Time for episode seven of Anime Pocket Reviews, and after the Fifteen Anime Review last week, here’s to another fifteen!
Attack on Titan may have won our Best Anime award, but one article later, and there’s a new challenger to Titan’s throne, and this guy’s serious. This first guy, though, he’s less serious…
Is It Wrong to try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (2015, S1, 13X24mins)
Fantasy, Action, Comedy, Romance
Set in the fantasy world of Orario, the story follows young Bell Cranel (centre, grey hair), an adventurer who works in the dungeons below the world for his goddess Hestia (centre, with ponytails) – one of many gods that have come down from heaven and blessed people with the fighting ability to survive in the dungeons – collecting crystals that he can trade for money. However, Bell is a hopeless dreamer, and actually travelled to Orario and joined the goddess Hestia to work in the dungeons for one reason: to pick up girls. He quickly discovers that the dungeons are much more dangerous than he thought, and nearly dies on the first day. He is saved from certain death by the legendary Aiz Wallenstein (third from the left), known across the land as the strongest and most desirable woman in Orario. Bell, being a hopeless romantic, falls head over heels for the unreachable girl immediately, and devotes himself to getting strong enough to win her affections.
I’m pretty sure this is only half of the first series (they might yet call the next half season 2, but I don’t think that’s what it is), but with the second half not set to be released until summer 2016 at the earliest, I really wanted to talk about this before I forgot it.
First of all, this is probably one of the longest and bluntest titles for a TV show ever, hence the shortened name DanMachi is used in the title. Secondly, it’s not really in keeping with the actual show. It should be titled ‘Is It Wrong to Get Picked Up by Girls in a Dungeon’. This is most definitely in the harem genre, where the main character becomes the object of affection for everyone else. Bell, being so focused on catching Aiz, becomes oblivious to all the other girls that end up hitting on him. This is the main play in what is actually a wonderfully quirky story.
Whether people like it or not, the majority of Japanese Animation has a strong undercurrent of sex and seduction, but this show embraces that and uses it in a really quirky way that is undeniably entertaining to watch. I think that’s down to the characters, especially the main two – Hestia and Bell – who are both incredibly childish and their relationship is often quite funny. Also, because Bell is kind of hopeless and childish, you can’t help but get behind him as he attempt to get stronger to woo the girl. The way this is drawn, the voices the characters have, and the general feel of the story is, more than anything, very sweet. Thankfully, unlike other stories of this style (such as The Asterisk War), this has the dungeon to balance out the sweet with the rough. While not being very gritty at all compared to other shows that have fighting elements, it’s strong enough to offer a balance to the ditzy love square/polygon/whatever, stopping this show from getting too ridiculous.
If you’re looking for a funny anime then I can’t think of any I’ve seen that are as funny as this! The characters are all entertaining and the story is sweet but without going so full on that you end up cringing. It’s really well done so far, my worry is that as the story has to work to a conclusion (there’s no conclusion in the first thirteen episodes) this fun side that is the main pull of the series might get lost. We’ll have to wait to see on that, but it’s definitely so far so good!
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (2006-07, S1, 25x23min)
Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Mecha, Tragedy
Set in a world that has become split into three different superpowers – the Britannia (strictly the modern-day Americas, but seemingly based on the old British empire), the Chinese Federation and the European Union – the story is based in Japan after it is conquered by the Holy Britannian Empire thanks to their Knightmares, a new manned robot of great power and manoeuvrability. Japan is renamed Area 11, and the people called Elevens as they lose their freedom to the huge Britannian regime that covers 1/3 of the world. The story follows Lelouch (centre right), an exiled Britannian prince who vows to close Japanese friend Suzaku (centre left) that he will destroy Britannia. Seven years after the invasion, Lelouch (now a popular student at Britannian school Ashford Academy) is caught up in a terrorist attack and makes contact with C.C. (far right), a mysterious green-haired girl who saves him from the Royal Guard. She then grants him the power of Geass, which allows him to command anyone he makes eye contact with to do anything he says – even to kill themselves. He disguises himself as Zero, and uses his power to lead the Japanese rebellion against Britannia. Meanwhile his best friend Suzaku is moving up the ranks in the Britannian army as an Honorary Britannian, eager to bring about change from within.
Here’s a story: When the first episode of Code Geass was shown during a test screening for journalists and other media personnel in response to the great hype the surrounded this series’ upcoming release, when the screen went black at the end the room was in complete silence, followed by a tremendous applause. In 2007, this won Tokyo Anime Award’s Anime of the Year, and is still considered one of the most successful anime series ever in both Japan and North America. We’re talking about some big time stories here…
This is such a good story. Seriously good. If you think of all the dystopian tales we’ve seen in Hollywood over the last few years – Hunger Games, Divergent, even The 100 TV Series – Lelouch of the Rebellion has so much more depth than these. At its heart is a tale of double-identities, the two childhood friends becoming mortal enemies without even realising, even though they both still want the same thing. With Lelouch disguised as Zero, nobody knows that it’s him leading the rebellion that threatens their peaceful way of life, leading to some really tense discussions at Ashford Academy where him, Suzaku and Kallen – a Japanese girl disguising as a Britannian who is one of the higher-ups in Zero’s Black Knights (far left in the picture above) – all stay friends with each other whilst trying to hide who they really are.
Not only is this a deep story, though, but it’s told in a way that I think only Attack on Titan has matched in anime. The way it drips information to you as it progresses, keeping you in the dark on some key issues until the last moment, is the sign of a really good story. It’s also not very predictable, with plenty of twists and turns keeping it as lively and fresh throughout as it feels at the start. There’s an episode near the end (Episode 22 – Bloodstained Euphy), in which lies a twist that, however forced it is when you think about it, is still one of the greatest individual moments I’ve seen. Not just in anime, but on-screen in general. I was physically left speechless by what was happening on screen, something that hasn’t happened at all since I watched Hunger Games: Catching Fire in cinemas (a film that inspired this blog’s creation). That’s how powerful this story is.
Geass also has a very strong drawing style. The sharp edges and bright colours are reminiscent of the universally popular Yu-Gi-Oh series I used to watch when I was little, and while it does come across as unnatural, I personally think it only adds to the drama of the whole series.
Overall, this is comfortably one of the best anime I’ve ever seen. An incredible story about double-identities and conflicting beliefs led by strong, exciting characters with a really vibrant drawing style to boot, along with a deeply interesting soundtrack! Not only does it consistently deliver throughout, but also has those show stopping moments that you’ll remember for a very long time. This is a must-see!
Two very good series here – one possibly the funniest I’ve seen, and the other definitely one of the most dramatic. I would seriously suggest all anime fans check these out!
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