Tag Archives: 2010

Welcome to the Space Show

Type: A movie to surpass Star Wars!...maybe not, but it’s still good.

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Synopsis: A good rule of thumb for kids is to never talk to strangers. Especially if that stranger is a talking dog alien from space. Because next thing you know, you’ll end up on the moon and have to travel halfway around the galaxy to get back home because somebody reported Earth as dangerous. Personally, this is why I’m more of a space cat person.

Pros: This movie is stunning. It’s got a stylized version of space that sorta reminded me of Space Dandy of all things. But Dandy this is not. This is an all ages movie. In the same vain as a Summer Wars or Miyazaki picture. Is this movie as good? Kinda. It definitely apes the tone and feel of those movie. At least the first half. Basically, this film is about a group of small town kids who went camping in the local school house during Summer Break (because you can apparently do that), and get accidentally stuck in space. The group is made up of the responsible one, the nerd, the energetic one, the girly one, and the little girl. They have good interactions and feel like real kids. The first half off the film is them simply trying to get back home by taking up odd jobs around the space port. This is were the great visual designs come in, as the show uses the Space Cosmopolitan approach. Everything is shiny and futuristic, with cool looking aliens all around. This is one of those rare anime movies that everyone in the family can watch.

Cons: The first half is fun, but the second half doesn’t quite stick the landing. This is mostly because the movie starts to shift from the kids to the dog, Pochi. You see, throughout the movie, aliens have been trying to steal the kid’s wasabi, which is a rare commodity in the universe. Pochi thinks for something big, and the last half of the movie just becomes Pochi fighting against his old friends while the kids save one of their own. The story didn’t really need a climactic fight between Pochi and is best friend over the ethics of gene engineering. A simple confrontation to save the kidnapped girl would have sufficed. Speaking of story, while each of the humans have their one little character arcs, Noriko does not. She just sorta hangs around and doesn’t really do much. Natsuki has to learn humility and empathy, Kiyoshi has to learn to be more decisive, Koji has a love interest, and Amane is mad at Natsuki. But Noriko doesn’t have anything to learn. She feel more superflous than anything.

Watch it?: Yes. It has Pochi, a talking dog.

MVP: Natsuki

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A hero of justice!

Best Moment: Amane passing the Space Exam (so cute, but so wise)

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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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Koe de Oshigoto!

Type: Merry Christmas Pervs!

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Synopsis: This is going to be explicit. Just putting that out there. The OVA is about a girls whose essentially drafted by her older sister to be a voice actress for “eroge,” or porn games. But in order to get over her initial embarrassment, the actress needs to use her imagination. Which gets, ah, a little blue.

Pros: So it turns out this is based on a manga. Which could explain its quality. Believe it or not, this show has some quality humor. Most of it is based on the main character, Kanna’s, embarrassment over being a eroge voice actress. Not necessarily over the work, but over some of the more explicit lines she has to say out loud. Now, this part was super interesting to me, because when you think about it, all voice actors have to say some truly silly things. But as professionals, they have to get over that initial embarrassment to get the job done. But Kanna’s just starting out. To the show’s credit, Kanna’s fellow actors and production staff are depicted as completely normal people. If they walked by you on the anime street, you’d never know what they do for a living. And the eroge voice acting is shown as just another kind of acting, and I loved that Kanna chose to stick with it because she loved making a scene come to life. Another interesting aspect of the show was that Kanna’s job is sorta serving as Sex Ed for her, but she has the benefit of being surrounded by not only her older sister, but other  women who can answer some of her questions. I did appreciate that comradery.

Cons: This. Is. Porn. Well, softcore porn. HBO porn. Like I said in the beginning, Kanna is in high school, with no sexual experience to speak of. Since her line of work is Eroge voice acting, she can’t use previous experiences for her performances. Instead, she needs to use her imagination. At which points, the show decides to visualize her thoughts in fairly explicit scenes. I mean, we don’t actually see Penises go into Vaginas, but only because it’s censored. We go see Penis shaped glowy things go into mouths, which makes me wonder exactly what Japan’s censorship laws draw the line. There are also parts where Kanna needs to get into a “trance,” where she likes to suck on fingers to simulate fellatio. That got pretty weird. Without these scenes, I actually would recommend this to most anyone, as it’s a good “sex” themed comedy. But as it stands, I say look for the manga and see if its any good. That’s what I’m doing.

Watch it?: The closest I will ever get to reviewing a Hentai (4/5)

MVP: Fumika Warasono

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An Actress

Best Episode: It’s 2 Episodes (so you decide)

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Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower [Naruto Movie Month]

Type: Back to the Future

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Synopsis: Mission 7- Capture Rouge Puppet Ninja

Pros: The Lost Tower does a very good job at two key elements for an shoen-anime movie-it focuses on action and could be considered cannon-adjacent. In the Lost Tower, Naruto and pals are trying to catch a runaway Ninja when Naruto gets sent back in time. The run away Ninja is a puppet master, and this was a very cool Ninja style to focus on. It also works thematically, if predictably (he ends up controlling someone emotionally). The other gimmick of the film is the inclusion of Naruto’s father, the 4th Hokage. I’d say spoilers, but the two characters look so alike that assuming you didn’t make the connection would be insulting. While the Fourth and Naruto only spend superficial time together, the film does paint a very good picture of the Fourth’s personality. For instance, the Fourth easily discerns that Naruto is from the future, and he easily figures out that Naruto is probably his son. In only a few minutes, you understand why he would made the Hokage. The film only character, Queen Sara, is alright. Her arc from naive royal to leader is well done, and is central to the story.

Cons: Once again, we get the standard Naruto movie story: An authority figure betrays the film only protagonist, has a crazy plan that boils down to world domination, and Naruto has to do some special Rasengan variant to beat them up. As stated above, this is really Queen Sara’s story. Naruto is there to act more like emotional support than anything else. He keeps telling her “you gatta do what you gatta do,” and “you’re not a puppet.” Naruto’s basically a cheerleader in this (though he is a very good cheerleader). Also as stated above, the inclusion of the Fourth Hokage is more superficial than anything. And because this is a time travel story, the film as the audacity to use the “mind wipe” troupe to make sure that no one remembers anything that happened, and that nothing is affected in the real series plot. (There’s this one weird scene where the Queen’s festival turns out to be filled with a crowd of puppets to trick her into thinking there’s peace in her city, but then a puppet queen shows up to greet the people, which are also puppets, which begs the question as to why Mukade is trying to keep up the rouse at that point!?)

Best Naruto Movie?: Yes

Villain: Mukade

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Forgettable Villain #7

Best Moment: The ending (time traveling thank yous)

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Type: The One the Internet Prefers

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Synopsis: Once upon a time there was this anime based on a manga…that wasn’t closed to being finished. Undeterred, the anime forged its own path. A few years later, the manga was finished, and the industry knew it could milk more money off the property. So it created basically a “new” anime based more closely on the original manga, and it shows!….about a third of the way into it. But hey, it’s still great!

Pros: For a lot of people, the biggest positive Brotherhood has over the original anime is that it follows the manga way more closely. Having read the manga, which is stellar by the way, I’d have to agree. The overall story flows better because, well, its has a complete story to work on instead of just a percentage. Let’s just say that a lot of stuff becomes clearer when the story has all the intended characters to play around with cough Hoenheim and Father cough. That’s not to say that this detracts from the original anime. That’s not the point. Just because you like Brotherhood, that doesn’t mean you can’t still like the original. It’s just sorta the difference between a B and an A. For instance, when fighting the homunculous this time around, you’ll notice that it takes an awful lot just to kill one. They come off more as freakish forces of nature, which was lost in the original. Since this was made a few years after the original, you’ll notice that the animation is better. The ending is also WAY better and more exciting. Basically, the more you watch it, the more you’ll get into it.

Cons: OK, I’ll be honest. I can’t really remember how much on Brotherhood overlaps with the original anime, because it has been a while since I watched the original, and I may also be confusing certain moments with my reading of the manga. That being said, like the first 10 or 15 episodes are repeats of the original, so feel free to skip those. Even then, if you watched the original anime, this one might feel like a retread every once in a while. But the feeling does go away. You’ll also notice that certain characters, like Lust, Rose, Izumi, and Ross have severely minimized storylines this go around, because their roles were stretched and exaggerated in the original anime. So if you’re a person that liked their stories, myself included, you’ll be kinda bummed. Seriously, Lust and Rose are so not important in this one. You’ll also notice new characters, specifically those from “Shing,” (aka China). They were cool, but I wasn’t a fan of the boy that would be emperor. I should also note that while the ending is great, the last arc itself feels like it drags on a bit too much.

Watch it?: Honestly, if you’re ganna watch Fullmetal Alchemist, you should watch this one (4/5)

MVP: King Bradley

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Way too OP

Best Episode: Ep.62 “A Fierce Counterattack” (Teamwork!)

 

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Durarara!!

Type: durawalatugamaga

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Synopsis: The city, you’ll never find a more wrecked hive of scum and villainy. Like the back alley doctor, or psychotic debt collector, or sociopathic favor man, or multitude of stalkers, or the new kid, or the headless horseman. But if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

Pros: Durarara!! is fascinating. It’s a different kind of slice-of-life anime. Whereas most slice-of-life focus on a small group of high school kids, this focuses on a large cast of varying ages. The great part is that not every character know each other, so it’s neat when different pairings are made. Most of the characters that do know each other only interact to the extent of living in the same general area. They’re not ultra friends, but they are acquaintances, which are fairly rare in the friendship centric anime industry. There’s also no real main character, as each character gets a spotlight and often act as supporting or background characters for others. Some story lines even cross one another. The tone is comedic and mild drama, with energetic but short action scenes sprinkled in.

Cons: While each character gets a spotlight, you’ll notice that some plot points repeat. For example, like three of the characters have to deal with stalkers. Others story lines aren’t the greatest either. I didn’t like Anri’s secret backstory, mostly because adding more magic to the show felt like overkill. Celty by herself gave the show that extra twist, adding anther magical element kinda took away from her. I also disliked the Kida’s backstory, and the show never resolves the secret of Celty’s head, but it does have a second season. A season I look forward to seeing.

Watch it?: Definitely worth a watch (5/5)

MPV: Izaya Prihara
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A better sh#t stirrer than Loki

Best episode: Ep. 7 “Bad-ass Dude” (is he even human!?)
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Oreimo

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

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

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

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

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

MVP: Kyosuke Kosaka

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This man takes so many bullets for his little sister

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

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Time of Eve

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

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

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

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

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

MVP: Sammy

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

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

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Blood-C

Type: It’s all a big scam!

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Synopsis: So this is one of those shows were the twist makes it a lot more interesting in hindsight. Saya, a half-demon (I think, they don’t really make it clear), is captured an put in a slice-of-life Truman Show that happens to have man-eating demons. So Soya and the audience is tricked into thinking she’s just a normal small town girl who kills demons at night, until halfway through the show, when shit goes crazy!

Pros: Right off the bat, the fight scenes are the strongest aspect of the show. Go look these up if you can. Saya is a bad-ass, and the demons she fought were pretty cool. In addition, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really liked Saya’s school uniform. I normally don’t notice clothes designs, but the red and black really stood out. On that note, I also liked the contrast between the shojo-like character designs (pale skins, long limbs, stylish hair) and the show’s bloody core. It worked nicely with the plot of the show.

Cons: If you’re not a fan of gore, then you are not a fan of this. It’s called “Blood-C” for a reason. Even my censored version viewing was a bit much. The early episodes of Blood-C are kinda slow, because the first half is dedicated to showing Saya’s school life, and the second to her monster of the week. It’s not until episode 6, when her friends start getting attacked, that that show really gets into high gear. It has a slow manga-esque beginning, which doesn’t really work for an anime with only twelve episodes. As stated above, this is the kind of show that get way more fun to watch if you know the big twist before hand, because you can see how exactly Saya is being tricked. I feel that the show would have been elevated if the events of the entire series had been condensed into eight episodes, with the rest dedicated to the aftermath instead of separating that part into a movie. I really would have liked to spend more time with the “real” Saya.  Also, there’s a talking dog in this and I’m still unclear as to why.

Watch it?: It’s a mess, but its a mess with potential (4/5)

MVP: The Character Design

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These people look way too cool for this type of show

Best Episode: Ep.11 “Whom Then are There Now” (The cake is a lie!)

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Wagnaria!!

Type: Ironically known as Working!! in Japan

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Synopsis: For Sota Takanashi, making his way in the anime world takes everything he’s got. Mostly because he only likes small cute things. So he accepts a part-time job to take a break from all his worries, which sure does help a lot. Except for all the times he’s punched by a girl with androphobia. But hey, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and you’re always glad the short cute girl came.

Pros: This anime is chill. For reals. It’s the type of anime you can watch while snuggling on the couch with a nice cup of coco to unwind at the end of the day. The anime is a slice-of-life comedy with well defined, if sightly one-dimensional characters. Sota loves small cute things. Popura is annoyed at being called small. Inami is afraid of men and punches them with the best right jab I think I’ve ever seen in an anime (girl could go pro), etc. All the character gags are great. It has a sort sitcom feel (in the good way). What really puts the show over is that it takes place in a restaurant setting, something that a lot of people can relate to. Having characters comically interact during work is a lot more universal than going to a Japanese high school. Though, I would also watch a spin-off with just Sota and his four sisters.

Cons: I loved the show. It’s exactly what I usually want from an anime. I mean, if I wanted to be nitpicky, I could point out that all the women in the show are infantilized, with even the manager having a childish sweet tooth.  I could also point out that nothing really happens, with the biggest conflict being two episodes were Soma is ticked off at Inami. Or that any instances of drama or temporary new characters (except Sota’s sisters) lessened my enjoyment. And both seasons are basically the same. But, since all these things are addressed within the show, and since I loved it, I’m just not going to mention them.

Watch it?: It always made me smile (4/5)

MVP: Aoi Yamada

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She lives in the attic. She’s basically Chavo del Ocho

Best Episode: S.1 Ep.11 “The Two of Them Back Then, Yachiyo and Satō. And, Welcome to the Takanashi Family” (so that’s what people do behind closed doors!)

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