Review of Dragon Pilot

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Back when I was a kid, I grew up watching several cartoons that featured transformable planes. In a way, Dragon Pilot is similar to those classic shows from yesteryear. The key difference is that instead of robots in disguise we get giant lizards, which morph into fighter jets. Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan is a twelve-episode anime created by studio Bones. At the time of writing it is available to stream exclusively on Netflix. I haven’t seen many bloggers write about this series. That’s a shame because the anime is rather good. Perhaps some viewers were put off by the art style Bones went with? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though. I rather like the retro/moe aesthetics. The dragons are cute and their human pilots somewhat resemble Mako from Kill la Kill.

OVERVIEW

Hisone Amakasu is a girl who has no goals in life. When deciding on what career path to follow she elected to join the Air Force. The reason? She spotted a plane zooming across the sky, from her classroom window, whilst in the middle of filling out a job survey. When the series begins Hisone is stationed at the Gifu Air Base, where she works in an office. One day she is asked to deliver some paperwork to a nearby hanger, by her commanding officer. There she encounters the titular Masotan, who happens to be a giant dragon. It turns out that dragons are real and their existence has been made secret by the government. To keep dragons out of the public eye they are outfitted with armor, which Hisone likens to cosplay, that is capable of morphing the flying lizards into aircraft.

During this chance meeting it is decided that Hisone should become Masotan’s pilot. Unlike other potential candidates, that Masotan has rejected, he deems the girl worthy enough to gobble up! Don’t worry folks. Aside from being terrified by the sudden ingestion, Hisone is not harmed. Dragon Pilots command their partners from the comfort of the creature’s belly. Once a mission is complete they release the pilot via barfing. Apart from being slimy, dragon gastric juices are capable of dissolving conventional clothing. Hisone is therefore given a protective skintight suit. Getting chosen by a dragon is a rare honor, so Hisone should feel chuffed. It is however later discovered that Masotan only devoured her because of the old school flip phone she carried. Antiquated mobiles are apparently a dragon’s favorite snack.

VERDICT

My rating for Dragon Pilot is three and a half stars. It’s a sweet show that should appeal to viewers who enjoy cute slice of life anime. There isn’t much in the way of story. A good chunk of the series simply chronicles how Hisone bonds with Masotan, her flight training sessions and the cadet’s interactions with other pilots. Her peers include a geek named Lilikos and Mayumi, a chubby gal who likes to spoil her dragon with grub. One problem that Hisone suffers from is that she is a compulsive chatterbox. She cannot control the urge to blurt out what’s on her mind, which sometimes causes unintended offense. Her big mouth plays a factor in angering roommate Nao Kaizaki, who retaliates by bullying Hisone in the early episodes. Hisone also has a strained relationship with a no nonsense pilot named Elle Hoshino. The two clash over how Elle treats her dragon like a tool rather than a partner.

The only reason I am not giving Dragon Pilot a higher score is because of the final three episodes. Although the series ends on a satisfactory, albeit slightly rushed, note I much preferred the earlier content. Like is the case with other animated comedies I have seen, screenwriter Mari Okada felt the need to inject some forced drama into the show’s finale. I personally didn’t care for the change in tone. Much of the humor vanished during the last arc, which sees the girls participate in an escort mission that will determine the fate of the nation. Hisone’s lighthearted romance with mechanic Haruto Okonogi also developed into a love triangle. Upping the ante even further is a last gasp revelation, which revolves around human sacrifice. Dang, that escalated quickly. I would have never vore-seen that the anime, about dragons who swallow live girls, would take such a serious turn.

Review of My Hero Academia (Season 1)

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My Hero Academia is a bit like the reverse X-Men. Rather than being the minority, in this series, super powered mutants make up most of the population. Some folks use their special abilities to commit crime, whilst others opt instead to become costumed law enforcers. Teenage protagonist Izuku Midoriya (nicknamed Deku… because he is a scrub) has always dreamt of becoming a superhero. Unfortunately for him, he happens to be part of the twenty percent of people who never develop a superhuman skill. His hopes and dreams seem to be over, until one fateful day when he bumps into the nation’s mightiest hero.

OVERVIEW

One thing that I like about My Hero Academia is that Deku earns his power through courage and effort. He isn’t one of those anime dweebs who acquires an “I win button” by randomly stumbling upon a huge mech or cute kitty that gives away magical girl outfits. Deku inherits the abilities of a Superman clone (named All Might) through a tough apprenticeship that involves cleaning up a beach. Deku possesses far more willpower than myself. I would pass on super strength if ridding the seaside of litter were the cost. Plucking dirty syringes and used condoms from my local coastline isn’t worth the hassle.

All Might is looking for a worthy successor, who he can transfer his powers to, because injury has severely depleted his super hero work hours. On an average day, All Might can only fight crime for a period of 180 minutes. After that time limit elapses he morphs from The Rock into Pee-wee Herman. With his days numbered All Might accepts a mentorship role at an academy that tutors the next generation of Marvel rip-offs. Deku enrols at said U.A. High School after gaining a portion of All Might’s power, which he accomplishes by devouring a strand of the hero’s hair. I accidently ate a hair follicle once, which was served in the soup of a dodgy restaurant. Rather than boost my fortitude it gave me indigestion!

VERDICT

Like a motion picture from Marvel Studios, My Hero Academia suffers from villains that lack depth. The season finale however teases that the evildoers, who show up in the third arc, may get some development in future episodes. On the plus side Deku’s classmates make up for the weak antagonists. They are a colourful bunch, whose ranks include a gravity defying love interest, a hot-headed rival and a bespectacled speedster. Oh, and let’s not frog-et best girl Tsuyu Asui. She’s an amphibian who can leap high and literarily give out tongue-lashings with her elongated mouth organ.

I am awarding My Hero Academia (Season One) a four out of five. Unless the subpar DC movies have killed your passion for all things superhero, I can highly recommend this thirteen episode series. The action is good, there are some funny moments that will make you chortle and most important of all the characters have heart. Clearly I am not the only person who liked My Hero Academia. The series has since spawned a lengthier follow up and a third season is already in the works. That’s plenty of content to keep fans of capes and tights occupied, until the next instalment of One Punch Man comes out.

Review of Chaika: The Coffin Princess

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Chaika: The Coffin Princess is an anime series based on the light novels penned by IchirĊ Sakaki (whose previous works include Outbreak Company and Scrapped Princess.) Much like the aforementioned books, this series takes place in a fantasy realm populated with charming characters. Although not devoid of humour, when compared to the rib tickling Outbreak Company, Chaika’s script focuses more on action adventure rather than comedy. Both properties do however feature characters that dress in French maid attire. I’m not sure that anyone would hire the titular Chaika to dust their abode though, given how she creepily lugs a large casket on her back.

OVERVIEW

The dozen episodes contained in this season one set have Chaika roaming the land in search of her father’s remains. Chaika Trabant is the daughter of the kingdom’s former emperor – a tyrannical sorcerer named Arthur Gaz. When the Gaz Empire was toppled Emperor Gaz was slain and hacked up into eight pieces, with each body part being entrusted to one of the heroes who helped vanquish him. Yuck, that’s gruesome stuff – although not unusual for a medieval punishment (I understand that Scottish legend William Wallace suffered a similar fate.) Dismemberment is not a pleasant thing… perhaps I should have warned you readers not to snack whilst perusing this review. Sorry!

When viewers first meet Chaika it soon becomes apparent that the albino princess has not made much progress in her macabre scavenger hunt. Chaika has ventured into some woods and, much like a chap who refuses to ask for directions, she is completely lost. She ambles about; going round and round in circles, until she eventually bumps into the angriest My Little Pony I have ever seen. Thankfully for the pale protagonist a wandering saboteur named Toru Acura rescues Chaika from falling victim to unicorn assault. After escaping from the forest unscathed Chaika hires the services of Toru and his sister Akari Acura. Despite lacking a sense of direction the petit royal does at least have an abundant supply of silver to recruit mercenary assistance.

After a while the abovementioned trio become a quartet, thanks to the addition of Fredrika – a sassy lass who has the ability to polymorph into different forms. Together they travel across the Six Nations seeking the eight fabled heroes who protect the decomposing prizes that Chaika desires. It’s a race against time as Chaika has “siblings” of sorts who also share the same goal. Who knew that rotting limbs were so in demand? They are almost as sought after as limited edition Amiibos! Heroes and Chaika’s relatives aren’t the only obstacle Toru’s band has to contend with however. The authorities have dispatched the Gillett Corps to foil Chaika’s aspirations. Said team includes a dashing cavalier, an animal tamer and a feline demi-human (sadly he’s a cat boy rather than a cat girl.)

VERDICT

My rating for Chaika: The Coffin Princess is four stars. Watching this series took me back to the days when I enjoyed lighthearted fantasy romps such as Slayers and Rune Soldier Louie. Part of the appeal is the amiable cast of characters who I can’t help but root for, even if their motivations are somewhat questionable. Reuniting the pieces of an evil wizard sounds like bad news to me – not to mention that Toru favours war over peace, as conflict improves his employment prospects. I can’t dislike Chaika however, as she is so gosh darn cute. Her manner of speech is adorable and (despite being the offspring of a tyrant) she is always willing to aid the needy. Cheering on the fugitives is also easy given that the government the Gillett Corps serve are anything but noble.

Overall the series provides the right blend of action and gags. There’s plenty of acrobatic sword fighting, courtesy of Toru’s Iron-Blood techniques, and Akari’s deadpan jibes never failed to amuse me. Chaika also contributes during combat via her enchanted sharpshooting. Much like in Outlaw Star, the firearms in this show are used for spell casting. Chaika saving the day via the use of magic is perhaps overplayed, but her power is limited due to the fact that firing a weapon without mana cartridges can rob a caster of their memories. Besides, how is Chaika winning through magic any worse than Voltron always triumphing over adversity thanks to his gigantic blade?

I can’t wait for season two based on this strong showing. Worryingly however I have been unable to locate any concrete news detailing when the next instalment will be localized. Guess I shall have to be patient. Translating the next season of “Coffin” Princess is after all a massive “undertaking.”