Amagi Brilliant Park Review: Definitely Not a Fairy Tail

7/10

To be honest, I only considered watching Amagi Brilliant Park because it’s Kyoto Animation. But what kept me watching is my love for theme parks.

I really thought Amaburi would be an exposition, showing its viewers true-to-life behind the scenes and nitty-gritty aspects of a particular object (in this case, a theme park) – something like Shirobako with anime making – plus an added fantasy in the side. I suppose it is that kind of anime in its own way. Only, most of the elements you encounter are improbable. It’s a fantasy anime, no doubt about it.

Amaburi‘s art is its most dazzling feat. It’s nothing less from KyoAni. Its visuals are colorful, vibrant, and fluid befitting that of a theme park. KyoAni hasn’t innovated its character design that much but it still packs a punch in Amaburi. Kanie’s, for example, can put the Iwatobi boys’ to shame.

Where the series suffers the most is the story. The first two episodes give us a trajectory. The setting may be cliche in its execution but it gave us a clear goal.

Afterwards, the succeeding episodes are loaded with filler stories that may or may not make sense and only give the slightest intent of ever reaching that goal. They may give us an inkling of what is needed to run a theme park but they’re nothing more than run-of-the-mill antics with a touch of the improbable. I honestly think KyoAni could have done a better job if they put a little more thought and effort in building the fillers.

The overarching story is put back in focus in the last five episodes. The series manages to save itself as it slowly unfolds a cute, charming little story amusing enough to keep me watching until the last episode. It is the biggest plus side after that mess of a middle. Save for a few plot holes and open-endings, I can say that Amaburi ended well enough.

(c) Kyoto Animation
(c) Kyoto Animation

With its characterization, Amaburi keeps it simple. But with its diversity of characters, development was disordered. For some characters, you’ll see them grow as the series progresses and for the others, there is almost no development at all.

It hits most of what we can expect from an effort by KyoAni – consistent visuals, top-notch character design, and a whole lot of fan service. After Free! and Kyoukai no Kanata, I would have asked for more. But with its variety of scenes, AmaBuri proves how versatile the studio is.

All in all, Amagi Brilliant Park is a roller coaster ride. It takes you up and down and through the unexpected and ends abruptly enough for you to want more. It may not be the best of what KyoAni has to offer but it is a good addition to their opus. I would recommend this to anyone looking for lighthearted entertainment.

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Mushishi Zoku Shou Review: a Japanese Masterpiece

10/10

I have forgotten now how I came to watch Mushishi Zoku Shou. But whatever that reason is, I surely don’t regret it.

It may be appalling at first how it may seem slow-paced or even stagnant. Looking closely, we’ll realize that it is this stillness and calm that give Mushishi its distinction, making it worthy to be called a masterpiece.

After all the action and drama that anime can flaunt, Mushishi gives us a refreshing retreat, a break from the hustle and bustle of trite anime antics, and presents to us its own brand of action and drama enveloped in its unique and perhaps unpredictable storytelling.

Mushishi 1

We follow Ginko, the main character, in his travels across Japan where he meets people affected by mushi, strange, ethereal creatures that coexist silently with every other living being. Interacting with different mushi even unknowingly has its implications and Ginko, as a mushishi, offers his help to those troubled by mushi to the best of his ability. The setting itself offers a horizon of opportunities. It is a captivating feat that each episode can be the darkest of tales reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe (Fragrant Darkness, Lingering Crimson) or even the most lighthearted of stories (Banquet at the Forest’s Edge). The story fills out every edge of possibility and leaves room for even more.

The slow movement and breathtaking scenery are what absorb you and even more so when its superb musical arrangements come in to accompany it. Its masterful direction bring out the best of each scene – the deep-rooted characters, the intense emotions, the over-all mood (you’d have to take a closer look to see this). Mushishi couldn’t ask for a better production.

The whole experience takes you to a time when man and nature treated each other with respect and lived together in peace and harmony. With each episode told in a way that closely resembles the fable of Aesop and the parables of Jesus coupled with its magnificent art direction, Mushishi gives us an experience evocative of the ways of Shinto and Zen embedded in classical Japanese culture.

And yet, Mushishi never tries to be grandiose and flamboyant in its ways. Its simplicity is its most favorable trait and it is in there that you will find its grandeur. “Mabaw nga kalipay” (“simple pleasure”) is what we’d call it in Cebuano. It is not laden with complications and twists but that makes it all the more entertaining.

Among the anime series I’m watching this season, Mushishi Zoku Shou stands out the most and is easily one of my favorites in my limited repertoire. I would very much recommend the series to anyone and everyone, especially to those with an open mind.

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Hello Everybody!

Hello there! I am lecoolerone and I decided to start an anime review blog. I just graduated from college last March and I have nothing better to do. I found myself at home just watching anime and thought What if I started writing about it? It might actually take me somewhere.

Anyhoo, I love anime and I only want to share it with the world. I keep myself on the lookout for the best, the worst, and the in-betweens so that I can bring it to you and we can all laugh, cry, and share.

Found nothing here? Don’t you worry! I like to keep with the currents so I’ll start by writing reviews for the number of anime I’m watching this season (Fall 2014). By next season, I’ll be reviewing AND recapping new anime. If I find the time, I’ll also be reviewing anime released before Fall 2014 (and that’s a whole lot of them).

Keep in mind that I am human too and I can’t watch every series released in a season. If you really, REALLY recommend an anime that I’m not currently watching, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I’d really appreciate it.

I am still building my blog so check it out regularly. My review for Psycho-Pass 2 is up so yay. You have something to read.

I also have a Tumblr branch (haha, I call it a branch) for all you Tumblr users out there.

That’s all for now, I think. I’ll see you guys in my next review.

Psycho-Pass 2 Review: I Guess It Can’t Be Helped

This is my first published review. If there is anything of concern to you regarding this, please do notify me. I’ll gladly accept comments and suggestions.

XXX

6.5/10

With a dystopian setting comes a down-with-the-system plot. This is true for a lot of cases. It is not that it is the end-all and be-all of all dystopian fiction. It is that if you want to move forward and present things in an uber-philosophical manner, this is the way to go. Psycho-Pass is no exception. And it incorporates this not once but twice (and with the possibility of a third time.)

Let’s cut to the chase. Psycho-Pass 2 is not as spectacular as it aspired to be although it tries (desperately). I can’t say I was disappointed either as I didn’t have high expectations for it. I was definitely brought in by the hype but the first season reminded me of how any follow-up can fall short (especially when the first season fell short itself).

A lot of viewers say that the second season is a carbon copy of the first. Not all of that is true. Like I said, dystopian settings don’t have much to go around with. When it wants to have a brooding and thoughtful tone (everything Psycho-Pass aims to be), the choices are limited. I can forgive the second season for having the same themes as the first simply because of Kamui.

Kamui may seem unoriginal at first. He and Makishima have the same goals about society. However, Kamui sets off having more drive and resolve to bring down Sibyl (or at least change it or know about its nature) although it kind of flipped over towards the end. Although not as charismatic as Makishima, he presents legit questions regarding the system. Somehow, I find him more likable than Makishima who only flaunted his educated humanist ass to put off other characters (and viewers). But both are unique in their own way and there is no reason to compare them.

Akane in this season is not as challenged as she was in the previous. If I were to say something nice about her, it would be that her development was decent enough, giving her more self-understanding and the ability to think outside the box. But that’s just it. So much potential is wasted for our beloved protagonist.

The same is true for the rest of the characters. In the end, they were nothing more than mere accessories the whole series can do without. They provided enough amusement the series can do well without. For instance, Ginoza, who received the full brunt of character development in the first season, was put in the backseat and casually thrown out the window. The characters relationships were not outlined and explored to their full extent as much as they tried to bring them out and the story never did anything to address this lack of trajectory.

Despite all its faults, the story provides enough twists to keep me watching when, to be honest, it was 80% all talk. It didn’t need all the blood and gun service and car chases to mask the lack of action. This leads me to conclude that the animation never did anything to make things better. I guess it can’t be helped.

I hoped that it would be smarter than the first season as I hoped that the first season would be smart. It aspired, tried, but never did it transcend itself. I sit here, pondering over the many things that could have made the whole series better. Psycho-Pass 2 gave only so much that in return I can give it a “good enough”.

 

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XXX

What do you think of Psycho-Pass 2? Leave a comment below!