Sunday 29 May 2011

Anime REVIEW: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

NB. This is a review of the 28 episode ‘season 2’ airing of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, rather than the 14 episode season 1 version. The episodes were watched in chronological order as they were aired, and shall be reviewed as such. Any differences between that and the out of sequence season 1 edition will not be addressed in any detail. This review also includes coverage of the ‘Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya’ movie.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is an internet phenomenon. Any anime fan who surfs the web is sure to be aware of this series, and its likely that the fans who don't have also heard of it in one way or another. The series revolves around a group of high school students, who are part of the SOS Brigade, who go out looking for fun and adventure. An ordinary boy gets somehow gets caught up with a girl who can seemingly alter the universe at will and 3 other students who each monitor Haruhi with their own secret identities. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is the end result of when science fiction and high school slice-of-life animes collide.

On paper the characters are a varied and interesting bunch. The titular Haruhi Suzumiya is a seemingly ordinary girl with a big imagination who just happens to have the ability to shape the world around her and Kyon is an ordinary boy completely unprepared for the situations he’s about to be thrust into. Watching Haruhi closely are Yuki Nagato – an alien ‘humanoid interface’ created by the Data Integration Thought Entity, Mikuru Asahina – a time traveller and Itsuki Kozumi – an ESPer from a group known as ‘The Agency’. Each of the three are all aware of each other and have different theories on Haruhi’s abilities, which they share with Kyon (much to his dismay). The problem is aside from Kyon the characters are horribly one dimensional. Haruhi is a bitch, Mikuru is a cry baby, Yuki is the silent type and Itsuki overly cheerful. Haruhi will often go through moments of personal growth, only for it to be completely forgotten about 5 minutes later because her friends are too concerned that it will make the world unbalanced. Mikuru and Yuki get some great moments where their abilities are further explored (particularly Yuki) but I felt more could have been done with Itsuki. Kyon is definitely the most likeable character of the bunch, his constant irritation at Haruhi being something that was easily relatable and his confusion/lack of interest in the supernatural occurrences around him enjoyable.

But without a shadow of a doubt Haruhi’s biggest flaw is the ‘Endless Eight’ story arc – eight whole episodes where the characters are trapped in an endless time loop due to Haruhi’s wish for summer not to end. Each episode has some very minor differences (such as clothing, camera angles etc.) but are narrative wise almost identical. It was a bold move to do a story arc consisting of the same story over and over again and as a concept I can’t praise it enough, but eight out of 28 episodes dedicated to it is simply too much. It’s boring and it’s lazy. The point could have easily been gotten across in three episodes, five at the most.

Episode-wise, Haruhi’s excellence shines in its one shot episodes, particularly the episodes ‘Live Alive’, ‘The Day of Sagittarius’ and ‘Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody’ (the latter is undoubtedly the highlight of the season 2 episodes). Sagittarius and Bamboo Leaf give some much needed development to both Mikuru and Yuki (Bamboo also having a brilliant Doctor Who reference, which immediately put a smile on my face) and ‘Live Alive’ not only featuring the fantastic ‘God Knows’ song, but also displaying some of Haruhi’s qualities other than being a bitch to everyone around her. Unfortunately, the series is utterly dominated by multi part stories. Aside from the aforementioned ‘Endless Eight’, there is also one 6-parter, one 5-parter and one 2-part story (although that is a particularly good one, including a sequence that frame by frame homages Capcom’s Phoenix Wright games). That’s already 21 episodes out of 28 spent. Both 6 part ‘Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’ and the 5 part ‘Sigh of…” have strong episodes, but it both cases they are at the beginning and end of the arcs, with the middle taken up by horrendously drawn out sequences of whatever they happen to be doing at the time.

On the other hand, ‘The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya’ movie is missing a lot of the flaws the series had. Despite its enormous length (the film clocks in at a huge 2 hours 40 minutes) it makes perfect use of the time, depicting an alternate world where Haruhi is powerless and the SOS brigade never existed – Yuki is a normal human, Mikuru isn’t a time traveller and Itsuki is powerless. Only Kyon still has any memory of his time with his world’s Haruhi and the SOS brigade, and he attempts to fix the timeline he also has to decide between his old chaotic world or this new one where he can live a normal life. It gives great fleshing out to all of the side characters (the absence of Haruhi for the majority of the film making a huge difference), fills in a lot of the plot holes and questions left by the series and its twist moving. The animation is simply stunning, and if the series has been of this calibre it really would have been something to rave about.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is by no means a bad series, but it doesn’t deserve even half the praise it seems to get. I don’t honestly know how much difference watching the out of sequence season one version (which excludes Endless Eight so already wins points in my eyes) makes to overall experience, but the season 2 chronological version is average at best. The concept is completely sound , but with so much focus on multi-part stories and a cast of mostly one dimensional characters makes Haruhi really fail to live up to its potential.

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Thursday 26 May 2011

Toybox REVIEW: Bandai Super Robot Chogokin ShinkenOh

My second SRC purchase is yet another in my current Power Rangers/Super Sentai phase - the mighty ShinkenOh from Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (or the Samurai Megazord from Power Rangers Samurai if you'd prefer). I'd been holding off on this figure for a while due to its pretty hefty price for what it is, but after seeing it on AmiAmi at a 60% reduction I just couldn't say no.

The first thing to note about this figure is that its a non-transformable version of ShinkenOh. This is a shame, because the origami transformations would have been relatively simple for Bandai to pull off despite the figure being relatively small, and the figure would instantly win a lot more points with me. Instead, Bandai went for maximum posability with ShinkenOh and it really shows, with the mecha being able to pull off poses that its Power Rangers retrofire counterparts could only dream of. A nice little touch is that the Ryu origami also has a moveable jaw. ShinkenOh's legs also have a fair amount of diecast to them, to give the figure a nice weighty feel.

Accessories include the sword and shield, multiple pairs of hands (open, closed fist and holding fists) and effect parts for ShinkenOh's finishing move - the DaiShinken slash. The sword is especially nice - it's pretty darn long and has the kanji (?) carved into it for that show accurate touch. The shield has a pretty nifty plug system on the handle so that it can be attached to the back and shoulders of ShinkenOh as well as be placed in its hands. The DaiShinken slash effect consists of a symbol that can be split in two via a hinged stand. While the slash is a nice touch, I feel there are better choices for extra parts out there. A non-helmeted alternate head would have been nice, and this leads me on what else I feel the figure should have come with - Samurai artillery parts. Given that there are already plugs all over ShinkenOh for the shield, the Kabuto, Kajiki and Ebi formations are definitely possible, and I'd think the rest are possible too. It'd be nice to see these come out as extras down the line (ala Mazinger's scrander/rocket punch) but I'm not holding my breath for them.

ShinkenOh is a good figure, but there was so much more that could have been done with it (particularly separate transformations). I wouldn't say it's worth its full price, but if you can grab one at a reduction (much like I did) you won't be disappointed with him. And at the very least he's likely to be leaps and bounds better than the Power Rangers retrofire figure that's slated to come out soon. With GokaiOh also getting SRC treatment, hopefully this bodes well for some other Sentai mecha getting some recognition, particularly the pre-Power Rangers ones.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Jungle Fury

2007-08's Power Rangers Jungle Fury is the 16th entry into the Power Rangers franchise, adapted from the Super Sentai series Juken Sentai Gekiranger. For over ten thousand years, the spirit of a pure evil known as Dai Shi has been guarded by the Pai Zhuq (the "Order of the Claw"). Three students - Jarrod, Theo, and Lily were initially picked to defend the world from evil by the Pai Zhuq, but Jarrod's arrogance leads him to be dismissed and Casey, a novice member, is chosen to take his place. When Jarrod, angry at his dismissal, tries to take the box containing Dai Shi it opens, and Dai Shi kills Master Mao and proceeds to take over Jarrod's body. The trio are sent to find their new master, who gives them the ability to become Power Rangers. They alone are the Earth's only hope to stop the army of evil animal spirits from overtaking the human world.

I'd always been wary about trying Jungle Fury, not only because of its reputation as one of the weaker PR series but also because of the costumes. Jungle Fury's ranger costumes are extremely basic one-piece costumes consisting of primarily one colour. The simplicity of them is due to the nature of the series it's based upon, but their radical difference took some getting used to. Initially I preferred the 'Jungle Master' super mode costumes the rangers later receive, which add some much needed white to the mix, but in execution these also proved to leave much to be desired (such as a strange 'jet booster' ability that could have done with a little more clarification). The morphing for the core cast is done through sunglasses (solar morphers), which seems a little silly, but I'd have probably loved it as a child so I'm hardly in a position to judge. The Wolf and Rhino rangers retain their transformation methods from Gekiranger - the wolf morpher is simple yet effective, while the Rhino morpher doubles as a weapon (but is huge and looks particularly clunky as a morpher). The costumes did grow on me in the end, but just because they're different I wouldn't necessarily call them good. The monster costumes on the other hand are excellent, from the shadow guard footsoldiers to the Beast Generals themselves. Dai Shi/Jarrod looks great in his morphed lion mode, giving off an evil ranger vibe similar to how Koragg the Knight Wolf had in Power Rangers Mystic Force before it.

There were many flaws I found in this series, but out of all of them I'd probably say the biggest was the casting. Casey proves to be a rather bland red ranger (but does get an interesting story arc when he loses his tiger powers temporarily) and Theo isn't much better, spending most of his time whining about something or other. And then there's Lily. Lily is by far and large the worst ranger I have ever watched in a Power Rangers series (and I'm watching Samurai on a weekly basis). Unmorphed she's tolerable at the best of times, but when in battle or morphed she has this horrible habit of screaming pretty much every line she has and being genuinely unlikable. For a core team, it's especially weak.

RJ, the mentor character for the series and later Wolf Ranger, is quite the opposite. In fact, he's the saving grace of Jungle Fury character-wise. His unorthodox training methods and lessons make the rangers' development as fighters all the more interesting, and he steals every scene he's in. Once he gets his ranger powers, he shows time and time again that he probably could have handled most of the villains on his own. If there's any reason you should keep watching Jungle Fury right through to the end, it's for this guy. Dom, Jungle Fury's fifth ranger, is another one I don't have many complaints about, but that's more because he doesn't really do very much. He shows up out of the blue, becomes a ranger, and fights. Nothing to particularly rant about, but certainly nothing special.

Another different about this series is that it also has three spirit rangers - rangers created from the spirits of three of the animal masters the core trio learn from in the course of the series. Initially evil rangers, they're later able to be summoned at will. The spirit rangers themselves actually don't do very much, but its a good concept which isn't completely ruined by the desire to sell more toys (something which is more apparent in this series than most).

The plot is all over the place - the origin episode is rushed, only for a mountain of filler episodes to follow and then all the plot advancement to happen at once. The rangers receive their Jungle Master modes BEFORE RJ takes up his role as the Wolf Ranger, meaning the three are pretty much already on par with him by the time he becomes one. While I'm on that subject - RJ's conquering of his crazed wolf spirit is done in a mere 2 episodes and Dom just turns up with no prior explanation and becomes a ranger for the hell of it. Both just seem to have morphers ready for them (although this does make a little more sense in RJ's case). The in-fighting between the Beast Generals and Dai Shi adds some good depth to the antagonists, but there are times when it completely detracts from the main story. There are a lot of good ideas embedded in Jungle Fury, but the poor pacing means it lulls between being really interesting and horrifically boring at regular intervals. That being said, the tail end of the series (starting with "Tigers Fall, Lions Rise" through to "Now the Final Fury") stands out brilliantly, with the whole cast coming together for an excellent finale. Particularly Jarrod, who's main strong point seemed to be being a jerk or looking sinister until this point. Its just a little bit too late unfortunately.

The zords for this series are a mixed bag. What makes this series a little different is that they aren't in fact robots, but instead manifestations of each ranger's animal spirit. The core team's first Megazord - the Jungle Pride Megazord (made up of the tiger, cheetah and jaguar spirits) is excellent and soon became one of my favourite Power Rangers megazords. Since Gekiranger is primarily a martial arts based series, the Jungle Pride Megazord differs quite greatly to both its predecessors and successors - it's very lightly armoured and (a rarity for both Sentai and Power Rangers) doesn't use a sword for a weapon. It occasionally is seen to use nunchuks, but mostly uses its body for battle. The light armour also helps the suit actor give it a much more organic feel, making it all the more apparent that Jungle Pride isn't a robot. Its very similar to Voltron in design, with them both being made of cats and the robot face appearing within one of the cat's jaws. Jungle Pride can also get a few power ups/hats from the Elephant, Bat and Shark spirit zords, but these aren't really anything noteworthy. Especially the shark.

The second Megazord of the series - the Jungle Master Megazord, is a lot more disappointing. Made up from a bizarre assortment of animals (a gorilla, a deer and a surfing penguin) and looks a lot more like a mecha in design - taking away everything that made Jungle Pride stand out in the first place. While the core team pilot this megazord, RJ pilots the Wolf Pride Megazord, which is....Jungle Pride with a wolf leg instead of a cheetah leg. While it was nice to see Jungle Pride still in action until the end of the series, being a leg hardly seems fitting for RJ. The Wolf Pride Megazord would have looked much better if the wolf had replaced the tiger are the torso piece. Dom also has a rhino zord to pilot, which in true 'extra ranger' style can convert to its own robot mode. It's not a bad zord by any stretch, but in robot mode the colour clashes are a little distracting, and the head looks much better in battle mode (which is rarely seen outside its first appearance).

Lastly I need to mention the music, or lack of. Most of the fight sequences have the series' main theme playing over it - which results in you hearing the series main theme 2-3 times per episode. While initially I thought the theme was horrible, as the series progresses it really begins to grow on you. While nowhere near as good, its easily the most addictive song Power Rangers has had since the original 'Go Go Power Rangers', and even if you don't like it I'd be very surprised if it didn't become some sort of guilty pleasure.

Overall, Jungle Fury is certainly a disappointing series, but at the same time it certainly doesn't deserve the rap it gets from the Power Rangers community. The story showed a lot of promise, but in the end fails to deliver. With a much stronger core cast and better pacing, Jungle Fury really could have shined. It's not the worst PR series I've seen (at this stage I'd still give that to Turbo) but it's far from the best.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Series REVIEW: Mahou Sentai Magiranger

Magic, it is a sacred power.
Magic, it is an adventure into the unknown.
Magic, and it is the proof of courage!

2005’s Mahou Sentai Magiranger is the 29th entry into Toei’s Super Sentai franchise, and would later be adapted in the West as Power Rangers Mystic Force. The story follows the aftermath of a war between the magical world of Magitopia and the underground Hades Empire of Infershia. 15 years after Magitopia defeated Infershia and sealed them underground, they reawaken to exact their revenge and cause havoc on the surface world. When the 5 siblings of the Ozu family witness their mother transform into the Magician of the White (Magi Mother) in front of them, they are given magiphones to grant them the ability to turn into the legendary magicians of the five colours. When their mother is struck down in the battle against the evil dark magic knight Wolzard, the siblings are left alone to discover their new powers and defeat the forces of Infershia.

The first noteworthy thing to discuss would be the dynamic of Magiranger. As mentioned in the synopsis, the team of Magiranger are not friends or coworkers, but a family. There’s the eldest son Makito (Magi Green/earth element), eldest daughter Houka (Magi Pink/air element), youngest daughter/middle child Urara (Magi Blue/water element), middle son Tsubasa (Magi Yellow/ Lightning element) and youngest son Kai (Magi Red/fire element). Due to this and the ages of the Magirangers, there never really feels like there’s a proper leader to the team (Kai shows the most potential and courage of the team at times as he is a red ranger, but I’d never call him a fully-fledged leader) and so the element of teamwork between them feels that much stronger. Each brother/sister has their own strengths and weaknesses and bring something different to the table. They are eventually joined by the heavenly saint Sungel (who takes on the name Hikaru while one Earth) who teaches them the ways of magic as the 6th Magiranger Magi Shine (light element). Even then, while he takes the role of a teacher he’s not really in charge either, as it eventually comes to light that he has just as much to learn from the Ozu family as they do from him.

Magiranger manages to maintain a perfect balance between slapstick and seriousness. When the series begins, the rangers imagination when it comes to their magical powers is very clear – Houka turns herself into a variety of the things to battle (a fan, a cannon etc) and the sisters also engage in a particularly strange dance routine to defeat one of the monsters. The rangers are initially guided by a talking Magitopian plant named Mandora Boy, and Magi Shine’s partner is a talking cat genie named Smoky (Magi Shine’s weapon is a genie lamp, which needs to be rubbed before it can work…complete with DJ turntable noises). The series morphers are the magiphones – mobile phones where the screens flip to become more traditional magic wands. I’ve never been the biggest fan of mobile phone morphers, but this series certainly has one of the better uses of them. As you can probably guess, the style of magic is takes a very traditional approach – magic wands, potions, spells etc. but as the series progresses and the plot becomes more series, the slapstick is toned down (but not lost altogether so that Magiranger can retain its charm). The villains are an excellent bunch – main antagonist N Ma remaining mysterious until the very end, and the main general changing a good few times, each bringing different things to the series. The monster costumes really excel in this series – particularly Meemy and the 10 Hades Gods (especially Dagon and Cyclops). Wolzard’s dark magician armour gives off a nice evil sentai vibe.

Next we come to the mecha, which are also very different in Magiranger. Aside from Magi Shine’s Travelion (a flying train that can transform into a robot) the rangers themselves actually use their magic spells to BECOME the mecha. Initially they take the forms of Magi Phoenix (red), Magi Garuda (Yellow), Magi Mermaid (Blue), Magi Fairy (Pink) and Magi Taurus (Green). One of the interesting things is the sheer size difference between them (Magi Taurus is the biggest, while Magi Fairy is positively tiny by comparison, often perching on its shoulder). Garuda, Fairy, Mermaid and Taurus are able to combine into the Magi Dragon, and then the 5 together can also become Magi King, the main mecha for the series. Magi King has one of the more interesting transformations, as the size different between the individual components means the basic “torso + limbs” formation isn’t an option, and the end result is definitely one of the best Sentai mecha I’ve seen – complete with a colossal wing span. When the Magirangers attain their legend forms, Magi Red also gains the ability to become the Magi Firebird, while the others form the Magi Lion. These two then combine into Magi Legend (which, while has an impressive transformation sequence, isn’t much more than a humanoid lion robot with a bird head and wings). As they actually become the mecha, sadly an epic Magi King/Magi Legend tag team battle isn’t possible, but thankfully the rangers still make decent use of Magi King once they have the legend powers (something I was afraid of).

However, it’s very rare to find a series without any sort of flaws, and Magiranger sadly is not an exception. The romance between Urara and Hikaru isn’t developed particularly well – their initial meeting shows signs of a potential romance blossoming, and while there are some moments sprinkled throughout the series it doesn’t come back up properly until they truly proclaim their feelings for each other, and then get married in the SAME episode. The whole scene itself plays second fiddle to the build-up of the final battle, and probably would have been better off as part of the series’ wonderful epilogue. More minor complaints include the repetition of magic spells (they learn a new one pretty much every episode, and they themselves are always variations of the same three words) and the show’s main twist – Wolzard’s identity. While the revelation is well handled, his identity is obvious 2 episodes in, and it doesn’t actually happen until episode 33.

Magiranger isn’t perfect, but it’s damn well near it. The different dynamic is really refreshing and nice change of pace, and its perfect balance between story and comedy really keeps the story flowing. If you’re a fan of Super Sentai or Power Rangers then you need to check this series out, and if you aren’t this is the perfect series to introduce the franchise to you. It is, to put it simply, magical.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Toybox REVIEW: Engine Sentai Go-Onger mini-pla EngineOh

After having so much fun with the GokaiOh mini-pla, it seemed like a good idea to check out some of the other Super Sentai mecha mini-plas Bandai have done. After all, they tick all the boxes of what I've been looking for in Sentai/Power Ranger mechs - they're small, affordable, posable and transformable (plus they come with the satisfaction of building them yourself). The first to catch my eye is EngineOh from Engine Sentai Go-Onger, or the High Octane Megazord from Power Rangers RPM if you'd prefer.

There is a dividing opinion on the mecha from Go-Onger, which I imagine stems a lot from the fact that they are compact, anime style cars (complete with eyes and faces) and that, in the case of EngineOh, their combination is very 'totem pole' (as in, they pile on top of each other). I am firmly in the 'love' camp with the Go-Onger mecha, who for me really stand out from the others and have a more interesting combination than "torso + 2 arms + 2 legs". EngineOh is made up from Engine Speedor (Red), Engine Bus-On (Blue) and Engine BearRV (yellow).

It should be noted that the kit I bought is the Hong Kong reissue of EngineOh, rather than the original Japanese release. It has been said in the past that these reissues are somewhat 'cheaper' than the original releases, and while there were a few issues with mine that might suggest that (which I'll go into in a moment) the overall quality is still pretty damn good - everything fits together securely. The issues I had were that one of the connector joints on Engine Speedor broke in half as I was putting it together (luckily they still fit in properly in two halves anyway) and that some of the stickers are poorly cut and uneven (which isn't a huge deal if you plan to buy the set and paint it instead anyway). Bus-On probably has the most stickers (after all he is the biggest one), but BearRV is moulded in black, meaning the yellow (the colour the whole bear head pretty much is) is all done through stickering. Be careful to get it to look even. When in vehicle mode, the Go-On sword (which is supplied with BearRV) can be stored in one of Bus-On's trailer compartments.

It is when the three are combined as EngineOh that the appeal of these candy toys really shines. EngineOh is blessed with a great variety of articulation - particularly in the head, shoulders, elbows, waist, hips, knees and feet. The only real niggles I have is that the robot would benefit from both better hands (they're on a hinge so don't have a huge range of motion) and some sort of heels to make action poses more stable. Even then, EngineOh can be displayed in a wide variety of poses, with both the Go-On sword and shield (which is securely stored on its back when not in use). There are probably some details I've missed out, but on the whole EngineOh doesn't even need that much paint to look accurate either - just a dab of silver on the sword and then some silver and gold for the pipes on the head.

So while I do have a few minor issues with this set, it's still pretty fantastic overall. Not quite at the level of GokaiOh, but then there's a lot more going on with him. I wish I'd gotten into these a lot sooner, because going back and picking more up is going to prove costly. I'll definitely be picking up GunbirOh at some stage, and I also have my eye on Magiking and GoseiGreat. I'm at the top of a very slippery slope.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Anime REVIEW: Kannazuki No Miko

Kannazuki No Miko is a 12 episode anime series based on the manga of the same name by Kaishaku (a name derived from Kaishakunin, which by no coincidence is a key theme in Kannazuki No Miko). The story concerns Himeko and Chikane, two girls who are in fact the reincarnations of the Solar and Lunar Miko (maidens). When an ancient evil they once sealed rises again, they are thrust into their destinies in these roles to defend the world against the Orochi, the eight necks of the Yamata no Orochi. The first Orochi - Sōma Ōgami, a childhood friend who's also in love with Himeko, awakens and attacks them on their shared birthday. However after a blinding flash of light brings him to his senses, he rejects his fate and vows to defend Himeko against the other Orochi. The series not only deals with the girls destiny to awaken the Ame no Murakumo and their ultimate fates, but also the yuri relationship growing between the two girls conflicting with the relationship between Himeko and Chikane.

At 12 episodes, there’s a lot of plot to be covered, so the series takes things at a relatively speedy pace. Despite this, it’s not hard to follow and has a good few twists and turns to keep the audience interested. The ending is cleverly done, pulling at the heartstrings but at the same time having an epilogue which hints that there really might be a happy ending for everyone involved.

The characters in Kannazuki No Miko are a mixed bag. The protagonists are excellently portrayed and receive plenty of development and analysis (even if both romantic subplots are a little forced at times). This however comes at the expense of the Orochi, who seem to get none whatsoever. This is a shame, because they are a really bizarre bunch - including a manga artist, a pop idol, a sexy nun and a catgirl-nurse-child. Their backstory amounts to each one getting a 2 second flashback (which hints at pretty noteworthy backgrounds) towards the end of the series, and they spend most of the time sitting around rather than actually doing anything. Tsubasa and Sister Miyako are the only ones that get episodes where they play pivotal roles, and following Miyako’s they’re all disposed of. 12 episodes was nowhere near enough to play about with the characters it introduced, and while a few more episodes each reflecting a different neck of the Orochi and their mecha may have made the series a little more generic, it would have made it that much more enjoyable. There’s also some side characters I probably should mention, but they do even less than the villains.

On to the subject of the mecha, which I have mixed feelings on that go against my usual tastes. In all honesty, I think Kannazuki No Miko would have benefitted from not having mecha battles at all, because they feel incredibly detached for the story. The antagonists are bizarre on their own, but to suddenly have them pull out mecha with little to no explanation makes it even stranger. The designs themselves range from bland (Sōma’s is nothing more than an obvious Gundam rip off, and Tsubasa’s Take no Yasukunazuchi shares obvious traits with Gundam Wing Zero) to bizarre (Nekoko’s Meow Meow is a giant floating ball with cannons galore). The Ame No Murakumo is definitely the show stealer when it comes to the mecha – a huge transforming white angelic styled robot, and its arrival in the series climax leads on to an excellent pay off. It’s only at this stage do the mecha not feel completely tacked on, and otherwise the series may have benefitted from the antagonists fighting directly (not that half of them DID anything anyway).

Admittedly this isn't the usual kind of thing I'd watch, but the promise of both yuri and mecha was a pretty enticing draw. In the end, Kannazuki No Miko is a perfectly enjoyable series (that potentially could have been better if it were a bit longer) but doesn't really do anything that other series' haven't done better. The focus on a yuri relationship is an good alternate take on what otherwise is a rather generic story type and the final few episodes are both action packed and ultimately bittersweet, but to call the series anything more than average would be overselling it.