Series Review – Konosuba: Season 2

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Studio Deen

Last winter, Studio Deen managed to surprise the anime community with an excellent comedy that seemed to come out of nowhere.  Soon enough, our favorite explosion seeking sorcerer became a mainstay of the anime community as the wait continued for the second season of Konosuba.  Well, the wait was not too long and the second season of Konosuba managed to maintain the same quality that the first season expertly presented.  For those interested in my thoughts on the first season, feel free to check out my review of the first season, but this piece is going to be solely on the second season.  I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

If you were not a fan of the first season, the second season does not drastically change up the formula of the first.  The series still focuses on the ragtag group consisting of Kazuma, Aqua, Darkness and Megumin as they seek to bring down the Devil King.  So in a way, this second season adds very little to what was established in the first season, which is not a bad thing.  It merely continues what made the first season so great.

Once again, the series excels with its comedy.  The first episode alone provides a fine example of the hilarity this show presents.  The end of the last season saw Kazuma getting arrested for his actions.  The second season opens up with a trial that had me dying of laughter.  Witnesses are called up to testify on all the running jokes that were prominent during the first season.  Fans of comedy will not be disappointed here.  The season even ends just as well as the first with a look into a hot springs town filled with residents trying to scam the main party.  The situations are ridiculous, but manage to perfectly play up the comedy.  There isn’t a single weak episode here.

I do have two issues with the story this time though.  These are negligible, but can be an issue for some.  First of all, the season is only ten episodes long.  This is no different from the first season, but it leaves the viewer hungry for more adventures because of the short run time.  Secondly, there is a significant focus on Darkness in this season, which means a lot of scenes showcasing her perverted sadism.  In a statement that is sacrilegious to many fans, Darkness is my favorite girl of the series, but I do think this masochistic aspect was played up too much during the middle section of this season.  I mean, I loved every second of it, but for those that are not big fans of the character; this could be a potential turn off.  However, there really is not anything more to say.  The series is still an excellent comedy that is just as good as the first season.

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Animation and Sound

There is not much more to say about the second season that wasn’t already in my last review.  The animation quality is not going to impress with the exception of the explosion scenes.  However, the goofy quality of the scenes actually manages to enhance the comedy.  Between the character expressions and overall goofy movement, the entire animation just exudes comedy.  Of course, I do have some criticism of the animation though.  The first couple episodes played up this goofy animation quality to an extreme level which was distracting at times and almost bordering a bad categorization.  Thankfully, the series returned to its normal animation quality relatively quickly.

As for the sound design, there really is not difference between this and the first season.  The voice acting is superb in every way.  The performances showcase a mastery of comedic timing with their perfect delivery.  Kazuma is sarcastic, Aqua is a brat, Megumin is basically an explosion pyro and Darkness is a masochist.  The voice actors continue to display the characters with the same care and love of the first season.  Again, the music of the series fits perfectly, my personal favorite track being the catchy new opening.  Overall, the sound design and animation matches the quality of the first season.

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Final Thoughts

The second season of Konosuba was every bit as good as the first season.  There are some problems, but they are relatively minor compared to just how good of a comedy that this show manages to be.  I am absolutely craving for more Konosuba.  At the time of this review, a third season has not been announced, but hopefully we will be graced with some more episodes.  I give the second season of Konosuba my Bananaowns’ Stamp of Approval.  It is one of the best comedic anime that I have had the pleasure to watch.  I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

Fall 2016 – Anime Recommendations Part 3

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Ajia-do Animation and Sanzigen

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Izetta: The Last Witch

I am an absolute sucker for anything related to the WWII period.  Izetta: The Last Witch is set in this period albeit on a slightly alternate Earth.  The story follows, Izetta, the last surviving witch as she is rescued from the Germanian Empire.  Izetta then agrees to help Princess Finé protect her country Eylstadt from the invading Germanians.  This really is a WWII-esque story with the addition of magic.  The series does not only go into the magical aspects.  There is a significant amount of focus on espionage and managing propaganda during the middle portion of the episodes.  This manages to make the series a bit more enjoyable as it focuses on the total war effort.  There also is a hint of a relationship between Finé and Izetta that is sure to please the shippers.  The most impressive scenes involve the use of Izetta’s powers.  From aerial dogfights with planes to taking out an entire battalion of soldiers, this series actually has a high amount of wonderfully animated action.  It was one of my favorites of this season and I highly recommend checking it out.

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Bubuki/Buranki: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy

I’ve already reviewed the first season of Bubuki/Buranki.  While entertaining at some points, the first season was not that great.  The second seasons follows similarly, but does excel in some places.  There is a greater emphasis on the Buranki battles.  In fact, Buranki’s are actually used a lot more in this season.  These fights are highly entertaining and make the rest of the series worth watching.  There is a plethora of backstory introduced, but it’s not really too interesting.  Azuma’s sister Kaoruko is also introduced and she may be one of the worst anime characters of the season.  I have not disliked a character this much in a long time.  To sum it up, the Buranki battles are great; the rest of it leaves a lot to be desired.  It was enjoyable, but not really worth it.

I’ll be back next week to finish out my recommendations for the Fall Season.  Thanks for checking this piece out.

Series Review – Toradora

Review written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of J.C.Staff and NIS America.

Certain genres of anime make it difficult for any one show to stand out.  In particular, the romance genre faces this problem.  So when a show manages to overcome these hurdles, it’s special.  I know I am a bit late to the party when it comes to Toradora, but this show managed to exceed every single one of my expectations, to the point where I watched 22 episodes of the show in one sitting.  I have to give credit to the annual r/anime rewatch, which is still going on as the time of this review.  Toradora is one of those rare anime that manages to overcome the genre, but what is so special about it?  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth Anime Review.

Characters

Anime categorized as romantic comedies live and die by their characters.  This is one of the aspects that Toradora excels at. Every one of the main cast is a unique hybrid of various anime personalities with their own set of insecurities and issues.  The male lead Takasu Ryuji is a golden hearted teenager who is often portrayed as a thug because of his gangster like expression.  He was raised by a single mother and as a result, had to grow up relatively quickly.  The female lead, Aisaka Taiga is the classical tsundere but with a huge amount of depth. Taiga has an infamous reputation around the school for being small, with a fiery temper, being affectionately named after a Tiger. While her personality may annoy people early on, it becomes very apparent of why she acts the way she does. As the plot progresses, the viewer learns more about Taiga. That is the essential charm which does take a few episodes to present itself in some capacity.

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As for the rest of the main characters, they too exhibit some unique qualities. Yusaku Kitamura, Ryuji’s best friend, at first appears to be the stereotypical nerd character, but he is in fact quite athletic and popular. Kitamura also serves as a voice of reason; often times being very perceptive of his friends’ true feelings on a variety of manners. Kushieda Minori, Taiga’s best friend, takes the role of the stereotypical anime airhead at first but as with Taiga that is not all there is to the character.  She is hardworking and energetic, but this serves as a cover for her own feelings of inadequacy and fear. Rounding out the main cast is the character of Kawashima Ami. Unlike the rest of the main characters, Ami appears a little ways into the series, but she immediately fits in with the rest of the group. She initially appears very sweet, however, that serves to hide her more cold and vicious personality. Like Kitamura, she is very perceptive, but this perception is used as more of a means to create conflict between herself and Taiga.

Story

Now the main story manages to use these characters in a meaningful way in the high school setting. Ryuji and Taiga initially meet when Taiga accidently puts a love letter meant for Kitamura into Ryuji’s bag. After some shenanigans with a break in, it is revealed that Ryuji has a crush on Kushieda. Given the fact that Ryuji and Taiga are attracted to each other’s best friends, the two agree to help one another pursue romance. Then the plot moves into a more typical romantic comedy fare, with the main characters being placed into a variety of situations ranging from adventures at the school pool, to planning a performance for the school festival. Toradora masterfully crafts interesting story elements from these seemingly normal plot points. I will not spoil the intricacies of the plot, but Toradora excels at both the comedic and dramatic aspect of a romantic comedy. Certain moments had me laughing hysterically, while others literally had me in tears. The story is an emotional roller coaster with an absolutely astounding payoff. Romantic series rarely end well, and this is one of the few that do.

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Animation

As for animation quality, this series is not on a level as any of the works of Ufotable. However, for a show that aired in 2007 and 2008, the animation quality more than adequately serves the need of the show. There is a difference in quality in a few scenes compared to the anime as a whole. Certain scenes, mostly toward the end of the series, possess an obvious quality jump. It can be a bit jarring at first, but given the emotional impact of the scenes in question, it is more of a nitpick. The character design of the main characters is very well done. The main characters are uniquely designed. The expressions of the characters are near perfect. Every character is drawn in a way that accurately expresses the emotions that they are feeling at the time. If this point sounds a little convoluted, let’s use Taiga as an example. The animation for Taiga accurately captures the wide range of emotion that she exhibits. Whether it is a smile, tears, a blush, the animation perfectly conveys the emotion of Taiga at every point. This also is true for every other character in the series as well. Another minor nitpick is the background design of the scenes. There really is not anything special about the backgrounds. Now I realize that for a show with no fantasy elements, there is not going to be anything similar to the cathedral-esque school of Madoka Magica. However, for those that really enjoy the background design, there is not really anything that will impress you. Again this is a relatively minor nitpick, but those who are crazy about animation and art design will not find anything particularly amazing here, except for some character expressions.

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Sound

Another one of the strongest aspects of Toradora is the music. Well it would not be fair to say that all of the music is amazing. Most of the music serves its intended purpose well, but is forgettable. However, there is one amazing track that pops in again and again throughout the series. A track that will make even the most cold hearted of individuals swell with emotion. Lost My Pieces is the name of that track. Frankly, Lost My Pieces is absolutely beautiful. The slow lullaby-like piano build up erupts into an outburst of emotion. This is the track used to highlight almost every single major emotional occurrence of the show. It enhances these moments to the point where my eyes start to well up every time that I hear the song start playing. Seriously, go out and buy Lost My Pieces right now, or find it on Spotify. Just do everything you can to listen to this amazing piece of music. It is rare that one piece of music manages to elevate the entire musical aspect so much.

Final Thoughts

Watch this show. Seriously watch this show. If you can actually buy it, do that too. Toradora is an absolute masterpiece of romantic comedy. While, there may be a few things that are not perfect about the series, the parts do come together to form an absolutely amazing experience. This is one of the finest shows in the genre. At a length of 25 episodes, it is more than worth the time. I give Toradora my Bananaowns stamp of approval.

Bananaowns stamp of approval