It’s the big one-o for Anime Pocket Reviews! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these pieces so far – maybe it’s been something interesting and different from what used to be the regular film reviews we did. Or maybe you just like all the pretty drawings in your inbox. We wouldn’t blame you, picking out the heading pictures is the most enjoyable part of these articles!
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Anyway, on with this week’s reviews, and again we have complete polar opposites! Would you have it any other way?
God Eater (S1, 2015-16, 13x22mins)
Action, Military, Dystopia
Adapted from the videogame of the same name, God Eater is set in Japan in 2071. At this point, the world has been almost completely destroyed by mysterious monsters known as Aragami. An organisation known as Fenrir is charged with exterminating the Aragami, who appear to outnumber people by far. Aragami are immune to normal weaponry, and can only be killed by soldiers called God Eaters who wield living weapons made of Aragami cells called God Arcs. The story follows Lenka Utsugi (centre), a boy who is determined to kill all of the Aragami that have been terrorising humans for generations. Lenka is one of few special soldiers known as new-types, who are capable of wielding special God Arcs that can freely change between being a gun and a sword.
This series was almost done on the quick, as part of the celebration for the franchise’s five year anniversary. God Eater regularly had problems meeting deadlines, and almost frequently had to show ‘extra’ episodes in the space of episodes that had been delayed. (Just imagine if Game of Thrones did that. The uproar…). As a result this lacks the clean finish that comes with other anime, and while the story is solid it does have holes that appear to have been hastily patched up. Also, I’m not the biggest fan of how much it cuts from past to present so freely and frequently – it feels like sloppy, lazy storytelling. However, that’s not the be-all-and-end-all, as you only have to think of a series like RWBY to know that a good show doesn’t need to be perfectly produced.
Similarly to RWBY, the first thing that strikes you is the unique drawing style of God Eater. It appears to something of a hand-drawn/CGI hybrid, partially inspired by the videogames. The style is almost a double-edged sword. It does the characters themselves no favours, especially during dialogue. Also, unless the camera explicitly focuses on the character’s eyes the style struggles to portray any complex emotion. However, the exterior for God Eater is all really well drawn using the same style, and the Aragami (shot primarily using CGI) look really menacing.
On that note, this is quite a gory, dark and sometimes menacing show that is not scared of showing excess blood and death. The drawing style and how it helps bring all of this out really reminds me of how the Sin City movies were such a success on the same grounds. That’s probably helped by the general Hollywood feel of the show, probably created by the use of CGI and classic YA dystopian storyline where a strong girl end up having vulnerabilities, and a committed boy who grows into a powerful man.
Overall, the drawing style and dark edge make this into an interesting change of pace for anyone who watches a lot of anime. It’s probably far off being one of the best due to being too short, slightly botched and having a very basic storyline and characters, but has enough cool CGI monsters and fight sequences to be worth watching.
If you liked this, you’ll love: RWBY – Another story where young people wield all sorts of weapons to kill monsters threatening humanity. Perhaps lighter than God Eater, but the action holds up nicely!
Say “I Love You” (S1, 2012, 13x23mins)
Romance, Slice of Life
This classic love story follows quiet high-school student Mei Tachibana (left). Believing that people only want to betray and hurt each other, she has sworn off friendship and is seen as a bit of a loner around school. Then one day while being ‘hit on’ she accidentally kicks Yamato Kurosawa (right, obviously), the most popular and attractive boy in school. He ends up taking an interest in her, and he tries to slowly bring her out of her shell through their friendship that blossoms into romance. She eventually starts to trust others, and starts to encounter some of the problems that had scared her off in the first place, particularly since she is dating the hottest guy in school.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard all of this before. It’s a fairly stereotypical storyline. But with that being said, it is led by two really honest characters. I’m fairly confident in saying that Mei is probably a very relatable character, and somebody you can easily get behind even if her quiet demeanour can get a bit irritating later into the series, whereas Yamato is actually very similar to her despite his higher standing in school life.
This is only a short series, but there is still a sense of repetitive stories in each episode, where Mei ends up helping others with their problems while still worrying about her own relationship. That being said, there are also interesting developments and obstacles that they have to overcome. I particularly liked when a popular model moved to their school, took an interest in Yamato and got him modelling with her. It was a very blunt and straightforward idea but it felt like something nobody had tried before, and it worked really well!
Overall this is a solid teen romance that follows a fairly stereotypical pattern. Following said pattern feels almost impossible now so that shouldn’t be a criticism, and the piece is presented in a really honest and true way, and you can’t really ask for more than that!
If you like this you’ll love: My Little Monster – We haven’t really done many romance stories yet, but this follows a similar story where the closed off girl ends up getting involved with a live-wire. Definitely swaps romance for comedy in large chunks, but is a really fun, light-hearted show!
This time you DEFINITELY need to make sure you follow The Culture Cove. Not just so you can see the best anime reviews before anybody else, but particularly for episode 11 where we will be doing a special, looking at the first six episodes of some of the newest anime’s being released right now, including Kiznaiver, Bungou Stray Dogs & The Lost Village!