The Anime Pulse #11: Initial Spring Anime Thoughts

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of The Anime Pulse! I decided to take a little break from reviewing shows to doing a column about… well… reviewing shows!

No.. not whole shows mind you… I’ve had a chance to sit down and watching some of the new shows happening this season and I wanted to give out some initial thoughts as well as gush over some of the anime music I’ve been listening to recently because I’ve listened to some pretty good stuff. Plus I do have another review coming up, but it’s something completely different that I’m going to clue you guys in on… but all of that will be at the end of the column… for now, let’s talk initial thoughts on the season!

Arslan Senki

Arslan-Senki-Screen-720x403
Okay.. I’m just jumping right into it with this one. This is going to be a contender for 2015 Anime of the Year and I’m saying this only after watching the first three episodes. First off… the characters were designed by Hiromu Arakawa… the artist behind Fullmetal Alchemist. That alone had me hyped, but then I saw the story begin to unfold, I saw the battle scenes, I saw the intrigue.. and it’s all within a setting that I love to death! It’s basically a recipe for awesomeness!

So enough vagueness… what is Arslan Senki about? It’s about Prince Arslan and his journey to restore the kingdom of Pars after their seemingly unstoppable army were defeated by the Lusitanians. Arslan himself is an interesting character. He’s very timid, but in a different way. A lot of main characters these days are not believable because they always seem weak and tell the story of overcoming adversity. That weakness is due to them, for the lack of a better term, being scared… like all the time. Afraid to do this… afraid to do that… Arslan isn’t like that… well.. most of the time. He can swing a sword so he doesn’t really have that kind of fear in him, but he’s more or less like an innocent child. He’s curious about the outside world and its inhabitants. He’s been sheltered his entire life so he only knows what he’s lived through and experienced first hand. He wants to see other’s opinions on things that are not of his kingdom so he can become a wise king should his day come where he takes the throne.

He’s trying to see the world with his own eyes and that’s the interesting part. It’s just different enough to where it stands out. Also… Daryun… easily my favorite character so far. That guy is a legit badass. He’s got chivalry written all over him, his heart is for the kingdom at all times, he is a sworn protector to Arslan, and one hell of a fighter. Daryun embodies everything an honorable knight should be and he has just this caring, yet bad ass attitude about him. So far, he is a very well-rounded character. He better not die… I may shed man tears or curse up a storm if he does. Never read the source material for this so, please… don’t send me any spoilers!

If you’re into medieval times, large Dynasty Warriors-type battles, and the story of an young prince filled with innocence overcoming adversity to retake his kingdom, then this anime is a must-see. It has been given 25 episodes to tell its story and that makes me very happy. It hasn’t disappointed yet so let’s hope it continues to drive it home week after week!

Plastic Memories

Plastic Memories
All aboard! We’re going on a Feel Trip!

Okay, this has Clannad written all over it without it being Clannad. It has relatable characters, situational comedy and then manic depression all rolled into each episode thus far. Pretty much the formula Clannad took, with one big difference.. you already know that the main character is going to die. They don’t hide that fact or try to surprise you with it. They hint at it in the first episode and confirm it in the second. It’s pretty easy to tell… so basically, they’re setting up the big moment  for when it’s time to say goodbye to Isla.

So this anime centers around a boy named Tsukasa. He joins a company called SAI whose job it is to go to people’s homes and retrieve these very human-like androids called Giftias, whose time is about to expire. Apparently, their programming begins to fail on them and they want to retrieve them before that happens. When they are retrieved, their memories are completely erased and they are sent back to SAI in order to be refurbished. While it seems like standard operating procedure, the way it’s presented and portrayed makes it seem like you’re losing a loved one.

The Giftias are so human-like, that the actual humans that they live with grow attached to them. In one episode, an elderly woman does everything in her power to stop them from taking her Giftia away. It just happens to be a little girl android, around eight or nine years old. Even though her programming lifespan is about to expire, to the old woman, she is the only family that she has left in the world and taking her away would be the same as taking away the only thing she has left to live for. It’s kind of a sad tale, to be honest.

Tsukasa ends up getting paired up with Isla, whom is someone he bumped into in an elevator at the mall. He was shocked to learn that Isla was a Giftia. For the SAI corporation, one Giftia and one human are paired together to form a team. The Giftia will do the retrievals while the human supervises the entire process. Isla is a bit strange. Around the office, she seems like a servant more than a worker, but at home, she just sits there in silence. Perhaps it’s because she’s aware of her remaining time and doesn’t want to be a bother to anyone, or perhaps it’s something else.

It’s a really good story so far for the three episodes I’ve seen. I don’t really like the fact that they’ve stated the obvious, but when the obvious is just that… REALLY obvious, it’s probably best to just say it and get it out of the way. That way when we reach the end of the series, we don’t have to shout “PREDICTABLE” at the top of our lungs because we all saw it coming. Who knows? Maybe there’ s a way to save Isla? Time will tell.

And aside from watching Fairy Tail, Assassination Classroom, World Trigger, and patiently waiting for Naruto Shippuuden to come out of filler, that’s all I’m watching!

But wait! In my last column, didn’t I say I was watching more shows like Triage X and Kekkai Sensen?

You wouldn’t be wrong! So that means, something happened to cause me to not list those shows here! First off… Kekkai Sensen isn’t particularly bad… it’s just not what I was expecting it to be. I thought it would be more interesting, but after watching two episodes, I just couldn’t get into the show at all. It wasn’t doing anything to hook me so I decided not to watch it.

Then there is Triage X. I had downloaded the first three episodes and I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. I wanted to check it out originally, but after seeing Highschool of the Dead, I pretty much knew what to expect. I actually opened up the first episode and the first sixty seconds were filled with nothing but some girl’s mammoth-sized mammries. I pretty much pulled a Sheldon Cooper when he sat on his couch watching a horror movie on his phone after his apartment was robbed. I simply said “Yep,” turned it off, and walked away. I just wasn’t in the mood to watch a show like that so I ended up dropping it.

triagex

So I mentioned at the top of the column that I wanted to talk music a little bit. I’ve had the chance to check out the Tokyo Ghoul OST and it is pretty damn good. There are some amazing songs on there that really give off an epic atmosphere. Right off the bat on Disc 1, they have a pretty long track called “TG Symphonie.” It contains a lot of the background themes you hear throughout the series. Disc 2 is more or less focused on the Tokyo Ghoul √A portion of the series with amazing songs like AOGIRI, AJITO (Arima’s Theme… very fitting because you just can’t nerf God), AMON, and many others. Also, yes.. the insert song from Episode 1, “On My Own” is on the second disc… it’s the final track meaning they saved the best for last!

I’m not really a fan of the second half of “On My Own” as I think it loses the feel of the song and kills the emotion that it brings to it in the first half. It definitely switches tones and I think it actually hurts the song. Not to mention that the lyrics for the second half just seem generic. Add in the fact that all they do is repeat them to fill time and it just doesn’t work for me. Oh well.

All in all, it is a very solid OST. Even if you haven’t seen the show, if you’re into orchestral rock, some with a military feel to it, then I highly suggest that you pick up this album. It does have its share of weird tracks that sound like a bunch of random noise, no doubt for that dark ambiance throughout the show, but still, there’s enough good stuff in there to outweigh those tracks!

Also, as of this writing, the ending theme to Arslan Senki came out. “Lapis Lazuli” by Aoi Eir is the song and my God is it wonderful. I’ve always been a fan of Eir-san’s work as she’s produced a ton of music for various animes already. Her last work was “IGNITE” which served as the first opening to Sword Art Online II. She also did the second opening for the first season of Sword Art Online entitled “Innocence” as well as “Memoria,” the first ending to Fate/Zero and “Sirius” which was the ending to Kill la Kill.

Her latest song stacks up very well alongside her previous works and has a certain vibe to it that really fits well with Arslan Senki. One thing that I like is that it sounds a bit different than her previous works. It’s still upbeat, but in a different way. Her voice is a bit more bold and commanding during the chorus and really shows her range of styles. I’m sure you can find it on YouTube if you search and set the parameters to “Today” or “This Week.” So check it out and If you like it, head to www.cdjapan.co.jp and pick up a copy to support the artist!

The last thing I found while paroozing through YouTube was a Live rendition of “Unravel” by TK, which served as the first opening to Tokyo Ghoul. That song was epic in and of itself, but to hear a “studio-ized” recording of a live performance and hear the differences in the instruments, the tone in TK’s voice.. it was just… beyond words in epicness! I’ve heard this song in its original version, covered by some of the best on YouTube, piano renditions, drum covers and while all of them are epic, TK himself outdoes them all with this special version. The song was getting a bit stale for me but this version made me fall in love with it all over again and you should go out of your way to check it out! I’m still waiting for that hauntingly beautiful acoustic rendition they played at the end of the final episode of Tokyo Ghoul √A. I just can’t get enough of this song!

I do have LiSA’s newest album, “Launcher,” but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet. I will, hopefully, get around to that soon so I can drop some thoughts on it in the next column.

Until then, I’ve got some more reviews coming up. Loaded up in my queue is Shinmai Maou no Testament which wrapped up last season as well as Tokyo Ghoul √A. I also have Master Keaton Vol. 2, courtesy of VIZ Media that I still need to read and review and as for the new type of review I want to do, I have the Kirito and Sinon Figma action figures! They came in the mail a little bit ago and they look amazing! I want to sit down and actually do a review of those, complete with photos. That’s another project I look to be working on!

Before I head on out of here, I’m going to introduce something new to my column to help encourage a little bit of interaction with my readers! I’m going to pose a question at the end of each column and then post your responses in the following column, but unlike most columnists who put up a question and just let the readers answer it, I’m going to go one step above and beyond and answer it along with you! So my answer will be in next week’s column, hopefully, along with all of yours!

We will start with a simple kick off question:

Q: What made you get into anime?

I look forward to your responses!

To answer the question, send feedback, make general comments, or just to say hey, send a message to joshpiedra@theouterhaven.net! You can also DM me on Twitter if you wish, but first you’d have to follow me! You can do so @PulseIn.

Until next time,

Ja ne!!

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.