Tag Archives: Manga

Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer

Type: From the director of Ghost in the Shell.

Synopsis: Like for real. The guy’s name is Mamoru Oshii. Man, the anime industry is a small world sometimes.

Pros: Finally! I got to experience Urusei Yatsura. Or should I say, the first time I got to experience Lum. The original magic pixie magical alien dream girlfriend. She was…fine. Cute, I guess. The story overall was pretty funny. The cast is trying to get ready for the school festival, but then realize they’re stuck in a time loop. There experiencing the same day over and over again while the city around them ages. How long have they been in the time loop? Who can say. But its clearly been a while. The characters were all fun, and I got interested in finding more Urusei Yatsura material for the future. But the real selling point is the animation. As the film goes one, you could just tell that the animators were flexing their creative muscles. We got shadows, tracking shots, long shots, looping scenes, high speed movement, intricate body work, small but noticeable twitches, etc. It a great movie to make a trailer with. A great movie to make a slide reel out of. And it was made in 1984! If you’re an animation geek, you’ll enjoy this one.

Cons: So it turns out that the time loop is caused by a dream demon who wants to create his own world. He uses Lum’s ideal world as a foundation. What kinda sucks is that the finale focuses on the dream demon and Ataru, the male protagonist of the manga series. But he’s a protagonist who doesn’t really do much in the movie. He’s more of a side character, with Mendou and Sakura acting more as the driving force of the film. I found Ataru move annoying than endearing, so his showdown with the demon didn’t land for me. That being said, I wouldn’t mind watching more of this.

Watch it: An enjoyable 100 minutes or so.

MVP: The animation

The school scene or space scene. Both amazing.

Best moment: The school blackout scene. (just show off why don’t you!)

 

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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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Ping Pong: The Animation

Type: It’s like mini-Tennis

Synopsis: How come Mini-Golf doesn’t get the same respect? Is it because it’s a little goofy? Are we SO afraid to be silly that we can’t endorse something built on fun? Because no one, in the history of Earth, has ever enjoyed Ping Pong. Even the boys in this anime don’t seem to enjoy it. Well, Peco does. Everyone else treats it more like a job, obsession, or personal mission statement. God, Ping Pong sucks. The game, not the anime, which is actually pretty great.

Pros: The big hook for this anime is that it was directed by Masaaki Yuasa, the director behind stuff like Kick-Heart, The Tatami-Galaxy, that one episode of Adventure Time, and 2018’s Devilman Crybaby. The guy’s know for having a unique style to say the least. And that’s the best way to describe this anime. It’s not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it is unique. There is not other anime out there like it, and that’s surprising given that it follows the sports anime cliches pretty closely. But since it’s based on a Manga, that’s not surprising. The story follows Peco and Smile, two friends on the school’s ping pong team. The arrogant Peco is beaten one day by the new imported ace from a rival school. Humiliated, Peco quits the team for a while, leading his coach to focus on Smile, a talented but reserved person. The story follows their and their rivals’s growth as individuals, using Ping Pong as an analogy for life, like any other sports anime. Peco learns the value of humility and hard work. Smile learns to accept vulnerability and desire. And other players learn other things, like accepting your limits, being part of a team, or learning that fun and drive aren’t segregated concepts. The story’s not complicated, because it focuses on the character’s inner turmoil and conflict, and uses the “dramatic showdowns” to further along the character’s emotional arc.

The animation is the other hook this anime has. It uses a sort of rougher sketch style that accentuates the character’s movements and stances to enforce exaggerated realism. No one really moves or looks perfect. In fact, sometimes characters move and stand oddly. Which is exactly how people move and stand in real life! Everyone in this anime looks different, moves differently, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that. For example, Peco moves loosely, while Smile is stiff and a bit uncomfortable. But amazing, both of these character’s postures change to reflect their growth at the end of the series. Seriously, you can compare how each character stands to check how the events of the story affected them. Despite looking obviously drawn, this anime may also be the most realistic looking anime I’ve ever seen. (P.s. A great example of this is the killer opening). I honestly thought this was made in 2017, it’s that good looking.  It looks weird enough to scream ANIME, but is well made enough to say Anime. In fact, this is one of the few anime I’d recommend you introduce to any of your non-anime friends or family members.

Cons: I know I talked a lot about stances, but for real. This anime does stances right. Speaking of stance, one draw back about this anime is that there are a lot of still frames where characters just stand around and talk. Or a lot of jump cuts to static action scenes. Classic cost cutting measure. Another thing, I’m aware that I made fund of Ping Pong at the start, but I actually didn’t mind it in this show. The exploration of Ping Pong was entertaining. My personal research (the internet), revealed the Ping Pong is actually pretty ping overseas, particularly East Asia, Europe, and Africa. Not being from there (USA #1!), I don’t really get it, but I liked it nonetheless. I fact, this anime made me realize something: I don’t really hate sports anime. Every sports anime I’ve watched for this site has been enjoyable. I think I only hate The Prince of Tennis. Yeah..Screw you Prince of Tennis!

Watch it: Literally the most fun you’ll have with Table Tennis (5/5)

MVP: Dragon

I’m really glad he mellowed out in the end.

Best Episode: “Yes, My Coach” (the real turning point, though honestly almost any of the episodes could be watch by themselves and be marveled at. It’s that good.)

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Nanbaka (Season 1 and 2)

Type: Don’t let the great promotional art fool you! It’s really kinda bland.

Synopsis: For real. I actually started watching this for about 6 episodes, them stopped for about month to watch other, better anime. That’s how much this show failed to keep my attention. I even caught up on regular shows I haven’t seen in years before picking this up again! (I’m talkin’ Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 3 and 4, Bob’s Burgers season 7, Victoria season 1, and Steven Universe season 5)

Pros: On paper, this anime is a comedy with an all male cast. Something in line with shows like Hetalia. It’s selling point is that you get to watch all these cute boys do silly things while deciding who’s the best husbando. It also has great advertisement art work. And in all honesty, the show excels when it focuses on the slice-of-life aspect of living in an anime prison. The comedy comes from the fact that the prisoners treat Nanba Prison like a dorm stay rather than a punishment. Instead of having to deal with the real world, they get to relax and hang out with their buddies. Sadly, this goes away rather quickly.

Cons: This show has a tone problem, and you can really see the manga aspects of this show early on. The show starts as a comedy show, but turns into an action drama at about episode 4. The thing is, the show know this. It acknowledges that this supposedly silly show has some dark elements to it. After all, all the prisoners are in prison for a reason. But it’s adherence to drama and action really takes the show down from a quirky comedy to just another generic anime. The only real dramatic stuff I like is the brief flashbacks into the character’s past. I feel that if the story really wanted to inject drama into this “comedy,” then the backstories were enough. It would make the audience sympathize with them and understand why they enjoy prison life so much. The first season mostly focuses on Jyugo, while also introducing all 1 billion extra characters. Focusing on Building 13, with 7 characters was enough, I didn’t need the rest of the prison right this minute. Jyugo’s past trauma was all well and good, but making him some sort of scissor man was the moment that this anime officially jumped the shark. I didn’t even now that anime could do that. It felt like the author got a dip in manga 4 weeks in and panicked. The second season is more focused, revolving around the revolt in Building 5, which also has a neat Chinese theme going. I kinda like the idea of alternating between different Prison blocks for story arcs, and this season came the closest to fulfilling that potential. That being said, it also ends in a cliffhanger, so f#$ it.

Watch it?: Maybe if your doing time (3/5)

MVP: Hajime

Maybe we’re all the real prisoners!?

Best Episode: Ep.2 “The Inmates Are Stupid! The Guards Are Kind of Stupid, Too!” (this is suppose to be a comedy anime!)

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Shonen Maid

Type: Boy Maid

Synopsis: He’s a boy who’s also a maid. That’s the joke.

Pros: The basic story is really just Cinderella, only with a boy and nicer guardian. In the beginning, young Chichiro’s mother WORKS HERSELF TO DEATH, leaving the 4th grader to fend for himself. He manages to escape grave poverty thanks to his rich Uncle, who happens to run into him on the same day. Understandably emotional over the death of his only mother, and wary of an extended family that never lifted a finger to help him, Chichiro is hesitant to accept the kindness of strangers. Blood relative not withstanding. So his Uncle does what any sane person would do, and takes advantage of Chichiro’s almost manic desire to clean by hiring him as his maid. Not butler, because Maid outfits are cuter. Most stories revolve around Chichiro getting use to his new life and his new family. This eventually leads to him learning more about his mother’s family, with some hints about why they were estranged. Chichiro’s age actually works well with this kind of story, since it explains why he wasn’t told much about his family, and justifies his behavior. (It also goes a long way to explain his androgynous looks).

Cons: There’s nothing really wrong with this show. It’s a solid story. But there’s also nothing incredible about it. It’s biggest positive/negative is that there’s isn’t any overall conflict in the story. There’s no end of the season fight between Chichiro and Madoka, where they have to reaffirm their love for each other at the end. The biggest conflict is Chichiro feeling a little weird when he discovers that the nice old lady he hung out with was his estraged grandmother. The jokes are all solid. I especially like Chichiro’s adoration of all things cleaning. Chichiro’s slowly developing relationship with Madoka is cute. The only real cringy moments were stories involving cats, or involving a male idol group that shows up sometimes. Both weren’t great. The cat stories were a little too sweet for my liking. And the idol stories felt tacted on.

Watch it: A pretty good, middle of the road anime (3/5)

MPV: Chichiro’s love of cleaning

I also appreciate a good cleaning session

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Those Who Don’t Work Don’t Eat” (he’s a boy, but also a maid!)

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Pop Team Epic (Anime of the Year)

Type: Is this a joke?

Synopsis: No really, is this a joke?

Pros: Pop Team Epic is…Pop Team Epic started as…f#$% it. Pop Team Epic is weird as s#$%.

Cons: Whether or not you like Pop Team Epic will depend on what you think is funny. There are 6 main types of skits. First, regular skits based off the manga. Second, Bob Team Epic, which uses disturbing looking animation that will haunt my nightmares until my last breath. Third, a lovely 3D runner in french. Forth, 8-bit bumpers that parody video games. Fifth, puppet shows and songs. Sixth, the rest. Apparently, the show had various animation studios and voice actors work on it throughout production. The show is actually 15 minutes, but it runs for 30, repeating the episode with different voice actors. The next episode preview is actually parodying love comedies that looks surprisingly disconcertingly interesting to me with “Hoshiiro Girldrop,”

Watch it?: Pop Team Epic isn’t a meme anime. It’s a sh#$post entity given life by our collective consciousness. (5/5)

MVP: Alien Cat

GET OUT OF MY HOUSE ALIEN CAT!!

Best Episode: Not ever going to try (too hard. too weird. f##$ you.)

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My Hero Academia (Season 3)

Type: UNITED STATES SMASH

Synopsis: It starts with U.A. High going on a school trip to the woods that ends with several children being injured and one kidnapping. It continues with several U.A. students attempting to interfere with a complicated and sensitive rescue operation. It finally ends with U.A. giving an exam that give minors licenses to get into fights with maniacs. Hogwarts don’t look so bad now, does it?

Pros: My Hero Academia season 3 kinda fixes every problem I had with season 2. Real talk, given all the hype around season 2, I was a little underwhelmed with the second season. I wasn’t really a big fan of Stain, and the tournament arc was just a tournament arc to me. But this season, man, this season was all that, and a bag of chips. This season had a lot of the hallmarks of the superhero genre that I love. Finally getting out of the school setting, this season explored the world more, and gave more context of what it means to be a hero in this world. We finally get to see Deku actually save a person from a super villain using his superpowers. We see the “death” of an important hero at then hands of a truly evil being. We see how the world reacts to this. However, the most important things this season does is explore the concept of how heroes inspire heroism in others. Over and over again, we see how the heroic actions of certain characters influence other characters to act the same. This, I think, is the true purpose of a hero. To inspire others to be heroes. To show others that they can be a better version of themselves. To show us that even in the darkest, most dire hour, there’s still someone who can save you with a smile on their face, even if that someone has to be yourself.

Cons: The season has a weird non-ending. Like, it doesn’t really have a cliffhanger per say, but a “until next season” sort of ending. Not a fan of that. I like bookends. The show also ends of another school related battle royal. Not a fan of that either, but it does set up a killer final battle for the season. This season also got me to catch up on that manga, which I had been meaning to do for a while now. So it’s actually a pretty good season overall.

Watch it: Honestly, I think it’s the best season yet (4/5)

MVP: The animation directors

Dude, the fights were sick this season!

Best Episode: Ep. 10 “One For All” (I mean, how could I not!)

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Attack on Titan (Season 3)

Type: Oh my god! That’s opening!

Synopsis: What the hell was that!?

Pros: We WILL get to that. Believe me. As for season 3 of Attack on Titan: a lot of things happen. Very quickly in fact. This season of Attack on Titan mainly focuses on a power struggle between the Scouts, the Government, and the Royal Family. It’s only about 12 episodes, but well a lot longer. Like season 2, this season focuses less on the main trio of Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, and instead focuses of Krista and Levi. This is the season that expands on Krista and Levi’s backstories, respectively. They’re stories aren’t intertwined (they aren’t long lost twin or anything), but certain characters play important roles in both their pasts. We also get more backstory involving the origins of the titans and the walled city the series takes place in. This season isn’t as action packed as before, but it’s actually a major turning point in the story for various reasons.

Cons: Did you SEE that opening!? What. were. they. thinking. It was one of the most generic, bland, and out of tone openings I’ve ever seen. It’d be like if Evangelion opened to J-pop song. It’s be like if Cowboy Bepop opened to anything that wasn’t jazz. It’s be like if Attack on Titan opened to an uplifting tune about the past and grasping the future. Oh…it did. Huh….man, 2018 was the worst, wasn’t it?

Watch it?: Luckily you can just skip the opening (4/5)

MVP: Krista

Truly a historic performance

Best Episode: Ep. 6-7 “Sin” and “Wish” (We’re in the endgame now)

 

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