A Certain Magical Index Movie: Miracle of Endymion

Type: Cannon Movie Sequel

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Synopsis: Arisa lives in a world where things like Magicians and Espers really exist. She has no particular talent except signing and the ability to make the two protagonists her friends. Unfortunately she has also attracted the attention on Church approved magicians who keep trying to kidnap her without trying to explain why, which would have made the whole process much easier. It’s almost like story convenience was put ahead of basic logic.

Pros: The one most interesting thing about this movie is that it occurs after the events of A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun. So this movie basically has two sets of characters interacting with the same plot. I found this fascinating. Story wise, the movie does what every anime movie based on a show does by revolving the story around one new character. Arisa is a cute (and literally radiant) singer who catchers Touma and Index’s attention. It later turns out she is part on some overarching plot to blow up the Earth…or something. Arisa of course falls for Touma a little, but its not really important. The other new character of note is Shutaura, Arisa’s secret bodyguard with tragic ties to the “Miracle of 88,” one of the central events to the movie plot. I found her way more interesting that Arisa, and luckily, she becomes a major plays later on in the film.

Cons: I kinda got lost towards the latter half of the story. I know they went to space and the bad guy wanted to blow up something. To be honest, I’m still not sure what the bad guy’s ultimate goal was. Or what the Miracle of Endymion was. I know it involved nudity…On a more objective note, I feel that a lot of characters were crammed in for no real reason. Since the “A Certain” franchise has produced two successful anime shows, they have a variety of characters to showcase. However, this couldn’t always be done organically, so there are a few times when characters feel forced in (cough Accelerator cough). It gets even worse if you haven’t watched both shows. I should also note that Arisa is a singer, so if your not a fan of pop concerts in your anime movie, your out of luck.

Watch it: The Author Wrote this Story, if you’re into that sort of thing

MVP: Shutaura

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Half of this is her story

Best Moment: The Fountain Fight (Awesome fight scenes)

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Minami-Ke Tadaima

Type: Please Don’t Expect Too Much From It

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Synopsis: Three sisters, each in elementary, middle, and high school respectively, live their lives for our amusement. After a great beginning/end and a lousy middle, the franchises adds yet another entry which I can only determine to be some kind of epilogue. You now, the epilogues that are open ended, don’t resolve anything, and leave an incredible amount of room for more stories.

Pros: Still really funny. Much like Season 1 and 3, this season of Minami-ke stuck to its traditional slice-of-life style comedy, this time around winter and spring. Yes, there is an entire scene dedicated to pretending to be hot in order to get invited to eat chilled noodles. So nothing really happens, but its a humorous nothing. I think Season 2 was just a temporary swing-and-a-miss for the franchise. Since this is the 4th season, a few of the supporting characters are given more attention, specifically Haruka’s high school friends (about 20% more). Hosaka and Hitomi stand out the most. The show also seems to have adopted the character design from season 3, so more of the characters look slicker and shinier.

Cons: Minami-ke suffers from Character Overload syndrome. Since it’s lasted so long and has three main protagonists, it has an overflow of supporting characters. Each of the Minami sisters have about three friends each, so that’s twelve characters right there. Plus, there are about seven boys, so that’s nineteen supporting characters. Plus the Minami uncle, so that’s twenty. I’m not saying that they each need an episode to themselves, I’m just saying that’s a lot of recurring characters for one show. I also noticed a bit more fan service snuck in, which was alright because the show knew how to play it for laughs, but I hope the next season doesn’t go overboard. It’s not that type of show.

Watch it?: Still Minami-Ke (4/5)

MVP: Hosaka

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I feel that he really came into his own this season, not shirt and all.

Best Episode: Ep. 8 “Vegetables with Your Merry Friends on Your Day Off” (I warned them!)

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Oreimo

Type: My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (well, mine are. I  can’t speak for yours)

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Synopsis: Hey, did you hear about Kirino Kosaka, that middle school straight-A track and field star who models professionally on the side? God, I hate her. But I heard from my friend Runi, who hear it from her friend Saori, that Miss Perfect is actually a gigantic neeeeeeeeeeeerd. That she actually loves to play eroge games, especially siscon ones, and watches all kinds of anime. Ha! What kind of loser would spend any of their precious free time watching ANIME!? What a loser.

Pros: Oreimo is considered one of the funnier anime in a while, and it doesn’t disappoint. Being based on a Light Novel, every episode is divided between comedy and melodrama. Luckily, the division is executed well enough thanks to music cues. The emotional conflict that drives both the comedy and drama is the reveal that popular girl Kirino is an Otoku. Kirino had the interesting problem of wanting to keep being feminine and stylish while also being a raging Otoku, but feeling that she can’t be both openly. I think we can all relate to that on some level. It falls on her brother Kyosuke to provide emotional support and help her “come out” as a Otoku (and to take the brunt of her Tsundere abuse).  The show manages to dodge the incest question by addressing it immediately (the show is pretty self aware), which allows Kirino’s and Kyosuke’s relationship to come off as more sweet than gross. I’ll state it for the record, both as a viewer and older brother, Kyosuke damn well earned every “Thanks, Aniki” he got from Kirino.

Cons: Just because the show shoots down the incest question doesn’t mean their still isn’t some percentage of it. So unfortunately, we do get that one scene where Kirino and Kyosuke fall over and Kyosuke’s hand miraculously lands on Kirino’s boob. We also get a lot of Kirino booty shots. Speaking of Kirino’s body (ew), her character proportions weren’t always consistence. Sometimes she was drawn like a small-ish middle school student, but other times she seemed as tall as a young woman. Then again, Brittany Spears addressed this topic years ago, so who am I to criticize. Story wise, I felt that the Anime Production sub-plot was tacked on, coming out of nowhere and going nowhere. The reactions Kirino got to her nerdom bordered on the silly side, with the closest parallel being actually coming out of the closet. Though in Kirino’s case, it always came down to her love of erotic games, so I don’t know how to root for. The show also never explains why Kirino and Kyosuke are so estranged at the beginning of the show, though I know for a fact that it is addressed in the second season.

Watch it?: This is the first anime I’ve ever seen to say the word “Halloween” (4/5)

MVP: Kyosuke Kosaka

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This man takes so many bullets for his little sister

Best Episode: Ep. 9 “There’s No Way My Little Sister Can Play Eroge Like This” (so mellow)

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Full Metal Panic!

Type: Plus Second Raid

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Synopsis: A child soldier named Sousuke Sagura is sent to Japan school to guard a possibly magic girl named Kaname Chidori. Weirdly, the international peace keeping force that sent him neglected the fact that he has not espionage skills, or that he would fall in love. Because of this incredible oversight, his cover in blown right off the bat, putting himself and his charge in constant danger. On the positive side, this does mean the two get to go on the occasional date/counter-terrorist mission.

Pros: This show is the more serious parent series of Fumoffu, which is considered one of the funnier anime series around. For those wondering, yes, during the less action packed episodes, Full Metal Panic! can be just as funny as Fumoffu. The series itself is a military themed action-drama in which the Sausuke Saguar and the counter-terrorist organization “Mithrill”  fight Cobra, I mean the bad guys. Both season one and two have respective big bads, though I’d give the nudge to Season 1’s bat-shit scary Gauron. That man was frightening. The show has really strong characters, each feeling like they have depth and personality, even if they only show up for one scene. Tessa, for example, was portrayed a competent military officer, despite having a jealous crush on Sagura and being designed like the typical “pure” character. The fact that she came off as a “real” person speak volumes for the character work in the show (that one scene in S.2, Ep. 8 was so good!).

Cons: This show ebbs in its pacing. It has really intense action arcs, but then really mellow episodes in between. So it goes really fast, then really slow. The first season was particularly guilty of this, being 25 episodes, some being clearly filler. Season 2 less so because it was only 13 episodes. In fact, Season 2 had a lot less high school scenes than season 1, though Fumoffu had premiered in between, so it sorta balances out. Full Metal Panic! is based on Light Novels, meaning that in classic Light Novel Anime fashion, we don’t get the full story. We don’t know what the “whispered” are. We don’t know about Amalgam. And we end on and open-ended finale. The anime itself is also pretty violent at times, veering from PG-13 to R regularly during the action episodes.

Watch it?: As far as military/high school anime goes, its pretty good. (4/5)

MVP: Tessa Testarossa

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Honestly, even I underestimated her

Best Episode: S.2, Ep. 8 “Jungle Groove” (honestly, S.2 Ep.7-13 are must watches)

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Encouragement of Climb

Type: Can’t spell Encouragement without Courage

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Synopsis: Here’s the deali-o. Aoi is a high school student whose afraid of heights and kinda anti-social. This was working great for her so far, until she runs into her old friend Hinata, who makes her keep a childhood promise of climbing a mountain together. Sadly, Aoi couldn’t pretend to not notice her, because their in the same class.

Pros: Every episode is only 3 minutes. If you don’t have time to watch this, you may need to reflect on your time management. It’s a typical slice-of-life anime with a female bent. The character’s are kinda cutesy, there’s humor, but nothing raunchy, and the main story is about Aoi becoming a more open person. All in all, an easy to digest cute anime.

Cons: There was this weird moment at the end where the girls were changing in the locker room that made me think “who is this for?” My assertion that this was made for a female audience may have been mistaken. This is probably more for a moe audience. That would also explain why some of the girls look a bit too young to be high school students.

Watch it: You can knock this out in less than an hour (4/5)

MVP: Aoi

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I also fell off something once. It’s not something I’d like to repeat again.

Best Episode: Too short (you pick)

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Time of Eve

Type: No Robots were harmed in the making of this anime

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Synopsis: In this little cafe in Japan, probably, I mean, the anime isn’t sure so why should I be? Just because everyone looks, acts like, and speaks Japanese. They could be in Detroit for all I know! The cafe, called Time of Eve, serves as a little refuge for humans and androids to interact with each other freely. There’s also a lot of talk about the Three Laws of Robotics: Serve the Public Trust, Protect the Innocent, and Uphold the Law.

Pros: I was super apprehensive about watching this show once I learned what it was about. The only worse than a sad robot story is a sad dog story. Luckily, nothing super depressing happens to any of the robots in the show (well, except that one guy). The plot is mainly about Rikou learning that androids have feelings, such as his own android, Sammy. The show is a sci-fi drama, exploring the social facets of a life with androids. Should they be treated as people, can they fall in love, do they have emotions, all these topics are explored. Something in the vein of A.I. and Bicentennial Man, or even a more serious version of Chobits. Everything from the shaky cam to color pallet has a near-future vibe to it. And with only 15 minute episodes, its a fast watch.

Cons: I honestly kept expecting things to do dark really fast, but it didn’t, and I am grateful. I already saw the Animatrix, I don’t need to be reminded of man’s inhumanity again. The stories don’t go beyond the main characters going to the cafe and dealing with their own prejudices and preconceptions about androids. The story alludes to a bigger political battle in the background, but nothing ever comes of it. So its an intimate story, but at the same time it feels unfinished. (P.S. Episode 4 is a particularly sad robot story, so I’d advise anyone not wanting to cry to skip it).

Watch it?: There’s a compilation movie of the show, so you could also watch that (4/5)

MVP: Sammy

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I wish there had been one episode from her point of view

Best Episode: Ep. 3 “Koji & Rina: Lovers of Eve” (Is love a human emotion?)

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100 Followers: Let’s Break Kayfabe

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Hello! This is GentlemanOtoku, and I’m super exited to reveal that the blog has achieved 100 follower! Yes, I understand that some people just follow to be cool and don’t read the articles, but whatever! A W is a W no matter how you get it. For this special post, I’ll finally explain what the exact deal is with my posting layout and review system. Trust me, I’m as exited to find out as you are. Continue reading

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Hajime No Ippo: The Fighting!

Type: The Sweet Science

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Synopsis:  Ippo was nobody. But that don’t matter, you know? ‘Cause Ippo was thinkin’, it really don’t matter if he lost a fight. It really didn’t matter if that anime guy opens his head, either. ‘Cause all Ippo wanted do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever went the distance with a boxing show, and if Ippo could go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and Ippo’s still standin’, we’re all gonna know for the first time in our lives, see, that his show weren’t just another bum sport anime from the neighborhood.

Pros: I hate sports anime, but I didn’t hate Hajime No Ippo. I actually really enjoyed it. Ippo’s drive to be the best, the sacrifice he and other boxers make to follow their dreams, the psychology behind each fight in and out of the ring, the clearly corrupt calls, all of it. In a weird way, Hajime No Ippo both glamorizes and bluntly presented the sport of professional boxing. I think why this anime worked better for me than say The Prince of Tennis, is that boxing as a sport is very easy to romanticize. This is why movies like Rocky are more popular than Friday Night Lights and Coach Carter. Baseball stories are a close second, but probably only in America. You can really relate to the effort put into boxing because it mainly deals with one individual vs. another. Each of Ippo’s opponents have a backstory, even if it eventually boils down to trying to be the best. Ippo himself is very charming, as his meek persona outside the ring works well to balance his all-business attitude inside (he also appearently has huge genatelia that everyone makes fun of!). He kinda reminded me of Kenichi, Histories Strongest Desciple to be honest.

Cons: The story is fairly simple. Ippo has to learn a specific lesson or technique before a fight, he fights, then he wins and moves on to the next guy. Rise and repeat. The only variants are the character involved. Some of the fights also starts getting repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, this is probably the most intense cinematic boxing you’ll ever see, but that doesn’t mean they’re all masterpieces. What’s interesting about Ippo is that you get a shorthand introduction to the world of boxing, including the business side and economic and health reality for fighters. It’s actually pretty realistic at times, and Ippo himself ages from about 17 to 20, so it was neat to notice the subtle changes in him. I would have liked more scenes with his eventual love interest Kumi, but eh. To be honest, outside of the this being a boxing anime with repetitive story arcs, I can’t thing of any bad things about it (except maybe that his initial rivalry with Miyata goes nowhere).

Watch it?: If you like boxing stories, you’ll love Ippo (4/5)

MVP: Ippo Makunouchi

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Him vs Tomorrow Joe, who would win?

Best Episode: Ep. 66 “My Takamura’s Tears” (he fights a bear!)

 

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Say “I Love You”

Type: Make me a Sandwich first

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Synopsis: In a tales as old as time, but song not as old as rhyme (because that’s logically impossible), a unpopular girl grabs the attention of the most popular boy in school. Now get THIS, not only is the boy tall and handsome, he’s caring, affectionate, and knows when to get aggressive if you know what I mean *wink* He also has a trouble past…oh, if only someone would understand him!

Pros: Sexist jokes aside, Say “I Love You” is pretty good. Not the best shojo show I’ve ever seen, but still enjoyable. It follows the same basic shojo formula of shy girl meets pretty boy who fall in love with her realness and helps her get more friends. To the show’s credit, Mei and Yamato start dating by the third episode, so the show is mainly about them being in a relationship and falling in love (like in real life, not anime life). The first four episodes are them getting together, then a filler episode, then seven episodes with love rival Megumi. What makes this anime a little different from its brethren is the amount of physical affection depicted in the show. Now, “physical affection” isn’t the same as “sexual affections,” and that’s key here. The characters in this show (mainly Mei and Yamato) tend to hug each other in a manner that comes off as very intimate. Even I had to turn on the fan a few times. There’s also a fair amount of kissing, which I appreciated in the context of a high school romance anime.

Cons: So while the show has a fair amount of good characters and scenes, it is very by the numbers structure wise, almost to a surprising degree. Apart from the above mentioned premise, the classic cliche’s all show up. A love rival shows up to steal Yamato, a love rival shows up to steal Mei, it turns out Yamato has a clingy younger sister, it turns out Mei was taking care of a stray cat in a cardboard box, etc. The show is also notable in its neglect of its supporting characters. Most shojo stories tend to explore the love lives of multiple couples, but in Say “I Love You,” couples are established and then put off to the side (ex: Asami and Kenji). Of course, if the show had 24 episodes instead of 12, this may have not been the case. Finally, I found Mei a bit too shy. I feel she should have shed some of that as the show went on, and I found Yamato a little bland. He was a bit too ideal and the only real character trait of note was his occasional selfishness, or maybe coldness? apathy? distance? A tendency to help others but sometimes overlook the feelings of those closest to him. God, if he would just let me in…

Watch it: “I fell in love with that roundhouse kick” (4/5)

MVP: Kei Takemura

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Man, I want that mohawk

Best Episode: Ep. 2 “Fried Chicken Flavored” (not ganna lie, that last scenes gave me the vapors)

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Haganai NEXT

Type: Protagonist with Selective Deftness

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Synopsis: After a group of lonely people gradually gravitated towards one another to form a “friends club,” they noticed that this was an anime and there was only one boy in the group. So they pretend to play erotic games and film independent student films, while each girl secretly falls in love with their male member. Of course, its only secret because the dude doesn’t want to risk breaking up his group of friends. No one wants to be Yoko.

Pros: Man, I really missed this show. It’s just so damn funny. Once again, Rika gets the best dirty lines, but the rest of the cast still contributes the occasional “bitch” and “fuck” here and there. The show has progressed from the introductory first season, so a slow burn story arc is introduced, involving Sena, and funny enough, Rika. The group dynamic is still the strongest point of the series, as are the hilarious situations they get into (ex: BL Gaming). Part of this is because each character has more depth than your typical harem cast. This stems from the fact the the characters joined the “Good Neighbor Club” to make friends, not because they all fell in love with a random boy. The does happen, because anime, but it felt a lot less forced than in other shows. I could actually imagine any one of the girls ending up with Kodaka.

Cons: Maybe it’s because I haven’t watched the first season in a while, but did they ramp up the fan service or what!? I also feel that Yozora was a bit underwritten this time around. Throughout the season, she is clearly in love with Kodaka, but can’t express it, making her very jealous and angry when he get female attention. This is her only storyline throughout the season. It makes it easy to forget that she was the one that started the club in the first place. The characters of Kobato and Maria are still pretty annoying as well. There was also a slight twist involving Yukimura that irked me a first, but didn’t really change much overall. The season ends of a cliff hanger, and I really, really, really hope the show gets another season to tie up loose ends.

Watch it?: Dude, I still think you have to (4/5)

MVP: Rika Shiguma

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A perv, but hey, still has a heart of gold.

Best Episode: Ep. 2 “Homo Game Club” (exactly what it sounds like)

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