Tag Archives: supernatural

Tsugumomo

Type: When your mom’s friend starts to hit on you.

Synopsis: In Japan, there’s this myth that if an item is possessed by a spirit, it gains self-awareness, often with the caveat that the item has to be 100 years old. In anime, characters often use anthropomorphized items as weapons/lover, especially when their human form is a cute girl. However, this become a bit awkward when the demon items are passed own the generations, and they start to tease you with their naughty bits.

Pros: Tsugomomo is what you would call a great commercial for the manga. I say this with no malice. In 12 episodes, the anime sets up the plot, the world’s rules, and provides you with enough sizzle to want more. In the show, a young man inherits his mother’s obi, a sash, that is actually a demon possessed item (a tsukumogami). They end up fighting together against the recent increase in evil tsukumogami and spirits. Of course, the obi takes the human form of a cute girl and Kiriha, whose power level determines her body shape. So she can become a mature beauty, or loli jail bait, but either way she’s still a flirty hot head. The protagonist, Kazuya, is surrounded buy spiritually inclined women, from a chibi-God to a well-endowed servant, to a thirsty child hood friend, making this a harem show as well. And boy, they do take advantage of that. And it always, ALWAYS, caught me off guard. I mean, just don’t expect that many blowjob jokes in a anime manga series, yet here we are.

Cons: In 12 episodes, you only get an introduction to the world. In a lesser show, the “read the manga” ending would be irksome. But this show is of a quality that it can get away with that. It has the right mix of action and comedy to keep you entertained. The only this it doesn’t do well is drama. Because the show is pretty light hearted, both in tone and art style, the more dramatic moments don’t land. For example, in one episode Kazuya and Kiriha have to stop a wig tsukumogami from attacking students. The big reveal was that the tsukumogami is possessing the dead corpse of a young girl who killed herself after her friends mercilessly bullied her for liking a boy. Pretty dark stuff, but none of it has any impact because you still have Kazuya and Kiriha bickering like an old married couple. So don’t watch this for the stakes. Watch it for the fun stories and characters, serviceable action, curb ball episodes, and moments that make you say “did I just see that!?”

Watch it?: I’m probably ganna read the manga later (4/5)

MVP: Kiriha

I loved that her speech patters where so formal, yet so rude

Best Episode: Ep.8 “A Certain Day in the Kagami Household/The Super Popular Fragrance” (a silent episode and and echii episode, what more could anyone ask for!)

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11 Eyes

Type: Yes, this is a late 2000’s anime alright

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Synopsis: Based on a visual novel? Check. Main protagonist is obviously the main protagonist thanks to his over the top eye patch? Check. High school kids killing demons? Check. Things get surprisingly dark in the middle? Check. Overly-complicated to the point of having a character WRITE A DIAGRAM to explain something. You’re goddamn right it’s a check.

Pros: Given the overexposure of light novel anime in the 2010’s, it’s a bit nostalgic to look at an anime back in the time where Visual Novels were the lazy production company’s answer to success. The anime is pretty stereotypical for the time: kids fighting demons. You have all the usual players as well, like the main character with a unique power (a magic eye!), an overly feminine love interest, a swords-woman with unrelated magical powers, a sweet blond girl with a split personality, and a cocky rebel who doesn’t work well with others. The plot does break the mold a bit by having moments of shock or drama. This can range from a sudden death to misunderstanding. I particularly liked what they did with Yuka, who goes on full on Yandere as the series progresses. It’s these darker moments that elevate the show from it’s default mediocrity.

Cons: As stated above, this show fells by the numbers. It has a generic cast, generic villains, and generic story lines. It’s saving grace is that it allows characters to die, or to express their sorrow/grief in interesting manners. For example, you have Takahisa, my least favorite character, who is the first of the main cast to die. As a result, his love interest Yukiko does into a suicidal rage, leading to her death as well. While I had absolutely no interest in either of these characters or their relationship, their deaths and reactions grabbed my attention. So you can imagine my reaction when good characters like Misuzu and Kakeru interacted. In fact, Misuzu and Kakeru are a fairly competent example of how to pace romantic/sexual tension, and is one of the few things that makes 11 Eyes shine. Because it sure ain’t the overly confusing plot with way too many elements to juggle. I’m talking flashbacks, time travel, parallel worlds, like three different kinds of magic (p.s. I check, and the index girl in this is not related to A Certain Magical Index in any way), and just, just so many contrivances…

Watch it?: This is surprisingly comparable to Shakugan no Shana. Probably due to the weak plot and monsters (3/5)

MVP: The Kakeru, Misuzu, and Yuka Love Triangle

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It’s not cheating if it’s the end of the world and your bae’s insane, right?

Best Episode: Ep.8 “Witching Hour” (the dark turning point!)

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xxxHolic

Type: A lot more lore than you think

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Synopsis: A boy named Watanuki visits a mysterious magic shop to because he attracts spirits. The owner of the shop, Yuko, agrees to help him in-exchange for becoming the shop’s part time cook/butler/errand boy. This sounds like a good deal, except for the fact that Yuko constantly sends him on supernatural-related missions Personally, I think Yuko is swindling the kid, but maybe it’s all just a coincidence…

Pros: The anime functions on a case-of-the-week story structure. Every episode deals the Watanuki and Yuko “helping” someone with a minor problem, like being a compulsive liar, or having an internet addiction. Something these people should really be going to a mental health clinic for, not a magic shop. And while these clients sometimes do have a spirit hanging around them, a lot of times it’s because the spirits were attracted to their negativity. They generally aren’t the cause of it. As such, Yuko often had to deal with the person’s personal issues rather an exorcise any evil spirits. The show had good characters to deal with these stories. Yuko is enigmatic and wise, but also lazy with a witty sense of humor. Watanuki is loud and complains a lot, but he’s generally a kind soul. These characters make the show’s predictable pace interesting to watch, and are the real reason to watch the show. (p.s. I’m not super cray about the lanky character designs, but Yuko’s outfits are always on point).

Cons: As with any case-of-the-week anthology show, things get boring and repetitive fast. Every week, some specifically female customer comes in, goes into self-denial over the problem they came to fix, and then Yuko fixes that problem. I actually found myself skipping through a lot of these episodes. And there were a few times when it even felt like a chore to watch the show. This season also has no real ending. It just ends. The only saving grace from the monotony of these episodes are the spotlight episodes with Watanuki and Domeki. The show has a running joke that Wataniki hates Domeki because he’s madly jealous at his popularity, but Yuko keeps finding ways to put them together because Domeki can repel spirits, and thus protect Watanuki. The two make a good comedic pair, with Domeki’s stoic personality contrasting well with Wataniki’s high-strung reactions. Now, the show does have one weird caveat: xxxHolic is actually part of a larger shared universe created by CLAMP, the all female writing group. This CLAMPaverse also includes Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, Card Capture Sakura, and sometimes Blood C. From what I gather, you don’t really need to watch any of these to enjoy xxxHolic, but Tsubasa at least apparently helps.

Watch it?: It’s boring  (2/5)

MVP: Watanuki

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Complain, complain, complain….

Best Episode: Ep.19 “Unreasonable” (a fun episode! snowball fights!)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.3 Falling Down

Type: Also known as Flying

Synopsis: Did you know that I just went on my first ever airplane flight! Crazy man. Everything looks like grids and curves in between mountains. It reminded me just how big the world is, ya know?…anyways, this is the third Persona 3 movie.

Pros: Persona 3 The Movie, No.3. Yes sir. The third movie. The big 3. El tercero movie-o. What can I say about Persona 3 The Movie, No.3. Anyone? Anyone at all? Um, it starts off after the events of Persona 3 The Movie, No.2. It has the same cast. Same focus on action quality over everything else. Ah, for the game fans we get cameos from more social link NPCs. That’s neat. The subplots for this movie are Makoto becoming nihilistic and Junpei getting into a romantic relationship with a girl that cuts herself. And a new supporting character is introduced: Ryoji. Yep, that is what happened in this movie.

Cons: Its boring. Well….no, yeah, its boring. This movie covers the least interesting part of the original game story. The problem is that the Shinjiro story in the second movie is such an emotional climax for the characters that this movie has to deal with the aftermath and therefore feels more passive than the other two in the series. Stuff happens in this movie, but you don’t end up caring as much because your still recovering from before. It’s a shame too, because this movie finishes Junpei’s character arc, finally making him more than a comedic duffus. It also sets that stage for the last stretch of the story. But at the end of the day, it’s not that interesting and actually made me question if the Persona games do have good stories or if it’s just reputation talking.

Watch it?: No. Why do I like this series so much again?

MVP: Junpei

I actually started using him after these events

Best Moment: The bathhouse scene (My favorite moment in Persona 3!!)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.2 Midsummer Knights Dream

Type: Oh, I get it, it’s like wordplay

Synopsis: Because “midsummer” refers to the movies setting, and “Knight” refers to the cover girl Aigis, whose is like a robot knight. I see what you did there Persona 3 The Movie: No.2. 

Pros: Like the title implies, this movie covers the second act of Persona 3 the video game. We’ve established our core characters, so now we have to introduced our auxiliary characters and out main antagonists. Just to keep score, and not counting minor characters, that jumps our cast number from 5 to 12. And while that is a lot of people to keep track of, the film mainly focuses on 2 subplots, namely Aigis’s introduction and Ken/Shinjiro’s relationship. I actually feel that the Ken/Shinjiro story is better off in this condensed version than in the game, which stretched it out between long gameplay segments. You get a better sense of Ken’s youthful admiration of Shinji, of Shinji’s past with the group, and the overall impact that the resolution of the his subplot has on everyone. Plot aside, this is also the movie with the beach scene, festival scene, and love hotel scene, reminding you that Persona is the most anime RPG out there.

Cons: By watching the second movie, I’m starting to notice a few of the most consistent flaw in the Persona 3 movie series. Namely, the disparity in animation quality in dialogue scenes vs. action scenes. This movie was released a year after Person 3: Spring of Birth, and Person 3: Falling Down was released within a year after this one. This quick turn around means that the films were most likely made simultaneously and on a tight schedule, so some shortcuts had to be used. For example, the film used a still image montage for the opening beach segment. And if you noticed, most dialogue scenes involved close ups and little movement. The only parts that seemed to be afforded time and attention were the fight scenes. A lot of the cast is also shunted or minimized in this part of the story, which is fine unless your a fan of them.

Watch it?: Better than the first, but unless you’ve played the game you can skip it.

MVP: Shinjiro

He’s suppose to be 17, but I always thought he was 34.

Best Moment: The opening love hotel scene (it’s funny and I’m basic)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No. 1 Spring of Birth

Type: The theme is Death. The character’s activate their powers by shooting themselves in the head. Do you get it!?

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Synopsis: A movie based on a game that’s based on a mixture of Role Playing Games and Life Simulators, because Japan. In this one, you get to see the life of a character who’s life you would have lived through in the game instead of experiencing your own life, because real life is dull, and the Persona games are, like, a 100 hours. It’s much easier to sit down and give up 90 minutes of your life instead. The crucial part remains: you still don’t have to go outside.

Pros: Fun aside, I actually do love the Persona series. Specifically Persona 3 and 4, when the games got good (you can argue, but you know it’s true). The movie does a great job at integrating the music and layout of the original game. It even uses the calender transitions from the game. Most gamers often bemoan the fact that their will never be a good video game movie, but Persona’s made like 4 movies and 3 anime series. This first movie predictably details the beginning of the game: the protagonist showing up, the main cast coming together, everyone getting their powers, etc. I really liked what they did with the protagonist, named “Makoto Yuki,” here. In the game, “Yuki,” is a nameless and characterless avatar for the player. The move translates this silent protagonist into an apathetic protagonist, which really fits his visual character design. Floppy hair, earphones, hands in his pockets, the kid’s a poster boy for emo teen nihilism. Even more impressive, the movie gives him a character arc involving the power of friendship, which sounds trite, but is actually a crucial gameplay component of the Persona Series (you basically have to go on several dating-sim esque side missions with various NPC’s to level up your character).

Cons: The movie’s biggest positive was it’s ability to turn a silent RPG protagonist into an actual character. But it’s not without it’s flaws. For one, the story flow is choppy. Events sort of jump from thing to another without a smooth transition. This is because the transition is suppose to be the original gameplay, which is obviously absent in the movie. For those not in the know, events in the game are actually about 30 in-game days apart from each other, giving certain revelations time to digest. So the movie ends up covering 2-3 months worth of story in 90 minutes. It’s an admirable attempt, but not quite successful. Certain shots and frames are also a but awkward, almost like the camera man was a 1-2 feet too close to the actors. Cast wise…look, the Persona 3 cast isn’t as charismatic as the Persona 4 cast, but they do grow on you, especially later on in the story. And finally, the big questions: Do you have to have played Persona 3 to enjoy this movie? My answer is Yes. It’s not a bad movie, but without my prior knowledge, I would have found it a bit thin, and a little confusing.

Watch it?: Persona fans would like it. Everyone else could easily live without it.

MVP: Makoto Yuki

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God, how many of us went to high school with this guy?

Best Moment: Makoto talking (holy moley, I thought he was mute!)

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Dance in the Vampire Bund

Type: “Bund” means embankment or causeway

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Synopsis: Vampires! Creatures of the Night! Children of Satan that will feed on you very blood! They exist! They set up a city off the shore of Tokyo! Their queen is a totally legal blond girl who is regularly naked!

Pros: Despite having a highly sexualized child character as it’s poster child (which we will get to later), the anime is actually a pretty good vampire show. It has the right mix of gore, sex, and style that should appeal to any fans of this sub-genre. The plot also does not mess around. The first episode sets up the vampire city, and the rest of the series deals with the aftermath. The show tries its best to depict the social impact that Vampires would have on society,  like True Blood. But not all vampires want to integrate, leading to conflict with the protagonists,  like True Blood. And there are werewolfs and other magical creatures…like True Blood. OK, so this is the closest you may get to anime True Blood, at least in spirit. You even have a “forbidden” love between a vampire and non-vampire. The vampire in question is Mina Tepes, Queen of the Vampires.  Her physical portrayal aside, I found her to be a fun character to watch. She is portrayed as prideful and regal, but also kind and childish, and at times even cutthroat. Her best moment is her reactions to a command she gives for the benefit of her people. While necessary, she didn’t like it, but never said she regretted it, even if it cost her what she personally wanted the most. She’s a good addition to that weird group of immortal loli characters. (P.s. The animation is helmed by SHAFT, giving the show a stylish look that compliments the vampire mystique).

Cons: OK, so the first episode does this interesting thing where it’s all set during a talk show that discusses the existence of vampires. The show proper doesn’t start until episode 2. It was an interesting approach, but maybe not for everyone. In terms on character, the show seems to reserve it’s interesting character designs to vampires. Most everyone else if fairly generic. There’s also the main character, Akira, who’s about as bland as a piece of bread. His only real interesting moment is when he disagrees with one of Mina’s decisions, which was legitimately great, but everything else he does is boring. The plot…is actually worth watching, with a few factors in the show explained, from the establishment of the Vampire Bund to Mina’s appearance. That’s right, the show actually has an interesting rationale for it’s pedophilia! Not everything is explain, however, as the show has a “read the manga” ending. But it does have 12 solid episodes.

Watch it?: Every episode is named after other vampire media (4/5)

MVP: Mina Tepes

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Heavy is the head that wears the crown

Best Episode: Ep5-7 “Shadow of Vampire,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” and “Innocent Blood” (characters actually having a disagreement based on personal beliefs and actions, not misunderstanding!)

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Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge

Type: A lot less popular than it should be

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Synopsis: We  were in the arcade late one night when our eyes beheld an eerie sight, for some dudes began to rise and suddenly to our surprise they played Nightstalkers. It was a graveyard smash!

Pros: Poor references to 1960’s parody songs aside, this anime OVA series is based on the Nighstalkers’ video game franchise. That’s right, it’s another anime based on a fighting game review! I’m starting to think I should add a tag for this. Anyway, the anime has 4 episodes, 40 minutes each, with some slight plot elements. The anime follows three pairs: Morrigan and Demitri, Donovan and Anita, and H-Sein Ko and Mei-Ling. The story takes place in a world where the “Dark” has encroached on the Human World, meaning monsters and humans are living together. “Darkstalkers” refer to creatures of the dark. For once, the fighting in this anime based on a fighting game is pretty good, and some of the story elements are interesting. Anita’s story is predictably the most compelling. The anime did it’s job by getting me interested in the series, and making me wonder why this wasn’t more popular. Seriously, its a game were movie monsters fight each other. How was it not all over the 90s!?

Cons: Even at 40 minutes a piece, the story is all over the place. I think they made a mistake trying to build an overarching story across the 4 episodes. The anime worked best when it had spotlight segments, like the one with Bishimon, the haunted samurai armor ghost, or the one with Felicia, the cat girl. Putting so much emphasis on Donovan was a mistake, because he has as much personality as a block of wood. The world itself is interesting enough. You have humans who fight the dark. You have Darkstalkers who are presecuted by humans. And you have characters who a trying to take over the world. But as it stands, you’d be better off picking and choosing what to watch, or skipping it.

Watch it?: Like the game, it has potential, but can’t quite fulfill it (3/5)

MVP: Anita

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She’s eerie, but interesting

Best Episode: Ep1 “Return of the Darkstalkers” (has a zombie in it)

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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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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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