Take Dake Dake!: Takedakei Gentei (Bushido Academy)

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Bushido Academy is a unique academy that gathers those that have the DNA of Samurai, and has them go to war with each other with tremendous power and wealth as the ultimate prize. One such boy, Tetsuro Takeda, was supposed to go to a farming school, but due to his Takeda DNA, ends up being forced into Bushido Academy instead. He happens upon a difficult situation immediately, but is rescued thanks to Rieko Sanada, a girl who had been training to be Takeda’s vassal since she was three. While he thinks about leaving the school, as he feels he definitely doesn’t belong, he can’t abandon Rieko, and hence fights with the goal of protecting her. Thankfully, while he may not be much of a samurai, his DNA is very in tune with his ancestor, and hence he has incredibly high ‘fate’, a passive ability that just makes the flow of battle go in his favor, at times to ridiculous degrees. Hence, Takeda and Rieko continue on their path in this warring states school.

***

The premise relating to DNA and history was interesting, and kind of reminded me of Majikoi S. I also strongly like the concept of luck as a power because it allows them to go crazy with essentially using plot armor in ridiculous ways, which I find incredibly amusing, and they used to pretty good effect here. There was some good comedy and some decent action scenes as well. However, overall the action was pretty lacking, and ultimately the complete lack of development in terms of not just the overarching plot but in terms of relationships beyond them being established was a major bummer, especially as it just ended without any real sort of ending. Still, the art was good and it was enjoyable enough while it lasted.

A good start with a solid premise, good characters, and nice art, that forces an end way too quickly.

7/10

I need to stop reading axed manga.

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Coμ

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Akihito calls himself a feminist, though basically that just means that he’s kind but only to girls. He tries to remain distant from the people around him, but fully acknowledges that he can’t live completely alone. He was born in Takakura City, but moved away when he was only a child, only to come back after a series of traumatic events, and hence lives alone in an apartment there. Well, almost alone. Upon arriving in Takakura, due to mere chance he discovered his childhood friend. This child good friend, Kagome, is often called the Black Witch due to the fact that she is capable to the point of her abilities appear like magic, can be both incredibly violent and selfish, and has a personality centered around scorn and sarcasm. She quickly made herself at home at his apartment and began calling herself his ‘partner’ and ‘loving childhood friend, even though she spend much of their time together tormenting him.

However, Takakura city is strange. It is an epicenter for a number of crazy rumors floating around the internet. Akihito discounted most of these rumors as ridiculous, up until the point where he saw ‘Girl A’. Girl A is a strangely clothed girl seen and posted on by a number of people on message boards, who most people can’t see but to those who can see her appears constantly, never doing anything but singing in the distance. Eventually, despite how utterly bizarre this is, because it ultimately has no effect on him, Akihito just continues on with his life, ignoring her. However, one day, he felt her call to him and was pushed to answer it,  going with Kagome to a rooftop with 4 other people on it. Out of nowhere, a monster appears and tries to attack them. And even more out of nowhere, another monster, an evil looking black dragon appears and protects them, which Akihito and the four others can clearly tell is linked with and controlled by them. Working together, they manage to defeat the other monster.

However, this is only the beginning. They soon learn that they are now linked to the Black Dragon, their avatar, which they name Babylon. They are all capable of summoning it, though each one that assists in controlling makes it more powerful. Furthermore, while it does offer power, if Babylon is killed, no matter where or when, all five of them will die. Furthermore, they are certainly not the only Comyu, as groups of  five coordinators come to be called. Rather, there are a multitude of factions such as the Round-Table, Caesars Legion, and the Anti-Rounds fighting for control, as well as individual groups hunting down avatars for sport, thus making the Comyunet quite dangerous.

Hence, Akihito is forced to have to get close to and rely on the rest of his Comyu. The other members include: Benio, a slim girl that believes in justice to the point of being nonsensical; Mayuki, a very young chibi glasses wearing Otaku with terrible fashion sense and biting personality that doesn’t fit her age; Haru, a very nonchalant and ero minded maid that can very easily ignore things she doesn’t want to deal with; Izawa, a young and effeminate looking but very hot headed and conflict prone gang boss. And of course, while Kagome may not be in the Comyu and appear to be just a normal human, even when dealing with events involving monsters, she’s still more than capable of playing a major part. These six together, along with those they meet along the way, without any guidance from the girl that gave them their powers, continue life in Takakura City, for better or worse tied together.

***

This is a primarily a battle VN with an air of mystery and some slice and life. The way this VN is structured is that there is a mostly set order you’re supposed to go in in terms of routes. You don’t unlock routes 2-4 until you complete 1, and you don’t unlock 5, the true route until you’ve completed 2-4. Before each main portion of each route, there is a prologue chapter. This chapter is mostly the same across each route, and it establishes the foundations of the world and introduces all the main characters, but in every route except the first route there are a number of choices you can make that are followed by small scenes which control the route you end up going down after the prologue, with the exception of the fourth route that branches off the third route. In addition to these choices, there are also a couple other choices you can make that lead to bad endings, but these actually lead to a pretty funny scene where you are explained to why the choice you made was wrong, and are hence worth getting. The routes in order:

The first route, and the route that you are automatically thrown into, is Benio’s route. This route while serving as a good starting point and mostly being quite simple, all around felt a bit unsatisfying. It had good potential with the central theme of the meaning of justice and a plot that was moving in an interesting direction as it approached the ending, but the conclusion felt half done, with a battle and conflict that just sort of ends rather than actually being dealt with and the romance felt like it needed far more development as well. To be more clear, it didn’t really feel like the story was over yet at all, it just ended, which I suppose may be common for first routes in novels with playing orders, but it still felt off and I liked Benio’s character so I think she deserved better.

The second route is the Hisoka Route. In this route the common route provides more info from Jack the Ripper’s Comyu’s POV and provides an intro to the goddess of Death. However, the actual entrance to her route was completely random, with there being very little build up. The relationship once it gets going is pretty amazing, but it feels somewhat rushed going into it. The plot was incredibly interesting though, providing a lot more background about the world and making it seem much darker. This route has two endings, normal and good, wherein the choices that lead to the good ending can only be chosen after completing the normal route. The normal ending was very intense but also very sad. The good ending was less sad, but also less intense, and it felt similar to Benio’s route in that it sort of just dropped off at the end rather than there being much of a finale. Still, it builds very well of Benio’s route in providing more foundation for the world, but as a route in and of itself, it felt lacking, just like Benio’s route.

Next is Mayuki’s Route, who it should be noted is definitely 18. It clearly says so. This route is very different from the other routes, in that the focus wasn’t as much on Comyus and avatars and such, but instead based around Akihito slowly becoming an Otaku due to the influence of Mayuki. This is centered around a message board based crowd developed game called Acceptor, which is pretty cool in its own right. This route takes a mechanic the previous routes had a little of, having online threads and chat conversations appear within the VN, to a new level and uses it to great effect which is incredibly awesome. The connector stuff, when it appears is good, but it all around very much does take a backseat to games, idols, etc. which is fine because it leads to the best story so far in terms of plot, character development, romance, etc. and comes to a solid and great ending, thus making it a major step up over the routes before it, and making it awesome in its own right even if it feels very distinct from the core subject matter.

The next route after that is Ayaya’s route, which branches off of Mayuki’s route, and is closer to that than the other routes. She is so cheerful it is infectious and her dedication is admirable as well, especially towards the end. It was a really really happy and cute route. The route is more of a side route than anything, having almost nothing related to Comyus or much conflict at all, and also being incredibly short. But it was amusing, so it was good for what it was.

The next route, the final route, is Kagome’s Route. This route returns back to being focused on the story that was developing in Benio’s and Hisoka’s routes, but goes much much further, and also goes to a whole other level of intense. In a way, it takes everything from the previous routes, including things the reader may have thought weren’t all that important, and ties them all together. It finally gets to the core of the story, to the point everything before in the other routes felt like it was only scratching the surface. The romance is by far the best, and even though I have a fondness for Mayuki’s route, this definitely took it to a whole other level with the events surrounding it being far more intense and also tremendously good chemistry between Akihito and Kagome. The ending was truly fantastic, tying up everything and just feeling like the perfect place to end at. Kagome’s character truly shined, and how much she was developed in contrast to how she was in previous routes stood out and was incredibly interesting. The overarching messages about moving forward, regardless of the sins, hatred, etc. that were touched upon in other routes are taken to completion, leaving a very strong impact. The battles are far more intense, and the combat system also gets much further developed. This is also the route with the best CG and where the soundtrack really shows how great it can be. It is just all around the most amazing route, very much being worthy of it’s title as true route, and gives justification to the ordered structure of the novel, as even if all the other routes exist only to lead up to this, its worth it.

Now in regards to general comments, the writing on this can get somewhat annoying sometimes. Regarding some topics, Akihito narrates things in a way that there is a lot of  fluff and repetition, which makes things feel slow sometimes. The action is solid, especially in Kagome’s route. The comedy is also solid, though that’s better in Mayuki’s route. The art is pretty good, though there was a very distinct feeling of too many characters completely lacking sprites, which felt odd. The music is incredibly good, including the OP/ED/Inserts, and soundtrack.

A VN that has one fantastic and very humorous route that’s quite a bit different from the others, and another route that most of the rest of the novel builds to that is intense, interesting, and impactful, that across both results in a tremendously satisfying VN.

9/10

Kagome> Mayuki > Ayaya > Hisoka >Benio

Also, rendering logos is hard, and I couldn’t find anything good to render the logo for this off of. If anyone can point me towards the render for the logo or just the logo on a single color background that would be much appreciated.

Boku ni Koisuru Mechanical (Mechanical Love)

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Maita is a pretty unpopular college student. One day he’s recruiting new students for the club he’s a part of, the movie club, when due to various circumstances he ends up getting attacked by the football team. However, a girl sees him and asks him if he’s OK, beginning a wonderful relationship between them. Or so it seems. When he gets home, he finds a strange woman named Integra who tells him that in the future, there is a war between man and machine, with his son leading the fight on the human side due to secret powers locked within his genetics. However, the machine side has sent various ‘anima’ types back in time to not just stop him from being born, but to also seduce him and steal his seed so that they may use his powers instead, and hence that he must be on the lookout for suspicious women. However, Maita being who he is, is quite bad at doing that, and hence Integra and her allies from the future, a professor and a reprogrammed robot Maita calls Sutako, must watch over him instead.

***

I quite liked the premise, plot, and many of the characters in this manga. The art was also decent. It was a blatant parody of Terminator, but that’s fine, as it was quite amusing with a lot of good comedic scenes. Furthermore, there were a number of plot threads that I wanted to see progress and see the ends of, particularly relating to the flashback of high school and the robot girl that lost her memories. However, it all came to a crash in an obviously axed end. The author tried to do some weird thing where he tries to wrap up everything super quickly, though it didn’t really work. Furthermore, the ending itself was seriously lacking in any impact as well being completely random, as is often the case with axed endings unfortunately.

A somewhat interesting start but an obviously forced ending.

7/10

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

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Reacher continues to wander America, solving random crimes and helping random people. He has assistance from afar from Major Turner, a military police woman based in DC. As thanks, he heads there to treat her to dinner, but finds that she’s been arrested on charges of espionage. Finding that ridiculous, he digs into the matter and finds a conspiracy involving her and her investigation into a company called Parasource, and ultimately chooses to go up against the law to investigate. However, on returning to DC, he also discovers that apparently, there was a woman who claimed that he she had a daughter with him many years ago, who was now fifteen, and she ultimately gets involved in the mess as well when his adversaries search for a way to get to Reacher.

***

Never Go Back is a very forgettable movie. Its very similar to the first film, but even more low key. It hits a lot of action notes, has a back story related plot with character development, and also a vast conspiracy. However, the action feels quite forced at times, the melodrama was awful, especially everything involving the daughter, and just overall the new characters are not as good. Reacher is a lot more interesting as a lone wolf and this just sort of made a mess of that. This time the film’s conspiracy and mystery were actually interesting and a lot better than it’s predecessor’s, having a good payoff at the end. It’s not enough to salvage the film however.

A pretty dull action flick.

6/10

Himouto! Umaru-chan

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Umaru is seen by many as the perfect high school girl: beautiful, kind, excellent in academics and athletics, exceptional in every way. However, that’s mostly just an image she’s putting on. When she gets home, she turns into a completely lazy slacker that just watches anime, plays games, and lazes around, completely taking advantage of her older brother, Taihei, who she lives with in order to not have to actually do anything. Her brother who is incredibly diligent and hard working, while putting in effort into trying to set her straight, isn’t very good at it. This set up leads to an interesting web of relationships developing between both of them and number of other characters, including Umaru’s friends, Ebina a transfer student from the country, Kirie a girl that is incredibly socially awkward, and Sylphinford a princess like girl that views Umaru as a rival, as well as Taihei’s coworkers, leading to a number of interesting stories.

***

Himouto is an anime that doesn’t particularly have any sort of overarching plot. Rather, each episode is made up of a number of small segments, sometimes connected, sometimes not, that are amusing on their own. What makes these so amusing is that the cast of characters involved is fantastic and the various relationships they have with each other is perfect for leading to a lot of interesting but hilarious situations. Umaru and her friends, including Ebina, Sylphie, and Kirie are all pretty unique characters that are adorable in their own ways and mesh together really well. Taihei serves as an incredibly strong contrast to Umaru, and the relationships his coworkers Bonbo and Alex have with their sisters serves as a very good contrast to the relationship between Umaru and Taihei. Furthermore, though she doesn’t get much time Kanau is really interesting as well. All in all, this sets the stage for a great number of amusing skits that are pretty varied, including skits ranging from those that are actually a bit heartwarming to those that are just blatant nonsensical parodies, which is enough so that there’s good pacing. However, because its like this, it should be noted that while we do learn more about the characters as the show goes on, there isn’t really that much change or development in any of the characters or their relationships, which at points felt kind of like a bummer.

The OP is incredibly fitting and designed solely for this anime. ED and soundtrack were decent. Art style and animation get a bit awkward due to chibi Umaru at points, but overall is decent. Specials were also amusing and very different.

Relaxing and funny anime with an adorable and super interesting cast of characters though not much of a plot.

8/10

Baroque K/night

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Kyouya is a loner that is easily forgotten by everyone around him. However, one day a girl named Baroque confesses to him out of the blue asking him to take part in a virtual reality type game. And furthermore, somehow this leads to him agree to marry her. Hence, the to be married couple do various things with each other, including playing the game. But the game seems to have dark secrets, which are related to how both Baroque and one of her friends in the game, Ruriko, seem to have some preexisting connection to Kyouya as well.

***

While this is called a school battle manga, the actual battle portion is rather weak. There is a game in the background with various systems for powers and such, but they don’t get fleshed out at all. Furthermore, there are few actual battles, and the ones that are there aren’t all that exciting. Furthermore, while the overarching plot does have potential I felt, it doesn’t really go anywhere and just sort of wraps up at the end without all that much having happened yet. All in all, it every much feels like a quick and dirty light novel to manga adaption. Now, that’s not to say the manga doesn’t have it good points, because it certainly does. I like the characters, personalities, and their various relationships, particularly both the deredere and yandere and how they behave relative to the memory loss that occurred, though the yandere aspect is barely touched upon. This makes the rom-com aspects quite good, and there are quite a few funny moments throughout. I also liked the art and designs, especially character expressions.

What seems to be a good concept hampered by a bad adaption.

7/10

Jack Reacher

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After a sniper kills what seems like five random people, James Barr is taken in as the primary suspect. It seems like an open and shut case. The man is a retired sniper from the US military. The people were killed with a type of bullets found in his home. And his finger print is on a quarter found at the scene. He refuses to sign a confession however, and instead asks for Jack Reacher.

Jack Reacher is a ghost. He used to be in the military police, but after he left he became a drifter, with no IDs, licences, official home, or anything that could be used to trace him. They have no idea how to reach him, but he appears immediately. His original intent is to make sure that Barr gets whats coming to him, because they have history, and Reacher promised that if anything like this happened he would make sure that Barr was buried. But Barr’s attorney, Helen Rodin, convinces him to help investigate the case, and they find that the shooting isn’t like what it seems at first glance, and that someone of Reacher’s talents would be necessary in uncovering and dealing with the real perpetrators.

***

Jack Reacher was an incredibly generic action flick. The action was pretty solid, though nothing popping out as exceptional, being action of the mundane variety for the most part with no major surprises or super stunts. Yet it seems that the action is what the movie was intended to rely upon, as the story itself was pretty weak, with the mystery being incredibly shallow, and the entire chase surrounding it feeling random and pointless. Reacher had pretty decent character development, but everyone else pretty much felt hollow, especially when it came to the villains, who the film seemed to try to portray as deep, but in terms of motivations they just felt incredibly awkward and haphazard. There was nothing exceptionally noticeable about the cinematography or soundtrack.

An incredibly generic by the books action film for better or worse.

7/10