Tokyo GhoulTerra FormarsJapanese
Anime 1st episodes 2014: T
Including: Tenkai Knights, Terra Formars (2014 anime), Terror in Resonance, Tesagure! Bukatsu-mono Encore, Tokyo ESP, Tokyo Ghoul, Tribe Cool Crew, Trinity Seven
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2014 >>
Keywords: Tokyo Ghoul, Terra Formars, SF, fantasy, horror, boobs, harem, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 8 episodes
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 6 October 2015
As usual, these aren't reviews of entire series, but just my first impressions of first episodes.
Couldn't find: 47 Todoufuinu R -- new season of a short-form anime following a group of dogs that are anthropomorphic versions of Japan's 47 prefectures.
Couldn't find: Tamagotchi! (anime) GO-GO Tamagotchi!
Listed under "M": Monogatari - Hanamonogatari + Tsukimonogatari
Listed under "M": My Neighbor Seki (Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time)
Listed under "P": The Pilot's Love Song (Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta)
Tenkai Knights
Tenkai Knights
Season 1
Episodes: 52 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no, but I liked it
One-line summary: toy spin-off anime for small boys
It's a Canadian-Japanese co-production, based on a line of construction bricks. Four colour-coded boys (red, blue, green, yellow) are going to turn into what look like cute transformers and fight robots. However it's better than it sounds.
Firstly, the robots look adorable. They're like Muppet Babies with guns and body armour. There's something inherently funny about seeing them toddling at top speed and kicking very small arse. They're made of blocks, so their planet is a cube (which looks surprisingly cool) and bad robots disintegrate into clouds of blocks when shot. It's a lot like a Lego movie.
Secondly, the main character is sensible. He's not happy about his father making them move to a new city, but he knows there's nothing to be done and he's being mature about it. Similarly he feels bad when he laughs during class, he's aware that he shouldn't stay out too late and he notices that Mr White knew his name without them having been introduced. (Yup, another colour-coded character.) He also talks politely. I liked him.
The show's also set twenty years in the future, with realistic projected future technology. Self-driving cars, voice-operated navi and a wrist-operated internet search.
It's rather good. It's a lot more intelligent than it needed to be and the toy robots are cute. There's no way I'm watching 52 episodes of it, but I'd have no qualms in recommending it to a boy of the appropriate age.
Terra Formars
Terra Formars
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: I'll wait for the uncensored version
One-line summary: macho mission to go to Mars and kill cockroaches
I've since finished it and... it starts well, but then it turns into SF insect superhero fights
I'm torn. So far it looks terrible, but an inner voice is telling me to watch it. It's in such bad taste that Takashi Miike's making a live-action adaptation. (That's not a joke. He really is.) That sounded like the clinching argument. "Bad taste" + "Miike" is something I'd cross oceans to see... but unfortunately so far I can only find uncensored versions of eps.1-3. Oh well. Bother.
The original Japanese TV broadcast was censored, not for nudity but for violence. Everyone who's seen the TV version says it looks ridiculous, unsurprisingly. Black circles and rectangles everywhere.
This episode begins with a cage match in the year 2619 between a man and a bear. The man needs the prize money to pay for surgery on the girl he loves. This sequence surprised me and gets gross and extreme.
The show then changes direction to become a mission to Mars. In the 21st century, scientists sent algae and cockroaches to terraform the planet. 500 years later, Mars is home to (a) an interplanetary virus, and (b) bodybuilding cockroaches. (This is very funny, all the more so for being treated with absolute macho seriousness.) Earth is putting together another Mars mission to study the virus. The astronauts will undergo surgery with only a 36% survival rate and they'll be serving under a German commanding officer called Adolf.
Awesome. The show doesn't have much of a sense of humour, but I laughed at the line about the tube in our main character's penis.
There are a handful of female characters, who look more interesting than the men. One has a face-flicker moment that makes me wonder if she might not be a VR projection, while another says "I'm envious that you know other people."
When a DVD version becomes available, I might go for it. When I watch the Miike film, I'll definitely be wanting to watch the anime for comparison. For now, though... well, censored versions of things. Naaah.
Terror in Resonance
Zankyou no Terror
Season 1
Episodes: 11 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: whoah, um, okay
One-line summary: protagonists carry out terrorist attack in Tokyo
I've since finished it and... it's important. Probably the most important anime series of the year, come to think of it. Not primarily a show you watch for entertainment, though.
It's a Shinichiro Watanabe anime. Yes, I know I said I didn't like Cowboy Bebop and decided not to bother with Space Dandy, but I'm not a complete barbarian. Watanabe is an important director and this show looks different. It's going to have a plot and ongoing characters. It doesn't look as if it's going to be an easy show to swallow, either.
Two boys plan and carry out a terrorist attack in Tokyo. One of them is charming and friendly, while the other, um, isn't. There's also a bullied shrinking violet they meet at the school they've transferred into. I won't spoil it, but... bloody hell. There's also an opening sequence with a raid on what might be a nuclear power station, with grenades, machine guns and snowmobiles.
It looks ravishing, but in a completely different way to Space Dandy. That was overflowing with style. This is realistic, movie-quality animation.
There's no way the show will be able to keep up this level of intensity, surely? The other episodes must be a step down. I was in two minds about whether or not to keep watching, since the reviews for the series as a whole are ambivalent. Some accuse it of having bad writing and characters. However I then learned that "China's Ministry of Culture called for the series to be banned, claiming it glorified violence and criminal activities."
Sold. I'm watching this puppy.
Tesagure! Bukatsu-mono Encore
Tesagure! Bukatsu-mono Encore
Season 2
Episodes: 12 x 11 minutes
Keep watching: no, no, a thousand times, no
One-line summary: CGI-animated schoolgirls discuss club activities
How many reasons can I find not to watch this anime? Answer: five.
1. Cell-shaded CGI animation, using the freeware program MikuMikuDance. Yup, it's floating zombie movement time, with uncanny valley faces.
2. The first three minutes of this 11-minute episode are given over to the narrator telling us (not showing us) about the four main characters' personalities. Given the CGI animation, it looks as if personalities are being mendaciously assigned to alien Barbie dolls.
3. The characters belong to a club that changes its name every year. Last year, it called itself the Groping Club. Their main activity is sitting around a table and free-associating from the names of other school clubs. They discuss the soccer, tea, tennis, watermelon-splitting, cycling and new bicycle clubs. Apparently the last two are separate.
4. Japanese cultural references that were hard work even for me, e.g. lots of Japanese puns and name-dropping a famous sumo wrestler.
5. Fourth wall breaking. After everyone's had a cry about half of the club having to leave because they're graduating, the remaining two have a discussion about the two different kinds of anime characters: the ones that age realistically and the ones that seem to be stuck in a timewarp. They decide to be the timewarp kind and so drag back the seniors who'd just graduated for another year in their school club.
No storyline. No fourth wall. Rambling non-discussions that one has to presume are meant to be funny. One-note characters with CGI animation that makes them look like horror monsters. The odd thing is that I'd almost call it a successful show, in that it appears to be achieving its goals, but those goals are in a different universe from me.
Tokyo ESP
Tokyo ESP
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: all-action cliches
The series summary caught my interest, but then the first episode killed it. The main character is a girl who acquires ESP abilities. Sounds good so far. Obviously the series contains other characters with similar abilities, including teleportation, creating force fields, inducing hallucinations and ripping the National Diet Building (i.e. parliament) out of the ground so that it can fly above Tokyo.
The episode begins well. The government has tanks and troops on the streets on Christmas Eve, while there's an anti-ESP law that might, perhaps, to some extent be a cause for terrorists launching a massive attack. These are superhuman terrorists, knocking trains off their tracks and making soldiers kill each other. Meanwhile the authorities is issuing orders like, "All espers are to be eradicated! Fire at will!"
The villains are good. The heroes are wafer-thin slivers of cliche.
There's a confrontation between "I Have Two Guns" and "I Have Two Swords" (not their real names), to make you choke on its weapon porn. People are prejudiced against espers, but "White Girl" is a hero who saves small children and old people. "She always appears to save us when we're in trouble!" protests a tiny girl who will soon run into a dangerous situation and need rescuing. Twice. "Leave me and save yourself!" cries the girl's doomed mother. Will our heroes save the small girl? Will female characters be wearing outfits that show superhuman cleavage? Why, of course!
Had I been given a chance, I might have liked ESP Girl herself. However the episode I watched felt like fifty minutes of action cliches, crammed into half as much running time with the absolute minimum of connecting tissue. The last 10-15 minutes in particular seem to have been edited to remove anything that wouldn't make your eyes roll.
The magic flying goldfish are a curiosity, though.
Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: absolutely
One-line summary: cannibal undead
I've since finished it and... Season 1 is outstanding. Season 2 drove me nuts.
Tokyo is infested by ghouls. This is common knowledge and even discussed on TV talk shows, although it doesn't sound as if anyone has a solution to the problem yet. Fortunately any single person's chances of getting killed and eaten are low, so day-to-day life can continue as usual. If you didn't watch the news, you'd never realise that anything's wrong. Observations to date (one episode) include:
(a) Basically, they're vampires. They eat people instead of drinking blood. Not much difference, I think. You could rewrite this to be Tokyo Vampire with a search-and-replace, except that they're non-infectious. Being eaten by a ghoul doesn't turn you into another ghoul, but just into meat in a monster's digestive system. However...
(b) Ghouls don't have all those pesky boo-hoo traits like random surreal weaknesses, goth fashion sense and falling in love with their food. (I hope.) Their hobbies include things like pulling out the internal organs of a victim who's not trying to run away.
(c) They look human and can blend into human society. However they have superpowers, e.g. leaping dozens of feet into the air or growing blood tentacles.
(d) They don't get on with each other. There appears to be some kind of ghoul government, but not all ghouls pay attention to it.
(e) There's someone out there dressing up like Jason from Friday the 13th and fighting ghouls. Since he's not dead yet, I'm guessing he's a ghoul too.
(f) Doctors are stupid.
(g) The swallowing sound effect at the end made me laugh.
The show looks juicy and its reputation is sky-high. Full of style and nastiness. This first episode contains nothing that's not already familiar from vampire stories, but there's still plenty to come (including a 2015 second season). Even in a censored TV version, I'd been looking forward to this.
Tribe Cool Crew
Tribe Cool Crew
Season 1
Episodes: 50 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no, but I really liked it
One-line summary: breakdancing kiddie cartoon
To my astonishment, I really liked it. It's excellent, or at least this first episode is.
It's a children's cartoon about dancing. Haneru Tobitatsu is a very small, cocky boy who loves breakdancing and can jump like a monkey. Kanon Otosaki is a shy, pink-haired girl who's almost perfect at school, but secretly posts dance videos of herself on the internet. This episode is simply about how them discovering each other's dancing.
For Haneru, it's simple. Someone shows him one of Kanon's videos and he's impressed. Kanon, on the other hand, has known about Haneru for a while because their secret dancing places are at the same location. The only thing separating them is a pane of glass, but in practice it's a one-way mirror. The only thing either of them can see in it is Haneru. Near the end of the episode, though, the sun will go in and Haneru will see Kanon.
This is a lovely story device. It's charming to see them dance together, when only one of them knows they're doing it. Then, when Haneru's eventually caught up with Kanon and they're talking, there's something sweet about his sincere admiration of Kanon's dancing. He's at that "girls are icky" age, you see. (I think he's supposed to be twelve or thirteen, but the character we're looking at is clearly meant to resemble the target audience, i.e. eight or so.) He certainly has no interest in Kanon as a girl. When he praises her, he really means it. It might be simple kiddie stuff, but I kind of loved this episode.
I also like the show technically. The style is super-cartoonish, but it's smooth and attractive, with simple, distinctive character designs. Kanon looks lovely. The animators also slip in a nice stylised touch when she's walking home through a non-literal representation of the city. Most importantly, the dancing looks great and doesn't smell of floating CGI zombies.
I won't continue with this. They're breakdancing. I admire the episode, but they're still breakdancing. I have no interest in breakdancing. The show's also 50 episodes long. However I'm really glad I saw its first episode.
Trinity Seven
Trinity Seven
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: I want to, but no
One-line summary: a mystery and a sexualised mage school
It's frustrating. I want to keep watching and learn what's going on. This first episode throws the viewer some world-changing curveballs, giving us a cool magical mystery. The Twilight Zone would be proud of it.
Unfortunately the credits suggest that the show's real purpose is to become a harem anime, while the episode's tone is lecherous in a particularly annoying way. The main character, Arata Kasuga, starts the day by groping his cousin and doesn't even see any need to apologise. Later, on joining Royal Biblia Academy and introducing himself to his new classmates, the first question he's asked is "what type of girls do you like?" (His immediate response: "with massive boobs".) The Trinity Seven of the show's title are seven highly skilled girls and Arata is told that he needs to make them his pawns. Ugh.
The problem, I believe, is that there's a fashion for giving harem heroes more of a backbone these days. Arata is thus a sexist, harassing cock. This is apparently progress. What's more, the girls are similarly in-your-face and sexually aggressive, perhaps because otherwise the interactions would have been truly distasteful. The result is characterisation, dialogue and jokes more reminiscent of porn movies than of human beings.
I like the show's mysteries. The black sun, the "world you wished for", etc. That's grabbed my attention. However I'm also confident that the show is going to get even more sexualised, silly and annoying. Run away!