Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays from DubSub Anime Reviews 2015!

Happy Holidays 2015!

From DubSub Anime Reviews!

We hope everyone has a great holiday season with their families and gets some much-needed time off to watch their favorite anime series.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Attack on Titan Season One Anime Review

Attack on Titan Season One
Shingeki no Kyojin
Complete Collection - 8 discs
625 minutes - 25 episodes +
$49.98 (2014) Parts 1-2/ea. DVD/Blu-Ray
$89.98 (2014) Parts 1-2/ea. DVD Blu-Ray Limited Edition
ISBN 704400072611
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Tetsuro Araki
Studio - Wit Studio/Production I.G

Synopsis: The Titans appeared and humanity was almost wiped out.  Giant, human-like creatures with little intelligence they scoured the world and devoured humans wherever they could find them.  They were utterly relentless and nearly indestructible, pushing humans to the brink of extinction.  Only the construction of a city guarded behind a series of enormous walls could keep the Titans out.  The last remnants of humanity reside behind the safety of their walls as the Titans roam freely through the world.  It has been 100 years since the last time a Titan has been within the walls.
A massive Titan appears outside of Wall Maria, Shinganshina district
The three walls are called Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and Wall Sina.  Those who live in the innermost walls are more wealthy and safer from the Titans.  The army trains and defends against the Titans, but those stationed within the walls act more as police.  Only the Scout Regiment goes outside of the walls and face the Titans to secure supplies from open land.  They typically sustain heavy casualties and can be both revered and hated depending on the success of their missions.  Eren Yaeger and Mikasa Ackermann, his adopted sister, are both watching as the Scout Regiment returns from outside of Wall Maria when a massive Titan appears outside of the wall.
From left: Mikasa, Eren, and Armin
The Titan is skinless and even taller than the massive walls (while most Titans are much smaller than the walls).  It is a terrifying, abnormal Titan and manages to kick open an outer gate allowing the smaller Titans to get inside Wall Maria.  The humans are frozen in fear as they watch the Titans begin devouring people.  It is a massacre as the Titans wreak havoc within the wall and people desperately flee to the inner Wall Rose.  Eren, Mikasa, and their friend Armin somehow manage to survive, but not without witnessing the true horror of the Titans.  Both vow revenge and sign up for the army when they come of age.
The omni-directional gear gives humans the enhanced agility necessary
to battle the Titans
Now the friends are army trainees learning to use special equipment for avoiding the Titans.  These include the omni-directional mobility gear which is a special harness utilizing metal cables, grappling hooks, motors, and compressed air.  It allows soldiers to swing through cities or dense forests quickly to avoid capture by the slower Titans.  The harnesses are difficult to operate and the trainees have their work cut out for them.
Eren joins the army to get revenge on the Titans for eating his mother.  His
singular drive makes him an adept soldier
It is revealed that Titans are vulnerable in the napes of their necks.  Specially designed blades with increased hardness/sharpness are used which can pierce the Titans' thick skin.  The trainees learn to maneuver and operate the harnesses while developing pin-point accuracy with their slashes.  It's incredibly grueling training and a few star trainees rise to the top.  Eren's fervor and enthusiasm for getting revenge on the Titans drives him harder than most recruits.  Mikasa's unnatural skill and calmness make her stand out from the others.  Their greatest opponents will be the abnormal Titans who are different from the more predictable and slow regular Titans.  The Colossal Titan is an abnormal type, but many others exist with less significant differences.  They are the most deadly Titans.
Facing the Titans is truly horrific and many soldiers lose their nerve
The recruits believe themselves to be ready to fight the Titans and are assigned to various groups within the military.  Some selfish recruits want to join the military police behind the safety of the innermost walls.  Other, braver recruits like Eren choose the Scout Regiment at the front lines of this war for humanity's survival.  Will they truly be ready to confront the unbridled horror of the Titans?  How can they possibly stand up to these unnatural, unique Titans like the one that breached Wall Maria years ago?  They will be eaten alive if they fail.
Eren finally gets to confront the Colossal Titan that breached Wall Maria
five years ago, but can he defeat such an abnormal beast?
Pros: Intense story with a lot of twists and turns, Eren is a great protagonist with an indomitable will (even when he's getting chewed on by a Titan), lots of interesting characters among the army troops, Mikasa is a badass, the Titans are simultaneously ridiculous and horrifying, doesn't pull any punches with graphic and violent deaths, omni-directional gear makes for dynamic action sequences, same director as Death Note, can't wait for Season Two!
Another abnormal Titan appears which seems to be attacking the other Titans
Cons: A lot of questions left unanswered at the end of the series, art style can be a little rough (dark black outlines of shapes and feels really sketchy), the omni-directional gear is total impossible in real life, only two expensive Blu-Ray/DVD combo sets are currently available (Funimation's got to milk it), long multi-episode story arcs without much happening, can't wait for Season Two!
The army manages to capture two small Titans for study.  Don't get too close!
Mike Tells It Straight: This series was highly recommended by several friends and it lived up to the hype.  I think Attack on Titan (AoT) is the most popular manga and anime series of this decade.  The anime is based on the ongoing manga series by Hajime Isayama and this first season of the anime covers almost through the eighth volume.  Isayama's art is rough and highly stylized showing his relative inexperience as a professional manga artist (an AoT one-shot was his first official work in 2006).  He's been criticized pretty heavily for having poor artwork (although it's gotten better as the series has progressed), but there's something to be said about how creepy he can draw Titans.
Mikasa ends up being one of the most skilled soldiers against the Titans
The animation style is modeled after the manga with heavy line work, especially around the silhouettes of the figures.  It looks pretty unique among other series and gives a rougher edge to the show.  The creepy Titan faces are replicated splendidly and most of them look ridiculous while perpetrating horrific acts on the hapless humans they catch.  Some may not like the animation style due to the 'rough outlines', but it didn't bother me at all.  Let's get this straight - the omni-directional gear is pure fiction and could never function in real life.  It requires some major suspension of disbelief, but gives us interesting action sequences and some plot elements (like when the group is running low on pressurized air canisters).
The Scout Regiment finds an abnormal female Titan
It's an intense series and the end of the first episode really sets the tone.  Eren watching his mother being eaten by a Titan was utterly monstrous.  We immediately know the stakes are real and losing to the Titans means getting eaten alive.  We're introduced to a cast of characters as Eren, Mikasa, and Armin go through anti-Titan training with the omni-directional gear.  When the series hits the first major story arc (The Struggle for Trost) the stakes are high and the death toll is higher.  Talk about suspense and plot twists!  Probably the best thirteen episodes of an anime series I have seen in a long, long time (coming in second is the first season of Knights of Sidonia).
Many of the Scout Regiments' missions end up like this due to the sheer
power of the Titans and weakness of the omni-directional gear in open land

There are two opening and ending theme songs in this first season and I found the ending themes to be more enjoyable.  The opening themes tried too hard to be 'marching' or 'military' themes, but just weren't very catchy.  Knights of Sidonia does the exact same thing with infinitely better results (thanks to a great artist like Angela and a nice bass line).  The ending themes were both catchy and appropriate.  Hopefully the success of this first series will allow the producers to find better songs for the second season themes!
Eren and Mikasa meet Captain Levi, rumored to be the best anti-Titan soldier
I can't recommend this series enough to friends and anime viewers in general.  It's the anime equivalent to a page-turner novel and keeps the viewers attention throughout.  The plot twists are really good and the stakes are high - any character can die at any time it seems.  The Titans are absurd while completely deadly at the same time.  Sure, the second half of the first season is not as good as the first half, but the story still has lots of gas left to run its course.  I don't recommend this show to younger viewers due to graphic content (I'd say it's okay for teenage viewers at the earliest).  I'm really looking forward to the second season when it comes out.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and thanks for reading my review!

Two abnormal Titans fight each other!

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Freezing Anime Review

Complete Collection - 4 discs
300 mins. - 12 episodes + 6 OVAs
$39.98 (2014) Blu-Ray/DVD
$64.98 (2013) Blu-Ray/DVD
$69.98 (2012) Blu-Ray/DVD
ISBN 704400095177
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Takashi Watanabe
Studio - ACGT

Synopsis: Humanity is being attacked by powerful alien beings called NOVA and have developed the Pandora program as their best line of defense.  The Pandora are young women implanted with special nodes called Stigmata granting them superhuman abilities of strength, speed, durability, healing, and manifesting objects (like clothing and weapons).  The NOVA usually attack in the form of giant floating statues with massive whip-like tentacles and the ability to generate Freezing fields to immobilize targets.  Despite the Pandoras great powers they are still no match for the NOVA in single combat.  Pandoras are paired with male Limiters who can generate their own Freezing fields to counter those of the NOVA.  The combination of Pandora and Limiter in sync are able to overcome the NOVA.
Kazuya Aoi (right) is a new first year starting at West Genetics Academy
Kazuya Aoi is a freshman at West Genetics Academy, a special school for Pandoras and Limiters, and training to become a Limiter.  His older sister Kazuha was a premier Pandora who gave her life defeating a wave of NOVA and protecting a group of younger Pandoras.  She was one of the greatest Pandoras and very close with Kazuya.  The current top-ranked second year Pandora at West Genetics is named Satellizer el Bridget, also known as "The Untouchable Queen".  She is a ruthless, feared fighter and utterly despises being touched by anyone.
Satellizer el Bridget is the top-ranked second year student at West
Genetics Academy and also known as "The Untouchable Queen"
Much to Satellizer's horror, Kazuya actually gives her a hug on their first meeting.  She normally reacts with extreme violence to any physical contact, but for some reason Kazuya's touch feels different.  Her emotions become conflicted around Kazuya who treats her respectfully and tries to be her friend.  He even defends her when other students (particularly upper-class Pandora) try to violently humiliate her.  West Genetics Academy has a ruthless hierarchy with upper-class students frequently abusing underclass students through brutal duels.
Kazuya's first meeting with Satellizer is more than awkward - he
actually hugs and touches her
Will Satellizer thaw to Kazuya's positive influence or is she too traumatized from her tragic upbringing to let anyone close to her.  A rival appears in the form of Rana Linchen, second-year transfer student from Tibet.  She immediately befriends Kazuya and puts a wedge between he and Satellizer's chances at a partnership.  Kazuya exhibits unusually strong Limiter abilities, but who will he choose?  The cold yet undeniably powerful Satellizer or the hot-blooded and eager Rana?  The NOVA continue their onslaught and time is running out for West Genetics.
The upper-class girls plot to put Satellizer in her place
Pros: Great opening and ending theme songs (OP theme Color by MARiA rocked pretty hard), animation quality is decent with good effects, tons of fan-service for those ecchi perverts, surprisingly violent with actual limbs getting cut off later in the series, heartbreaking origin story for Satellizer validates her character, Rana was a fun character and refreshingly carefree, eyecatches (before/after commercial breaks) were good and focused on different characters each episode, the OVA is totally shameless cheesecake with tons of nudity
Satellizer battles a fellow student who can use Accel Turn for
blindingly fast speed attacks
Cons: Story and plot are pretty bad, NOVA are boring and unexplained foes, most of the girls are really vicious to Satellizer, this series completely objectifies women with repetitive combination of sex and violence, Cathy Lockharte's dream of being a novelist

Satellizer suffers humiliation at the hands of brutally sadistic upper-class
students before Kazuya steps in and helps her turn the tide
Mike Tells It Straight: I didn't know what to expect from Freezing when I first started watching it.  All I could tell from the cover was a beautiful girl was battling and her clothes were ripped in a provocative manner.  I've seen other battle girl shows like Sekirei, Queen's Blade, and Master of Martial Hearts.  I guess my expectations were a little too high and the series kind of let me down.  It was more like Master of Martial Hearts which was a bland series.
It's not a fight at West Genetics unless you get your shirt torn
Satellizer was not a compelling heroine (although her character is justified by her tragic upbringing) and her relationship with Kazuya felt contrived.  It's anime after all and this show fits in the harem genre so expectations can't be too high.  The NOVA were totally unexplained and boring.  The series fell into repetitive fight arcs with Satellizer brutalized by ruthless upperclass girls only to pull out a last minute win.  It got old and the plot never really delivered anything unique.  The OVAs were released with the complete collection (you can find them pretty easily on the internet too) and were unrepentant cheesecake.
New student Rana Linchen immediately becomes Satellizer's
 rival for Kazuya's attention
Kazuya was a decent male protagonist and Rana the transfer student injected a much-needed lightheartedness to the series.  Overall it was violent and sexist, completely objectifying these girls.  The fan-service and nudity were consistent across every episode and definitely caters to juvenile fantasies.  This show was kind of a disappointment and not something I would highly recommend.  Other series do it much better (i.e. more plot and characterization) although Freezing is high up there when it comes to nudity/violence.  There's a second season called Freezing: Vibration and I'll check it out to see if the story actually redeems itself.  Look for the upcoming review and let me know your thoughts on this series!
Rana and Satellizer find themselves battling over Kazuya frequently
TO BUY and Recommendations: