Hello and welcome to my Anime Impressions blog where I will informally review anime series that strike my fancy. Mostly, I'll be looking at action oriented series, but you may find the occasional shoujo or sports anime looked at here. Hopefully you'll find this an interesting read. There are a lot of blogs out there, and a lot of anime blogs, review sites, and galleries. I'm hoping that someone will stumble onto this and appreciate my opinion of these series. I'm always willing to take suggests about series or ways to improve this blog. It's just a hobby for me, but I don't mind learning from the experience of running a blog.

I should warn the prospective reader that there's definitely SPOILERs here! I consider myself spoiler proof. After all, if it's ruined just by someone telling you what happens, then it couldn't have been very good to begin with, right? However, there are plenty of people out there who'd be very angry if they read on only to find a series spoiled for them. So here's the warning...read at your own risk.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

We're Moving! (to Mystikk Tales on Wordpress)

Hi everyone! I just wanted to let you know I'm combining Anime Impressions Blogger and Mystikk Tales Blogger all onto the Mystikk Tales Wordpress blog: http://romeomoon.wordpress.com/

This is an effort to streamline traffic and help grow the audiences of Anime Impressions, Mystikk Tales, and other projects like the Lounge L33ts podcast.

Anime Impressions first got it's start on the old Windows Live Spaces, which were eventually turned over to Wordpress. unfortunately, all content was lost on the original Windows Live version of Anime Impressions. During this time, I also looked to porting the blog over to LiveJournal, the interface of which I came to hate. Thus the LiveJournal version of the blog as well as the Anime Impressions Community on LiveJournal came to an end. Thus I decided to host my writings on Wordpress. I'll see you all over there for now!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Attack on Titan (ep. 1-25, Subbed)

This article contains spoilers for episodes 1-25 of the subtitled version of the Attack on Titan anime. Read at your own risk!

Here there be giants. The only thing stopping the human race from being crushed under their tyranny is a handful of soldiers and their teammate’s ability to become a Titan himself, fighting hand to hand against the monsters.

A lot of this series reminded me of The Avengers and The Walking Dead. However, that’s not a bad thing, as it seems to incorporate some of the best qualities of these franchises while building up it’s own mythos. Character growth, fast paced action, intense intrigue, and horrific monsters all make this show a must see. It even manages to work in a murder mystery towards the end!


Humanity has been herded into one large city, protected by a series of three massive, concentric walls with smaller nodule areas providing a distraction in the case of a breach. After one hundred years of relative peace, such an attack occurs which brings down the smaller, nodule district of Shinganshina.

Eren Yeager is the Scout Regiment’s biggest fan, but after his mother is killed and eaten during the attack, he becomes obsessed with joining them. His adopted sister, Mikasa Ackerman, an orphan whose parents were killed during a raid on her house by slavers, follows him to the lands behind Wall Rose to train as a soldier.

Mikasa shows much promise during training while Eren struggles even to stay upright on his Maneuver gear, the device soldiers use to scale the environment up to the Titans’ vulnerable neck area. Their intelligent childhood friend, Armin Arlert also does well, although he seems reluctant to face off against their towering foes.

Basic training completes, just in time for another attack by the Colossal Titan, compromising Trost District. During the attack, Eren seemingly dies trying to protect Armin. Mikasa fights on, but Armin is perceptive enough to see she is deeply hurt by the news. As she becomes more reckless, Mikasa finds herself in a sticky situation with a Titan. However, she is saved just in time by another Titan who seems familiar and behaves almost as if it recognizes her. Soon it’s revealed that Eren is indeed the strange Titan that saved Mikasa. After retreating, the army surrounds Eren, Mikasa, and Armin with the intent of executing what they see as threat to the city. Armin is temporarily able to talk to Commander Kitz, stalling him long enough for Dot Pixis, the High Commander of the Southern Region Military, to arrive and stay the execution in lieu of asking Eren to use his Titan form to prevent further incursion.

Armin helps to form a plan to block the hole through which the Titans are coming, but something goes wrong and Eren winds up attacking Mikasa in his Titan form. Fortunately, Armin is able to wake Eren from his fugue state within the Titan form and the plan is successful.

It’s the first time Humanity has won out against the Titans, but the victory is bittersweet for Eren, who is locked away in a cell until his trial before Commander-in-Chief Darius Zackley is held to decide his fate. Captain Levi of the Recon Corps. (aka the “Scouts”) convinces the court that Eren has more control over himself than they think, and that he can be controlled in turn. With Eren in the hands of the Special Ops Squad, Levi plans to retake the lands of Wall Maria. They have one month to hone Eren’s skills and prove that he can definitely control his powers.

After settling into their headquarters, Zoe Hange talks to Eren about the living Titans, Sawney and Bean, who have been captured and are now under observation. However, later it is revealed that the Titans have been destroyed under suspicious circumstances and an investigation is held. Meanwhile, the recruits must decide which branch of the military they will join. Mikasa and many of the characters we've come to know join Eren in the Recon Corps.

An expedition is planned outside the walls of the city, with Levi intent on drawing out the mole who is also likely the same person who destroyed the captured Titans. It works and, after much loss of life, the FemaleTitan form is detained. Before Levi can find out who is inside, the monster lets out a scream drawing other Titans to it, who then begin to devour it. The Captain is convinced the traitor has gotten away, but he has a pretty good idea of who it is.

Having returned to the city, the squad sets a plan in motion to capture the Female Titan. It turns out to be Annie, a character from earlier in the show, who went through basic training with Eren and Mikasa and also fought alongside them during the Titan attack on Trost. She manages to transform, but is eventually subdued. Annie then encases her body in crystal, preventing any further interrogation. In the end, Eren proves himself reliable and promises to hunt down any subversive Titan elements inside the city.


I went into this show with a lot of preconceptions. I've seen my share of anime and Science Fiction/Fantasy where people with conflicting personalities are forced to work together as a team. A few these anime include Sailor Moon, Godmars, Goshogun, Evangelion, and Madoka Magica, which I had just finished the week before. I've also recently gotten caught up on The Walking Dead, which also has a similar theme of Post Apocalyptic Survival Horror, but with more normal sized flesh eating monsters. In that series, the group of survivors gathers supplies by venturing out into the world, protect their homesteads against attack, and try to figure out the monsters weaknesses. Fortunately, the development of the plot and characters over the course of Attack on Titan and the suspenseful action both met and exceeded a lot of my expectations.

Firstly, the setting of Attack on Titan is more medieval looking, with enormous walls erected in an age that seems almost forgotten by many of the survivors. The Maneuver gear used to scale the walls, buildings, and Titans is simple but effective. Commercial bumpers for the show detail how these machines work as well as other information pertaining to the story such as historical records. Here society has not completely collapsed. At least three classes are referenced: the farmers (the lowest class other than refugees), the merchants, and the nobility (including the military). Trade and agriculture still exist with the lack of food really becoming an issue after the refugees of Wall Maria arrive behind Wall Rose.

The artwork features beautiful, varied lining, giving it an illustrated look clearly referencing the manga source material. Backgrounds are fairly detailed and add atmosphere to intense action scenes. The animation is a little stilted in the first few episodes. In fact, one of the first action sequences of a soldier swinging through the streets on their OMD features a startling drop in frame rate. Later in the series, the production seems to even out and really comes together for the chase with the Female Titan and the fight behind Wall Sina.

The music is pretty much standard for what I've listened to in a lot of anime soundtracks. The first opening theme is a pulse pounding anthem with images from the manga flashing across the screen along with scores of soldiers filling the sky. Many anime themes are sprinkled with German and English, and here is no exception. I wasn’t all that into the second opening theme, and can really just barely remember it. The same could be said with the ending themes. Guren no Yumiya (aka Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen) by Linked Horizon is the song I wound up putting on my old iPod Touch.

One of the biggest surprises for me, since much of the series actually went unspoiled for me for once, was Eren’s transformation. I had steered clear of much of the promotional material, really only getting a glimpse of cosplayers at Geek.kon 2013 along with some pictures of Armin. I thought this was going to be mostly a team based military show, but it wound up working in a few tropes from Shounen anime. It is common in Shounen series for the protagonist and/or antagonist to fight in the form of a monster. At least in this part of the series, Eren is still a novice fighter in this form in danger of letting his emotions get the better of him. Thus show avoids, for the time being, the constant one-upmanship seen in other series Shounen series like Dragon Ball Z.

The episodes featuring basic training are pretty much the norm, with some trainees being ostracized for strange or detrimental behavior, or failing to meet expectations; drill sergeants barking orders; and the odd prodigy rising far above the rest of the class. It’s during the attack on Trost that the characters and story really get a chance to shine.

Other than story, the characters are usually what draw me into an anime. Eren, Mikasa, and the rest of the crew start out not quite as flat as the typical tropes you’d expect in a team based, post apocalyptic anime. Making Eren a less than average student does give him some weight as a character, even though counterbalancing that by his ability to become a Titan threatens to send him into the over power cycle I've seen in many Shounen anime and manga. Fortunately, this is where the Incredible Hulk-like elements enter in the form of the suspicion of the townsfolk and the reluctant trust of his teammates. He is also similar to the popular Marvel character in the fact that, at first, his ability is activated through pain and anger. His power comes with a price and the very real possibility that he’ll lose control over himself.

Mikasa reminds me a lot of Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Rei Ayanami, with a familiar subdued personality to go with adept skill. Her action scenes are enjoyable to watch, and her back story is tragic.

She also displays a bit more emotion earlier in the first episodes as well as when she finds Eren alive in Trost. She fights to protect those she loves and when she thinks they’re dead, she loses control. Despite this dynamic relationship with Eren, it was still difficult for me to connect with her. I’m hoping to learn more about her in future episodes, as she still came off a little flat for a character in such major role. This could also be because the creators don’t want her to overshadow Eren anymore than she already does.

Armin Arlert, despite being part of the trio of heroes and making major contributions to the plot, still managed to annoy me a little. I did fear for his safety when he faced off against the Titans in Trost and the Female Titan. His character design with its shoulder length locks of blonde hair made him stand out more in a cast of medium light to dark haired characters. While his cowardice at facing the Titans at the beginning of the Battle of Trost got on my nerves, he does prove to be a loyal friend to Eren and Mikasa. This really redeems his character for me, as he eventually shows bravery in the face of fear.

Of course, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin can’t fight these creatures alone. They need a team to back them up. My personal favorite character would have to be the potato thieving Sasha “Spuds” Blouse.

I truly expected Spuds to die early in the series. Her incompetence as a soldier (and thief), and her role as comic relief for the show seemed to doom her to a gruesome fate. I guess I can thank my experience in reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire for that. To my delight, she survived and is still kicking at the end of the season. I found myself trusting in Levi’s competent plan to capture the Female Titan. Krista’s kindheartedness was a nice contrast to the pervasive feeling of dread. Unfortunately, Jean was forgettable as a competitor for Mikasa’s feelings. I knew that he would never be with her, at least not at this point in the series. His pursuit of her also had the effect of making Mikasa, a character I already have a hard time showing interest in, seem more like a trophy rather than a person. Jean’s struggle with this rejection as well as the abandonment of his dream of joining the Military Police for the sake of Eren, allowed him some wiggle room for development. Ymir grew on me a little, but her role in this part of the story, along with Krista’s, is very limited. She has just enough time to move from being a bully, to hinting at an attraction to Krista.

Some people may not be able to look past the tropes presented in the first few episodes, and some will definitely be turned off by the disturbing imagery. Particularly haunting are the wicked faces of the Titans and the sometimes odd movement of the Aberrants. For the most part, this chilling piece of entertainment will kept me guessing what comes next, who could be trusted, and who is behind the curtain of deception. Hopefully these questions will be answered in upcoming seasons of the show. I know I’ll look forward to the answers.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

WTF?? Where's the blog?

Yeah, I know, we're coming on 2010, and still nothing for 2009. What happened? Well, the gaming world sucked me in again, and the anime world spat me out. I've especially gotten back into City of Heroes. My friend has a Super Group on there called House of the Wayward Soul, so I've been running around getting prestige so he can buy lots of cool stuff for the group. I've also gotten to a higher level (22 at the moment), which is high enough to start really experiencing some of the fun stuff like inventions and more interesting villain groups. There's also the Christmas event and free server transfers for characters right now. I've also discovered the tailor, which you can visit and add a new costume, for a fee, every ten levels, or so. I still mostly solo, but every now and then I'll team. I'm really still a bit anti-social there.

As for anime, well...I have been going to various conventions, mostly to see how they run differently to the one I staff called Geek.Kon.
I was added as Staff Artist last year, and I'd like to keep doing it. I've gotten a lot better at handling Photoshop, even though I still only use Elements. I've also thought about going into costuming, but there you have major expense, too. And that's the root of the problem when it comes to anime for me. The expense is just too much. I just can't afford to pay $30 for 3 episodes. The vendor from Anime Palace told me the whole hobby is going down. People see that they can get DVD's of quality American (or in the cases of Huntik and Winx Club, Italian) cartoons like Wolverine and the X-Men and Avatar: The Last Airbender for peanuts, and wonder why they have to pay so much for so little when it comes to anime. In their minds, they're getting ripped off. It is a bargain from the viewpoint of the Japanese producers, since anime DVD's can start at $80 and up in Japan. Additionally, a lot of videos from streaming sites are being removed due to copyright infringement, or the sites are being shut down all together. This it the case with the sites I had found. Some, like Crunchyroll, have gone legit with some pay-to-use features. You can't blame them, anime companies are feeling the crunch, too. It's just that I've gone through my Naruto phase back in 2004-2006, and I have fond memories of it. but I'm ready to move on now. I don't really care if they're offering it for free because I don't watch it anymore.

The thing is, even with a subscription fee and buying booster packs for costumes and powers, CoH, as City of Heroes is called, is far more cheaper than all the anime I used to buy. Even upgrading my computer, or buying a new one, is worth the price. I can't really use an anime DVD for much else, other than passively watching the show. I guess I could get back into writing fanfiction [I had written a couple of DBZ yaoi fics featuring Trunks and Android 17 ;) ], or doing fanart. But there just isn't the draw for me anymore. The shorter series and movies seem the best bet for now. I can watch them quickly and then get back to the stuff I really want to do. Kill things on my computer!

Anyway, you'll notice I've removed the "Eye Candy" videos and the photo gallery. The videos went, since Youtube seems to like removing creativity from the site every so often. Especially if this creativity involves other peoples' music and video edited together. I've come across a Team Fortress 2 video that was removed, but through diplomacy and climbing the ladder of bureaucracy, the creator has managed to get it back online there. The photo gallery is gone because it simply added too much of clutter, making it hard to notice the table of contents kind of thing I have. I think I called it "Recent Viewings" or some such, but it's supposed to make it easier for people to search postings based on the anime they feature without having to go through the calender. I took all the pictures off of various websites, and most can be still be found in the original reviews. In a fit of trying to organize my Photobucket account, I went and moved a bunch of pictures into folders based on series, even though I was warned that I'd be breaking links by doing so. I've gone through on this version of Anime Impressions and removed the broken links.

So the blog still isn't quite dead yet, at least not in my mind. I just haven't seen anything worth posting about except for maybe Higurashi. But then, I like to write reviews as soon as it's fresh in my mind. I've already got another series I seem to only be able to find on Veoh called Kaiba. We watched it in Anime Club last semester, but I stopped going to club on account of differences with the current president. I'm not a student anymore, so I don't really have any say in rather we have a serious viewing or a riff fest (as he seems to think everything that comes out of his mouth is a jewel). Yet something else that has made it more difficult for me to enjoy the hobby.