Tuned in for the trashy fan service, stayed for the story. Out of all the shows that were airing with Cross Ange, it was a long shot to believe I wouldn’t have dropped it early based on first impressions alone. Alas 25 episodes later I’m pleasantly surprised by the turn around that happened here. Ange manages to command her character, becoming a strong female lead despite the odds against her and the general fan service comedy of the show.
The fact that Cross Ange actually has a fully developed story and characters out of nowhere is really what is surprising about this show. I can’t stress how off-putting the first episode really is. I’m pretty sure many stopped watching based on the first episode alone. But the world building here is done quite well, slowly unveiling what’s making everyone and everything tick episode by episode. I am still impressed by the level of thought on the whole back story regarding the dragons. My expectations were very low but were more than met.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, when we have characters singing pop songs at each other, let’s bring our level of expectation down to reality shall we?
My childhood memories of playing with my own toys with my imagination running wild, the scenarios and superpowers of action figures playing out in my head. It’s this childhood imagination that Chunibyo captures so well that make it so immediately likable. I was grinning during the first set of episodes on how stupid and how far the show would take its role-playing. I was almost dying when Dekomori turned on a set of star-shaped LEDs that became the set piece for a summoning circle.
“Dark Flame Master” Yuuta makes a great main character. Through him we live out that cringe factor in each episode as he interacts and gets to know Rikka better. Rikka’s mystical powers and set ups were cute. I loved how she was able to role-play anything around her such as her umbrella, the Schwarz Sechs Prototype MkII, as her main imaginary weapon. Rikka’s “servant” Dekomori helps keep the insanity going.
The rest of the cast seems a bit tacked on though to make it look like Yuuta, Rikka, and Dekomori aren’t too crazy by themselves by inserting normal friends into the mix. Nibutani played as a love interest for almost one episode, Isshiki is that annoying friend, and Kumin … well … she just naps a lot for some sort of cute factor.
I did appreciate Chunibyo’s serious undertones in the latter half as it rounds out the show and gives it heart. I think it handles the serious bit as best it could, and resolves things nicely with Rikka.
It’s a miracle I got through all of this. In the end Akame ga Kill! amounted to nothing more than an average fighting anime that really didn’t do anything with its story or characters. Tatsumi was just awfully flat and accomplished much of nothing besides standing in the sidelines for much of the show spouting ideals and other bullshit hero of justice type of lines that got him nowhere on the power scale. Akame ga Kill! used up its trump card of killing off characters to the extent it lost all its effect and did nothing more than hurt its potential story by literally killing it off.
The lost child finally brought under control. The second half is definitely inferior to the first season in almost every possible point, but I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t enjoy it just as much. The ending here was rather quick, but I think it did a fine enough job of resolving the main issue between Vers and Earth on a very very superficial level. If you take this second season seriously enough though you’d have an aneurysm just thinking about it due to the pointlessness of it all. Plot lines thrown away, secondary characters neglected, and any character relationships *cough* Inaho and Princess Asseylum *cough* just completely forgotten. For me Aldnoah Zero’s 2nd season was a definition of a “fun ride” but for others it’s easy to see it as a crash and burn.
Your enjoyment of Aldnoah Zero is going to heavily depend on whether you like Inaho or not, and I’m all aboard the Inaho hype train. This kid is a refreshing breath of air in a sea of weak push over male protagonists that infest the mecha genre. Inaho is not groundbreaking by any means, but his get shit done attitude just appealed to me every week as he outwits and outsmarts the smug Martian Knights continually.
The rest of the characters are fairly weak, the bumbling princess is quite useless and Slaine is just a sore in many ways. Lieutenant Marito’s PTSD sub plot gets shoved down our throats a bit too much, and the overarching antagonist’s motivation sadly dwindles down to a very shoddy revenge plot due to love and other fluffy stuff that we are so far removed from to even care about.
Despite its flaws though, Aldnoah Zero is just fun to watch with a huge grin on my face every week. Fuck this ending though. Fuck it to all hell. Until Season 2!
Another steadily develops an intriguing hook and runs with it to the show’s satisfying conclusion. Caught in the middle of it are Kouichi and Mei, two students who are quickly shunned by the rest of their peers as the mystery of their Class 3 slowly unravel. The two play well-off against each other’s contrasting personalities and luckily Mei didn’t turn out as mute as I had thought her to be. She slowly becomes my favorite character of the show. Another does a good job of allowing plenty of time for character development between Mei and Kouichi, and with its efforts in character building, Another is just as good when it comes to unfolding its story.
It’s not until the last episodes does Another almost decide to forgo what it had been doing so well and almost jeopardize everything it had created. From mood to pacing, Another had firmly established its characters and its mystery as dark and foreboding. It was slow and calculated, peeling off the layers to its story bit by bit and revealing what it needed to of the central mystery. With an ever-growing sense of tension and tragedy surrounding the class, the last episodes managed to shove the set standard to the corner in favor of a more traditional bat crazy Japanese scare and violence flick.
In retrospect the shift in urgency and what happens to Kouichi, Mei, and the rest of their classmates in the last episodes weren’t really needed. The misfortunes of the students were almost comical and insulting on how dumb things were becoming. By means the story itself was still intact and setting up for a good finish, so it wasn’t a horrendous end or anything. It was everything surrounding the events leading to the end I really could have done without. An alternative would have been nice, but since it was all in the book I suppose I have to respect the author’s vision. However, I still do think we could have arrived at the conclusion in a smarter way.
As for the ending, I enjoyed it. I’m not overtly analytical when I’m watching any show. I just sit back and let it all soak in. I understand what I can and fill in the rest from online sources after the fact. To me the big revelation definitely caught me off guard, so as mystery anime go, Another kept me guessing and entertained to the end.