Category Archives: drama

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

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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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Your Lie In April

Type: Oh man, get ready for the emotions!

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Synopsis: Love means never having to say your sorry. Wait! Wrong thing. Also, a very bad saying. If your in love, then you should never be afraid to say your sorry. Like, “sorry I got home late without calling,” or “sorry I ate the last pizza slice,” or “sorry that your life dedicated to music has brought you nothing but pain and misery, but hey, at least the blonde one likes you.” Feeling safe enough in your relationship to apologize sincerely is the sign of good communication and a healthy couple.

Pros: In complete honesty, I have been avoiding Your Lie in April for a while. Because its a anime famous for making its audience cry, and I don’t like crying. My eyes get red, I start losing precious liquids, certain existential questions start popping up, its a whole thing. But I finally decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. Surprisingly, the anime has a lot more humor than I though it would, and never veers into drab and dreary territory. It’s more of a happy tragedy. Sad stuff happens, but the message is ultimately about moving forward. I didn’t actually end up crying, but most probably will. The story is about a former pianist named Kosei Arima, and how his life changes upon meeting a free spirited violinist named Kaori. A lot of the plot involves getting Kosei to play the piano again by getting him to overcome the psychological trauma he endured by the life and death of his mother. While most shows would deal with this in two-three episodes, this anime makes it the central story for half the series, which I appreciated. There are actually four subplots in the series. Kosei’s grief is one of them. The other is Tsubaki’s crush on Kosei. And while there is a love triangle between Kosei, Kaori, and Tsubaki, it’s never overdone. Tsubaki never jealously confront Kaori, and in fact goes out with someone else for a while. Imagine that, anime characters trying not obsessing over one person and actually dating around. Huh. The next subplot involves Kosei’s rivals, but they really only reinforce Kosei’s story than anything else. And the final subplot, and main story for the latter half of the series, involves Kaori. Every story in every episode had a weight, like it meant something. Oh, and the music is obviously fantastic. I’m no classical music expert, but I do love the piano and violin, and I loved what I heard.

Cons: This thing is very predictable. By the first episode, you know exactly what’s going to happen. You can tell just by the character troupes. Kosei is the sullen protagonist, Tsubaki is the energetic childhood friend, and Kaori is the manic pixie girl sent to fix all of Kosei’s with her wacky personality. The only character that subverts expectations is Watari, as the surprisingly wise best friend, and he gets the least screen time than anyone. Which is why I don’t really consider the Kosei-Kaori-Watari love triangle a thing. It was mostly in Kosei’s head. The love triangles in this are very courteous. I would say that the character are even a little too considerate of each other’s feelings for one another. Kosei doesn’t want to interfere with Kaori-Watari, Kaori doesn’t want to interfere with Tsunaki-Kosei, and Wateri doesn’t want to interfere with Kaori-Kosei. Which works very well in this story, but don’t go looking for dramatic love confessions. Except for Tsunaki, whose whole story arc is dealing with her love for Kosei. Notably, Tsubaki is also the only non-musician with narration (which doesn’t always translate well). And Kosei’s inner monologues about Kaori do straddle the line between poetic and silly from time to time (“your existence means freedom,” what!?). Speaking of Kosei, man, his mom was a pretty shit mom. I know she was dying or whatever, but damn, I can’t help but feel happy that Saki’s dead. In fact, if I could change one thing about this story, I would dial back on the portrayal of Saki’s abuse of Kosei. At least, the physical abuse. I feel that having her be a emotionally strict mother was enough to get the point across, but having her beat Kosei regularly makes it impossible to sympathize with her. On that note, Saki’s motivation for giving Kosei years of therapy bills was to make sure that Kosei was able to look after himself, but Kosei does have a father. A father that’s never home and allows his wife to beat their child, but a father none the less. Its not like he was going to be orphaned or living on the street. I guess her life was pretty pointless. Oh well! Aside from that, I would actually keep all my criticisms as is. Which is a weird thing to say, but I feel that the anime is almost perfectly balanced, and changing anything else would ruin it.

Watch it: A bit troupy here and there, but damn, it’s good (5/5)

MVP: Tsubaki

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Why do the childhood friends always have to do the heavy lifting?

Best Episode: Ep.13 Love Sorrows (I don’t feel sorry for Saki, but it was important that Kosei forgave her)

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Ghost Hunt

Type: Ghost Facers!

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Synopsis: Based on a Light Novel that ran for 2 years, which inspired a manga that ran for 12 years, is this anime that ran for 25 episodes. Its about, you guessed it, a group of Ghost Hunters. You get a little bit of everything. You get a Paranormal Researcher, a Monk, a Shrine Maiden, a Priest, an Onmyoji, and even a teenage girl for good measure.

Pros: Ghost Hunt is an anime comprised of several different “cases,” each involving some sort of paranormal activity. Some involve Ghost, while others involve Psychics, or Demons, or etc. One thing I really liked was the use of different specialities when dealing with the paranormal. A lot of different cultures and faiths are represented, from Buddhism, Christianity, Shintoism, to  modern technology. It’s a nice representation of the quirky fact that people all over the world have developed different ways to ward off evil spirits. The characters of the show end up using “real world” methods for fighting ghosts. So if your interested in paranormal activity, this is a quick primer. Some of the cases do get good, though they quality fluctuates. I loved the character of Mai, as her often overemotional delivery brought much needed energy into the show.

Cons: Honestly, its a little long. The show covers 8 different cases, and with 25 episodes, that’s about 3-4 episodes per case. And outside of Mai, none of the characters are well executed enough to warrant such attention. The problem is that the support cast are all outside contractors. The main characters are Mai and Naru, the latter running a paranormal research agency. Naru brings in the support characters to help out on cases. Every case in fact. Makes you wonder why he doesn’t just put them on staff. As such, there’s always this distance between the audience and the supporting characters. You pieces of personal history here and there, not that’s not much. Then there’s Naru, whose a really unlikable. He’s the stereotypical “cool” character, whose quite, prideful, and keeps things to himself. To quote Naru himself, he uses “strategic secrets.” Narratively, this is used to create situations that make Naru look evil, only to reveal after the fact that he’s actually super nice you guys! See, he wasn’t going to curse 600 students, that’s crazy talk. He was just going to make it look like he was and not tell anyone his plan, even though he had no reason not to tell the truth. Isn’t he the best and cutest?! Sadly, the brunt of this plot structure comes at the expense of Mai, who is often used to call Naru on his bullshit, only to be proven wrong at the end. Story wise, it has a monster of the week vibe, kinda boring at times, the animation doesn’t hold up, and the Opening, OH MY GOD, that was the laziest thing I’ve ever seen.

Watch it?: Overall, kind of bland. (3/5)

MVP: Mai Taniyama

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The Liveliest Hunter

Best Episodes: Ep18-21 “File 7: The Bloodstained Labyrinth Part 4” (scary, and the first anime I’ve encountered to mention Japan and China’s harsh history)

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Wanna Be the Strongest in the World

Type: Idol’s becoming wrestlers exposes the business!

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Synopsis: The angle is that An idol decides to become a wrestlers after one of the veterans insults a fellow idol. Classic babyface run, and the idol’s celebrity helps draw a pretty huge crowd. The only real drawback is that the idol is green as grass, but she’s given a mega-push because she’s semi-well known. BECAUSE ONCE AGAIN THE COMPANY DECIDES TO BACK SOMEONE THEY WANT OVER WRESTLERS WITH ACTUAL SKILL AND TALENT THAT THE FANS CHEER. #IF HAGIWARA WINS, WE RIOT.

Pros: This got me excited, because I am a HUGE wrestling fan. The anime follows the struggle of Sakura Hagiwara, a Japanese Idol who turns into a Pro Wrestler mostly out of pride. Believe it or not, the depiction of wrestling in this show is fairly accurate. Wrestlers are very defensive about their sport, which makes the set up of the anime feasible. And wrestling training is fairly intense, with many a pro-atheletes naming wrestling work outs one of the most grueling in the industry. And there is a lot of pride in wrestling locker rooms, which makes what Hagiwara goes through, from the 100 man throws to having to earn her first win, pretty indicative of the actual wrestling industry. In fact, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the 100 man throws test is an actual thing in Japanese wrestling. The story is surprisingly engrossing, as Hawigawa is given a “babyface,” or good guy story of the never-say-die fighter. She loses quiet a bit, which makes sense considering that she starts off as a singer, not a wrestler. The whole thing is played straight, and is a standard sports drama. And the actual action is made to look pretty good, though Hawigawa’s inner monologue does get repetitive. I liked it.

Cons: This is a boob anime. Which is fine in and of itself. But the show does its best to give you those crotch close-ups. And of course, a lot of the holds have the female wrestlers make a weirdly suggestive expression, blushing very much included. Perviness aside, the show has a lot of wrestlers that are sadly not fleshed out due to the short length of the series. So this anime become yet another fighting girl show with one-dimensional characters. The story follows 4 arcs: Sakura’s road to victory, a fight with the world champ, the introduction of Moe Fukuoka, and the battle with the mysterious Blue Panther. The Moe arc was the only one I wasn’t crazy about. Moe’s another rookie who want to become a wrestler, and is given the same treatment that Hawigawa was given, making it a bit repetitive. Not to mention that’s she’s more of a natural than Hawigawa, being a Karater champ, so there’s not real motivation to cheer for her growth. That’s another thing. Unlike in real life, the wrestling in this show is a shoot, meaning that the punches and grapples are very much meant knock out the opponent. This is kinda a shame, because I would have loved to see a show that talks about angles, and working ‘heel,” and putting guys over. But I that kind of show really would expose the business.

Watch it?: Even if I stifle my own bias, it’s still a solid show (3/5)

MVP: Sakura Hawigawa

DTU9u

Sakuramania is running wild!

Best Episode: Ep.3 “Give-up” (I marked out for this one)

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