Episode One-Derland: Blue Dragon

Plot: Thousands of years ago, at the dawn of humanity, God blessed the world with prosperity and light. However, the humans, greedy for more, wished for darkness as well. They were granted their wish, and darkness fell upon them. It invaded the hearts of men, and humanity had to fight against it. Warriors of light emerged and triumphed over the darkness, but now the darkness has returned, heralding in the call for warriors of light.

A dark and evil king named Nene is terrorizing villages everywhere looking for a special power, kidnapping children that he believes possesses the ability to wield it. One day, Nene’s forces target the village of a boy named Shu, who wishes for nothing more than to be a brave warrior called a Knight Master and travel the world looking for adventure.

He believes he’s found a Knight Master when he meets the stoic woman named Zola, but is disappointed when she states that she is no such thing. When the attack commences on Shu’s village, he races to find Zola and her companion, a boy named Jiro, to recruit them to help fight them off. They refuse, however, and tell him that if he wants his village saved he must do it himself.

Jiro and his friends, a girl named Kluke and three others, make a valiant effort to fight off the soldier, but to no avail. The leader of the soldiers is met with Zola and he prepares for battle by calling on his shadow, which turns into a goblin-like beast. Zola too calls upon her shadow, a killer bat. The goblin is no match for Killer Bat, but the resulting battle causes debris to fly everywhere. Just as Shu’s friends are about to be killed by a falling heap of debris, he leaps into the line of danger with nothing but the wish to save them behind him. As he’s about to get crushed, his shadow suddenly emerges as a brilliant blue dragon, aptly named Blue Dragon, the incredibly power everyone’s been looking for.

Breakdown: Blue Dragon is a title I’ve been aware of for quite some time, but I’ve never bothered to look up any information on it.

At face value, there’s not really anything special about this series so far besides the Akira Toriyama aesthetics. Being clear, Toriyama only lent his talent to the art. He had no hand in the story. The opening in particular about the powers of light and darkness battling each other was some dry milky toast. The aspect of the shadows is also not horribly creative since it’s basically just a fancy way of saying ‘familiar’

As a first episode, it fares okay. We get the personalities of all of the main characters fairly well, even if a good chunk of them are also stereotypes. Shu is the headstrong shounen fighting fantasy anime lead character who has a heart of gold, wants to protect the people he loves and is kinda dense. But he has the best power because main character. I’ll stave off of making a stark comparison between him and Goku for now.

You have the perpetually grumpy rival in Jiro. Kluke is kinda a generic love interest, though she’s also sort of a big sister to Shu and her love of gadgetry is a nice touch.

Zola in particular caught my eye because holy shit it has gotten annoying to not have many prominent legit female fighters throughout shounen. Zola is one kickass pirate-clad assassin girl.

The enemies are horribly generic, destroying villages and beating up kids while chuckling evilly. Even the leader’s shadow is a typical goblin thing.

Shu discovering his power through a desire to save his friends is also typical…..I know I praise some shows that use tropes, but I just don’t feel like this show is bringing enough to the table to make me ignore the tropes.

They don’t explain these powers much at all in this episode. We know that some people can summon monsters through their shadows and that’s about it. We have no clue what constitutes gaining this ability, why certain people get certain shadows, why it seems like they were collecting kids for the sake of summoning the blue dragon (you can’t really argue that only kids can summon shadows because the leader guy is definitely an adult and Zola’s a teen at least), what’s so special about the shadows, how they work etc. Hell, they don’t even explain Nene and the Gran Kingdom well.

That being said, it is obviously very stylized because Akira Toriyama and I never felt bored while watching. I was never really immersed in it that much, but I didn’t find it to be that bad, especially with Zola.

Final verdict:

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A slightly reluctant yes. Yet another freshly hatched Shounen Step-By-Step. Hopefully it just gets better after this point.

Recommended Audience: There’s some minor swearing and violence but nothing that bad. 8+

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Episode One-Derland: Cardfight!! Vanguard

Plot: Trading card games have become incredibly popular over the years, and there’s one game that stands as the most popular; Cardfight! Vanguard. A boy named Kai is the best around, but finds he’s bored with battling even the supposedly toughest players around. A very shy and timid boy named Aichi truly loves the game, but he’s never really battled before. He just likes the cards. One day, his most prized card, Blaster Blade, gets stolen by a bully and then lost on an ante battle to Kai. Aichi challenges him for at least the chance to win him back. Graciously, Kai lets Aichi borrow Blaster Blade since he’s new to the game and even explains the rules as they battle. But is Aichi’s bond with Blaster Blade enough to defeat Kai?

Breakdown: Shounen gaming anime. So we meet again. Like I’ve mentioned before, I sure do have a soft spot in my heart for shounen gaming anime and I’m glad to say that this is one of the better anime in recent memory. Why? Because they take it easy.

Sure, the monsters do show up as actual creatures and implement real attacks, but the thing is that all of the battles, so far anyway, are merely in their imaginations. Now, you might be thinking ‘wow, that sounds really…..stupid.’ And it’s understandable that you would think that, but consider any time that you’ve played a trading card game such as that. A lot of people do the same thing. It’s just illustrated for the audience here.

As I was saying, they take it easy. At least so far. The game is just a cool game. They have fun with it, but they’re not going over the top or going bonkers with ‘the world rests on our ability to play a card game’ stuff. The worst that happens is that Aichi gets beaten up for a rare card, and in my experience with Pokemon and Yugioh cards back in the day, that’s, sadly, not unrealistic.

They also do a pretty great job introducing the characters. Kai’s a very skilled player and a stoic character, but he’s definitely not an ass like most characters in his archetype tend to be. He has mercy, he enjoys the game and he helps people out. He has a couple assy moments, but they’re not that bad and one of those moments turns out to maybe not be assy.

Aichi is also likable since he’s not the big loud undefeated newcomer that usually is the main character trope in these shows. However, he might have the stink of ‘prodigy newcomer’ on him. He really loves the cards and seemingly is very interested in playing the game, he just has trouble making the connections to actually battle people.

Even the bully in this situation, whose name escapes me, wasn’t over the top Muahahaha villain-esque bully. He was a kinda idiot brute who uses brute force to try and reclaim whatever honor he thinks he has.

The only bad character so far to me is Taishi. He’s Kai’s ‘friend’ and really his only role in this episode is to make fun of people and crack jokes that aren’t funny.

Since Aichi is (seemingly?) a complete newbie to the game, they do a very thorough job explaining the game to the audience without shoving exposition in our faces. It’s also really not a complicated game at all, and I’d like to give it a try some time.

The art is obviously pretty simplistic and none of the character designs stand out well. But the animation isn’t too shabby.

The music’s alright and fitting for the genre, though the OP and ED really haven’t hooked onto me. Broken Engrish abounds, too.

Final verdict:

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Congrats, we have another Shounen Step-By-Step contender! This show seems to be off to a great start. I really love when shounen gaming anime just have fun for the love of the game, and I really hope it keeps up.

Recommended Audience: Nothing objectionable. E for everyone!

Episode One-Derland: Bartender

Plot: A secluded warm bar called Eden Hall welcomes its guests with a mysterious bartender they call The Glass of the Gods, known for remembering a customer’s orders from years ago. He uses his keen observations, insight and gentleness to help customer’s through their problems.

Breakdown: We all know the bartender trope, for lack of a better term. Bartenders are kind and friendly people who offer solutions to problems or just an ear to listen to your problems while pouring you a nice drink. Well, what if there was a show about that?

I don’t think Bartender is the greatest candidate for Episode-Oneland since it seems pretty episodic to me at first glance, but the main gist of the whole thing is indeed the Bartender. Ryuu Sasakura, is one of the best bartenders in the world and seems to be the only bartender at Eden Hall. He makes spot-on observations and analyses on completely minor things like Detective Conan and makes perfect drinks to sate the worries of the customer. And yeah, in this episode anyway, the customer’s problems were seemingly solved just by making the guy a really nice drink.

The customer is a man who has been contracted out to renovate a hotel bar. However, he despises bars and especially has a poor view of bartenders as pretentious people with no real skills and even refers to them by the ‘slur’ of ‘barten’. Despite this, he seems to have a vast knowledge of drinks and liqueur as a whole. He enters Eden Hall through chance and has a complete 180 on his opinion of bars and bartenders after meeting and getting a custom drink from Sasakura.

That’s the whole story. No I’m not kidding.

Also, the reason behind this man’s hatred of bars and bartenders is kinda….dumb. When he was a college student, he went to his first bar. Like you do. Well, he chose one of them fancy-ish bars and went alone, so he’s already making all sorts of mistakes for a first-time run. He feels really uncomfortable right as he enters the door, noting the door’s heaviness as feeling like the bar is actively trying to keep people out. He’s appalled at the high cost of a bowl of nuts and feels like an outsider for not being there on a recommendation.

He orders a beer and feels like a cheap-ass for doing so, so he orders a whiskey in order to feel more proper, all the while believing everyone in the room is either silently judging him or laughing at him. He reaches for his wallet and finds that it fell out of a gigantic hole in his pocket that I can’t believe he’s just now noticing, and then believes everyone in the bar is staring at him, laughing at him, judging him and whatnot. The bartender then gently touches his hand and tells him that they can settle the bill some other time.

So, yeah, he hates bars and bartenders because he’s a paranoid schizophrenic and had a slightly embarrassing experience with a bartender who was actually really nice about the whole situation.

This show puts a lot of focus on the….for lack of a better term ‘psychology’ behind drinks and bars. Drinks are highlighted and explored, we’re told when a drink is appropriate for certain situations and we even get a recipe at the end. More importantly, though, as Sasakura explains, why you drink what and when and when you’d be better suited for what drink over another depends on both you as a person and your current state of mind. A drink can be a soothing experience, a getaway, something fun, nostalgic etc. Most of all, the bartender’s job is to create an openness and gentleness to the patron’s experience, creating a safe and warm atmosphere for everyone who wants a place to go just to feel like they belong or want a hideaway.

The art is alright for the characters themselves and not much animation is needed here, but a lot of detail and animation focus is put on drink preparation and presentation, which is pretty damn nice. Plus, the environments are nicely detailed. The direction is also fairly stylized and pleasantly arranged.

The music is pretty reminiscent of lounge music to a degree. I enjoyed it.

While the story is definitely….different and, admittedly, a little on the odd side, I will say that I never lost interest and I did feel relaxed through the whole thing, which may be one of the main points of this anime; to emulate the bar experience.

So I will give this a;

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If anything, it’s a short and relaxing series and really makes you wish more bars were like Eden Hall.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Bar Rescue and completely ruin everything I’ve felt during this watching experience.

Episode One-derland: Mister Ajikko

Plot: Youichi has a great passion for cooking, and is the beloved chef at his mother’s diner. The emperor of the culinary world, Aijou, visits his restaurant with his secretary, Tareme. Youichi had a previous bad run-in with Tareme before and he scoffs at the idea that this child can create any food worthy or Aijou’s palette or any good food period.

Youichi, known as ‘Ajikko’ or ‘child who makes good food’, accepts the challenge of making a good tasting dish for Aijou, even without knowing who he really is. As a testament to his faith in his craft, he puts up the restaurant’s sign as a wager if he loses, subsequently also putting the restaurant’s honor at stake. He makes Aijou his newest dish, a super thick Katsudon.

Though Aijou and Tareme both think this is impossible to make since either of the traditional cooking styles results in either undercooking or burning the meat, Youichi manages to make a delicious and properly cooked super thick katsudon, much to the delight of Aijou who leaves him with his business card and invites him to the Aijou building, a place filled with culinary knowledge and techniques and where only the best chefs are invited.

Breakdown: Ah, yet another ‘Child prodigy’ story. And really that’s pretty much all this is so far. Apparently this series was so influential that it inspired the creation of Iron Chef and helped spawn the whole competitive cooking craze, but this episode is pretty cut and dry ‘kid is insanely awesome at (enter topic here)’

Aijou is a pretty good character. He comes off as extremely abrasive and strict at first, but he’s also very fair, gives credit for anything he likes about a chef’s technique or abilities, fully recognizes and encourages talent that he sees and respects anyone with a true passion for cooking—Holy shit, it’s Gordon Ramsey’s Japanese fictional grandpa.

Tareme is annoying, but then again he’s meant to be.

Youichi is very much typical at this point. He has a great love of cooking, and obtained his skills my imitating his father, a great chef who passed away at some point. He also seems to have plenty of imagination in his cooking and has a great pride in anything he makes. Interesting, despite being honored by Aijou’s invitation, he doesn’t seem to be compelled to leave his family diner and try to be ‘the best (enter profession here)’ like many other child prodigy stories. He’s perfectly fine cooking what he likes to cook at his mother’s restaurant.

However, in the next episode he goes to Aijou’s place anyway so how much of that sticks, I don’t know.

This episode does a pretty good job at laying the ground work for our characters and setting up the bare bones of the plot. Even moderate side characters like Mitsuko, seeming romantic interest, and Shigeru, Mitsuko’s annoying little brother.

The art is a classic style, which I adore, and the animation is surprisingly pretty darn good for such an old title. The music is also very catchy, though slightly stuck in the 80s.

All in all,

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If you have a passion for cooking or just appreciate watching someone explore their own passions, this seems like a pretty good watch so far. Be warned, though, that this show debuted in 1987 so if you’re not into older titles you may be a bit put off by this. It really shouldn’t be a deciding factor, though.

At 99 episodes, I may end up reviewing this one episode by episode. We’ll see.

Recommended Audience: Nothing questionable. E for everyone!

Episode One-Derland – Mado King Granzort

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Plot: In the year 2050, astronauts uncovered an odd dark being that, when revealed, suddenly gave the moon an atmosphere, air and earth-like gravity levels. 50 years later, a boy named Daichi goes on a trip to the moon to spend the summer. He hears of sightings of a strange rabbit man and believes he’s found the being when he finds a little girl with rabbit ears and the ability to teleport called Guri Guri. He accidentally falls into Guri Guri’s house where he sees all sorts of magical items and meets Guri Guri’s aunt, V-Mei, who claims they’re of the long ear race.

He assembles three weapons for them and V-Mei reveals that the weapons are magical weapons used to combat the evil monsters threatening their land. When she senses magical power within Daichi, she sees one of the weapons, a magical gun, react to his presence. Utilizing the power of the magical weapon, Daichi calls upon the mech, Granzort, the mado king of earth, to fight black mats, evil robots, who suddenly appear.

Breakdown: The first part of this episode puts it on real shaky ground for me. There are so many things that either don’t make sense, are annoying or are annoyingly weird. First off, giving the moon an atmosphere, air and earth-like gravity makes it basically a clone of earth? Lush landscapes, clouds, blue skies, bodies of water etc. And people live and travel there willy nilly? Especially given only a fifty year time frame? Sure.

Second, Guri Guri is bound to get insanely irritating. And her face….It’s like someone injected a baby’s face with panda hugs and candy kisses. She’s way too cute, and not in a good way. It’s doesn’t help that she’s a little too young to really be endearing. Usually young cutesy characters are like six or seven. She’s like two or three.

Third, the entire process of the mech thing is just nonsensical, and it basically boils down every magical gir—boy plot and mixes it with a mech design. Main character’s a good guy with hidden magical abilities, obviously gets red as his color, and finds he’s destined to be a hero against evil. He’s an inquisitive, smart, excitable, slightly clumsy, heroic young lad, because of course he is.

This intro gives both a good yet a terrible introduction to the series as a whole. It introduces Daichi, Guri Guri and V-Mei just fine and it kinda establishes the mech thing, but where the hell did it come from? Why is it called from a magic gun? Why does the magic gun only shoot a badge? Why are the three magical weapons a gun, bow and a top? The top just seems really out of place. I don’t care if it’s a legit weapon – one of these things is not like the others.

Who are the evil guys? Why are they evil? What do they want? Why did they wait 50 years before doing anything? Did they wait until the main character arrived? What are long-ears? Have they been living on the moon this whole time? Why? How has no one really caught a decent glimpse of them or caught them considering Guri Guri is roaming public areas and teleporting like nothing? They have carrots? How? The soil on the moon can’t even grow weeds. Why does the music from Daichi’s music box make the weapon pieces turn colors? What does music have to do with weapons and mechs?

All that aside….yeah, it’s tickling that soft spot on my heart. Old series about magical g—boys and mechs? Sign me up! I don’t care if nothing’s making sense, you’re having fun with it and I am too.

Art and animation-wise, it’s old and it’s odd. It’s clunky in the animation department sometimes, but nothing too bad. The art has that dated 90’s feel, though Daichi’s head is just way too friggin’ big.

In the music department, it’s pretty good. I especially like the OP. It’s some catchy stuff.

Final Verdict:

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I can’t help it. It’s not a masterpiece of writing by any means, but dammit if you like mechs, magical girl boy shows and nostalgic anime, then this is a fine watch. If not, feel free to walk away after episode one. I don’t think you’d be missing anything.

Recommended Audience: Nothing questionable so far. E for everyone!

Episode One-Derland: Fantasista Dolls

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Plot: Uzume is a former card tournament champion who has recently entered middle school. On the train to school one day, she feels her bag being jossled, but is surprised to find nothing missing. Instead, she finds someone has actually placed a weird card reader in her bag. At school, she panics since she believes someone is after her, and she hears a voice asking to sign an entry form in order to gain the voice’s assistance against the threat. She agrees, and a girl named Sasara emerges. Sasara is a fantasista doll; a virtual being with various powers based on equipment. She, as well as the equipment, are kept in cards until they’re called upon by their master; and Uzume is now Sasara’s master.

Uzume gets attacked by a fellow student who also has a fantasista doll and is apparently after one of the cards in her possession. Once Sasara is properly equipped, she manages to defeat her. Later, Sasara introduces to the other fantasista dolls in Uzume’s possession; Madeleine, Katia, Shimeji and Akari. She agrees to help protect them and be a proper master, even if she has a lot to learn about what that really means. Uzume suddenly gets a call from a strange man with a monocle and a suit, named Lord Rafflesia, who gives her a bunch of flowers and reveals he was the one who gave her the dolls. He wants her to become a card master and ‘become that which is like a dream’.

Breakdown: I’m going to describe this show the best way that I can. It’s a monster battling, gaming, magical girl anime. There. That sums it up.

I can’t really make good heads or tails of this as an intro. Uzume is a former card champion, but of what card game we’re never told. Someone mentions a game called Magic: To Gather, which might either be a translation error or a direct reference to Magic: The Gathering. Either way, we’re not really told what game she used to play nor how to play it.

As for her personality, she’s nice enough and a little on the dense side, but she’s also pretty whiny and a bit of a fraidy cat. Seriously, she ran screaming and hid only to take lengthy orders, which amount to a contract, with a strange voice in her head that promises to protect her is because she heard a noise while changing in the locker room and felt someone pat her back. Instead of turning around to see who it was after maybe having a brief freakout, she instead just bolts through the school without looking back and hides in the closet.

Sasara is a bit rough, but seems to mean well enough.

We learn absolutely nothing about her enemy nor her fantasista doll, and we also don’t really learn any real character traits of the other four dolls outside of their clear stereotyped personality traits such as big boobed responsible one, loli and goth loli.

Plus, Lord Rafflesia could not be more Tuxedo Mask-ish. Not only does he have the same mannerisms, flowery speech and pose of Tuxedo Mask, but he also uses flowers quite a bit and practically has Tuxedo Mask’s theme song. Listen to it and call me crazy.

We kinda learn how the battles with the fantasista dolls work. You summon a doll from a card and modify them by equipping them with fashionable outfits that grant them various powers. For instance, the enemy fantasista doll used shuriken while Sasara’s gave her powerful fencing abilities.

When a doll is defeated, you get a card from them that gives the card master various powers. For instance, Uzume’s won card was a repair card which, conveniently, allowed her to fix everything the dolls broke during their battle.

I will admit, having a group of people fight for you instead of a bunch of monsters is interesting, even if the fanservice-y outfits being the equipment is a little meh. Plus, I’m a sucker for both magical girl anime and gaming anime, so this is basically designed to force me into watching it.

I pretty much enjoyed the first episode, but I will admit it did somewhat of a sloppy job setting up the plot and ‘game’.

Art and animation-wise, it’s very generic shoujo style art, though it is pretty detailed. The animation is pretty good as well.

Music wise, this was a weak spot for me. The OP and ED are as generic as they come and the BG music was completely unmemorable.

Final verdict:

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This will probably be a short shoujo step-by-step given the subject matter, but it seems like it’s worth a look-see if you want a girlier gaming anime or a magical girl show with a gaming slant.

Recommended Audience: The girls default outfits don’t leave much to the imagination and there’s a couple panty shots. There’s a tiny bit of blood, but it’s just a scratch. 6+

Episode One-Derland: Cosmic Baton Girl Comet-San

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Plot: Comet is the princess of Harmonica star-world of the Triangle Nebula; one of three star-worlds, the other two being Castanet and Tambourine. In order to secure the future of their worlds, the kingdoms hope to bring Comet together with the prince of Tambourine star-world. However, on the day of the dance party in which they were supposed to meet, the prince runs away.

Comet’s parents send her on a mission to earth, where they believe he is heading, to find the prince, even in spite of not knowing his name or what he looks like. Comet, intrigued by the concept of an adventure on earth, a planet on which her mother had various adventures, agrees, but soon finds herself unable to do much without money and suffering from the culture gap. To top it all off, she is having no luck so far in finding the prince even with her companion, a small dog creature named Rababou who is able to detect the ‘twinkle’ she’s meant to be guided by.

She meets two kind twins, a boy named Tsuyoshi and a girl named Nene, who find her to be a troubled girl and decide to lend their assistance to her. In her most desperate hour, homeless, penniless and hungry, Nene and Tsuyoshi lead their mother to Comet who inquires about her situation.

Breakdown: Yay, magical girl anime! But it’s not really traditional magical girl. It’s moreso just a girl with magical powers and nifty cutesy outfits.

This episode did a good job of introducing us to Comet as well as the main plot and world they live in, but the episode as a whole feels a little hollow.

Comet is pretty par for the course so far. She’s a rebel in not really being interested in her princessly duties and is more enamored with the concept of adventure and exploring as well as possibly falling in love. She seems to have a good attitude, but she’s still a little naive, both with and without culture gaps.

The whole ‘star-world’ thing is pretty plain so far too. It’s basically every other royalty set up just with star-worlds and nebulas in place of countries. I don’t know why these places are named after musical instruments, either.

The fish out of water story is nothing to write home about. She plays on a playground at a kindergarten because she doesn’t know any better. She tries to get food without money. She mimics an American’s weird and rude sounding Japanese (by the by, this guy is like 30 and was taking a picture of her as she woke up in the park…..) and she believes she can sleep anywhere.

The only part of this that really works is when she realizes that she doesn’t really always have the open line of communication with her parents that she thought she had. They gave her some sort of ball that is meant to log her happy memories on her adventure, and they told her whenever she felt scared or alone to look to the stars as they’d always be able to see her. But as she’s stuck homeless out in the rain without much food, she looks to the sky to see nothing but clouds. Her mother actually gets a signal on her little ball thing that conveys troubled feelings by Comet, but she decides not to act on it since the signal seems minor and she wants Comet to learn about the twinkle of light that is always visible on earth, hope, which is when Nene and Tsuyoshi’s mom shows up.

But, I gotta say….that’s a pretty bitch move, Comet’s mom. Actually, this whole journey is a bitch move. They send her to earth instead of sending somewhere else or going themselves because they hope that Comet traveling across the galaxy for a boy she’s never met in order to drag him back home will make him fall in love with her.

That’s all fine and dandy because they don’t force her to go, she goes on her own volition when she remembers her mother recalling her adventures on earth, including falling in love. But they didn’t even bother giving her any money or telling her anything about earth in order to fit in. They just gave her regular clothes, taught her a few words of Japanese, which is weird considering she’s speaking Japanese the whole time, so when she switches to ‘I’m just now learning Japanese’ mode it becomes confusing, and sent her on her way.

Granted, yes, she has magic powers that can do….pbbbbbtttttt…..anything? There is never any explanation about what her powers are or what they do. They do stuff like create rocket boots and make her one dumpling to eat so far. All I got is that she has a finite amount of star power considering that she says she was saving it up. What star power is and how you accumulate it, I don’t know. But since it seems like she’s low on star power near the end for some reason, all she can do is make a dumpling to eat.

Nene and Tsuyoshi are very kind kids, but their manner of speech is a little annoying. They tend to repeat the other’s words and speak in third person.

There’s someone else I feel I should bring up named Meteo. She’s the princess of Castanet star-world. Even though she has barely two lines in this episode, from the next episode preview and her short screen time here, it seems like she’ll be the antagonist, at least for a short while, sabotaging Comet’s pursuit of the prince in hopes of getting him for herself, so there will be legit conflict in the future. Also, I assume her name’s derived from the word meteor.

The one thing that kinda drags the whole show down is that the series doesn’t really give a legit reason to care about Comet’s mission. We never see the prince, they have no connection, the Triangle nebula’s not in danger of war or anything should the Tambourine and Harmonica star-worlds not unite, at least from all I know, so why is the mission so important?

Art and animation wise, it’s pretty average magical girl fare. Simplistic designs with a lot of girly additions and pastel colors. Comet’s hair is kinda weird, but I love what they did with her star hair clip. They styled the hair that it’s holding up into the star’s tail to make a comet. I thought that was neat.

Music-wise……eh. It’s average bordering on bad. It’s very poppy and girly and absolutely none of it is memorable.

In the voice acting department, Japanese, everyone was pretty good in their roles with the bearded guy whose name escapes me doing a particularly good job. However, Comet’s mom sounds downright terrible. Her voice is just so weird and low pitched that it kinda put me off.

Final verdict:

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Despite these gripes, it’s a magical girl anime. I can’t resist. It’s not really that bad of an opening episode, but there’s not really a whole lot to leave you thirsty for more. Shoujo Step-By-Step, here I come.

Recommended Audience: Beheadings, graphic sex scenes, swearing like a sailor—….if you think I’m serious, please seek help. E for everyone.

Episode One-Derland: Magi-Nation

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Plot: The forces of good and evil clashed in the moonlands over 3000 years ago. A shadow magi named Agram battled a noble magi named Eidon. In an effort to save the world, Eidon sealed Agram away in the Core Glyph, summoned by the Book of Elders. Peace fell over the land for thousands of years until Agram made his presence known again with his goons in tow.

Edyn, a young magi, believes herself to be the prophesied ‘final dreamer’; the only one who can read the Book of Elders and seal away Agram again to save the world. However, despite the fact that she can read the book, she finds that the book leads her to finding a boy from our world named Tony. He is summoned into the moonlands by Orwin, the elder of the land, and finds himself able to summon a dream creature of his own with a ring his grandfather gave him. Together, Edyn, Tony and a shadow stalker named Strag team up to beat Agram’s toadies. As they leave, they find that the Book of Elders reacts to all three of them, indicating that they’re all final dreamers.

Breakdown: Mmmmmmmmpbbbbbttttttmeeeehhhhhhhhhh….That about sums it up.

This show is basically every fantasy cliché in existence wrapped up into one and peppered with a Pokemon-ish/Digimon-ish system. It’s like they were using ad-libs fantasy edition. Did any of that plot synopsis, outside of maybe the dream creature thing, even remotely interest you? From the battle of good and evil, the ‘chosen one’ crap, destiny, fish out of water, ancient mystic book, hero from legend blah blah blah.

I had to actually look up the Wiki page for this episode because I was constantly forgetting names and details. Even when I was writing, I kept forgetting.

Now, that’s not to say this show is that bad. I had no problem sitting down and watching it. It wasn’t a chore. However, if you gauge a show with how entertaining and original it is, then it’s pretty bad.

Despite the cliché as hell story and overall plot mixed with elements that bring nothing new to the table, the characters are alright and no one got on my nerves…….but no one stood out either. Edyn’s kinda headstrong, though she has an odd penchant for panic attacks that seem to vanish by the second act. Strag is a spiritual stoic ‘knight’ kinda guy who seems to love being outdoors. And finally Tony is a pretty, athletic and generic boy who probably gets better powers meant to be the one the kids in the audience can pretend they are.

Agram is about as cut and paste as you can possibly get, and not even Orwin or Eidon brought attention to themselves. Everyone is exactly as you’d expect them to be. Hell, Agram’s goons? They’re a bickering goblin creature and a troll-like creature.

As a first episode, this is a mixed bag. It does an alright job of explaining the backstory and some technical aspects of the world they live in, but it doesn’t explain much about magic or dream creatures.

Each magi can summon dream creatures from a dream plane, and I suppose each dream creature….is something the magi imagined up? I don’t know. All I know is that they’re various creatures, who all talk, that get summoned by rocks and returned back into the rocks when they’re too weak to continue. The rock aspect is the Pokemon thing, the talking partner aspect is the Digimon thing. And hell, if I want to go even further with that, if the dream creatures really are imagined by the magi, they kinda ripped of Takato from Digimon Tamers.

That being said, the dream creatures are the only interesting part of this series, which makes sense because this entire series was based on a TCG. We have to have the only marketable part of the series be somewhere near good. The character designs and abilities are somewhat interesting, even if some of them seem kinda lame like merely tackling or body slamming people or rip-offy, like Ugger’s roots seem a bit much like Vine Whip in Pokemon.

While magi can summon various dream creatures, each magi has their primary one; Ugger is Edyn’s, Freep is Strag’s and Furok is Tony’s.

I haven’t played the TCG, I haven’t played the video games, and I’m not going to make assumptions about them, but this first episode is just weak. I really hope there’s a lot more meat to this show because as it stands it’s about as generic as you can get. I will admit I liked how they hinted that Edyn and Strag were also final dreamers by showing Edyn reading the book and Strag reading it through his moon sense, but that’s about it. I also believe the dream creature battles will get more creative and interesting, but I just could not care enough to go on. I waded through this episode really trying to get my hooks into something but nothing would grab my eye balls.

The art is simplistic but not bad, same for the animation. Sadly, the music is also just middle of the road.

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Recommended Audience: The worst thing that happens is that Furok gets slashed on the nose by a clawed creature. However, there’s no wound and he only musses his fur…….4Kids’ Pokemon is edging you out in violent material. That’s not good. E for everyone.

Episode One-Derland – One Outs

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Plot: Kojima is an all-star professional cleanup batter who has won many awards for his achievements in baseball. However, one achievement still alludes him; a championship victory. In an effort to make this year the year that they finally win a championship, Kojima has brought his team to an off-season baseball camp in order to pinpoint their problem areas and address them. When his pitcher, Nakane, injures his finger in practice, he and another member of the team go out to find a replacement pitcher to help Kojima and the team practice. They find no luck on the streets but a woman leads them away to a batting cage where a bunch of guys are playing a game called One Outs. In this game, bystanders bet on either the pitcher or the batter. The pitcher wins if he manages to strike out the batter or if their hits land within the infield. The batter wins if they manage to hit one ball in the outfield or further.

Nakane makes a few minor bets for a few rounds, resulting in what he believes to be 4000 yen, slightly less than $40 USD. However, he fails to realize that the bets are in American dollars, meaning that he owes $4000. Believing that he can beat the pitcher, Toua, that has been up for the entirety of their betting string, Nakane bets that his debts be erased if he can beat him. However, Toua wishes to up the stakes of their bet from $4000 to $40,000. Nakane accepts, but under the pressure of such a high financial stake and realizing that there’s more to Toua’s skills that meets the eye, fails. They give them everything they have in their pockets, including credit cards, and are forced to leave with the remaining debt over their heads.

The next night, Kojima arrives at the One Outs game to call Toua out in order to erase the remaining debt. However, Toua again wishes to make the bet more interesting since Kojima’s such a professional player. This time the bet is $400,000. Kojima accepts and the game begins……

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Breakdown: I hate baseball. And this isn’t just the typical moanings of someone who doesn’t like sports entirely. I like hockey and soccer and I’m pretty okay with watching football and even basketball, but baseball is just horrible to me. There are no redeeming aspects of it in my eyes. It’s boring on top of boring slathered in boring and goes on for so long you have to think some of the players believe they’re stuck in baseball purgatory. You could not pay me to sit through a game of baseball unless I’m allowed to sleep through the whole thing.

With that out of the way, the baseball aspect of this first episode really is the most trying for me. Especially considering that I didn’t get half of the terms. Luckily, fansubbers are awesome and add notes for that crap. ~~kisses2fansubbers~~

Other than that, though, it’s an interesting enough sports anime. Our main character is incredibly passionate about baseball to the point where he even states that it’s sacred to him. And you can definitely tell that even those who don’t outwardly appear as passionate about the game as Kojima are still immersed in it fully……I can’t relate, but I still understand. It’s so weird how I can relate to and understand a show where the main focus is a game based on poetry that I’ve never heard of or played better than one based on America’s past time…

Toua is interesting. He’s a bit too good to the point that it worries me. By all means, the characters point out how weak his pitches are yet no one can get a damn hit off of him. Plus he’s one of those quiet yet obviously cocky types that irk you the wrong way.

Nakane’s a moron. He means well in trying to find a replacement pitcher, but putting all those bets down on the batter because ‘he has to win eventually’ and not clarifying if the bets were in Yen or dollars when a lot of the players at the game are seemingly American? Come on. Also, he’s not really dumb for taking on Toua despite seeing him win all those times since he states that he was a cleanup batter on his high school team, but he’s still a pitcher, meaning his batting game has to be rusty, and he’s seen how good Toua is.

There’s another character with glasses whose name escapes me and I can’t find listed anywhere who basically tries to reel in Nakane and makes hindsight observations. He was fine, but I guess he’s not going to be very prominent in the future.

One thing that bothered me a bit was the narrator. He’s one of those busybody narrators who cuts into the story to tell us stuff about the story like backstory, primary goals of the plot, what’s going on in a montage, recapping stuff we just saw etc. Guys, it’s show don’t tell. Even if it’s not one of the characters doing this, it’s really friggin’ annoying. He pops up all the time and won’t shut up. It really breaks up the flow of the episode.

The story is not all that great so far. Big time star is training to win a championship and needs a replacement player with an incredible one found just around the corner mixed with a plot where characters are swindled out of money and need the main character to clean up their mess (well, I guess he is the cleanup batter.) The only seriously interesting part is wondering whether Kojima can beat Toua but since the episode ends before the game even starts, the rug gets pulled out from under you there.

The art and animation, done by Madhouse, are….okay. Most of the character art is good, if not somewhat ugly. Toua’s hair is cool, but his eyes are freaky and his body is almost grotesquely detailed and skinny. That part in the OP where you see him nearly naked is more worrying than attractive. Why he’s nearly naked in the opening, I do not know. I’m almost certain you usually wear clothes in baseball.

The animation is alright, but I don’t believe it’s some of Madhouse’s better works.

The music is fantastic, with part notes to the awesome OP done by Pay Money to my Pain.

Overall,

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This was nearly an ‘undecided’ but I think the characters could be strong enough to support this show even in spite of the baseball snoozefest, and despite not liking baseball I do have a soft spot for sports anime.

Recommended Audience: Toua is nearly naked in the opening. That’s pretty much it. E for everyone?

Episode One-Derland: Yosuga no Sora

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Plot: Sora and Haru are twins whose parents just recently passed away. They decide to sell their apartment and go back to their old house back in a very small town in the country. Every female, including his sister, wants to ride Haru’s meat wagon, and that’s pretty much all you need to know.

Breakdown: “But FiddleTwix, you said you hate harems and actively try to avoid them!” you yell through your computer screen. Oh yes, yes I do. But I also have a problem with reading terrible reviews on anime. On one hand, I give some of these shows a shot just to see if they have earned some form of redemption in my eyes. On the other hand, boy is it fun to watch terrible anime and then tear it a new one.

My first glimpse into this was through THEM anime reviews who basically said it was crappy soft-core hentai and left it at a one paragraph review amounting the show to being less enjoyable to merely watching 12 episodes of blank screen. Now that is something to spur my interest.

So I got around to watching the first episode and just from this episode alone I can see all sorts of problems.

First of all, there’s no story so far. Yup. One whole episode and no story outside of the plot synopsis I just gave you, and that information is only given to us in the middle of the episode. Narrative story flow? What’s that?

Want me to give you a full synopsis of the entire episode? Okay. Sora and Haru arrive in the town, grocery shop, greet the neighbors, Haru goes to school (Sora can’t because she suffers from ‘wtfistheresomethinginthewaterinJapanincrediblyweakyetgivennodiagnosis-itis’ And believe it or not, Haru actually describes her problem as ‘She’s weak and whatnot.’ Thanks Doctor.), we find out that Haru and Sora kissed when they were like ten (And I mean, legit kissed, not a little peck), Sora gets mad that he was late coming home, everyone with a vagina pervs on Haru and we end the episode with Sora imagining Haru about to French her as an apology for forgetting his phone at home with the episode-ending ‘cliffhanger’ being a horny Sora taking off her clothes at Haru’s bed propositioning him for sex.

Yep, that’s it.

Second, the other characters. There are several other characters introduced here, all of which being girls because duh. I can at least give most other harems some slack for usually taking time with the interactions with the main male lead and not flying head first into ‘Every girl needs to change her panties at the sight of him’ stuff. This show, oh god, no. Every girl, and I mean every single one, coming to a grand total of six, so far, is lusting after Haru like this is an all-girl’s school built on an aphrodisiac factory immediately after catching sight of him.

Okay, not all of them are really lusting after him at this point, but most of them are, and the ones who haven’t gotten to the point of causing moisture damage to their desk chairs whenever his name is brought up very clearly have a gigantic crush on him just by glancing at his perfect face.

Because of this, they have to give a car crash of introductions to make sure that fans of every route get a little taste of their lust for him before the episode’s over. Did I say ‘route’? Why, that would indicate that this is based on an H-game. Boy howdy, a crappy softcore hentai harem anime based off of an H-game. That never happens!

While we do get little tidbits into the personalities of each girl, I honestly couldn’t keep up enough to even get their names partway memorized. It takes some kind of talent to make the audience have difficulty keeping up with a show that has absolutely no story so far.

The only two you really need to worry about at this point are Sora and Haru. How do they fare as characters?

Well, Haru’s fine. He’s….perfect. He’s kind, smart, caring, very responsible, sociable, hard working, overall very happy, a teenage Adonis with the light and breezes of heaven following him around in case a girl gawks at him—he’s a Gary Stu. There ya go. If there’s one negative character trait that I’ve been able to squeeze out of him so far is a very common one of Gary Stus….he’s a doormat. Otherwise known as the ‘my only flaw is that I’m too nice’ flaw.

Sora, on the other hand, is a completely unlikable little twat. It seems like they’re trying for the tsundere trope with her, but she is just a complete little grumpy bitch. Yeah, I understand that their parents died…some time ago, but she never seems to think about them nor bring them up; all of her thoughts are wet dreams about Haru.

The only way they seem to be gunning for even remotely tsundere-like qualities in regards to the other half of the equation is that when Sora is done being a bitch, she grabs onto Haru’s shirt with a few fingers. This in combination with her clinging to her stuffed rabbit and the fact that her alternate hairstyle is pigtails pretty much establish her as a loli trope above all else. Did I mention she’s 16?

She’s entitled, she likes absolutely nothing but junk food, the Internet and Haru, she rarely smiles, she’s jealous of every girl who comes near Haru, she’s very abrasive and bossy taking stuff that doesn’t belong to her with a snide remark and wasting their measly grocery budget on junk food (Gee, I wonder why she’s so weak.) and she’s just plain creepy with how horny she is for her twin brother. That ending scene I mentioned? She’s not even sweetly or shyly asking Haru to ‘make love’ to her or anything. She is repeatedly asking him in a creepy voice to make her orgasm while she strips.

And let me make it clear that while the target of her affections being her brother does make the situation squickier, the way she acts would be creepy with anyone.

You like Haru because the show kinda forces you to, especially giving him the bonus sympathy angle of being an orphan, but the only other really prominent main character is so hate-worthy that you can’t stand watching any scene with her. The other girls are annoying in their own rights, mostly with their crushes on Haru, but their scenes with him are way more tolerable than any scene with her.

Oh yeah, there’s a chibi-comedy rehash of an early scene as a pre-end-credits scene in which one of the girls, lonely (apparently going to a singles group when she’s still in high school….) and recently catching a glimpse of sex incarnate himself goes home to have a completely necessary masturbation scene. Yup.

The art, animation and music are really the only saving graces so far, and even that’s not fantastic. Some of the design choices are questionable, such as making some of the characters look too thin and sometimes having odd faces, but it’s overall pretty decent. The backgrounds are really well detailed and the environments, while not being particularly memorable, are well designed.

Final verdict?

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Okay, I’m cheating. This decision is really for your own sake. I’ll be continuing it just to see how far the rabbit hole really goes…..I’m regretting that choice of words immediately. But yeah, it’s really not worth a look at all unless you have a thing for incest or smacking around bad anime.

Recommended Audience: Considering this show is considered a soft-core hentai and basing from this episode alone, I can say with certainty that this show is definitely for ‘mature’ audiences. In the first episode we have several instances of near incest with one incestuous kiss, one instance of non-sexual nudity and one instance of partial nudity taking place in a masturbation scene. 17+