23 January 2017

V Reviews Ace Attorney (TV) - I object to this anime!

I make no secret of it. I'm a big fan of the Ace Attorney (Gyakutan Saiban) games ever since its first European release on the original DS, back in 2006. The series has always been a good mix of point-and-click adventure games with visual novels, all while having a good dose of humor and suspense.

I was part of the crowd that clung onto the fan translation of AA3 due to Capcom not being straight on whether or not it was going to receive an English release; I was one of the skeptics on the portrayal of Phoenix in the Apollo Justice game (but eventually got swayed), I'm one of those who desperately wants Investigations 2 and "Dai Gyakutan Saiban" to be released in the west and so on and so on. So yeah, big fan.

And through all the years of being a fan, I have been secretly wishing for an anime adaptation of the original trilogy. So you could call me excited when Capcom and A1-pictures announced that they would have an anime adaptation of the first games back in early 2016. But sadly enough, my experience with this anime can be formulated in the five stages of grief.

Stage 1: Denial

The first few episodes aired and I kind of liked it. The animation was a bit "off" at times, but I tried to have an open mind to it. Even though I felt some things were missing, I was still excited to see this favorite game series being animated.

The music and voice acting was good enough. It's obvious enough that the music is adapted form the much beloved OSTs of the games. So for a lot of fans it's the first time hearing these themes outside of the video games. But for some reason nothing really stands out.

Also, the desperation of Capcom to make sure the subs of the anime reflect the translated game text often has hilarious results.


That moment you hear "miso ramen", but read this...

Stage 2: Anger

Because I felt things were missing in all of the episodes, I bought the Ace Attorney Trilogy remake for my 3DS and played all through it again. And I suddenly realized what was missing. Entire chunks of the game were cut.

And not just any chunks, but almost every part that included character development was gone, especially when concerned to Miles Edgeworth. In the second and third case of the first game, we were exposed to the dark side of Edgeworth. He's a prosecutor who stops at nothing to win his case, with lying and manipulating both witnesses and evidence. But in the anime he was reduced to a generic rival character with no real charisma. If you only would only watch this anime, you would never understand why Edgeworth has become one of the most iconic game characters of game history.

The fourth case adaptation was a mess. Manfred Von Karma is easily one of the most threatening villains in the entire franchise. In the game, he went as far as physically assaulting you just to steal evidence that could potentially be used against him! He's a real threat. But here he's just... an cartoonish bad guy with 0 charisma.


The threat of the game vs the "face of evil" of the anime

Stage 3: Bargaining

After the end of the first game adaptation, I was trying to bargain with myself: Maybe the second game adaptation will be better. And when they handle the third game, the experience of the animators will have improved so much, that it will get better without a doubt. I mean, Godot is the most iconic antagonist of the entire franchise. They wouldn't ruin that one, right?

Stage 4: Depression

Why did they remove the fifth case of the first game? Why remove the opening case of the second game? Why did they add in a fluffy filler episode that added NOTHING of story to this. Why?


Anybody want to tell me why we got a mushy "Edgeworth looking for his dog" story instead of "Phoenix gets his head bashed in" story?

And then the total number of episodes was finally confirmed. There's no way to add in the third game in here. This anime is a failure, man. Failure. This is horrible. Why create an anime if this is the way it's being handled. Who directed this? Come on! Couldn't they at least LOOK at the other team that animated the promo video for Spirits of Justice? THAT one is amazing compared to this! Seriously, it's available on Youtube. Just watch that.

We wanted a good anime to advice to our friends who like the character, but have no idea where to begin in the gaming franchise. This is not the anime we wanted...

Stage 5: Acceptance

Now that a few months have passed since the final episode has aired, I can only say the following: Forget this anime exists. While this is not a good adaptation of the games, it does not reduce what the original Ace Attorney games stand for.

And right now, at least there's one thing less on my mind... Now I'm no longer secretly hoping for an anime adaptation of my favorite games. If THIS is how game adaptations are being handled in the anime industry, I'd rather not see any anime of video games at all.

Final verdict

I give this anime a 5/10. It's not horrible per sé. And if you have never seen anything of the Phoenix Wright / Gyakutan Saiban franchise, this isn't THAT bad. But overall, I can't really recommend it either. There are just so many better anime to watch all together.

If you want to catch up on the best anime of 2016, this is one you can easily skip.But if you DO want to check it out, it's available on Crunchyroll for free streaming.

Next time, a more positive review.

Until then, V out.

20 January 2017

V Reviews Konosuba - Slayers anno 2016

After receiving some recommendations, I've been watching Konosuba. And I've got to admit. It's been a while since I've been laughing my ass off with a series like this.

Comedy in anime is something that either works or doesn't. And with this anime it works wonders. It was colorful, had a few unexpected twists that were funny. And heck, even the hooks that were predictable were still funny in its execution. Yet, it all has some sort of familiar feeling I couldn't shake... until it hit me.

This anime is heavily influenced by the Slayers franchise. And I don't mind it one bit.

V reviews - KonoSuba: God's blessing on this wonderful world

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! (which is usually abbreviated as KonoSuba) is a web novel written by Akatsuki Natsume in the period of 2012-2013.

In 2013 the web novel got officially released as a light novel series, with the 10th volume released last November.

It also spawned a few spin-offs with similarly colorful titles that translate to: "Give Explosions to This Wonderful World!" and "Consulting with the Masked Devil!"

And since the novels got so popular (already selling over 1.5 million copies), it spawned a manga incarnation that has been running ever since 2014 and a radio drama that was released in 2015.

So it was bound to happen that an anime would be made as well. In early 2016 we finally got a short first series of 10 episodes, 1 OVA (to promote the 9th novel of the main series), and a second season airing at this very moment!

FYI: If you want to stay posted on the releases of her novels, Akatsuki keeps a blog (in Japanese, obviously) where she occasionally post status updates on her franchise.
Link: http://natsumeakatsuki.blog.fc2.com/

The Story:

Sato Kazuma is a shut-in gamer who dies on the one day he decides to pick up a new game. When this death scene at first seems like a rip-off from Yu Yu Hakusho (even to the point where the character is confronted by this universe's Botan), the follow-up on this situation comes out of left-field and leaves you on the floor laughing. And that is just a small example on how this anime joyfully plays with expectations. If I'm being vague, that's because the humor works best if you don't know what is going to happen.

Botan, err, I mean the goddess Aqua gives our hero Kazuma a choice to either go to heaven (which is described as boring-as-f**k), to be reincarnated as a baby (and thus a full reset) or to be "spawned" into a dangerous fantasy world with the task to defeat the demon king, with all of his memories intact.

Kazuma chooses the fantasy world and (in a twist of fate) forces Aqua to come with him.


Yeah, she likes that idea. Go for it!

But bringing Aqua along with him is something he regrets nearly immediately. Why? Because Aqua is virtually useless as a companion. She ironically has little to no knowledge of the world she sends Kazuma and other adventurers into and her only real skill is that she knows healing magic (and occasionally remembers that she can use water magic too).

But as a consequence for forcing Aqua in his adventure, Kazuma has entered this world without either equipment nor money (and neither does Aqua). So our two heroes need to find a job as adventurers with basically nothing (which surprisingly is harder than they expected).


Sorry i ain't got no money, i'm not trying to be funny...

What follows is a series of comedic adventures of our heroes struggling to get money to live while doing odd-jobs and quests to obtain experience, equipment and new skills.

When this "amazing duo" realizes that certain quests are virtually impossible to complete on their own, they try to gather some allies. But to Kazuma's surprise, the people that end up joining their party (a mage called Megumin and a paladin-like warrior called Darkness) are both highly classed, but also very, very useless in their own rights.


"Yes, my eyepatch IS fake. Amazing, right?"

The rest of this story focuses on this (useless) party of four going on quests and taking on certain challenges (of which the are often the root cause of).

But even if they somehow win big quest money, they have reaked so much havok that the repair cost leaves them virtually broke or in debt. There's a reason why they spend most of their time sleeping in a horse stable.


Yes, that IS horse shit. Why do you ask?

Characters

Sato Kazuma: The protagonist. He's a bit of a scumbag, but we easily forgive him due to the way he's being portrayed. He is the only competent character of his party and is able to guide his useless party of four to an uncertain victory. But he also has good enough leader skills to find the best use for his team mates and allies in order to survive their battles.
Aqua: One of the most selfish and lazy goddesses out there. She's probably the strongest character on the team in terms of abilities, but when push comes to shove she's dumb as f**k and very, very dense.
Megumin: The dark mage. The perfect incarnation for the term "glass cannon". She knows incredibly strong magic, but can only perform it once per day. And since she's a die-hard fan of explosion magic, she refuses to learn anything else.
Darkness: The Paladin-like warrior who wants to "protect" everybody with her body. She has a few serious screws loose and an incredible accuracy of 0% on all her hits.

Animation & Sound

Okay, let's address the elephant in the room. This series is animated by Studio Deen. And yes, the animation of the first season and OVA are very good!
This may sound weird to you if you're not familiar with animation studios or if you're just getting into anime. But Studio Deen is kind of infamous when it comes to animation, especially when trying to keep up a certain level of quality animation.

So for average Deen standards, this level of quality is surprisingly good.

The second season however somehow started on a lower note in terms of animation quality. I can only hope this first episode of S2 is an odd ball out and that the quality will increase from here on (wishful thinking?). Cross your fingers and hope for the best!


Don't make this a recurring thing... please.

In terms of sound & music... it's okay. The music isn't bad per se. The opening is good enough to not skip it and ending is chill enough to listen to. But for the rest of the anime, it often feels like I'm listening to typical generic royalty-free music from a random youtube channel. I sincerely doubt that's the case, but that is just how it feels. So that's a bit of a downer.

Inspired by Slayers?

If you are a long-time anime viewer, you may have some familiar feelings when watching this anime. No, I'm not talking about how the opening episode is a parody on the first episode of Yu Yu Hakusho. I'm talking about how the entire series feels like I'm watching Slayers all over again.

But while Akatsuki makes sure her characters and story isn't a carbon copy of Slayers, there's no helping that some of the personalities of the Slayers characters can be found back in many of the KonoSuba cast (both main and supporting cast).

  • Lina Inverse can be found back in both Aqua and Megumin. Megumin is the Dark Mage with her own kind of Dragon Slave Magic who only loves explosions and massive destruction. Not to mention that a lot of Lina's looks are projected onto Megumin. Aqua on the other end has lots of Lina's personality and big mouth.
  • Gourry can mostly be found back in Darkness. Darkness is the Paladin-like warrior who wants to protect her allies and is a straightforward idiot. She also generally looks like a gender-swapped Gourry (which isn't that strange since he was forced to cross-dress from time to time).
  • Wis is a lot like Slayer's Sylphiel, even to the point where the person with Lina's character (Aqua) does not like Sylphiel's character (Wis).
  • Yunyun (who appears in the OVA and in season 2) is a fusion of both Naga and Amelia
  • Kazuma actually is the most difficult to pinpoint to one or more Slayers characters. If anything, he sounds a bit like a fusion of Zelgadis and Xelloss, but in general he feels like the most "original" character of the group.

So yes, a lot of similarities. But is it a rip-off?
No. I think it's just very difficult to write a fantasy comedy without any references to anything that happened in Slayers. Slayers just had that much of an impact on both comedies and fantasy stories.

Cut episodes?

In terms of negatives, the only thing I can think of is the feeling that some episodes have been scrapped from the original planning. This should've been an anime with 12 episodes, but we somehow only ended up with 10.

Why do I think this? Well, three reasons:

  • There's the awkward introduction of Wis. She's just there and we're told very shortly how our heroes encountered her "before". But there is an immediate animosity between Aqua and Wis that required a voice-over explanation in that episode.
  • Then there is the lack of Yunyun, even though she appears in the opening theme. Yunyun does appear in the OVA, but in the OVA there is a need to voice-over on how our heroes encountered her before. And since the OVA was a promo piece for the 9th novel, I don't really know where this story fits in with the story canon.
  • Also, the last episode ends on a weird cliffhanger which is resolved in the first episode of S2. A comedy like this doesn't really need cliffhangers, so this was kind of a weird way to end your first season on.
  • Oh yeah... and the fact that it was announced at the start that the first season would be 11 episodes + 1 OVA. So yes, at least one episode definitely got "lost" on the cutting floor.

Yes, I exist. But not in this season!

Personal opinion & conclusion

Overall, I give this anime an 8/10. It's no masterpiece, but it doesn't need to be. It's a comedy that's 10 episodes long that will leave you laughing A LOT (11 if you count the OVA), so it's easy to sit through.

Final conclusion: If you like comedies and anime in a fantasy setting, give this anime a watch. You will not regret it.

Until next time,
V out.

19 January 2017

V Reviews: Occultic;Nine - An occult trainwreck

All right, I've got a bunch of reviews lined up, so let's do this! Let's start of this series of reviews with the biggest turds I've seen this year! Occultic;Nine

V Reviews: Occultic;Nine

Occultic;Nine was announced for the 2016 fall season, and had a title and short info box that kind of picked my interest. Though I should've seen the red flag as well.

Yeah, A-1 Pictures studio and the term "Light Novel" is NOT a good combination (cough*SAO*cough). Though in A1-Picture's defense: since they usuallywork with freelance animators, the end result really depends what director, writer and animators they have at their disposal.

So if there's a challenge, I'm here to pick it up. Let's open the details on this anime and see what meat is available...

The director (Kyohei Ishiguro) has directed Your Lie in April (which IS a great anime), but also the turd called Lance N'Masques (oh, dear).
The screenwriter (Noburo Takagi) is the man responsible for the screenplays for both Durarara and Baccano and did work on other supernatural shows like Shigoku Shoujo and Koi Kaze. Overal Takagi has done great work up until now, including in the same genre.
The overal editor (Akinori Mishima) has done so many things, it's also hard to pinpoint him as good or bad.

And then there is the light novels this anime is based upon. They're not awful, but not too amazing either. The novels score around 7-8/10 regularly.

So what went wrong?

Okay, I went a little digging here. The novel apparently got put "on hold" after two volumes due to "printing issues" (which is a very Japanese way of saying: "It didn't sell"). Though this might also be to refocus the effort of the writer (Chiyomaru Shikura) to finish the script for the anime AND the visual novel (slated for release this year).

I guess he's hoping the game will be a big enough success that the visual novel can go on sale again? (sorry, I can't help but laughing after reading that sentence)

Not only that. People who have read the novels say that the entire first novel got adapted... into ONE single episode... which makes sense if you watched that clusterf**k that is the first episode.

So let me ask you this. A half-baked script that needs to be pushed into 12 episodes which at best functions as a promo for the upcoming visual novel that isn't even finished either? How can that work? That's asking for Murphy to pass by and apply his law.

And who knows what happened behind the scenes while creating this train-wreck. There are rumors enough that Your Lie in April was Lightning in a bottle and that Lance 'n Masques is the regular approach to how the director (Ishiguro) actually works (which I can't confirm nor deny, since I haven't watched THAT train-wreck).

But that's enough speculation. Let's get over the biggest missteps one by one.

The infamous first episode

Occultic;Nine quickly became infamous for having one of the worst first episodes in anime of recent memory.

If I hadn't looked it up I would've thought this was the director's first shot at directing an anime, because it was so horrendous. The episode direction was horrible, the aesthetic choices weird, the character introduction a mess, the pacing dreadful, the music editing sometimes real baffling and so on and so on.

If it wasn't for the murder mystery that seemed somewhat interesting, I think most of us would've just dropped it like it's hot. This was an episode that could be seen as "so bad it's good."

But since I recently finished Shirobako and thus the general process of making an anime, I kind of wanted to follow this trainwreck to see how hard it would continue crashing. I wanted to see if this was going to be a "boing boing paradise", if you know what I mean.

So did it? No, not really. The anime team obviously picked up all the bile that was spilled after the first episode and enforced changes on the series.

Though I kind of wished they didn't fix it. Why? Because an anime that's so-bad-it's-good is interesting to watch for years on end. But a trainwreck that gets repaired along the way removes much of what made it such an interesting spectacle in the first place.

So while story and editing sure got less awful over time, some things did NOT change.

Awful Pacing & Storytelling: Infodumps at 110% speed, preferably at a bar

One of the bad things that remained a constant throughout this mess was the general pacing and especially the character interaction. The main characters ramble on and on. And that would be fine if it was a fast-paced comedy (like Gintama). But this is a supernatural mystery, NOT a comedy (at least, not intentionally). And a lot of the rambling happens in exposition dumps at a bar. If you know anything about decent screenwriting, Infodumps in restaurants or bars are not done, or should be avoided as much as possible.

Infodumps are already bad by itself, though they're not always unavoidable. But doing them in bars or restaurants is cliche and generally bores the audience. Not to mention, the audio of several infodumps was sped up to 105-110% (just enough to have no audible voice changing), while the sound editors cut away the breathing moments.

No, that is not a joke. In some episodes you can actually hear the moments where the audio got cut (which actually was more interesting to listen to than the actual dialogue spoken).

The worst part about this... infodumping/rambling at 110% speed is the main "character trait" of several of the main characters, including the intended protagonist (Yuuta Gamon).

If you think that is bad, you are absolutely right. Literally more than half of all dialogue spoken can either be cut without consequence or kept to inner monologues. And doing that would result in way more interesting main characters than the ones we ended up getting.

Distracting character design: Boob physics Engine

But don't worry if you haven't noticed this pacing annoyance after a few episodes. You were probably too distracted by Narusawa Ryouka's boobs.


Oh my. It DID went boing...

One of the frequent complaints (or compliments, depending on who you ask) from people watching this anime is Ryouka's boobs. Ryouka is a hyperactive ditz who keeps hopping around (LITERALLY), which causes her boobs to be in constant bouncing movement. This in such a way you have to look at her, while wondering what the hell you're even looking at.

You could call this fanservice... but there's nothing to be served; the bouncing boobs only function as a distraction for the mess this show really is.

Bad character introduction: Let's fix this one at least

I've watched the entire series (you WILL require alcohol to finish it) and I still have no clue how most of the 9 "occultic" characters are named. We got a name clip, similar to the introduction of the Baccano and Durarara characters. But something apparently got lost in translation.
I'm sure it was the intention of the writer to have the name clip with all nine names appear in the opening credits (which was a thing in Baccano and Durarara). But it ended up being splashed in the first episode instead, way before most of these characters even got a decent character introduction.

Yeah, I know I can read the novel, or look up the names on myanimelist or so. But seriously: if that's the only way to figure out who everybody is, you're doing something wrong!

Anyway: Character introduction is something I can do instead of the anime, so here we go:

Yuuta Gamon: Main character. A self-proclaimed NEET and a blogger of the occult who sucks at his own character description. No, really. A NEET who goes to school is contradictory to the definition of the word. And while he blogs about occult stuff, he doesn't like occult stuff at all.
Yuuta gets involved with the murder of a professor early on and only starts sinking more into misery (and mystery) the further this story goes.
Ryouka Narusawa: Hyperactive bouncy girl with her own personal boob physics engine. Nuff said.
Miyuu Aikawa: The cute girl. Does Tarot card reading and is good at it... but doesn't really use it outside of her introduction episode (due to plot convenience).
Sarai Hashigami: Son of the murdered professor. Is supposed to be smart and edgy. But in reality he sucks at his own character description and just keeps rambling instead.
Aria Kurenaino: Self-proclaimed hex girl (or witch) who sucks at her job and has a sickening backstory.
Takes up a lot of screen time in the first half, but has NO FUNCTION WHATSOEVER. This is a character that could be cut (together with her "demon") and there would be NO difference.
Shun Moritsuka: Deus-ex detective. He somehow knows everything without any explanation whatsoever, doesn't do anything relevant, has the worst case ramble-itis and is annoying without end.
Seriously, f**k this guy.
Touko Sumikaze: Reporter on the occult. Doesn't get enough screentime in the first half, is totally useless in the second half (sigh)
Ririka Nishizono: The yaoi doujin artist who can predict the future. Never explained why, has virtually no real role in the series and hardly gets screen time. And the way she's handled in the last episode is indicative of her presence on the series as a whole. She just disappears.

Other characters include the devil of the Hex girl (useless character that could be cut from the story), the creepy albino kid (obvious villain alert) , the stand-in detective with psychic powers (who, even with her limited screen time ironically is the most useful person on the show), the weird bartender (interesting concept, horrible execution) and the evil corporation (I... I just don't... sigh...)

All in all, there are almost NO characters to attach to, and the supporting "occult" characters that are somewhat likable get so little screen time, you keep wishing for certain other ones to just die (oh, wait...).

Is there anything that saves this heap of drek?

The murder mystery and the "256 incident" by themselves were actually quite interesting. It starts out with the murder of a professor in the occult (and the father of Sarai Hashigami). But the murder ends up having a deeper meaning when a yaoi doujin is found at the scene of crime that predicts events that are happening. Not too long after this murder, a mysterious event occurs where 256 people end up in a (sort of) suicide pact, drowning themselves in the park river of the city.


Yeah, he be dead boi

Our main cast tries to figure out what happened here while trying to find a friend who went missing shortly before this "mass suicide" occurred. And in this process they slowly start discovering shocking truths, since not everything is as they assume it is.

And if that sounds like an interesting premise of a story... that's because IT IS! Even if more than half of the characters involved are poorly written and executed; even if the animation is B-level quality and even if the direction often makes you wonder what the director was smoking while making his decisions... The mystery in this series kept making me come back (that and the fascination to watch a train-wreck in motion). Too bad even that part got ruined with the last episode.

The ending

Nope. Nope... The amount of stupid in the last episode is way too high to even comment on it.

I knew I was going to need alcohol to get through the finale ("probably a better time if you're drunk", like Jeremy Jahns would say it), but it clearly was NOT enough.


Look, mom! I can fly!
Why? Because f**k the story, that's why.

In all seriousness... with a clearly unfinished source story (since the game still isn't finished) and dozens of loose plot threads, you can't finish a series in one single episode (at least not in a good way). But the director and screen writer clearly tried (and failed). It's ironic, really. The reasons the first episode was a disaster were all the technical aspects, which have been fixed by the last episode. But the one reason to keep watching it after the first episode (the story) got absolutely ruined by the end.

Which means that this is one of the few rare anime that has a horrible beginning, a horrible end, but a somewhat enjoyable middle part...

Final conclusion

Don't touch this anime with a 50-foot pole. Unless you want lessons on how NOT to adapt a novel into an anime.

You may find the mystery interesting to keep following it (like I did). But since there is no satisfying conclusion to it, you should not bother.

My score: 3/10: A supernatural mystery covered in many layers of awfulness

Well, this is the worst I've seen in the past year. From here on, it can only get better.

Until next time,

V out.

16 January 2017

V's Thoughts on Crunchyroll's Anime Awards

Well, 2016 has come to an end. And with Yu-Gi-Oh being more boring than ever before (a game lasting longer than 3 turns is considered a "long" game), I wanted to go back to reviewing anime that I've seen in the past year. And while there have been some great series lately, there are also a few turds.

But before reviewing any of the series I've seen, first off I wanted to talk a little about the Crunchyroll Anime Awards.

While I can applaud Crunchyroll for doing an "awards" show of sorts for anime, it's clearly still a work in progress. I realize that an awards show will always disappoint a lot of people. But the results of the voting already show a few of the big flaws this first edition has.

We put way too much money into advertising this anime, so it MUST be nominated as much as possible: Kabaneri

One of the bigger "flops" of the past year was Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

Okay, okay, I admit... Flop IS a big word for it. Disappointing is a more accurate word. Its animation and art style is overall very amazing and the first few episodes were amazing spectacles. But halfway through the main character we were rooting for (Mumei) becomes a damsel in distress and a generic textbook villain is pasted into the series to add a form of suspense. The end result left most people somewhere in the middle. Some kept defending it, while a lot of others simply hated what happened to it.

But Crunchyroll has put a lot of money into the promotion of this anime over the past year, so it obviously had to be nominated in every category it could somewhat fit in... even if it doesn't make any sense.


Dude... Seriously? Is this a joke?

Obvious result of this is a lot of raised eyebrows among anime fans, and obviously: 0 actual rewards being reaped. But on Crunchyroll's behalf, it got people talking about it once more and maybe a few views which returns some lost revenue for them.

The latest hype train wins everything: Yuri on Ice

First off, I have nothing against Yuri on Ice. I am not the target audience for it, so I'm not going to watch or review it. But unless you've been living under a rock the past months, you must've at least heard of the hype train surrounding Yuri on Ice (further abbreviated as YOI, not to be mistaken with yaoi).

YOI is an anime about guys doing competitive figure skating. And if that premise sounds gay, that's because it is... and there's nothing wrong with that. But somewhere halfway, all shipping girls finally saw their ship set sail with "the kiss" and the hype went apenuts.

If these awards were done half a year ago, most nominations would've gone to Re:Zero, since that was thé hype anime at that moment. But fall season was mostly YOI's hype train, so that's the anime with the most nominations.

Though, let's admit: no all of its nominations were that deserving.


"Yeah, the ice skating animation is so amazing to watch!"

But the reality of things is that, no matter the category it was nominated for, YOI wins the award. Best Couple, most heartwarming scene, best kiss, best OP and ED, Best iced Yuri, Best cucumber party, best anything... If Yuri on Ice was nominated, it would win the award. That's the obvious result of having a big audience vote in your categories. The anime with the biggest hype wins automatically, whether the anime deserves the hype or not.

No industry awards?

Somebody who has some experience with quality award shows immediately realizes something is off about these awards. The categories are too general.

For example: You could have a big range of music awards, but the only things awarded here are opening and ending theme. Really? Where is the award for composer? For the entire Soundtrack? For most effective song used?

Another one: Where are awards for best director? Best composer? Best character design? Where are the typical industry awards?

Heck, even some general categories are missing. Yes, there is a best boy/girl category, and best hero/villain category. But where's the best voice actor/actress? Best main character/supporting character?

And really, Crunchyroll. You are the one platform that could award people who do some really underappreciated work. You could have the award for best English dub / voice actors. Voice actors in Japan are celebrities, but in the rest of the world it's a job with little appreciation.

Obvious result: The salt is real

It's no surprise that the anime community was throwing up heaps of salt over the eventual results. Most of them threw in their five cents on who should've won instead; whether serious or for the lolz (like Gigguk's awards).

I wanted to throw in my salt and my awards too at first, until I saw the Under the Scope awards the past weekend. Most anime reviewers had some choices that were questionable, but his choices... I have to admit: I was impressed. He added multiple categories and had sufficient arguments for all of his choices. My initial reaction after I've seen his video, was clapping slowly with a satisfied face.

Watch it via this link. Seriously.

So Crunchyroll, if you want some advice on a next edition of your Awards ceremony, watch UTS's anime awards and learn some lessons from it.

Also, another tip: seven judges only? Really? While I can see certain judges were chosen (like the Boondocks director and GlassReflection), many other valid voices remain unheard.

So in short: Great initiative, but many lessons that need to be learned for the next edition.

Now, onto the reviews...

Until then, V out.

22 April 2016

Card of Demise - The return of the classic Anti-Meta deck

In my previous post, I talked about Card of Demise. Let me go into a little more detail about why this card is better than you might think!

The card effect

Draw until you have 3 cards in your hand, also for the rest of this turn after this card resolves, your opponent takes no damage. During the End Phase of this turn, send your entire hand to the Graveyard. You can only activate 1 "Card of Demise" per turn. You cannot Special Summon during the turn you activate this card.










Plus-2 card with huge drawback? Or with no drawback at all?

When I first read this card, I ignored it pretty quickly. While "draw until you have three cards" seems interesting enough, the drawbacks are very high. So I thought there would be no meta deck ever that would ever use this card.

But that's where the magic word rang. Meta.

In the OCG, this card was used nearly instantly and caused a few players to top events... with anti-meta decks.

This anti-meta deck is an update of the classic anti-meta deck, with cards like Rai-Oh, Banisher of Radiance, etc. A handful of monsters that are to be normal summoned and a sheitload of spells and traps.

With a deck like that, the deck pilot doesn't care about "discard your hand" drawbacks. They normal summon a banisher of Radiance or Rai-Oh, set their hand face-down, activate cards of demise, set some more cards until the field is full and end the turn with discarding 0 or maybe 1 card (if your deck doesn't like you and lets you draw into another monster). In a deck as dangerous as anti-meta, having a +2 card (in the best case) is not just good, it's frigging amazing.

Decklist?

The obvious question you have is: Where's the deck list? So here it is. Though remember, this is OCG. So a few cards have different limits there than over here in TCG.

MONSTER CARDS (11):

  • 3 Banisher of the Radiance
  • 3 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
  • 3 Thunder King Rai-Oh
  • 2 Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer

SPELL CARDS (10):

  • 3 Card of Demise
  • 3 Pot of Duality
  • 1 Harpie’s Feather Duster
  • 3 Moon Mirror Shield

TRAP CARDS (19):

  • 2 Compulsory Evacuation Device
  • 1 Torrential Tribute
  • 1 Dimensional Prison
  • 1 Starlight Road
  • 3 Bottomless Trap Hole
  • 1 Ring of Destruction
  • 2 Rocket Hand
  • 1 Vanity’s Emptiness
  • 2 Macro Cosmos
  • 1 Solemn Warning
  • 1 Solemn Judgment
  • 3 Solemn Strike

SIDE-DECK (15):

  • 1 Dark Hole
  • 2 Forbidden Lance
  • 2 Mystical Space Typhoon
  • 3 Book of Moon
  • 1 Compulsory Evacuation Device
  • 2 Chain Disappearance
  • 3 Imperial Iron Wall
  • 1 Macro Cosmos

Side-note: No extra deck was listed (and probably not used). If any card was used, I think it's limited to Stardust Dragon. though on the other end, if you play no extra deck it's a great mind-game to troll your opponent into thinking you play Monarchs (lol).

Other "weird" or "unusual" choices

It's been a while since an anti-meta deck has topped, so a few card choices are made that you're probably not that familiar with. Let me list them.

Rocket Hand (OCG exlcusive):
Target 1 face-up Attack Position monster you control with 800 or more ATK; equip this card to it. It gains 800 ATK. During either player's turn (except during the Damage Step): You can send this Equip Card to the Graveyard, then target 1 face-up card on the field; destroy it, then the monster that was equipped with this card cannot change its battle position, also its ATK becomes 0. You can only use 1 "Rocket Hand" effect per turn, and only once that turn.

Moon Mirror Shield:
If the equipped monster battles an opponent’s monster, during damage calculation: The equipped monster’s ATK and DEF become equal to the ATK or DEF (whichever is higher) of the opponent’s battling monster +100, during damage calculation only. If this face-up card is sent from the field to the Graveyard: Pay 500 LP; place this card on either the top or bottom of your Deck.

Basically these two cards do the same: Protect the few monsters you have and make sure they can overcome any challenge thrown at them.

Other uses for Card of Demise

Well, this deck choice of anti-meta shows that this card is best used in decks that don't special summon a lot and/or run a limited amount of monsters.

For exmaple, if Resuce Rabbit would ever be released from its limit, Dino Rabbit could make a return, using this card. Gravekeepers and regular HERO decks are decks that run limited amount of monsters and might be able to use it as well. Though similarly to Pot of Duality, the limit on special summons can become a drawback in these decks.

Luckily enough, decks like Chain Burn won't be able to use this card, because decks like that tend to focus on hand traps to save their lives. And one of the big drawbacks of Card of Demise is discarding your entire hand at the end of the turn.

But there are probably other obscure decks that suddenly might become good or better because of this card. I'm curious to see what top players wil use this card and make it work in random decks. Jeff Jones might be interested...

Until next time, V out.

20 April 2016

The Millennium Pack - Booster of Demise

If the Millennium Pack flew under your radar in the past week, there's a good explanation for that. the millennium change was more than a decade ago. That's long past tense there. Same as with the pack's content. It's already past tense.

Lack of good new cards

Let's start with the positive aspect here. There's a few new cards in this pack. Some are either retrained versions of anime classics (e.g. a new Curse of Dragon), or random cards from the anime that for some reason turn into actual cards.

Yeah, who knew that Holding Arms, Holding Legs or Left Arm Offering would actually make it to an actual card before the rest of the Kuriboh family?

And there's some cards that are actual moments from the anime, like Symbol of Friendship (from the first episode) and The True Name (of the Pharaoh).

Want to know which cards are good? Well, there's only one. Cards of Demise. But this card is so interesting, I'm going to focus a single post on that, later this week.

The "whoops" moment

Past weekend, there was one other card from this set that made Yugioh headlines. And not because it's powerful, but rather because of a screw-up at Konami when translating its text. I'm talking about "Symbol of Friendship".

The card should read:
To activate this card, you must draw it for your normal draw in your Draw Phase while your opponent controls 3 or more monsters and you control no cards, reveal it, and keep it revealed until the Main Phase 1. During your Main Phase 1 that same turn: You can activate this card from your hand; reveal 1 card from your Deck, and add it to your hand.

But it actually reads:
... while your opponent controls 3 or more monsters and you control no monsters, reveal it, and keep it revealed ...

Small error in terms of words, but a world of difference in activation possibilities. Just imagine Gorz the Emissary of Darkness with those two words being switched around.
This just made Symbol of Friendship's usability rise from 0% to like 1%.

Yeah, in case you didn't notice it in my sarcasm, the card still sucks no matter the card text screw up. Yes, I know YOU can make a deck that can make this card work. But that doesn't mean it's going to be a good deck.

Konami finishes the missing alternate art issue... or not?

One of the big promo tag lines of this set was that it had a bunch of the previously unreleased alternate art cards. And yes, that is true (good!). But could somebody at least call Konami and say they even f**ked that one up?

This was the moment to release all OCG alternate art cards we hadn't seen yet. But instead of that, we got a so-so job.

YES, we got a lot of unreleased alternate arts (including Broken Finger Flame Swordsman). Thank you for that.


"Not broken. I can just stretch
my fingers in superhuman ways!"

We also got a lot of "alternate art cards" that we've seen already in previous boosters, like Toon World or friggin' Viser Des. It was already weird enough for Viser Des to have an alternate art, but people certainly weren't waiting for a reprint of that card.

But the biggest issue is the cards which were still "missing" a few alternate arts, but Konami just goes: "Was it this one?" and utterly fails in the process.

I can understand mistaking 1 of the alternate arts. But I've checked. You picked the wrong artwork on FIVE cards. FIVE! How do you f**k that up?

Let me list the errors: Kuriboh, Summoned Skull, Red-Eyes B. Dragon, XYZ Dragon Cannon and Gilford the Lighting. Seriously, Gilford the Lighting? Gilford has TWO artworks. We had one, just pick the other! How difficult is that?


Due to these five screw-ups, these alternate arts are still left unreleased.

And worst of all [personal opinion]... Where's the Gemini Elf alt? Gemini Elf's art was like thé only alt I was really waiting for! And I'm sure I'm not alone on this one. And don't talk about the censorship, because the censored card has already been used in video games! You just had to print it!


"We're still outside of YOUR grasp, boy." *wink*

Low ratio of new vs old cards

And lastly in my rant: What's with the low number of actual new cards? Why didn't Konami take the opportunity to add cards from the Millennium Box Gold Edition (Summoned Lord Exodia, Exodd Flame & Ties of the Brethren), or the cards from the Duelist Road packs (like Ring of Peace, Dark Burning Attack, etc). Or in worst case, add in some old Vanilla monsters not yet seen in the TCG (e.g. Horn Imp WAS a card Yugi used in the anime and still needs a TCG release).

Honestly, I wouldn't have made such a big noise about it, if it wasn't for so many weird/bad reprint choices in this set. Nearly half (if not more) of the cards are reprints of cards that were in other sets already. And I don't think anyone was waiting for another reprint of Scapegoat, or a reprint of Dark Master Zork...

Conclusion

This whole pack is one big heap of disappointment. We got a few new cards, we got some new alternate art cards. But it could've been a lot better!

And it shows. The secondary market only rates TWO cards with a value over €5. Winged Dragon of Ra Phoenix Mode (around €5-7) and Cards of Demise (currently between €12-15). It's been a while since a booster scored this low on the secondary market value.

So, skip buying this booster. If you care about the two previously mentioned cards, just buy them as single cards. There's no way buying a box of the Millennium pack would ever make you a happy customer.

Speaking about disappointments... next booster set is Shining Victories. Yeah, let's just hope the TCG exclusive cards are good, because this set needs a "motivation boost" of sorts. Drifting Ghost and the Blue Eyes monsters alone won't save it.

Until next time, V out.

8 April 2016

TCG Forbidden & Limited List is out

So I was busy preparing a post about the new OCG set when suddenly...

http://www.yugioh-card.com/en/limited/

TCG Forbidden & Limited List is out today and goes in effect from Monday already. Saying that's fast is quite an understatement.

The April 11, 2016 Forbidden & limited list

Listed are only the changes

Forbidden

  • Performage Damage JugglerAlready hit on the adjusted list
  • Performage PlushfireAlready hit on the adjusted list
  • Tellarknight Ptolemaeus- Already hit on the adjusted list
  • Chicken GamePreviously Unlimited
  • Wavering EyesPreviously Unlimited

Limited

  • Luster Pendulum, the DracoslayerAlready hit on the adjusted list
  • Performapal MonkeyboardAlready hit on the adjusted list
  • Performapal Skullcrobat JokerAlready hit on the adjusted list
  • Wisdom-Eye MagicianPreviously Unlimited
  • Elder Entity NordenPreviously Unlimited
  • Thousand-Eyes RestrictPreviously Forbidden
  • Ignister Prominence, The Blasting DracoslayerPreviously Unlimited
  • Draco Face-OffPreviously Unlimited
  • Reasoning Previously Unlimited
  • Upstart GoblinPreviously Unlimited

Semi-Limited

  • Debris DragonPreviously Limited
  • Allure of DarknessPreviously Limited
  • Emergency TeleportPreviously Unlimited

Unlimited

  • Dark Magician of ChaosPreviously Forbidden
  • Tragoedia Previously Semi-Limited
  • Advanced Ritual ArtPreviously Semi-Limited
  • Crush Card VirusPreviously Limited

First impressions

Well, they confirmed EVERY change on the adjusted list without thinking about it if the hits were right or not.

Next to that, I see cards I kind of predicted (Ignister, Draco Face-off, Reasoning and arguably Wavering Eyes (thought it was going to be limited, but I'm just as happy with it being forbidden tbh).

Also surprised that Konami decided to take (minor) hits towards Kozmo, while officially still supporting them with new cards. This by Semi-limiting E-Teleport (hardly a hit in my eyes) and Reasoning (seen them abuse this). But for some reason I doubt they'll feel very salty about it. Might be that there's going to be another batch of support for them in the next set.

And... did Konami read my article about Monarch/Magical Explosion FTK? Because they made Chicken game forbidden instead of Life Equalizer. And as I said in that post, Monarch FTK deck is dead without Chicken Game.

Other than that, glad with the hits on Norden and Upstart Goblin; glad with the release of Thousand Eyes Restrict and DMoC. But I find it sad that Wisdom-Eye had to go as well. I admit, it's an OP searcher. But as the owner of an Odd-Eyes Magician deck I find it sad that a deck that hasn't topped (much) is being hit INSTEAD OF B.A. or MONARCHS?

 

That's it for now. Kind of figuring out what to do with my Odd-Eyes Magician deck now.

V out.