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Baki (anime review)

Title: Baki: The Complete Collection

Director: Toshiki Hirano

Studio: TMS Entertainment, Double Eagle

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 25th, 2021

Format: Blu-ray / 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Fighting, Action, Drama

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: D

Synopsis:

In the deadly underground world of no-holds-barred fighting, one name reigns supreme: Yujiro Hanma, aka “The Ogre,” a legendary martial artist whose incredible strength, skill, and savage ferocity are so terrifying that even great nations fear him. Still, no man can stand at any pinnacle forever, and the Ogre’s son, Baki, has trained his entire young life in order to achieve his dream of rising to the top.

Unfortunately, the young fighter’s escalating string of victories make him a target for the most ruthless of rivals, and an underground martial arts promoter warns him that five ultra-violent convicts are en route to Tokyo to eliminate Baki once and for all! Now, with the lives of his friends and classmates at stake, the young fighter must face his greatest challenges yet, both inside and outside of the ring!

Commentary:

Baki is clearly created for a very specific audience which has a desire to be entertained by gratuities violence. I am not part of that target audience. I believe that there are much better ways to tell the age old underdog story. I came away feeling a little sad that humanity really does like this stuff. I understand that it is at our core genetic makeup that we are simple, violent creatures who live for this stuff. Funny thing is that this is created by people from one of the more advanced societies in the world.

Baki is a window into our soul. In a world where money and power control the fate of the stupid fighters shows us the way it really works in the real world. Rich, powerful people have always controlled the less educated and gullible in our societies and Baki just brings it into focus in a very narrow microcosm.

Overall Grade: D

Although I understand what Baki is trying to do that doesn’t mean that I have to be pleased about it. I think that there was a good reason that Baki was an almost forgotten about series from 2001. The reason is that it just wasn’t very good. This new revision doesn’t manage to make it any better. The writing is simplistic and the production values make the animation average at best.

The real failure comes when it focuses on the glorification of violence and allows the counterpoint to be forgotten and dismissed. Telly the great underdog story can be approached in so many other ways. Nevertheless Baki has found a solid fan base and has managed to revitalized the older series that the sun should have set on many years ago.

If violence is your thing then Baki is for you.

Karakuri Circus (anime review)

Title: Karakuri Circus: Complete Collection

Director: Satoshi Nishimura

Studio: Studio VOLN

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: May 18th, 2021

Format: Blu-ray / 36 Episodes / 900 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy / Sci Fi / Action / Adventure / Drama

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

When Narumi Kato, a martial artist afflicted with the bizarre condition known as Zonapha syndrome, attempts to rescue a young boy from incredibly powerful attackers, he is stunned to discover that his opponents aren’t even human!

Pulled into a conflict pitting users of puppets and the self-aware Automatons against each other, Narumi finds himself rescued by an unusual young woman named Shirogane, who has her own puppet, Arlequin, and together they must form an alliance to protect the boy, Masaru, who has recently inherited an incredible fortune. But who is trying to kill Masaru and what is the origin of these incredible animated creations? How is it tied in with Narumi’s own affliction? The truth surrounding a 200 year old shadow war unfolds as Narumi, Shirogane, and Masaru battle to survive!

Commentary:

Karakuri Circus is much more than the synopsis leads you to believe. The truth is that this imaginative series has plenty of odd and strange layers of flavor for us to discover. The series revolves around 3 very different characters that end up being a perfect fit for the challenge. Narumi is the one that is easiest to understand, but Masru and Shirogane add different personalities to the mix and the real hero is not the one you most expect, but in the end they make the most sense.

Karakuri Circus is full of strange character that gradually become somewhat standard fare and don’t lend themself to any deep appreciation for the story. The one thing that provided me with the most reward was the love story that bloomed through the series and managed to manifest itself in the end. If found it very satisfying.

The rest of the series was fun to watch but felt like a standard shonen series with some mature scenes tossed in for some rather silly attempt to be more than a shonen with crazy characters.

Overall Grade: B+

Although Karakuri Circus did not hit a home run for me it did provide me with plenty of surprises. The first few episodes were strong enough to make we want to watch more and then as the series began to unfold it provided even more layers and depth. The writing was good, but I did find much of the plot to be rather predictable. It was the at the end when a new plot device was introduced that the series was best.

The production quality of Karakuri Circus was above par and much of the animation work in the puppets and the battles were the shining moments. There is plenty to keep this series flowing and only some weak story development that slowed it down.

If you love a bit more mature shonen series then you will love Karakuri Circus. Be sure to check this one out, it is full of surprises and fun.

Babylon (anime review)

Babylon

Title: Babylon: The Complete Series

Director: Kiyotaka Suzuki

Studio: Revoroot

Release Date: May 11th, 2021

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Suspense, Drama

Age Rating: MA

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Everything can be connected to something else if you dig hard enough, and when you’re investigating a crime, it usually doesn’t take too long before you start finding the clues you need, if you know where to look.

When Public Prosecutor Zen Seizaki starts investigating a case of apparent fraud by a major pharmaceutical company, however, he quickly finds himself entangled in a nightmarish web of lies, intrigue and murder on a global scale. And even worse, how can he fight a foe without a face, one that’s protected by members of the highest echelons of society and government, and seems to be able to convince its own victims to kill themselves? The nightmares of modern science are powered by old-fashioned corruption and greed, and one man may be the only force that can stop them.

Commentary:

Babylon is a wonderful chance to watch a serious suspense thriller that is written for adults. It tackles some heady moral quests and gives us a clear view of how good versus evil can have some very grey area along with some defined clarity. I found the overall delivery of the series as well developed and hard hitting. I discovered early on that I wanted to align myself with Zen Seizaki because of the path that he is forced to follow and at the same time I discovered that his righteousness was a bit of a handicap.

Babylon gives the viewer something to think about and presents in a way that you believe one way in the beginning and start to question your thoughts as the series closes in on its finally. It hits all the high points for me and I really enjoyed it.

Overall Grade: A

Babylon is a interesting series in both writing and production. I have never been a big fan of computer graphics, but in for Babylon I found it to be a perfect fit. The shading and lines were well constructed to help strengthen the tension and drama. The writing was right on point and developed the character on a well crafted pace that gave us the ability to find a clear understanding who they are.

Overall, this series is a drama that provides a thought provoking look into the moral question of control and the ability of society to understand that there might be a greater purpose for our existence. So, if you are in search of a series that is serious and written for the mature mind the Babylon is the one for you.

Cagaster of an Insect Cage (anime review)

Title: Cagaster of an Insect Cage: Complete Collection

Director: Koichi Chigira

Studio: Studio Kai

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 31st, 2021

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Horror, Drama, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

The nightmare that wiped out two thirds of the human race thirty years ago wasn’t caused by germs. It was bugs on an entirely different kind of scale: bizarre insects that mutate their victims into half-human creatures that rapidly evolve into rampaging giant monsters!

Yet, as unstoppable as the monstrous insects seemed, humanity is as hard to kill as cockroaches, and exterminators like Kidou now spend their lives stalking and killing the creatures called Cagasters. As the brief still-partially human phase is the best time to strike, however, exterminators soon learn to distance themselves, socially and emotionally, from normal people. But when Kidou finds himself suddenly tasked with returning a young survivor to her mother, he starts to realize that his emotions and humanity may not be buried as deeply as he believed!

Commentary:

I was unimpressed with the first few minutes of the Netflix original series created by a Gonzo offshoot studio. The low budget Computer Graphics (CG) left me wanting to turn it off and watch something else. The high distress that Ilie show in the first two episodes gave me flashback of Shinji in EVA, where I wanted to plug my ears and just watch. Now I have a delima, bad CG and a whinny Ilie made it hard for me to watch and then there was relief. Ilie became a solid character and the story took over. It has been some time since I found a post-apocalyptic series that had something that I found interesting, but Cagaster of an Insect Cage gave me a reason to keep watching.

Overall Rating: B-

With story being so well written I have to say that by the time I reached the end of the series I was fully engaged. I liked Kidou and felt as though Ilie had managed to become a well rounded character. The plot and overall story is strong, it is just too bad that Netflix paid for such poor CG.

As much as I like the story I just can’t go above a B- for the series. No matter how well a series is written if the animation is lacking it will be hard to maintain viewership.

If you are looking for a solid post-apocalyptic series and don’t care about bad CG, then you really need to check Cagaster of an Insect Cage out.

Kandagawa Jet Girls (anime review)

Title: Kandagawa Jet Girls: Complete Collection

Director: Hiraku Kaneko

Studio: TNK

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 23rd, 2021

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 12 Episodes + OVA

Genre: ecchi!, racing, slice of life

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Rin Namiki’s greatest ambition is to follow in her late mother’s footsteps and compete in Kandagawa Jet Racing, where teams of girls on jet skis race while firing high-powered water guns to slow their competitors’ jets (and blow off their clothing!). But since there’s no jet racing in Rin’s remote fishing village, that means moving, all by herself, to a girls’ school in faraway Tokyo!

Meanwhile, Misa Aoi dreamed of becoming a great player, but those ambitions floundered until Rin transferred to her school, displaying astonishing skill for a newcomer. Is it fate? Now they “only” have to resurrect their school’s Jet Riding Club, endure brutal training, and face some seriously skilled rivals… but even the toughest tasks are easier when you’re doing something you love with someone who’s quickly becoming far more than just a friend!

Commentary:

Well, it has been some time since I have had the opportunity to review a series that doesn’t try to hide it’s ecchi nature. I was a little taken aback how fast the fan service appeared and how frequently it was interjected into the plot. Once I got over the initial surprise I found it very humorous and thought about why anyone would be so blatantly sexual. Then i think back to the popularity of series like Monster Musume or Queens Blade and understand what is really going on.

As far as the story is concerned it became clear right away that this was really about the relationship between these young ladies and both their trials and tribulation. It also makes perfect sense that Kandagawa Jet Girls became a video game. The plot is simple and doesn’t asked the viewer to take on any serious thought processes, it is for fun and titillation.

Overall Grade: B-

Of course I didn’t expect much from the series and within the first 10 minutes I understood what the point was.
So, I wasn’t disappointed or let down as the series progressed. I wasn’t driven to identify with the characters, but to be honest there was solid character development and several of the characters had sympathetic natures that allowed them to be very likable. Others were just silly or too blunt to like which helps setup a decent dynamic within the plot.

The animation was not the best, it seemed as though there was only serious attention to the production style for the ecchi scenes and the rest of the series was low grade computer graphics (CG) that always leaves me cold and a little annoyed.

Overall the series was fun and light with plenty of eye candy for those ecchi lovers. If, ecchi is important then Kandagawa Jet Girls will make your day.

Food Wars: The Fourth Plate (anime review)

Title: Food Wars: The Fourth Plate

Director: Yoshitomo Yonetani

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 23, 2021

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Cooking, Comedy

Age Rating: TV 14+

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

The ultimate Regimental Food War continues as the culinary rebels led by Soma and the members of Kyokusei square off against epicurean elitist Azami and the Totsuki Ten. At stake – the future of dining across Japan. Because if the rebels fail, Azami intends to impose his own tastes and techniques on the entire restaurant industry!

But the fine dining control freak has made a serious mistake in threatening the futures of Soma’s friends and family, as while the rebels may seem less experienced overall, this is ultimately a clash of skill, dedication, and, most of all, taste. That may be a recipe for disaster for the seasoned veterans! There are truffled times ahead, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whose goose will ultimately be cooked in the mind-roasting season long battle!

Commentary:

In the world of Food Wars many things are possible and Soma continues to prove that goofy determination just might be the only way to get ahead.

At the end of the third season I was excited to see how this battle played out. As I expecyed things went in a very predictable way, and I found myself wishing for some twist to take over and make everyone more enjoyable. All to many anime series beging to loose site of what made them outstanding to begin with and end upbecoming reflective shell of what they once were. Food Wars is begining to look like one of those series. I would love to see more growth in the characters and less predictable outcomes.

With all of that being said, the fourth season of Food Wars is still enjoyable and ends on a very high note. I have a very high for the last season. With the outcome of the fourth sesaon I am very interested to see how they wind up the series with The Fifth Plate!

Overall Grade: B+

Food Wars has been a preinial top teir aniime for me but this fourth season left room for improvement. Of course the animation and voice acting was above par but the writing and season development fell short. I felt like they could have done this in four episodes and not waiste your time with a great deal of the story. Im not saying it was bad, but rather I found it lacking much insight or plot advancement.

I am still a major fan of the series and can’t wait to see the final season. Things are shapping up to be very interesting. So, I must say that this is a must see for any Food Wars fans and believe that people just coming to the series will find it very entertaining.

Gourmet Girl Graffiti (anime review)

Title: Gourmet Girl Graffiti: Complete Collection

Directors: Akiyuki Shinbo, Naoyuki Tatsuwa

Studio: Shaft

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 16th, 20212

Format: Blu-ray, 12 Episodes, 300 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Food / Cooking

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating B+

Synopsis:

Although Ryo Machiko is still only in middle school, both of her parents work overseas and her beloved grandmother recently passed away, so she lives in a big apartment all by herself. To keep herself occupied in that big empty space, Ryo practices her cooking, something that she thought she excelled at… but nothing ever seems quite right anymore. There’s something missing, but what could it be?

The answer unexpectedly arrives with her runaway cousin Kirin, who’s looking for a place to stay while she attends cram school. Much to Ryo’s surprise, her cooking seems to improve when they eat together! Food, it turns out, always seems tastier when it’s made for and shared with people you care about, and things only get more appetizing when Ryo’s friend Shiina joins in the culinary adventures!

Commentary:

In the world of slice of life food related anime Gourmet Girl Graffiti gets lost behinds the likes of Food Wars, Yakitate!! Japan or even Is The Order A Rabbit?. This is unfortunate because Gourmet Girls Graffiti is a fun, light and endearing series that takes a look at how food can bring people together. Ryo and Kirin manage to give us plenty to enjoy including the food they make and eat. Along with Shiina the trio find ways to remind us how friendship and food are intertwined.

In simple terms I found Gourmet Girl Graffiti to be more than fun but it found its way into my thought process regarding food and others. It is easy to think we eat to live, but for humans food has become more than just sustenance it has become the glue that binds us all together. Think about some of the best moments in our lives and they often include food. From birthdays to weddings to first dates, food is often at the center but not the main focus. For Gourmet Girl Graffiti the food tended to stand out, but in the end it was all about how these young ladies bonded and connected.

Overall Grade: B+

To be honest I didn’t expect to enjoy Gourmet Girl Graffiti as much as I did. The writing managed to give life to the girls and the animation provided a solid stage for the food and effects of eating it. I was glad it didn’t take the sexual stance that Food Wars does, but the food was given a solid visual that made it fun to watch.

If you enjoy slide of life or food anime you should have some fun with this mildly delightful series. Check it out I don’t think you will be left with a bad taste in your mouth.

Bandai Delivery 1.29.21

Here is the list of items we just received from Bandai. Please note that there are limited quantities on all of these items.

Models

#191 RX-78-2 Gundam (Revive) “Mobile Suit Gundam”, Bandai HGUC 

#24 MS-06S Zaku II Principality of Zeon Char Aznable’s Mobile Suit Red Comet Ver. “Gundam The Origin”, 1/144

#41 Try Slash Blade “Build Divers Re:Rise “, Bandai Spirits HGBD:R 1/144

#19 Gundam Astaroth “Gundam IBO Moonlight”, Bandai HG IBO 1/144

#08 Freedom Gundam “Gundam Seed”, Bandai SDGCS 

004 Wing Gundam Zero (EW), “Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz”, Bandai SD EX-Standard

007 Gundam Astray Red Frame “Gundam SEED Astray”, Bandai SD EX-Standard

BB#387 Nu Gundam “Char’s Counterattack”, Bandai SD 

#40 Gundam Astray New Type Armamaent (Tentative) “Gundam Build Divers”, Bandai Spirits HGBD 1/144

#40 Double Rebake Rifle “Gundam Build Divers”, Bandai Spirits HGBD 1/144

02 MEW “Pokemon”, Bandai Spirits Pokémon Model Kit Quick!!

Figures

Omnimon “Digimon Adventure”, Bandai Ichibansho Figure 

Wargreymon “Digimon Adventure”, Bandai Ichibansho Figure 

EVA -02 (Entry Start) “Evangelion:3.0+1.0”, Bandai Ichibansho Figure 

Asuka Shikinami Langley (Entry Start) “Evangelion:3.0+1.1”, Bandai Ichibansho Figure

Rathalos “Monster Hunter”, Bandai Tamashii Nations S.H. MonsterArts

Nargacuga “Monster Hunter”, Bandai Tamashii Nations S.H. MonsterArts

Gaara -SHIPPUDEN- KIZUNA Relation “Naruto Shippuden”, Bandai Tamashii Nations Figuarts ZERO

Emilia (Slumber Tea Party) “Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World.”, Bandai Ichiban Figure

New And Restock Anime Just In

Here is the list of anime we just received. Please remember that there are limited quantites of these items.

Serial Experiments Lain DVD/Blu-ray Complete Collection (Hyb) – Anime Classics

Strike Witches 2 DVD/Blu-ray Combo (Hyb) Limited Edition

Outburst Dreamer Boys Blu-ray

Amagi Brilliant Park Blu-ray

Code Geass Complete Series Blu-ray

Kakuriyo Bed & Breakfast for Spirits Part 2 Blu-ray

Hello Kitty & Friends Let’s Learn Together Collection 2 DVD

Hello Kitty & Friends Let’s Learn Together Collection 1 DVD

The Wind Rises Blu-ray/DVD

Violet Evergarden Blu-ray/DVD

Violet Evergarden I Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll Movie Blu-ray/DVD

FLIP FLAPPERS! Blu-ray

BLAME! Blu-ray

Sword Oratoria Is It Wrong Girls Dungeon? On Side Blu-ray

Bunny Drop Blu-ray/DVD Complete Series

Dr. STONE Season 1 Part 2 Blu-ray

AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day: The Movie Blu-ray (S)

Mob Psycho 100 Blu-ray/DVD

Mob Psycho 100 II Blu-ray/DVD

Himouto! Umaru-chan Premium Box Set Blu-ray/DVD

Grimoire of Zero Blu-ray

Akame ga Kill Complete Collection Steelbook Blu-ray

Promare Blu-ray/DVD

My Hero Academia Two Heroes Blu-ray/DVD

Tokyo Godfathers Blu-ray/DVD

Witch Hunter Robin Complete Series DVD

Outburst Dreamer Boys (anime review)

Title: Outburst Dreamer Boys: Complete Collection

Director: Kazuya Ichikawa

Studio: Studio DEEN

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: December 1st, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 11 Episodes + OVA / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Absurdity, Reverse Harem

Age Rating: TV 14+

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Outburst Dreamer Boys contains anime episodes 1-11, plus the Special: It’s the Destiny of Those Born as Men, directed by Kazuya Ichikawa.

When Mizuki Hijiri transfers to Minikami Private High, all she wants is to blend in and study like a nice normal girl. Instead, the members of the school’s “Hero Club” immediately become fixated on Mizuki, and “normal” is the last word that anyone would use to describe these delusional chunibyo, all of whom are living in fantasy worlds in which they’re legendary heroes from comics and mythology!

Just dealing with the scheming and manipulative Rei Tsukumo, and Tomoki Takashima, who’s only interested in 2D girls, will be difficult enough, but how can Mizuki convince Sentai-wannabe Yamato Noda that she’s NOT the Pink Ranger to his Red? Toss in Kazuhiro Nakamura, who believes he’s the reincarnation of a half angel/half devil and yet another member waiting in the wings, and it looks like poor Mizuki’s in for a truly epic education with the Outburst Dreamer Boys!

Commentary:

Outburst Dreamer Boys is a fast paced series that has a lot of fun with the world of anime. I was very concerned that it was going to just be another silly anime that fails to provide any type of self reflection and direction. I found out early on that there is much more here than just a silly otaku spoof. This series give a positive persona of these silly boys and makes Mizuki the viewer who is given the job of being the sceptical spectator with a front row set.

I loved the way it developed and gave us a reason to like all of these characters. There are plenty of laughs while poking fun at the anime fans that drive the success of the entertainment sub genre. You get the super sentai fan, fan boy, fantasy fan, idol wantabe and the confused cat lover who can cook. It even provided a silly final OVA that manages to squeeze in both a hot springs and beach along with being another episode that deals with the core principles and plot of the series.

Overall Grade: A

The fact that it is a short series adds to its charm and the fact that it doesn’t lose sight of what it is makes all the difference. Having Mizuki be at the center of the story and also being a almost passive spectator to these insane boys and their antics makes for the perfect entry point for the viewer to access the series. I feel that the writing is what makes this series a true hit. It manages to give us a look a these over the top otaku but also makes the good decent humans that only want to be a helping hand. The animation is also well done, I never felt put off by any crude or over sloppy work.

All together Outburst Dreamer Boys is a winner and if you are looking for a fun and easy series to watch with some solid laughs then this is for you.