Fall Anime: The Second Gift!
Winding Down to Watch Some Winners!
(. . . and Maybe One Loser. . .)
By: Head Writer – J.R Tafoya
Hello, Giga-Landers! It’s that time of year again! I always say it’s amazing being an anime nerd because we get Christmas five times a year! One for every anime season and one for actual Christmas!
Again, Yours Truly is here to help you to try and pick out the best presents first as we shuffle through the Fall season of anime! Again, with our young Bryan taking the reigns, we’ve decided to draft anime from a list and description alone. Our rules are simple: No second seasons (unless EVERYONE has seen the first season), no porn, and if you willingly drop the show everyone else can as well (or you can give them permission)!
First up is Dustin’s pick with Garo -Vanishing Line-. True to his Tokusatsu tendencies, Dustin comes out with a solid pick that features vivid animation, over-the-top action, and a bit of a dark story, all with a slightly American feel to them. A good gift for anyone into the “suit hero” series or action in general. Our next gift comes from the prestigious Captain Gabe, winner of our last draft. His daring choice is Infini-T Force starring several heroes from the Tatsunoko universe. But, let’s face it, we all know Tekkaman is the coolest! With these two choices, anyone into action heroes will have a stocking full of wonderful anime! Lastly is our manliest-man, John’s choice! Though I fear he may have a penchant for B-rated anime. Dies Irae is a cacophony of different presents wrapped in one present . . . what the real present is, I couldn’t even begin to tell you!
As the weather turns a brisk cold and the wind blows gently, open your wings and let my writing that is the wind beneath you carry you to new anime heights! If you’re someone who likes to wait a few weeks to find out which anime is worth watching, then look no further! Your answer lie naught but a single read of this article away!
Garo -Vanishing Line-
Outlook: Big Burly Biceps Brings Down Bad Beasts! –
If you’re familiar with our “Draft pick rules” for anime, you’ll likely wonder why this show was picked at all as you’ve probably heard about an anime called Garo: The Animation or Garo: Honoo no Kokuin. For this, we consult our resident “Tokusatsu” expert and chooser of this anime, Dustin! As an expert on the subject, Dustin says that, like many Tokusatsu (or, live action film or TV Drama that includes super/suit hero series), Garo is a series of one-offs that are usually never concurrent. So, in this case, Garo is another anime without a connection to another. Score one for the expert!
This particular Garo stars Sword, and yes that’s his name, a Makai Knight charged with protecting a (very American-like) city called “Russell City”. A Makai Knight like Sword is drawn to an area for one specific reason: to destroy the monsters known as Horrors. When a dense population of Horrors accumulates, a Makai Knight’s job is to find the reason, and rid the world of the Horrors before they can infect and turn other humans into Horrors themselves. However, Sword’s only clue to this mystery of gathering Horrors is the term, “El Dorado”.
While tracking down a particularly tricky Horror one day, Sword saves a young girl named Sophie who was being tracked by the very same Horror he was trying to kill. However, this chance meeting reveals that Sophie’s brother has gone missing, and the last thing he said to her was the very same term, “El Dorado”. Thankfully, Sword isn’t alone in this apparently herculean task. Every Makai Knight has Makai Alchemists on their side to assist them in their investigations. Luke, a sharp-shooter with foresight so accurate it’s almost as if he can see in the future, and Gina, a spy woman with ability to break into anything and everything (with a rockin’ body to match), Sword has a formidable force to be reckoned with.
What differentiates Garo from the rest of the pack this season, other than the outlandish and fun character designs, is how it approaches all of its artistic mediums. By that, I mean, most everything has a bit of an American-styled touch to it. The character designs are slightly reminiscent of Afro Samurai and the accentuated body proportions (male and female) give off a strangely unique vibe. The fight sequences are given a bit of camera shake to help add to the feeling of strength and how the demons and Knights are magnitudes stronger than we are. The cinematography and camera work really help add speed and depth to every swing when the camera is moved in a certain direction. Like I mentioned before, everything it does has this American touch to it, despite being ostensibly Japanese, that gives it a unique and gratifying feel.
The show itself is ridiculously over-the-top, especially with how it animated fights. I’ve never seen a grown man, with at least 200 lbs of muscle, sucker punch a monster off the side of a high-rise apartment, catch it in mid-air, and then pile drive it into a parked car and then walk away unscathed. Yes, ALL the scenes are that ridiculous. But, this extravagance really makes it feel so much more fun than most other things this season.
The music itself is generally a good draw as well. With heavy metal to back some of the more serious scenes, and toe-tappingly good insert songs to help pave the way for the action, Garo honestly has one of the better soundtracks this season, which is surprising in and of itself.
None of the characters have been given more than a one episode introduction on who they are and how they help Sword, but there’s plenty of time to get to that later as the show has been given 2 cours. However, Garo has a found a good balance to help pad the episodes with some good comedy, especially Sword’s . . . er . . . “appreciation” for the female body. Clasping your hands in thanks to God for a woman’s breasts can be, well, I guess we can see where he’s coming from, right men?
We generally aren’t sure why they fight yet, or why the Makai Alchemists have decided to help Sword, or even if there will be different armors yet, but Garo has done a good job of adding a bit of story content to its “Monster of the Week” formula, even if at a water-drips pace. All in all, Garo -Vanishing Line- is genuinely one of the funnest and most ridiculous shows this season. Extremely outrageously animated, action-packed, and fairly dark to boot, Garo is a great choice for anyone looking for a good “Anime Tokusatsu”, anything action-packed, or a story with grim-dark undertones.
If any of these things pertain to you, you’ll be as happy as Sword is when he thanks the Lord Above for a pair of bodacious breasts bouncing his way. I know Dustin is, at least! One episode is all it takes to know if you’ll like it or not!
P.S On a personal scale, I absolutely adore the Garo armor.
Outlook: The Heroes We Deserve That the Protagonist Does Not –
Fans of the Hero and Tokusatsu genre are just really lucky this season! To celebrate their 55th Anniversary, Tatsunoko has debuted an anime starring their most popular heroes in an anime together called Infini-T Force. Although, fans of the manga will need to know that the anime will be different than the source material.
Infini-T Force stars a lone high school female named Kaidou Emi (one letter away from “emo”). Emi is a known loner with an apparent death wish. Seemingly every day, she will drive her motorcycle through the busiest intersection in Shibuya, running the red light, and promises to buy herself something if she lives. What’s worse, apparently her friends know about this but don’t do anything . . . some friends. One day, in her race against death, Emi is caught in an inter-dimensional accident and wakes up to see she is saved by none other than Hurricane Polymar (of Hurricane Polymar) and Ken the Eagle (Gatchaman). However, in the ensuing chaos, she also finds that she has some kind of magic pencil, and no I’m not joking, in her hands. After the three are assisted by Tekkaman Blade (of Tekkaman Blade), Emi promptly ignores them without thanks and goes home by herself. Though, the magic pencil she wields has a mind of it’s own and it calls out to a final hero, Casshern (of Casshern Sins . . . or Casshan).
These heroes, known and loved by a lot of us older nerds, are all from different worlds. However, their worlds have all been utterly destroyed by a villain named simply “Z”. Using a tool called “The Case”, Z was able to erase all of their worlds in favor of just one, however, that “Case” is now in Emi’s hands and the heroes we know and love must find a way to stop Z and possibly bring back their worlds with the wish granting “Case” that now belongs to Emi. However, babysitting a pubescent emo child with daddy issues comes with it’s own set of hassles. Let’s just say that the task of saving the world might not be quite as hard as dealing with this child.
When you think of crossovers, normally the last thing you think of is “Tatsunoko”. Hell, the last time they had a crossover, that comes to memory, was a Wii exclusive called Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. However, bringing back these heroes that are near and dear to our hearts tends to narrow a lot of eyes in the video games and anime communities. Crossovers tend to be very low quality in terms of story, and generally exist to boost marketing and sales for a specific company. Although it seems that this show has been given a lot of care and attention that it deserves and the 3D modeling is leagues beyond most anime airing today, even on the level of Knights of Sidonia itself. The motions are clean and carry a sense of weight and continuity to them that shows a lot of attention to detail not just in the modelling department, but also the fight choreography. This, my friends, is one show I can recommend that will not disappoint on a visual level, so don’t let the 3D get in the way of you watching this.
There is one huge detriment to this show and, if you haven’t guessed that blaringly obvious detail already, it’s Emi. Our bratty protagonist has thus far been no use to the plot whatsoever and whose only real contribution to the story was to be a complete jerk to the people that saved her life, and to act completely disinterested in anything related to the heroes or her life, no matter how world-ending it may be. It’s like she carries all the negative qualities of a tsundere and kuudere lead, without any of the redeeming ones to back them up and this in turn makes it very difficult to care about her or any of her garden variety problems. To be blunt, her character is all over the place, ranging from disinterested bitch to pessimistic asshole and everywhere in between. Though, I’m not exactly knowledgeable about women (who’da thunk?), so maybe her character is on point. I’d deign to guess otherwise though.
All in all, Infini-T Force is actually fun and enjoyable to watch, especially for a lot of us who grew up with Gatchaman and Tekkaman in the past. Hell, I myself have a certain affection for Casshern so this is right up my ally. This, on the other hand, speaks volumes about the anime itself. Most people who don’t know any of these characters will very likely be disinterested off the bat, however charismatic all four of our heroes are; and dammit, they are just so fun to watch together! That, and like I mentioned before, this is just a crossover, so their meeting up is another trope that spells itself out as a bit of a marketing ploy. However, the overall story is honestly fairly strong and some of the characters and their interactions really make the show worth watching.
If you’re a die-hard fan of Tatsunoko, you like (suit)heroes, or you want a fun action/drama to watch this season, Infini-T Force is definitely a good shot. It’s obvious that it’s geared for a specific crowd, but it definitely warrants at least one episode to know where you stand on the “Anime Tokusatsu” idea!
P.S. Friender best dog. I am supremely happy/surprised to see him in this show!
Outloook: Is An Evil Super Space Nazi from Space Germany a Neo-Neo-Nazi. . .? –
I’m not some kind of high-class writer or storyboard specialist, and I would never claim to be. Sure, I’m better than most of your high school graduates, this much I’m sure of, but I would never assert that I’m of a “higher breed” than others because my writing skills are slightly above average. However, I DO know that when you’re writing and storyboarding an anime, you should probably let your audience know what in God’s Great Name you’re trying to convey so they can give a damn! Isn’t that just “Writing 101”!? However, Dies Irae seems to have skipped that class. I imagine a similar scenario taking place during their idea process:
Director: “Guys, we need an new idea for an anime!”
Jim: “SUPER POWERED NEO-NAZIS!”
“Great idea!”, says the Director not understanding satire. “What’s our catch!?”
“They . . . have . . . SUPER POWERS! . . .?”
“AMAZING JIM! Simply amazing. You’re well on your way to a raise! So what’s our story, what’s our endgame!?”
“H…Here’s the thing . . . let’s not even mention a hint of story until halfway through, that way everyone will be FORCED to watch the entire thing!” said Jim as he lied through his teeth. “The mystery is so good, they’ll just have to watch it all the way through to get any of the story!”
“Jim. These are my house keys. Take them. My wife will be waiting on the bed for you.”
. . . Fuckin’ Jim. He probably doesn’t realize we could all stop giving a flying fuck and just stop watching altogether. . . (Never let anyone tell you writing dialogue is easy).
So, I’m gonna be terribly blunt: I have no fucking clue what this show is about. I’ve tried. I really have. And I can’t dissect this enough in my brain to even venture a guess at what that might be. But, hell, I’m always wrong so what’s one more loss added to that record? Here goes. . .
. . . Super . . . Super Neo Nazis . . . want to . . . taaaaake over . . . the . . . world . . . tooooo . . . raise Zombie Hitler . . .? Ok, so not terribly original. But, it’s a guess!
As you can probably tell, Dies Irae is just . . . it’s just a mess. It’s cacophony of “things” put together into a “thing” where “things” happen. The series starts with an ominous “episode 0” that has fuck all to do with anything. Of all the things I couldn’t understand, the particular episode was the least comprehensible of the group. It follows the life of a Nazi rising through the ranks after their defeat in World War II. However, none of the story elements form a cohesive whole and the dialogue is the most anime bullshit you’ve heard. To the point where none of the things being said ever beckoned the responses they gave, none of it is how any person would ever converse! Hell, that entire episode just seemed like it was directed and produced by a hardcore fujoshi and with all the beautiful men, half naked men, and men dressed like women running around you’d be hardpressed to prove me wrong. Even the art was just as bad, none of the landscapes made any bloody sense! When one person looked left, they were in a church courtyard, but when they turned back they were OUTSIDE that same courtyard and the person standing next to them was somehow already fighting! I could go on, but I’ll save my keyboard the pain of my furious typing. Talk about a self-satisfied nerd-rage, am I right guys? I’m awful.
The second and third episodes were completely different and none of the characters in episode 0 ever showed up to resume their roles! Hell, this proves further that episode was useless! However, our new main character is a high school boy name Fujii Ren who . . . uh . . . is afraid of blades . . . and has dreams of being beheaded at the guillotine every night? He also has a childhood friend who takes care of him! And then he gets attacked by two super Nazis and then they start going to school together. YES! That is exactly how those episodes were portrayed to me. Well, the second episode anyway, the first episode explained nothing, had no exposition, and gave me no information whatsoever on who anyone was or why I should give a damn.
Good Lord, my thoughts are all over the place. I digress. Let’s go back a few steps and move forward from there, shall we? Dies Irae is the name of a Latin Hymn (lit. the ‘Song of Wrath’) that tells of the end times. Looking deeper, some of the visual themes portrayed in the anime are alluding to this idea. However, the anime makes no attempt to reveal any kind of relevant information that would let us piece together some kind of plot. That is to say, there is no plot to speak of. Things happen in this show because the writers say they should, not because those things would logically happen in that sequence – and that’s just an awful writing taboo. The characters are about as deep as a puddle and all fit very snugly into typical anime tropes that probably describes their personalities more than the anime has so far.
The only good thing about the show so far is the music. Using a mixture of rock and heavy metal accompanied by orchestral instruments, mainly violins, it sets a strong auditory tone for the entire show. The anthem rock style music generally fits well with . . . well, whatever it is they’re trying to do.
The animation, however, is much the opposite. Lackluster to the point of boring, the animation takes a lot of shortcuts to try and cover its shortcomings. A good 80-90% of the animation is either stills, stock footage, or choppy – in a sense that they use very few frames to animate a motion while trying to cover it with quick camera work – and definitely leaves a lot to be desired.
As a whole, Dies Irae is laughably bad. Bad to a point where I can probably call this something similar to a “B movie”. When I think of this anime, I think that THIS is how “normies” see anime as a whole. You know how the “normies” try to explain anime to YOU, even though you’ve been watching it for years? THIS IS THAT ANIME THEY’RE EXPLAINING! The plot is literally nonexistent even three episodes in, the characters have no personality besides the trope they are based on, and the dialogue is so rigid and senseless that it doesn’t follow any logical thought patterns. Nothing this show has done has made any sense so far, and I’ve given it over an hour of my life! To top it all off, the second episode, knowing full well that it was doing something wrong, decided to throw in some upskirt for some third-rate chuuni fanservice to appease the minds the younger demographic. If that’s not bad enough, every preview we read on the anime told us something different. In this case, you know someone screwed up somewhere! If you’re going to withhold all pertinent information from your audience, at least make it worth our time!
I cannot, and will not, recommend this anime to anyone. With how absolutely asinine the show is altogether, you’d likely be as lost as I am. And to top it all off, the so-called “episode 0” was so insultingly infuriating, and altogether useless, that I recommend forgetting that it even exists. If you really need some kind of super-powered action anime to watch, things like Inuyashiki or Garo are MUCH more enjoyable in every fashion compared to this. If you like shows that are just “B Movie Bad” then you’re on your way to some gold, I guess.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.