Hey guys, Samurai here again! You know, I was looking back over the shows I reviewed since this blog started back in October 2011, and, for the most part, they’ve all been pretty positive reviews. However. Over the course of the last couple months, we’ve had quite a few shows NOT make the grade. These shows failed to meet the minimum 70 points to be considered passable. These shows’ are the space cases, the misfits, the shows that didn’t make the grade for various reasons. So, that being said, we’re going to take these shows to summer school for a little remedial education and guidance for improvement so that future generations know what NOT to do. School is in session, so take your seats!
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth [Final Grade: 65/100] – This was the first movie ever reviewed on the blog, and it also has the distinct honor to be the first anime to receive a failing grade. I dinged “Death and Rebirth” heavily on the fact that it was just an abridged version of the 26 episode “Directors Cut” version of the series and didn’t add anything to what we already knew about these characters from when the original series ended. It was a completely inconsequential movie that was pretty much made to be the buildup for “End of Evangelion”, hence the little 30 minute “Teaser” at the end. I also dinged this one on the dubbing work. While I believe I might’ve been a little too harsh with my critiques on the dub work, it wouldn’t have added enough points on the board to bring this movie into the passing range …black Hyuga still sticks out like a sore thumb, and Sue Ulu’s performance I find was still lacking. That being said, here are some counseling tips for “Death and Rebirth”:
- Don’t Exist – While this might sound harsh, it would be best if you simply didn’t exist. You bring NOTHING to the table except what we already saw in the series and, let’s be honest, your “End of Evangelion” chaser is NOT doing you any favors, nor is your English dub.
ToHeart [Final Score – 60.5/100] – Ugh…this was a very tough series to even FINISH for the review. “ToHeart” was threatening a heart attack even before the main characters appeared on screen with its sleepy-time opening theme. Things didn’t get better as time goes on, as this slice of life drags on and on and on with tired story after tired story featuring the same old tired character tropes. As we’ve said countless times on this blog—it’s the CHARACTERS that make slice of life anime worth watching as it’s their lives we’re watching play out. Even the most boring of story premises can shine like diamonds when given brilliant characters. “Aria” is a PRIME example of this; a simple story like “Female Gondoliers on Mars” is taken to beautiful heights with an awesome cast of characters. The English dub for “ToHeart” is uninspired with very few exceptions. When your main character doesn’t sound interested in what’s going on, then guess what—I’m not going to be either. So, that being said, here are some counseling tips for “ToHeart”:
- Ditch the Robot Maid – Yes, Multi is cute. We know this. But she’s a gimmick and a crutch for this hobbling series, plain and simple. If you would only improve your EXISTING cast, you wouldn’t need to have this gimmick in the first place. And come on—you mean to tell me you’re so advanced you can make a humanoid android look, think and feel human…but you still use CORDED TELEPHONES?
- Give Your Voice Actors/Actresses A Sip of Red Bull – Seriously, liven it up! With the exception of Multi and Shino, they all sound so drowsy and bored.
- Give Your Female Lead SOME Personality – It’s a crying shame when you’re more interested in the secondary cast than the primary. While, yes, I understand that Akari is a healing-type soft spoken character, she just felt so watered down and boring. Give her SOMETHING to make her seem special and interesting.
- Get Rid of Masashi – He’s a pointless character. He doesn’t do anything, he doesn’t have any kind of personality, and he doesn’t bring anything to the other characters. He’s got to go.
Boys Be [Final Score – 64/100] – Simply put, this was a new age “ToHeart”, except instead of a robot maid, we have a girl who loves public cosplay which is…kinda better, in a way…but it still has a bit of gimmicky funk about it. It’s bad high school drama all over again with characters that just mill about through their relationships with the most stomach churning incidental music I’ve ever heard. The English dub for this one was…meh. As I said in the review, it’s hit or miss with more misses than hits. This one had potential as it was one of the few shows that covered boys POV when it comes to romance, but it squandered it with a lackluster story and characters. Here’s my counseling session with Boys Be:
- Give Your Male Lead SOME Personality – Just like Akari in “ToHeart”, Kyoichi doesn’t seem to have much going for him personality wise. I mean, he does have some kind of drive, but just not enough for me to really care. I found myself caring more about Mikoto and his relationship with Yumi.
- Give This Show to Funimation Entertainment for ADR – With all respect to the ADR Crew at “The Right Stuf International”, Funimation Entertainment would’ve done a much better job overall with this production. As I mentioned in the “Boys Be…” review, many of the same crew that worked on it also worked on “ToHeart”…and we all know how I felt about that dub. So perhaps it would’ve been better if another company had this project instead of “Right Stuf”.
Digimon Adventure 02 [Final Score – 57.25/100] – I tag-teamed this review with Otaku Andrain last year and there were no punches pulled—and rightly so. “Digimon Adventure 02” was worlds away from its predecessor, “Digimon Adventure 01” on quite a few levels. The story was weaker than the original, with an ending that could’ve been done better by fanfiction writers. While this show did have some good points, and it will be remembered with great nostalgia by all who encountered it back in the jump, nostalgia wasn’t enough to give “Digimon Adventure 02” the points it needed to be considered passable, and honestly, I couldn’t see ANYONE paying over $59.99 or even $35.96 for this show. All that being said, here’s my counseling session with “Digimon Adventure 02”
- Make Takeru [T.K for American Audiences] or Hikari [Kari for American Audiences] the 2nd Goggle Boy/Girl Leader – Sorry Davis, but for all intents and purposes, you weren’t that great a leader. Just because you play a mean game of soccer and had your own pair of goggles, doesn’t make you an awesome leader. You’re an awesome CHARACTER, but just not an awesome leader as compaired to TK and Kari who have actually been to and fought in the Digital World and know their way around. In this case, it’s wise to lean on the side of experience.
- Cut the “His Masters Voice” Episode – It’s an inconsequential, pointless episode that has caused more trouble than it’s worth. I know I will get some volatile hate mail from Takari fans, but I stand by this—cut the episode all together.
- Give Cody A Voice That Doesn’t Sound Like a Pragmatic 30 Year Old – I think this speaks for itself. The voice itself is awesome, but it’s NOT for a 2nd Grade Kid.
- Throw Out The Entire Ending Epilogue And Try Again – I think I’ve beaten this dead horse enough…and I’ve even had help in doing so. So I’ll just say this; nix the Astro-Matt, give Yolei something more substantial to do than being a housewife, and get Davis out the noodle stand, and you might get some of your points back.
- Cut the Price of Your Complete Collection by 1/3 and Release Individual Volumes – Dude, you are NOT “Digimon Adventure 01”. As much as it pains me to say this, you are NOT that special. Fall in line with Season 1 and release individual volumes with your complete collection and reduce the price of the Complete Collection to something that actually makes sense. Impulse + Nostalgia + Reasonable Price = Sales. If I see something from my past that I want to buy and it’s extremely affordable, then I’m gonna grab it without thinking. “Digimon Adventure 01” sold it’s individual sets for $12. Why can’t you do the same? What extras are you packing in the Complete Collection that would make me want to spend $60 on it…or even $30?
I, My Me! Strawberry Eggs [Final Score – 65.75/100] – Yeah, this show was all kinds of suck. I recall that I was really, REALLY hating having to put the next disk in my DVD player for the review. This show had potential to be really interesting, but it just wound up being too out in left field for me. The fact that this school ran by these maidens of misandry even EXISTS is puzzling to me and that puzzlement stayed the entire time I watched this series. And the fact that they’re training up the female population of this school to think that all men are horrible still makes me ill. Evidently, nobody told these maidens that the same males that they are pushing away and repulse with a passion are the same males that they’re going to have to MARRY one day and have kids with in order to further the population. Just a thought.
- Reduce Fuku’s Screen Time by Half – Seriously, I got tired of this girl quick. It’s like they tried to make her as moe as possible by giving her every single attribute under the sun, but instead of being “Oh man, she’s so cute!” it comes off as being “Man, this girl is annoying!” Add to it that she seems to find her way into EVERYBODY’S storyline some kind of way. And just when you think that it’s over at the end credit—SURPRISE! She’s in the end credits…FOR EVERY EPISODE. Either tone her down or phase her out.
- Give Hibiki More of a Background – I found myself asking “Okay, why does this man want to be a gym teacher? Granted he says he wants to inspire youth, but that doesn’t explain much to me—WHY does he want to do this? What would make him go through such extremes to be a teacher to inspire others? Why couldn’t he go to another school in another town that actually treats its male population with some kind of equality?
- Fire Your Music Director – There is no excuse for music to be this bad across the board. It’s bland, unimaginative, and if I see Fuku one more good dawg gone time, I’m gonna lose it.
- Find Another Green for Your Uniforms – The pale, washed out green color is disgusting, plain and simple. And while you’re at it, please loose the little fringe thing at the bottom of the skirts. It just makes it look like the slip is showing on all your female characters.
The Candidate for Goddess [Final Score – 12.5/100] – Whew, boy. There’s so much wrong with this series, I don’t even know if it’s even WORTH rehabilitating. This show rips off so many other mecha shows with such abandon it’s hard to find anything really unique about it to make a respectable program. While I will say that the animation gets good points, those points are pretty much negated by the ripped off character designs and the odd mecha designs. And don’t even get me STARTED with the acting…if you can call that acting. And you guys know I’m not known for hating on dubs—I love dubs, in fact. But when you have actors who are making elementary mistakes, and a production staff who just don’t seem to give a flying rip, that’s when I get on the offensive. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way…so, here’s is my counseling session with “Candidate for Goddess”:
- Fire Your Entire Writing Staff – Yes. That’s right. EVERYBODY gets the sack. Leave no staffer behind. Everybody goes. You ain’t got to go home, but you got to get the hell up out of here. Spend the extra cash and get a combination of veteran writers and newbie writers in your group. Your story needs a complete and utter refresh.
Throw Out ALL Character Designs and Costumes – Even the Cat ear girl. Just get a cute and cuddly mascot character and call it a day. Start with some fresh designs. I should not automatically think of another show when watching this one. And while you’re at it, BURN ALL THE CLOTHES. The male ones are just ridiculous, and the female ones are borderline obscene.
Make Your Mecha Look Like a Mecha and NOT A Fashion Model – Ditch the high heels. Lose the breasts. This is a mecha, not a Victoria Secret model. It is possible to relay the image of a goddess without giving your mecha a set of Double-D’s and stripper heels. [I’m just saying…]
- Hire Chris Ayres To Do The Dub Work – Okay, it doesn’t have to be Chris doing the dub, his name just popped into my head… but I’m just saying—he’s an excellent, talented, and WELL KNOWN director. He has helmed MANY ADR projects and they’ve been successful across the board. [At least the ones I’ve reviewed so far…] Get a director in the seat who knows what the heck they’re doing and how to get the best out of their crew! Get actors/actresses in there who know how to act. You don’t have to get humongous stars like Monica Rial or Vic Mignogna…you can hold auditions! There are THOUSANDS of aspiring actors/actresses out there who would jump at the chance to dub a show…all they need is a chance.
Shuffle! [Final Score – 64.2/100] – Early last month, I was taken to task by a reviewer named “Kyubey” who said “I don’t feel as if this reviewer [SP?] judged this show correctly. I feel as if his expectations were set up for a different kind of show.” Naturally, this made me go back to my actual review and double-check myself. To be honest, while I do understand where the reviewer is coming from, that I might’ve went into this show expecting one thing but getting another, I still stand by my scores and my personal assessment. To me, “Shuffle!” tried to tack on too much to its existing harem plot and it wound up being unenjoyably complex. It’s jarring jumps from upbeat to melodrama was clumsy and heavy handed. Add to the fact that it went a little overboard with regards to the more ecchi aspects, and here you have the reason for my failing grade. Here’s my counciling session with “Shuffle!”
- Trim The Fat – You have GOT to lose some of this excess weight. Your core is a harem. Okay. That’s good. One girl happens to be the daughter of the king of gods, the other a daughter of the king of demons. Sure. Okay. You have two childhood friends who has a crush on you. Right, right…that’s normal with shows like this. Everything else needs to be cut. This whole science fiction aspect with Primula, the mysterious yet never quite explained powers of Asa, Primula’s origins, Kaede’s Yandere traits…all that can really be trimmed away. It just makes the story more top-heavy and complex than it needs to be.
- Cut the Fanservice by Half – I know this is going to be hard, but you have GOT to cut down on some of the perverseness. I mean, you devoted a whole episode to lucky PANTIES. Your opening theme has a quick flash of two underage young girls in the buff. You do crotch-shots and up-skirt shots during dramatic moments. Heck, even your EYECATCHES are somewhat questionable at times. Making your audience feel like a bunch of Pedobears ain’t what’s happening.
- Hire an Orchestra for Incidentals – The video game esque music is a big no-go. If you’re going to tell a dramatic story, or even a mature story, lose the Nintendo-inspired soundtrack and go orchestral.
- You Hired WHO…to play WHAT ROLE?! – … you decide to hire Vic Mignogna, one of the most vocally Christian anime voice actors around…to play the king of the DEMONS? REALLY?! That was and still remains HILLARIOUS to me! He did a great job, don’t get me wrong, but the irony is just so amusing to me!
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water [Final Score: 69.65/100] – Ah, “Nadia”, our recent failure. This show was a mere .35 points away from achieving the minimum 70 points required to pass. This show failed because it made stupid, fundamental errors that, in all honestly, should’ve been seen and avoided. Here’s my counseling session with “Nadia”…by far the shortest of the group.
- Cut 13 Episodes from Your Lineup – The following episodes need to be cut from your lineup with extreme prejudice—no questions asked: #3. The Riddle of the Great Sea Monsters, #18. Nautilus vs. Nautilus, #23. Young Drifters, #24. Lincoln Island, #25. The First Kiss, #26. King, The Lonely Lion, #27. The Island of the Witch, #28. The Floating Island, #29. King vs. King, #30. Labyrinth in the Earth, #32. Nadia’s Love, #33. King’s Rescue, and #34. My Darling Nadia. These episodes have no use whatsoever in the series. It’s like Rushia Tendo from “Grenadier” wearing a Wonderbra—it’s pointless, silly, and just plain wrong. If you cut these episodes from your lineup, you will pretty much kill three birds with one stone—the story will greatly improve and become more streamline, the characters will be shown to mature and grow from their experiences, and because the above episodes are some of the worst animated in the series, you’ll also improve the quality of the end product. So, yeah. While episodes like “The First Kiss” and “King vs. King” have some funny moments, on the whole, they’re about as useless as a solar-powered flashlight to a blind man living in a cave.
And so that’s it. The Summer School session has concluded. I hope that future shows learn from these egregious errors and…well…not do what they did. However, I’ve been told that Gainax released an updated version of “Nadia” called “The Nautilus Story” which features a more streamline story devoid of the above mentioned faults. Hideaki Anno pretty much took the original “Nadia” Story and chopped it down into 6 hours. I haven’t had the chance to see it, but I would imagine that it’s a MUCH better product.
Thanks to one of my good Facebook friends I found out that July 16th is a very special anniversary for a history-making, world-rocking, game-changing anime movie. So, in addition to my review of “Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi”, I’ll also be reviewing and posting, in celebration of this movie’s 25th Anniversary…