Gintama – Episode 175 – “People of All Ages Hate the Dentist!” – Insanity, Empathy and Comedy

Gintama Episode 175

    “People of All Ages Hate the Dentist!” is a messed up and hilarious episode. In this episode more critiquing of face takes place as well as playing up the real and unreal fear of the dentist…and has an unexpected payoff to end it all.

     The story involves Sakata and Hijikata ending up at the dentist and finding the one they are at to be much more horrible and twisted than they expected.

The Pros: Critique of “Face”- Both Sakata and Hijikata are afraid of the dentist but pretend they aren’t around one another and in trying to one-up each other just freak themselves out more on what may happen, showing how trying to save “face” prevented nothing.

Dentist Horrors – Limbs are replaced, drills, and a room that looks like a murder scene. The real and unreal horrors of a dentist office are on display here.

Sakata and Hijikaka – These two are a lot of fun as they are both serious types, though Hijikata is much more cynical and than Sakata. I look forward to seeing him in future episodes of this show that I review.

The Ending – To get their teeth fixed Sakata and Hijikaka are given a robot to take the pain that is being done and in the end they stop getting their teeth fixed to get the robots fixed as the robots give them an illusion of an entire life lived.

Okay:  Too Much of Joke – This one feels like a skit and less of a story and as a skit it is fantastic, but an episode should be a story and it doesn’t quite reach the great story level because of the times it feels like a skit.

This was a still a great episode and is one of my favorites, even though I think it could have become more though it does succeed in the drama and humor. For this reason I’d recommend it. The episode is a lot of fun and captures the crazyness that makes “Gintama” the show it is.

Final Score: 9 / 10

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Gintama – Episode 25 – “The Hot-Pot is a Microcosm of Life” – Satirizing The Shonin Anime Mind Fights

Gintama Episode 25

   “Gintama” is a hilarious anime that satires most Shonin-anime, while still managing to create interesting characters who exist as characters who are more than just types. It’s a series that two friends have shown me now and one I recommend, even if it’s just to catch the ones that people recommend as it is hilarious and I plan on reviewing more of the show in the future.

     The episode I’ll be reviewing this time is “The Hot-Pot is a Microcosm of Life.”

The Pros: The Satire of “Deathnote” – Throughout the episode more people arrive to eat at the table and share in the hot pot forcing each to try and outmaneuver the other to be the first. In each of their minds we get to hear them voice strategy or feel the pain or thrill of victory with each mood, as we get with Light in “Deathnote.”

The Name Gag – There is a character whose name is always messed up. His actual named is Katsura but Sakata continues to call him Zura, and in this episode he hears when Sakata is even thinking that name and corrects him.

The Rivalry – This episode is all about rivalry, largely between the two leads as each wants to be the best and in doing so fail.

Catherine – Catherine is the alien girl who doesn’t care about the rivalry and ends up eating both pots that are served showing how “face” and obsession with it can ruin everything and that it’s important to remember why you are at an occasion in the first place.

Satirizing “Face” – In all cases the winner and the only one who eats is Catherine and she is the alien who doesn’t care about manners or “face” and in doing so shows them why they were there in the first place by eating the meal that all were choosing not to eat.

    The jokes all work in the episode I really like how it over-dramatized the idea of winning face and being the first to eat from the hot pot. The writing is tight and throughout it all it never stops being funny. It is good comedy and also manages to be good action as well. This is an episode I’d highly recommend.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

Sword Art Online – An Uneven Series That Destroys a Good Story in Part 2

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     “Sword Art Online” had a good first half that was nearly completely ruined in the second half when it proceeded to ruin one of the strongest and best characters in the series. This is only part of the bad anime tropes that raise their head in the second half, which is a shame as the first half actually has some really great moments. You can find my individual episode reviews here on the blog but I’ve been waiting a while before doing the overall summary because of how loud the clash was between Parts 1 and 2. It’s almost like watching two different series even though they are still the same show and have most of the same characters.

     The series was produced by Aniplex and animated by A-1 Pictures and based off the light novel series by Reki Kawahara.

       The story involves characters who are strapped in an virtual mmo called “Sword Art Online” and the mystery that unfolds as they seek to beat the game in order to get out. Part 2 deals with the fallout from this and brings us to ALfheim Online where the character arcs are completed.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise of being stuck in a videogame is really cool, as it gives the chance of how one perceives oneself (through our Avatars and character choices) and gives a chance to explore some really cool sci. fi. or fantasy ideas depending on the game. As well as the nature of A.I. and sentience too. The first half of the series does a great job exploring this as well. Sadly the second part has to ruin it all.

The Animation – A-1 Productions created a beautifully animated world here and the animation is easily one of the strongest parts of the show.

The Characters – The main characters are pretty strong, though the character assassination that Yui and Ausna go through in Part 2 is pretty bad, and the villain in Part 2 is a wasted character.

Agil – Agil is the wise and older character in the game who ends up teaming up at the end when our heroes are trying to advance further and the big bad of part 1 reveals himself. After we see Agil owns a bar (and in game he gives discounts on his weapons and helps new characters). He is an awesome character who we honestly don’t see enough of.

Klein – Klein is another forgotten character as he is a bit socially awkward and a womanizer but is never creepy. He is a stand up guy who has Kirito’s back and he helps Kirito in both parts and is the first real friend Kirito the outcast has in the game.

Kirigaya – Kirigaya plays the character Leafa in ALfheim online and is Kirito’s adopted sister and cousin. She has a strange arc where she has to deal with her attraction to him, but she gets good exploration in her motivations and we see a protector who protected Kirito from his parents and became the best at everything. She was one of the few good things about Part 2.

Kayaba – Kayaba created “Sword Art Online” and is the big bad. He first appears as a God before entering the game as a player to help the players advance so that they could eventually challenge him at the end. Kirito figures out who he is early and beats him in a duel. In the end we meet a man who was lost in the game as he talks to Kirito about the fact he’d forgotten his motivation beyond power as he’d become so pulled in. He was a fascinating bad guy and I wish he could have been explored more. He gives Kirito the seed to create more mmos.

Kirito – Kirito is our hero character who fights and plays solo. He goes from a character who stays mostly alone to having a bunch of friends at the end who have his back. His arc is building that community and finding reason to be outside of himself.

Waking Up – The ending of Part 1 ends with Kirito waking up and we see a long haired, weak boy trying to walk saying Asuna’s name (who as far as we know died in the game). It’s tragic and powerful and should have ended here.

A.I. and Sentience  – At one point Yui, a program in the game develops sentience and adopts Kirito and Asuna as parents. It’s cool how this is explored as we see the game going active made other A.I. make choices outside their programming too. More could have been done with this.

Okay: Yui – Yui develops sentience and protects Kirito from a big bad boss at one point in the game. Sadly she is neutralized and we never see her reach the power she had before ever again. In the end she becomes a concept and child for Asuna and Kirito and nothing more sadly.

Asuna – Asuna is my favorite character in part 1, that is all ruined in part 2 where she exists to be sexually exploited by King Oberon and some giant slugs and no actions she take mean anything. She goes from Katniss to Princess Peach and from a character who wants to be the best to a person who only lives for her boyfriend. What a fracking waste of a character.

The Cons: The ALfheim Arc – ALfheim arc has a cool idea of different species that are all fighting for control of the world (that never goes anywhere) and is just Kirito and Leafa trying to rescue Asuna. The arc doesn’t go anywhere as we have a villain who is just a creep and nothing more and “save the princess” as the arc. It’s a waste of television.

Suguo/King Oberon – This guy rapes Asuna at one point and before that has her trapped in a cage and is molesting her all the time. He works for Asuna’s father and created the game from “Sword Art Online” and made himself King. Guy is one of the worst villains as he has no motivation or reason for being except to get revenge against.

The Sexploitation of Asuna – The is the entire ALfheim arc and where the anime forgot what made this character a character in the first place. She goes from a fighter to an object and the object is victimized continuously. She never gets to get back at Suguo for anything that happened to her either.

Twisted Fanservice – There are a lot of but and boob shots in Part 2 and none directed at guys. Equal fanservice I’d be okay with, but this was just part of the problem as it was shown at the height in any scene involving Asuna.

Missed Potential of ALfheim – Different factions of faeries are fighting for control of a world…go somewhere with that! Have factions unite and take on Oberon together….but nope, got to make Asuna a damsel and make this story all about Kirito. What a waste.

   This was a series that could have been solidly good, but blew it all in the second part. As you can see from the analysis, the first part actually had a really cool ending with Kirito waking up and facing the full consequence of having been asleep in a hospital for so long and faced with the real word versus the other reality he was once a part of. All of that is lost when Asuna gets damsled up and becomes a tool used for sexplotation. Nothing she does in Part 2 means anything or goes anywhere and over the course of the arc she goes from a great to okay character as her character is lost and she becomes the trophey at the end that Kirito has to avenge. It’s disgusting and ruins the great story of part 1. If you want to see this series, just watch the first part, everything you need about the fascinating idea of being stuck in a videogame is explored well there. After that it is some of the worst writing to come out of any anime.

Final Score: 4 / 10. Reason it isn’t rated lower is due to the strength in the first part of the show.

“Psycho-Pass” Season 1 – A Masterful Future Dsytopian Anime

Shorewood Blu-ray Ocard

   “Psycho-Pass” is one of the best dystopian, sci. fi. cyberpunk animes I have ever watched since “Ghost in the Shell.” Both go into philosophy, psychology and full development of characters and their motivations. The fact that Gen Urobuchi is the writer of the series helps as “Madoka Magica” and “Fate/Zero” are both amazing projects that he was also the writer behind. Everything I have watched by him has been consistently great and Season 1 of “Psycho-Pass” is no exception.

      The series was directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani and Katsuyuki Motohiro and written by Gen Urobuchi.

    The story takes place in a future dystopia where everyone’s lives are controlled by the Sibyl System that scans the Psycho-Pass of every individual to decide if they are criminals or need therapy. We follow Akane who is a rookie cop on the Public Safety Bureau who works with latent criminal enforces and is pulled into the greater events of the world.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is absolutely beautiful. Production I.G. did a great job designing and producing this show and it flows seamlessly and doesn’t have any moments where the tone is inconsistent.

The Soundtrack – The Soundtrack feels like an 80’s sci. fi. and it is wonderful in how it captures the moments of terror or reflection. Yugo Kanno did a fantastic job.

The Writing – Gen Urobuchi is a fantastic writer and this show is no exception. All of our characters go through arcs and the world where everything takes place in changes over the course of events.

The Characters – The characters are the strongest part of the show and what make it a great. I’m curious how they are going to handle Season 2 given the changes that happen over the course of the show.

Unit One – Unit One are the main folks we follow who Akane is the rookie in. They all have great relationships to one another and change each other in different ways over the course of the story.

The Sibyl System – This system is creepy as it made from the minds of murders and criminals and countless others that work as one God-like Mind. There is a creepyness to it and it’s power and influence over others is to the point that it shapes what careers people take and how justice is met out.

Inspector Nobuchika – The Inspector is a bit unstable and is dealing with the fact that his father was made an enforcer. His arc is making peace with his old man as he eventually finds himself as an enforcer when he is unable to calm his hue and in doing so becomes a latent criminal. He goes through the most loss in this series.

Tomoni Masaoka – He is the Inspector’s old man is one of the best characters on the show. He’s always wresting with the why and is a fantastic philosopher. Sadly he doesn’t make it as Shogo eventually takes him out with a grenade when he grabs it to protect his son. What a great character, he is the wisest of the group and has the greatest influence on Akane.

Kagari – Is the young enforcer who was never given the choice as he was dubbed a latent criminal at age 5. He hates the Sibyl System and the murders he hunts and is the joker of the group. He sadly dies when he discovers the truth of how the Sibyl System runs and what it is. Though his legacy lives on as he is the martyr for the greater truth.

Yayoi – Yayoi has the least development though it is cool how she was once a punk rocker and I love her relationship with Karanomori the tech. She is the bitter perspective within the group and is the calmest. Through the series she comes to respect Akane and trust.

Karanomori – I love this character, she’s my favorite character on the show besides Tomoni. She’s a red dress, a cigarette and has hooked up with most of the folks in the office. She doesn’t care and even though she’s trapped being a latent criminal, finds freedom in how she can help hunt down criminals and in the relationships she forms at the office. She’s super cool and I can’t wait to get to know her character more.

Shinya Kogami – Shinya is the standard bitter ex-cop out hunting Shogo and it’s personal. He decides to kill in the end and leave the system behind and we gather he finally finds the freedom he was always seeking. He’s a bit of a cipher as his being emotionally scarred is so much a part of his identity.

Akane – Akane is the rookie who becomes leader of Unit One by the end of the series as she is trusted enough by Sibyl that they approach her and show her who they are and we see her take control of the Unit as it is falling apart as well as her tactful forms of resistance against Sibyl throughout the series. She’s a great protagonist and I look forward to seeing what she does next season.

The Villains – Besides the Sibyl System Shogo is the main baddie and the different pawns he uses like his hacker friend, a serial killing girl and a man who replaced his entire body with a machine. They are all compelling in their own ways.

Shogo Makishima – Shogo is a great villain. He’s a bit of an anarchist, a bit of the joker and an all around dangerous character who will turn on his allies just as easily as anyone else. He actually hurts the Sibyl System when he destroys one of the member brains. He wants the total collapse of society but is stopped by Unit One. He’s well read, strong and smart and his conversations are some of the best in any anime.

The Philosophy – Philosophy is key to this series as Plato, Descartes and countless other theories of the self are expressed and explored by different characters through the series. This is what really sets it above most other action animes as it doesn’t just focus on one thing but explores so many aspects of what meaning is.

Free Will and Choice – This is a major theme as the Sibyl System decides everything for you unless it believes you’d be apt at different ideas. We see this in how characters are used and how what it means to be a person is explored.

Tyranny and Freedom – This is another theme brought up by the Sibyl System’s existence as it is full tyrannical control and with it stability. Characters are a slave to it and it sees it’s main purpose as making society healthy and happy. The show explores this extremely well through the eyes and thoughts of the Enforcers, Akane and Shogo.

I highly recommend this series, or at least Season 1 of it. If you like Gen Urobuchi work like me this is easily one of his best and I think when I do eventually  re-watch it I’ll discover even more about the ideas, themes and characters than I did before. There was nothing to dislike about this show. But I will give a warning that it does graphic and brutal times so it certainly is not a show for everyone.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Ranma 1/2 – Season 1, Episode 2 – “School is no Place for Horsing Around” – Akane Rocks

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   “School is no Place for Horsing Around” is mostly setup. It introduces us to the cool character of Dr. Tofu and the drama king Kuno as well as establishing ways in which Akane and Ranma are similar…if it had just been this it would be great, but it ending on a cliffhanger brings it down to simply good.

     The episode involves Tendo’s girls going to school and Renma’s first time as well since he’s going to be in the area for a while. Once they get to school a group of males attack Akane to claim her love and our easily beaten until Kuno arrives and Ranma realizes that he may have found someone as good as him at fighting.

The Pros: Dr. Tofu – He is the school doctor and a pretty chill guy. He also is super quiet and experienced at martial arts as he sneaks up on Renma and Renma can’t sense him. He is a bit of a mentor to Akane and her possible crush.

Kuno – This guy is dramatic about everything and in charge of the Kendo Club. He is a dick and thinks he’s entitled to Akane, which she has none of as she has defeated him countless times and kept his challenge to be with her open. The episode ends with him and Ranma falling into a pool in their search for a place to duel after getting kicked out of class.

Ranma – Ranma shows that he can be a good guy in this episode as we see him respecting Akane’s space and every time anyone asks about them he only says he is a guest. It isn’t until one of Akane’s sister mentions their engagement that people react and even than he is fighting that rumor since he doesn’t know if wants it or Akane wants it.

Akane – This is Akane’s episode and we see why she is so hard as she had to fight off suitors for a long time in High School. She’s a great martial artist and we see her softer side in this when she opens up to Ranma about Dr. Tofu inspiring her and also Kuno’s sick challenge, which hardened her even more. The episode ends with her being worried about Ranma.

  This was good but not great. It could have been better if we had more character moments. The comedy is good though as well as the fact that Ranma and Genma are always fighting and knocking each other into water. Kuno is the arrogant prick so seeing being brought down is always a lot of fun.

Final Score: 8.3 / 10

Ranma 1/2 Pilot – Season 1, Episode 1 – “Here’s Ranma” – Establishing the Relationships and the Crazy

Here's Ranma Ranma S 1 E 1

     “Ranma 1/2” is going to be insane, and I think I’m probably going to like it. The relationships are never what they seem and all the characters are unhinged and the relationships are complicated. It’s a nice change of pace from what I usually watch in regards to anime where there are usually clear antagonists. This was a show that quite a few friends recommended to me, so it feels good finally getting started on it.

     The episode involves Soun Tendo setting up his daughters so that one of them will be the fiance of the famous martial artist Renma. Instead of Renma showing up as himself a red haired woman arrives with a Panda. After chaos and hot water it is soon discovered the red haired woman is Renma and that she changes back into he when hot water is poured on her and cold is when the Panda turns back into his father Genma.

The Pros: Soun Tendo – He’s a well meaning father just trying to save his Dojo and I never felt he didn’t care about his daughters. He actually faints when the red haired girl says she’s Renma as he feels betrayed by Genma. In the end it is established and he’s cool with them and the only cool head in the room.

Genma – Genma is Renma’s dad and is violent but never in a harmful way. He’s playful with Renma and always pushing him to be better and is very much a child as he is constantly trolling him.

Akane – Akane is the youngest of Soun’s daughters and the one uninterested in having a relationship. She actually makes friends with Renma when Renma is a she but feels betrayed after the hot water turns Renma back and comes to hate him because of it. She is openly violent and knocks Renma out after Renma insults how she looks and that she looks better as a she than Akane.

Renma – Renma has a huge ego and most of his/her problems are on him/her. Renma is always fighting and trolling and like Akane doesn’t want to be in a relationship since he’s been in so many already that he just doesn’t care anymore. Renma does grow to at least have an inkling of something for Akane though, I think it’s cause Akane can fight and Renma respects that.

The Cons: The Other Daughters – Kasumi and Nabiki are ciphers and don’t really have any personality. I hope they are made to be distinct later, if not there isn’t any point to having them around in the show.

   This was a good start to the series. It establishes that it is a relationship show and that all the characters are crazy in different ways…creating conflict right out the door. I’m curious to see how the relationships develop though, especially between Akane and Renma and I really like how Renma is comfortable being both a man and a woman. It makes Renma a great character.

Final Score: 8 / 10. Solid start to the series.

Ranma 1/2 – Upcoming Anime Reviews

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   “Ranma 1/2” is one of the animes I’ve had recommended to me a few times so I’ve decided to that I will be reviewing the show! I’ll be doing it episodically with Season reviews and also taking my time on it too, that way there can still be a variety of other shows and films being reviewed as well.

     The story was created by Rumiko Takahashi and Fuji TV was who aired the show.

   “Ranma 1/2” ran for 7 seasons and is more of a romantic type anime though it does have fighting as the main character is a martial artist Ranma who has to deal with the curse where he changes into a girl while dealing with the threats from rivals and fiances who his con man father had tried to set him up with.

    So without further ado, “Ranma 1/2” will be the next anime reviewed!