Part four of our Pocket Reviews series! Let me know what you’ve thought of the reviews so far, and also what anime’s you would like to see reviewed next!
The Asterisk War (2015, S1, 12x24min)
Action, Romance, School, Sci-fi
A meteor storm in the 20th century released an unknown element called mana into the world, an element that allowed human technology to make rapid strides. The element has also seeped into humans, creating a species of super-beings known as the Star Pulse Generation, or Genstella. In six academies around the world, the Genstella battle against each other in duel, using all sorts of weapons and guns including the Orge Lux, special-powered weapons that can only be controlled be certain people. The series follows Amagiri Ayato (man above), a transfer student at Seidokan Academy with a natural gift for battles and a desire to find clues linking to the disappearance of his older sister.
This is one of those anime’s that is not exactly coy with sexuality. The genre is known as ‘harem’, where one man is the desire of three or more women. I’ve seen anime’s that flaunt sexuality and it can be slightly uncomfortable (Arpeggio springs to mind), however Asterisk does it really cleverly. They complement the sexuality with a comedic teenage awkwardness that brings a smile to your face. On that note, this is almost a coming-of-age comedy. There’s a lot of awkward laughs, and it’s a show that will make you smile, but it doesn’t have many dramatic moments. The dramatic moments themselves are also pretty soft, but this wouldn’t be the first anime where that’s the case.
This story does revolve around fighting. The quality of these fights is okay, but not great. There’s so many good fighting based series out there (Fate/Stay Night, RWBY) that not only have a great array of fighters but excellent scenes visually.
Overall, this has been a fun, light-hearted series that’s been easy to get into. I was attracted to this thanks to its similar plot to RWBY, and it shares the ditzy fun that holds RWBY together. Also, the way Asterisk War plays the over-sexuality of anime and turns it into a really funny teen-comedy style event is something I honestly didn’t think was possible, and a really worthwhile takeaway from this.
Akame Ga Kill! (2014, S1, 24x24min)
Young man Tatsumi (white coat in centre) leaves his poor village and heads for the capital to join the army and earn enough money to save his people. However, when he reaches the capital he sees it’s filled with evil, and is far from the money-laden utopia he was expecting. By the end of the first day he is turned down by the army, robbed, loses his friends, and is sleeping rough. He is saved by a young women, who offers him food and shelter. One night the woman’s house is overrun by a group of assassins, who kill the woman for abducting, torturing and killing outsiders just like Tatsumi. The assassins reveal themselves as Night Raid, a notorious band of criminals (including swordswoman Akame, next to Tatsumi above) whose aim is the rid the capital of all evil. Tatsumi joins the group and learns how to fight beside them as they try and overthrow the capital. As the group gets stronger, the capital create their own group of super fighters called the Jaegers to combat Night Raid.
This is a really well told story, above all else. You can see the story physically changing as new characters and threats are introduced, so the show you end with is different to the one you were expecting, but you’re enjoying it anyway! I also like the way Akame Ga Kill isn’t scared of killing off characters. Even if they are side characters, you see enough of them and enough of their power to be a little shocked when they are killed, often brutally. That’s something I’ve never really seen before. One complaint you could have though is that the characters don’t really develop, they have a back story and a motive and then they just go. Very few characters change by any degree throughout the series.
Much like recently reviewed Aldnoah.Zero, this does a good job of selling the two opposing side’s views, painting every character in a positive light at one point or another. This has more than once made me wonder whether to call the assassin’s group good or bad, which must be a good sign!
Akame Ga Kill not only tells a good story, but also mixes that with the anime staple of cartoon comedy and teen-like relationships. There is some quality funny moments in this, but AGK does a good job of turning it on and off, not letting the funny moments take away from the real moments of drama. There is a slight development of harem (explanation in Asterisk review above) as the series goes on, but it keeps its sexuality reined in, turning the relationships into more of a romance thing than simple desire.
The fight scenes are also of a good quality, not necessarily down to the choreography but more to do with the variation of weapons and techniques. Much like other fighting epics such as Fate and RWBY, there is a really good mix of techniques thanks to the Imperial Arms, forty-eight special weapons lost across the kingdom that gives their wielders special powers. Everyone in Night Raid has one, along with most of their enemies. These range from poisonous blades and powerful snipers, to lion hands and cosmetic boxes that can turn the user into anything they choose. This creates many interesting combinations and match-ups, keeping the fighting fresh.
I also want to say how well drawn this is. The colours are so bright, particularly for the characters, and I think that really lifts the whole mood and creates a real vibrancy throughout.
Overall, this is one of the best anime’s I’ve seen. A really well woven story that pulls no punches, led by an array of characters some of which are really interesting to watch. I put almost all other anime on hold until I finished this, I was totally hooked from the start!
What did you think of these anime’s? Akame ga Kill is definitely up in my top five best anime’s so far, so where does it rank on your list? What are the top 5 anime’s ever? Comment below!
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