Summer Anime: Heat 1
Anime Blazing To The Front of The Pack!
By: Head Writer – J.R Tafoya
Hello again Giga-Landers! It’s that time of year again!
Summer seems to be the time when all of the anime companies decide to release all the best stuff and it seems terribly difficul – neigh, herculean, to weed through all the things to see what you might like best. With that, I agree wholeheartedly! There is a ton of good anime this season and if it weren’t for the fact that I have no life, I’d be in the same boat! . . . Ow.
This time around, a good friend of mine came up with a proposition for our group of friends. That we all pick an anime, and we all watch the one anime everyone picked. Six of us agreed and to the terms set for by young
Inter Fenrir Bryan and we began our season of watching anime together. On this, it became easy for me to decide what to write about!
This time around I cover three of the six: Fate/Apocrypha, chosen by Yours Truly, Knight’s And Magic, chosen by Dustin (a former photographer of this group), and Aoyama-kun, chosen by our dear friend (Dr.)Gabe. With these latter show, I begin to step outside my normal comfort zone, but also begin to experience a new world of anime and what some of that entails. By the way, I picked the best show of all six of us, because everyone else has garbage taste (especially in waifus).
As the wind that carries you softly through the air on delicate wings, I welcome you to read and be amazed at my spectacularly average writing! If you’re one to wait for a few episodes to see which ones are promising, then look no further!
Outlook: 100% (or More) Better Than “Deen”/Stay Night –
As many of you know, especially if you’re readers of this particular site and it’s weekly blog posts, the Fate series is extremely popular and only rising in popularity with the release of it’s new (to the U.S) mobile game and now the anime adaptation of an acclaimed manga. Preceded by an extremely popular Visual Novel and some less popular anime, Fate has gone nowhere but up in the past several years. This, however, many turn many of you off as you may be thinking, “Well, since I don’t know anything about the rest of the series, I’ll have no idea what’s going on!” And for that, I can assure you that you can put your worries at ease as no such problem will arise.
Fate/Apocrypha (henceforth: F/A) centers on two different groups: the Mage’s Association, and the Yggdmillenia family. These two groups are in opposition for several reasons, the main one being their fight over the Holy Grail. In this world, it is said that the Holy Grail will appear at a certain time. During the time when the Holy Grail appears, seven servants of seven different classes are summoned to fight in the Holy Grail War. Whoever wins this war is awarded the Holy Grail which is said to grant any wish the owner desires. However, this war isn’t like any other because there are two opposing factions involved rather than just seven solitary masters. In this war, each side has seven masters controlling seven servants in an all out war. Whoever is left over on the winning side will then compete in a second Holy Grail War against their own comrades.However, in this war there is one more change; an 8th class has been summoned to oversee the war itself and this character seems to be a focal point for the entire show.
The anime, so far, is being handled extremely well by A-1 Pictures. For many of us who suffered through studio DEEN’s Fate/Stay Night, this is an extremely welcome reprieve. There doesn’t seem to be an actual main character thus far, but the show goes well out of its way to let us know that neither side is actually “good”. In a world where shounen/fantasy/action shows do their damn hardest to tell us who is “good” and “bad”, it’s a welcome change of pace to try to find out why I should like either side. Finding out more about each side is really one of the big draws for the show. But, with the good comes the bad and both sides tend to be very underhanded in how they deal with the war, both with its bystanders and with its own members.
F/A starts with a cold open that introduces us to how bad the war can get while also showing us how astonishingly strong the servants are compared to humans. Following, we’re given a good dose of exposition, the good kind, that introduces the characters and who they ally themselves with. Though F/A never goes too deeply into either side, it shows us how both factions run and how their hierarchy works which, with all subtleness, lets us know why the two are in such opposition.
One thing that I love about this rendition of Fate is that this is really the only time we’re shown just how incredibly strong servants are. Episodes 2 and 3 showcase the heroic spirits in all their glory moving at mach speeds, crashing through rocks, and jumping miles into the sky with nary a scratch on their body. A-1’s attention to detail is nothing to scoff at either. Every fight scene has an extremely noticeable and pleasing aesthetic to it that makes them not only memorable, but ridiculously exciting at the same time. They know they don’t have the same animating techniques or budget as UFOtable, animators of the previous series and movies, but they have distinct techniques of their own that makes the show just a joy to watch. Saber of Red’s introduction, as a starter, show’s just how powerful they are without their armor, but every swing of the fist and jump shows them equipping more armor as they fight. The music and sound effects really help bring home the severity of these fights and the kind of damage they can cause. The attention to detail is extremely satisfying and I would highly suggest it just for that alone.
Fate/Apocrypha is dark, not quite as dark as Fate/Zero, but dark nonetheless. Murder and torture aren’t exactly above these Epic Villain’s standards of morality and cheating is the name of the game. However, the show is handled extremely well and keeps its arms wide open to embrace the newcomers to the Fate series but also has a few hints here and there for veterans of the series who might figure things out just a little quicker than the rest. But, a few of my friends, whom I made watch this show, aren’t lost at all and seem to be enjoying it themselves.
If you’ve ever been interested in the Fate series in general or you want a good action/mystery/fantasy show to keep your attention, Fate/Apocrypha is an incredibly good show to start with. I highly recommend it, even from the first three episodes alone, and can almost guarantee that you’re going to enjoy what you see. Three episodes is all you need to know if you’ll like it or not.
Knight’s and Magic
Outlook: No, That’s Not a Misplaced Apostrophe –
Or: Mushoku Tensei but with Robots! –
In the all-too-original setting of an otaku taken to a new world, Knight’s and Magic introduces us to a (not)Gundam otaku who is killed in an accident and reincarnated in another world. His new “self” is a young boy named Ernesti Echevalier who is a denizen of a new world were magic and giant f-ing robots are civilization’s main weapons. With his greatest wish granted, this man -er . . . boy, intends to live this new life to the fullest with his otaku knowledge leading the way for cutting-edge technology!
Ernesti, with his new life as a young “tween”, is excited to learn that he is born a noble’s son with all the comfortability and perks that comes with. When he shows the aptitude of someone well beyond his age, which he damn well should, the teachers and upperclassmen definitely take notice. Ernesti, in his previous life, was an extremely gifted programmer and luckily for him, using magic in this world is apparently similar to coding. Able to deconstruct and rebuild the most simple spells, turning them into massive weapons, Ernesti begins to shoot up through the grades for the sole purpose of being able to build his own robot – in this world, known as Silhouette Knights. Thankfully for him, he’s also able to pilot these robots extremely well, even on his first time. Commandeering a stray Knight, Ernesti is able to single-handedly fend off and kill an enormous rock-turtle-monster hundreds of times bigger than himself. Obviously garnering the attention of the higher-ups, he is set on the fast-track to making his own Silhouette Knight.
From first looks alone, the show seems to go only in Erni’s direction in a positive way. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, because it most certainly is. Watching someone so gung-ho about making and piloting their own robot, it’s hard not to share that same enthusiasm with the kid. Hell, watching him solo a giant monster was so fun that I had to go watch it again! But, therein lies a small problem, there really isn’t much hardship in Erni’s life. Most things just seem to go his way and it’s starting to wear a little thin. Besides that, no one in his group of friends has had any kind of development besides being arm-candy for the kid, which . . . is to be a little expected seeing as how they’ve gotten about 1/20th of the lines he has.
The world this anime has built is fairly brilliant and it’s fun to get engrossed in it. Being a part of Erni’s enthusiasm sometimes makes you forget you’re watching an anime, and not standing right next to him as he dissects both robots and spells and makes them all stronger to fit his needs. But, this leads to the biggest problem of the show: the narrator. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? The narrator, for whatever reason, is shoehorned into almost every other important scene to throw out random bits of exposition or treat us like we’re stupid. Yes, I am very aware that someone reporting to a shady person in a bar is most likely a traitor, thank you for telling me that! The narrator is just so bad that they completely pull me out of every scene they decide to inject them into and it’s beyond infuriating.
The show is fairly light-hearted so far, fun, entertaining, and even a little endearing despite a couple of the shortcomings. I do recommend watching this show if you like robots and/or fantasy, because they make an oddly good pairing. Like reducing Wine and Soy Sauce to make a delicious dressing for your food. . . Weird analogy? Anyway, I do enjoy this show even beyond the aggravating narrator and recommend watching at least two episodes. With at least that much, you’ll know where you stand on the whole subject. Just trust me on this, and completely tune out the narrator.
Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun
(Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun)
Outlook: Clean Freak But Still Can’t Clean Up His Anime –
So I may have mentioned that I forced my friends to watch a specific show this season. Well, as they say, equivalent exchange is a bitch. . . Wait, does no one say that? TM’ed. Aoyama–kun is a show my dear friend (Dr.)Gabe picked for us to watch and if there is one thing I know about (Dr.)Gabe, it’s that he loves sports and sports anime.
As you can probably guess, our titular character is, well, a clean freak. Actually, it would be more accurate to say he has severe OCD regarding his cleanliness. That being said, Aoyama is also the star soccer player for his high school soccer team. Though it may be weird for a man with a germophobic disposition to play a sport that involves physical contact with disgusting sweaty men, trapping the ball with your chest, and occasionally using your head to pass the ball, Aoyama has a love of the sport that is easy to see . . . I mean, in his playstyle not his face. He’s fairly deadpan the entire show. Though, in this case, his germophobia has worked to his benefit. Aoyama is so afraid to touch anyone else that he’s become an excellent Midfielder capable of expertly dribbling the ball around all of his foes. Adapting to a playstyle that keeps him just out of reach of other players, Aoyama has made himself something of a social oddity and a sports celebrity.
Through Aoyama’s own love of the game and adaptability, he has become sought after by many other schools. However, his problems do come at a cost. It is nearly impossible to pass to him because of his phobia. His fears taking the forefront of his consciousness, Aoyama will instinctively dodge any pass coming his way to keep himself clean at all costs. But, with that being said, Aoyama hates one thing more than getting dirty, and that’s losing.
Although it sounds fairly serious and, for lack of a better term, “sports-like”, Aoyama-kun generally doesn’t take itself very seriously. Counting on one-off jokes or slap-stick to garner some laughs, this anime tends to think itself more a comedy than anything else. Herein lies the problem, it’s an odd mix of comedy and drama that honestly feels a little off putting at times. While I haven’t read the manga nor heard of it until this season, I can’t tell you how similar the two are or if one is better than the other. What I can tell you is that it tends to dance around the serious subject of Aoyama’s OCD then dives right into a joke or two to make you feel less tense about the entire situation of him being extremely frustrating for his teammates to deal with.
When you enter the world of sports anime, it would be incredibly easy to use something like Aoyama’s condition to push for growth of character and relationship with his team as they help him conquer his fears. However, neither taking a fully serious approach nor a silly one, Aoyama-kun finds a very strange medium that I’m having a terribly difficult time falling in line with. If we’re being completely honest, my favorite episode so far was the second where we are introduced to a young girl, Moka, who has had a crush on Aoyama for several years. Seeing her “find” her way into the boy’s’ locker room to clean up was honestly both the funniest and most endearing part of the show!
Aoyama-kun straddles a strange line between comedy and drama that’s hard to follow. The animation during the actual soccer parts isn’t anything special to look at and the serious scenes are often curtailed by a stray joke to offset the entire act. However there is still some promise beyond episode three: they’ve basically pulled out every trope known to sports anime in three episodes, so now we have to see something original! If you’re a big fan of sports anime, then you might like how it takes a break from all the serious stuff – Hajime no Ippo or Slam Dunk – to make a more light-hearted show. If you don’t find yourself in the genre often, this one won’t be the one to change you. I’d recommend at least two episodes for those interested.