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All reviews - Movies (5) - TV Shows (6) - Books (1) - Music (1) - Games (7)

Hamatora review

Posted : 2 years, 7 months ago on 24 February 2016 04:52 (A review of Hamatora)

When Hamatora was announced as a new mixed-media project in 2013 I could barely contain my excitement as I’m a big fan of those in general. As soon as the manga got serialised I threw myself after the first chinese translations and when the first episode of the anime aired in January 2014 it looked promising – story- and plot-wise. Additionally the music was provided by my favourite Japanese composer Makoto Yoshimori. I had high hopes.

Slowly but steadily disappointment took over though. The characters were briefly introduced, I reckon for the majority of people it was enough to take a liking to them, but unfortunately I wasn’t one of that majority. For me the series was lacking depth and I didn’t know what it actually wanted to be. It was a wild mix of easy-going slice of life followed by psychological horror yet again followed by one or two episodse full of forced comedy which seemed completely out of place. Pacing was and still is Hamatora’s Achilles’ heel and it keeps destroying all of the potential it ever managed to build up. The ending of Hamatora was rushed and predictable. Re:Hamatora was the chance to sort out the mess but alas they wasted it and even made it worse.

The aspect I liked most about the first season was Moral and his role as a villain. He was cruel, consistent in his actions and pursuing his ideals – without being overpowered or excessively superior but just making use of his environment and relationships so they would help him achieve his goal. Seeing a character acting refreshingly contrary to the run-of-the-mill anime villains we see most of the time made me really happy. Saying that he was relatable would be too much but at least he acted in a way that seemed logical for a person under his circumstances.

I can tell that Hamatora the Animation has a tragic and complex story that it wants to tell but simply doesn’t come across as that for me. Instead of getting explanations the anime keeps throwing more info at me and then it’s just small pieces so that I won’t fully understand either. Everyone’s fragments of backstory are thrown at me during one episode without love and I find it impossible to emphasise with all of them so fast so as a result I care even less. The whole minimum idea is so interesting and seing their different abilities is a nice change of pace yet since it’s all so disorganised and usually exaggerated into the extreme of too powerful or too ridiculous I cannot enjoy it as much. Yoshimori’s compositions are wasted on this show, to be honest, because his music creates a unique atmosphere and Hamatora is too rushed to let one be created. The fade-ins and -outs in Re: destroy every bit of atmosphere that been tried to build up before. The cruelty that is depicted in some scenes would usually send shivers down my spine but how could it that happen now when I’ve just been fed a slapstick scene 2 seconds before.

It’s not that I completely dislike the show, to a certain point a enjoyed the first season a lot and the animation still remains very good. But it upsets me how much better it could have been. All that being said, I of course did not look for a highly psychologically demanding show, I knew that from the start and basically wanted to be entertained but by now it won’t even entertain me anymore.

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Storytelling at its best

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 15 November 2011 08:08 (A review of Assassin's Creed Revelations)

After being left behind with another cliffhanger at the end of AC: Brotherhood, Ubisoft sounds the bell for the last round of Ezio Auditore's adventure- Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
An enormous story comes to and end, with many questions being answered and new ones being raised.

Desmond Miles, 21st century’s protagonist, is in a kind of coma and has stranded on an island made from his memories and fragments in the Animus. Subject 16 is there as well, lending his knowledge and support to Desmond. On this island Desmond makes his very own journey through his past to come to terms with his purpose in life. [These Desmond Sequences are strangely enough very similar to the style of Portal considering the gameplay and level design.] On the other hand he continues to relive his Renaissance ancestor’s life.

After the events with the Borgia in Rome Ezio has decided to search for the origins of the order’s icon, Altaïr Ibn-Al'Ahad (first game’s protagonist). After discovering that, in order to get access to Altaïr’s hidden library in Masyaf, he needs to obtain 5 keys, he begins his journey to Constantinople, where they have once been brought in the past.
Arriving at the ‘Crossroads of the World’ Ezio meets several new, original and interesting characters- on the ally’s side as well as on the enemy’s.
He makes his way through the beautiful capital (which has a touch of Acre from time to time) an and is confronted with love, death, connivery and wisdom amongst the people. He gives it his all for the very last time to finally reveal the secrets of the past and the future.

In the process of finding the Masyaf Keys Ezio manages to relive the memories of Altaïr through named artifacts. Transported back into the 12th century one slips into the role of the middle age assassin as he is, as well, growing older and older, and gets to see what happened after the events of AC1.

Let’s first look at the actual gaming value:
Every connoisseur of the series might know that concerning the gameplay the basics of an open-world climbing and jumping around have still stayed the same. Yet the game offers even more fancy additions than the prequel.
The Guild Control has luckily been retained, and the ability to use bombs and build them yourself has been added which gives one an even greater feeling of acting individually. The eagle vision has now become the Eagle Sense and is much more accurate.
You are still able to re-establish closed shops and buy landmarks, and the counter-system has been turned to fine-tuning with the addition of slow-motion for the final blow.
There is that new feature of Defending your Dens which equals a Tower Defense but I didn’t come too like it very much (maybe because I really suck at it :P). But it’s a very nice idea and something new to the usual gameplay.
Furthermore moving around in Constantinople has become more fluent and easy through ziplines and the new hook blade.
Like in the previous games there are the main missions to advance the plot and also a quite a lot side quests. These are all beautifully orchestrated, with graphics that do not disappoint and emotional and touching compositions.
The difficulty level isn’t unfair but in some cases quite tricky and require more than one attempt in many cases. Especially considering the optional 100% completion of a mission.

The only thing that really bugs me are the way too few and short Altaïr sequences.

However the game is without a doubt a game worth investing one’s time in.
And although it very similar to its predecessors the story makes it a must at any rate. (If one is a fan of the series.)

Now the most crucial point of this game that occurred to me is the mood.
Every Assassin’s Creed manages to perfectly deliver a certain mood.
AC1 evoked a mysterious, adventurous feeling, AC2 left me with melancholy as well as turbulence and vitality and AC:Brotherhood had a more grown-up and dramatic touch to it. What Revelations brought across is wisdom and sadness. A lot of it.

Ezio has aged and most of his life has passed already. In the game you often are reminded of past events and think back of ‘old times’ since you have experienced so much with this character.
The same goes for the aging Altaïr who undergoes loss and betrayal to achieve his ultimate wisdom.
If you are not reminded of the shortening life span of your character then you are confronted with deaths of people you have already become attached to.
There are as well very funny and uplifting moments but the overall atmosphere is quite gloomy.
Many scenes made my flesh creep and brought tears into my eyes.
And that’s exactly how the end of a great story should be.
You have to feel the nostalgia and the grief and determination of the character you’ve established a bond with over all this time.
Once again Ubisoft has managed to tell a story brilliantly empathic, this time properly ending it just to begin with a new one.

9.5 /10
[The multiplayer is not included in this review.]

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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - The Score review

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 11 September 2011 10:43 (A review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - The Score)

It's surprising how the score is a thousand times better than the actual film. That probably goes for all the Transformers films. Steve Jablonsky did a real great job composing this astounding soundtrack. Too bad Michael Bay kinda ruined it.

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Yes Man review

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 3 September 2011 09:28 (A review of Yes Man)

"Yes Man" is a highly inspiring book and left me me in an incredibly joyful and positive mood. Hilariously and also wittily written- letting me chuckle as well as think.

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A true lap of honour.

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 22 August 2011 08:49 (A review of Bully: Scholarship Edition)

After having played and completely fallen in love with the original "Canis Canem Edit" for PS2 I decided to give the Scholarship Edition a try as well.
To see which improvements have been made and if the game really is still the same.

First of all the story has naturally stayed the same. Yet there are some additional missions and classes which serve no real advance to the plot but make the game a little longer. And it’s always a good thing to hang about Bullworth some more.
With those new objectives also come new characters. They are quite original but still couldn’t win my sympathy -but that’s not the game’s fault of course.
The old characters are all still present and some have even got their little mistakes fixed.
(e.g. In CCE Gord had a voice different from his usual one in the first cutscene of the second chapter- that has been corrected now.)

Rockstar also decided to add one additional type of weather: Rain and thunderstorm.
And that is what Jimmy gets a lot in the game. But it’s a nice little feature, adds up to the atmosphere.

Looking at the aspects of graphics I’m a little conflicted. The overall game design, may it be the characters or the environment, is looking better than ever before but during the cutscenes the characters become unconvincing and different. But fortunately the overall picture is not delivered through cutscenes alone. Most importantly the indescribably pleasant mood was retained.

What I’m very happy about is that the brilliant score of the game has also got some additional tracks that are in no way inferior to the main soundtrack.

Next up is the very important aspect of difficulty that seemed greatly remodeled.
The thing is that CCE seemed a bit too easy at times but actually it didn’t bother the player (in my case that is). Now I thought:
“Playing the same game for the 6th time won’t be that much of a challenge. Even if it’s on the Xbox360 this time!” And oh how wrong I was...
Basically it’s the same weird severity as in the original: Starting easy, becoming troublesome a little later, getting surprisingly easy near the middle, making it harder moving towards the end and then finishing with one of the easiest boss fights in game history.
But there are still very frustrating classes in school and several missions that didn’t seem that hard before. Though that might also be the fault of the Xbox360 controls, I don’t know that fore sure. Yet I don’t mind it. Sure, it strengthens the urge to curse but it also gives you more willpower because it's never unfair.

Coming back to those corrections I mentioned in the second paragraph, there aren’t only good changes. It seems the glitches have become worse than in the PS2 version (there are permanent ones in classes) and when I was boxing Bif it was a different character. He looked like his Preppy fellow Justin. That shouldn’t be, especially not in an almost-boss fight. But actually I don’t even mind glitches too much if they don’t put me off (which luckily they do not). After all it’s a Playstation’s re-release, it may be forgiven. ;)

The last thing that really stands out a mile are the god-awful loading screens. They appear whenever there’s a short interruption. Entering a building, exiting a building, visiting class, approaching a cutscene, ending a cutscene...it would probably still be alright if they were like a second long but no! It takes up to at least 10 seconds. While looking at the actually well-done concept artwork, unfit font spelling the same advice over and over again is inserted and it gets so tedious after a while.
CCE had a simple black screen which remained only shortly and mainly appeared in combination with missions. That worked so much better!

However, as a passionate supporter of “Canis Canem Edit” I find this game to be a successful re-release.
Getting “Bully” is a very smart investment because it offers all of CCE's big variety, great character design and wonderful atmosphere -and even a bit more. For owners (and fans) of the original as well as for ‘newcomers’ who are into Rockstar games or open-world in general.

Yes, I entrust this to you because it’s a certainly an underrated game in my opinion. :)

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Entertaining but underwhelming.

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 13 July 2011 02:46 (A review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2)

I went to the theatres, expecting absolutely nothing after the last 3 three Harry Potter films that David Yates has directed. And it was better that way.

The thing is I am actually quite conflicted.
The Deathly Hallows Part 2 contains a bunch of greatly done scenes:
action packed escapes, mere character behaviour that makes one laugh, appealing flashback sequences, neat animation and gloom.
Unfortunately the overall impression is very underwhelming.
The worst thing is that the film is incredibly rushed, already when showing the opening credits it seems.
Important scenes lose their effect because of their shortness or speed-up.
(for example: the death scenes were emotional, but too short for people who deserve much more attention)
The whole story of Dumbledore is totally left alone even though it's one of the most important aspects of the 7th book. And that is not the only neccessary detail that was just ignored but since they failed to tell the story understandably in Part I already it's no surprise.
Snape's story lost its touch and believability because the director refrained from working towards it before.
It's just a big mess, I wonder how people who didn't read the book understand the plot?

My second main point of criticism is the drama in the film.
Sure, it's the final part of the franchise it needs to be epic and all.
It just doesn't work all that well when the minor scenes get all the melodramatic music and acting and cease to support the actual moments that matter.
(e.g. the fight lacked any characteristics of one. There was just a building collapsing and the fight against Voldemort went by so fast it seems almost unreal.)
It didn't help that there were many pointless ore ridiculous moments and that the continuity was questionable.
Furthermore did characters beside Harry and Voldemort get very little attention.
Ralph Fiennes did well, Daniel Radcliff's so-so acting is nothing new anyways.
But seriously, the others are equally important!

Also I already feared the epilogue which was already disappointing in the actual book so yeah, in the film it was even worse as many things were just left out.

Well, it just makes me very sad that David Yates ends this gigantic franchise, that started out so well before he began to direct, so passionless. The last scene (excluding the epilogue which isn't much of a better ending) is a joke.
The whole film seemed to be put together so unenthusiasticly.
That's not what I expect of a finale.

This opinion comes from a person who loves all the books and has given up on the films since the 5th part. So, people who did not read J.K. Rowling's book might be very pleased with this film. People like me might share the opinion.
The readers are always comparing, they just can't help it. ;)

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Too short with too little effort

Posted : 7 years, 7 months ago on 13 March 2011 03:12 (A review of Togainu no chi)

Togainu no Chi, a great Shonen-Ai visual novel was finally to be released as an animated series. Expectations were high, especially after the promising trailer.
And then they set free this 12-episode piece of wonderment and disgrace.

It started off alright and adhered to the setting, mood and the characters mostly.
After a few episodes it got repetitive. Shots of Toshima, people walking trough Toshima, blood and violence, shots of Toshima, people talking about their emotional instability, blood and extreme violence...
It's of course following the original but it really gets a bit boring after a while. The expected fights on the contrary were so badly done that you didn't even recognize what was happening. Less attempted epic effects and more actual action would have been advisable, I'm just sayin'.
And since the series was so massively squeezed into 12 episodes, all the information was thrown in at some point with out further explanation. Leaving behind a lot of confusion and disbelief.
As the end aprroached the wanted emotional breakdown seemed more cheesy than touching to me.

The problem is probably the brevity of the Anime. Too little time to connect with the characters and understand the true meaning of the story (which is actually quite profound despite all the killing). And it seems that Aniplex somehow lost interest in the midst of their production, that's very much palpable.
Oh, and they must have forgotten that TnC was actually a BL game. There's a massive lack of Shonen-Ai. There are innuendoes but they are not strong enough.
Shonen-Ai what was a major characteristic and they just ignored that. Were they scared of airing an anime with shonen-ai AND mass murder or what?

So as for me, it was a great disappointment. Just the voice actors did give the lovely characters their likability and made the series passable.

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Left Unfinished

Posted : 7 years, 7 months ago on 13 March 2011 02:40 (A review of Pandora Hearts)

I don't know why Xebec chose to animate this brilliant manga when they didn't finish it in the end...
It's such a pity. The anime was a great adaption to the innovative manga and followed its story perfectly while also adding small things that enrichened it even more. The voice acting was lovely and the atmosphere was appropriate.
And then they somehow decided to finish it in an instant with adding a couple of random filler episodes that conntained stupidity to the max. It was dissappointing and made a lasting impression although the series hadn't been so bad before...maybe they will continue it someday?

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It got even worse...

Posted : 7 years, 7 months ago on 13 March 2011 02:11 (A review of Black Butler II)

After they had messed up the 1st season, they somehow found a reason to make Kuroshitsuji continue.
That raised my hopes that maybe there would be new start and an animated series faithful to the Manga would be made (because the first season seemed impossible to continue).But of course that didn't happen.

After the overdramatic, rushed end of the first season they decided to ignore the fact that several characters of major importance had died and just invented new abstruse theories that would justify their resurrection.
Even more random, useless characters were added. Yes, they offered some fanservice but who needs fanservice when you can't even relate to the out-of-nowhere characters?
The story was even more messed up than in the previous season.
In spite of some sense they added some more useless violence and blood, a bit sadism and weird innuendoes. Nothing made sense anymore, characters were defying any kind of logic and there were just so confusing, unreasonable turns of events that seemed randomly thrown in just so that there could be any climaxes.

Well, that didn't work for me but still it was mightily entertaining, I have to admit that. It's probably because most of the time fillers are annoying but kinda fun to watch and since the whole 2nd season of Kuroshitsuji is a filler it makes sense. At least one thing..

And although Yana Toboso helped with the designs etc. I still did not feel any love in this series.

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A mess of stupid fillers

Posted : 7 years, 7 months ago on 13 March 2011 01:47 (A review of Black Butler (2008-2010))

I did expect so much from this, since the Manga is my absolute favourite.
But they disappointed me with almost no maintainance of the original story and on that account a use of a needless, stupid filler story and corresponding characters who made the absurd story even weirder. Moreover did the original characters behave totally out of character at times.
Just the voice acting is wonderful, that's also the reason why I kept on watching it. Also that there is at least a bit of the primary fanservice in an animated form is a positive thing about the Kuroshitsuji Anime.

But it's sad that such a great concept for an Anime was messed that badly.
They did not do better with second season...rather the opposite.

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