Overlord II

Type: Lizard men and Bandit killing

Synopsis: We have two main campaigns here. First is the Lizard Men campaign, where our noble heroes have to defeat a united lizard army. Can our heroes’ vast armies and infinite strength stand up to a bunch of reptiles with pointy sticks? You’ll just have to watch to find out! Second is the 8 Fingers campaign, a side-quest for a butler, a damsel in distress, a couple of bumbling swordsman, and one shade throwing maid. Can they ever get along? You’ll just have to watch to find out!

Pros: Overlord season 2 is a protagonist-less story arc. Think the Shikamaru arc in Naruto, or the Doctor-lite episodes in Doctor Who. This means that our mmorpg nerd/underad lord main character, Ainz Ooal Gown, doesn’t really show up this season. He’s more of a supporting character in these stories. The first half of the season involved a group of Lizard Men who have to deal with Ainz’s forces invading their lands. I liked this arc because it was very reminiscent of older fantasy stories involving alliances between warrior tribes, magic swords, and outcasts heroes. The second arc revolved around Sebas, Ainz’s head butler, as he makes gets caught up in fighting an underground crime syndicate after saving a slave from death. This story was way more of a modern fantasy story: you have a young knight, a weary swoardsman, a sly princess, political games, and a gentleman hero who I may or may not have developed a crush on. Overall, a solid season.

Cons: I forgot to mention, but whoever did the English dialogue deserves a raise, because I loved the proper manner that all the character’s spoke in. It really helped convey a lot of their status and upbringing, as well as they’re regard to certain other characters. That being said, the action, while there, isn’t really something to write home about. It’s pretty generic fantasy fighting. A few swords slashes, a magic spell here and there, but nothing amazing. I can also imagine that some people won’t be syked that Ainz takes a back seat this season. I think it works really well, but people do watch this show to see the Overlord, not a bunch of lizards of their butler. In addition, the story doesn’t to a great job transitioning between story arcs. One episodes ends one arc, another begins the next. It’s a little jarring. However, this show does an incredible job of juggling new characters and giving them each a personality you can care about.

Watch it?: It’s would be an afront to the great Ainz Ooal Gown not to! (4/5)

MVP: Sebas

Daddy. (D-Did I do it right?)

Best Episode: Ep. 5 “The Freezing God” & Ep. 8 “A Boy’s Feeling” (one has the best joke’s I’ve seen in a while, and the other makes me want a spin-off)

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Overlord

Type: A horrible nightmare for some, an opportunity for others.

Synopsis: A complete nerd that spent 12 YEARS on an online MMORPG has to sadly say good-bye to his friends as the servers are being shut down. As he closes his eyes to feel the sweet relief of digital death, he discovers the he is now stuck in the game. The game where’s he’s an over-leveled sorcerer, and commands other over-leveled characters, some of whom are hot babes that want to literally jump his bones (he’s a skeleton). Man, if I wasn’t such a huge nerd in other areas, I’d give MMORPG’s a try. According to anime, there’s no downside!

Pros: So this is an Isekai series…sit down DAMMIT! Or I’ll never give you the launch codes! Anyway, this one’s gimmick is that the character is stuck in a non-human body and is in charge of a crew of boss tier NPCs. Since the main character, Momonga, is the only player character still in the original game, the story takes him to another country. Kinda like an expansion pack map (or DLC for you kids out there). The two main plots are Momonga slowly gaining influence in the new country, while also trying to discover if any of his friends are also in the game. What I liked about this Isekai show is that Momonga is stuck in his player avatar, which is a huge skeleton, and how he basically starts to become his character, like become more indifferent towards other humans, and how something or someone is preventing him from losing his temper. And since he’s a character that’s been leveled up over 12 years, it makes sense that he’s so overpowered. Plus, Momonga’s tendency to reminisce about his past friends gives his characters an extra layer of sympathy.

Cons: Momonga’s general’s aren’t anything to write home about. They’re basically a mix of different troupes that, in fairness, seem like a group made by a bunch of MMO junkies. Even Albedo, the poster girl, isn’t that deep. Just your basic devoted demon. The best part of the anime are the first 1-4, which serve as an introduction to the series and help flesh out Momonga’s character. Episode 5-13 sadly move away from Momonga’s palace and deal with a local adventurer’s guild and church baddies. It ends with a battle against one of his generals (who’ve been brainwashed). Not bad, but nothing to write home about. Literally. And obviously, any fight involving Momonga has no stakes because you know that he’ll win, but sometimes having a show like isn’t a bad thing.

Watch it?: Depends on your tastes. (3/5)

MVP: Momonga

All hail the overlord!

Best Episode: Ep. 4 “Ruler of Death” (battle!)

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Girls und Panzer der Film

Type: How can my murder machines be so cute!?

Synopsis: It’s like Bend It Like Beckham, but with tanks, and different characters, and an unrelated plot. Maybe this analogy doesn’t work anymore.

Pros: This is a moe-military anime that I had no idea was given a film. Well, I say “film,” but it’s really more like a long OVA, or a pseudo-second season. The story is that the girls at Ooarai Girls High School are on top of the world, until the MAN tells them that the school that lets them use live ammo to attack each other in war games will be closed down. Kill joys. The girls then go through a sort of graduation/splitting up story, where we get to see our cute main characters act cute about leaving behind the only friends they’ve ever had. Aww, their lives are breaking apart. How kawaii. Any who, they girls get a change to win their school back competing against a college war tank team. It’s pretty unfair, but it does give us a pretty awesome 20 min skirmish that included the multi-national characters introduced during the series (clearly the focus of the animations team’s time and money). I feel that I’m underselling this. If your a fan of this series, then the return characters, the interactions between the main cast due to the threat of splitting up, and the final battle are all for you.

Cons: It doesn’t feel like a movie. It feels like a long TV episode. This is partly because a lot of the events happen close enough to each other to feel rushed, but not spaced out enough to build mood. It basically goes: The girls are told their school is closed, the girls are given temporary lodgings and feel sad, they spend a day doing nothing, they get the news they have chance to save their school, they have a competition and win. The end. The antagonist, or rather the big challenger in the film, is also underdeveloped. She’s a loli/quiet character whose mostly used as the focus of personality for the college tank team, who are severely lacking in charisma. It’s almost like the writers have no interest in physically developed grown women and would rather focus more on young, sometimes underdeveloped, high school girls….

Watch it?: I was this during Fanime 2018! So maybe.

MVP:The Italian team

Clever tactics.

Best moment: The Italian team’s battle scene. (what a maneuver!)

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KonoSuba (Season 2)

Type: “It hurts so good!” – Dustiness Ford Lalatina

Synopsis: We’ve all been in this situation. You have a great job, are surrounded by beautiful people, and are generally successful at what you do. Only to have the job basically kill you. Have all the beautiful people have terrible personalities. And have all your success lead to an arrest warrant, major debt, and religious arguments. At least you house wasn’t taken away (just the furniture).

Pros: KonoSuba season 2 follows almost immediately after the first season. Kazuma and the gang are put on probation for suspicion of working with the Demon King, and have to pay off all the damages they caused while saving the city at the end of the first season. That’s the first half of the season. The second half revolves around a trip to a hot springs city that worships Aqua, and the predictable trouble that causes. The benefit of watching KonoSuba this time around was that I got a better appreciation for the characters and their stories, mainly because I got to interact with them more. The first season went by so fast and had to much hype surrounding it, that it fell a little flat for me. Not so with season two. The first half gives you a nice, weekly adventure that doubles as spotlight episodes for the characters, thus allowing yourself to re-familiarize yourself. The second half gives you a more traditional arc. Overall, this second season has the advantage of having all the characters already established, thus allowing it to do more with them. It left me wanting more in a good way, so I hope it gets another season, or else I’m going to have to seriously consider breaking with my own habits and start reading the light novel.

Cons: There are a few little things I don’t think land. The characters of Yunyun and Vanir aren’t especially funny. Yunyun’s kinda meh. And Vanir feels derivative. I also think the Darkness jokes are kinda lazy. Not the sadism ones. Those are always gold. But her spotlight episode, Ep.4 “A Betrothed for this Noble Daughter” focused too much on fan service and came off as lazy. We get it, she’s the blond with big boobs, can we move on now? I also feel that maybe the whole season ended a little anticlimactically. The battle with another demon general was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but everyone just going home to have some tea without a punch line was maybe to the ideal way to end it. Just my opinion.

Watch it?: A solid sophomore effort. I burned through it rather quickly. (4/5)

MVP: Kazuma

Yes, he’s Kazuma.

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Give Me Deliverance from this Judicial Injustice!” (I mean, he did steal those panties…)

 

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The End of Evangelion

Type: Can’t wait for the American live-action remake (You KNOW we will live to see that)!

Synopsis: But why beat on a dead horse when I can instead milk a decades old franchise thanks to nostalgia and a certain malaise that has stuck with people since adolescence. Thanks Netflix!

Pros: So I’m not ganna talk about any of the themes present in End of Eva. I’m not going to analyze the metaphors for depression, the Freudian sexuality, the commentary on Otoku culture, the depiction of misogyny, nor the numerous allusions to Christianity. Other people do that, and have been doing that since 1997. That’s all well and good, but what I think is the most fascinating aspect of End of Eva is it’s very existence. You see, during the original run of Evangelion, the production ran out of time and money towards the end of the series. This resulted in a controversial ending to the landmark series, with some fans praising it for it’s artistic merit, while others criticizing it for it’s confusing execution. The fan backlash and critic commentaries were enough for director Hideaki Anno and Studio Gainax to redo the ending of Evangelion through a movie released a year later. And in classic Eva style, the even the existence of the film can be interpreted in numerous ways.

One way to view it is as pandering to the Evangelion fanbase. The film does exactly what an Eva fan would want out of an ending. It shows NERV having one last stand against the mysterious SEELE organization. It has a kick-ass Eva fight with Asuka at the helm. It clarifies Gendo’s ultimate plan. It has amazing animation. It’s got a bunch of horrifying celestial body horror. It has Shinji crying for 90 minutes. Everything a Evangelion fan wants!

Another way to view it is as a criticism of the Evangelion fanbase. In a lot of ways, Shinji is used as a surrogate for the audience. In this film, Shinji is depicted as a weak, apathetic, immature being who literally tries to run away from reality through fantasy. Let’s not forget that during Shinji’s debate on whether or not to join humanity’s new form, we see live actions shots of audience members and actual death threats Anno and Gainax received because of the original Eva ending. Shinji actively tries to push other away out of a fear of rejection, and hurts anyone who gets close to him. He also likes to play the victim, and has a very disturbing lust/hatred towards women. The very first thing Shinji does in this movie, the very first thing we see, is Shinji masturbating over a comatose Asuka. This happens within the first 5 minutes of the movie! In fact, Asuka sums up Anno’s view of the fan base pretty well: Pathetic and Disgusting.

You can also view this movie as Anno’s through process while working on Eva. Anno famously battled depression during the production of Evangelion. So this film can act as a reflection on his feelings throughout the project. These are best represented in the scenes between Asuka and Shinji. In the first scene, Asuka is comatose and unaware of Shinji’s unhealthy obsession towards her. This represents Anno’s time actually working on the anime, unaware of exactly how invested the fan are in his work. The scene with Asuka fighting the angels while being annoyed as Shinji is basically Anno fighting either the critics, sponsors, studio executives while being annoyed at the fans.  The next scene is in Shinji’s head, with Asuka giving Shinji some hard truths about himself and his own narcissism. Through Asuka, Anno is almost angrily pleading with the fanbase to move on, recognize their faults, and grow. But Shiji’s attack on Asuka show’s their resistance. This is Anno’s emotions after the end of the original series. The last scene, with Shinji basically rejecting others and perpetuating his cycle of isolation, represents the fan’s own stubbornness. Shinji choking Asuka again is basically Anno predicting the fans criticizing the End of Evangelion, even after Asuka/Anno’s hard work and the fan’s/Shinji’s supposed love of them. Asuka touching Shinji’s face is Anno again trying to reach out to pacify the fanbase, even if the final lines of dialogue show some lingering resentment.

Finally, you can view this movie for what it says it is: the ending of Evangelion. While Anno and is assitant director, Kazuya Tsurumak, stand by the original ending, it was not what they wanted. How could it be? It was an artistic compromise at best. They ran out of money and time to make their ideal ending. But now, they get to do everything they possibly could have wanted. The characters of NERV get a proper send off. Asuka gets one last grand fight. Gendo gets his. Rei finally ascends to her true form. The angels are given their proper showcases. Lilith, the mother of humanity, is shown. And the team even gets to explore the opposite spectrum of Shinji’s character. The original ending has Shinji choose to be with others, giving up some of his individuality and vulnerability in exchange for social praise and personal growth. This alternate ending has Shinji reject others, choosing himself over people, and actively choosing to repeat his mistakes. The movie also salvaged the franchise, allowing it to become and enduring and lucrative license for years to come.

Cons: Nothing is perfect. Even Eva. This film really is suppose to be the end of the series, so you need to watch the original Evangelion anime before you can watch this. The imagery in this can get disturbing, especially in the latter half, so viewer discretion is advised. And the last I’d say 20 minutes gets downright trippy. To break it down: The first 20 minutes are an action movie, the next 30 minutes are the ending of the anime, and the last 30 minutes is a psychological exploration of depression.

Watch it?: Even for a non-Eva fan like me, it was a good watch

MVP: Asuka

If you see her as Anno, you get a whole new perspective on things.

Best Moment: The Eva 02 fight. (I was also ganna say Shinji jerking it, but that would be crass and silly, which of course has no place for such a serious anime).

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I’m So Sorry, but….Best Anime of the 2010’s [7th Anniversary Special]

Intro: I know, but can you, I mean, geez. Yeah, ok, I get it. Let’s just, let’s just get through this together. Continue reading

Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer

Type: From the director of Ghost in the Shell.

Synopsis: Like for real. The guy’s name is Mamoru Oshii. Man, the anime industry is a small world sometimes.

Pros: Finally! I got to experience Urusei Yatsura. Or should I say, the first time I got to experience Lum. The original magic pixie magical alien dream girlfriend. She was…fine. Cute, I guess. The story overall was pretty funny. The cast is trying to get ready for the school festival, but then realize they’re stuck in a time loop. There experiencing the same day over and over again while the city around them ages. How long have they been in the time loop? Who can say. But its clearly been a while. The characters were all fun, and I got interested in finding more Urusei Yatsura material for the future. But the real selling point is the animation. As the film goes one, you could just tell that the animators were flexing their creative muscles. We got shadows, tracking shots, long shots, looping scenes, high speed movement, intricate body work, small but noticeable twitches, etc. It a great movie to make a trailer with. A great movie to make a slide reel out of. And it was made in 1984! If you’re an animation geek, you’ll enjoy this one.

Cons: So it turns out that the time loop is caused by a dream demon who wants to create his own world. He uses Lum’s ideal world as a foundation. What kinda sucks is that the finale focuses on the dream demon and Ataru, the male protagonist of the manga series. But he’s a protagonist who doesn’t really do much in the movie. He’s more of a side character, with Mendou and Sakura acting more as the driving force of the film. I found Ataru move annoying than endearing, so his showdown with the demon didn’t land for me. That being said, I wouldn’t mind watching more of this.

Watch it: An enjoyable 100 minutes or so.

MVP: The animation

The school scene or space scene. Both amazing.

Best moment: The school blackout scene. (just show off why don’t you!)

 

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Tekkonkinkreet

Type: Street Rats. Well, Street Cats technically.

Synopsis: It’s basically about orphans beating up gangsters.

Pros: Well, there’s like more to it, but yeah. There are two orphans, Kuro and Shiro (black and white). They get into trouble with some Yakuza, and Kuro gets targeted by assassins. For his own good, Shiro is sent with the cops for protective custody, which throws off their whole Ying-Yang/Co-Dependent relationship. This gets explored in their senses of reality being distorted and what not. Real emotional stuff handled well via animation. Outside of this, we get spliced-in stories of life in an inner city. Frought with crime, tragedy, and a never ending cycle of violence. Kinda like if Elvis’s In the Ghetto was an anime. Though I do appreciate the more street level urban story.

Cons: It can get kinda messy. There is a lot of imagery thrown at you, and you may not get the significance of it all. That’s not me being pretentious. I don’t what half the weird stuff I saw meant! The cuts between the Kuro/Shiro plot and the Yakuza plot can be a bit confusing. And like a lot of anime movies, some of it’s scenes hang around a little longer than they should for the sake of “mood.” There also not a “happy ending” resolution to the stories. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, but Kuro/Shiro are basically in the same boat they were in at the start. You could argue that because of certain actions in the film, they’re home free, but are they? Who knows. The whole film is a very “International Anime” film, if you catch my drift. It’s not solidly Japanese (hell, the director was American). It’s made to appeal to a broad audience of film buffs. It’s more of a “Film” than a “movie.” Of at least it wants to be.

Watch it: Pretty nifty story about children beating up adults.

MVP: Kuro

Angry. Angry young man.

Best Moment: Kuro flying out of the sky (for some reason).

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Trigun: Badlands Rumble

Type: Mostly a story arc

Synopsis: In this story, Trigun saves a bandit whom he crosses paths with years later. The bandit wants revenge on someone, but an innocent village is in the way, so Trigun and his new lady friend have to try and stop him. Then Trigun saves the day and walks into the sunset.

Pros: This “movies” is really just a long Trigun story arc. That’s a good thing, because Trigun is great. I didn’t remember how much I liked Trigun until this film reminded me. It’s got this old anime vibe that’s been lost. It’s a little slower, a little quieter, a little more lived in. The gang’s all here, and their roles make sense. The insurance girls are working a job, as is Wolfwood. The main theme is “revenge” and “living in the past.” The main character of the film, Amelia, wants revenge on the antagonist for the death of her mother. The antagonist, Gasback, wants revenge on the partner’s that betrayed him. Gasback’s an example of revenge’s pitfalls and costs, and Amelia’s struggle with revenge is the film’s emotional focus. Overall, a fun return to Trigun’s universe. (p.s. This movie was made is 2010, so good for Trigun fans!)

Cons: This “movies” is really just a long Trigun story arc. That’s a bad thing, because it’s largely forgettable. Movies adapted from existing anime tend to fall under a few different categories. There’s a film adaptation of a story arc. There’s a side story exploring a supporting character. There’s an origin story or prequel. There’s the rare film sequel. And then there’s the expendable side story. Trigun: Badlands Rumble is the latter. It has a movie only villain, a movie only protagonist, it neither adds or detracts from the source material, it ultimately didn’t matter. Trigun doesn’t learn anything from this. Hell, he doesn’t even do much. He was kinda just there. The film had the audacity to imply that Trigun died in this, but we all know he didn’t. And worst of all, the film doesn’t try anything new. The setting is still a desert and Trigun is still Trigun. There’s a few things you could have done, like explore Trigun’s early years, do a movie from Woofback’s perpective, or Trigun’s brother’s perspective, or put Trigun is a jungle or city or something. As it stands, this is a serviceable movie, but not must-see.

Watch it?: Maybe for that Trigun inch.

MVP: Amelia

I would also get goosebumps if creepy Trigun tried to touch me.

Best Moment: Gasback’s booby-trap walk (some pretty fancy animation there)

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Black Jack: The Movie

Type: Real medicine doesn’t work this way…

Synopsis: Except in E.R. But E.R. is good.

Pros: I’m be honest. I’ve never watched E.R. I just wanted to sound smart for all of you. But we’re here to talk about Black Jack: The Movie. This was my first introduction to Black Jack, created by Osamu Tezuka, who also made Astro Boy. I didn’t make this connection until about 30 minutes into the movie and though “boy, these guys sure look like robot children.” According to the Wikipedia, Black Jack is a medical mercenary who charges an insane amount of money for his services, despite not having a medical license and wearing a garish opera cape. And hes allowed to do this in a world and legal system to is fully aware of his existence as an illegal surgeon. In this story, he’s hired to deal with a string of superhuman who seem to be dying for no reason. Most of the film is just an excuse to draw highly detained medical procedures, but it’s a serviceable medical drama.

Cons: Also according to the Wikipedia, Black Jack’s face is explained as a skin graph from his half-african best friend. So I don’t know if he’s “Black Jack” because his face is half black (which is therefore racist), or because of his reputation as a cold hearted doctor. But he’s evil in the whole “he’s actually a kind doctor” kind or way. That being said, this movie is really just a basic medical drama. It looks nice, but nothing about is is super special. The only real element that rising above being average is Joe Carol Brian, how hires/blackmails Black Jack to help fix the superhuman death problem. She was interesting because she was the total opposite of the Black Jack character. Outside of her brilliance, she was a corporate puppet who used human experiments to further her ambitions, and was a prisoner of her own making. There was also magic bacteria found in desert stand. But that’s about it.

Watch it: It’s Fine.

MVP: The animation

People love to draw medical agony. They love it!

Best Moment: The brain surgery. (gross).

 

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