Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion

Type: What a heel turn


Synopsis: So this is the third Madoka movie, but its actually the first sequel to the anime. The franchise did that thing where they dupe rubes into buying two “movies” that are really just elongated clip shows of the original. What rubes.

Pros: Rebellion is a continuation of the anime story, but you don’t know that for about 30 minutes. The movie starts with all five magical girls together, and Homura still in her shy girl phase. Given that this anime deals with timelines, your not exactly sure when the anime takes place until the first reveal happens. Since a lot of the film’s impact depends on surprise and twists, I’ll try my best not to spoil much. What’s not confusing is the stellar action and animation of the Madoka franchise, and we finally get to see the girls fight as a unit! We also get their transformation sequences for the first time (probably), and they certainly fit with the rest of the show. The Russian (?), French (?) inspired animation scenes that are still here and as discomforting as ever. The story, while still a bit off, certainly changes the trajectory of the franchise. Rebellion feels like a movie, which is all I ever want.

Cons: The ending might bother some people, though I though it was great. The film is a solid two hours, but I feel that it could have been a smidge shorter. Once again, despite being the title characters, Madoka feels more like a hanger on than protagonist. The film is Homura’s story, and sadly, she still does her signature hair flip every five seconds. Some of the girls also felt a little out of character. Like, why would Homura confide in Kyoko of all people? How come Sayaka is more perceptive this time around? What’s with the little girl? No really, they never properly explained that part.

Watch it?: Another great entry into a weird and awesome franchise

MVP: The Actions Scenes


Still my favorite part

Best Moment: The Homura/Timoe fight (the fated battle!)

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Bayonetta: Bloody Fate

Type: I like her new hair cut better


Synopsis: 500 years ago, Umbran Witches and Lumen Sages battled over the…ugh, lets not do this. Here’s what you need to know. This is Bayonetta. Its a video game franchise about a tall and shapely bullet witch who looks kinda like a sexy librarian. She has an English-accent and talks in seductive innuendos. She fights creepy looking angels with her magic hair that doubles as her clothing, and she sometimes hands out with Joe Pescie. It’s all very tongue and cheek, and the anime gets like, 80% of that.

Pros: Fans of the video game may either really like this anime, or hate it. It depends on how hardcore you are to consistency in interpretation. The anime kinda only shows the highlights of the first game, but it does it do it. The film was clearly made by people who touched the source material. It’s not a scene by scene retelling, but its still fun to see Bayo fight angels with all her weapons and “heel boy” sexy talk. There are also the occasional references to other Bayo-related games (ex: the names Sylvia, Clair, Trish, and Ami are mentioned). Its not quite as crazy as the game, but its a nice addition.

Cons: The music. I’m normally not a stickler for that sort of thing, but the music in the film was disappointing. Almost non of the score was able to capture the campy fun of the game. I can only guess that the original music was tied up in legal rights mumbo-jumble and couldn’t be used here. It should stated again that this is a adaption, not a translation, so a few things are off. The pacing especially felt awkward, because the film tried to cram an 8 hour experience in 2. It’s also not as over-the-top in its fan service as the game…so sorry pervs? And for non-game players, the story will not impress you, because even in the game, the story not the strong point.

Watch it?: As a Bayo fan, I liked it.

MVP: The English Cast


They’re the same voices from the game!!

Best Moment: Bayo in a nightie (I think she looked nice).

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Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher

Type: It was made by Madhouse, so it counts


Synopsis: A surprisingly handsome looking Punisher teams up with Black Widow with her 70’s hair to bring down a secret organization making super soldiers. They fight twice, the they bond a little, then the Avengers show up for no reason. It’s not Winter Soldier, but it’ll do.

Pros: So I love when Western properties get the anime treatment, mostly because I can understand the references. Lucky for all you comic nerds, this thing does have the occasional easter egg, including an appearance from Amadeus Cho, Marvel’s 7th smartest man (who rides the Hulk FYI). The team-up of the Punisher and Black Widow worked surprisingly well, especially since I was wary at the start. The Punisher particularly shines in this, as does his English voice actor (though, since he only spoke in short straight forward lines, it wasn’t that hard). This may be my favorite non-comic interpretation of the Punisher, and I wish he could have gotten his own series out of this. The Black Widow on the other hand is, fine. She fights well and her interactions with Amadeus was funny, but her love subplot was middle of the road. Still, pretty fun straight-to-video movie.

Cons: Obviously, they tacked on the “Avengers” part to sell more copies. Because even though it technically has Avengers in it, this is a Black Widow/Punisher story. Selling it as something otherwise felt a bit incredulous. As stated above, the Black Widow story felt uneven, and I don’t feel she got as good a portrayal as the Punisher. It wasn’t bad or anything, but it wasn’t great either. If this movie is part of the “MCU” it may take place after the entire franchise is over (which would explain why Captain America doesn’t show up).

Watch it?: Pretty Good overall.

MVP: Frank Castle, The Punisher


I love his design here

Best Moment: When a criminal refused to talk, so the Punisher broke his arm and said, “You mouth seems to be working.” (classic)


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Hellsing Ultimate

Type: Six Years in the Making


Synopsis: The English Hellsing organization hunt and destroy the creatures of the night for Queen and Country. For years, the biggest thing they needed to contend with was the Iscariot group supported by the Vatican. Typical Protestant vs Catholic competition, until a group of VAMPIRE NAZIS!!!!! led by an actual Mad Scientist decide to invade England. Luckily for Hellsing, they have a secret weapon, an incredibly deadly and enigmatic vampire named Alucard, which suspiciously spells “Dracula” backwards, hmm…..

Pros: Man, is this thing stylized. If your a fan of over the top violence with plenty of gore, this is the one for you. This here is high octane folks. It should be noted that this is Hellsing Ultimate, not to be confused with the original Hellsing anime. The differences? Well, for one, this one is much prettier. Second, it apparently follows the manga plot much for closes. Finally, each episodes is about 45-60 minutes long. I also feel that its very Western friendly. The plot, Nazi Vampires vs. the Church, is familiar enough to come out of a B-movie or video game. The English voice work is fantastic, and an almost textbook example of the difference between localization and straight translation. I myself particularly liked the use of English accents, since the story takes place mainly in Britain. I also found it very impressive that the whole anime works despite taking 6 years to complete.

Cons: This is a very violent anime, which may turn you off. It was also the first instance that I ran into necrophilia in an anime, so….yeah. To the show’s credit though, they had a pretty blond girl with bouncy breasts, and nothing pervy happens to her. Their are some moments when the animation quality fluxuates, and I don’t feel that the humor used landed quite well.

Watch it?: I mean, you do see a lot of Nazis get killed…which is AWESOME (5/5)

MPV: Alexander Anderson


That Scottish Accent Though!

Best Episode: Ep. 5 “Hellsing V” (The Battle of London begins again!)

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Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club

Type: Boys of Swimming


Synopsis: A group of quite frankly RIPPED high school boys decide to restart their school’s swimming team. They mainly do this to reconnect with their old friend Rin…who goes to another school…and seemingly hates their guts now. They get Rin’s boy crazy sister to be their manager, their homeroom teacher and former swimsuit model to be their faculty sponsor, and the pizza man to be their coach. Plus, their all based on animals. Plus, plus, I’m pretty sure their this close to making out with each other.

Pros: Did I mentioned that these boys are RIPPED. Seriously, the got that weird V thing on their hips. What is that V thing? It is the top of your hip bones? Is it like a secret muscle only beautiful people know about? Ah, anyway, the show has stellar animation and pretty funny moments. It’s not an outright comedy, just about 85% of it. My favorite gags were Gou’s fangirling over the boy’s muscles, and Miho’s desperate attempts to hide her modeling past. The rest is melodrama, which mostly consists of slightly hurt feelings, but in that “I feel bad because I think I made someone else feel bad” way. Empathetic guilt. Not overwhelming, but predictable.

Cons: The opening is misleading. If it was meant as a joke, it definitely overstayed its welcome. Also, not a fan of Rin. He was way too whiny, even when he won. He’s also very weird looking. Every character is based on an animal and Rin is based on a shark. That’s cool, until you notice that Rin’s teeth are all pointy, so whenever he has a sad moment, he looks just plain silly. And he cares about swimming way too much. This is technically a sports anime, so that type of character is to be expected, but still. No one in Umisho got that crazy.

Watch it?: Sadly, no one makes out in this…yet (4/5)

MVP: Rei Ryūgazaki


Should have totally been a Swan, not a butterfly

Best Episode: Ep.4 “Captive Butterfly!” (I also only know butterfly)

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!

Type: It needs a shorter name


Synopsis: Fighting evil by moonlight! Winning love by daylight! Never running from a real fight! They are the ones called Sailor…wait, wait, that’s not right. First off all, the Cute High Earth Defense Club, or “Battle Lovers” for short, never fight at night. They do do a lot of winning with love. As for never running from a real fight, well, that’s technically true, but does fighting a noodle-man count are real fighting? And one of the central stories involves someone turning their back on a friends, and “defense” is in their name, but I wouldn’t consider them really dependable.

Pros: So as you can tell, Cute High Earth Defense Club is a magical boy anime. Its about 5 high school boys living in this possibly post-apocalyptic world where no women exist. Like, at all. They’re chosen by this space wombat to protect world with the power of love. The show is full with a lot of cute boys of every preference, from the lovable blonde to the guy with luxurious pink hair. The homoerotic undertones are yours for the taking. It’s a comedy, and the boys do in fact comment on the weird turn their lives have made, as well as keep the dead body of their faculty adviser around. The show follows a monster of the week format, which is defeated the exact same way every time.

Cons: The show is formulaic, not particularly exciting, and the overarching plot isn’t that original. Good sailor boys vs bad sailor boys. My real gripe with the show is with the Battle Lover uniforms. I’m not really sure what they’re suppose to be. Their this puffy, short short get-up with ribbons. They look downright silly. Their rivals, the conquest club, had a much better uniform that looked military style. This was probably a reference to Sailor Moon or something, but it didn’t really land for me. This may sound kinda weird for an obviously female-driven audience, but I hope they butch up the uniforms a little for season 2. (Why not make them dress up in tuxedos?)

Watch it?: A solid parody show (3/5)

MVP: Akoya Gero


Look at this guys hair…just look at it…

Best Episode: Ep.11 “The Trial Called Love” (the fated battle!)


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Air (Film)

Type: Look at our effects budget! NO, LOOK AT IT THOUGH!


Synopsis: Same basic story as Air. A traveling hobo meets a semi-functioning dying girl and her still very hot aunt. They bond, then, like in Forrest Gump, the verging-on-handicapped person is left by the love interest because it would be a little weird to make-out with them. However, in this movie, everyone looks and acts relatively normal. Well, normal for anime standards.

Pros: I really liked the character designs in this over the original series. Its a bit anime-generic, but its way better than the weird mousy faces from before. They film only follows the Misuzu arc, and luckily for everyone, Misuzu acts more like a typical anime heroine than woman-child. It definitely feels that she has more agency in the film than the anime. I also liked her aunt Haruko’s design in this, mostly because she looks like an attractive late-twenties woman and less like every other girl. The story is more obvious about the romance between Misuzu and Yukito this time around, and given their new character attitudes, it feels way better executed.

Cons: My god, WE GET IT, you had a bigger animation budget. Was their really a need to show it off so much? This film is a textbook example of overdoing it. The constant bombardment of sun rays, rain, and the cherry blossoms! Was Feudal Japan constantly in the middle of a petal blizzard or something? But the hamminess doesn’t stop there. This film really notched the melodrama up to 11, and there are multiple times when it reaches comedic levels. Weird cuts, uneven humor, and way too many cinematic tricks. It made the mistake of trying way too hard to make the movie feel like a movie.

Watch it?: I’m torn. It has better characters, but the animation is way overdone.

MVP: Misuzu Kamio


I liked her way more in this one

Best Moment: Leaning Misuzu could actually form independent thoughts

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Type: The best Avatar season…wait a minute.


Synopsis: A long time ago, a women with wings helped humanity. In gratitude, humanity did what they usually do and killed them all off. Only one bloodline survived, kept alive by love and friendship and all that jazz. However, by “kept alive,” I mean that girls with wings are born every so often and fated to die young and alone. That’s not an exaggeration. Monks cursed the last winged females to get sicker and sicker whenever they make friends. Yet another example of the Patriarchy keeping Chicks down.

Pros: Air has the same director and studio as one of my personal favorite animes, Clannad: After Story. Air was actually made before, and you can see that a lot of the beats and emotional highs used in this carried on in Clannad. Its not quite as sad, but it does pull at the heartstrings. This anime is surprisingly efficient with its plot-episode number ratio. It basically had three story arcs and an origin story it needed to cover in 12 episodes. In the beginning, every character is introduced, and its take 4 episodes for the real stories to begin. I liked this, because it set up the premise of each heroine right away simultaneously, while other animes have the main character meet and solve one girl’s problem, then move on the next one in an inorganic matter. I also really loved the story in Feudal Japan, to a surprising degree.

Cons: While I did like the way it started, the beginning of Air is a little slow. The story isn’t specified right away either. Basically, the main character Yukito is the latest in his family to search for the “girl in the sky,” which is explained in the Feudal Japan story. In a beach town he meets three girls that might be who he’s looking for: Kano, Minagi, and Misuzu. Kano’s story line is the first and the weakest. It has to do with her being haunted by a past life, which also took place in Feudal Japan and thus clashes with Misuzu’s story line (obvious spoilers: she’s the girl with wings!). Minagi’s story is the shortest, but also incredibly sweet. Misuzu, as the main heroine, gets the most time, and surprisingly has more to do with her relationship with her mother than with Yukito (a lot of the anime has to do with mothers). The animation style is a bit older than modern fans might like and the ending is…alright, but it does have at least one happy ending.

Watch it?: It sucks you in. (4/5)

MVP: Uraha


The real hero of the story

Best Episode: Ep. 8-9, “Summer,” “Moon” (you got me again Ishihara!)

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Elfen Lied

Type: Oh, geez anime!


Synopsis: With the gore, and the nudity, and the child nudity, and the people with the horns and crazy invisible hand things, yeesh!

Pros: So yeah…I watched Elfen Lied, an anime with one of the most well known reputations for being disturbing. Its, ah, an honest assessment. The anime is about a mutant species that can kill people semi-telepathically. One of the most dangerous ones, Lucy, escapes and makes it back to her childhood friend. So one half of the show is about an evil corporation trying to kill Lucy with other mutants, or Diclonious, and the other half is about Lucy living an innocent life with her friends. Now, this thing is Violent. Gore fans will probably get a kick out of it. Its not as over the top as Blood C, or even Gatz, but its high up there. That’s kind of its selling point.

Cons: Let’s be real here. If you’re ganna watch Elfen Lied, its for the ultraviolence, not the story. The plot is not impressive in the least. We get it, humans are the real monsters. It also never explains where exactly diclonios originated from, or why they all look alike. This Dark Anime Drama covers such uplifting and totally predictable topics like: child molestation, torture, psychological trauma, dual personality, schizophrenia, child murder, and lots of nudity etc. Nothing innovative, nothing great. Its icky, but also kinda superficial. Part of this is because the anime still adheres to other anime troupes, and they mainly all happen in the Kohta household. Like when psycho killer Lucy, under a second identity, messages someones breasts from behind. What is this, a harem!? (p.s. Elfen Lied is kinda a harem). These moments fell really inconsistent with the rest of the show. I get it, these scenes are trying to juxtapose the cruelty of Lucy’s world with something more innocent, but the should could have been more subtle. Then again, a show where a little girl is amazed by giraffes one minute, then kills an entire family the next, probably doesn’t do subtlety.

Watch it!?: Eh, I’ve seen worse. God, I wish I hadn’t seen worse. (3/5)

MVP: Lucy


That first scene is still pretty good.

Best Episode: Ep. 08 “The Beginning ~ Beginn” (Those kids deserved to die, right? I’m not the only one who thinks that?”)


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