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Brave Witches

October 21, 2016

The witches are back! This new anime from the well known “Strike Witches” franchise doesn’t feature the girls of the 501st joint fighter wing whose adventures we have seen in three series and a movie. Instead, this series focuses on the witches of the 502nd joint fighter wing stationed in north-eastern Europe.

Similar to last season’s “Love Live! Sunshine!!”, a spin-off from the original “Love Live!”, “Brave Witches” takes place in the same world and timeline as “Strike Witches” and shows us another front of mankind’s desperate war against the neuroi.

Not unexpectedly, all the typical elements seen in the previous “Strike Witches” anime are present in “Brave Witches”, veteran viewers will instantly feel familiar with the show’s atmosphere. Luckily, the first episode starts with a brief exposition of the core plot so new viewers will be able to dive in and enjoy this series without having watched any of “Strike Witches”. That is, if they can see past the quirky gimmicks of the franchise, the most peculiar one being the fact none of the girls wear pants or skirts.


These first few episodes of “Brave Witches” offered no real surprises, nor did they deviate from the formula used in “Strike Witches” although I do lament the rather disappointing animation quality. Noticed multiple poorly animated scenes, especially the flight or combat rendered with CGI were not at the level they could be. A shame as the original series did focus on occasion on dog fighting tactics and flying manoeuvres.

What I do appreciate in this new anime is that the main cast of witches from the 502nd thankfully do not seem to be bland copies of the original witches from the 501st, but instead have sufficiently different personalities. Especially lead character Hikari is nearly an opposite of Yoshika. While both share a strong conviction, Hikari is not as overpowered as Yoshika is in terms of magical abilities, but instead she is driven to join the war effort and actively desires to fight alongside her sister and vanquish the neuroi.

I’ve enjoyed “Brave Witches” so far, likely because I knew what to expect from this show as a “Strike Witches” spin-off and that is exactly what it has delivered so far, it shows us a new group of witches in the same world having similar adventures. If you enjoyed “Strike Witches”, then you will undoubtedly enjoy “Brave Witches” as well.

You can watch “Brave Witches” on Crunchyroll.

Long Riders!

October 17, 2016

When girl meets bicycle~ Was interested in “Long Riders!” because it seemed like it could be an interesting cross between the more leisurely atmosphere and charm of “K-ON!” with some of the road trip or free riding spirit from “Bakuon!!”, but with bicycles instead of motorcycles of course. Must admit that’s also what I am hoping this anime will be.

While I was initially enthusiastic about “Bakuon!!”, as its story progressed felt let down by its absurd elements and wished it would have stayed true to its core themes in a more realistic and down to earth fashion instead of going for over-the-top silliness.

So far, “Long Riders!” seems right up my alley, looks like it might fulfil my expectations of providing a leisurely watch of an endearing young girl who finds herself pulled into and become passionate about cycling, joining a cycling club and making everlasting memories with the people she befriends there.


Am not familiar with the original “ろんぐらいだぁす! ” manga hence am unsure if the anime adaptation will really be like that but definitely enjoyed the first two episodes, everything in them suggests this will be a lighthearted, leisurely slice-of-life series about girls having fun in their university’s cycling club and the main character discovering her passion and overcoming the challenges that lie ahead.

Overall animation by studio Actas is unfortunately not stellar and there is visible variation in quality between scenes, some feature good animation with nice details and lighting, while other scenes are rather mediocre with obvious flaws or poor proportions. On top of that the scenes where characters are shown cycling done by CGI stick out like a sore thumb versus the regular animation.

A shame about the animation quality because this title does show promise for those fan of slice-of-life series in a school club setting like “K-ON!”, “Amanchu!”, “Bakuon!!” or “Girls und Panzer”. Still, am confident that while “Long Riders!” may not become an excellent or memorable show like “K-ON!”, it will easily surpass shows like “Bakuon!!”.

You can watch “Long Riders!” on Daisuki.

Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara season 2

October 14, 2016

Was pleasantly surprised when they announced a second season of “Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara”, the short anime based on the “魔法少女なんてもういいですから。” magical girl comedy manga from Futami Sui.

Enjoyed the first season of this parody anime, next to the welcome change of pace that dark, grim mahou shoujo franchise like “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” offered, this show resides on the other side of the spectrum, lightheartedly and cleverly mocking most of the typical elements used in magical girl anime.

A prime example of this are the magical girl outfits, with Yuzuka clad in a swimsuit and Mafuyu in a Santa Claus inspired Christmas outfit, all rather useless unless worn in a specific scenario, yet a clever jab at the typical attire of magical girls that seems to defy functionality in favour of fanservice and making the wearer look more flamboyant.


Next to this parody element, “Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara” still finds enough time in its four minute running episode span for the more typical magical girl genre shenanigans, including the staple transformation sequence as well as the more relaxing cute young girls doing cute things or the occasional yuri innuendo.

A fun, unpretentious show whose episodes only take a few minutes to watch, do recommend “Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara” to those fans looking for a simple magical girl comedy. Although its parody elements and lack of a core plot story may not be to everyone’s liking.

You can watch the first season and this second season of “Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara” on Crunchyroll.


October 10, 2016

Adapting the web version of the “Working!!” manga by Takatsu Karino into anime form, the new “WWW.Working!!” series is not a direct sequel of the previous shows of this franchise as its story takes place in a different branch of the ‘Wagnaria’ restaurant chain.

Although the show features a different cast compared to the previous “Working!!” anime, the setting is near identical as both are workplace-centric comedies built on the silly shenanigans and incredulous behaviour by its cast of oddball characters.

While there are spin-off or indirect sequel anime who have successfully applied the same formula as their predecessors, a good example being last season’s “Love Live! Sunshine!!”, am unsure that “WWW.Working!!” will be able to pull off being an excellent comedy like the original.
Also, whereas the “Servant x Service” anime felt like a refreshing variation of the core elements used in “Working!!”, considering both original manga are by Takatsu Karino, so far “WWW.Working!!” feels more like an uninspired and possibly failed clone.


The third and final season of the “Working!!” anime adaptation already felt like it was needlessly dragged out, such that most of its humour felt overused, uninspired and the show’s characters and their interaction which had originally been this franchise its strong suit in terms of slapstick comedy began to increasingly fail in properly entertaining the viewer.

Am apprehensive about “WWW.Working!!” exactly because its characters feel like shallow templates made of a mix and match of the quirky personality traits from the original its characters. For example Hana seems like an uninventive combination of Poplar and Mahiru, definitely so with her habit of hitting people, a trait that feels like a lazy copy and paste causing her vastly different behaviour to feel off and inconsistent.

Will keep on watching this series for now, but considering it has failed to impress me and seems as if it will not live up to its predecessor, its is likely I’ll drop it the coming weeks.
You can watch “WWW.Working!!” on Crunchyroll.

Hibike! Euphonium season 2

October 7, 2016

Could throw a plethora of superlatives around to describe “Hibike! Euphonium”, one of the better anime shows these past years that excelled in almost every aspect. Studio Kyoto Animation delivered a terrific show based on the “響け! ユーフォニアム” novels written by Ayano Takeda and like many fans, was looking forward to this second season.

The only real disappointment I fear this anime may bring, is that it does not live up to my personal high expectations of it. Even though I have made wishful references to the relationship between Kumiko Reina, am well prepared for the likely outcome that there will be no real yuri story behind their bond, but that they are simply two people irresistibly drawn to each other without any actual romance, of course with some clever baiting mixed in by the studio to reel in more viewers.

That aside, this second season’s double length opening episode spends plenty of time to illustrate the bond between Kumiko and Reina, and does so in a splendid way, which would make any viewer wish that more anime would ascend to this level. Whether they use casual conversations, powerful imagery of small gestures, the show offers many clues that these two girls find themselves drawn to each other and have a growing closeness.


The opening episode suggests the second season too will see some excellent character driven stories and development, not only for the show’s main characters but for supporting cast characters like Asuka, Natsuki or Mizore too. In fact, am quite curious to see how the show will develop Asuka as she seems a much more interesting and complex character than Hazuki or Midori.

Am most keen on the show delving deeper into Kumiko and Reina’s respective characters, their unique relationship as well as their interactions with the people around them. While Reina’s character has seemingly evolved the most, the hints and various things shown about Kumiko make her an interesting lead character too. The opening episode of this first season repeatedly shows how disinterested and detached Kumiko can be at home when interacting with her family or with Suuichi. Will her motivation to participate in the band and her bond with Reina allow her to grow and become more passionate?

Created by studio Kyoto Animation, we can of course expect truly gorgeous animation. The superb, dynamic lighting, lots of attention to detail, luscious backgrounds and evocative or subtle facial expressions and key frames that convey plenty of emotion or storytelling through small yet essential details all contribute to make this show a real visual treat.

Those of you who have not yet watched “Hibike! Euphonium”, I recommend you give this terrific anime a try, you definitely won’t regret it! Watching the first season before tackling this sequel is required though.
You can watch the first and second season of “Hibike! Euphonium” on Crunchyroll.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans season 2

October 3, 2016

Enjoyed the first season of “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans”, although it has its share of flaws like most mecha anime, do like how this recent entry in the Gundam franchise handled its core themes, developed its characters and offered a darker and more gritty approach to its Gundam style story.

Was looking forward to this second season after the first season stopped right at a pivotal point. Whereas too many such shows tend to be rather black and white, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans” more successfully balances between such simplistic extremes, instead showing that the reality of war, politics, or people and their desires are rather grey.

Also appreciated that next to having characters with sufficient depth to make them interesting, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans” showed that the protagonists’ victory at the end of the first season came at a cost.

Whether it is the interesting evolution of pacifist Kudelia who was forced make shady deals to achieve enough power to stay alive and pursue her ideals, to her having to come to terms with the bloodshed that ensued because of the ideals she so vehemently pursued. Or ace pilot Mikazuki, a hard working child-soldier who remains a detached, cold-blooded killer that pays a hefty price for the power he unlocks while piloting his Gundam. It is rare for a Gundam series to cripple or permanently injure its main protagonist such, something that is usually reserved for the villains.


Am very curious where the show intends to take his character as there is tremendous potential to make him a fallible hero with a more muddled, reprehensible persona. Whereas Mikazuki and Setsuna from “Gundam 00” have a similar starting point, somehow have the feeling that “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans” will take Mikazuki’s character in the opposite direction as Setsuna.

Next to the usual pitfalls of a Gundam anime, for me personally the biggest let down of “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans” is the rather mediocre animation. While some scenes and key frames showcase good animation, it regrettably remains mediocre overall, never approaching the level of “Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt” or “Gundam Unicorn”.

Still, do recommend this show to any mecha fan as it promises to be one of the better Gundam series out there. Although some Gundam enthusiasts may be surprised by the design style of the show’s mobile suits, the lack of energy beam weapons and focus on melee combat.

You can watch the first season and this second season of “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans” on Crunchyroll.

Dollfie Dream snapshots: Atsuko -2-

September 19, 2016

Snapped some close-up photos of Dollfie Dream Atsuko using the Fujian 35mm f/1.7 CCTV lens, though this time did not really achieve any special effect. Instead, the light of the setting sun coming through some window blinds created deep shadows contrasting with bright areas.

For a cheap little lens, the Fujian 35mm f/1.7 can be surprisingly sharp when stopped down and with the optional macro ring installed. Still favour the Sony Zeiss Sonnar*T lenses on the A7, but it can be a fun to use a novelty style lens as it changes the characteristics and capabilities of the photography tool you are using and forces the wielder to rethink the various steps more actively.


Actually tested installing Atsuko’s DDH06 custom head on a DDDy sized body with Peach Pai Plus as well as a DDS body with regular Peach Pai but was not satisfied with that look for her, so think I’ll keep her on the current DDS with default Volks M bust type.

You can see more Dollfie Dream photos on Flickr.