With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we at Crunchyroll are thankful for all of our members for their support! As a special thanks, we have mini edition of the CR Newsletter with reviews for two of our current Simulcast titles! Also, stay tuned to Shinji's Deal of the Day for this year's Black Friday Special to save big! Remember to check out www.crunchyroll.com/deals on Black Friday!
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GIRLS und PANZER is, in a word, cute. There’s definitely no getting around that fact, with more cute girls than you can shake a tank at.
And tanks are what the series is all about. I’ll admit; at first, I was highly skeptical about this show, which is about a group of high school girls living in a world where the art of operating tanks is considered an important part of a young woman’s upbringing. While it does have many of the typical moe characteristics—cute girls everywhere, not a guy in sight, -- the tank battles are what make this series stand out from the crowd. As absurd as the concept seems, par t of the reason it works is because the show acts like it’s totally normal for girls to drive tanks and shoot at each other with live artillery, just like it’s any other type of extracurricular activity.
Another strong point is the cast of characters featured in GIRLS und PANZER. While there is an impressive roster of twenty-plus girls, the five main characters get along with such ease and warmth that you wish they were your friends in high school. Each of the five girls has distinct personalities, and seeing them interact with one another is one of the highlights of the show. Saori Takebe, the team’s radio operator, is one of my favorite characters so far just because she’s so bubbly and makes some of the funniest comments throughout the show.
The tank battles themselves play out in matches, as if tankery was a sport. It’s really quite fascinating to see all the girls operate tanks and shout instructions at each other on the field, because it gives an insight into just how tanks are driven and operated. It also adds a nice punch of action into an otherwise typical slice-of-life show, and the prospect of becoming the best team adds to the importance of the girls’ growth and skills.
The art direction for the series has an interesting mix of 2D and 3D, with the backgrounds and characters animated in traditional 2D, and the tanks being 3D computer generated graphics. It’s actually quite well done and I’m sure those viewers with more military knowledge than me can point out all of the little details, as the designs are all based off of real tanks. Music-wise, I really love the opening, “DreamRiser”, which is sung by NicoNico vocalist-turned professional singer ChouCho. The ending is the catchy, upbeat “Enter Enter MISSION!” sung by the voices actress for the 5 main girls.
All in all, GIRLS und PANZER is a fun, light-hearted series that just makes you smile for no reason. (I kept finding myself grinning randomly while watching this.) I mean, it has BOTH cute girls AND tanks! What more could you want? Now I find myself wishing they offered tankery back when I was in high school…
The anime scene, as of late, has seen its share of generic titles. In the sea of homogeneity that makes up majority of the anime today, it's not every day we come across a title that is truly and uniquely in a league of its own. This goes most especially for the battle manga genre, which has been dominated by titles like Dragonball Z and Bleach, to name a few. Attempting to go beyond what has already been established is pretty much pushing it as far as limits go, so much so that battle manga stories can only do so much. Is it even possible for any new title to put a dent in the core of an already saturated sea of battle manga anime?
Well, put the zany and circumventing logic of Monogatari series writer NisiOisiN together with the bold artwork and badassery of GAINAX studios and you get something that could get pretty close, as far as making dents goes. In fact, this is coming from a hook to the side altogether, for what was supposedly a typical "Student Council-centric" anime show turned out to be quite the brawler.
Medaka Box Abnormal follows immediately after the events of its first season, pitting the Sandbox Academy Student Council President, Medaka Kurokami, up against the members of the Thirteen Party - a group of student elites assembled for the task of creating super humans by means of the so-called "flask plan". What was originally a story of reforming and guiding wayward students gone astray through a suggestion box in the first season, has been turned inside out into a battle royal frenzy against super human mutants, masked psychopaths, and god-complex-wielding narcissists in the second season. You can practically consider it a different show, altogether, had it not been for the continuity and consistency of its characters and their histories.
It's a dramatic change of pace. So dramatic that it feels quite unreal, especially coming from the likes of NisiOisiN. Shying away from the indirect conflict and word wars that characterize the flow and style of his works in general, Medaka Box Abnormal goes flat out Rambo in delivering the fight to the viewer. And to think we thought they were pushing it come the end of the first season when Medaka entered War God mode. Going way beyond the bounds of sensibility, the second season literally blows up the box that contained the first season, as pretty much anything goes as far as the fights are concerned.
But seriously, a show about hyper powered students with enough strength to take over the whole of Japan battling it out isn't something entirely new. In fact, it wouldn't take much effort to look at it as simply a different permutation out of the many battle manga stories that have already been told. So what is there to be had in this royal rumble of a show that makes things any more meaningful than it already is?
In a word: DEPTH.
As the formula always goes for battle shows, it's a matter of power meters, sword lengths, or sheer speed. Throw in a couple hits against the protagonist for good measure and you get yourself a jolly good fight scene. For Medaka Box Abnormal, however, the fights are seasoned with a touch of unexpected depth - a deeper layer beneath the fighting that blurs the lines between the yin vs. yang we've been accustomed to in fights as we view the story of Medaka's rivals from wholly different perspectives. Instead of simply beating up the enemies lined up for Medaka ala-domino style, her enemies are suddenly no longer her enemies, but characters with their own story and own reasons for fighting. This much is expected of NisiOisiN, given how he throws curve balls the way he does - but to do so in such a manner that blends the violence of fighting with the artistry of prose and character is, quite simply put, astounding. This turns the fight scenes, uncanny as they are, all the more epic as we drink in the awesomeness of the battles that flood the screen.
In addition, the idea of students being placed in a caste-like system of normal, special, and abnormal, introduced early on in the series, brings to light the very means by which society judges individuals. All the while, the characters show traits and idiosyncrasies that beg to question the very point of having such labels in the first place. It comes to the point where the underdog, Zenkichi (Medaka's childhood friend), becomes almost super human in his desire to protect Medaka. Conversely, Medaka the super human becomes just as normal a human when she shows that she, too, can shed tears. It's a beautiful contrast that challenges, at least on a deeper level, not just the social constructs that limit our own personal abilities, but the very limitations we place on ourselves.
In a way, NisiOisiN took the bold move of stepping out of his comfort zone, attempting to write a story for a battle anime in an environment that is already pretty much overflowing with repeated content. Dishing out his trademark twists that lean towards the unexpected, NisiOisiN clearly has not compromised his pen one bit in showing us that even battle shows can have a bit of depth in them. Some may argue that this was previously attempted with past title Katanagatari, but for all intents and purposes, that was a tragedy with action. Medaka Box Abnormal, on the other hand, is a flat out battle story with style.
This may come off as strange, but you can actually watch the show starting with Abnormal - doing away with the first season. The two seasons are that estranged from one another, but what the first season does in fact do is lay the framework for understanding the eccentricity and charisma of Medaka, along with the other members of the student council. But as far as recommendations go, I highly recommend you burn through the first season just as well. Although somewhat cast under the shadow of the overly charged second season, both shows work together like well trained boxing gloves. Each has its own impact, each claiming a hefty blow. Hopefully, it is enough to become a knockout combination worthy of leaving a definitive dent in the scene of battle shows to come.
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Episode 288: Danger: Jinpachi and Kushimaru!
Kakashi races to the scene where the Seven Ninja Swordsmen Kushimaru Kuriarare and Jinpachi Munashi were last sighted. Enraged by the carnage they’ve left behind, Kakashi teams up with Might Guy.
Sword Art Online Episode 19: The Lugru Corridor
Something isn’t right; Recon has sent Leafa a message “I was right. Be careful. S." What does he mean and will Leafa and Kirito have the time to figure it out?
Blast of Tempest Episode 6: The Paradox of the Skull
After discovering that Hakaze might be dead, Mahiro and Yoshino start to question their goal. But before they could ask Hakaze any questions they are attacked, but not by the mages.