Tag Archives: Manga

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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Seitokai Yakuindomo (Second Season)

Type: OVA/Second Season/Dirty Joke Deliver Service

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Synopsis: A student council at a private school makes dirty jokes at one another while trying to uphold strict public morals. Like all people in powers, they’re obviously big fat hypocrites.

Pros: The “second season” of Seitokai Yakiundomo, or the OVA series if you’d like, is one of a seemingly increasing list of sequel seasons that I have gotten to extraordinarily late. To be fair, I didn’t actually know it had a second season. When I saw the number of episodes for this season in my research in the past, I thought it was still in progress. I wasn’t aware of the OVA system at the time. But I did go and eventually read the manga. All in all, the show still holds up. The skits are still funny. I still like the franchise. It has remained a steady show.

Cons: Another word for steady could be stagnant. After having read the manga, I have become aware of the repetitive nature of Seitokai Yakiundomo. The punch line for every joke is a something sexual. You fell in a puddle? Ha! I looks like you ejaculated! The joke does wear thin. I don’t know if I would have felt like this if I had watched this season right after the first one, but people with higher standards than mine will probably get tired of it. The show does hint that some romance between the main characters, but they’re only hints. The show has a formula and it sticks to it, but it made me smile more than feel bored.

Watch it?: A lot more of the same. Take that as you will. (4/5)

MVP: Suzu

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I’ve actually grown fond of her height complex

Best Episode: Not an episode, but the “Dried Squid” side story was hilarious (it was the squid!)

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Black Cat

Type: Tries to fit in waaaay too much

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Synopsis: In the most basic terms, this is an B-level anime about a disgruntled government employee who travels around with a bounty hunter and a teenage girl. But honestly, the “main character” is the most uninteresting part. I was way more enthralled by oddly cute story about a father figure taking his charge for ice cream, fireworks, getting her tones of books, and letting her hunt down criminals by utilizing her super soldier abilities. Maybe my tastes are maturing….

Pros: As stated above, this anime is a really fun B-anime. I’d put it right up there with Outlaw Star and Negima!? There are really 2 main plots that run parallel to each other in the anime. The primary plot is about Train, an ex-government assassin who’s on a quest for revenge against the man who killed a girl he kinda, sorta liked. I mean, they only met for, like, 30 minutes combined, but she was being all manic pixie. Boys like that. Train’s rival starts a revolutionary terrorist, “Apostles of the Star,” who drive the main plot. The other plot involves Eve, an artificial life form who’s powers drive the plot of the last arc. But really, the anime is mostly about 3 people going on wacky adventures with one another. That’s when its at its best. Train’s the wacky one, Sven’s the straight man, and Eve’s the deadpan girl. And sometimes they’re joined by Rinslet, a sly con woman. The three had great chemistry, make a great comedic team, and I honestly could have lived with the entire series just being them going on jobs.

Cons: There is actually a lot wrong with Black Cat. The story is rushed. The original manga was 20 volumes. The show is only 24 episodes. That’s practically a volume per episode. The show tries it’s best to cram in as many characters and villains as it can, but most are forgettable. I mean, yeah, Creed’s obsession with Train was unique, but he’s outfit was just too much to take him seriously. And the Apostles and the Numbers aren’t really given enough time individually to establish themselves as credible threats. This is a rare case where the “read the manga” ending would have been better than the “let’s get as many plot points as we can” ending. You never really get a chance to “know” any of these characters. And the English Dub dips in quality one too many times. Train’s story is ultimately uninteresting, and he’s more of a poster boy than compelling protagonist. Eve’s story isn’t as fleshed out as I would have liked it. And Sven isn’t really given an arc at all. He has a quick flashback and that’s it. I liked Rinslet’s addition, but she usually stayed at arms length most of the time. But the most jarring this about watching this show is that ep1-7 feels very removed from the rest of the show. The first seven episodes are the intro arc, which is way more melodramatic and dark than the rest of the show (the first arc is literally all at night). And Train is way more of a emo anime boy than the happy go lucky guy he is later. I would actually not recommend watching ep1-7 first. I would actually watch these between ep10 and 11, or even until ep20. I think this anime would have been truly great if it’s story had been given more episodes to breath.

Watch it?: For all it’s faults, it’s still a fun ride (4/5)

MVP: Sven

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This is an alternate version of Kenji Harima. This is my headcannon now.

Best Episode: Ep.8 “The Sweeping Cat / A Traveling Cat” (adventure!)

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Osomatsu-San

Type: Hustle-Hustle, Muscle-Muscle

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Synopsis: There are no bigger a@#holes than family. Especially when that family happens to be your brother. Or brother. Or brother. Or brother. Or brother. Or brother.

Pros: Osomatsu-San is a revamp of a very old gag comedy based on the misadventures of 6 identical brother, or sextoplets. The original 60’s manga and anime focused on the brother’s antics as elementary schoolers. The new 10’s version focuses on their antics as jobless 20-somethings. In typical Japanese 2010’s fashion, the brothers are all loser NEETs, and a lot of the episodes focuses on their failed attempts to get jobs, girls, any semblance of a respectable life, etc. They’re each horrible to each other, but in that special way that only brothers can be. The other episodes are mostly random parodies. In fact, the first episode was banned from re-airing because it overdid it with the parodies and crossed over to copyright infringement in Japan. I have to say, this is one of the most unique comedies I’ve come across in all my years of watching anime. Maybe because it ran 25 episodes and focused on adults, not high schoolers, but I can’t really think of another anime comedy like this one. The main characters are all greedy, selfish, and immature, but dammit, that’s what make me laugh at them!

Cons: The comedy can get a little mean at times. Like, Western comedy mean. There are many skits where the punchline is that someone gets killed. Or gets a pole up their butt. Or accepts their fate as dateless wonders. You’re suppose to laugh at the characters. Which is why the brothers always have to lose at the end. Because it’s suppose to be funny to mock them. Which it is, but this is different from most anime comedies, which asks to you laugh at the situation, not the characters themselves. It’s “oh, this guy walked into this girl getting undressed, what a silly turn of events!” not “oh, this guy walked into this girl getting undressed, how stupid of the girl to not lock the door!” And, from a purely American perspective, and I could be alone on this, but the characters of Iyami and Hatabo felt outdated and just didn’t click for me.

Watch it?: You know, it gets a bump just for being so damn unique (5/5)

MVP: Chibita

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I now understand why he briefly became the main character in the 80’s

Best Episode: ep.1 “Osomatsu-kun Returns” (banned or not, it’s a really good intro)

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Terra Formars

Type: Get your A@# to Mars!

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Synopsis: Man has always dream of the red planet. Man has also always stepped on cockroaches. So what happens when peanut butter meets chocolate? Well, a whole lot of gore for one thing.

Pros: Terra Formars is about a manned mission to Mars going horribly wrong. About 3 times. This anime is about the third time. In a nutshell, humans tried to terraform Mars by sending roaches to spread algae. This backfired, as the roaches somehow mutated and evolved into super soldiers in the span of 500 years. Humanity, in its infinite wisdom, decides to go back to Mars to get some samples, and kill everything they don’t understand, because humans LOL. Initially, the anime gave off a real Gantz vibe, being ultra violent and leaning towards more “realism” in it’s animation (though really, this just means they did more with shadows). But it has a good sense of levity, and lacks the nihilism of other survival anime. The characters each had cool animal based powers. But what I really found fascinating were the Terraformers. Because you start off thinking their mindless monsters, but when you see one up close, they have, wait for it: clothing. Both functional and ornamental. The bugs have developed culture, and use rudimentary but effective tactics that compliment their superior physical abilities. They always felt like a threat, not just cannon fodder, which was impressive given that they all literally look alike.

Cons: How do I put this…this anime is good, but you can watch it with the sound off in the background of your room and still get the gist of it. It doesn’t require nor grab your attention. It’s not a “deep” anime. It’s animal people fighting roach people. The reason why the plot doesn’t hook you is because the plot hasn’t actually started. This anime only covers the “introduction” arc of a manga, even if seemingly important characters died in it. It’s interesting, but I feel that the really juicy story stuff hasn’t happened yet. It felt like I was watching a really long OVA. But the story even feels thin for 13 episodes. The anime crammed in way too many flashbacks at the expense of the overall story. Works better in chapter by chapter manga, but not in anime. To put it in prospective: the entire anime, from ep3-13, is about 1 day. They stretch this one day of fighting bugs with what felt like filler back story. Stories that weren’t that interesting. The only one that really intrigued me was Adolf’s, because his story actually ties into the effects the Terraformers have had on planet Earth. That aspect was really interesting: how would nations reach to knowing theirs a potentially hostile species on another planet. The rest of the backstories were just about the dudes losing their girlfriends. Seriously. It’s the motivation for 3 flashbacks. Most of the other astronauts are there for money. In all honesty, the interactions between characters told me more than any of the flashback could hope to tell me. The anime should have just focused on the mission. The anime did get me interested in the manga, I admit, but as an anime in general? It’s kinda an easy pass.

Watch it?: The bugs are cool, but the people aren’t (3/5)

MVP: Adolf Reinhardt

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Unfortunate name, but great character.

Best Episodes: ep8-10 The Reinhardt Arc (you poor bastard!)

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Sebagebu

Type: Survival Game Club

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Synopsis: In a world not unlike our own, young women must fight for their lives in the cruel world they were born into. Momoka Sonokawa has little to rely on, other than her shooting skills and sharp instincts, in an school club where she must weigh survival against love. The love of not doing anything, money, and her general self interest.

Pros: The gimmick of this comedy is that the characters each have guns. This leads to every scenario and skit to eventually devolve into a shoot out. It can be something as official as a shooting competition, or something as trivial as who get to sit in the new fancy chair. Why do these high schoolers have guns? Because the premise of the show revolves around a “Survival Game Club,” in which members pretend to kill each other with airguns. The show, however, depicts these battles as bloody because it’s all in their “imaginations.” The show’s great. It’s hilarious. It’s full of references (flippin’ Predator shows up), and has what TV Troupes defines as “comedic sociopathy.” Meaning that the jokes often end with one extra nasty or mean action. For example, a character could jump out for hug and get hit instead. Classic joke. But in shows like Sebagebu!, the character then lands on the edge of a chair and gets their head cracked open, bleeding out on the floor while the other characters continue the conversation. It’s an extra but of spice that sets this show apart. Of course, the medium for best jokes comes from the main character, Momoka, who skirts the protagonist curse of blandness by basically being a selfish sociopath. She’s shot every member of the club in the back at least once. She’s hilarious.

Cons: The opening does not fit the tone of the show. When I first saw it, I thought I was going to have to lug my way through some NRA nut’s wet dream. Then there’s the “transformation sequences” for lack of a better term, then the girl’s each take out their guns. This doesn’t really work for the absurdist tone of the show and always felt our of place when it occurred. I got the feeling that these sequences where added when the show was running low on time. I should also point out the first half of episode 9 is a real snooze fest. Any scene without either the entire group or guns doesn’t work. Momoka’s solo adventures with her Otoku fan boy Lemon (the only consistent male presence, as the club is in an all girl’s school) works because she often resorts to shooting him. But luckily, ep9 was an isolated incident. The rest was gold.

Watch it: I hate guns, but I do love this (4/5)

MVP: Momoka

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There are multiples times when she tries to commit fraud to get rich!

Best Episode: Ep5. “Ascension!? Silent Survival / The Unkillable Twin Tail / Crusade – Raganarok of Angels and Demons” (I also recommend the Yakuza riff in ep6)

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The Circumstances in My Home’s Bathtub

Type: or “Orechi no Furo Jiro”

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Synopsis: A young man invites a merman to live in his bathtub, and hilarity ensues.

Pros: This anime is very short. It’s one of those 3-minute episode deals. The appeal is having very cute boys be cute to one another in comedic fashion. Wakasa, the merman, is the source of comedy, being the child like blonde one in the show. His ignorance of the surface world will lead to things like using too much hot water, or learning not to eat too much expensive food, etc. He also has a myriad of equally cute male friends who are also various aquatic life forms that come over from time to time. Though, I also find it funny that Tatsumi, the human, is vaguely designed like a cat and brought a bunch of fish home. It has the save vibe as shows like Hetalia, only located entirely in a washroom.

Cons: There’s a little sister character that is in romatic love with her brother. Not a fan. The intro does not match the tone of the show at all, suffering from the same thing the Free intro did. Apart from that, its a great little anime.

Watch it?: It’s so short, why not? (4/5)

MVP: Wakasa

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Ariel eat your heart out

Best Episode: Short anime rule (so all of them)

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Black Butler

Type: So many historical inaccurate

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Synopsis: The Earl of Phantonhive, also known as the Duke of Short Pants, also know as Lord Protector of Boys Love, has a problem. He’s alive, and so are the people the killed his mother as father. The problem is, he would like them to not be alive anymore. You see the dilemma here. Now, he can’t simply use his vast, vast, vast fortune, connection to the Queen of England, and his own notable genius to find these people. Instead, he sold his Soul to a demon butler to get his revenge. Even though the Demon Butler can’t leave his side. Or do anything without a direct order. And was possibly responsible for the Plauge. But kids, am I right?

Pros: The anime’s strongest asset is its characters. Black Butler has a set of amazing characters, from the haughty Ciel, the always debonair Sebastian, and the comedic servants. They are quiet versatile, working in comedic and serious moments. The anime is mostly made us of “cases.” As the Earl of Phantomhive, Ciel is the “guard dog” for the British Crown, often sent to various locations to root out corruption and wrong doing. Ciel is portrayed as a very good tactician. His family’s fortune lies in sweets and games, which allude to Ciel’s talent for manipulation and his young age and temperment. Sebastian often accompanies him as his highly skilled butler, sometimes comedically so, and he’s always used as the Mcguffin that saves the day. Then there’s the comedic servants: a pyromaniac cook, a cooky maid, and a jolly groundskeeper, how as indispensable as the comic relief (since the show can get dark on you). Like I said, it’s a solid group.

Cons: The anime’s story is kinda bland. It starts off strong enough, but loses it’s luster as it goes. The whole angel subplot was weak. And there was this one dog episode, Ep.7, that felt out of nowhere. I don’t wanna see dog fights. I’ll get that fix from Pokemon, thank you very much. I also felt that the story jumped the shark too quickly on the Jack the Ripper case. From my research (Wikipedia), it seems that the anime veers off from it’s manga counterpart around halfway through. For my money, Ep.7, ep17-20, and ep.22-24 are the worst story arcs of the bunch. Ep.21 stands out because it gives use the origin of the servants, which was fun. The any does delve into some darkish territory, in a psudo Victorian horror kinda a way. Your enjoyment kinda depends on your tolerance for bloody mysteries and arrogant protagonists. Oh, and your feelings on implied romance between a teenage (?) boy and his handsome adult butler.

Watch it: Pick and choose episodes (4/5)

MVP: The Servants

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My favorite characters

Best Episode: Ep.1 “His Butler, Able” (Comedic Downton Abbey)

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Your Lie In April

Type: Oh man, get ready for the emotions!

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

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

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

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

MVP: Tsubaki

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

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

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Cyborg 009 VS Devilman (OVA)

Type: Dawn of Trends

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Synopsis: I was rooting for Devil Man.

Pros: Cyborg 007 vs Devilman follows the classic superhero vs superhero story points. The two heroes fight one another because of a misunderstanding, it turns out there’s a bigger threat, they work together, hugs and kisses and goodnight. The plot is more Cyborg 009 heavy. After the fight with the Olympian styled cyborgs, the Cyborg 1-9 are alerted to the dangers of a “demons,” run into newer cyborgs, and then have to fight cyborg/demon hybrids. The Cyborg side of the story is more proactive, giving them more presence in the story. On the other side, we have Devilman, who sorta just reacts to the plot. His involvement doesn’t become justified until the halfway through, when his girlfriend(?) is kidnapped to get his devil genes, or something. The crux of the story relies on the fact that both sides find the others existence possible. Having fought god themed cyborgs, Demon Cyborgs aren’t too crazy, and Devilman will mostly fight anything. I actually really found myself liking the Devilman aspects of the show. In a way, it completed its mission of making me curious about one of the franchises. As crossovers go, mushing these two seemingly antithetical franchises made in the 1970’s together worked surprisingly well.

Cons: I’m going to put this out there: I am not a fan of Cyborg 009. And it is for the pettiest reasons. Back in the day, Toonami replaced Rorouni Kenshin with Cyborg 009 on their 6pm slot, moving Kenshin to Saturday Nights. This occurred before the resolution of the Kyoto Arc, meaning I had to stay up late to watch Kenshin, which was now once a week instead of every day. As you can imagine, child-me did not appreciate this. And even since, I’ve been very bitter towards Cyborg 009 (even though I know that it was probably some dumb program managers fault). So naturally I found myself rooting for Devilman in this and resenting the plot heavy Cyborg 009 elements. That being said, this mini-series is very cannon plot heavy. It seems to occur after a big arc for Cyborg 009 and an early arc for Devilman. This was clearly done for the benefit of long time fans, because new viewers will feel lost and confused. In fact, I’d hazard to say that this film is meant to be a cannon occurance instead of a stand alone adventure. Did this make me a fan of Cyborg 009? No. It’s still not for me, and I still find Cyborg 009 and 002’s power redundant (if they both and super speed, we keep both?).

Watch it?: Now I wanna read Devilman (4/5)

MVP: Devilman

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I just think he stands the test of time better

Best Episode: Ep.1 Cyborg 009 vs Devilman (hero fights!)

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