Chargin’ My Disgust

Beating Other Bad Anime Out
by Bolt Vanderhuge

In the world of infamous anime, there are a lot of names that tend to get brought up, at least among us older otaku. This isn’t one of them. Instead, this one has a personal connection to me, from back when I first started really watching anime. I probably heard about this one thanks to TV Tropes on one of my reading binges, and since it’s an ecchi anime that really walks the line of just being straight up porn (and occasionally just hops right over it in my opinion), it was probably something that caught my interest for pervy reasons.

I am not above enjoying the occasional tentacle hentai, after all.

Essentially, this is just another ecchi with a gimmick, that gimmick being that there is a parallel dimension inhabited by a business that utilizes magical girls who use a kind of electro-shock therapy to make depressed humans feel happy and revitalized again – to “charge them up” to put it another way. They are thus called “charger girls” (at least in the localization), and the moé-blob protagonist we end up following is called Plug, with many of the other characters using this electrically-based naming scheme as something of a joke. These characters are able to fly and remain completely invisible and intangible to humanity, along with the tools they have hidden in human technology to accomplish their mission of charging up depressed humans. I’m not entirely sure how a business is built around this “service,” but the writers probably had no idea either, as its only real function is to fit into the typical trope of the perpetually poor screw-up fan service girl because Plug so often manages to fail at her job and destroy equipment in the process, and this is supposed to be funny.

And really, that’s the problem with the series as a whole. It just tries constantly to be funny, but fails basically every time at it. Which makes for a parallel with its protagonist, now that I think about it. In any case, I just feel like the humor completely misses, in part because of just how horrible so many aspects of this show are.

I hope that my earlier admission makes it perfectly clear that I am not some prudish snob who just hates fan service, and with that a given that you’ll also believe me when I say that I don’t use the M-word lightly. That word tends to be thrown around a lot these days, so I tend to reserve it for something I feel obviously deserves it, and this one does – like a baseball bat to the brain pan.

I bring this up, because so much of the “humor” of this show is based entirely around the fact that the male lead, a rather ill-tempered restaurant worker named Sento, is actually able to see these charger girls, and his default reaction is to grab an aluminum baseball bat (or whatever else is handy), and hit them in the head as hard as he can. And if that wasn’t bad enough, this is usually accompanied by the charger girl peeing herself. This is also occasionally conflated with orgasm (such as during their magical girl transformation sequence), especially in the case of an especially uptight, asshole charger girl who reveals that she actually enjoys being beamed in the head so hard that she loses consciousness and pees herself, and even develops romantic feelings for Sento because of it. And this is all played as humor.

I really just don’t have anything to say beyond that, other than maybe “shit’s pretty fucked.” I guess the only real faint praise I can give this series is that, at least it’s completely up front about what it is, right from the opening scene. Needless to say, this is not something I would recommend anyone to watch. This is also probably about the only time that I’m kind of happy that a show has actually stayed pretty obscure (which is admittedly not helped by me writing an article about it), but if you are a glutton for punishment, you can actually legitimately stream a subtitled version of this on Crunchyroll, completely for free, albeit somewhat censored. Surprisingly, this anime actually did get a dub, as it was one of the many sleazy animes licensed by Media Blasters, and there are probably used DVDs of it still floating around out there. This is actually kind of anger-inducing in its own right, not because it got a dub exactly, but because there are so many other animes out there which still haven’t been dubbed but would deserve one way more than something like this does. In any case, I really hope that if you insist on watching this frankly insulting anime, that you don’t waste any money to do so.

Fuck No! Don’t Check it Out:
Charger Girl Juden-chan (Faito ippatsu! Juden-chan!!)
based on the manga by Bow Ditama
Produced by Studio Hibari, Licenced by Media Blasters

Binary Stars and other BS

Infinite Ryvius and Twin Spica both serve to bother space otaku
by Bob Johnson

I’m a huge space nerd. But I need to say something about space anime. So many of my favourite anime are set in space: Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, just to name a few. For obvious reasons, Space continues to be a common setting for SF anime. That also means that there’s plenty of disappointing space anime out there (cough Glass Fleet cough). Here, I give half a chance each to two space-themed shows on the wobbly soft end of the space-opera scale, Twin Spica and Infinite Ryvius.

Twin Spica

Kei-chan agrees: Twin Spica kind of stinks.

Twin Spica is an uncommon fusion of soap opera and supernatural mystery, all overdosed on space science trivia. It is also thoroughly Shojo and Slice of Life, and that means it is SLOOoooOOW. It’s about Asumi, a disaster-affected moéblob whose aspiration is to become a “rocket driver” for her dad and her ghost friend. And since this is future-Japan, sure enough, there’s a high school in Tokyo for that!

Shu-kun knows where he’s going.

I think the real height of the show was episodes 4 and 6 (a two-parter split by E05, a filler episode). 4/6 showed the real essence of spaceflight, disguised as an entrance exam. The rest of the show — mostly boredom punctuated by frenzied moments of excitement — is also very on the nose for the flight experience in general.

While there are a fair number of active moments, even borderline awesomeness in this show, it’s important to note how wabi-sabi this all is. Asumi’s quest is not simply a trip to space camp, but a heart-wrenching tale of loss, loneliness, and quiet desperation.

Asumi-chan spills a bunch of CGI on the floor.

Though Twin Spica was crafted to be an edutainment show for younger kids, Japanese sensibilities intrude to prevent me from calling it kid-friendly everywhere. I don’t think a dubbed version was ever officially released in North America, but there is one of those Animax english dubs floating around. Thus, my occasional quest to find chibi-compatible shows continues to strike out. I may personally finish it, though.

Infinite Ryvius

Infinite Ryvius is boring! How do you make space boring? Mainly… have people fight for no reason! Shout and scream all the time and don’t actually do anything! Infinite Ryvius reminds me a bit of Stargate: Universe in this respect. Instead of sending professionals out there, just send a bunch of untrained cadets and chaos agents on your important space mission. That’ll work, right?

Infiinte Ryvius in a nutshell: it’s all there ready for you — but why am I not hungry anymore?

Essentially, generic anime protagonist and too many of his classmates are stuck on a sinking space station. Sinking into what? Good question! Not a gravity well or planetary atmosphere though, that would be too obvious. Infinite Ryvius aspires to be a tokusatsu disaster epic, but there is just so much trouble establishing the suspension of disbelief. I despise half of the cast from the get-go, I don’t care for the all-too-obvious mystery elements, but probably its worst offence is that it doesn’t even use real science — much like Space Battleship Yamato 2199’s space-submarine episode, they invented a new form of reality to allow their space station to sink into a space-ocean. I have no doubt there are new discoveries to be made in physics, but I strongly doubt there is any kind of dimensional rift within the solar system that makes this show even remotely plausible.

What’s good about this show? Uhm, well, It’s vaguely actiony and has a hip-hop soundtrack. The dub – tastefully cheesy – may be enough to put this show on a “so bad it’s good” groupwatch. But I just cannot get past the third episode on my own without falling asleep.


Maybe look it up:
Twin Spica (Futatsu no Spica) 20 episode anime
based on the manga by Kou Yaginuma
Produced by Group TAC


Don’t look it up:
Infinite Ryvius 26 episode anime
Written by Yosuke Kuroda, Directed by Goro Taniguchi
Produced by Sunrise, Licenced by Sentai

Begging for Mjølnir

…to bring swift justice to UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie
by Bob Johnson

I like Viking Legends. I like Space Travel. And believe it or not, I like Anime! Now how exactly can you combine all those and mess it up?

This is one way to mess things up.

I cannot emphasize this enough: UGH. In ten years of writing about anime, I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the terrible shit out there. But UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie is a next-level floater. I have rarely encountered anything that so shamelessly refuses to maintain even a modicum of good taste.

The plot: Space woman crashes to Earth, space woman is forced to perform emergency medicine on dying generic anime protagonist guy, space woman loses psychic energy and de-ages into an annoying moéblob. More space women crash to Earth, regress into moéblobs, and fight each other. Rinse and repeat until you have all that, plus a busload of catgirl maids.

You don’t want to know how this happened.

So the usual thing for this type of show, is that all the seemingly young main characters do everything of interest while powered up into their mature fighting forms, becoming wise beyond their years due to magic or shinto or computer code downloaded into their brains. Valkyrie occasionally does this, but far more often decides that it will turn this convention on its head by leaving its leading ladies de-aged.

There’s no avoiding it, we do need to talk about the worst part of this show. Because on top of everything else, there’s the fact that the entire show is set at a hot spring. Now, most fanservice anime would find some reason for these women to be in their full-grown battle forms while they’re in the hot tub, so that the viewer would be caught ogling something defensible. But Valkyrie departs even from this convention. And for this well-past-borderline activity, you will need to avert your eyes and blame this bogosity on the pair of kinkos behind this work (also infamous for the notorious Kannazuki no Miko) or truck with them in a pack of flimsy excuses.

Broken Wreckage

This is why we can’t have nice things, anime industry. Anime fandom is no monolith, and no single work should ever be held against every fan, but I have seen Internet trolls point to less egregious offences in order to paint every honest anime fan as a lesser lifeform.

Spending any more time considering the existence of this show would afford it some innate merit that it does not possess. This show is bad. It’s not funny-bad, it’s not edgy-bad. It’s just bad-bad. It was troublesome even in its own time, and now it’s the broken wreckage of a bygone era, best placed straight in the bin. Don’t watch it.

This is a show that makes the dull, morose Loki: Ragnarok seem like five-star entertainment. If you’re into Vikings, watch Vinland Saga. If you’re into Space and Fanservice, watch Space Dandy. If you want a kids’ show ADV somehow managed to turn into an adult comedy, watch Ghost Stories. If you want a battle anime, watch literally anything else!!! UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie is an unredeemable case that energetically ticks every box on the FBI watchlist.

Don’t Look It Up:

UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie anime (2002)
Based on the manga by Kaishaku
Destined to be an Dateline NBC special starring Chris Hansen
Produced by TNK, Licenced by Funimation

Illang: The Wolf Brigade

Ungrounded Jin-Roh retread misses the point
by Bolt Vanderhuge

When I heard that there was going to be another addition to the Kerberos Saga, a live-action movie made in South Korea, I was cautiously optimistic. While plenty of my fellow weebs know of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, most don’t realize it’s actually the third adaptation of an alternate-history manga written by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, 1995). It’s set before the two live-action films, both directed by Oshii. Thing is, these films are not like Jin-Roh.

These movies are kind of weird to put it mildly.
Continue reading

Rail Wars!

Now Boarding On Track 12 East: Everything Wrong With Anime
by Gristle McThornbody

Do you like trains? Do you like masturbating? Boy, I’ve got the anime for you.

You’ll probably not read past this point, so the simple verdict is IT STINKS.

In the time it takes an average Amtrak Northeast Regional train to travel from Washington, D.C. (WAS) to Bridgeport, CT (BRP), or the Empire Builder to trundle from Grand Forks, ND (GFK) to Stanley, ND (STN), you can have put in front of you the current state of the anime industry-goddamn desperate.

Continue reading

What Am I Watch?! – Attack on Titan (live action film)

What Am I Watch?! – United 777-222 IPTE Edition

Attack On Titan – 2015 Live Action Movie

ztitanlive-0This will be closer to (but not entirely) a full review, since in this instance I watched the totality of the “plot” arc of this movie. The background on this is that on my way home, I caught myself a shiny (but really old) 777-200 home on my way to Lost Wages. United’s seatback entertainment selection included this live action adaptation of the anime. I’ve never seen Titan before this in either form, and Chen-willing, I was going to see what the whole hulaboo was about.

In short, I should have seen the anime first…

ztitanlive-1

…and saved screen time for the inflight map

For those oblivious to the lore of this franchise, Humanity walled themselves up in a settlement against giant, humanoid, people eating monsters called “Titans”. For 100 years, the attacks had stopped, but in step our three main characters: Eren, Armin and Mikasa (es su Casa). Eren is tired of living comfortably within the confines of the Walls, and ventures out to see it when *gasp* a big-ass Titian breaks the Outer Wall in to let his buddies snack on the people in the agriculture district. (spoiler, they sound like celery) The plot, much like N771UA’s flight plan, ends up being logically (and laughably predictable) laid out in such that it shows some townspeople being dicks to each other by not letting people into the church, where Erin and Mikasa (holding a babby) gets eaten….or so you think.

In more ways than one, the plot flys by, and we’re two years down the road (and 150 miles closer to SFO). Armin and Eren (A&E) have joined the Scouting Regiment. Their new mission is to find new life, to boldly go where no man has gone before go to the Ag district, kill the Titians, and re-seal the wall, because as it turns out, no farms equal no food (and I don’t need the Farmer’s Union to tell me that twice). Because of this, a lot of the Regiment is in it just to get fed, for glory, or in this case of this baby mama, for the bennies:

And all the Non Revenue Space Available flights a girl could want!


Sidenote: I didn’t see why it was necessary for the IFE to remind us every so often what airline you’re flying.

Enter a generically evil, plotting Military Police Commander, and you find out after they venture out that they were actually supposed to secure some explosives and a bunker. While this is all going on, Eren discovers that Mikasa has not been ate (but was bitten), but rather became a cold, distant Titan killer and is involved with another man, Shikishima. This makes him angry/cry/sad/wishing I had kept watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? Instead.

He also happens to be the squad leader and lead expositionist for this part of the plot, when he tells the origin of the Titans, plan a little coup and whatnot. This meeting also turned out to be a “pump up” meeting as Shikishima gives Eren a sort of reason for fighting the Eljer Titans in the form of some overused, trite phrase.
This happens in time for the naked hungry giants to attack, and this sets in motion what’s left of the plot. Trust me. Things happen.

These things include much of the Squad being eaten despite their flying rope hook things. The BFF Armin almost gets eaten, but is saved by our hero Eren who then gets screentime to be seen going down into the Titans esogaphus and into the stomach. (ewwwwwwwww). This is, of course, after he looses a leg to one of them and hand on the way down. Meanwhile, Mikasa, who finally shows up emotionally again, fights despite the plot demanding that her gas powered flying rope hook thing be low on gas.

By pure rage alone, Eren assumes Titan form and beats the shit out the Titans, scaring them away. Mikasa cuts open the nape of the neck (the preferred location to kill them), and it turns out that’s where a Titan’s human is stored. Basically, they’re giant fleshy mechas. They pull out Eren who ends up healed from all of his wounds.

This movie is supposed to be in two parts, and judging by the length indicated by the PTV, this was part one. It seems rather abridged, and many times over I’ve heard of issues tying to pare down a 26 episode series into a movie (or two). I felt gypped having randomly skipped two years, as the training would have been an interesting aspect to follow, especially given the rag-tag vibe that the crew gives out.

Eren himself remains an interesting , if annoying part of the story. When not crying or whining, or moping, or getting into fights with the preppy kids on the crew, he can actually kick some ass, but even that took the Squad Leader getting him into gear.

Pretty much my face with this plot

Overall, it didn’t seem like this movie earned any of dramatic moments in it. A good movie will lead you on, draw you into a story, this seemed like it was going through the motions (or following a pre-determined flight plan), and not building anything. Coattailing on hype alone, it left an empty feeling, a feeling that much more could have been put into it besides great special effects.

I’m going to return to the franchise, but in the anime form, because I want to fill the empty spot this movie (and the sold out French Country-style bowl) left me on this flight.

 

Ouranistic Experience

by Bob Johnson

Captain Obvious confirms: Ouran High School Host Club is girly

Ouran High School Host Club

Haruhi and Tamaki share a moment

You’re probably already well aware that Ouran High School Host Club is the wet dream of many a socially-awkward gynoid; since having a bunch of guys rotate around a single woman is a day in the life of the average school computer club, I guess there’s a little truth to the concept of a reverse harem, but seeing it play out at any length at all has me ready to develop a virus that targets shoujo writers… Continue reading