Time for episode five of our Anime Pocket Reviews!
FIVE! That’s one hell of a lot of anime! I might do an anime re-cap in the next few days, similar to the 10 Film Reviews we currently do.
Until then, here’s the latest reviews. This week, we have two stories on myths and monsters…
Occult Academy (S1, 2010, 13x25min)
Set in 1999, the series follows Maya, the daughter of the recently deceased headmaster and founder of Waldstein Academy, a school devoted to the studies of ghosts, demons and the like known as the Occult. Despite her vast knowledge and passion for the occult as a child, she now despises everything it represents. So when she’s forced to return after her father’s death, she returns with the intention of destroying the academy. However, on her return she runs into Fumiaki, who explains that he is a time traveller sent from a 2012 in which everything has been destroyed. Fumiaki explains that he is number six in a line of time travellers sent back to 1999 to find the Nostradamus Key, an unknown object that leads to the alien invasion on July 21, 1999.
What I particularly liked about this anime was the way it was drawn. It appears to be drawn much more naturally than other animes, with subtle touches such as wrinkles around the eyes, unneat outlines and calmer colours giving the characters a more real and honest appearance. This translated into the female lead. It might be because she appears very inspired by western culture (particularly fashion) but I thought that she was a very well-drawn and interesting character, however she appears to become less developed as the series goes on, if you can imagine such a thing. A good mix of side characters also helps in keeping you constantly interested in what’s on screen.
A major downfall of this is the lack of serious plot. This is a weird one for me and I’m finding it really hard to describe, even as the closing credits play in the background. I think the plot simply lacks depth, floating through with almost minimal development. Another more personal complaint I would have is that for a series based around the occult, there’s precious little ghosts and ghouls and the like. It not that big of a deal, but especially after episode one where they’re prominent I would have like to have seen more monsters in this series.
The more I watched this, the more it reminded me of Blue Exorcist. There’s no blood, no swearing, but this does instantly feel like a more thoughtful, more well-rounded attempt at what BE was trying to do. However, there is still a lack of compelling story that stops it from being anything over than solid.
Tokyo Ghoul √A (2015, S2, 12x26min)
I would suggest reading our review of Tokyo Ghoul S1 here before reading below!
Follows directly on from the last episode of Tokyo Ghoul (S1) where the dangerous ghoul group The Aogiri Tree, the ghouls of Anteiku and the government’s anti-ghoul army CCG clash at the scene of half-ghoul protagonist Ken Kaneki’s entrapment. Kaneki finally gives in to his ghoul side, unleashing incredible power and breaking out on his own, saving close friend Touka Kirishima in the process. Once they have escaped and the fighting has subsided, Kaneki tells Touka that he plans to leave Anteiku and join the Aogiri Tree as they begin to make their march over Tokyo. Meanwhile, the CCG step up their efforts against the rising ghoul threat. The story follows the three factions as tensions rise and new threats reveal themselves, including the legendary Aogiri member the one-eyed ghoul.
This series starts off really well, carrying on from literally the same fight that is interrupted by the conclusion of S1. Not knowing anything going in, the main protagonist saving the good guys then going off to join the evil Aogiri Tree is really exciting, and I finished episode one feeling as excited as ever about the great story that is Tokyo Ghoul. However, by the end of episode 12 the main emotion I felt was disappointment. Or empty. A strong start quickly tails off, a promising story focusing more on developing relatively average characters and the plot almost developing itself in the background, making it very easy to get lost. At one point I had to look at a S1 recap, just in case I missed any small hints.
The storyline almost reminded me of Durarara. If you haven’t seen it, basically it’s a slice-of-life story filled with tons of vibrant characters. Like Durarara, this focuses of character development and depth more than plot. While Durarara does this brilliantly, √A not only introduces poor, unimaginative characters, but the way they are developed is also very basic, causing me to zone-out more than once.
The poor development actually turned the character Juuzou Suzuya (right), a seemingly sadistic killer-child who turns up at the end of S1, into a mistreated boy in need of love. I was psyched to see him go crazy, and the story just sucks all the life out of him. This almost personifies the whole transition from Tokyo Ghoul to √A.
I’m also disappointed at the focus of this series, which seems to be on the government’s CCG more than anything. These could be interesting people like they were in S1 with their lack of knowledge on Ghouls, but they’re just bland. Bland people with bland ideas and motives. Kaneki, who should have really been the focus, becomes almost a shady figure in the background, simply floating around here and there with nothing about him whatsoever. Another thing I was looking forward to was how the relationship between Kaneki and Touka would develop. While she’s on the screen, the character Touka is good to watch, but like Kaneki she’s pushed into the background.
I finally get what it feels like to be let down by a series. Tokyo Ghoul S1 is still one of the best anime’s I’ve seen, but the quality of this season makes me feel like watching S1 again, just to make sure. There’s really no real positives to report from this series.
It may sound like I’m being needlessly harsh, but given what they had to work with from S1 this had to have been done much better than this!
If you’ve seen Tokyo Ghoul (or seen our review of it) and are interested in seeing √A, I would suggest seeing episode 1 as it rounds off the end of the first series really well, but I wouldn’t suggest watching any further.
As you can tell in this episode, I’m very disappointed by the second series of Tokyo Ghoul. This is a new feeling for me, so this time I’m interested to hear what the worse
follow-up series you’ve ever seen is. Comment below with your sequel disasters!
Make sure to follow The Culture Cove to see the best anime reviews before anybody else! Look out for the next episode of Anime Pocket Reviews, featuring the second series of the mainstream hit Sword Art Online!