Summer 2017 Anime Trailing In:
The 2nd Heat!
By: Head Writer – J.R Tafoya
Hello again, my Giga-Landers! J.R here again to bring you the Summer season’s anime in it’s final state!
As promised, I have performed my herculean task of watching
12 a lot of anime this season to find what shows are definitely worth watching, and which ones should be buried in the backyard with the rest of the skeletons. As is my civic duty, I promise to bring you and expertly(?) written review with no bias whatsoever at all, anywhere in here . . . at all. Anywhere.
First we have Dustin’s pick of Knight’s & Magic which is as grammatically incorrect as it is fun! . . . Take that as you will. Pitting giant robots against magic, and giant robots WITH magic, Knight’s stumbles into the finish line with a less-than-graceful completion. Next we have my choice, Fate/Apocrypha! Swerving all over the track and no where near close to finished, it’s fallen a bit behind but still holds a special spot in my heart. Finally we have our final pick, Vatican. Unable to finish, even given the grace of God, Vatican has been lost somewhere as it left the track weeks ago and is now considered MIA.
With all the love in my heart, which honestly isn’t all that much, I bring you the reviews you so deserve. If you’re the kind of person who likes to wait for an anime season to end, and then find out which ones were the best so you can marathon them, I have your answer(s) right here! Look no further than this, and the following, articles!
As the wind beneath your wings and the weed killer in your garden of anime, I welcome you. And, as always, you’re welcome!
Knight’s & Magic
Verdict: Still Grammatically Incorrect –
The forever grammatically inaccurate Knight’s & Magic seems to have put as much effort into it’s anime as it did in its English. That is to say, “What the hell happened to this show!?”
Knight’s begins as so many “Isekai” shows do: Something happens to the main character (sometimes death), they are transported to a different world (usually fantasy), and then they use their knowledge of their former life to give them an edge in this new one. While this was no different from the standard formula, our hero Ernesti uses his knowledge of . . . programming to build giant Gundam-like mechs. Despite the strange and inaccurate connection between engineering and programming, Ernesti uses his intelligence in a new and satisfying we haven’t seen before: to make giant mechs beat magic! Well, mostly anyway.
This new world Ernesti was apart of was inhabited by giant demons prone to attacking humanity whenever it fit their fancy. However, utilizing the new technology adapted by our pre-pubescent hero, his kingdom is able to stave off not only giant behemoth-like demons, but MOSTLY the advances of different countries. Naturally, Ernesti’s leaps and bounds in the world of “Silhouette Knights”, the mechs of that world, are envied the world over and neighboring countries take any chance they get to try and steal his new inventions. While most of this may sound exciting on paper, the show tends to handle it fairly . . . boring . . . ly? Every and all obstacles placed in Ernesti’s path are displayed as nothing more than a trifle in his eyes. He handles all of his problems in the same way every Gary Stue/Jesus-kun/Kirito character does: easily and by pulling new powers/technology out of his ass.
The problem here is that this particular IP doesn’t seem to have adapted well to this new medium. While the Light Novel and source of the anime seems to be much more about how Ernesti builds new mechs, the anime had rushed through most of his thought processes and any character development whatsoever to fast forward to the cool robot fights. This approach to the books has an unfortunate side effect of erasing all the drama and weight any situation could have held, had we been given a little time we may have had a legitimate reason to give a flying F—. Hell, one of the antagonists that stole some technology from the main characters was (very) obviously killed off late in the show and her final words were something along the lines of how she would never restore honor to so-and-so’s name (or something). And the show spent a solid minute on this forcing me to believe I should have had some inkling of empathy for her! But, here’s the problem: all of the exposition was skipped, I DON’T EVEN KNOW HER NAME!
All in all, Knight’s and Magic is one thing: escapism for mecha fans. None of the characters are deeper than a puddle, including Ernesti himself, and none of the problems they deal with leave a lasting impression. Why should I deign to care when Ernesti can handwave any problems away with new “technology”? One thing that confused me was Ernesti himself. Someone makes a comment about how he had two souls in him, or something to that effect, and he looked confused. . . Did Ernesti not know he was in someone else’s’ body? How did he have all that programming and technological knowledge? How in the hell was he capable of such feets if he WAS only a child?! These questions plague my mind for a countless seven seconds until I’m finished writing this.
With the only positive being that the mecha action was actually really fun to watch, I can’t wholly recommend this show in good conscience. The worst and most insulting part of the show, again, was the Narrator. While it may seem a weird thing to harp on, I assure you I have plenty of evidence and conviction on my side. When something happens in an anime, I can literally see it happening BECAUSE it’s an anime. I don’t need to be told what had just happened like I’m some kind of buffoon, thank you. Consistent to the point where it was infuriatingly insulting, the Narrator turned this show from something bearable, to something downright bad. Yes, I can see that the shady-looking person flipping a coin to another shady-looking person in a bar is a spy. Thank you for explaining tha to me like I’m an ignorant child. “Show, don’t tell” is a saying for a good reason, people.
Anyone looking for a mech show could definitely do better. I may not have been a fan of Iron-Blooded Orphan’s second season, but even that was better than this. Hell, I’ve heard Macross Delta was great, so why not watch that instead!? If you’re just really, really hurting for a mecha show, I guess I might throw the slightest of recommendations in your path, but I’d still recommend a pass. There are always bigger and better robots out there anyway!
Verdict: Sumanai/Apocrypha –
Ok, Ok. I’ve finally been called on my bullshit guys. I’ve been caught. Fate/Apocrypha isn’t actually as good as I’d originally led you to believe. I do have a good reason for attempting to mislead you though! I really, really just want more people to appreciate the Fate universe as much as I do! That being said, while I may have over-talked the anime originally, I did believe it was going somewhere at first, so I’ve been duped as well!
One of F/A’s biggest failings comes from its focus, or lack thereof. With the premise of seven servants, seven masters, and two teams, we have a whole (perceived) 28 people that we need to split our attention from. While the actual number isn’t quite that high, it is fairly over the limit when it comes to the character count. In this, we see a long line of episodes that never focus on one group for very long, this in turn creates a disconnect between us and any characters they may try to endear us to.
While the presented issues may be a problem, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good characters. Mordred, for instance, was an amazing character that genuinely deserved more screentime than she got. Her and her master, Shishigo, formed a pair that was hard not to love. Mordred, being the traitorous son of King Arthur, was rash, hard-headed, and short-tempered. Hell, she would have made a downright awful king, but it was hard not to love her and her stupid antics. The juxtaposition presented from the original Saber and her made something that was far more interesting than most other points in the rest of the show. A terrible person, a protagonist at that, vying for the title of King? Complicated emotions are definitely sure to spring up form that. For all it was worth, she definitely the most human character and the only one the show may have a had a chance on, had it hinged more on her and Shishigo.
Instead, we’re treated to a smorgasbord of epic heroes and villains, an anti-hero thrown in for good measure, and a Mary Sue version of Jeanne D’Arc that makes me wince having remembered how amazing she was in Fate/Grand Order. What’s more, it’s hard to get behind anyone of the characters as protagonists or veritable “good guys”. None of them on the side of the Ygdmillenia family seem to have a reason to fight beyond “save the family!”, and their in-fighting, which seems more like familial bickering, really gets tiresome after too long. On the flip side we have the Mage’s Association that is so underutilized that we don’t know more than two of the masters.
Where the anime fails the hardest isn’t just the character focus, it’s the story focus as well. About halfway through the first season, things just start happening for no apparent reason than because a specific character said it would. Despite most of the universe being written in a way that the unbelievable becomes believable, watching a castle float through the sky to suck up an oversized holy grail (egg-thing) while spitting out skeletons and NO ONE IN THE CITY deigns to ask what’s going on an- . . . I think I’ve made my point. The story jumps from one character to the next almost every episode and in doing so, also jumps the story around. So much so that it’s almost non-existent beyond, “kill the other guys”.
There are some high points to the show, the first being the score. The music in F/A is very orchestral driven and in a sense, fits the show to a “T”. Many of the dramatic scenes are given that much more impact because of the heavy baritone sounds of the orchestra hitting at just the right moment.
Secondly is the animation. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that the animation “isn’t as good as Unlimited Blade Works” or “just isn’t good at all”. I can’t help but argue this point because anyone that says the animation is “bad” is just undeniably wrong. While the animation techniques and styles from Studio A-1 may be much different than UFOtable’s, their styles vary greatly in what they convey. A-1 has done an outstanding job of animating the fight scenes in a way that not only gives a strong impact when weapons clash or fists connect, but in a sense that we see just how strong servants are compared to humans. Even beyond just showing off intense speed or strength, specific character’s like Rider of Red are shown to have technique that rival perfection. With quick yet powerful movements, none of which are wasted, he is able to stop two foes in their tracks and this is something that only a specific, beautiful style of animation can capture. I highly implore you to see for yourself how good these scenes actually are, before becoming tainted with the toxic criticism of others.
All in all, I can’t say in all honesty that Fate/Apocrypha is good. While I may like it, and that’s my Fate bias talking, I can’t say that newcomers to the series will enjoy it themselves. With a highly fractured story and characters more shallow than a kiddy pool, you’d likely find yourself confused and uncaring for just about everyone other than Rider of Black or Mordred. Hell, the character headlining as the protagonist is so boring and stupid that you’d likely be rooting for his erasure, especially after the big reveal on what his “power” is. Even past my biased love for all things Fate-related and the all encompassing “Nasu-verse”, Fate/Apocrypha is definitely a train wreck that’s painful to watch. Anyone unknowing of the the franchise before going in may want to sidestep this sliding catastrophe.
. . . However, Unlimited Blade Works is still great and the Heaven’s Feel movie is coming out soon. Please, PLEASE give it another chance!
Vatican Kiseki Chousakan
(Vatican Miracle Examiners)
Verdict: No. –
If Fate/Apocrypha is a train wreck, the Vatican is that very train, on it’s side still, inching toward a bridge believing with all it’s might that it can make it over.
“No!” I scream, “You can’t do it, you’ll never make it over!”
“I’ll show you!” says Vatican as it inches ever closer to the precipice.
“What you’re doing is literally impossible, there’s not enough man power! Nothing about what you’re doing makes sense!” I say in response to their naivety.
“Neigh! We are righteous, and therefore correct! We can and WILL make it over!” says Vatican with unwavering conviction as it tips its fedora at us with a smile. (I would appreciate it if you read that in Yahtzee’s voice from “Zero Punctuation”.)
Unflinching, Vatican moves forward at a snail’s pace, determined beyond all reasonable doubt, to prove everyone wrong. It CAN make it over that bridge, just you wait! You’ll all be choking on your words when they make it to the other side!
With too much
cringe fear in my heart, I cover my eyes and look away, making sure to bury my head in the snow so I won’t be able to hear the screams of agony as it falls to its inevitable doom.
. . . Huh . . . I guess that paints a clear enough picture of Vatican as any, right?
Vatican had become such a mess that I legitimately couldn’t bear to watch it anymore. Crushing my pride into pieces and licking them up with all the grace of David Hasselhoff eating a hamburger off the floor, I was unable to keep my promise to watch all six shows.
Vatican was home to so many writing taboos that is was near impossible to keep count. While no miracles were actually explored, Vatican instead thought itself something along the lines of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works, “Sherlock Holmes”. Preferring to err on the side of mystery, rather than intrigue, Vatican uses the worst form of storytelling used in mystery shows: withholding all the information from the watcher whenever possible to try and surprise them with “facts” and “clues”.
Where this fails is that this anime is home to so much forced exposition that I can barely move after being force-fed all of it. Some of the conclusions they draw come straight from left field, if left field were in outer space atop a comet barreling into the sun at a rate approaching the speed of light. Hell, to try and retroactively prove themselves correct, they would find clues, and then flashback to WHEN the found the clue apparently two episodes earlier!
The script is subject to a plethora of grievous atrocities and to top it off, the dialogue is just as bad. While I go over the worst parts of the show in my initial article, all I need to let you know is that it gets worse. From neo-nazi-demon-worshippers being burned alive with sulfuric acid to African pagans beheading Christians and sacrificing unborn fetuses, the show takes a nose dive off a fairly low hanging bridge. Remember that bridge they were trying to cross. . .?
The worse part about all of this is that they commit so strongly to this piece of crap. It’s not like watching some kind of “B” movie where you can delight in the “bad-ness” of the show. Vatican truly believes that it has some kind of meaningful story to tell and a deep message to convey. This, my friends, is its biggest sin.
Anyway, to say the least I cannot, and will not, recommend this show to anyone. Even while they did have one decent and heart-warming episode, everything else they do is lost in a cacophony of disgorged garbage intended for God knows who. Whoever did the camerawork/cinematography for the show definitely needs to be fired; I’ve never become nauseous when watching a still shot before. The writers have no idea what direction they wanted to take the anime because there were definitely no miracles or examinations of such. The score was unoriginal and only used classical orchestral pieces to covers its tracks. Finally, the overall direction was mired amidst an overly ambitious attempt at a modern-day social commentary regarding religion. As a Catholic myself, I wanted to be invested in what anime had to say about religion in general, but my curiosity was paid in kind with a slap to the face. That’ll teach me.
I’ve said it before, but. . .
The power of Christ compels you! . . . Not to watch this show!