Review of Tokyo Tattoo Girls

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Screenshots can be deceptive. Back in the day, when I owned an Amstrad CPC 464, I would often be disappointed by the games I bought. The graphics, of the software I had purchased, were much uglier than the images plastered on the box. Gullible me had been duped by sneaky publishers, who would promote their wares by using pictures from the more advanced Amiga version. I guess the practice continues to this day, in trailers that use rendered cut scene footage rather than gameplay visuals. Tokyo Tattoo Girls is another example of a release that misled me with its imagery. At first glance it looks like a strategy game, but in actuality it is a glorified clicker, were you wait around and click the briefcases of cash that sporadically appear.

OVERVIEW

Tokyo Tattoo Girls is set in the city of London. Just kidding! It takes place in Tokyo. Despite what I wrote above, the game isn’t so disingenuous that it doesn’t feature the titular capital. Anyways… a disaster has struck the metropolis, which has led to the government cordoning Tokyo off from the rest of the country. Devoid of state administration the area’s wards have been taken over by twenty-three girlies who are empowered by mystical tattoos. Players take control of a tattoo artist who has joined forces with a cute waifu, who harbours aspirations of ruling the entire city some day. In order to accomplish this goal players will have to build up a syndicate and invest the funds they procure to cover their lady with more ink than Kat Von D.

For the most part the game plays itself. When the campaign begins you select an area to invade and from there your empire gradually spreads across the map. Turf wars occasionally break out, which deplete your clan’s honour meter. If the honour gauge hits zero your conquest of Tokyo ends in a premature game over. Paying bribes can thankfully reduce the likelihood of honour-sapping conflicts erupting. Alternatively income can be spent on tattoos that bestow passive bonuses. Clicking on the briefcases that manifest on the map collects racket money. It’s also possible to generate cash by playing dice at the gambling dens. The buxom croupier who rolls the D6 cubes flaunts her cleavage more than a female Twitch streamer.

VERDICT

My rating for Tokyo Tattoo Girls is two stars. I don’t hate the game, like some other reviewers do, but I can’t award it a higher score due to the lack of interactivity. Despite what the game’s convoluted tutorial suggests, Tokyo Tattoo Girls is far from complex. I would file it under the category of “podcast game.” Something that doesn’t test my concentration skills, but at least serves the purpose of keeping my hands occupied whenever I partake in an audiobook listening session. One thing that puzzles me about Tokyo Tattoo Girls is its high frequency of load screens. If the PlayStation Vita can handle 3D games seamlessly, why does it need to pause so often with Tokyo Tattoo Girls’ less demanding text menus and still pictures?

I am surprised that NIS America localized Tokyo Tattoo Girls, when there are far better Japanese titles still awaiting a Western translation. Tokyo Tattoo Girls would work better as an inexpensive mobile game rather than a twenty-five quid Vita product. On the plus side the character designs are nice. Whoever is responsible for the game’s artwork deserves to work on a JRPG or visual novel. Apart from the anime girls I also thought that the tattoo outlines looked impressive. No wonder that some people endure the discomfort of adorning their skin with skulls, names of loved ones and Final Fantasy characters. Speaking of Final Fantasy, which monster gives the best tattoos from that series? The answer is Cactuar, because he has one thousand needles!

Review of Wonder Momo

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Wonder Momo is an anime I discovered whilst skimming through Crunchyroll’s library the other day. At first glance it looked like something right up my alley. Cute girls and superheroes rank high in my list of favourite things after all. Had I known that the cartoon was based off a Bandai Namco video game I would have given the series a miss and would have saved myself much disappointment. Most anime inspired by games tend to suck and Momo proved to be no exception to that rule. In case you don’t know, the original Wonder Momo was an eighties arcade brawler. One amusing thing about the game is that jumping would cause Momo to flash her panties, which would momentarily cause her to pause in embarrassment.

OVERVIEW

Kanda Momoko is a high school student and aspiring pop idol. One day she bumps into a green skinned man who presents her with a mysterious orb. The sphere gets absorbed into Momoko’s body, allowing her to transform into the titular heroine. Momoko decides to use the power to protect Earth from space invaders. Well, I assume the extra terrestrials are trying to conquer the planet. Most of the time they just seem to commit random acts of vandalism at school gymnasiums and fashion shows. In episode one a photographer named Terashima Natsuhiko spots Momoko transforming into her alien smacking alter ego. He promises to keep Momoko’s identity a secret. Not sure why. It’s not like the transparent visor Momo wears is at all effective at masking her features!

The villains that Momo battles look like mimes, whose pale heads have been replaced with red faces (resembling the YouTube image you sometimes get when attempting to view a removed video.) Said enemies are more useless than a Koopa Trooper or Dynasty Warriors soldier, which is just as well given that Momo is a terrible hero. Often she has to be rescued by her own mother or a blonde rival named Matsuo Akiho. I guess you can’t expect much from someone who uses a hula-hoop as a weapon. There’s not much damage that one can do with a plastic ring after all… although I am sure the destroyed antiques owned by parents who have overzealous children would dispute otherwise. Kids like to wreck expensive things almost as much as cats enjoy assaulting Christmas trees.

VERDICT

My rating for Wonder Momo is one star. Usually I am more generous than your average reviewer when it comes to scores. Distract me with some eye candy or jokes and I am likely to award your show a three out of five at least. Wonder Momo however isn’t funny, just stupid. The writing is poor and it’s clear that little effort was put into the production, as evidenced by the times the studio recycles transformation sequences and fight footage. Adding salt to the wound is the last episode, which ends on a cliffhanger. Momo and chums teleport into the alien mother ship via a portal, confront a bunch of guards and it just ends there. The series aired way back in 2014 so the chances of a sequel ever coming out, to finish the unresolved story, are pretty much zero.

On the plus side Wonder Momo is mercifully short. The series is only five episodes long and each instalment only lasts for seven minutes. Even less if you subtract the opening and ending credits. Although I appreciate that it’s tough to tell a good story with such a concise running time that’s no excuse for Wonder Momo being so weak. Bikini Warriors along with The Comic Artist & His Assistants both managed to entertain me with quick skits, so why couldn’t Wonder Momo do the same? Given how rich anime is in humorous super hero franchises there’s no reason to check out Wonder Momo. One Punch Man, Tiger & Bunny, My Hero Academia and even the first half of Samurai Flamenco are superior to this anime. Wonder Moo Moo is complete and udder rubbish.

Review of ReLIFE

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Would you return to school if given the opportunity? That’s a tough question to answer, as there are numerous pros and cons to consider. My time at comprehensive was plagued with inept teachers and bullies, so I don’t have fond memories of the place. The cushier school hours easily trump my present day nine to six job though. Now that I am older and wiser, I would like to believe that I would fare better if given another chance at education. In ReLIFE, a thirteen-episode anime based on Yayoiso’s manga, twenty-seven year old NEET Arata Kaizaki accepts the challenge of spending one (all expenses paid) year in high school. Blending in with the student body won’t be a problem, as he has been asked to trial a miracle drug that transforms its users into teenagers.

OVERVIEW

Arata didn’t have much to lose when a mysterious lab asked him to test their youth restoring pills. It was either that or work retail (shudder) as a part time convenience store clerk. Arata’s first job, a stressful marketing gig, ended with him quitting after three short months and since then he has been unsuccessful in getting hired elsewhere. He’s so ashamed with his employment status that he even pretends to still work at his old office, whenever his drinking buddies invite him out for a few brews.

Tales of adults masquerading as kids are commonplace in fiction. ReLIFE handles the premise better than other shows though. Even if you strip away the anime’s sci-fi elements, it still holds up as a humorous high school romp that has a likable cast. Thankfully the series is devoid of sleaze, so you won’t see old man Arata inappropriately cavorting with girls. ReLIFE also isn’t one of those insufferable stories were an adult returns to school and becomes the most popular kid in class. Quite the opposite in fact! Despite looking young on the outside, Arata has the stamina of someone pushing thirty – so he sucks at sports. Academically he is also a failure, leading him to flunk all his exams. That’s actually realistic. If I returned to school now I too would struggle with subjects like math and science.

VERDICT

My rating for ReLIFE is three stars. Although technically a drama, the series consistently put a smile on my face thanks to its funny scenes and feel good moments. Arata may struggle with grades, but when it comes to enriching the lives of others he easily scores top marks. You might be wondering why such an outstanding guy cannot find work. Well, the reason is explained in one of the later episodes. It’s tied to a dark event that occurred in his first job. Despite enjoying the series, I wish the storylines were spread out more evenly. ReLIFE is only a single cour long and for some reason ends up dedicating most of its story arcs to a redhead named Kariu Rena, who is only an auxiliary character.

Best girl without a doubt is class representative Chizuru Hishiro. She is one smart cookie, but hasn’t got a clue when it comes to socialising. Chizuru reminds me of Sawako (Kimi ni Todoke) because they both possess awkward smiles that creep people out. There’s some romantic chemistry between Arata and Chizuru, although the former is reluctant to pursue a relationship due to their age gap. I am curious to see what will happen next between the pair; especially given the bombshell that the show ends on. Thankfully more animated ReLIFE is due out in 2018. Crunchyroll also hosts the source material, so fans can follow Arata’s future exploits that way too. Good to know that the story of the youth restoring tablet won’t end on a cliffhanger… that would be a tough “pill” to swallow.

Review of Beautiful Bones

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Beautiful Bones is a light novel adaptation that is presumably titled after its protagonist Sakurako Kujo, who happens to be an attractive osteologist. Either that, or the title is referencing Shotaro Tatewaki’s reaction to her. When the aforementioned teen first spotted the “beautiful” lady he must have gotten a “boner.” Shotaro was so smitten with Sakurako that he started stalking her. Trailing the gorgeous Sakurako eventually culminated in the pair meeting and Shotaro becoming her unofficial assistant. Often, when the duo ventures outside in search of animal carcasses, they stumble across human remains. It then falls on Sakurako to use her expertize to solve the murder they have just uncovered.

OVERVIEW

This 2015 anime, based on Shiori Ota’s books, is worth watching for the eccentric lead alone. Sakurako is a genius in her field, but not much of a people person. Her blunt remarks often cause offence and her skeleton obsession sometimes sees her squabble with the police. She just cannot understand why the authorities won’t allow her to keep the bodies she discovers! Those seeking an action packed series better look elsewhere, as the show is mainly made up of scenes where people chatter. I can’t imagine that the artists at studio Troyca were overly challenged by this project. The cartoon’s most visually impressive moments occur whenever Sakurako dons latex gloves, in anticipation of inspecting a crime scene. Said sequence features CG undead critters.

Sakurako is a captivating character, but the support cast are far less interesting. Her right hand man Shotaro is your typical anime male. A nice guy who is rather plain. For the most part he’s there to diffuse tensions, whenever Sakurako’s barbs cause umbrage. About the only person that Sakurako listens to is her elderly maid Ume Sawa. Just like a strict grandmother, Ume scolds Sakurako on the occasions when she ruins her appetite by overindulging in sweets. The show’s mascot is a pooch named Hector, that Sakurako procures later on in the series. Hector’s past owners had a habit of meeting an untimely demise. Frequent exposure to the dead has given the mutt a sixth sense for sniffing out corpses.

VERDICT

My rating for Beautiful Bones is four stars. It’s a show that I can recommend to viewers who dig a good whodunit. The cases that Sakurako tackles aren’t mysteries you are likely to solve yourself, but they do a good job of highlighting what a powerful tool forensic science is. It would be unrealistic for someone to come across so many murders (although that never stopped Murder She Wrote from becoming popular) so not all of the storylines revolve around killings. Episode three for example has Sakurako investigating an alleged suicide, whilst a two-part tale titled The Entrusted Bones sees the sweet-toothed osteologist track the origin of human bones stored within a school’s science department.

The only issue I have with Beautiful Bones is with its conclusion. Although the series is mainly comprised of standalone adventures, its finale wraps up by setting up a villain named Hanabusa. He is a devious painter who collects skull fragments. Rather than get his hands dirty, Hanabusa preys on the emotionally fragile and convinces them to take their own lives. He can then harvest the remains to claim his trophy. Hanabusa is still at large, when episode twelve closes, and an after credits clip hints that he has set his sights on Sakurako. How things will play out remain up in the air, because a second season is unlikely to ever get made. If you are hoping for an animated resolution I am afraid to say that you are “boned.”