Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

Type: Gaaaaaaaaaaaaay!! Horaay!

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Synopsis: A cat person who acts like a dog and a dog person who acts like a cat meet, fall in love, and I assume rent a small, but affordable, loft together after graduation.

Pros: The anime is obviously based on a short gag manga. The comedy mainly comes from Inugami’s high energy and Nekoyama’s bashful nature. The most common set up is Inugami saying or doing something to imply her love for Nekoyama, and Nekoyama being embarrassed about it. There is another character, Aki, who usually plays the straight man between Nekoyama and Inugami when called upon. The comedy usually lands, and I liked the interplay between the characters.

Cons: As usual with 5 minutes series, it goes by fast. There is no real story to speak of beside the relationship between Inugami and Nekoyama. Some other characters are introduced, but Inugami, Nekoyama, and Aki are the only real interesting ones. Aside form Nekoyama’s bashfulness, a lot of the jokes are innuedo. The only time I would argue that the show goes a bit too far is when Nekoyama gets drunk and starts to fufill some of Inugami’s masochistic dreams. But overall, a fun little watch.

Watch it?: As usually, I recommend this short series (4/5)

MVP: Nekoyama-san

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I’m a cat person.

Best Episode: All of them? (again, short series are only 30-40 minutes tops).

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Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan

Type: Girl Talk

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Synopsis: A nice girl who happens to dress a certain way and another nice girl who happens to dress a certain way are best friends, because screw you society!!

Pros: Galko-Chan is a typical 8-minute anime series about high school girls talking about nothing for 12 episodes. The gimmick here is that the group of girls is comprised of a “Lady” character, a female “Otoku,” and “Gyaru,” which is roughly just a girl who likes make up and fashion (a flashy girl). The interesting thing about the show is that Galko, the titular character, is often judged due to her physical and cosmetic appearance. She has a big breasts and likes to dress nice, so everyone thinks she’s promiscuous, or at least hopes she is. The entire anime’s moral is “just because someones dresses a certain way, doesn’t mean they are a certain way.” Because, in truth, Galko is super nice and gets flustered easily. She’s more like that really good looking person you knew in high school that was nice to everyone, but you were always too intimated to talk to [and you can’t think of anyone, guess who you were ;)]. Most of the show’s comedy comes from the talks between Galko and her friends, particularly Otako, who likes to tease Galko with inappropriate topics, like nipple size and the like. Now, not having been privy to much girl talk in my time (I’m just not a “girl’s” girl, ya know?), I don’t know how much this appeals to women, but the show does feel like it’s more centered for a female audience than male (Galko’s design aside).

Cons: Like most anime with short episodes, the jokes can get very one-note and repetitive. There are only so many times you make make fun of Galko’s presumably big nipples. There are boys characters in this anime, but they’re mostly around to fantasize about Galko. Like most things in life, this could have used less males around. And from a personal stand point, I found Galko’s design ludicrous. I get that it’s the joke/moral, but come on! I’ve seen—I mean, I’ve heard of hentai with mose subtle designs. And I also think the “lady” character, Ojou, isn’t that important, despite being a “main character.”

Watch it?: As always, short anime are always recommended (4/5)

MVP: Otako

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Teasing friends is always fun

Best Episode: As always, too short to chose (all 8 minutes)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.4 Winter of Rebirth

Type: Yaaaaaaaaawn

Synopsis: Huh? Wha? Ja? What was I going again? Reviewing…something. Oh [yawn], oh yeah, the Persona 3 movies. Man, they are not that interesting. Anyways, the hero dies at the end. That’s how Persona 3 ends.

Pros: If you’ve stuck around this long, you already know. Good action animation. (p.s. Bless you).

Cons: Why are these movies so BORING!? This movie spends it’s first flippin’ hour with the cast moping around. The characters are told by an annoying character that no one cares about that the world is going to end. They can either-wait, before I continue, can I just say that I have never liked the late addition of Ryoji into the Person 3 story. The game tries to make us like him because he’s a happy go lucky scamp who comedically hits on every girl he sees. But he really just comes off as a third wheel that the game tells us to care about. Had he been a playable character, maybe, yet here we are. I gladly killed him at the end. Anyways, the cast is bummed because they can either erase their memories and live in ignorance of the End, or fight against the inevitability of death. They win, but not without the protagonist dying to save his friends by becoming Jesus or whatever. There. Play the game instead.

Watch it?: These movies were not a good idea. What a disappointment.

MVP: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (2006)

Having a game in the middle makes the story waaaaay better.

Best Moment: The End (as in the end of all this time wasting)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.3 Falling Down

Type: Also known as Flying

Synopsis: Did you know that I just went on my first ever airplane flight! Crazy man. Everything looks like grids and curves in between mountains. It reminded me just how big the world is, ya know?…anyways, this is the third Persona 3 movie.

Pros: Persona 3 The Movie, No.3. Yes sir. The third movie. The big 3. El tercero movie-o. What can I say about Persona 3 The Movie, No.3. Anyone? Anyone at all? Um, it starts off after the events of Persona 3 The Movie, No.2. It has the same cast. Same focus on action quality over everything else. Ah, for the game fans we get cameos from more social link NPCs. That’s neat. The subplots for this movie are Makoto becoming nihilistic and Junpei getting into a romantic relationship with a girl that cuts herself. And a new supporting character is introduced: Ryoji. Yep, that is what happened in this movie.

Cons: Its boring. Well….no, yeah, its boring. This movie covers the least interesting part of the original game story. The problem is that the Shinjiro story in the second movie is such an emotional climax for the characters that this movie has to deal with the aftermath and therefore feels more passive than the other two in the series. Stuff happens in this movie, but you don’t end up caring as much because your still recovering from before. It’s a shame too, because this movie finishes Junpei’s character arc, finally making him more than a comedic duffus. It also sets that stage for the last stretch of the story. But at the end of the day, it’s not that interesting and actually made me question if the Persona games do have good stories or if it’s just reputation talking.

Watch it?: No. Why do I like this series so much again?

MVP: Junpei

I actually started using him after these events

Best Moment: The bathhouse scene (My favorite moment in Persona 3!!)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.2 Midsummer Knights Dream

Type: Oh, I get it, it’s like wordplay

Synopsis: Because “midsummer” refers to the movies setting, and “Knight” refers to the cover girl Aigis, whose is like a robot knight. I see what you did there Persona 3 The Movie: No.2. 

Pros: Like the title implies, this movie covers the second act of Persona 3 the video game. We’ve established our core characters, so now we have to introduced our auxiliary characters and out main antagonists. Just to keep score, and not counting minor characters, that jumps our cast number from 5 to 12. And while that is a lot of people to keep track of, the film mainly focuses on 2 subplots, namely Aigis’s introduction and Ken/Shinjiro’s relationship. I actually feel that the Ken/Shinjiro story is better off in this condensed version than in the game, which stretched it out between long gameplay segments. You get a better sense of Ken’s youthful admiration of Shinji, of Shinji’s past with the group, and the overall impact that the resolution of the his subplot has on everyone. Plot aside, this is also the movie with the beach scene, festival scene, and love hotel scene, reminding you that Persona is the most anime RPG out there.

Cons: By watching the second movie, I’m starting to notice a few of the most consistent flaw in the Persona 3 movie series. Namely, the disparity in animation quality in dialogue scenes vs. action scenes. This movie was released a year after Person 3: Spring of Birth, and Person 3: Falling Down was released within a year after this one. This quick turn around means that the films were most likely made simultaneously and on a tight schedule, so some shortcuts had to be used. For example, the film used a still image montage for the opening beach segment. And if you noticed, most dialogue scenes involved close ups and little movement. The only parts that seemed to be afforded time and attention were the fight scenes. A lot of the cast is also shunted or minimized in this part of the story, which is fine unless your a fan of them.

Watch it?: Better than the first, but unless you’ve played the game you can skip it.

MVP: Shinjiro

He’s suppose to be 17, but I always thought he was 34.

Best Moment: The opening love hotel scene (it’s funny and I’m basic)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No. 1 Spring of Birth

Type: The theme is Death. The character’s activate their powers by shooting themselves in the head. Do you get it!?

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Synopsis: A movie based on a game that’s based on a mixture of Role Playing Games and Life Simulators, because Japan. In this one, you get to see the life of a character who’s life you would have lived through in the game instead of experiencing your own life, because real life is dull, and the Persona games are, like, a 100 hours. It’s much easier to sit down and give up 90 minutes of your life instead. The crucial part remains: you still don’t have to go outside.

Pros: Fun aside, I actually do love the Persona series. Specifically Persona 3 and 4, when the games got good (you can argue, but you know it’s true). The movie does a great job at integrating the music and layout of the original game. It even uses the calender transitions from the game. Most gamers often bemoan the fact that their will never be a good video game movie, but Persona’s made like 4 movies and 3 anime series. This first movie predictably details the beginning of the game: the protagonist showing up, the main cast coming together, everyone getting their powers, etc. I really liked what they did with the protagonist, named “Makoto Yuki,” here. In the game, “Yuki,” is a nameless and characterless avatar for the player. The move translates this silent protagonist into an apathetic protagonist, which really fits his visual character design. Floppy hair, earphones, hands in his pockets, the kid’s a poster boy for emo teen nihilism. Even more impressive, the movie gives him a character arc involving the power of friendship, which sounds trite, but is actually a crucial gameplay component of the Persona Series (you basically have to go on several dating-sim esque side missions with various NPC’s to level up your character).

Cons: The movie’s biggest positive was it’s ability to turn a silent RPG protagonist into an actual character. But it’s not without it’s flaws. For one, the story flow is choppy. Events sort of jump from thing to another without a smooth transition. This is because the transition is suppose to be the original gameplay, which is obviously absent in the movie. For those not in the know, events in the game are actually about 30 in-game days apart from each other, giving certain revelations time to digest. So the movie ends up covering 2-3 months worth of story in 90 minutes. It’s an admirable attempt, but not quite successful. Certain shots and frames are also a but awkward, almost like the camera man was a 1-2 feet too close to the actors. Cast wise…look, the Persona 3 cast isn’t as charismatic as the Persona 4 cast, but they do grow on you, especially later on in the story. And finally, the big questions: Do you have to have played Persona 3 to enjoy this movie? My answer is Yes. It’s not a bad movie, but without my prior knowledge, I would have found it a bit thin, and a little confusing.

Watch it?: Persona fans would like it. Everyone else could easily live without it.

MVP: Makoto Yuki

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God, how many of us went to high school with this guy?

Best Moment: Makoto talking (holy moley, I thought he was mute!)

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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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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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