Lasting Impressions : Tales of Phantasia (1995)

Tales of Phantasia (1995)

(This review may contain spoilers for the following games. If you have not played the game before, please exercise caution before viewing this post. You have been warned.)

The Tales series has always been one of my favorite RPG franchises, even with the lackluster titles as of late. That’s not to say of the newer titles are bad, but the series recently begun traversing a wildly different path which deviates from what made the series great to begin with. I’m greatly looking forward to playing Tales of Berseria, but in the mean time, let us look at a what started the franchise, a fantasy adventure which travels across centuries, Tales of Phantasia

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Lasting Impressions : Skies of Arcadia (2000)

Skies of Arcadia (2000)
Skies of Arcadia (2000)

(This review may contain spoilers for the following games. If you have not played the game before, please exercise caution before viewing this post. You have been warned.)

I’ve always been a giant SEGA fan, as my youth involved playing many games on the Sega Genesis, Game Gear, and DreamCast. Of course, after the DreamCast I switched to Nintendo console, and today I attempt to relive my gaming life by playing games of all consoles and generations. However, one RPG game that continues to resonate with me is Skies of Arcadia for the DreamCast. I never got the chance to fully beat the game until recently, and upon completion, I feel the game remains under-praised and deserving of a re-release.

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Lasting Impressions : Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007)

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007)
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007)

(This review may contain spoilers for the following series. If you have not seen the series before, please exercise caution before viewing this post. You have been warned.)

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Gaming Impressions : Phoenix Wright Trilogy

Phoenix Wright
Phoenix Wright (2005)

(This review may contain spoilers for the following series. If you have not seen the series before, please exercise caution before viewing this post. You have been warned.)

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Lasting Impressions : Log Horizon (2013)

Log Horizon (2013)
Log Horizon (2013)

(This review may contain spoilers for the following series. If you have not seen the series before, please exercise caution before viewing this post. You have been warned.)

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Lasting Impressions : Hagure Yuusha no Estetica

Hagure Yuusha no Estetica (2012)
Hagure Yuusha no Estetica (2012)

(This review may contain spoilers for the following series. If you have not seen the series before, please exercise caution before viewing this post. You have been warned.)

Oh man, it’s great to actually have time to watch anime again. Of course, it’s only fair to start off with a bang, and begin my new batch of impressions with an awesome, kick-ass show entitled Hagure Yuusha no Estetica. Baring resemblances to Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou and Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls, the show follows a hero who goes by the name of Akatsuki Ousawa as he leaves the world he was summoned to and returns to his home world. While most stories begin with the summoning of a hero to save the world, this story begins with his departure, and upon arriving back in his own world, it becomes apparent that ‘Heroes’ are summoned often, and while many do not return, the few that do are sent to a school called Babel, where they can learn to control their new skills as ‘Heroes’ and adapt to the world with their new found powers.

The Main Characters Ousawa Akatsuki and Ousawa Miu.
The Main Characters Ousawa Akatsuki and Ousawa Miu.

The general idea behind this series piqued my interest early on, and it only helps that there is more behind the story than just the setting. First off, the main character, Akatsuki Ousawa, isn’t just a returning hero. He is unable to use magic, but his overall skill level is tremendous. Second, he brings the Demon King’s daughter with him to his world in guise of his younger sister. From the beginning, Akatsuki already has multiple targets on his back, ranging from the kingdom he saved before the series began, to the Babel Academy Student Council. The main characters in the series then range from the Demon King’s Daughter, named Ousawa Miu, to class clown Chikage Izumi, to Vice-President Haruka Nanase. Together the cast encounter wacky hi-jinks in their daily abnormal high school lives.

Clearly the best girl of the series
Clearly the best girl of the series

Unfortunately, this series lacks in character development and characterization. While every character contains some element to personalize them, they don’t really stand out among the crowd and honestly, don’t evolve and develop as the series progresses. However, it can easily be stated that this series wasn’t created to cater to lore fanatics and well-balanced fights. Every scene is catered to demonstrating how bad-ass Akatsuki is, and how he can solve every problem using his power that never truly gets fully explained in the show. Each arc consists of Akatsuki wanting to prove his strength, playing pranks on all the pretty ladies, solve some problems by creating misunderstandings, and usually ends with a woman crying with him coming to their rescue. This isn’t necessarily a terrible situation, as the show does what it intends to do. It entertains and provides great feelings to those who want a good “feel-good” show to watch. In addition, it doesn’t help that the story doesn’t conclude with the last episode, with a huge cliffhanger ending that begs to be filled with another season. Why can’t shows end without cliffhangers anymore? A huge portion of anime nowadays end up unfinished because the companies don’t make enough money to add another season, and the show suffers because of these poor creative decisions. If this show fails to bring a continuation, which I highly assume it will, I’ll be disappointed yet again.

You don't want to make him angry. He's a scholar and a gentleman.
You don’t want to make him angry. He’s a scholar and a gentleman.

The artistic and musical aspects of this series are phenomenal. The art, while not beautiful or gorgeous by any standards, doesn’t detract from the show and doesn’t appear lazy. While there is an excessive amount of fan-service, considering the audience I don’t view that as a huge negative. In terms of music, there aren’t many memorable tracks, but there is a fantastic rendition of the main theme that plays during the ‘epic’ scenes with Akatsuki, and I love series that contain arrangements of the main theme as they give the scene meaning and signal an important event. However, this piece of music was definitely overplayed, appearing in nearly every episode. Speaking of main themes, the OP for this series really brought the mood of the series, generally pumping the audience up for the episode with action and rock. There was some surprising foreshadowing in the OP that really caught me off-guard, and really made me appreciate the OP even more. As for the ED, a completely different approach was used, but I think it fits. It uses a catchy little song and consists of material focusing mainly on Miu and her relationship with Akatsuki. Overall, the OP/ED aren’t the greatest, but they do provide the correct emotions and enhance the series as a whole.

They're brother and sister, can't you tell?
They’re brother and sister, can’t you tell?

In all honesty, Hagure Yuusha no Estetica gives a great time for those looking for a bad-ass main character, tons of action, and some quick laughs. There’s a lot of fan-service, and doesn’t provide the best storytelling, leaving some loose ends both in the middle of the series and the end, but provides some entertaining experiences for those bored of today’s moe overload.


Lasting Impressions : Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru (My Sister is Among Them)

Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru (2012)

(This review may contain spoilers for the following series. If you have not seen the series before, please exercise caution before viewing this post. You have been warned.)

There were few shows that found my interest this past season, but this one somehow caught my radar with its art style, and with the fun-loving feel of the OP and the mystery aura of its story, I was easily hooked into watching the series. Is that a regretful decision? For now, I won’t say, but I can say that this series did hold some unique traits that not only pander to the younger generation, but also contains a decent story to hook older audiences.

Cast (Right to Left) : Rinka Kunitachi, Konoe Tsuruma, Shougo Mikadono, Miyabi Kannagi, Mana Tendou, and Mei Sagara.

Story has always been a huge part of anime for me. If the series contains any trace of a decent story, one that not only sets up the stage for comedic elements but also pushes the series forward, it generally catches my eye and piques my interest enough to continue watching. When I first began this series, I was under the assumption that this series would follow the conventions of a harem or comedy show. While the show largely borrows ideas and aspects from harem and comedy series, there lies an undergoing story that moves the plot along. In addition, the air of mystery gives the viewers reason to continue watching. Perhaps it’s just my preferences, but I hate leaving mysteries behind and I have to know whether the story proceeds in the direction I anticipate.

Mister X – Best girl, hands down.

Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru, or My Sister is Among Them!, proudly comes off as a harem series with little details to keep you watching. Using the generic plot progression of a young man finding a wife within his last few years at school, the stage is set and the story can move forward. Or so they believe. During the first episode, the reveal of a younger sister, unknown to himself and the world, who just happens to want to marry this fine gentleman.

Nothing happens because morals triumph desire; this doesn’t happen in every situation, but refusing to do anything because one of them may be your sister is pretty intense.

The story follows Shougo Mikadono, thrust into a new school to find the love of his life. During the next few days, he meets his potential soul mates: Konoe Tsuruma, Miyabi Kannagi, Rinka Kunitachi, Mana Tendou, and Mei Sagara. One of which just happens to be his sister, and while he doesn’t know who the mystery sister is, he boldly claims he will not be found loving his sister as a wife. I think this aspect to the main character greatly improved my impression of him, as it seems more shows today would promote such values as incest. In fact, I’m sure most people don’t share my idealism of such values, and are disappointed with this outcome. Regardless, the series follows multiple phases, and progresses as a decent pace. After introducing each of the characters, we are also introduced to Mister X, a woman posing as a man to assist Shougo in his endeavors. While I could go on by listing reasons why she is best girl, I feel that it would be best to move forward and continue with the petty story.

Although this is a side character, I thought she would play a bigger role. I really liked her design.

This show teases at the fact that nobody knows who the sister is, and constantly leads to false accusations and endings that leave the viewer wanting more. There are bullshit excuses thrown out to give reason as to why Shougo was led to belive that this particular character was his sister, and once those claims are acquitted, it’s off to another girl that leads him on to believing that she’s his sister. Rinse and repeat for a couple episodes, and you’ve got the first half of the series.

Besides Mister X, I enjoyed Rinka as well.

The second half starts off with the big reveal of his sister(?), someone who wasn’t even a part of the original cast. This person, Yuzurina Houshou, comes out of nowhere and seems to put everything at ease, but once a big scandal begins to reveal itself, it’s once again proven that the search has yet to be concluded and the sister has yet to be caught. While I enjoyed this red herring, there were way too many questionable actions, mainly performed by the hidden “real” sister. Why the hell did the “real” sister hide while the “fake” took on this relationship? By doing so, and bitching how she wants to marry him even though she barely knows him and hasn’t seen him in ages, (Why do these sisters in anime want to jump straight into incestuous relationships? He sat there claiming he would love to love her as a sister, or in other words, a good happy family relationship. RAGE) she puts Shougo and his inherited company at risk due to a potential scandal. The actions behind some of these characters are ridiculous, and while it moved the main story along fine, the character progression suffered greatly.

As for the music, I really can’t remember the BGM of this series, but the OP and ED for this series are pretty catchy. The OP catches the viewer’s attention and introduces the main heroines of this series, while promoting the main premise of the story. The ED, while still poppin’ and rockin’, gets the viewer excited and ready to watch the new episode. I really enjoyed both themes, and if anything, they got the overall music down pat.

Just ending on best girl. Everyone knows this is true end.

Honestly, I really enjoyed the main premise of the series. A harem series that contained a sister with a protagonist who didn’t want to bang his sister. I really respected this side of the show, and the only aspects I really thought fell flat would be the character progression and development. The characters felt flat and uninteresting, and the decisions performed by these characters often appeared pointless and unreasonable. I’m happy the series successfully concluded, and revealed the big question every viewer was asking, the ending could have been so much more. The series ended in typical harem fashion, and just lost the last bit of momentum it held onto. This brings me back to the question of if watching this series was a regretful decision. While I critique this series due to its lack of character development, I really enjoyed watching this series. It still contained the humor and comedy of a generic harem series, and it had its moments. It’s not a series that I would deem a masterpiece, nor would I re-watch this series in the next couple of months, but I did enjoy the laughs and good feelings I received from this series. If you enjoy harem or comedy series, I believe Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru is worth the time. The art is decent, the music fares well, and there does lie a small intriguing mystery that can push you to conclude the series.


Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru OP -Choose Me Darling-

Lasting Impressions : Oda Nobuna no Yabou

Oda Nobuna no Yabou (2012)
Oda Nobuna’s Ambition

(This review may contain spoilers for the following series. If you have not seen the series before, please exercise caution before viewing this post. You have been warned.)

For those who enjoy Japanese Culture, the name ‘Oda Nobunaga’ will often remind anyone of the unification of Japan. In pop culture nowadays, his trials and tribulations are often referred to and mentioned as a form of entertainment and study. Oda Nobuna no Yabou adds to the story and unveils its own twists to grab a new audience. Of course, one may be wondering what twists the animation holds, with the main change being the gender-bending of most, if not all, lords of the territories. This change caters to new audiences while retelling the classic story of Nobunaga’s Ambition.

All those figures of history. The two main characters, Yoshiharu and Nobuna are on the right, with the rest of the crew on the left.

The story begins with Yoshiharu Sagara, a present day Japanese citizen, running in the middle of a battlefield with who would become Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Unfortunately, Hideyoshi is shot and leaves his hopes and dreams with Yoshiharu. He later meets Nobuna Oda, the now female general of Owari. To his surprise, he later finds out that the people involved in the unification of Japan are not who they appeared to be, and he finds himself trying to adapt to this new situation. Luckily, Yoshiharu, now called ‘Monkey’ in place of Hideyoshi, happens to be a huge fan of Oda Nobunaga’s conquest, and begins his journey to aid Nobuna through his knowledge from the future.

In regards to story, it’s just another retelling of an already told tale. Being only twelve episodes, the retelling of the story has yet to be complete, and I’m sure there will be more to be told in the future. However, I really enjoyed the minor details and humorous moments that were added in to make the story more efficient and interesting, and I feel they worked well enough to keep someone coming back week after week. During its run, this was one of the few shows I kept tabs on as it aired, and I’m really looking forward to another season to complete this journey.

A badass old man works better than a gender-bent old man, right?

I really enjoyed this show’s animation as well, and I personally think the animation was fluid and impressive. Granted, there aren’t too many terribly animated shows out nowadays, with the standard improving and whatnot, but this animation clearly works well in this situation. The OP is also animated well, with the action swelling up in those seconds of introduction. Speaking of battle scenes, while this story revolves around many battles and bloodshed, there aren’t many scenes full of action and violence. There are a few, but I think this show mainly focuses on the mental and internal conflict aspects of his conquest. That’s not to say there isn’t any violence at all, but it’s definitely not a series that primarily focuses on violence; the series merely adds violence to spice the story up a bit, and remind viewers they are watching a series about conquest.

Just look at that monocle. You *know* he’s important.

I really enjoyed the OP/ED for this series, but I can easily say they don’t compare to my favorites. The OP really created the excitement and energy for the next 20 minutes, and the ED cooled things down with soft animation, slow music and a peaceful mood. While the action in the episode may have been intense, it’s always good to cool off with a nice, peaceful ED, and revolves around the OP to bring the viewer back to the game and hype the episode that’s about to be shown.

Of course, Nobuna is best girl. No way around that.

I’m actually surprised at how well the music brought out the emotions in this series. If there is one thing this series did right, it would be the music composition and placement. The tense moments became more tense as that awesome BGM began playing, and the sigh of relief that could be felt as the soothing music played after a battle or conflict had ended. I really enjoyed the music in this series, as it just felt right in every scene it played. Of course, as mentioned above, this also includes the OP and ED, as the mood wouldn’t have been set as well without it.

In short, I really don’t have too much to say about this series. I can easily say I enjoyed this series, and Nobuna is easily the best girl, but I can’t really say too much about the show in general. If one doesn’t know too much about the history of Japan, they can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of people and places important to this story. However, I feel that the series did its job well, and while not the greatest show in the world, provided entertainment for its run. If you enjoy history or harem / comedy series, I’m sure you’ll find somewhere to enjoy Oda Nobuna no Yabou. The animation appears decent, the story adds some favor to the mix, and the music deems appropriate for this series.

Oda Nobuna OP -Link-