‘Nichijou’ Complete Anime Series Review

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Anime: Nichijou

Released By: Funimation

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Retail Price: $69.99

The anime Nichijou is a slice of life series based on the manga written and illustrated by Keiichi Arawe, with over 1o years of publication to prove it’s successes. The anime itself was developed into a 26 episode series in 2011 – now released in its entirety by Funimation (who has a knack for a variety of anime series.) Nichijou follows the lives of several individuals from the town of Tokisadame, but mostly following three girls (Yūko Aioi, Mio Naganohara and Mai Minakami) with the addition of a robot – yes a robot, named Nano Shinonome with her young creator and a recurring cat that speaks Japanese. The anime obviously doesn’t take aim at becoming a serious story (mostly) embracing the lighter side of anime.

There is nothing normal about the premise or setting of the anime, despite its slice of life path – as most episodes seem to have a random inclusion as a one off tale to make storytelling a little more simplified. It can be taken in as a pro and con to the series, portraying some episodes with charm and humor that could be considered peculiarly entertaining. The con aspect would be that not every chapter of Nichijou is up to par with the others, missing complete consistency – but still giving viewers plenty of fun along the way. If you had to decide on whether it was more fulfilling or subpar, Nichijou would have an edge of the fun factor by providing at least one acceptable moment per episode.

From the character perspective in observance of the anime series, Nano Shinonome (the robot/android girl) was shown the most time in Nichijou with initially fitting the oddest role – but being included in some more thought provoking moments in the series. At around the midway point, she begins to show a greater concern for the people around her discovering the truth about her origin. Even in a slice of life/comedy such as this series, there are those nice attributes to give viewers that might be looking for something deeper a product to enjoy. She might not always be the most memorable, but the anime obviously catered to the robot for her unique existence.

With the series falling into the scattered category that has a lot going on, it will be hit and miss for what ones you begin to feel attached to. In the beginning, I couldn’t quite find that connection to any of them, but the lengthy run of the anime makes sense as they take time to feel for. Mio for example, begins to show a temper that with time grew to be one of my favorite additions to Nichijou for her bursts of anger unlike most of the others. (however moments like a random match of rock, paper, scissors does give you a first chance to see the comedic nonchalance of these other girls.) The others don’t have as much going for them perhaps, but no character feels frustrating or unneeded – so you can dive into Nichijou without concern of any annoying protagonists lurking about.

Now on to my favorite thing about Nichijou the animated series: the animation itself. Just from a first glance at the Funimation packaging you are assured it’s going to give you beautiful colors and a happier art direction. For the most part, the anime keeps up that look with the exception of a few characters feeling bland on occasion. The setting/surrounding of the characters (from neighborhoods to streets, or even school) is easily one of the most memorable for me already, giving such detail to little things – a brilliant decision for the series aesthetic appeal. I would have liked to see Funimation’s version of an English dub, but the Japanese voice cast was well selected other than the young professor who is the most average design of the characters. Even with that minor setback, the art and coloring is the best quality that Nichijou has to offer. The slice of life anime is available now from Funimation, so check out the comedy series on DVD and Bluray if you’re looking to enjoy a random life comedy.

Overall Score: 7/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– The changing animation in smaller mini-anime moments was a fun way to switch things up.

– It could be suggested that some episodes are worth skipping, but that simple plot made sense given the tone of the anime.

– Funimation’s artsy packaging of the series is reason enough to want to add it to your collection.

 

 

 

‘Overlord’ Complete Anime Series Review

Overlord
Wikia

Anime: Overlord Limited Edition (Complete Series)
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Retail Price: $84.98

Another gaming anime has come along to entice viewers who appreciate the video game similarities paired with an animated series to create a genre of its own. The animation company MADHOUSE Inc. (who was responsible for Parasyte, No Game No Life and Death Parade) now has the series Overlord to claim as a hopeful hit, given some of the previously mentioned series. The premise of Overlord begins with Momonga, a young man who was spending his evening playing his all-time favorite MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) when it was due to shut down. As the time began to dwindle, Momonga wound up dedicating his time to the game until the very last moment — that changed his life from there on out.

The screen on his computer cuts to black before Momonga quickly realizes he has been locked in the game he had been so immersed in, now entering the world of Yggdrasil (just try pronouncing that one). Momonga becomes equipped with the overtly powerful abilities of his character from the game and has a slew of non-playable characters at his disposal and a new mission to conquer the gaming world because what else is a trapped gamer to do with so much spare time? Under the new guise of a being/mage named Ainz Ooal Gown, he comes to a power position that sends the young man out to seek bigger and better adventures feeling like an unstoppable force in Yggdrasil.

From looking at the concept art and reading the premise of Overlord, I was instantly intrigued to see how they balanced opposing gaming and anime elements, but the series itself was so much different than I could have anticipated. The series feels like it tries to have some seriousness to it, but most less than serious characters tend to draw more campy qualities from the 13 episode anime. There are moments that take darker turns, such as a more wicked character who adds complexity to the perceived direction of Overlord. When the mentioned character meets their untimely demise close to the end of the series, it halted the growth but closed the story with a surprising act by another individual. Despite having a non-committal tone that hadn’t developed many thought-provoking pieces of the Overlord puzzle, the gothic atmosphere with some light storytelling and humor makes me think the series will be perfect for those who like that later episodes of One Piece that bounce between various genres.

As far as characters go, there is certainly no shortage in Overlord. There is a massive range of characters they introduce from the world of Yggdrasil to correctly replicate the open world concept of an MMORPG, which can also have some negatives to that choice. By giving us so many different figures almost immediately, it can still have an overwhelming sense of cramming too much into the series’ short run. I understand that it may feel needed because of the novels that existed before the anime, but it can sometimes feel unwelcoming to newcomers of the franchise. By the end of the series, the plot feels to have different ideas of what way to head, with no official decision on a second season — but, if they were to, it would be best suited replicating the source material even more for the sake of the existing fanbase who is the most likely to enjoy Overlord.

Overlord varies in terms of animation quality compared to the other Madhouse-produced animes. The character of Shalltear and Albedo probably took the most unique forms without any jarring attributes, where most anime characters in the series were over-exaggerated. The English voice cast was a saving grace, giving them a subdued sound that I came to enjoy by the time the series reached Episode 13. The animation may not be a revelation and the plot may not be the most complex, but Overlord certainly is a niche series that will resonate with specific audiences who appreciate the overlapping of gaming with anime. Overlord is available now through FUNimation!

Overall Score: 6.5/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– If you are looking specifically for characters that could attract you to the series, Momonga and Clementine have more to offer than some of the others.

– The ending that jump-starts potential for more confused me given how much time they could have embraced before amping up the final arc.

– I was happy for Shalltear’s ending after a possibly grim turn seemed to be coming.

Seraph Of The End: Collector’s Edition (Series Review)

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wraithseeker

Anime: Seraph of the End (Collector’s Edition)

Released By: FUNimation

Release Date: September 27, 2016

Retail Price: $199.98

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Funimation

The popular anime series Seraph of the End has taken the anime realm by storm. After releasing an insanely popular first season through anime distributors and licensing company FUNimation, another installment is finally here. For those of you who aren’t quite aware of the plot and story, here’s a little refresher on the premise from my Season 1 review before we dive into Season 2 and the perks of this uniquely crafted collector’s set for anime devotees. In Seraph of the End, we discover “a world where vampires are prevalent and humans are becoming a rarity to the undead population. Initially, we meet Yuichiro Hyakuya and his best friend Mikaela Hyakuya as children in an orphanage with hopes for a better life outside of what they have come to know. They serve as very different characters with Yuichiro being a vengeful young man with built up aggression towards the vampires and Mikaela seemingly known to have a level head or almost carefree demeanor. Their entire lives change in a matter of moments as an escape with other orphans is intervened by a particularly vicious creature who begins a bloodbath of rather unfortunate circumstances. The series makes a time jump a few years later and you can still feel ripples of the losses from the protagonist Yuichiro that only fuels his distaste for blood thirsty beasts.” This loss? Mikaela is now a vampire — with Yuichiro becoming someone who hunts the ravenous beasts.

These young survivors (a part of Yuichiro’s side) are grouped into rescue teams armed with cursed gear to combat the vampire enemies despite an imbalance of power and numbers. In the first season, we spend a majority of the time learning about Yuichiro and the unit he’s assigned to, only discovering his true power by the end. In the second half, it goes further down the rabbit hole of the bizarre world — adding a new team to the mix. Now that the task force is faced with deadlier opponents and a new faction to collaborate with, the series evolves right before our eyes. Now that Yuichiro and Mikaela know of each other’s existence, the stakes are also increased as the two undergo a mission that involves figuring out who they are as individuals and what that could mean for them together.

The action elements of Seraph of the End went back and forth during Season 1, sometimes feeling like it was a major aspect to the series progression and other moments feeling like it wasn’t treated as important to the characters. In the second season, action scenes were more elaborate after a few quiet episodes. The battles began to make me feel the intensity of Seraph, with the balance of team members trying to discover their role in the group. One thing that makes the action in Seraph as enjoyable as it is is the simplistic fact that there is character development that trumps it, and, when the series does cut to action, it’s because things are getting more serious, and you feel the anxiety building up for whatever character you may become attached to. One clash that involved a vampire losing a limb was possibly one of the best standout action moments of the series for making it crucial to their growth and memorable for a drawn-out battle to describe the series’ energy.

As I mentioned earlier, the relationship between Yuichiro and Mikaela is one to be remembered by anime aficionados. In the beginning, we only saw the pair long for the companionship of the other, with nods to a backstory that implied there was a distinct connection that could be more than a friendship. As they came back into each other’s lives, a clear mission was apparent that they hoped to reunite once more even if they are on opposite sides. It takes a page from Shakespeare with a traditional Romeo and Juliet dynamic (but surprisingly enough between two men), and the two star-crossed “friends” are provided with multiple scenes suggesting more are the focal point of a supernatural action series. I want to credit Seraph of the End for being forward-thinking enough to develop a LGBT relationship without addressing it for fan-service sake. Sure, they didn’t confirm a full-fledged love or anything of that nature, but I can appreciate the attempt to use the two as a buffer for future anime to prove any genre series can have gay or straight characters that aren’t cliche.

Aside from using character development, action and evolved perspectives, Seraph of the End has striking animation from beginning to end. The cursed gear, humans and environmental settings showcase the series’ best work — with the depiction of vampires being the only slightly weaker link in my opinion. The English voice cast brought phenomenal work, keeping translations relatively close to their meaning and presenting the anime in its intended form. Seraph of the End is certainly a series that successfully made itself a well-rounded anime that others can use as a model for achieving greatness in the medium. In terms of packaging, Seraph of the End (Collector’s Edition) bundles the first and second season in a gorgeous gothic display box that resembles a large book with dark green accents and a black base. The inside includes an elaborate art book with a special look inside the exclusive set, special art cards, and plenty of behind the scenes features for the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. Overall, Seraph of the End is one of my favorite animes in recent years, and this exclusive special collector’s set is worth the purchase for art, animation, quality and the most important: enjoyment! Make sure to check out Seraph of the End, available now from FUNimation.

Overall Score: 9/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– I’m still in awe of the beauty radiating from this exclusive set. FUNimation clearly cares about their strong titles.
– The ending for Mikaela and Yuichiro was unexpected but one of the best ways to conclude a series with range.
– I would love for them to bring Seraph of the End back for a third season, but the ending worked so well I would understand leaving it on a high note.