Spontaneous Saturday 3/28/15: Final thoughts on winter 2015 anime

Disclaimer: The following opinions are expressed by a casual anime viewer with enigmatic tastes. Please perceive with caution. Also, spoilers may or may not be present.

 

Today, I will be talking about the most recently completed series of anime that I have watched. The particular topics that I will discuss are:

  • Opening comments / Things that stood out to me the most
  • Three favorite characters listed in descending order
  • What anime I find to resemble it the closest
  • Overall rating/impression

Don’t recognize the name of an anime or character? Chances are you will be able to click on the first instance of the name and be directed to a relevant MAL (MyAnimeList) page.

So, without further ado, time to get started.

 

Absolute Duo

Opening: The vast majority seems to agree that this is a generic harem anime, and I can’t disagree with them. The main issue is that the title “Absolute Duo” and the genre “harem” directly contradict each other. Even still, I didn’t find it bad or really too generic, but at the same time, it wasn’t outstanding in any way. The main characters are definitely not the most appealing by any means, but some of the supporting characters were interesting. The concept is also interesting, but I think it was more so when I read the manga than when I watched the anime, although that might just be because of the freshness of both experiences…for lack of a better way to word it.

Favorite characters:

  1. Rito Tsukimi. Now, it’s not because of her provocative outfit or her peppy personality; no, it’s her dark side that makes her appealing. Whenever she gets irritated or what have you, her voice changes drastically (for the better if you ask me) and she suddenly shifts personality from a happy-go-lucky teacher to a rough ‘n’ tough fighter. The shift is so dramatic that, by her appearance in the second half of episode 3, I thought she had been possessed, or a spy, or something…but afterwards, she just came back to her peppy self as if nothing had ever happened. That said, her heroic act in defending the school with all her might was pretty much the best part of the finale. I also want to mention that her bunny-like appearance, provocative outfit, and ability to change at will remind me of Kuro Usagi from Mondaiji-tachi, only a more mercurial version.
  2. Sakuya Tsukumo. Much like Momoka Shijou from Mahou Sensou, Sakuya is supposedly the chairwoman of the academy in which the main characters are enrolled, but she looks and sounds so young… It’s mostly her looks and her voice that make her appealing, but I suppose her cheeky personality deserves points as well. Apart from those qualities, there is not much else worth noting about her.
  3. K. That’s right; he’s referred to as “K” (just like the character in Virtue’s Last Reward). He’s pretty much the main antagonist of the series, and he does darn well in opposing the protagonists. He always puts up a fight, no matter to whom, and under no matter what circumstances. It’s mostly because of that and his semi-decent voice that he takes 3rd on my list.

Similar anime: Machine-Doll wa Kizutsukanai. Both anime are set in a school (go figure), involve students working together and sometimes against each other to get stronger, and emphasize the importance of partners. Key differences: Absolute Duo is easier to follow (in terms of plot), Machine-Doll involves less of a harem than Absolute Duo, more of the partners are human in Absolute Duo than in Machine-Doll, and Raishin (Machine-Doll) is overall a better protagonist than Tooru (Absolute Duo). Also, Machine-Doll has a much catchier ending theme.

Overall rating: 8/10. Not stellar, but nothing worth bashing to the ground. Once again, I’m not a fan of the contradiction between the title “Absolute Duo” and the genre “harem”, and every time someone other than Julie tries to make an advance on Tooru, it kinda makes me cringe internally…but hey, the developers could have just as easily chosen Tora to be Tooru’s duo, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. That said, it definitely had its moments, especially the one where Tomoe tried her utmost to face a possessed Miyabi who was consumed by selfish desire.

 

Juuou Mujin no Fafnir

Opening: As I mentioned in Thought Dump 3 (Spontaneous Saturday 2/14), I didn’t think of this anime as any better than average…until episode 6, which, if you ask me, was pretty much the debut appearance of Kili Surtr Muspelheim.

Kili = bawse Kili

Honestly, I just can’t get over how amazing and alluring this character is. After episode 7, as the anime kept progressing until episode 11, I had a harder and harder time preventing myself from wondering, “When is Kili’s next appearance?” After episode 10, I could hardly contain myself. “If Kili doesn’t make a return appearance, I will be disappointed,” I literally said. Thankfully, she finally returned at the end of episode 11. By then, I could hardly wait for the finale. Upon watching it, I will definitely say that the conclusion was satisfactory. I don’t know how to feel about the whole kissing thing, though. Could it be that…she has something of a crush on Yuu (the main protagonist)? That being the case, why did she choose to lead a life of solitude? I mean, well, she was generally in solitude, but she did get to spend time with the protagonists thanks to her mild-mannered alter ego Honoka Tachikawa.

That leads me to question something: Kili’s MAL profile claims, “Her name is Honoka Tachikawa.” To me, this seems to contradict the anime canon. Towards the end of episode 11, Kili herself, in her Honoka guise, states: “I figured the easiest way to find Tear after she was taken by the NIFL would be to disguise myself as someone else and let her be sent to Midgar. With biological conversion, I can change my form as much as I like.” Her next line: “Honoka. I liked this name quite a bit. But I think I’d like you to call me by my real name.” These quotes put forth two key implications: 1) she and Honoka Tachikawa are not one, and 2) her real name is not Honoka Tachikawa. (You may think those implications are the same, but there is a subtle difference.) Well, one of three things could explain the situation: 1) she lied (which she had no real reason to), 2) her profile pertains to a different canon (i.e., the novel, which I haven’t read), or 3) there was some sort of miscommunication, be it through the translation or through whoever edited her profile.

Anyway, enough about Kili; I mean, she is 50% or more of the reason why I like the anime, but honestly, I’ve been going on too long about that one character…an antagonist, no less. Aside from her, though, there was nothing too outstanding about the anime. Iris and Tear are annoying characters, although not so much the former, but all of the other characters are okay. No complaints about the concept, and that final plan to defeat the Basilisk worked like a charm (although, to be honest, unsurprisingly).

Favorite characters:

  1. Kili Surtr Muspelheim. Not big surprise. Now, I’ll come out and say it: Kili is my favorite anime antagonist of all time. She’s beautiful, has a soothing voice, and has some neat super powers. Not only that, but as we discovered in episode 11, she’s quite the master of disguise. Hairstyle, uniform, eye color, even right down to the voice… Needless to say, the disguise was a dead ringer. I mean, there was a healthy bit of foreshadowing prior to when she removed her disguise, what with the snap of her fingers and the transition screen of episode 11, but it was still a pleasant surprise. I take it magic cannot be copied, but because Honoka Tachikawa was pretty much a blank slate of a character, no one could have been any the wiser. Anyway, my point is: Kili is awesome. Favorite anime antagonist, 6th favorite anime character, 3rd favorite female anime character.
  2. Yuu Mononobe. On the surface, he may seem like a generic harem protagonist, but at least he has some spine on the field of battle. While he seems to be under the discipline of Loki Jotunheimr, my concern is that they never seem to talk face-to-face, only through electronic means. I’ll also mention that he put up quite a fight against Kili, even though he couldn’t deal with her properly until the finale. Dang, though, that one moment when he used a fragment of his broken shield to put Kili in a checkmate position, that was astounding.
  3. Mitsuki Mononobe. It’s hard to decide among the pool of characters other than Kili and Yuu, but I would have to say Mitsuki stands out among all of them, if only due to her long dark hair and usually stern personality. Not to mention, she has a backstory full of feels, which becomes an important plot point in her initially tattered relationship with Lisa Highwalker. Most of all, though, she was the mastermind behind the final plan to defeat the Basilisk, even if just to mend relations between her and Lisa.

Similar anime: Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance. If you know the anime, you probably saw this coming. They both start the same way (lead male stumbles upon a naked girl), lead male has remarkable combat experience, both series involve magic and weapons, they both fit the harem genre, and there are some awesome antagonists between them (Kili in Fafnir, Restia and Jio in Blade Dance). Key differences: Blade Dance is more ecchi, characters differ somewhat, and the threats in Fafnir are dominantly colossal beasts.

Overall rating: 9/10. Maybe a low 9 like Black Bullet, but a 9 nonetheless. I had initially rated it 7, but when Kili made her appearance in the 6th episode, I started to pay better attention to the anime. Even though Kili is the prime reason why I like the anime, she’s not the only reason. The whole involvement with Mitsuki and Lisa gave me feels at times, and some of the combat is pretty interesting. I think around the 7th or 8th episode was when I bumped the series up to an 8, and because they concluded it so well, it then became a 9. I will say, though, the harem changed quite a bit at the end due to Kili’s odd behavior after her last fight with Yuu, and Mitsuki revealing that she “became” Yuu’s sister (implying that they’re not blood-related). Another season? I wouldn’t count on it, but you never know.

 

Log Horizon 2nd season

Opening: I’ve seen several reviews calling the second season “disappointing”, but I honestly don’t see much of a problem with it. I mean, right from the get-go, I noticed a difference in the art, but it hardly bothered me at all. Then again, it’s been an entire year since I watched the first season, so that’s really the only difference I noticed, outside of the introduction of new characters such as Tetra. I will admit, though, it is somewhat disappointing that they didn’t end up returning to the real world despite that being their overall goal, and there seems to be no prospect of a 3rd season (it explicitly said “The End” at the end of the finale). I suppose, though, that there’s not much for Shiroe and the gang to do outside of researching and potentially gathering resources for a way to “connect the two worlds”. Even still, one part of me just wants to know how. That’s the main reason why I stay interested in the anime: to know how.

As an afterthought, I’ll leave a quote from Spontaneous Saturday 10/11, which still rings true in this case: “I really like Log Horizon; it was my favorite Fall 2013 anime and the first virtual world anime I’d ever watched (I’ve never watched Sword Art Online, and I don’t feel like getting into it because I’ve seen plenty of criticism about it). Although the pacing is slow and the anime is more talk than action, the action is pretty darn cool and some of the aspects of the virtual world are interesting to learn about (for instance, the thing about on-the-spot food versus cooked food).”

Favorite characters:

  1. Akatsuki. 4th favorite anime character of all time, 2nd favorite female anime character. It’s really cool how she can move around at high speeds, behaves much like a ninja, and always tries her hardest despite her shortcomings (no pun intended). I also enjoy her quarrels with Naotsugu, which eventually started a sort of phenomenon known as the “Akatsuki curse”, in which Naotsugu gets punished for attempting to say perverted things, despite Akatsuki not being around. I will say, though, that it’s unsettling how she and Minori are rivals in love; I say Akatsuki is more likely to come out on top. Also, I will admit she’s quite cute. Memorable quote: “Our memories weren’t stolen. We offered them up and made them into the power to rise again.”
  2. Nyanta. He’s a cat-man who is agile, employs close combat similar to that of Akatsuki, and is pretty much the cook of Log Horizon (both the guild and the anime itself). The fact that he’s an anthropomorphic cat already strikes some appeal, and his voice and overall coolness add to the appeal, in such a manner that he easily takes the second position.
  3. Shiroe. I mentioned him in Top Three Thursday 12/11 as the second character to whom I can relate the most. This is mostly due to his glasses, his awkwardness in social situations, and his tendency to strategize. The way he strategizes is inspiring, and even though he started getting frantic during episode 24, by the time Henrietta slapped him to his senses, he got back to thinking straight and formulating a series of strategies that ended up working just right. All in all, an interesting main character whose experiences are quite something to behold.

Similar anime: Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei. I mentioned in a recommendation on MAL: “These anime series focus mostly on thought processes and the inner workings of their seemingly magical worlds, but they also contain action-packed fights and bits of humor. Additionally, the protagonists are similar—they work to keep their chaotic environments in check, they show prowess in strategy and in combat, and they have the affection of women but are too dense to realize it.” Key differences: MKnR is not set in a virtual world, other characters vary (obviously), and MKnR has no anthropomorphic animals (or any at all for that matter, excluding humans of course).

Overall rating: 9/10, 4th favorite anime of all time. Log Horizon is really enjoyable, and the second season does not change my opinion of it for the worse. Past that, I have not much else left to say.

 

That about covers it for anime I have watched this season. It was definitely quite an experience, and I never thought I could like one antagonist (Kili) this much. Looking at the Spring 2015 preview (http://myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=1362597), I’ll be honest: nothing really interests me but Nisekoi and Kiniro Mosaic second seasons, and I still have yet to watch any more than three episodes of the first season of Kiniro Mosaic. My plan, then, is to get caught up once the college semester is over (which won’t be too long; only around 5 episodes of the second season will have aired, give or take a few) and intercept the Nisekoi episodes as they come out. At any rate, that’s all for now.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

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