Hello hello! This is the final part of Anime Roundup: Spring 2013. Parts 1 and 2 discussed the shows that were kind of a let down and those that were consistently good, respectively. The final part is The Wildcards! Basically, shows that were actually quite enjoyable despite very evident flaws or those without considerable hype.
Like always, if you haven’t seen the full roster of Spring 2013’s check it out here: http://anichart.net/spring
This review would only cover those that I watched and not all the anime for this season. Minor spoiler-y stuff ahead!
Have you ever watched a show that made you cringe so much, yet you always admittedly enjoyed? Or shows that were so under the radar, but was actually good? Ladies and gentlemen, I present you The Wildcards. The shows in this category are basically those that you thought would suck so bad, or was so cliche but you couldn’t help watching it. It’s basically the crack addiction of anime. Somewhat bad for your head, but you just can’t stop. Okay, maybe that’s overdoing it. A better analogy would be that weird eccentric friend of yours that annoys you to hell, but also entertaining to watch. Get it? That’s basically it!
Do remember that what I may find “enjoyable” may not actually be enjoyable to others. Don’t treat it as gospel. It would make me blush~
1) Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince
I assumed Majestic Prince was some kind of cheesy-type anime because of its title. I should have listened to my grandfather when he said never to judge a book by its anime title–err something like that, I think. For a sci-fi mecha action anime, this one flew below the radar. It was probably overshadowed by its more popular mecha cousins Suisei and Valvrave, which were both backed by prominent studios. But this show, despite its flaws, proved to be a diamond in the rough.
Majestic Prince’s premise is about the Fail Five mecha pilots as they fight for humanity against the enigmatic Wulgaru race. They are so called Fail Five because of their lack of team-work and coordination, despite all of them being top-notch pilots. Unlike the other mecha shows where they go down the serious brooding Gundam path, this one took the Gurren Lagann route minus the over-the-top antics. The very atmosphere of the show is lighthearted, you don’t get much of the screaming shounen stuff, or the I-can-suddenly-pilot-a-mecha-watch-me-pew-pew BS.
The show is easy to the eyes, violence is to a minimal, angry people are at a minimal, and the characters are quite lovable and adorable. Everyone has some unique personalities and traits, though I have mixed feeling watching their antics. Sometimes, I like it that they show a particular trait from the characters, but sometimes it seems so out of place and forcing it. Especially scenes that were obvious comedy lures. Dialogue can sometimes be forced, especially when spouting reactions, where they go one by one, completing sentences as if they are a hive mind or something.
Plot-wise, it’s fantastic and it actually has depth. The show is not a convoluted mess of sci-fi, it leaves most of that abstracted; there is not too much political maneuvering to bother with (it’s quite subverted actually). The pacing is quite slow-moving, but it does speed up in the latter episodes. The drawing point of this show is the reason the Wulgaru are attacking humans in the first place. It’s by no means, just for extermination, invasion, or colonization. There is a higher cause and this becomes an important plot point for most of the characters. It’s also quite action-packed, there were a lot of fights, and it also has one of the most interesting setups.
The humans actually outnumber the enemy in military capabilities and territories. The advantage of the Wulgaru aside from technological superiority is that they are a united front, and like I said, they have a valid albeit morally questionable cause. Compared to the humans who have their own and multiple agendas. Also, the main characters won their first fight, but loses the next, wins in one mission, and loses in a huge-scale war (officially they won, but had too much losses). They actually win and lose instead of the continuous win and win and win present in the Gundam franchise.
Visually, it’s amazing though I don’t like the character designs. It resembles Gundam Seed too much (same visual artists) and most characters look like they got a nose job. The show has some cliches and tropes, and some bad animating styles. Nobody wants to see multiple character panels spouting one-liners over and over again. It’s like they are abusing multiple panels for no reason at all.
But really, if you want some relaxing yet action-packed mecha anime with actual depth, then this one is a great choice.
*Status: Still watching and this show is two-cour, by the way
*Recommendation: Watch it for a change of pace in the mecha genre
I can’t believe that this show doesn’t get much love than it actually deserves. Mushibugyou is the B-movie equivalent of all those shounen anime out there. It has all of the shounen elements: a very energetic, noisy, and over-eager main character; fanservice; and lots and lots of action. The story is quite unique, basically Edo-period Tokyo is under attack by these giant man-eating bugs and the one who defends against them are the Insect Magistrate or Mushibugyo. That’s samurai and bomb-wielding ninjas versus gigantic bugs.
The main character is a hate it or love it type, if you can’t get past his antics like greeting everybody with a loud voice, then most likely you wouldn’t enjoy the show that much. The other characters were quite meh and didn’t have development that much, but so far, they haven’t reached the point that they would annoy me with their dialogues, idiocy, or action. No pointless drama, thank god, and no out of place seriousness.
Mushibugyou had an interesting pilot episode, but it did the mistake of stalling the plot in the next few three episodes to introduce the other members of the team. Though we do get insights from those characters, and them slowly warming up to the MC, it felt quite detached. Only after getting past this would the plot start to slowly pick up and progress, and it’s worth it too. More characters are introduced, we see our MC get stronger, and lots and lots of action. It has a decent plot, and since it’s two-cour, there is still time to actually see the characters develop. Plus, the mystery of the giant bugs and where they came from is also worth waiting for (or I might have missed it already, might have to check again)
The animation is gorgeous, and no significant drop in quality–another reason why I wonder it isn’t getting that much attention. Though I do know that good visual doesn’t always equal a good show (I’m looking at you Guilty Crown). Most people avoid it because it screams shounen cliche just from the opening song itself, but there’s more to it than that, I swear. If you like lots of action, a vengeful streak against bugs that ruined your childhood, fanservice, and a decent shounen that actually treats the story properly–Mushibugyou is the show for you.
*Status: I’ve picked the show quite late and I’m still at episode 10, so far so good
*Recommendation: It’s a hit and miss. If you’re not familiar with most shounen anime this might deter your viewing pleasure
3) Kakumeiki Valvrave (Valvrave the Liberator)
OH MY GOD THIS SHOW IS BONKERS! To watch this, you first have to accept the fact that logic is the least of your priorities. Inhale, exhale, then shut down the part of your brain that governs reason. Don’t even think about taking the show seriously, the only way to appreciate it is to let go of all your earthly attachments to logic and give in to instinct. Because Valvrave is a show that doesn’t mean to be taken seriously. It’s a parody of all the Gundam shows that has ever been–all the cliches, all the ridiculous plot points, and all those cringe-worthy moment tossed and turned, added with a volatile amount of randomness, and made self-aware of all of its flaws.
Valvrave is crazy fun. It has space vampires. That has the ability to switch bodies! It has over-powered mechas that can be piloted only by those space vampires–and one of those mechas have a nymphomaniac AI. It has a government ran by high school students. It has space Nazis with ultra bishounen characters. It has a prophetic one-man army anti-hero in the name of Eruerufu (L-Elf) seriously, I swear this was done on purpose! It’s a show having fun and making fun of itself, and the mecha genre too.
It shows the pitfalls of what would exactly happen when high school students run a government (take that burn Guilty Crown). Speaking of Guilty Crown, when people say this is the next Guilty Crown, they are wrong. Valvrave is different. GC took itself seriously with its clueless writing cliches, shoe-horned the fanservice in, and mixed up the characterizations so bad, it puked all over the plot. Valvrave has some of these flaws, but says screw it, let’s do it for lulz.
For a show chock-full of cliches, it’s trump card is its unpredictability. You thought you’ve called a particular trope but Valvrave says nope, then proceeds to defy your expectations and you are left dumbstruck, trying to scramble for answers, before resigning yourself to the show.
Visuals are great. Character designs are great. While the characters itself are diverse. You would literally want to sock Haruto for being the typical wimpy guy, but the guy has guts. Shouko is a floating mass of cringe-worthy materials. From suggesting to freaking sing jingle bells in a serious disaster to being elected as prime minister by proposing a school festival, or just her attitude in general. Saki on the other hand, seems like the only serious character with actual depth. Plus, she’s the best girl and is a total badass 200 years later. The other characters are idiotic themselves and put out ridiculous dialogues.
The soundtrack is great–heck, the tune of the soundtrack is almost the same on what you hear in every Gundam theme. Basically, here is a summary of Valvrave courtesy of the internetz:
“A show with an immortal body-hijacking vampire highschool student piloting an overpowered demonic self-stabbing mech instructed by an inexplicably white-haired young psychopath prophet rambo genius revolutionary against goddammed space nazis where the good boy can randomly rape the bad girl and then marry her after abandoning his childhood soulmate that became the prime minister with jinglebells is predictable?”
Yep. That’s the entire show out there.
*Status: SAKI IS BEST GIRL. PERIOD.
*Recommendation: Watch it! Don’t think, just watch.
That’s it for The Wildcards! With that, Anime Roundup: Spring 2013 comes to a close. Next time, I’ll be reviewing the Summer 2013 roster and would be posting my pull-list for that season.
Closing Question: What are your wildcard shows for the Spring 2013season?