Sunday, October 20, 2013

Free! - Review

Studio: Kyoto Animation
Year: 2013
Genre: Sports, Drama

Synopsis: [ANN]
"Four boys named Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa and Rin all participated in a swimming tournament shortly before graduating elementary school and later parted ways. Years later, they reunite when Rin challenges Haruka to a race and wins. Not wanting to be defeated so easily, Haruka gathers Makoto and Nagisa and a new recruit named Rei to form the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club."

This was not originally part of my review plan, but because I got several requests so here I am, humbly giving you my thoughts on KyoAni's latest effort. 

Hmm..I'm not sure where to start, all I can say is this is a niche anime, either you hold a rave party celebrating the chiseled abs or you could care less about it, and I place myself closer to the latter category. Sure, it was amusing to see KyoAni going in a completely opposite direction and actually trying to please the female population (at least a portion of it), but if you are not someone into fanservices, regardless of which kind, it probably doesn't have much in store for you. Mind you, KyoAni is extremely coy with the way they presented this, nothing is explicit and everything is implicit but no less obvious. You could try your hardest arguing this is a story purely about beautiful friendship between men, but don't expect too many people to believe you. Fan girls have a mind that could twist all male relationships into something romantic in nature, so with Free!, where the bromance vibe is borderline shonen-ai, forums are bound to overran with "pairing" discussions. I remember there is one scene where Rin pushes Haruka against fence, all I can think of at the time was damn, so much sexual tension. Yeah, you totally see where they are going with it. 

As for the story, it's about a guy who has too much pride to just admit his love for his swim buddies. No, really, I think I summed it up pretty well. The angst comes across as more comical than angsty, because you know exactly what's going to happen eventually – Rin gets his mind out of the gutter and come to terms with his feelings. It helps that Haruka and Rin have opposing personalities, Haruka being the reserved eccentric, and Rin the hotheaded tsundere. It seems that in the realm of anime, the theory of "opposite attracts" never fails. If you think about it, each of the five guys in Free! embodies a well-known stereotype, aside from the two I already mentioned, there is also the shouta, the glasses, and the gentleman. The creators clearly didn't have to think hard on it. I really don't have too much to comment on the plot, it couldn't get more conventional even if tried. 

Yes, then there is the collection of sculpted abs and utterly ridiculous looking swimsuits, which are more memorable than anything else in this show. Though I suppose that's the point. Why haven't anyone thought of using swimming as a plot device for fanservices?  It's pretty damn convenient if you ask me, it's really one of the only situations where the characters can constantly strip down to bare chest for a good reason. Smart move, KyoAni. The animation quality is what we have always seen from the studio - clean, crisp, and detailed, but nothing too special considering their designs are similar across the board.

All in all, it's been an enjoyable ride, nothing more and nothing less. If you like fanservices and bishonen in ridiculous swimsuits, Free! is the thing for you, just don't expect a deep plot that ponders on sophisticated philosophical questions, you won't find any here.

Overall Score: 7/10

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shingeki no Kyojin - Review

Studio: Wit/Production I.G
Year: 2013
Genre: Action, Military, Post-Apocalyptic 

Synopsis: [ANN]
"Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by giants. Giants are typically several stories tall, seem to have no intelligence, devour human beings and, worst of all, seem to do it for the pleasure rather than as a food source. A small percentage of humanity survived by enclosing themselves in a city protected by extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of giants. Flash forward to the present and the city has not seen a giant in over 100 years. Teenage boy Eren and his foster sister Mikasa witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a super giant that appears out of thin air. As the smaller giants flood the city, the two kids watch in horror as their mother is eaten alive. Eren vows that he will murder every single giant and take revenge for all of mankind."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God) - Review

Year: 2013
Studio: Madhouse
Genre: Mystery, Supernatural

Synopsis: [MAL]
God abandoned the world on Sunday. As a result, nobody in the world can die or reproduce. A little girl, Ai, is the gravekeeper for a village. She has prepared 47 graves for the eventual deaths of every member of the village. Later, a man who identifies himself as "Hampnie Hambart, the 'Man-eating Toy'," which is coincidentally the name that Ai's mother left behind as the name of her father, arrives in the village and slaughters everybody. Just what is going on?"