. This show is definitely out of my normal comfort zone, filled to the brim with science-fiction references (Back to the Future, anyone?). Although I felt a bit lost with all the explanations, terms and changes in plot, I still thoroughly enjoyed the series. I highly recommend this to any science-fiction/time travel fans that are not exactly into the anime fan base, nya?

4. Squid Girl
You probably were expecting Squid Girl to make my list without question, though it may be surprising to you that it didn’t make my top three. While Squid Girl is a fantastical show of love and joy, I felt that it wasn’t deep enough to merit a place in the top three. Its hilarious and cute, but compared to my top three I felt that it was lacking something. Plus I would feel awfully biased if I placed Squid girl higher without proper justification, is it perfect? No, but than again no show truly perfect. Nevertheless I still love Squid Girl de-geso!

3. Working’!!
Working is related to Nichijou in that it uses wild and wacky humour in a slice-of-life format, but the similarity stops there! Working is a crazy show, but it’s more subtle which I thought was a very nice touch. I always look forward to every episode on Crunchy-Roll to the point where I’m shamefully replaying episodes in anticipation. I find it impossible to hate the cast, they are so different yet they seem to naturally fit together. Even though Working doesn’t really have a plot, I love everything about this show and not many series gets me this fired up!

2. Puella Magi Madoka Magika
A typical moe-moe Mahou Shoujo anime? Boy did I fall for that trap. This anime is a sight to behold with twisted art and dark undertones, and one deceptively evil and somewhat cuddly creature! Madoka Magika exceeded my imagination with twisted renditions of reality that seemed to blend naturally with the characters, its scary what Shaft is capable of… Puella Magi Madoka Magika reflects on equivalent exchange: the idea that you cannot gain something without sacrifice of the same level, and this anime stretched this concept to the limit!

1. Usagi Drop
I know that in the podcast I said I was unsure whether to put this as my anime of the year, but after weighing them up against all my other choices I decided this must be my number one. I learnt so many things from Usagi Drop such as responsibility and the sacrifices required to raise a child, especially when you’re single and working full-time! There are a lot of media outlets that focus on the difficulty of being a mother, which is very understandable. But has anyone really focused on what the dad is going through? Girls are prepared for motherhood at a considerably younger age, with all those baby toys and play-sets. But there was really nothing for the younger male demographic except action figures and toy guns and before you know it, you’re in your teenage years (and we end up as alien creatures obsessed with guns and video games without really giving responsibility much thought). Sure there are family planning centres, but as a guy I would rather have a visual example. I’m glad to see that there are a lot of young adults taking interest in Usagi Drop, its a light-hearted and sincere show filled with beautiful art and opening/ending songs. There is so much to love about this anime, and I’m glad that they put so much effort into this show! Perhaps it warrants a second season?

Licensor of the year:
My favourite licensor for this year would have to be NIS America, which may come off as unusual. Although they aren’t as large as the more dominant companies such as FUNimation and Sentai Filmworks, they put in a lot of effort into their releases and take care of their customers (Bandai should follow their example). They are also known to make magnificent box art displayed on such works as Tora Dora and Katanagatari box sets, and its a piece of art that you can display with pride! More companies should follow NIS America’s example and put more effort into their licenses and make it worth its price-tag. And please Bandai, enough individual volumes! I have to painfully turn down the K-ON volumes until the full collection… and they also have Working’!! and Kimi ni todoke. ’nuff said.

The Kidd and the Squid Anime Podcast Episode 1 Part 1+2

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Last Sunday we recorded part one (and very much later that evening, part two!) of the first episode of the Kidd and the Squid anime podcast! Naturally being the first podcast, I was nervous as all hell so forgive me on the overall quality. In this episode we discussed our 2011 experience from anime conventions to natural disasters and several highlights.

We also discussed why we started blogging anime and the upcoming Ani-Bloggers Choice Anime Awards hosted on my esteemed co-author’s site and discussed what made the list and what didn’t.

Why did we split the podcast into two parts? Well it was unintentional as Kidd was suffering from an unexpected black-out over yonder in South Australia! It was on the basis of bad luck rather than an editing choice.

You can listen to this podcast directly on kidd’s blog on or directly download on the same site. We may be thinking about uploading it to the iTunes store for your listening convenience so be sure to keep on the look out for that!

Amagami SS Review

July 17, 2011 1 comment

Recently there have been a lot of Anime spin-offs of dating sims and eroge titles (Bridge to the Starry Skies to name a few) and many tend to be filled with copious amounts of fan service and a harem that only teenagers could dream of, but most of them fall flat because they introduce too many girls at one time, leading to the sacrifice of the plot and tending to leave the love polygon unresolved. Amagami SS is a different beast altogether however, rather than following the generic cookie-cutter harem anime structures that other shows tend to fall for, Amagami SS asks the “What if” question (if it’s the best way to describe it) and goes down numerous paths with different results. In essence, it’s very similar to dating sims as it tends to favour character arcs rather than dumping a bunch of different character types and let the plot sort itself out, which is a refreshing change and leads to stronger romances between characters.

Amagami SS follows the story of Junichi Tachibana, a teenage boy who got his heart broken by a girl who stood him up on Christmas eve, now he is a second year High School student wishing for a fresh start. He is a little hesitant about love and feels uncomfortable celebrating Christmas due to his painful past, however his encounter with one of the six heroines from his school will open his heart to love again.

I really love the fact that they chose to divide the anime into separate character arcs, because this allowed the focus of development between the couple which blooms into a deeper relationship, rather than having a half-assed relationship that lasts about five minutes before moving onto the next character type. Because of the larger focus on character development between the two, I can actually relate to the characters, and not necessarily feel rushed to understand the relationship (it also helps that the whole season is 26 episodes, rather than cramming it into the usual 12-13 episode season), not mention that the pacing between each character arc wasn’t too fast or too slow, it found a comfortable balance so I felt satisfied after each episode.

I really hate to label some negative points to such an excellent series, even if they are fairly minor. The character types are a bit stereotypical and this may be a bit of a turn-off for some viewers. We have the senpai (Haruka Morishima) the tomboy-ish childhood friend (Kaoru Tanamachi) the quite one (Sae Nakata) the sporty one (Ai Nanasaki) the airhead (Rihoko Sakurai) and the responsible class representative (Tsukasu Ayatsuji). Have you seen any of these character tropes before? I am just about positive that you have. But I believe that this is easily forgiven with the deeper relationships and the interesting character developments these characters produce.

That awkward moment when you realise she is a stereotype

At times I felt that the plot structure in each arc was a tad bit predictable (encounter-conflict-resolution) but it didn’t bother me so much and I dismissed this idea, it just seemed to be a bit of  issue according to some of my friends that have also seen this series (and they are entitled to their opinion). Those that want a strong sense of variety in their anime however should be cautious about watching this, but for most of us this isn’t a major problem that wouldn’t compromise the series. 

Now in relation to dating sims in Australia (for the record, Amagami SS is classified as a dating sim-NOT an eroge!) it seems like the underdog of the gaming industry. Most people associate dating sims with perversion and heavily sexual denotations, which may be the case for western dating sims, however dating sims from Japan are not the case. It focuses more on the relationship aspect rather than the sexual one (any sexual interactions are considered a bonus above all else really). It really is hard to find a pure and meaningful dating sim here in Perth especially, you have to look very carefully to find one and if not, finding it online is the better bet. The culture here just seems to shun this genre and favour mainstream gaming (forgive if I sound like a hipster!), and a good dating sim that tests your comprehension and social skills seems more like a  good change of pace.

I highly recommend Amagami SS as you can just sit back and watch this at your own pace, the relationships and character developments are easy to understand, yet so important and meaningful. There are some funny and charming moments and the final bonus episode caps off the series excellently with a hilarious (and somewhat scary) premise, it really is a great anime series for what it is and breaks from typical dating sim/eroge based anime.

Overall Summary

Separate character arcs to strengthen the plot
-Great character and relationship developments
-likeable characters
-Good pacing
-Bonus episode!

-Stereotypical character tropes
-Plot structure a tad bit predictable

Rated: 9/10

Categories: Anime Reviews