Dance With Devils Series Review

Overview:

Have you ever wanted an anime musical? Not an anime with a character who wants to be an idol and occasionally performs, but an anime where the cast just burst into song and dance? Well look no further because Dance With Devils takes a typical supernatural harem show and adds music.

Review (a few major plot spoilers here if you are concerned):

It should probably be noted up-front that I’m not the biggest fan of harems (though I don’t hate them) nor do I particularly like musicals (but again I don’t hate them). Mostly I watched this for the sheer novelty of seeing an anime musical and yes, it is novel, but it isn’t great.

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To put it simply individual songs with their accompanying visuals within this anime are quite good. I particularly liked the fight sequence early on where Rem defeated the enemy during his song because visually it was interesting. The story itself with Ritsuka being a grimoire that both devils and vampires are fighting over is also pretty interesting. Throw in Lindo, the kind-of-brother-who-also-has-a-massive-crush-on-the-protagonist, who is somehow a vampire and an exorcist, and you’ve got a fairly impressive list of ingredients to make an interesting narrative. The show then proceeds to squander most opportunities to do this.

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Part of the issue is it is a harem show so for the first half the series each episode kind of focusses on a different member of the student council as they get their introductory song and get to torment Ritsuka in a way that makes no sense given their overall objective (then again it is never particularly clear why the other members of the student council care one way or the other about the grimoire). This means a lot of the plot is just kind of put on hold even though initially we are under the impression that time is of the essence, you know given Ritsuka’s mother was kidnapped by vampires and might be being killed. And of course each member of the student council is a devil and a particular ‘type’. You’ve got the handsome flirt, the strong guy, the massochist, and then literally a dog. It’s all pretty stock standard.

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When we finally have the introductions out of the way things do take a turn for the more serious including a character actually being killed (which I kind of didn’t expect and the show gets points for actually upping the danger level) but the relationships between the characters just kind of drift back and fourth without progressing (which again is probably the general issue with harem stories because if someone just stopped dithering and actually made their feelings clear the story would probably end).

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For all of that, the vampires are probably the weakest part of this show. They really just exist to launch attacks and force the plot forward but they themselves get almost no development and their motives, while explained, aren’t particularly compelling or convincing.

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This is definitely a show for fans of harems, people who will watch anything with a vampire in it, or anyone who is just curious about how an anime musical looks. For everyone else, there are probably better harem shows and there are most definitely better supernatural shows out there. This is never unwatchably bad and there are some good moments to be found in

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Interviews with Monster Girls Episode 6

Review:

If you ever want to see twins, one a vampire and one not, engage in petty squabbles over the use of the fridge and who at the ice-cream then episode 6 of Interviews with Monster Girls is for you. While the dialogue keeps the first three-quarters of this episode feeling like it is moving, ultimately, other than a glimpse at Hikari’s home life very little is gained. The final quarter seems determined to touch base with the other characters as if to remind us they exist but again little is gained from it. This show is definitely falling into the slice of life category where I guess if you enjoy watching the girls in their daily goings on and the monster gimmick is enough to hold your interest this show works. While I liked this episode more than last week I just keep feeling a little underwhelmed by it.

Interviews with Monster Girls is available on Crunchyroll.


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Interviews with Monster Girls Episodes 1 + 2

Overview:

Demi-humans are apparently a thing so there are vampires, snow women and whatever else running around in the world. Takahashi is a Biology teacher who wants to interview demi-humans for a paper he’s writing but hasn’t met any, until the new teacher at school and three students turn out to be demis.

Review Episode 1:

Honestly, I passed on this from the synopsis. It really just kind of seemed like a sleazy harem set-up or like a dull daily lives kind of thing with the cheap gimmick of some of the characters being monsters thrown in. And that second view is kind of accurate except that it isn’t all that dull. Okay, nothing momentous happened but the characters kind of kept things moving along and most of the interactions between them were entertaining enough. Whether or not I stay interested in this remains to be seen but for now I’m in for at least one more episode.

Review Episode 2:

This episode was a little bit more on the dull side probably because we spend a great deal of it on a date with Macchi and Takahashi (what is it with girls crushing on their teacher in anime).

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Anyway, the suspected harem setting seems to be closer than I thought with Macchi already looking at teacher, Hikari a little bit jealous, and the succubus teacher starting to warm up to Takahashi because of the way he deals with the girls and their problems. This stayed fairly cute and there were one or two funny moments, mostly involving Hikari’s promise to look after Macchi’s body while she went on her date.

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But if this is going to be the ongoing tone and pace of the show I’m probably not going to make it through a full season. We’ll see what happens.

Interviews with Monster Girls is available on Crunchyroll.


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Bloodivores Series Review

Overview:

Mi Liu and a group of Bloodivores (probably vampires but after episode 1 it becomes entirely unnecessary to care as this plays no significant role in the show) break into a bank to steal something. Things go awry and they are taken in by the police and charged with the murder of the hostages (though they claim they didn’t do it – the murder not the robbery). ¬†Then the prison transport is attacked and instead of jail they end up somewhere else where we will spend the rest of the series watching them run from one unlikely and unexplained situation to the next. I reviewed this week to week if you wanted to check out my thoughts.

Review:

Wow, it has been awhile since I’ve been quite that sarcastic in an overview. The issue is this show is not well written, or well animated, nor does it have compelling characters, interesting themes or a stunning resolution. What we have here is a concept that probably sounded great in planning and then was executed like a group of children were fighting over the keyboard as they came up with increasingly silly ideas to stuff into a show that was trying so hard to be cool and maybe even edge and failed to even rise above inoffensive nothingness.

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I’m going to start with the animation because I so rarely criticize this aspect of a show. I’m fairly happy to watch still images as long as there’s a good story and compelling voice acting so I’m not overly critical of this. But Bloodivores is not just average, it is bad. Just watch the initial car chase where they are pumping the music at you as they sit in the car and desperately try to make you believe these characters are cool and hip while the only reason you know the car is speeding at all is because they show you the speedometer. Yep. No sense of haste otherwise. This is almost as bad as if a character had just leaned over and said ‘you’re going fast’. You don’t feel any sense of tension or movement and visually it isn’t there. This is a common feature in all of the fight sequences where things look like they are moving very slowly (and no it isn’t a slow-mo effect it is just badly done). Plus character eyes and expressions regularly look wrong, arms move independently of shoulders, and characters move in highly unnatural ways. It is jarring and off-putting and does not help the others mediocre story being told.

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The cast of characters are incredibly dull. We learn all but nothing about them and they have no distinguishing personality traits. Seriously I can kind of only tell them apart because they had different hair colours and each one kind of had a signature outfit for most of the show. Most of these characters don’t do anything. Mi Liu is the most proactive of the bunch and after careful reflection I’ve decided he’s probably one of the most moronic main characters I’ve come across in recent history. He blithely makes assumptions and passes these off as facts or at least theories and his plans are so full of holes you don’t get surprised when things fall apart, you wonder why it took so long. None of the other characters contribute much of anything other than occasional noise, fight or rescue sequences, or give someone for Mi Liu to babble at and they are all pretty forgettable.

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I’m not even going to bother with plot. There is a story but we are still completely in the dark about anything at seasons end and to be honest it isn’t compelling enough to make me want to know what happens. Personally, I hope the monsters eat them all.

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Last point before I end this vaguely ranty review. If you name a show Bloodivores, and make a big deal in episode 1 about how Bloodivores came to be, maybe the characters being Bloodivores should occasionally come up as a significant plot point rather than as an excuse to give them super powers.

Recommendation – avoid. It isn’t as broken as something like Big Order or Taboo Tattoo but it is definitely a time suck most people don’t need.

Akiba’s Trip Episode 1

And here we start sampling shows from the Winter season. I’ll post thoughts on the first episode or two before deciding my final watch list for the season.

Overview:

After being attacked by an unknown evil, Tamotsu Denkigai is stuck in Akihabara fighting to keep the streets safe.

– Crunchyroll

Yes, I borrowed the overview because to be perfectly honest I didn’t have anything really to add to it.

Review:

I’m going to give this show points for being really clear about what it is. The title art tells you what this show is really about.

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So as the synopsis tells us there is an unknown evil that could be either vampires, zombies or some as yet unknown thing depending on which speculation or rumour you would like to believe and it can be defeated by stripping off the clothes of the possessed individual. Why all the possessed individuals have so far been women is a question that may or may not ever be addressed but really seems beside the point given I really don’t think we’re supposed to really question the premise too much here.

Generally speaking, a show about tearing clothes off of someone is one I wouldn’t touch but… (there’s always a but), I actually really found myself enjoying this first episode. Much of the credit for that comes from Tamotsu as the main character and the one we view the episodes events through. He seems like your standard modern, self-aware protagonist except that his self-awareness isn’t. He’s just a complete geek and draws on a range of fantasy and anime references to draw conclusions about the insanity surrounding him. I absolutely loved how he deterred the sales woman early in the episode and I just really enjoyed watching him interact with the various characters he encountered.

It doesn’t hurt that his little sister was pretty amusing, the girl he ‘fought’ with over a collectible figure while having an extremely annoying way of speaking was hilarious, and the action sequences have been visually entertaining. Whether or not clever writing and characters can hold up a premise that seems pretty dreadful to me for a series is a question I will only be able to answer after watching more of this but I am definitely hooked enough by this first episode to give a second one a go.

Akiba’s Trip is available on Crunchyroll.

Bloodivores Episode 5

Review:

How do you even start with this? Why is the scar on Mi Liu’s arm on his inner arm when his father clearly grabbed him the other way? And in case we forgot that minor detail from episode 1, let’s have a flashback sequence to make it clear that the scar and the ‘Sapphire’ (whatever that might be) are in totally the wrong place. While we’re on that subject though, who taught Mi Liu how to conduct a search. Searching ‘Bloodivores’ is not going to get you anywhere and why would ‘death row inmates’ be password protected. I could understand specific information about specific inmates being protected but the entire search. Outside of location failure and technology failure we are given a brief view outside of the prison where Mi Liu’s father is getting grilled by a table of shadowy, angry men. While I’m loathe to say it, this scene just reminded me of Gendo Ikari in Neon Genesis and from there I couldn’t take it seriously at all.

The other prisoners were still trapped behind the wall except that one guy who is shirtless (mostly so we can distinguish him from all the other guys we don’t really care about), and shirtless guy runs into some orange haired guy who proves that the monsters aren’t that scary and effectively ends a crisis for the prisoners that has been running for four episodes. That said, it isn’t as if the monsters were the main problem. They’ve just been trying to keep things interesting on screen while the story fails to progress.

Anyway, if you were still watching at ep 5, you won’t drop the show from this, but if you haven’t picked it up yet, I’d recommend steering clear.

Bloodivores is available on Crunchyroll.

Blood Lad Series Review

Overview:

Staz (a vampire) rules a district in the demon world but is completely obsessed with Japanese culture from the human world. Fuyumi (a Japanese girl) somehow ends up in the demon world Staz is thrilled until she’s eaten and becomes a ghost. Staz then begins searching for a way to resurrect her.

Review:

This is one of those anime that you can’t take very seriously but it’s a good ride full of zany characters and visual humour (as well as some excessive violence and a more messed up family than you expect from even anime). The biggest complaint I would raise with this series is they just kind of leave you hanging in limbo mid-way along Staz’s quest to resurrect Fuyumi.

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From a plot point of view there isn’t all that much more than the overview. Staz and Fuyumi travel around the demon world encountering various other demons as they look for a solution. That said, there’s plenty of sub-plots and a lot of character back story floating around the fairly short run time. This makes what is a basic fetch quest feel like a much richer story while at the same time makes the lack of resolution even worse.

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The setting is also pretty ordinary (considering we’re meant to be in a demon world). While there are definitely fantasy like parts to the setting and they change scenes often, very few of the locations are all that memorable beyond their initial impression. Maybe that’s harsh but it really just felt like we were in a run down city with a few old manors and the like scattered around.

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The characters are the shining stars of the anime. Staz is incredibly powerful in his district and even compared to other district bosses, but as we learn more about Staz’s family situation and background we realise that he is not the overpowered and always undefeated protagonist that he might appear to be early in the series. Also, his overall lack of work ethic being in direct contradiction with his vow to Fuyumi makes for some interesting character reflection (I’d hesitate to call it development at this point in the story).

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Fuyumi as our fish out of water, typical Japanese girl/ghost, is probably the weakest of the characters (though she does do ordinary girl well it kind of makes her the flattest of all the characters). And despite the fact that she’s supposed to be Joe Ordinary even she ends up with a far more complex story than at first anticipated.

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As to other characters, my favourites are Wolf and Bell. Bell because of her very cool magic (I’d love to be able to do that trick with the frames) and Wolf because he just brings so much energy to his scenes.

There’s some great action sequences and amusing dialogue but that’s about all I can say about the series. Given it’s short run time (10 episodes) you can knock it over in an afternoon and it is an enjoyable way to pass the time. For those who can’t stand incomplete stories I’d recommend saving yourself some pain and skipping this one. Otherwise, it is difficult to fault except that the humour doesn’t always land (but isn’t that always the case in shows that try to play for laughs).

What were your thoughts on Blood Lad?

 

Bloodivores Episode 3

Review:

This has been the best episode so far in this series (though episodes 1 and 2) didn’t set the bar particularly high. Though they never managed to actually get me to feel worried for any of the characters, I’m at least now mildly interested in a couple of them which is more than they had going for them before. I’m also a little bit more intrigued about Aori and what it actually is because it’s starting to look more like another dimension and that would just be weird. Anyway, two things I learned during the start of this episode. If someone tells you they are an assassin and have an arsenal of blades, be nice to them. Secondly, if an explosion knocks down a whole bunch of stuff from the roof it will only fall on monsters.¬† Clearly, I’m not dropping this yet but I hope it can continue to improve and maybe I’ll eventually genuinely care if these guys ever escape.

Bloodivores is available on Crunchyroll.

Bloodivores Episode 2

Review:

This may be my last episode review of this if the show doesn’t significantly improve early next episode. Mostly because I am bored. Half-hearted incomplete explanation followed by flashing cameras (that you just knew were going to transition back into the gun fire from last episode because they weren’t exactly being subtle with the visuals) and then we wake up in a cell (kind of). Introduce extras who are given about as much personality as mobs in prisons usually get before we introduce wholesale slaughter and wipe out almost all of said extras. It’s sloppy writing and its using sensationalism as a replacement for actual tension or excitement. The only moment that even really interested me was when the guy’s head blew up and you could see that coming a mile a way but it didn’t stop it being entertaining in a B Grade kind of amusing way. The other issue being they’ve already started a pattern of ending on a semi-sensationlist note to try somehow to convince you that you have to watch the next episode. Last week they open fire into the prison van and this week… well you can find out where they leave us if you make it through the episode. My biggest question: Why did we need to Anji’s? I’ll start episode 3 but this one is definitely on notice.

Bloodivores is available on Crunchyroll.

Bloodivores Episode 1

Overview:

Seems we are once again taking the medicine mutated a virus and now we have vampires route.

Review:

Okay, I kind of suspect that this show is going to go all kinds of wrong fairly quickly but I quite enjoyed this first episode. Alright, that’s a slight exaggeration. Up until the 16 minute mark I was kind of ho-hum about it and then things kind of took a more serious turn which then gave us a series of intriguing little bits of information which may or may not develop into anything of significance but certainly lay the foundation for something that could be interesting. I’m putting this tentatively on my watch list at least for a couple more episodes.

Probably the opening sequence is the worst part. They want us to believe we are in a high speed chase but other than seeing the speedometer going up the cars don’t actually give us any sense of speed or movement which kind of just leaves you feeling really blah about what could have been an exciting chase scene. Then of course we have the obligatory flashback to how we got to the chase sequence. Fortunately, after they get arrested, things get more interesting.

Bloodivores is available on Crunchyroll.