Monthly Archives: October 2017

Dance in the Vampire Bund

Type: “Bund” means embankment or causeway

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Synopsis: Vampires! Creatures of the Night! Children of Satan that will feed on you very blood! They exist! They set up a city off the shore of Tokyo! Their queen is a totally legal blond girl who is regularly naked!

Pros: Despite having a highly sexualized child character as it’s poster child (which we will get to later), the anime is actually a pretty good vampire show. It has the right mix of gore, sex, and style that should appeal to any fans of this sub-genre. The plot also does not mess around. The first episode sets up the vampire city, and the rest of the series deals with the aftermath. The show tries its best to depict the social impact that Vampires would have on society,  like True Blood. But not all vampires want to integrate, leading to conflict with the protagonists,  like True Blood. And there are werewolfs and other magical creatures…like True Blood. OK, so this is the closest you may get to anime True Blood, at least in spirit. You even have a “forbidden” love between a vampire and non-vampire. The vampire in question is Mina Tepes, Queen of the Vampires.  Her physical portrayal aside, I found her to be a fun character to watch. She is portrayed as prideful and regal, but also kind and childish, and at times even cutthroat. Her best moment is her reactions to a command she gives for the benefit of her people. While necessary, she didn’t like it, but never said she regretted it, even if it cost her what she personally wanted the most. She’s a good addition to that weird group of immortal loli characters. (P.s. The animation is helmed by SHAFT, giving the show a stylish look that compliments the vampire mystique).

Cons: OK, so the first episode does this interesting thing where it’s all set during a talk show that discusses the existence of vampires. The show proper doesn’t start until episode 2. It was an interesting approach, but maybe not for everyone. In terms on character, the show seems to reserve it’s interesting character designs to vampires. Most everyone else if fairly generic. There’s also the main character, Akira, who’s about as bland as a piece of bread. His only real interesting moment is when he disagrees with one of Mina’s decisions, which was legitimately great, but everything else he does is boring. The plot…is actually worth watching, with a few factors in the show explained, from the establishment of the Vampire Bund to Mina’s appearance. That’s right, the show actually has an interesting rationale for it’s pedophilia! Not everything is explain, however, as the show has a “read the manga” ending. But it does have 12 solid episodes.

Watch it?: Every episode is named after other vampire media (4/5)

MVP: Mina Tepes

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Heavy is the head that wears the crown

Best Episode: Ep5-7 “Shadow of Vampire,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” and “Innocent Blood” (characters actually having a disagreement based on personal beliefs and actions, not misunderstanding!)

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Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge

Type: A lot less popular than it should be

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Synopsis: We  were in the arcade late one night when our eyes beheld an eerie sight, for some dudes began to rise and suddenly to our surprise they played Nightstalkers. It was a graveyard smash!

Pros: Poor references to 1960’s parody songs aside, this anime OVA series is based on the Nighstalkers’ video game franchise. That’s right, it’s another anime based on a fighting game review! I’m starting to think I should add a tag for this. Anyway, the anime has 4 episodes, 40 minutes each, with some slight plot elements. The anime follows three pairs: Morrigan and Demitri, Donovan and Anita, and H-Sein Ko and Mei-Ling. The story takes place in a world where the “Dark” has encroached on the Human World, meaning monsters and humans are living together. “Darkstalkers” refer to creatures of the dark. For once, the fighting in this anime based on a fighting game is pretty good, and some of the story elements are interesting. Anita’s story is predictably the most compelling. The anime did it’s job by getting me interested in the series, and making me wonder why this wasn’t more popular. Seriously, its a game were movie monsters fight each other. How was it not all over the 90s!?

Cons: Even at 40 minutes a piece, the story is all over the place. I think they made a mistake trying to build an overarching story across the 4 episodes. The anime worked best when it had spotlight segments, like the one with Bishimon, the haunted samurai armor ghost, or the one with Felicia, the cat girl. Putting so much emphasis on Donovan was a mistake, because he has as much personality as a block of wood. The world itself is interesting enough. You have humans who fight the dark. You have Darkstalkers who are presecuted by humans. And you have characters who a trying to take over the world. But as it stands, you’d be better off picking and choosing what to watch, or skipping it.

Watch it?: Like the game, it has potential, but can’t quite fulfill it (3/5)

MVP: Anita

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She’s eerie, but interesting

Best Episode: Ep1 “Return of the Darkstalkers” (has a zombie in it)

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Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea (film)

Type: A popular mess

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Synopsis: A girl, who’s kinda a downer to be honest, finds herself in a fantasy land where she happens to be a super special and important Goddess that all the boys have a crush on. To be fair, if she was a he, then he would be a super special and important Warrior that all the girls have a crush on. So no points for originality.

Pros: I chose to watch this movie because whenever older fans of anime (meaning people my age who’s family had money for cable) talk about 90’s anime, there’s always a few names that pop up. Someone will mention Cowboy Bebop, or Evangelion, or Sailor Moon, or DBZ, or this one weird anime called “Escaflowne.” So I decided to give it a shot. Though, in hindsight, I probably should have watched the 1996 anime instead of this 2000 movie (even though the English anime actually did premiere in 2000 in North America). The movie is very pretty to look at, in that 90’s animation kinda way. The themes of depression and escalation stay more or less consistent throughout the story. And the overall world looks fairly interesting. I was actually thinking that I wouldn’t mind following these characters for more than just a 90 minute movie. (P.S. I watched the English Dub, the Ocean Version I believe, and boy…was that something).

Cons: Condensing a full length anime series into a 90 minutes movie is never a wise idea. The movie treatment works better with story arcs that have a more consistent beginning, middle, and end. As such, I often found myself feeling rushed while watching this movie. No character is really allowed to breath. For example, the protagonist Hitomi’s character arc is that she’s suffering from depression, which is only alleviated after she visits a new world and gets a purpose (and also meets a cute boy that solves all her problems, but that’s a separate issue). But the movie didn’t really have enough time to explore this properly, so to me Hitomi was just an angsty teen who felt “alone,” despite not really having any external forces weighing her down and showing evidence being pretty sociable. Then there’s her relationship with Van, the would be Dragon King, which goes from indifference to eternal love in the span of a quick fight scene. Not to mention all the supporting characters that I’m struggling to remember because they don’t really do anything. What all this boils down to is the realization the film version was probably not the best way to experience the Escaflowne story.

Watch it?: Find the anime instead

MVP: Lord Folken

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Now his nihilism I could understand. Being passed over as King would suck.

Best Moment: The characters faces (they look so weird up close)

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The Irregular at Magic High School

Type: slooooooooooooow

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Synopsis: Tell me if you heard this one before. A high school full of super powered teenagers, mostly female, accepts a male student who is placed in the lower ranks due to a technicality. But the boy’s actually a secret bad ass that never does anything wrong, causing the female students to all quiver in unison. At least no one has pink hair in this one.

Pros: The Irregular at Magic High School has all the trappings of a generic light novel anime based on a magical battle school. Except for the main protagonist, Tatsuya. While Tatsuya does have all the circumstantial trappings of a magical battle school light novel hero, such as a harem of girls who love him, the uncanny ability to succeed in any situation, and secret powers, his main character trait is being stoic. That’s not be calling him bland. He literally does not feel emotions, having repressed them early in life. While more light novel action heroes are usually a little bumbling to give off an image of geniality, Tatsuya does not. He never laughs, rarely smiles, and most of his expressions are reserved for dry humor or affection for his sister. This calm demeanor almost justifies his level of skill and mary-sue like ability to solve any problem. Plus, his quiet but handsome attitude is kinda hot, so you can see why most of the girls naturally flock to him. Story wise, first arc is the strongest, since it sets up this whole social conflict between people with magic, people with weak magic, and people with not magic. These themes of inequality and discrimination make the anime seem like it’s going somewhere, even if it ultimately doesn’t.

Cons: It’s just so boring. The anime has three arcs: The School arc, the School-Tournament arc, and the War arc. The first arc is the most interesting and the most promising. It introduces a world were magic is real, and magicians are trained as soldiers from an early age. In the most elite of elite magic school, the student body has developed their own social cast system: Blooms and Weeds, based on test scores. This echoes the larger world issues between Magicians and Non-Magicians. Tatsuya, being a “weed” with great skills, throws a wrench into this system. That’s cool and all, and lasts about 7 episodes. The next arc is the tournament arc, which Tatsuya’s high school wins, even though the first anime opening had the audacity of framing one of the competitors as Tatsuya’s rival (false advertisement!). The last arc is a war arc against some terrorists or something, but honestly, I was checked out by then. The only real interesting thing about the last arc was the reveal that Tatsuya is secretly a soldier, but the show kinda reveals this in the firs episode. So story wise, I don’t recommend this anime. What about character wise? Nope on that either. There is no character development here. Like none at all. The only person who actually changes and evolves is a character in the first arc who joined a terrorist cell and later regrets it. But that’s it. And I don’t even want to mention that explicit incest between Tatsuya and his sister! I don’t want to be that guy, but their relationship is an abomination and will cursed them to the fiery depths of hell. (P.s. There’s also this weird hue over the show that makes it seem that everything is slightly glowing.

Watch it?: Maybe the first 7 episodes. (3/5)

MVP: Tatsuya Shiba

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I found his cold demeanor refreshing

Best Episode: Enrollment I-VII (the first arc)

 

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Golden Boy

Type: Very Educational

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Synopsis: In this show that’s kinda porn, but not really, but still really close–I mean, you probably wouldn’t watch this in the office. But you probably shouldn’t be watching any anime in the office. Get back to work!– a guy whose basically a Temp helps various women by being a pathetic perv who’s a quick study.

Pros: The anime’s biggest strength is it’s serialized format. Each story is a stand alone tale about Kintaro meeting a woman at work, driving them away with his sick fetishes, but secretly helping them in a way that makes each woman fall in love with him. Most of the humor is based on sex jokes, as Kintaro has a very active libido. I watched the English dub, and Kintaro’s actor plays him very over the top. Even after seeing Kintaro save the day with his mary-sue like ability to learn, he still comes off as a weird loser in the next story. But his desire to learn about the world is admirable, and his positive personality does grow on you. And while the show is very fan service heavy, it is not pornographic, per say. The closest is probably episode 4, involving a woman and her motorcycle, which puts it under the category of a soft sore skin flix more than anything.

Cons: Kintaro’s toilet fetish. I don’t get it. People poop there man. But I guess I shouldn’t judge people’s tastes, fictional or otherwise. Other than that, Kintaro can be a little too much to handle at times, and can come off a a creep. And this is a very sex-joke heavy show, with more of the women being drawn as such. And weirdly enough, 4 out of the 6 women that Kintaro helps are condescending women of higher authority or status that are “humbled” by Kintaro’s kindness. I’m not really sure what that says about the author’s thoughts on gender dynamics, given his love for Dominant Women,  but I do know that the later part of the Golder Boy manga gets really philosophical about sex and gender, so….yeah. (p.s. the opening is poor and doesn’t really set up the show).

Watch it: It’s can be fun, but know what your getting into (3/5)

MVP: Kintaro’s voice actor

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Doug Smith, you’ve done it again.

Best Episode: Ep.3 “Danger! The Virgin’s First Love” (the nicest and least sexual episode, which is ironic, considering that this is also the only episode with a sex scene in it)

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