Tag Archives: Anime

Tekkonkinkreet

Type: Street Rats. Well, Street Cats technically.

Synopsis: It’s basically about orphans beating up gangsters.

Pros: Well, there’s like more to it, but yeah. There are two orphans, Kuro and Shiro (black and white). They get into trouble with some Yakuza, and Kuro gets targeted by assassins. For his own good, Shiro is sent with the cops for protective custody, which throws off their whole Ying-Yang/Co-Dependent relationship. This gets explored in their senses of reality being distorted and what not. Real emotional stuff handled well via animation. Outside of this, we get spliced-in stories of life in an inner city. Frought with crime, tragedy, and a never ending cycle of violence. Kinda like if Elvis’s In the Ghetto was an anime. Though I do appreciate the more street level urban story.

Cons: It can get kinda messy. There is a lot of imagery thrown at you, and you may not get the significance of it all. That’s not me being pretentious. I don’t what half the weird stuff I saw meant! The cuts between the Kuro/Shiro plot and the Yakuza plot can be a bit confusing. And like a lot of anime movies, some of it’s scenes hang around a little longer than they should for the sake of “mood.” There also not a “happy ending” resolution to the stories. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, but Kuro/Shiro are basically in the same boat they were in at the start. You could argue that because of certain actions in the film, they’re home free, but are they? Who knows. The whole film is a very “International Anime” film, if you catch my drift. It’s not solidly Japanese (hell, the director was American). It’s made to appeal to a broad audience of film buffs. It’s more of a “Film” than a “movie.” Of at least it wants to be.

Watch it: Pretty nifty story about children beating up adults.

MVP: Kuro

Angry. Angry young man.

Best Moment: Kuro flying out of the sky (for some reason).

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Trigun: Badlands Rumble

Type: Mostly a story arc

Synopsis: In this story, Trigun saves a bandit whom he crosses paths with years later. The bandit wants revenge on someone, but an innocent village is in the way, so Trigun and his new lady friend have to try and stop him. Then Trigun saves the day and walks into the sunset.

Pros: This “movies” is really just a long Trigun story arc. That’s a good thing, because Trigun is great. I didn’t remember how much I liked Trigun until this film reminded me. It’s got this old anime vibe that’s been lost. It’s a little slower, a little quieter, a little more lived in. The gang’s all here, and their roles make sense. The insurance girls are working a job, as is Wolfwood. The main theme is “revenge” and “living in the past.” The main character of the film, Amelia, wants revenge on the antagonist for the death of her mother. The antagonist, Gasback, wants revenge on the partner’s that betrayed him. Gasback’s an example of revenge’s pitfalls and costs, and Amelia’s struggle with revenge is the film’s emotional focus. Overall, a fun return to Trigun’s universe. (p.s. This movie was made is 2010, so good for Trigun fans!)

Cons: This “movies” is really just a long Trigun story arc. That’s a bad thing, because it’s largely forgettable. Movies adapted from existing anime tend to fall under a few different categories. There’s a film adaptation of a story arc. There’s a side story exploring a supporting character. There’s an origin story or prequel. There’s the rare film sequel. And then there’s the expendable side story. Trigun: Badlands Rumble is the latter. It has a movie only villain, a movie only protagonist, it neither adds or detracts from the source material, it ultimately didn’t matter. Trigun doesn’t learn anything from this. Hell, he doesn’t even do much. He was kinda just there. The film had the audacity to imply that Trigun died in this, but we all know he didn’t. And worst of all, the film doesn’t try anything new. The setting is still a desert and Trigun is still Trigun. There’s a few things you could have done, like explore Trigun’s early years, do a movie from Woofback’s perpective, or Trigun’s brother’s perspective, or put Trigun is a jungle or city or something. As it stands, this is a serviceable movie, but not must-see.

Watch it?: Maybe for that Trigun inch.

MVP: Amelia

I would also get goosebumps if creepy Trigun tried to touch me.

Best Moment: Gasback’s booby-trap walk (some pretty fancy animation there)

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Black Jack: The Movie

Type: Real medicine doesn’t work this way…

Synopsis: Except in E.R. But E.R. is good.

Pros: I’m be honest. I’ve never watched E.R. I just wanted to sound smart for all of you. But we’re here to talk about Black Jack: The Movie. This was my first introduction to Black Jack, created by Osamu Tezuka, who also made Astro Boy. I didn’t make this connection until about 30 minutes into the movie and though “boy, these guys sure look like robot children.” According to the Wikipedia, Black Jack is a medical mercenary who charges an insane amount of money for his services, despite not having a medical license and wearing a garish opera cape. And hes allowed to do this in a world and legal system to is fully aware of his existence as an illegal surgeon. In this story, he’s hired to deal with a string of superhuman who seem to be dying for no reason. Most of the film is just an excuse to draw highly detained medical procedures, but it’s a serviceable medical drama.

Cons: Also according to the Wikipedia, Black Jack’s face is explained as a skin graph from his half-african best friend. So I don’t know if he’s “Black Jack” because his face is half black (which is therefore racist), or because of his reputation as a cold hearted doctor. But he’s evil in the whole “he’s actually a kind doctor” kind or way. That being said, this movie is really just a basic medical drama. It looks nice, but nothing about is is super special. The only real element that rising above being average is Joe Carol Brian, how hires/blackmails Black Jack to help fix the superhuman death problem. She was interesting because she was the total opposite of the Black Jack character. Outside of her brilliance, she was a corporate puppet who used human experiments to further her ambitions, and was a prisoner of her own making. There was also magic bacteria found in desert stand. But that’s about it.

Watch it: It’s Fine.

MVP: The animation

People love to draw medical agony. They love it!

Best Moment: The brain surgery. (gross).

 

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Armitage III: Dual-Matrix

Type: A sequel no one asked for

Synopsis: A know that a lot of people complain about entertainment industry giving us sequels to decade old franchises that no one asked for, but this ain’t a new thing. Case in point, this anime movie is a sequel to a at best serviceable cyber punk anime. The first time around, Armitage III has the unfortunate luck of coming out the same year as Ghost in the Shell. But will this new movie revive the franchise!? No. No it will not.

Pros: And surprise, surprise, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex also came out in 2002. And AGAIN, Armitage was released earlier in the year, but was overshadowed by Ghost in the Shell’s first anime series. You just can’t win, can you? It’s like when Civil War came out before Batman vs Superman. Except that Civil War ended up making a billion dollars, while BVS didn’t. I mean, it made it’s money back. The critics didn’t like it, but I think they were being overly harsh. And as a DC fan, I enjoyed it. It set up the characters well, Ben Affleck as Batman was awesome, and that scene at Lex Luther’s party? Amazing. Plus, we got to see Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman for the first time. Weirdly enough, BVS has become a bit of a cultural touchstone, though usually with negative connotations. But no one really talks about Civil War anymore. I mean, that airport fight sure. Still, given time, I think people will begin to appreciate BVS more. I’ll freely admit that Superman was a downer, but that a bigger issue with the entire franchise (though they did fix Superman in Justice League, another misunderstood film). Yet as a whole, BVS told a story about what happens when a man defined by fear gives into it, and a man defined by hope starts to lose it. Apart their dangerous, but together they’re the World’s Finest….Oh s#$t, right, Armitage. Her kid was cute.

Cons: Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’ll call it like I see it. Suicide Squad was not good. It had a good aesthetic, but that don’t replace competent writing. The thing is that–alright, the bit’s gone far enough. Anyway, Armitage Dual-Matrix takes place seven years after the original. Armitage has a kid, but goes to Earth to stop more Third Type androids from being created. The villains master plan is to use the Third Type androids, androids that can reproduce, to make a slave race. Stuff happens and the day is saved. Here’s the thing, on the one hand I liked that Armitage seemed more mature, which was reflected in her less revealing outfit. One the other hand, she was less fun. Her character seemed to be reduced to angry or sad. All the conflict about her being android seems to have been resolved. There was an interesting bit when her daughter is scared when she find out that her mom’s an android. Maybe if this had happened earlier, as in being the catalyst that shattered Armitage’s idyllic life, then we’d be talking. But with what it got, it’s yet another attempt that was overshadowed by Ghost in the Shell, only this time with it’s personality lost.

Watch it?: Give Batman V Superman another shot. It’s better than it’s reputation.

MVP: Armitage’s outfit

Shorts and crop top. Easy, attractive, but not over the top. Though the clevage was a little much.

Best moment: Armitage’s daughter’s reaction to her mom’s metal arm (My mother’s a horrible robot in a forgettable series of stories!!)

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Armitage III

Type: Is this a rip-off?

Synopsis: Because this OVA came out in February 1995, while the Ghost in the Shell movie came out in November 1995. BUT, the Ghost in the Shell manga was published in 1989. So I don’t know if Armitage is a omage to the GTS manga, a product of the cyber punk trend in the mid-90’s, or a desperate cash grab at a more popular movie coming out 8 months in the future. Either way, it’s not that memorable.

Pros: Armitage III is a cyber punk story where an android questions what it means to be alive. Super original, I know. The basic story starts with a murder of “The last country singer in the Universe,” who turns out to be a robot. This starts Armitage, a cop and android, down a path of intrigue and philosophical questions of technology and society. This is all pretty by the numbers by now, but what I actually really liked was the setting of this OVA. This story takes place in Mars, where a “Third series” of robots who could give birth were secretly introduced to help with the low birth rate in order to increase the population and make Mars more autonomous from Earth. But then Earth pressured Mars to get rid of the robot women for moralistic and political reasons. Whether these robots who look, act, feel, and can reproduce just like humans deserve this type of treatment is what the anime ask you to decide. That type of political sci-fi is right up my alley.

Cons: I mean, in a world where Ghost in the Shell exists, is this OVA even worth paying attention to? Apparently not, given that I found this anime on Funimation, while Ghost in the Shell got a live action American adaptation starring Scarlet Johansson. So I guess the real winner is Armitage III. The story itself was fascinating, and I loved, loved, LOVED the old school cyber punk animation. But the characters really bring the story down. Armitage’s too cutesy, and Ross is too boring. And the 90’s English dub is…the 90’s English dub. Still, as an artifact of 90’s anime, it’s an interesting watch.

Watch it?: I still haven’t watched Ghost in the Shell! (3/5)

MVP: The backstory

I really should watch Ghost in the Shell

Best Episode: Ep.4 “Bit of Love”  (I’ve just been delaying it so long, it’s starting to get a little awkward).

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Little Witch Academia (Series)

Type: Believe in the you that believes in yourself, that’s the true magic.

Synopsis: Akko has a dream, to kill all hu–, oops, wrong show. I mean, Akko has a dream, to meet her Idol, becomes best friends, and revitalize the magic industry together. It’s basically the story of an obsessive fangirl trying to make her delusions a reality. But in the nicest, most welcoming sort of way that you can’t help but root for her.

Pros: Amazing. It’s Amazing. It’s also stupendous, terrific, astounding, inspiring, marvelous, wonderful, excellent, sensational, superb, great, first rate, dazzling, and, dare I say it, magical. It’s the first Trigger show, scratch that, the first anime show in a long time that I could easily recommend to everyone, any age and any background. The show follows Akko, a in student at a prestigious magical school as she tries to learn magic to live up to her idol, Shiny Chariot. The first half of the series focuses more of Akko’s day to day life, her struggles in class, and her relationship with her roommates and friends. One of the things I was immediately impressed by how true to life Akko’s portrayal was. Because Akko is shown to be airheaded, lazy, heastrong, whiny, petty, but also brave, kind, and empathetic. An actually teenager. You can laugh at her one minute, but be inspired by her the next (ex: That scene by the fountain. Wow!). Her friends are also a great addition, and each character gets at least one spotlight episode to explore there character. I personally liked Sucy’s spotlight episode and her Eternal Sunshine-esque adventure. The second half of the series focuses more on the search for the Seven Magical Words, and moves the spotlight into some of the more auxiliary characters. Overall, this is the type of show that makes me happy to be an anime fan. This is the type of show that I could realistically give to my 5 year old niece, and/or her mother, and/or her grandfather, without any reservations about the content of reaction to it. It’s a truly all-ages property, joining the rank of Ghibli movies. It’s one of Trigger’s best shows, I would argue the BEST up till now, and a true spiritual successor to Gainax’s Gurren Lagann.

Cons:…maybe Croix. Professor Croix is the series antagonist that’s introduced halfway through (a traditional Trigger/Gainax mid-season twist). She’s not really too imposing, nor that interesting. Unfortunately, we never get a spotlight for her, making her feel more distant than the other characters. I also feel that the teachers at the school weren’t given the proper “cool guy” moment that I expected them to have. I did, however, like how the school’s business side was handled. The world in the anime knows magic exists, but no longer believe in it due to the rise of science and technology. Kinda like Tinker Bell, magic gets weaker the less people believe in it. So magic is kinda on it’s last legs when Akko shows up. And, I guess another negative is that you can’t binge watch it. Or shouldn’t, at least. It’s too good. You have to watch each episode one by one. YOU HAVE TO.

Watch it?: Officially on my Top 10 Favorite anime list. (6/5)

MVP: Akko

She may be a little witch now, but she’ll be shiny one day!

Best Episode: Ep. 8 “Sleeping Sucy” (I am just so happy this went from a Kickstarter show to a full blown production).

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The Vision of Escaflowne

Type: That time Isaac Newton was thwarted by a Japanese teenager

Synopsis: And he would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling defiers of fate, and their dumb dragon mecha!

Pros: First off, much better than the movie. In fact, the movie is super bad in comparison. This anime is all about a girl that is wisked away into a new land full of knights, and beastmen, and giant robots. One of the strongest things I can say about it is that it’s all very romantic. I don’t mean “romantic” as in a love story, through that is here, but as in the classical definition. There are chivalrous and handsome knights, byron-esque antagonists, evil Empires, dragons (in a sense), and various kings. It made the anime feel like I was watching a classic adventure story. And since this was made in 1996, it kinda is. The show’s premise is that the protagonists are on the run from the evil Zaibach Empire while going Kingdom to Kingdom trying to convince anyone to help them fight back. Along the way, we explore various aspects of the main and supporting cast, from their past to their presents and futures. The show has strong character exploration and character growth. The anime is a shojo  adventure story. This doesn’t take away from the action. Every episode or two has a fight scene with Escaflowne, the DRAGON MECHA. But it also explore the emotional turmoil each of the characters face from obvious things like losing an entire country, to smaller things, like your crush flirting with other people. What you get as a result is an anime is great action and great character work that I would argue belongs is the pantheon of great 90’s anime, right along side Cowboy Bebop, DBZ, and Evangelion.

Cons: I actually knew nothing about Escaflowne before watching this. I watched the movie too long ago to remember it, and it has very little to do with the actual anime anyway. After a few episodes, I realized that this obviously a shojo story. For instance, Hitomi is a pretty, but not too pretty, high school runner who was working on getting her first kiss before being sent to a magical land by a abrasive, but ultimately caring, prince. Along the way, she also meets a handsome older knight, forming a love triangle. She also develops a friend group where she’s the moderate, not as pretty or naive as Princess Millerna, but also not as cutesy or bratty as Merle. They get into fight over the boys of the series, with Hitomi obviously being the object of jealousy for her friends. And, of course, Hitomi solve’s all her friends problems just by caring, because she’s that good of a friend. It’s all very shojo (or at least very anime, because a male protagonist would get the same deal). But that’s what kept me going. You get to see what every character is feeling after important events, and each main character experiences a character arc, where they aren’t the same person as their first introduction. Well, except maybe Merle…no, even she learns to let Vann go. Because without all the interpersonal drama, this anime would be convoluted and generic. I still have no idea what the hell was going one with the Emperor’s fate alteration machine, or the whole Mystic Moon (Earth) vs. Gaea origins thing. Like, who came first? Was it us or them? The show kinda loses itself in the whole divination angle, but that’s only one aspect of an otherwise amazing show. It’s the kind of show where you could explore every episode by itself. There’s actually a lot more I’d love to delve into (like Allen and Faulken’s story arcs), but I’d rather you watch this show. It’s that good.

Watch it?: One of the few anime I would recommend taking your time on. Don’t binge. Enjoy the ride. It’s worth it. (5/5)

MVP: Allen Schezar

Handsome. Chivalrous. Brave. Skilled. Give him a Doctor’s License and I can bring him to meet my mother.

Best Episode: Ep. 10-13 The Fried Arc (a little bit of everything that makes the show great)

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Dragon Ball Super: Broly

Type: HD Remake

Synopsis: A long time ago, the author of a popular fighting manga made fun of super buff/macho characters to take the wind out of his fanbase. Years later, that same author decides to take on that same character archetype to pad out his retirement fund. The result? A pretty good interpretation all things considered.

Pros: Let’s address the Elephant in the room. Yes, Broly has been a fan favorite ever since his inception. He’s been in every non-anime release for Dragon Ball since his debut movie. And no, I don’t think the original Dragon Ball writers knew exactly why he was so popular, which is why all his subsequent animated portrayals were bad. Just the worst. Remember Bio-Broly? Because I DO. Anyway, in this movie the writers for Dragon Ball Super give something to Broly he was sorely lacking: a personality. You see, the original Broly movie was more of a Pegasus film, with Broly sorta just being there for the fight. But in this, Broly is given his own supporting cast and backstory, while staying true to the original film. The start of the film also works to canonize a few Saiyan story lines into the main continuity. Frieza is there. Bardock is there (and yes, he does the thing). Flippin’ Tarble gets a mention! Later in the movie, the fight between Broly and Goku/Vegeta is set up well enough, and the resolution worked well to protect everyone’s status. And hey, Gogeta joins the fight!

Cons: This movie is far and away better than the original. That being said, no one really explains why Broly is so strong. He just is. This would be find, except that this movie happens after the tournament of power, where Goku and Jiren surpassed the levels of gods with the multiverse at stake. So having some random dude push Goku to his limit created a bit of dissonance. And the fusion stuff reeked of fan service/marketing. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool that Gogera became cannon, but still. The movie also does retcon a few small details from the Story of Bardock, but honestly, it was nothing too controversial. And hey, Goku’s mom is here!

Watch it?: Best Dragon Ball hyperfighting you’ll see

MVP: The first half hour

Someday they will join you in the Sun Kal–I mean Kakarot.

Best Moment: The POV fight segment (I personally liked the early story stuff, but let’s be honest, everyone should watch the POV segment).

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Robot Carnival

Type: Animation showcase

Synopsis: This movie is a collection of animated shorts revolving around robots in some way.

Pros: Since this is a collection of different mini-movies, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what’s good and what’s bad. It all depends on your perspective. But overall, this is a fun little group of experimental films. A lot of the films are also lack a lot of dialogue, so almost everyone can watch this. And if your a fan of robot centric fiction, or films like the AnimeMatrix, then this is the film for you.

Cons: If you need a plot, then this isn’t the film for you. Again, you might end up liking some of the shorts more than others. I personally liked “Star Light Angel” and “Presence.” The films do vary in tone, but most lean towards to dramatic and serious. Don’t go looking for something super funny every ten minutes.

Watch it?: If you got an afternoon to kill, or like animation (4/5)

MVP: Old school animation

It just feels more real, ya know?

Best Moment: The girls having fun in “Star Light Angel” (I thought they were having fun gay times!)

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Yuri on Ice

Type: Yeah, I know.

Synopsis: What can I say, a man has needs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Pros: This anime is actually the story about a figure skater staging a comeback back into the international competitive male figure skating scene. That’s about it. Yep. Nothing else…expect for it’s status as watershed anime that proved that same-sex male relationships can be part of a commercially popular anime. I mean, Revolutionary Girl Utena and Free!, but Utena was about lesbians, and Free didn’t really have any romance in it. Not so with Yuri on Ice! The main relationship is between Yuri, a struggling figure skater, and Victor, the current world champ who takes an interest in him. Victor plays the goofy flirt while Yuri plays the sensitive shy one. They have a fun dynamic that can turn surprisingly emotional at times. Their in a relationship in all but name (they even trade rings for crying out loud!). In fact, the relationship transitions from idolization to emotional support fairly organically. Outside of that, the show has pretty good humor. The various skaters that are introduced get defined pretty well, especially for a 12 episode series. The sport aspect means you get to see different figure skating routines every few episodes. And as a guy that’s never been interested in figure skating in his life, I found the routines fun to watch. I really liked the one’s that used non-orchestral music. (p.s. I liked the opening song. I’ve heard it before and thought it was an actual rock song)

Cons: Here’s the thing about sports shows, it needs to have sports in it. Meaning that a large chunk of the show will take place during the game/meet/fight, etc. But anyone’s who’s ever seen a sports anime know that it’s more interesting to see the characters train and interact before competing against each other. I did say that I like the routines I saw during the show, and I meant it. The animation used for them was extremely impressive and fluid, and everyone on the animation side should be proud of themselves. That being said, the show tends to repeat routines, especially for Yuri and Yurio. And the show also jumps very quickly between competitions, only giving 1-2 episodes between them, so a lot of the show takes place in a skating rink during game day. So what you have is an anime that spends the first 6 half establishing Yuri’s hometown friends and personal motivations, then rushes the last half with competition after competition that all start to blur with each other. I mean, I didn’t even know that this show technically covers a whole year until I reread that episode descriptions for this review! (p.s.s. I also wish that Yuri and Victor’s relationship wouldn’t have a hint of ambiguity to it. The show’s 99% there, and it would be hard to argue that they’re not gay, but that extra 1% of honesty would have been nice).

Watch it?: One of the IT shows of 2016 (4/5)

MVP: Victor Nikiforov

He loves his boyfriend, job, and dog. I respect that.

Best Episode: Ep.3 “I Am Eros, and Eros is Me?! Face-Off! Hot Springs on Ice” (you can actually see that transformation from cutlet bowl to world class athlete)

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