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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Review: Asura Cryin'

Facts:

Shonen Action with mild-to-moderate harem nonsense. 26 episodes over 2 parts. Aired in 2009. Available on Crunchyroll.

Bottom Line:

Asura Cryin, especially the first season, is like someone filming a daydream. Giant Robots and friendly ghosts and a girl who shoots fire and another girl with rocket launchers in her arms for no adequately explained reason, and, ooh, all the girls fall all over the Mary Sue protagonist. The first season is a blast of epic silliness that has you laughing with Natsume's adorable harem and laughing at the sheer balls-on nonsense of the world. Then the second season takes this preposterous collection of loosely organized madness and delves a level deeper, touching on some really interesting world building, only to have the plot resolve in a bland, though colourfully epileptic, grand showdown. I am not sure this is a show that could ever have achieved greatness, but it does pretty well achieving its lesser ambitions.

Harem:

This is a harem anime, though it is much milder than most of the genre. The core of the love story really revolves around two women, and one of them is pretty clearly laid out in the role of sister, and well before the end the protagonist is monogamously married (with a child, even!). One of these days I will write a grand screed about how fictional universes where the purpose of women is solely to support a man who in turn is off to save the world/extract vengeance is really something we should move away from for the sake of gender equality and the self-actualization of our sons and daughters, but that day is not today. That said, the ladies do have a mode other than slavish loving devotion, and when acting as independent characters they have as much depth as anyone (not much) and are really quite charming.

Weak Action:

For all the marvelous concepts of things that can blow shit up, most of the battles substitute bright flashing colors for actual combat. I suspect the studio made a tradeoff where they decided that merely firing balls of color at the enemy would suffice for violence, as long as the shots of bouncing breasts and scantily clad women were rendered in full loving jiggle. The beginnings of fights, when the giant robots are literally slicing through space or summoning elemental powers, are very impressive, and then they all become an incoherent blob of abstract art once the fight itself begins.

That doesn't detract too much, but I really find there isn't much to say about this show, so I am bringing up whatever stuck out at me.

Recommendations:

In a sense, most anime could be described as filming a daydream, but in this case it really does seem to be more applicable than usual. If you dug the world-building, try the almost incomprehensible Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. If you liked Shuri, the woman with the mad fat armaments, try Witchblade over on Hulu. I have a hard time recommending harem anime in good conscience (other than the regressively enjoyable Sekirei), but Campione! hits a lot of the same notes while being overall less impressive in every respect.

Finally:

There isn't a lot to say about Asura Cryin'. The protagonist is a bit lame, and comes off as hugely patronizing near the end, and the final villains are all flat, but the supporting characters are filled with individual charm. The action itself is a bit weak but buoyed by the creative design and vigour of the combatants. Near the start of the second season it really starts to transform into a top-tier anime, but falls back to earth with a lacklustre ending.

Purely based on how much I enjoyed it, I give Asura Cryin' a 7/10.

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