EVER FELT THE NEED TO PUT SOMETHING DOWN JUST CAUSE IT'S TRYING SO HARD, BUT FAILING...?
Well... I'd say I have a decent grasp of Asura Cryin', being that I popped it in and sat there for the entire 13 episodes running time of around 4 hours and 30 minutes... Did I force myself? No, far from it. Could I have used the time to watch something better? Definatly.
...And that's why. Asura Cryin' was interesting and hinted multiple times at greatness, but definatly not early on... The art style is cute, the voices are overall nice, and the fight scenes that AREN'T mecha were more than satisfying. The story made me think of some bizarre hybrid between SMT Persona and Gurren Lagann with it's school setting and dark religious overtones (overtones that basically never get developed, mind you), while combining TTGL's wanton super action and spiral theme.
The result SHOULD have been amazing, but Asura Cryin' remains a confusing tale with a weak lead. Tomoharu is haunted by admittedly ADORABLE ghost Misao, and... shit happens. Thats really as best as I can describe it. Tomo gets sucked into this battle between factions- and then suddenly it doesn't matter and he's friends with both. Seriously. Asura Cryin' didn't put out any effort to determine what was important, what was supposed to be a plot point and what wasn't... Not to mention I noticed that outside of the action scenes, Asura Cryin' reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally REALLY really needed a new director... seriously this director must have Autism (so do I, but still it's pretty bad) because the scenes flutter around without even putting the effort to make a decent transition... this may not sound that bad, but really it is given that the characters flashing back and forth weren't developed enough to make me forgive the terrible transitions.
However, I still did enjoy this series despite the fact that Tomoharu has no drive as a main character, the conflict is unexplained, characters are added left and right, and overall there's not much of a plot... Until the end, however, where SHIT GETS REAL. But seriously, the ending of Asura Cryin' leads set up to a second season which I hear to be phenominally better than this preceeding series, and due to the actual effort put into the interesting set up that the ending gives. By the end, I finally started to feel for this show something beyond mindless entertaintment. I felt engaged, but it's not something I can reccomend to everyone. For basically 11 episodes out of the 13 are plauged with the problems I described above and the only reason the last 2 were good, was because it leading to the (presumably) better 2nd season.
Was I entertained? Yes! Was I satisfied? No. So overall what would I say about Asura Cryin'? I liked it. Will I watch season 2? HELL yes. I won't deny that I was interested and wanted to like it more, but the circumstances made it tough to. The only thing I can say, is give it a try!
Whew, finished this just in time for the new season! Overall it wasn’t really a bad show and it started getting a lot better towards the end. The show really could of done without the ecchi, it got really annoying after awhile. The one president with the sword in the last 2 episodes…. Holy shit she’s amazing and probably my most favorite character in the series. HOPEFULLY she’s in season 2. And season 2 also looks like it’ll be A LOT darker then this one with what happened at the end.
Have yet to see season 2 yet :(
NOTICE: This review covers both seasons of this title.
- Animated by Seven Arcs, a studio which makes only shitty ecchi anime, including the famous (but overall boring) Lyrical Nanoha shows.
- Directed by Kusakawa Keizou who pretty much directed ALL Seven Arcs shows.
- Story written by Mikumo Gakuto who offered us trash like this, as well as The Mystical Archives of Dantalian and Strike the Blood.
It’s a light novel adaptation so TADAAA you already know it is trash material for people with low expectations. It tries to be spooky at times, only to end up sounding as such: Thunders and spells and dramatic set up, and zooming to a wizard using magic speels full of weird lingo. In the name of God’s blissful existence I command you to… Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to grab your boobs! Really! And my Johnny magically appeared between them! I’m sorry for being a normal teenager; I’m terribly sorry! Well thanks for killing the mood you idiot!
Is this really a 2009 work? It hardly looks as one. The characters are drawn rushly, with their facial anatomy looking too sketchy and distorted half of the time. Not that they would be that eye-catchy even if they were drawn more consistent; they overused the school uniform fuss and everyone seems to wear only one set of clothes. Most monsters have really lame looks and the koala mascot animal wasn’t even shaking its mouth. So lazy! The 3D mechas also have some really crude movements, a further indication of low budget. But it’s not like the animators were amateurs; given the proper time and money, they offered wonders such as the final episodes where the budget is tripled and everything looks awesome. Even in the rest of the episodes, the characters have a lively body language despite the weak artwork in facial consistency or smooth movements. There was also variety in background settings and special effects. They did a decent job at mixing hi-tech with religious allusions, even if all that were just superficial and eventually forgettable traits.
Directing-wise it is a mixed bag, as almost every battle looks like a random line of independent shots, where things pop out of nowhere, pay no real attention to physics and end in quite boring and uneventful ways. But what a surprise, every time the lead is in an ecchi situation the girls have double as much attention and details given to their looks and naked bodies. That tells a lot about what they really cared to animate properly, doesn’t it? Anyways, the finale is an exception, since it had very good battle choreography. That dimensional eye in the sky and the energy beams were really something! If the rest of the series was like that, I would be amazed. The cinematics they used in the opening and ending videos is another sign of how they had the talent but not the interest or money to offer good atmosphere.
Intro and ending songs are ok to listen to. Not bad but not memorable in any way. Voice acting is a bit relaxed but does the trick. The dialogues is pretty skipable material, nothing special about them and you are still required to survive all those “You pervert!, I didn’t mean to” cliché catchphrases just so you can listen to the pseudo-scientific explanations and some really spooky hymns here and there. As for the BGM… it went unnoticed. I already forgot it.
Typical to most light novels, they think it is cool to throw as much as possible in the script in hopes of making it interesting, only to be quicky proven they are just lazily trying to dress up a typical harem comedy. Variety in themes and symbolisms may be making something more interesting to pay attention to, but not when it is used superficially for some really trashy content. Religion clashes with fringe science, summoning monsters, contracts with demons and ghosts, mechas popping out of shadows, teenagers with superpowers, magic gismo that fulfils wishes, alternative dimensions, ero-jokes… Yes, sounds cool, but down to it, it is a disjoined random compilation of anime clichés.
First of all, the general idea behind the story is damn good. The whole alternative dimension theory, plus the pseudo science are actually very interesting concepts. The thing is, you don’t have a clue about all that up until the last half of the second season… which is surprisingly very good just for that. That’s right, the terminology is explained almost at the end. I mean, ok, they don’t have to start by infodumping everything and revealing all the mysteries at once. But wasting three quarters of the show in seemingly random battles and ecchi humor and then expecting us to give a damn in the end is plain retarded. If you expect to make the viewer care, you should offer the juicy parts right away.
Even beyond the terribly handled story, other elements like pacing and action, were also below average up until the final arc. It offers a satisfying closure and nice last impressions, but up until then it plays out like random scenes from different series exchanging places with no order. On one episode the lead has a fight that determines the lives of millions. On the next episode… beach fan service! Yeah, that’s what should follow an epic battle for the salvation of the Earth, where each one of them almost died. Another huge battle happens, after of which we get a… spa episode! Yup, 18 episodes of archetypical date sim girls interacting with the dork lead and lots of subpar battles with robots and superpowers. And of course, the police or the army or in many cases casual bystanders simply DON’T EXIST! And wow, look at that, a high school student council is running around with enough firepower to level half the world and the teachers or parents don’t mind. Doodily doodily doo, my disbelief is trying to escape through the ventilation shafts, someone stop it!
But as I said, the final 6 episodes are in fact damn good and I almost beg you to skip the rest and watch only those. I was thinking something along the lines of “OMG, my date sim performed a fusion dance with Noein!” This clearly shows that the producers CAN offer something good if they try. I have nothing against showing some bare leg from time to time, but focusing on those alone for MOST OF THE FRAKKING SERIES becomes a test of nerves.
Fan service ruins the personalities of any character, and this series is yet another example. The lead character is your typical lame, spineless, useless, self-insert indecisive lead characterTM all lazy scriptwriters use instead of… I don’t know, trying not to do the obvious thing. As a result he is a boring character, who, as his archetype dictates, keeps bumping on boobs and naked women and keeps asking for forgiveness before being accused of being a sex driven beast… which translates to a normal teenager. He also has this annoying long line of hair on one side of his head, which is supposed to make him stand out from all others of his brood but it is REALLY pissing me off while starring at it. I want to yank in off!
And then there is his harem… Man, they ripped off every archetype you can find in typical eroges. But hey, at least each one of them has an extra feature to make her look a bit more unique. We get Childhood friend/ghost/part of an apocalyptic conspiracy, Miko priestess/fire user/shy with huge boobs, loli tsundere/luck eater/that changes age, bold mature glasses woman/missile thrower/with meek twin sister. Yeah, we have something cooking up nicely here. They have personalities, backdrops, agendas, there is hardly anyone useless in the story. Even the lead male grows some balls and gets more active. And they all get a decent catharsis by the end of the series.
It is a real shame how this meal was left to burn, because of a mostly aimless story and the fap service which sapped all their dignity. Seriously, if it was half as long and lacked the pointless beach and spa episodes, it could have been far better.
This is one of those cases where you scream WHYYYY? IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO GOO-OO-OOD! Japan has a thing for sabotaging itself by trashing titles with potential just so it can please roneries with softporn. The story is fine, every single character is there for a reason, the premise for epic battles and mystery is there. But they all went to hell by throwing beach episodes and boob jokes and put to death harem situations and uneventful battles, which effectively translate into 75% dead time and masturbation. And it’s not like titles such as Steins;Gate or Noein didn’t already handle the same premise far better.
Call me a grumpy old man if you like, but modern anime focus way too much on erotism to appeal to a mature veteran like myself. To a great extend the producers simply gave up on trying to be experimental. Nowadays they just rehash previous ideas with a boost of 500% more eye candy and fan service. What’s so bad with that? Well… I watch anime for the story and the characters. If I expect ero stuff, there is always hentai or some porn site. Being bombarded with ecchi humor in a series which is supposed to be action, drama, and mystery is like they are telling you “Screw the story; it’s one of the same; just look for pantsu.” Well excuse me then if my reaction to that is giving up and going for a beer…
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (crude)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (have variety)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 5/10
Voice Acting 2/5 (corny)
Music Themes 3/5 (average)
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (terrible)
Complexity 0/2 (unneeded complexity to dress up a harem)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 2/2 (solid and cool)
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 0/2 (weak)
Personality 1/2 (typical)
Backdrop 2/2 (they all have some)
Development 2/2 (they all get some)
Catharsis 2/2 (solid)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 0/4 (no reason to remember it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 0/1 (looks lazy)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (good ideas, bad handling)
Characters 2/4 (they are ok but are badly handled)
This review is of the entire series, both seasons. A-P has them separated, but I saw no reason to review two halves of the same show separately.
My third watch, and the anime is still as great as ever. The fact that it's a mecha anime might turn you away, if it's not your cup of tea, but let me tell you this: I despise mecha in general, but I love Asura Cryin'. It's not often you see an anime with an awesome, complex plot like this. It's a bit confusing at first, on the first watch, but intriguing from the start, thanks to numerous mysteries. The main character is also a bit on the bland side in the first season, but he gets a lot better towards the end of the series.
Main character aside, there are many great characters in Asura Cryin'. Misao, the protagonist's ghost childhood friend, always thinks out-of-the-box and comes up with hilarious observations. There are also a bunch of totally kickass female characters. There are antagonists who really make you hate them, and some who turn out to be decent, even admirable. All of them, however, have depth. Despite the protagonist having a harem, I find the balance of male and female characters good enough. Also no complaints about character development, though I don't consider it among the anime's many strong points. Despite a few mediocre cases, overall the crew is pretty awesome.
The settings are full of great ideas. It's funny how large a part of such a grand-scale adventure is spent in a school, but once you get over the absurdity of it, it's actually rather nice. Asura Cryin' is pretty much the only anime that I consider to be on the heavy side yet enjoy re-watching often, and the reason for that might be how well it blends light school life with epic adventure and fantasy action. The world also has a lot of intriguing mysteries that I enjoyed discovering (I love ruins of lost, advanced civilisations), and the fusion of magic and technology, demons and mecha, gave birth to a very interesting magic system. I really like the fact that many essential aspects of the magic system are more or less explained.
The action is very nice. Lots of explosions (mostly thanks to Shuri, a woman who carries enough weapons in her body to arm a battalion), magic and unusually cool mecha. There's enough variation to the Asura Machina's and demons' abilities to keep me happy. Besides action, the comedy isn't bad at all, and overall I consider the entertainment value of Asura Cryin' to be in the highest class together with Kaze no Stigma and Ookami-san to Shichi-nin no Nakama-tachi.
Then there are some scenes... beautiful and epic, touching scenes. Foremost among them in my mind is the first season finale, ep 13. Even on my third watch, even though I knew exactly what was coming, the emotional impact was just as strong as ever. Made me cry like a baby. Part of its brilliance is in the 11th episode, which seems oddly peaceful in such an action-packed anime at first, but which deepens some characters nicely in preparation for their starring role in the 13th episode. In its most climatic moments, Asura Cryin' usually manages some great dramatisation.
Musics are generally very good. The best BGM's are very atmospheric, and both seasons have amazing OP's and ED's by angela. Character designs are a bit rough, but the Asura Machina look really cool. Also, the magic circles have pretty cool designs. Battle animation isn't bad at all, there are a few lazy stills but mostly it's pretty fluid combat.
But in the end, the plot is the strongest point of this anime. Certainly, there are a few problems with it that could be considered plotholes, but that's pretty much unavoidable considering there are powers in the story capable of manipulating space and time. In return, they enabled the creation of a really complex, screwed up plotline with lots of delicious mysteries, interesting characters and epic world-saving. What's best, by the end almost everything makes sense (though it might take a second watch): all the important mysteries are properly explained and all the plotlines neatly tied up.
As in any epic fantasy story done right, there is tragedy and comedy, life and death, love and hate, humanity and inhumanity, past and future, a beginning and an end... and a whole lot of good ideas. Asura Cryin' is one of the most complete, fulfilling stories of its kind I've ever seen or read. If not for some minor weaknesses, like the protagonist being rather bland at first, and its wisdom lacking just a bit of depth in comparison to my other 10-point anime... *sigh* Well, missing a place among my 10/10 anime by a very small margin, I rate Asura Cryin' 9.5/10.
Asura Cryin' is a thirteen-episode anime whose genre and direction I have issues puzzling out. I was initially drawn (no word of a lie) because the introduction to the second season appeared to have giant robots. I am a man who loves his giant robots, and like the fly to the honey, I was drawn to it. I was given quite the interesting ride for my curiosity; a constantly-moving, fast-paced story within a world all its own that constantly pulls at the edges of wonder, urging a watcher to see just what's up. While the fast pace may not be for everyone-- being that it might be too episodic-- I've watched thirteen-episode shows before (cough cough) and I've found them to drag on far too long all things considered. With its short duration, Asura Cryin' attempts as best it can to deliver a storyline that both keeps interest, keeps pace with its short duration, and keeps cohesion all at once. The question is, how does it do?
Natsume Tomoharu is one of the survivors of a tragic plane crash that claimed many lives; by some twist of fate, his childhood friend Minakami Misao now follows him as a ghost. Invisible to the sight of all but himself, she and Tomoharu are soon to be caught up in events that give insight to the past and clear the way to a cloudy future...
Asura Machina, the show's namesake (essentially), are bizarre machines. Each appears to have a sort of 'element' of its own; for instance, one controls magic, another controls ice.. there are many with different powers. At their core is a human sacrifice, whose soul powers the machine. Tomoharu, whose recently re-wed mother has pushed him into the essential care of his brother, sending him to live in a home his brother pays for. Left in his care by the mysterious Kurosaki Shuri is a large metal trunk; only a night later, when his home becomes a veritable battleground, does he find out its contents. Within is a mysterious entity called the 'Darkness of Swarzhild,' and within that lay the mysterious Asura Machina Kurogane. Thus does Tomoharu become the target of many choice peoples' interests. Misao is revealed to be at the core of Kurogane, which steels Tomoharu in his one overlying goal: to find a way to save Misao from her spectral fate.
The story carries itself out over thirteen episodes and, thusly, proceeds pretty much episode-to-episode; it would not be a terrible misjudgement, perhaps, to say that there are roughly 9 or 10 story arcs. That being said, it manages to keep a few points quite consistent:
A demon and a 'handler,' one who controls an Asura Machina, must never contract; the act is considered forbidden by many parties for varied reasons.
Tomoharu's goal, ultimately, is to save Misao and find a way to bring her to life once more.
The world is fated to be destroyed in some time; this has happened before, and is frequently referenced, though it's never quite revealed why or how on either end-- though there is strong hinting that Asura Machina are at the core of it.
I liked the story well enough, though. It felt like something between a high-fantasy mecha, and something with a weird future-fantasy. There are demons who wield various fantastic powers, and the Asura Machina seem to wield otherworldly powers that certainly defy practical science; alchemy is a conclusion I danced around, but I'm not certain I'd lay that label so openly on it. There are even a few references to Gods and religion with that typical medieval devotion, and even a sword-user or two. On the other hand, you have mafias, gun-slinging tech-heads and 'remodeled beauties' who are probably easiest to relate to cyborgs. It's really a fantastic world and as mindless as it is, it's sort of easy to be sucked into it.
Nonetheless, my boyish attraction to the many pieces of mindless eye candy within Asura Cryin' does not blind me to the fact that, at face value, a lot of it is just that. Don't let that discourage, however; while there is a lot left to suspended disbelief or the imagination, the show does a good job explaining a good many key points at various points throughout the anime, and there is plenty of allusion to a good many things.
The biggest problem, I suppose, is that the show seems to crutch on the fact that there'll be a second season. There's no definitive end whatsoever; like Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, the first and second season-- rather than being capably standalone-- are grossly intertwined. Many conflicts go unresolved. I can only hope this doesn't end out like a certain other mecha-genre anime I enjoyed-- only to be miserably disappointed by empty promises in its second (continuous, anyway) season.
All in all, I give the story a humble 7. Attempting to rate it at face value is a bit facetious; it's pretty much one continuous storyline with Asura Cryin' 2, for all purposes. Nonetheless, it can hold its own at least moderately well, and considering explosions n' guns are the big cornerstone of the draw, there's a lot of storytelling hidden under there. They do abuse a few too many clichés-- for instance, the main character's harem feels almost stock-bred-- but there's no telling what the second season will bring.
The meat of the show isn't the characters; it's those delicious, delicious Asura Machina battles. They seem to be some bizarre form of CG that I can't say I've seen before; nonetheless, they are smooth, coherent and quite a treat for the eyes. Most of them are fairly short, unfortunately.
And then there are the big, juicy demons. They're a freaky lot; somewhere between absolutely hideous and terribly haunting. They've got eyes inside their eyes and all that, and don't typically have very coherent shapes... they're a bit of their own sort, really. That, or they're totally jacked from something I haven't seen. Whatever. If I saw this first, they did it first. (No, that's a joke. Put away the pitchforks.)
The characters have some absolutely priceless facial expressions, and the smooth style makes for a very consistently enjoyable experience on the eyes. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of that stock footage junk, though I'm pretty sure that only happened back in the day. A good many moments are memorable because of the animation's bizarre approach to hilarity, and in my books that's a good thing.
Lots of fanservice in this one, though.
Solid 7/10. It wasn't the best I've seen, but it got the job done well enough. Neither a seriously absorbing experience, nor one completely off-putting. Some of the fanservice is funny and timely; a lot of it is just tasteless voyeurism for the sake of voyeurism.
I can draw more than a few lines to Linebarrels of Iron from the soundtrack; it has a very regal medieval feel in the tense scenes and fights, and otherwise has a very light-hearted, modern feel in the more casual scenes. While I really haven't got a plethora of things to say about the music and sound-effects in Asura Cryin', they by no means lack definition. It's a very thematic feel and sets that high-fantasy-future feel quite well. The fighting songs, especially, make for an awesome backdrop to their respective scenes. 9/10 for a job well and thoroughly done.
Again I can draw lines to Linebarrels of Iron from this show. Where it takes itself seriously in its plot, Asura Cryin' employs a lineup of ridiculous characters with extreme personalities. Excepting some finer points of Tomoharu's harem mechanics (containing all of, but not limited to, a rich tsundere, a well-endowed shy girl and a genius lolita) the cast makes for an enjoyable show at every turn with off-the-wall characters who seem to clash, in a nice way, with the plot's serious and dark nature. My problems with the characters aren't really with them themselves, but in the way that Tomoharu's harem seems to work. Many of the characters' interactions are comedic conflicts of interest or just generally personality; the student council presidents (in this first season, there are three student councils who each answer to their own authorities) are definitely a peanut gallery worth mentioning. All in all, the cast of Asura Cryin' does not do it much harm... on their own. I'd like to personally give a shout out to Susugihara Yoh, for she is quite the character, and her voice actor adds a whole level of personality to her.
However, the mechanics behind Tomoharu's harem just bother me. I mean, almost every single significant female lead is fascinated with him; of the two I can think that aren't obviously fascinated with him (I'm not denying that it's there and I don't see it, or that it might not be a possibility in the second season), only one of those I'm certain about; I have my questions about the other. Some of the characters just seem to be around to add to his harem; that is, the plot could exclude them completely and probably carry on just fine (with a few touch-ups in one or two places). While his two main ladies are quite acceptable (if a bit stock), it's the expanded harem that just feels like forced-in-filler to give him a harem for fanservice's sake. It's really annoying, because any watcher can just tell the direction is the usual "aimeless going-nowheresville harem" a'la Linebarrels of Iron and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. It's irritating-- not because I ship characters and want to see romance pan out between them like a jittery fangirl, but because this braindead faux romance begins to take a center stage when it's not really relevant or even tasteful.
The bizarre thing is, directionless as it seems, the harem could almost be justified in the case of this anime. But, writing this as separate from the second season, I'm going to hold my tongue. It's directionless wanderlust in more than one sense of the lust, and it takes a lot of the center stage when it really doesn't need to. It's funny from time to time, but by the time the rich tsundere gets in on that, it's annoying, tacky and unnecessary additive for the sake of... I don't know. Fanservice.
7/10 despite my harem complaints; the comic cast makes all thirteen episodes feel like they go right by and ultimately contribute a lot to the enjoyability. Just don't pay too much attention to the typical anime logic of harems, and you should be able to get around it.
All in all, I can see-- quite easily-- where Asura Cryin' would get a bad review. It's nothing spectacular to be certain, and it's definitely not unique. It feels somewhere between Fullmetal Alchemist and The Vision of Escaflowne. Nonetheless, it's not outright unenjoyable if you don't try to take it all dowdy and seriously all the way through, because it really isn't meant to be. It's lighthearted, good explodey fun. It delivers on a lot of its claims, despite that, and even manages to keep some intrigue packed away for a second season. Unlike Juusoukikou Dancougar Nova, Asura Cryin' has intrigue built upon a genuine premise and delivers mostly on the questions raised where Dancougar Nova created a plethora of questions all throughout that it ultimately failed to answer. Both are 13 episodes, but if Asura Cryin' is to be believed, then 13 is plenty enough to at least make a fun experience that's certain to pander out to some good old entertainment.