Category Archives: drama

Eureka Seven: AO

Type: All you need is the original.

Synopsis: A blue haired boy joins a peace keeping organization in order to stop giant coral reef aliens from blowing up. This is in contrast to his father, who joined a pirate ship in order to hit on a pretty girl. But since the father had more episodes to play with, his comes out to be the more interesting story.

Pros: This anime is difficult to talk about because it had a lot of potential. The protagonist is the rare son of former protagonists whose following his own story instead of continuing the previous story. The setting is a slightly altered version of the real world, fought with political commentary. And the mecha are mainly piloted by pretty teenage girls. Later on in the series, the show even introduces the idea of alternate realities and time travel just to add a little bit of sci-fi spice into the story. An adult Eureka and Renton also show up in this story, so fans who saw the 2005 show as teens can now see their old heroes as grown ups like them. The show is at it’s most interesting when it explores all these factors, especially the last two. It’s just a shame that it fumbles it all so badly.

Cons: I’ve been doing this review thing for a while, but I still lack the words needed to communicate exactly what went wrong with this series. Because on paper it has everything it needs to succeed. It ticks all the generic anime mecha boxes: a boy pilot with daddy issues, robots that can only be piloted by teen girls, not so subtle jabs at American foreign policy, and psudo bulsh$t sci-fi. It’s also a sequel to a well known (kind of) show. But it all feels…hallow. The show has no soul. It all felt too by the numbers, nothing felt earned, and it never took that extra step after a big twist or reveal. “Betrayals” are almost immediately reversed, only one important character dies, romances are only hinted at, and the alternate reality stuff is not explored nearly enough. They don’t even show Eureka raising Ao by herself to understand why Ao loves her so much and resents his father. This is going to sound weird from a guy who likes to keep things light, but the show is just not mean enough. Eureka Seven was mean. Renton was beaten repeatedly by his own side! Holland kicked his 14 year old whining behind constantly, because he was not a father, he was a pirate. Eureka didn’t fall for him immediately, she didn’t even like him that much until 25 episodes in. And the kids of the show were plagued with all these new feeling that they didn’t know how to handle because they were teenage kids, while the adults were haunted by their past actions and still didn’t know who to handle certain emotions. But in AO, everyone loves AO. All the adults are extra nice to him, all the girls eventually have crushes on him, and Ao even forgives his dad after like a 5 minute skirmish. We never get to see Ao deal with the smaller, confusing moments in life that would make the audience empathize with him. He’s never shown to be weak, or rash, or awkward, or selfish. All this actually made me dig a little, and it turns out that the show was directed by the same guy who did Eureka Seven, Tomoki Kyoda, but not written by the same guy (Dai Sato). This would explain the dissonance I got while watching it. I’ll be honest, part of the reason why this show annoyed me was because Eureka Seven was one of my shows. An early anime that caught me as a teenager that I would watch at 4:30 am-5:30am before going to Calculus morning classes. It’s a show I’m very familiar with, and its sequel just does not satisfy me at all.

Watch it?: Let me summarize my points: you don’t sympathize with the protagonist, the plot is rushed, too many ideas are crammed in, you only get excited for the parts when Eureka and Renton show up for their one respective episode, you’re still left with a bunch of questions about what happened to everyone else in the original show (like Eureka and Renton’s other adopted kids) and the show has the gall to save the interesting alternate reality stuff for an online-only episode. (3/5)

MVP: Eureka and Renton

Sorry Ao, but your parents are just more interesting

Best Episode: Ep.13 “She’s a Rainbow” (hey, it’s Eureka!)

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11 Eyes

Type: Yes, this is a late 2000’s anime alright

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Synopsis: Based on a visual novel? Check. Main protagonist is obviously the main protagonist thanks to his over the top eye patch? Check. High school kids killing demons? Check. Things get surprisingly dark in the middle? Check. Overly-complicated to the point of having a character WRITE A DIAGRAM to explain something. You’re goddamn right it’s a check.

Pros: Given the overexposure of light novel anime in the 2010’s, it’s a bit nostalgic to look at an anime back in the time where Visual Novels were the lazy production company’s answer to success. The anime is pretty stereotypical for the time: kids fighting demons. You have all the usual players as well, like the main character with a unique power (a magic eye!), an overly feminine love interest, a swords-woman with unrelated magical powers, a sweet blond girl with a split personality, and a cocky rebel who doesn’t work well with others. The plot does break the mold a bit by having moments of shock or drama. This can range from a sudden death to misunderstanding. I particularly liked what they did with Yuka, who goes on full on Yandere as the series progresses. It’s these darker moments that elevate the show from it’s default mediocrity.

Cons: As stated above, this show fells by the numbers. It has a generic cast, generic villains, and generic story lines. It’s saving grace is that it allows characters to die, or to express their sorrow/grief in interesting manners. For example, you have Takahisa, my least favorite character, who is the first of the main cast to die. As a result, his love interest Yukiko does into a suicidal rage, leading to her death as well. While I had absolutely no interest in either of these characters or their relationship, their deaths and reactions grabbed my attention. So you can imagine my reaction when good characters like Misuzu and Kakeru interacted. In fact, Misuzu and Kakeru are a fairly competent example of how to pace romantic/sexual tension, and is one of the few things that makes 11 Eyes shine. Because it sure ain’t the overly confusing plot with way too many elements to juggle. I’m talking flashbacks, time travel, parallel worlds, like three different kinds of magic (p.s. I check, and the index girl in this is not related to A Certain Magical Index in any way), and just, just so many contrivances…

Watch it?: This is surprisingly comparable to Shakugan no Shana. Probably due to the weak plot and monsters (3/5)

MVP: The Kakeru, Misuzu, and Yuka Love Triangle

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It’s not cheating if it’s the end of the world and your bae’s insane, right?

Best Episode: Ep.8 “Witching Hour” (the dark turning point!)

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Rumbling Hearts

Type: “Does Everything I do Have to Hurt Someone?”

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Synopsis: Once upon a time there lived a girl named Haruka, who had a best friend named Mitsuki. They both loved a boy named Takayuki very much, but he only loved one of them. Then one day, Haruka fell into a deep sleep and couldn’t wake up. Takayuki’s heart was broken, but Mitsuki helped him but it back together. She never left his side, even though part of his heart still remained with Haruka. What else could she do, she loves him…

Pros: Ok, so real talk. I kinda got into this show. I found this anime soap opera genuinely engaging. Sue me. The basic premise is: Takayuki, Haruka, and Mitsuki are high school friends stuck in a love triangle. Then one day, Haruka gets into an accident and falls into a coma. Takayuki and Mistsuki start dating, even though Takayuki isn’t fully committed. Three years later, Haruka wakes up and causes Takayuki and Mistuki’s relationship to become really strained. That’s basically the gist of it without giving away too much. I would love to explore the subtleties of the show, but that would spoil the experience. The strength of the show comes from the portrayal of Takayuki and Mitsuki, both as individuals and as a couple. More so with Mitsuki, who I found really relatable. You see, when Haruka wakes up, Takayuki basically begins an emotional affair with her. And Mitsuki’s reactions to this are all too understandable. She tries to ignore it, she tries to overcompensate physically and emotionally, she even verges on alcoholism. She spirals as she comes to the realization that the person she loves has stronger feelings for someone else, and probably always did. Both Mitsuki and Takayuki are guilty of trying to cling to the past, with Haruka being a not to subtle living memory that holds them back from the future.

Cons: The show has a good beginning, and a strong ending, but a weak middle. This is because the beginning sets everything up, the ending ties everything together, but the middle has to let the story breath. And it takes long breaths. The middle of the story, about ep4-9, has to show Mistuki and Takayuki’s relationship slowly deteriorate. So you get a lot of awkward silences and montages of everyone looking sad. It’s necessary, but also skimmable. The ending, however, really sticks the landing. So much many character arcs come to a head in ep10-14 that I want to talk about, but it would spoil them!! Even sweet, stereotypical Haruka gets to react to her situation in a realistic manner. The show does have it’s faults. The story is a soap opera, and fairly predictable. All the heroines seem to love Takayuki for because it’s anime and “he’s a nice guy.” But I saw how he lived with Mitsuki, and honestly…he seems like a dick. He’s distant, emotionally self-centered, and rather boring. But dammit if the story’s not engrossing. I partly attribute this to the fact that main cast are all in their early 20’s instead of in high school, so the drama can be taken a little more seriously. Although I do admit that the character designs do make everyone look older than they should. Takayuki and Mistuki are suppose to be 20-21, but they look 25. I watched the English dub, which was great, although Takayuki’s performance came off as a but wooden. I do have to mention, however, that I have never heard the phrase “baby” in the romantic sense this much in an anime before. Since Takayuki and Mistuki are adults in a relationship, they tend to sleep together a few times in the show (nothing explicit pervs!), so the phrase comes up. That’s not a bad thing, it just tickled me a little.

Watch it?: If I even did Anime Audio Commentaries, this show would be one of them (4/5)

MVP: Mitsuki

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You can’t help who you love, and that hurts sometimes.

Best Episode: Ep10-14 The Ending Arc (Though I’m not sure how I feel about Mitsuki and Takayuki’s ultimate fate…)

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xxxHolic

Type: A lot more lore than you think

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Synopsis: A boy named Watanuki visits a mysterious magic shop to because he attracts spirits. The owner of the shop, Yuko, agrees to help him in-exchange for becoming the shop’s part time cook/butler/errand boy. This sounds like a good deal, except for the fact that Yuko constantly sends him on supernatural-related missions Personally, I think Yuko is swindling the kid, but maybe it’s all just a coincidence…

Pros: The anime functions on a case-of-the-week story structure. Every episode deals the Watanuki and Yuko “helping” someone with a minor problem, like being a compulsive liar, or having an internet addiction. Something these people should really be going to a mental health clinic for, not a magic shop. And while these clients sometimes do have a spirit hanging around them, a lot of times it’s because the spirits were attracted to their negativity. They generally aren’t the cause of it. As such, Yuko often had to deal with the person’s personal issues rather an exorcise any evil spirits. The show had good characters to deal with these stories. Yuko is enigmatic and wise, but also lazy with a witty sense of humor. Watanuki is loud and complains a lot, but he’s generally a kind soul. These characters make the show’s predictable pace interesting to watch, and are the real reason to watch the show. (p.s. I’m not super cray about the lanky character designs, but Yuko’s outfits are always on point).

Cons: As with any case-of-the-week anthology show, things get boring and repetitive fast. Every week, some specifically female customer comes in, goes into self-denial over the problem they came to fix, and then Yuko fixes that problem. I actually found myself skipping through a lot of these episodes. And there were a few times when it even felt like a chore to watch the show. This season also has no real ending. It just ends. The only saving grace from the monotony of these episodes are the spotlight episodes with Watanuki and Domeki. The show has a running joke that Wataniki hates Domeki because he’s madly jealous at his popularity, but Yuko keeps finding ways to put them together because Domeki can repel spirits, and thus protect Watanuki. The two make a good comedic pair, with Domeki’s stoic personality contrasting well with Wataniki’s high-strung reactions. Now, the show does have one weird caveat: xxxHolic is actually part of a larger shared universe created by CLAMP, the all female writing group. This CLAMPaverse also includes Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, Card Capture Sakura, and sometimes Blood C. From what I gather, you don’t really need to watch any of these to enjoy xxxHolic, but Tsubasa at least apparently helps.

Watch it?: It’s boring  (2/5)

MVP: Watanuki

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Complain, complain, complain….

Best Episode: Ep.19 “Unreasonable” (a fun episode! snowball fights!)

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Attack on Titan (Season 2)

Type: Second verse, not as good as the first.

Synopsis: Remember the mystery of the titan in the wall? The fate of Annie? The key to Eren’s basement? Our three main protagonists comprised of a warrior, a tactician, and an avenger? Well shut your mouths because none of that is important! Do you love such popular characters as Reiner!? Bertald!? YMIR!? You f#$%ing better! (P.S. Serious spoilers ahead)

Pros: Attack on Titan season 2 is a sequel to the popular Attack on Titan season 1. Made 4 years later, after 4 manga sequels, an anime spin-off, and 2 crap movies where the main heroine was feed apple slices by some creepy dude. And breath….ok, this season of Attack on Titan takes place immediately after the last season’s stinger. But the mystery of the titan in the wall is more or less sidelined in favor of the struggle of Reiner, Bertald, and Ymir. Because guess what, they’re all Titan Shifters! Reiner and Bertald are the damn Armor and Colossus Titans, the guys that cause this big mess in the first place. So if season 1 was all about the protagonist’s call to action, season 2 is all about the antagonist’s guilt. And a big selling point is the emotional and psychological toll that Reiner and Bertald as portrayed as being under. You don’t understand why they’re doing this, but you see that they are not happy about it. They’re antagonists, not villains (except for all the people they killed, but you get the idea). Ymir is only loosely connected to them, but the exploration of her backstory hints at larger story points and start painting a clearer picture of the world at large. You get two story arcs: The Castle Arc and the Eren Retrieval Arc, which both fall under the manga’s “Clash of the Titans” Arc. Oh, and the end credits are amazing. My official favorite end credits.

Cons: After Attack on Titan season 1, a family member of mine got really, really, really into the series, so I’ve more or less kept up with the series through osmosis. I’m caught up with the manga, I know the lore (because I’m a Lore nerd), so it’s hard for me to judge if someone who just watched the first anime would like the second season. I imagine that any casual fans who get into the first season have most likely moved on. But for those fans who stuck around, this season has HUGE revelations. Not only those stated above, but it foreshadows the larger conflicts of the world. It even reveals what the titans actually are (and maybe even when they come from)! But here’s the thing: I had a more or less apathetic reaction to this season. Maybe cause I read the manga, maybe cause I wasn’t that big a fan to begin with, or maybe because this premiered 4 YEARS after the first season, but I just wasn’t that into it. Don’t get me wrong, the show didn’t really dip in quality. Objectively, it still has over the top acting, it still has unexpectedly funny moments (e.g. The Reiner reveal), and the gore seems to have been ramped up, because it hurt to see people get eating way more this time. The action is a mixed bag. You don’t get amazing Omni-Gear maneuvering, but you do finally get the Attack vs. Armor titan fight. The inclusion of the new Beast Titan doesn’t really add much, except another question. And the show’s stop and start story progression is still very present. And really, that’s the basic summary of this season. It’s good, it’s still Attack on Titan, but it’s not the new hot thing anymore, so it’s hard to say exiting things about it. (P.S. The only glaringly bad thing was the 3D Colossus Titan. That was just a bad decision).

Watch it?: This probably would have been amazing, had it premiered in 2014, not 2017. (4/5)

MVP: The End Credits

I never skipped these (and I always skip end credits!)

Best Episode: Ep.7 “Close Combat” (Brawler vs. Mui Thay)

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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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Terra Formars

Type: Get your A@# to Mars!

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Synopsis: Man has always dream of the red planet. Man has also always stepped on cockroaches. So what happens when peanut butter meets chocolate? Well, a whole lot of gore for one thing.

Pros: Terra Formars is about a manned mission to Mars going horribly wrong. About 3 times. This anime is about the third time. In a nutshell, humans tried to terraform Mars by sending roaches to spread algae. This backfired, as the roaches somehow mutated and evolved into super soldiers in the span of 500 years. Humanity, in its infinite wisdom, decides to go back to Mars to get some samples, and kill everything they don’t understand, because humans LOL. Initially, the anime gave off a real Gantz vibe, being ultra violent and leaning towards more “realism” in it’s animation (though really, this just means they did more with shadows). But it has a good sense of levity, and lacks the nihilism of other survival anime. The characters each had cool animal based powers. But what I really found fascinating were the Terraformers. Because you start off thinking their mindless monsters, but when you see one up close, they have, wait for it: clothing. Both functional and ornamental. The bugs have developed culture, and use rudimentary but effective tactics that compliment their superior physical abilities. They always felt like a threat, not just cannon fodder, which was impressive given that they all literally look alike.

Cons: How do I put this…this anime is good, but you can watch it with the sound off in the background of your room and still get the gist of it. It doesn’t require nor grab your attention. It’s not a “deep” anime. It’s animal people fighting roach people. The reason why the plot doesn’t hook you is because the plot hasn’t actually started. This anime only covers the “introduction” arc of a manga, even if seemingly important characters died in it. It’s interesting, but I feel that the really juicy story stuff hasn’t happened yet. It felt like I was watching a really long OVA. But the story even feels thin for 13 episodes. The anime crammed in way too many flashbacks at the expense of the overall story. Works better in chapter by chapter manga, but not in anime. To put it in prospective: the entire anime, from ep3-13, is about 1 day. They stretch this one day of fighting bugs with what felt like filler back story. Stories that weren’t that interesting. The only one that really intrigued me was Adolf’s, because his story actually ties into the effects the Terraformers have had on planet Earth. That aspect was really interesting: how would nations reach to knowing theirs a potentially hostile species on another planet. The rest of the backstories were just about the dudes losing their girlfriends. Seriously. It’s the motivation for 3 flashbacks. Most of the other astronauts are there for money. In all honesty, the interactions between characters told me more than any of the flashback could hope to tell me. The anime should have just focused on the mission. The anime did get me interested in the manga, I admit, but as an anime in general? It’s kinda an easy pass.

Watch it?: The bugs are cool, but the people aren’t (3/5)

MVP: Adolf Reinhardt

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Unfortunate name, but great character.

Best Episodes: ep8-10 The Reinhardt Arc (you poor bastard!)

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Black Butler

Type: So many historical inaccurate

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Synopsis: The Earl of Phantonhive, also known as the Duke of Short Pants, also know as Lord Protector of Boys Love, has a problem. He’s alive, and so are the people the killed his mother as father. The problem is, he would like them to not be alive anymore. You see the dilemma here. Now, he can’t simply use his vast, vast, vast fortune, connection to the Queen of England, and his own notable genius to find these people. Instead, he sold his Soul to a demon butler to get his revenge. Even though the Demon Butler can’t leave his side. Or do anything without a direct order. And was possibly responsible for the Plauge. But kids, am I right?

Pros: The anime’s strongest asset is its characters. Black Butler has a set of amazing characters, from the haughty Ciel, the always debonair Sebastian, and the comedic servants. They are quiet versatile, working in comedic and serious moments. The anime is mostly made us of “cases.” As the Earl of Phantomhive, Ciel is the “guard dog” for the British Crown, often sent to various locations to root out corruption and wrong doing. Ciel is portrayed as a very good tactician. His family’s fortune lies in sweets and games, which allude to Ciel’s talent for manipulation and his young age and temperment. Sebastian often accompanies him as his highly skilled butler, sometimes comedically so, and he’s always used as the Mcguffin that saves the day. Then there’s the comedic servants: a pyromaniac cook, a cooky maid, and a jolly groundskeeper, how as indispensable as the comic relief (since the show can get dark on you). Like I said, it’s a solid group.

Cons: The anime’s story is kinda bland. It starts off strong enough, but loses it’s luster as it goes. The whole angel subplot was weak. And there was this one dog episode, Ep.7, that felt out of nowhere. I don’t wanna see dog fights. I’ll get that fix from Pokemon, thank you very much. I also felt that the story jumped the shark too quickly on the Jack the Ripper case. From my research (Wikipedia), it seems that the anime veers off from it’s manga counterpart around halfway through. For my money, Ep.7, ep17-20, and ep.22-24 are the worst story arcs of the bunch. Ep.21 stands out because it gives use the origin of the servants, which was fun. The any does delve into some darkish territory, in a psudo Victorian horror kinda a way. Your enjoyment kinda depends on your tolerance for bloody mysteries and arrogant protagonists. Oh, and your feelings on implied romance between a teenage (?) boy and his handsome adult butler.

Watch it: Pick and choose episodes (4/5)

MVP: The Servants

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My favorite characters

Best Episode: Ep.1 “His Butler, Able” (Comedic Downton Abbey)

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Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Type: Really, Really, Really Good

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Synopsis: In the ancient land of…Japan? China? Korea?…In the ancient land of South East Fantasy Asia, a female spear wielder is tasked with protecting a young Prince whose been ordered to die due to being possessed by an evil spirit. The bodyguard must now act as guardian and care giver to the young Prince, while also being a generally all around bad-ass.

Pros: This anime is really, really, really good. After watching it for an hour, I immediately looked to see if there was a second season. No such luck, but I did learn that the anime is based on a Japanese fantasy novel series. Amazon here I come. Being based on a novels makes a lot of sense, because the anime’s story is allowed to breath more than your standard action-drama. You can usually guess the story source based on the pacing. Manga anime are typically fast paced. Light-Novel anime are brisk. Visual novel anime have slow start but quickly ramp up. And video game anime are a mess, just a complete mess. But getting back to Moribito, the anime does great job mixing realism with fantasy, almost to the levels of a Miyazaki project. All the characters felt real, and the pre-industrial Japanese-esque setting made their daily lives and struggles come off as more relatable. Their are very few stories in fiction that are confident enough to allow their characters to be the story, not just be part of the story. I found myself being equally entertained by the well done action scenes, to the quieter personal scenes. The protagonist Balsa could be fighting 7 men at once, or explaining how money works, and I’d be enjoying it either way. On the topic of Balsa, can I say how refreshing it was to have a grown-up as the main character in an anime? A single Female grown up at that? One of the first things Balsa says in the series is that she’s almost 30 years old. She is a fully established character by the time we the audience meet her. She’s at the tale end of resolving her personal mission when Chagum the Prince is introduced. Her relationship with Chagum is very well handled, as her duty to look after him evolves into maternal love organically on both ends. I would love giving the anime the series of analytic essays it deserves, but these are meant to be quick. I just say that like all great stories, this anime is filled with notable moments that you can pick out and say: “Remember the fight on the mountain ledge? Or the Gambling scene? Or the attack in the rice patties? Or Chagum’s first fight? Or the visit to the blacksmith? Or Tada’s trip to the spirit world? Or, etc, etc…

Cons: There’s not more of it? That it ended? That it took me this long to get to it? That you’ll want to pay attention? That I’m pretty sure The Legend of Korra might have taking large character points from it? I mean, come on, there are soo may ways this could have gone south. Chagum could have been a whiny rich brat. Balsa, a strong female warrior, could have been given the HBO treatment. A hacky conspiracy plot could have been added. A villain could have been added, Balsa could have been given the “forget being a warrior and be a woman” troupe! But thankfully, not of that happened. Balsa is never objectified, and her being a warrior is treated more as part of who she is rather than some tragic fate. Chagum never acts arrogantly. And the major conflict come more from trying to stop a force of nature than one character trying to gain something. Even the King, the guy who ordered his youngest son dead, did so under the idea that it would protect his nation (and he was totally feeling bad about it). Maybe, maybe the idea of Balsa and Chagum having parallel stories of being protected by someone at a young age is a big too convenient, but that’s just a personal opinion. Overall, this is an anime that anyone can watch and enjoy.

Watch it?: This is why watching anime is the best! (5/5)

MVP: Balsa

vipch0

I’m now a fan of the short spear

Best Episode: Ep.3 “Fight to the Death” (I’ll with excitement, but honestly, the entire thing is great)

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