Monthly Archives: November 2014

Anime World Cup – Fall 2014: Slice of Life, Pt. 1

I’ll be doing my Anime World Cup feature a little differently this season. This time around, I’ll be doing full reviews of the 2nd through 4th episodes of each series and then giving each episode a letter grade. After all four series in a group have been reviewed, I’ll total up the wins/losses to figure out which three series I’ll be doing episode reviews of, and which three I’ll be doing season reviews of. We’ll start things off with Tribe Cool Crew, which is more shounen than slice of life, but I have to massage some of these shows into quasi catch-all genres.

Tribe Cool Crew

Image of Haneru ready to throw down

With Haneru–our move-bustin’ boy wonder–privy to the dance sensation Rhythm’s secret identity–the shy and introverted Kanon–he attempts to persuade her into forming a dance troupe. Kanon tags along with Haneru, skating past his requests, until he makes a bold move that may just change her mind.

There’s no question that like many of its shounen peers, Tribe Cool Crew is an easily disposable series when it comes down to it. It hits the usual shounen beats with a similar pacing to series like Pokemon or One Piece–our hero is passionate about a specific endeavor and implores others to join him on his adventure. Even the characters are conventional, if you’re used to the genre–Haneru feels like Ash Ketchum with less height and more eye liner–but their relationship to one another and their specific passions, is what makes Tribe Cool Crew a shounen show worth looking at.

Image of Kanon looking shocked

Haneru and Kanon’s relationship is a vital part to keeping the audience engaged. We’re given two dancers who are equally skilled–Kanon maybe more so than Haneru–and they each have such an intense deference to the abilities of the other. It’s directly stated at one point, that neither has romantic feelings for the other–though I have my doubts from the Kanon end–but both Kanon and Haneru are deeply in love with each other’s dance moves and interest in the art. It’s a refreshing remove from series where the main guy and girl are either antagonistic towards one another, or in love in spite of their need to answer to their higher calling. Even if Kanon turns out to have a thing for Haneru, he is so seemingly asexual–good too, since he looks to be about ten or so… JAPAN–that the dynamic between the two would still be engaging, because he’s much more interested in her dancing than he is in Kanon herself. I could be forgetting a series or two, but there seem to be so few shounen series where our heroine can almost one-up our hero in skill set to the point where he is in admiration of her. Of course, her powerful dance grooves are outweighed by her intense self-awareness, but it’s a start. By the fourth episode, Kanon is the more “together” of the two, since she’s anxious to learn from her peers–in the form of Mizuki and Yuzuru, two of the three dancers in a quasi-popular and local dance troupe called Tribal Soul–while Haneru is somewhat stand-offish and annoying in his unrelenting pride. While Tribe Cool Crew starts with a focus on the typical male protagonist, bouncing off the wall with excitement over the possibilities of his own success, it quickly turns to Kanon who is more subtle–and thus, more likable–in her appreciation of herself. Where other shounen series hang on a hero that is full of themselves, Tribe appreciates its heroine’s willingness to better herself through the help of the talented individuals she meets.

Image of the Tribe dancers with... beams shooting out of their chests?

Beyond the dynamic between Haneru and Kanon, lies the central idea behind Tribe Cool Crew; the power of music, dance, and the arts in general to unite and move people. This ideal sets Tribe apart from its pack, with “battles” becoming less about physical violence–what we’re used to in almost every shounen series–and more about performance and artistry. Granted, that makes this series meant for kids sound a little lofty, but Tribe gives equal importance to its dance battles as other series give to their fights, portraying characters as defined by their dancing abilities and their status amongst the dancing culture at large. Tribe never gets preachy about any of this–art over violence–but the contrast is still present, as given in a scene where Haneru mistakenly believes that an “adversary” is looking for a physical fight, when the guy really just wants a good ol’ fashioned dance battle. Characters exchange shit eating grins, challenging each other loftily, but it’s all to say, “My dance grooves are better than yours.”, rather than, “I’m going to kick your ass!”. Even a show like Pokemon–and I get that I keep going back to that well, but that’s the era of shounen that I grew up with–which doesn’t have physical fights between humans, still revolves around their chosen creatures battling one another until the pokemon passes out from exhaustion. Tribe even creates a world where a countless number of people discuss dancing and collect to watch such dance battles, intrigued to see the artful skill of each challenger, not to mention the chutzpah of live performance.

Image of the bad CGI animation

So what does Tribe Cool Crew get wrong? The reliance on CG in what should be the most engaging scenes, really drives down the quality of the show, since the animation quality just isn’t up to par. Characters that move smoothly and flow through each traditionally animated scene, came off as stodgy during the dance numbers, moments when they should move the smoothest. Granted, this has gotten better as the series has progressed, but much like in last season’s Sailor Moon Crystal, the transition from cell-drawn to CG animation is jarring, the characters moving from energetic 2D motion to rubbery CG movements. It’s a bummer too, because Sunrise–or whichever company they contracted out to–does such a great job with the traditionally animated shots and character designs. Haneru and Kanon, while having an undoubtedly shounen vibe through their “cartooniness”, are still very unique looking and easy to recognize amongst a crowd–Kanon’s pink blob of hair, specifically. In an era of anime when more and more shows are upping the amount of CG animation per episode, there’s a feeling that these studios are running before they can walk. There’s just so much to improve with the way that computer animated characters and shots fit into a show that is otherwise cell animated, that it often feels like someone is dropping the ball, and Tribe is no different.

Aside from its animation woes, Tribe Cool Crew isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, even if it may be giving a new lease on life to the shounen genre, for those of us who have grown weary of its numerous tropes. Instead, Tribe is best enjoyed as relatively mindless entertainment that’s fresh enough to not fall into the “seen it, thanks” category. What more can you ask for?

Episode Results

Ep 2: B-

Ep 3: B

Ep 4: B

Check back next time for a review of the first few episodes of the romantic/anti-romantic shoujo series Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji.

Fall 2014 Anime Preview: The Worst

Now that Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 has FINALLY premiered, I can get on with my preview of the Fall 2014 anime season. I watched at least 10 minutes of the first episode of almost all of the series listed over at , and while some were QUITE a dissappointment–*cough*THESE*cough*–the season as a whole looks promising. Today I’ll look at the worst shows of the season; those I wouldn’t wish on any poor soul. I’m calling this as my first “click bait” post, since there’s more pictures than text. Don’t worry, the think pieces are just around the corner! Well, as “think piece” as anime reviews get.

Image of a merman's tail slapping some dude in the face

Orenchi no Furo Jijou

Most 3-5 minutes series are fairly empty at their core, but Orenchi has to be the most pointless yet.

Image of a moment that's as intelligent as Tenchi gets

Ai Tenchi Muyo

Wouldn’t it be nice if this were an interesting and enticing new entry in the Tenchi Muyo franchise? Yes. Yes it would.

Image of the best part of Twintails

Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu

One of the goofier series of the season, Twintail may be unique but it’s obnoxious obsession with ‘twin tails’ gets old real fast.

Image of hot chix with sharp stix

Madan no ou to Vanadis

One of the MANY sword & shield fantasies of this season, and–like most of the others–easily forgettable and full of busty girls jumping around a lot.

Image of some chicken scratch... oh wait, that's World Trigger... boom!

World Trigger

I’m certainly not the first to say it, but this show has some AWFUL artwork that it’s throwing down, and the writing isn’t much better.

Image of a question mark

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai

Ushinawareta Mirai o Motomete

Donten ni Warau

These were the three shows most easily forgettable, to the point where I’m currently blanking on what any of them are. I think one of them has many young girls that like one boring guy, so they’re really aiming for the fences with these series. And don’t hold my feet to this one. I get that I’m not meeting my full journalistic potential here, but I’m just putting in as much effort as these creators did. Ice burn!

Image of cute girls doing cute things

Girlfriend Beta

This one gets my “Worst of the Season” award, with one dimensional characters, on top of a harem framing. Even BAD shows are better than this droll.

Fall 2014 Anime Preview: The Meh

Now that Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 has FINALLY premiered, I can get on with my preview of the Fall 2014 anime season. I watched at least 10 minutes of the first episode of all the series listed over at , and while some were QUITE a dissappointment, the season as a whole looks promising. Today I’ll look at the series that are neither watchable nor incomprehensibly awful, but just… meh.

Image of our hero fighting with a goddamn BEAR

Terra Formars

The dystopian-future setting, mixed with the inner-species war, had me excited for Terra Formars, but the end result is rather stilted and cheaply animated. Add to that the censorship that plagued Tokyo Ghoul, and I’m putting this show on the back burner.

Image of the deformed police cop who's after Joker

Kaitou Joker

I’m really digging the character designs of this series, but Kaitou Joker is clearly aimed at a younger audience, and not in that ‘adults will have something to get out of it too’ way, either.

Image of Kaito eyeing the police cop who's after him

Magic Kaito

I’ve a feeling that with patience, this show could evolve into something interesting. As it stands though, the first episode carries on with little insight or info about its characters, and the story seems catered to Detective Conan fans–the series that Kaito is a spin-off of.

Image of a hero about to be shot by a cute girl

Trinity Seven

Yet ANOTHER series this season where the guy:girl ratio is way out of whack and in the favor of the male protagonist. Trinity Seven at least has an interesting synopsis and a few strong, female characters, but I’d have too hard of a time watching the seven young women fall over the protagonist one-by-one as the series continues.

Image of elf princess with catman and wolfman

Log Horizon S2

This is another example of pure viewer taste. I’m simply not interested in the setting of Log Horizon S2, the characters are certainly dull, and the fact that I haven’t even seen the first season, made this one all the easier to drop.

Image of a super heroine looking upset

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

Yuuki is just as run of the mill as all the other “cute, young girls” shows this season. The one exception is the show’s superhero worship, which is intriguing enough, but ultimately nothing to warrant a consistent watch.

Image of the cute baker girl... not baking

Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie

I was really looking forward to a new food-based series–as there are too few in anime–but this premiere episode only focused on pretty boys. It could trade up from a focus on the patented shoujo love interests to discussing proper mixing techniques, but I’m not holding my breath.

Image of the disc hovering above the city... the only interesting part of Sora

Sora no Method

The moe girls from the onslaught were just too much for me. There’s a disk hanging above their city, so if that seems worth it to you, have at it. The animation IS pretty, so there’s that.