Tag Archives: light novel

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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And you thought there is never a girl online?

Type: Actually, about 50% of Gamers are Female

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Synopsis: A group of high schoolers manage to convince their teachers that creating a club for the sole purpose of playing a MMO RPG is a good and worthwhile idea. They do so by exploiting the fact that one of their club members, Ako, suffers from a mental condition wherein she cannot discern the game from reality. They say that the club is an “incentive” for Ako to come to school, but really, there just slacking off. (P.s. I wish I could come up with a tie-in joke to GamerGate, but they’re a  joke already).

Pros: This anime is in the online-game anime subgenre. Sort of. Basically, the character interactions in the game are all presented with regular character models. The game itself look’s fairly 2D. No one is stuck in the game. Except probably Ako, the female protagonist. She’s addicted to online gaming, to the point where she’s having difficulties separating games from reality. But luckily she has help in the “Ally Cat” Guild, made up of her classmates and friends who try to help keep a foot in reality. Notably, she has Hideki, or “Rusian,” her online husband, who she love IRL. The depiction and treatment of Ako makes her the most fascinating and complex character, her bouncy character model not withstanding. Ako has low self-esteem, as years of failing in school made her withdraw inwards. Her only solace is the gaming world (even though she’s not that good at that either). To the story’s credit, Ako’s issues aren’t solved quick and neatly, and the first half of the anime revolves around weening Ako from the game, and getting her to attend school (a nice touch of realism). But while Ako represents the old stereotype of the basement dwelling gamer, her club mates break convention. Rusian takes separating games and reality quite seriously. Akane’s a popular girl who want’s her gaming hobby to be a secret, and Kyo’s the pretty student body president. But don’t get me wrong, the anime is not a heavy handed character drama on geek or Otoku life (cough NHK cough). It’s actually a pretty light hearted comedy with subtle fan service (a bounce here, pose there, half the cast has large breasts, etc). And the English Dubb is choke full of game references, from Zelda to WOW quotes.

Cons: OK, here’s the thing, I can’t really think of any negatives that detract from what the show is trying to be. It’s a comedy about online gaming, with pretty girls as the main characters. I mean, from an outsider’s perspective, Ako is a “male-fantasy” character, a curvy anime girl who plays video games and is obsessed with being your wife. And yes, I thought Kyo’s skimpy mage outfit wore out it’s novelty after 2 episodes. But none of these make the show bad. It all works in context and doesn’t betray the spirit of the show. From a structure stand point, Ako’s story arc lasts between ep.1 to ep. 8. Every else doesn’t have the same weight, and feels more like fun filler. As a gamer myself, the show did legitimedly scare me at two points: when Ako was going to meet an online stranger in real life, and when Ako’s game chat was hacked by an online creeper. These types of situations are all too real, so they did make me nervous for the character (which is more of a positive from a story perspective). (P.s. This anime is kinda a harem, but in that there’s one male character and 4 females character. But only 1 real romantic connection exists).

Watch it?: I had a blast! (4/5)

MVP: Ako

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A real rarity: a buxom character with an emotional arc not based on a love interest

Best Episode: Ep.7-8 The Summer Vacation Arc (you made my wife cry!!!)

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KonoSuba

Type: “Every moment I live, is agony” -Kazuma Sato

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Synopsis: One day, a kid dies in an extremely hilarious way, as all child deaths tend to go. His spirit is given the chance to reincarnate in a fantasy world, but it turns out any world he lives in will suck. His closest friend is a goddess, who does nothing but build up huge debts and complain. His most powerful ally is a magician who only knows 1 spell that she can only use once. And this most loyal comrade is a beautiful knight…who has a masochism fetish. Only in 2016 could someone be sent to a magical world, be given a harem of beautiful women, and still have to live in a staple full of horse manure.

Pros: KonoSuba was hailed as the best comedy anime of 2016.  And it is. The core group and the show are funny. Go watch it.

Cons: First off, the show is really hard to talk about because it is chalk full of references, running gags, and subtle jokes. This show takes all the potential melodrama or a game/fantasy/light novel series and laughs in the face of it. The characters are selfish, cowardly, pervy, petty, and we love them for it! If I really tried, I could dissect the deep level of parody this show exhibits…Lucky for me I’m doing this for free and thus have no real quality requirement for these reviews. Take it or leave it suckers! (Please don’t leave it, this is all I have!!!!). So instead of detailing the good, let’s focus on the bad. The show is a slice-of-life comedy, with no real end. The show even admits it, calling the season’s 10 episodes a “tutorial.” Except for the first episode and meeting Darkness and Megumin, it’s literally just a bunch of stuff that happened. Some characters show up. Some characters are rushed through. I think the show was working within some limited time and budget constraints. The show would be perfect if it didn’t feel like you were only scratching the surface at a much larger story (though I am strongly tempted to read the light novels, a first for me). I also found Darkness and Megumin a bit one-dimensional in terms of comedy. More so Megumin, as her main joke was that she used up all her magic in a powerful spell, but she can only use it once a day. Noticeably, the show used her spell incantations to eat up some air time. Darkness, on the other hand, is technically a little more complex. She’s a noble knight who not so secretly fantasizes of being ravished and humiliated, or at least beat up by monsters. But she’s also used a fan service, being the stereotypical blonde knight with big boobs. The fan service is pretty good. A little boob centric to be original, though I do love the fact that no one ever mentions that Aqua is going commando. The show’s setting doesn’t change either, being set in city for beginner characters. Though, I suppose this is not different than a show being set in Tokyo or something.

Watch it: Kudos to Aqua’s voice actress, Sora Amamiya, for delivering possibly the best whining I have ever heard in an anime (4/5)

MVP: Aqua

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I never thought I’d say this, but this woman’s tears brought me so much joy

Best Episode: Hell, just watch all of it. (They are all gold).

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Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions

Type: Chunibyo, meaning something like Arrested Development

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Synopsis: Love will save the world. Chunibyo will inherit the Earth. And delusions will make you taller and lose weight. This anime…deals with none of that. It’s just about a girl whose weird and a boy who use to be weird, but grew out of it. Then they start dating. It’s kinda cute.

Pros: The first thing that pops up at you is the art style, which is reminiscent of other Moe-Centric anime like K-ON!, or The Melancholy of Haruji Suzumiya. All the movements looks smooth, and yet soft. The story has your typical mixture of light novel humor and slice-of-life drama. Each of the characters, except for 2, have gone through spurts of living in “delusions,” where they pretend to be something magical like a “Dark Flame Master.” This is either because they actually believed in it, thought it was fun, or simply needed an escape from their lives. To the writings credit, the characters aren’t ridiculed for their beliefs, nor necessarily praised for them. It’s more like the show simply argues that you should let people do what they like and be themselves. The humor in the show is pretty good, as the “delusional” character’s eccentricities play well with the characters trying to put that part of their lives behind them. Interestingly, the show sometimes lets the character’s delusions give birth to pretty cool action scenes, so a lot of genres are played around with. The main conflict of the show comes from figuring out Rikka’s motivation for her “delusions,” and the whole “accepting harsh reality” troupe.

Cons: Admittedly, the plot is predictable. You know something bad happened to make Rikka act the way she does. I kinda wish she was just weird for the sake of being weird, but I suppose that would make her too much of a manic pixie girl. Rikka tends to switch from her act as quiet cool girl to moe-cute girl a bit too much for my taste. Its  indicative of the show’s slight identity problem: is it a slice-of-life dramedy or a moe show? If you think about the show or its characters too hard, its becomes a bit sad and awkward. That’s why most of the “cool” actions scenes are cut with what characters are really doing. But anime is really good at portraying sad and awkward, so I can’t really count that as a negative. And there is an undercurrent of positivity here. My only real complaint is the reveal that Rikka got her gimmick from Yuta, because it makes their whole relationship a bit too convenient.

Watch it?: You know, this would make a good movie (4/5)

MVP: Sanae Dekomori

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I never new pig-tails could be such effective weapons

Best Episode: Ep.7 “Reminiscences… of Paradise Lost” (hard dose of reality, plus the beach!)

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High School DxD BorN

Type: Capitalization ErrORS

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Synopsis: In a series that has survived way longer than anyone thought it would, we see Issei Hyodo continuing to live the good life. He’s got a dragon armor powers, he’s attached to a very powerful demon family, and every girl he knows are smokin’ hot babes that like to sleep with him naked. This season, he gets a power boost, a fight with the god Loki, goes a little aggro, and gets another kiss from his demon king. All in all, par for the course.

Pros: Yet another season of High School DxD is upon us, and I’m OK with that. As stated before, I’m a fan of this series. It’s a perfectly harmless boob-comedy. This entry continues the series tradition of breast centric humor, some demon fighting, and generic melodrama. The season is divided into about 4 story arcs. The first is a training arc, where Akeno and Koneko get more backstory. This results in Koneko becoming yet another member of the “We love Issei” club. The second story arc involves fighting the god Loki. The third story arc involves Asia getting kidnapped and Issei going a little crazy. And the last story arc involves Rias. Each arc is serviceble, and I did get emotionally invested in the third and fourth arc, since they involved arguably the two main heroines. I watched the English Dub, and by this point, you can tell they’ve given up any semblance of seriousness, its amazing. As for characters, well, the only real standout moment was when Issei noted that he know the girls all liked him, but he’s still afraid of getting close to anyone after the events of Episode 1, Season 1. I thought that was a nice touch, and is something that’s stayed consistent throughout the series.

Cons: The thing about High School DxD is that it doesn’t get any better or worse. It must be popular, because it got an English Dub the same year it was released. The boob jokes are still front and center, the pacing is still wonky, and the show simply has too many characters to explore properly. I honestly forget some of their names. This season adds more characters, which doesn’t help. It also adds the norse mythology into the plot, which I’m sure won’t muddle anything. Story wise, my one real complaint would be the Koneko arc. Mostly because she falls for Issei way too fast. She goes from relative annoyance to undying love like someone flipped a switch or something. I feel that the series is drawing dangerously close to crossing the harem threshold of “girls chasing the main character” to “sister wives.” For me, that’s when most harems go from campy fun to problematic.

Watch it?: I wonder if they’ll be a fourth season? (3/5)

MVP: Rias

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I keep misspelling it “Rise”

Best Episode: Ep.7-9 The Asia Kipnapped Arc (Gotta save the Demon Nun!)

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Infinite Stratos 2

Type: Mecha Girl’s School continues

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Synopsis: So apparently, the totally unique anime about a battle school full of girls and the one guy they all like got another season. Did not see that coming. This time, the waifu allies spend most of their time competing over their boy and are joined by two Russian sisters. There’s also this subplot involving an evil organization, but they aren’t that important. There’s fan service to be had!

Pros: I find myself still liking this show. Now, it’s been a minute since I’ve seen the last one, but I feel that the fan service was ramped up a little. With all the main players already introduced, I think there was more time for sexy gags and what not. This season is about 80% love comedy, and 20% action, so the whole thing has a light tone.  I watched the english dub this time and loved the use of accents, expect for Charlotte, who sounded more swedish than french. The season introduces two new love interests in the Sarashiki sisters, and they get a pretty solid arc around mid way through the season. Story wise, a new villain group called Phantom Task are introduced. They usually attack the group during some sort of activity, like a play or trip. While their story is not concluded, they are presented as a viable threat to the main characters. The actions scenes are good, and the series has blended 3D models very well in their fights. I also forgot that this is the rare light novel battle school anime where the male protagonist isn’t a powerhouse mary sue character, which was refreshing. I mean, he’s still kinda generic, but still.

Cons: The entire season sort of felt like a nothing season. It’s not that nothing didn’t happen, its that it didn’t happen enough. There was no real pay off at the end of the season. Three important things were introduced this season. One, the Sarashiki sisters, which was the only plot point with a beginning, middle, and end. They are introduced, their core drama is explained, and their story is resolved. Hell, the conflict wasn’t even about the male character! (It was about a sibling rivalry) though I do feel he got off super easy considering what transpired. The second was adding Phantom Task as antagonists, whose story ends in a “you should probably read the light novel” kind a way. And the third is about Ichika’s training, which is dropped half way through. Character wise, too many are present to explore properly, especially with the new additions.

Watch it?: Good fun, lackluster story (4/5)

MVP: Charlotte

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No waifu, no laifu

Best Episode: Ep. 7-9 The Kanzashi Arc (good conflict. I also recommend Ep. 5 for silly fan service)

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No Game No Life

Type: No comma, no grammar

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Synopsis: Two nerds who are really good at playing games and totally not blood related guys! are unexpectedly sucked into a world that revolves around games. All games. Board Games, Gambling Games, Video Games, Mind Games and Athletic Games, I assume. I mean, that makes sense right? As long as no one gets physically hurt, all games are allowed. So what if Sora and Shiro accidentally accept to participate in a race? Or a Javelin throw? I mean, they have the habit of accepting games before actually knowing the rules, and I doubt that their shut-in lifestyle allowed for much exercise.

Pros: The animation just attacks you with its color pallet. The world that Sora and Shiro are sucked into, “Disboard,” has a lot of blues, purples, pinks, yellows, etc. I loved this aspect of the show, as it made the alternate world of Disboard even more abnormal. Not only is it a whole other word, a magical world, but a world with a unique set of rules. 10 rules in fact, designated by the Gaming-God Ted after an ancient war between the 16 races. The rules basically say that not one can physically hurt each other, and all conflicts can be settled with a game or contest, as long as both players agree and no one is caught cheating. Key word being “caught.” Throughout the series, almost every player Sora and Shiro play cheats. So Sora’s and Shiro’s goal isn’t to beat the game, it’s to beat the player. Luckily, both characters are really, really, really smart (almost too smart). Sora is the strategist, usually taking the lead in dealing with an opponent, while Shiro is more logical, taking care of calculations in the game itself. Together, they are unstoppable, which allows them to quickly rise through the ranks of their new world. Their interactions with other opponents and friends were always fun to watch, as they can range from sheet arrogance to panic attacks.  You get the sense that they’re playing the long game. And that’s the thing about this anime. I had fun watching it. I was never bored, and am very curious about the larger world.

Cons: Predictably, the relationship between Sora and the 11 year old Shiro verges on creepy to being full on creepy. That’s because Shiro has the habit of sitting on Sora’s lap and is very soft spoken, often coming off as more of a doll than a human. And of course, we gatta get those underage panty shoots in there. The show does have fan service, which isn’t too overdone, except when dealing with Shiro. Moving along, Sora’s motivation for helping Humanity (Imanity) came out of nowhere. He doesn’t really like people, and hes agoraphobic, so why is he so willing to be Humanity’s champion? I mean, outside of some vague personal philosophy. Both Sora and Shiro suffer from “Overpowered Hero” syndrome. They’re the best at gaming, which makes some of the results from their contest come off as narratively convenient. But since their overall tactic is manipulating their opponents and long term planning, the show kind of has an excuse. And, in all honestly, I love how fast they go from strangers in a strange land to world power who plan on challenging GOD.

Watch it: I burned thought this show, and hope there’s more (4/5)

MVP: Sora and Shiro

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Incest aside (I can’t believe I said that), they are a great team

Best Episode: Ep9 “Sky Walk” (showcase of humor, emotion, and audacity)

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Agami Brilliant Park

Type: Walt Disney meets P.T. Barnum meets Kanye West

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Synopsis: A run down amusement part is so desperate for money that they hire a former child actor to be their manager. They need 500,000 visitors by the end of the Summer, or they’ll be closed FOREVER. Not 500,000 ticket sales mind you, just visitors. I’m beginning to understand why their business model was failing them.

Pros: Right off the bat, the intro song screams at you. I love that. One of my favorite parts of the show was putting an episode on and getting “LOOK AT THE SKY, ITS MAGIC HOUR!!” It got me pumped for show. I wonder why more shows don’t have musical hooks like that? Like the intro suggests, this anime is about the inner workings of a amusement park. It’s not as dry as it sounds, as the its a humorous take on the industry, right down to the 3 comic relief mascots. Out of Moffle (totally a Bunta-Kun rip-off), Macaron, and Timari, I enjoyed Macaron’s brand of cowardice the most. So what you have is the main character, Seiya Kanie, dealing with a cast of eccentrics as he tries any ploy to get more people into Agami Brilliant Park. Every episode is almost a stand alone story, dealing with things like maintenance, hiring new staff, crazy promotions, but again, all done in a comedic, almost gag strip way. The jokes and situations are all very well thought out, and you can tell that real effort and thought where put into the story. The subplot of the Agami Brilliant Park actually being populated by magical creatures also helped justify some of the zanier moments. By the end I was invested in the characters and the park itself, and found magic in a self described “not a fairy tale” setting. I wish I had seen it sooner.

Cons: Saiya never wears his cool jacket. In the intro, you see Saiya in a blue military-esque coat, giving he impression of a showman. But he never has that jacket in the show, which sucks. It would have sold his “narcissist” gimmick more. Because I liked the idea that Saiya was basically faking his way through his job, but that his outward confidence helped boost morale. This wasn’t really the case, as Saiya was actually very competent and firm, but still. For once, I don’t actually mind the large cast of characters, as the Amusement Park setting helped justify the amount of people, and why some weren’t as fleshed out as others. Some plot points did feel tacked on though. Isuzu’s crush on Saiya sorta came out of nowhere (ep. 6), with no real set up. I also felt that the idea that Latifah (the princess of the park) would die if the park closed was superfluous, mostly because the park closing was stakes enough. Latifah’s supposed death takes the tension away from the ending, because the audience knows theirs not way they’re going to kill the lady-like small princess. I did however, enjoy the “Latifah’s curse,” which states that she will lose her memory every year. We get to see this happen in the last episode, and it was tragic enough to make my eyes water, but did not affect the overall outcome of the story. On that note, I forgot to mention that magic is a thing in this show. All the mascots are magical creatures. Latifah is a straight up magical princess. The show even suggests that all amusement parks are outposts for different magical dimensions. Which I loved, and does explain a lot, but the show tended to forget that it had magic. Whenever Saiya turned on his magical powers, I was liked “oh yeah, he can do that.”

Watch it: A great, great show. (4/5)

MVP: Muffle

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I can see though his punches!

Best Episode: Ep.6 “Not Enough People!” (Hmm, should we hire another Luchador?)

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The Hentai Prince and The Stony Cat

Type: Or simply HenNeko

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Synopsis: DO NOT IMAGE SEARCH FOR THIS

Pros: This show is about a boy and a few girls making wishes to a Cat Statue, and the consequences that follow. With a title like “Hetai Prince,” expect some fan service. The show has a balance between Fan Service, Humor, and light melodrama. The best on-going jokes are: Tsukiko’s stone faced delivery and Tsukushi’s love for the “Younger” Yoto brother. Impressively, the show uses two-episode plot arcs, so a lot of story is packed into 12 episodes. You won’t get anything revolutionary in these stories, but you’ll get some entertaining stories.

Cons: The show has a slow start. It opens with my least favorite arc involving Azusa, an immature blonde classmate with trust issues. But after initial hump, a love triangle (rectangle?) develops between Yoto, Tsukiko, her sister Tsukishi (kinda inderectly), and Azusa. The show doesn’t remake the wheel, and some may find it generic. I found the romantic comedy  in the show really fun. Again, I really loved whenever Tsukiko got jealous, despite her emotionless exterior, and whenever Tsukushi got lovely dovey over “Young” Yoto (despite hating “Older” Yoto, who is the same person). That being said, I wasn’t stoked by Azusa and Tsukishi’s underdeveloped figures, mostly because it just made them seem much younger. We all know what your doing HenNeko. Gross.

Watch it: Just skip the first few episodes (4/5)

MVP: Tsukishi

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Mayonnaise is Justice!

Best Episode: Ep. 6 “Welcome, My Friend” (a good summary of the show)

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Baccano!

Type: You could spend hours talking about this

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Synopsis: Dateline, Anime America. With Immortal toughs running amok, the passengers of the luxurious Flying Pussyfoot find themselves in quiet the pickle! Who will come out on top? The cry baby crime boss? The evening gowned assassin? The murder happy lunatic? Or America’s answer to Bonny and Clyde!? Be sure not the miss the next installment of- “Better than Durarara in every possible way!” [please read in 1930’s accent]

Pros: Ha! Just kidding. Kinda. But you could see why I made the comparison. Baccanno! and Durarara!! are both anime with huge ensemble casts and loosely linked story lines. The comparison is easy to make, and has most likely inspired some not-so-friendly debates from fans of both shows. Baccanno! takes place during Depression Era America, which is a pretty awesome setting for an anime. A large majority of the cast are 30’s mafia member, and the English cast did a fantastic job capturing tone and sound of the era. Every episode tends to skip around time frames and characters, with the first episodes actually starting at the end of the main story. The most common setting is the Flying Pussyfoot, a train caught in the middle of a gang war. Baccanno!’s other gimmick, and a pretty clever at that considering America’s history with prohibition, is the existence of an elixir of life, which make a few of the characters immortal. You learn whose immortal, or at least who survives, in the first episode. The fun come in finding out how they managed it in a story full of suspense, action, humor, and, dare I say, heart?

Cons: Because the show has such a large cast and skips around time lines, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of everything. This may make the first few episode a bit difficult to follow. It’s helpful that the show’s opening names each important character, as well as offering a brief summary of the important events so far. The show veers on being excessively violent at times, though this sometimes helps emphasize setting of the gangster filled America 30’s. I also found the main villain of the elixir plot generically evil. Oh! And don’t forget that even though some streaming sites may list this as a 16 episode show, it’s actually only 13. The other 3 were DVD only episodes that serve more as an epilogue/OVA, but are ultimately skippable.

Watch it?: Only if you’re not a big Palooka (5/5)

MVP: Miria and Isaac

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Just, just Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.

Best Episode: Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I end up liking the entire series as a whole (but, maybe Ep.7 for subplot purposes).

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