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Initial D Legend 1 Awakening (anime review)

Title: Initial D Legend 1 Awakening

Director: Masamitsu Hidaka, Tomohito Naka (co-director)

Studio: Sanzigen & Liden Films

Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

Release Date: Dec. 5th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 60 minutes

Genre: Car Racing, Coming of Age

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

In Initial D Legend 1: Awakening, when aspiring racer Koichiro Iketani witnesses an unplanned street duel between Keisuke Takahashi, a member of a rival race team, and a mysterious Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86, Koichiro’s totally blown away by the skill of the 86’s driver. What Koichiro doesn’t know is that the driver is fellow gas station attendant Takumi Fujiwara, who was making a late-night tofu delivery for his father, a legendary Mt. Akina driver himself.

Unforeseen events are about to springboard Takumi into the center of the street-racing world, turning the rivalry between Iketani’s Akina Speedsters and Takahashi’s Akagi Red Suns into an all-out street war! The legendary series that introduced the west to the sport of drift racing is reinvented in an all new feature film that’s even faster and more furious than ever before: NEW THEATRICAL MOVIE INITIAL D LEGEND 1: AWAKENING!

Commentary:

Initial D is one of those series that has lasted the test of time even though the cars have shown their age there is something very real about teenage boys and cars. That is really the only thing that Initial D Awakening has going for it. I know that if I were still in my 20’s or even my 30’s I would be all over this film, but I found it rather single minded and lacked a depth that I was hoping for. The fact that the natural racer (Takumi) doesn’t really care about racing and is just doing it to get home faster. There is also the connection between Takumi’s father and his racing history that is way to easy and somewhat disappointing.

The plot does hold up and Awakening does a great job of setting us up for the second film. The animation is good and the work that went into the races really paid off. There is also an attention to detail on the cars that I found interesting and reassuring. The voice acting was much more typical and fell apart at time and lent itself to the typical American answer of overacting for some of the core characters that tend to add a tension that isn’t needed.

Overall Grade: B

Initial D Legend 1: Awakening has everything any Initial D fan will need to make them very happy. It is also a great film for any young man between the age of 15 and 40 who is into cars. This gives a very special depiction of Drifting and what made it so very special in the 80’s and 90’s.

It is always fun to get a feeling for the beginning of a story line and get a sense of what these beloved characters were all about before the original series began. Initial D Legend 1: Awakening does several things very well and a few thing not so well. The biggest issue for me is that the film is broken into two films and maybe should have been edited so that it is just one full length film.

Initial D fans get your motors running!

Flying Witch Anime Review

Title: Flying Witch Anime Review on Blu-ray

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: 10-24-17

Format: Blu-ray / 1-12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genere: Slice of Life (magical)

Age Rating: 13+

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Makoto is a teen witch who goes to live with her relatives, the Kuramoto family, as part of her training. They aren’t a magical family, but they really welcome her and treat her like one of their own. Her parents still want her to finish school, so she begins attending the local high school with her cousin Kei. His little sister, Chinatsu, takes some time to warm up to Makoto, but soon admires her and also wants to become a witch too.

True, the magical world is supposed to be kept secret, but Makoto is pretty open about it. When she makes a friend, the “secret” is out. Soon, her sister Akane comes by for a visit and lingers on and on. Mostly she sleeps, but she offers a lesson now and then for Makoto and even Cinatsu.

The supernatural is hidden all around, and we tag along as Makoto and her family discover the wonders and beauty. There are non magical things to discover for her as well, especially as Kei shows her the ways of living with the seasons and finding food in nature and growing things on the farm.

Commentary:

An easy way to describe to Flying Witch is Kiki’s Delivery Service expanded and updated. Makoto leaves her family to set off on her own as part of her witch’s training, working towards her own independence. This time however, her parents expect her to finish high school, so she moves in with relatives and attends school instead of working. Both young witches are kind, happy, and motivated. They really embrace this part of their lives. They both have a cat companion who she communicates with and acts sometimes like a guide.

I like the look of Flying Witch. I enjoyed the backgrounds, the attentions to details, even making them look just a bit more interesting than reality. Composition and design were actively employed. So, visually there is an extra story to be appreciated. Just looking at the case cover can illustrate what I mean. Instead of a straight shot image, there are intersecting planes, angels and layers that really enrich the whole anime. Often with an emphasis on nature, it was beautifully portrayed, better than a camera could ever do. It is a modern look heavy in realism which I like. The characters had a nice look also. I really appreciate when an anime has easily identifiable characters. The only minor complaint I have, and I’m mentioning it because, well, I don’t want to imply perfection, was a weird shadowing on the folds of peoples clothes. Seems like a odd thing to be weak on. Like I said, minor.

There were several aspects in addition to the overall look which I enjoyed or thought particularly clever. The food hunting and preparation was really enjoyable to watch, I don’t know if it is true or acurate, but it was interesting. There are really cool effects like “ground fish”, basically they are magical fish that swim in the earth. The mixing of the two was well done. I also like the way the magical side of the world seemed so natural, like it really could be a part of the world. Sometimes, the story wasn’t about magic at all, and just about ordinary life, and how interesting that alone can be.

The characters are easy to connect with and and pleasant to be around. Makoto is learning and discovering the world in her new home. She is a really sweet and confidant young lady. She is directionally challenged for comedy’s sake (in other words, she easily gets lost) but she is aware of the issue and works to overcome it. Even when others keep trying to help her, she insists to do it and learn. The Kumamoto family is also wonderful to be around. I always find it uncomfortable, when in English, the character, in this case, the dad, has a southern accent. The only wild character is Makoto’s sister, as she drinks a lot. That got a bit old towards the end. I didn’t want to see her drunk again, and don’t see how it benefited the story.

There is a soft ending, and by this I mean there wasn’t any build up to a climax of the completion of a goal. It just sort of pleasantly ends as life continues to roll on. I enjoyed the series and feel that they can add on to the series successfully if they want. Every thing was still fresh and I’m left hoping the characters continue to do well.

Extras include “petite” episodes, where SD forms of the characters sort of do silly little short skits.

Overall grade: B+    Definitely a pleasant way to spend your time. Beautifully depicted world, nicely animated, and characters we’d want to be friends with.

 

 

Haikyu!! 1st Season (anime review)

Title: Haikyu!! 1st Season on Blu-ray

Director: Susumu Mitsunaka

Studio: Production I.G.

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 14, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 25 espisodes / 625 minutes

Genre: Sports, Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life, High School

Age Rating: TV 14 (really it should be PG)

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Shoyo Hinata isn’t a large guy, but he’s got huge ambitions. Ever since seeing a small player score in a National Championship, he’s been determined to become the next big thing in High School Volleyball. Unfortunately, the one time he was able to pull enough players together to form a team in junior high, they were completely trashed in their first and only match against a team led by up-and-coming setter Tobio Kageyama.

Now, enrolled at the same high school where his idol once played, Shoyo’s finally going to get his shot to join and play with a top team. There’s just one problem: Tobio Kageyama’s decided to attend the same school, and he’s already considered one of the best players in the game. Can a kid out of nowhere hold his own against the King of the Court? Or could the rivalry and competition actually be the best thing for both of them?

In the wake of the blistering practice match against the Nekoma High School team, the Karasuno High School volleyball squad digs in and vows to bring their game up another level. Prior to the arrival of the new freshmen, the general belief was that Karasuno’s day in the sun was over, but while the ongoing rivalry between Hinata and Kageyama has inspired everyone to push themselves even further, there’s still a lot of friction that’s ultimately slowing down their game.

It’s not until the announcement of the brackets for the Inter-School tourney are announced that the reality of what they are attempting to do finally takes hold. As talented as each of the team members may be individually, they have no chance of winning unless they can finally come together as a seamless unit. Can Hinata and Kageyama put their battle for dominance on hold long enough to take on the overwhelming brilliance of the Aoba Johsai squad?

Commentary:

The number of sports anime that are being released in the U.S. has managed to hit an all time high and Haikyu!! is a pleasant addition. The story is simple and and the outcome is easy to guess, but the way it is coming together is pleasing and fun to watch. Shoyo reminds me a lot of a Naruto on the volleyball court. He is the little engine that can and with his desire to be on the court he manages to infect everyone around him. On the other hand Tobio is rather talented and arrogant but once these two are forced to be toghter they discover that they balance each other out and a natural team is born.

My only issue with Haikyu!! is that it falls into the trap that most sports anime fall into. This is another down and out team that has a bigger heart than talent and it comes down to the fact that they must rely on each other to make it happen. The first 13 episodes take us to that point were they discover that they still have a long way to go and set us up for a big comeback as the rest of the series develops.

Sports anime tend to make everything seem really hard and then pull out the magic at the end to prove everyone is a super hero. Haikyu!! takes a little different approach and just makes these wannabe champs and makes them something much more believable. They just become flawed heroes who try their best and long to stay on the court.

This passion to win is what makes the series worth while. Not all of the team members are superstars and those with natural abilities have issues. They learn the importance of trust and believing in themselves and come to understand what it means to be a part of something that on the surface may be meaningless to most, but ends up being important to them just because of each other.

Overall Grade: A

The great thing about Haikyu!! is that you get a blending of characters that make up the team and how they manage to work out the problems they face. I also like the fact that Shoyo has that never say die attitude but is only a little annoying. Most of the time you want him to succeed.

Most anime fans don’t really line up for sports anime and to be honest Haikyu!! is a true sports anime. The thing that sets it apart is the fact that these players have are human and it is very easy to identify with because they are rather typical students who know they have to try harder to be better.

The series is full of feel good moments with an ending that speaks to more of us than those who are the superstars in life. The writing gets a tad preaching from time to time and maybe that is just the way it should be. I just think that some of the growth they have is a bit melodramtic with overall the development of the main characters is worth watching and rooting for.

Haikyu!! is a wonderful series that is a true feel-good story that takes on a hopeful ride and reminds us that even great stories don’t always end the way we might want them to.

Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto (anime review)

Title: Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto on Blu-ray

Director: Shinji Takamatsu

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 21, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genere: Slice of Life, Comedy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Step into classroom 1-2 and meet the coolest guy in school. In fact, Sakamoto may just be the coolest guy ever. And that’s not just because he makes his student uniform and glasses look like a fashion magazine cover. There’s also the fact that nothing ever seems to surprise or rattle him. The girls are all crazy for him, of course, but even the most macho delinquents start to feel a little funny when he’s around.

However, Sakamoto never seems to notice, let alone take advantage of the attention. He’s too busy being cool and mysterious without even trying! This does drive some people crazy, but the more someone tries to challenge Sakamoto, the more they start to fall under his spell. Intrigued? Then come join the class and get a lesson in cool from the master in Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto!

Commentary:

Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto! is something of a dilemma anime for me. On one hand I think it is great and makes you want to be that extra cool Sakamoto, but on the other hand I feel like it is a one note anime. There is just too much thing to upstage or discover any flaws in Sakamoto that I feel as though the series is missing a great opportunity to make a average person manage to get through High School by just being very cool. Instead they make Sakamoto cool without trying to be cool.

I know it may seem petty and in fact I see the series as a true hit and yet I still don’t connect with the character they way I wish I could have. Of course it is more important to connect with the other characters to make the series worth while.

Overall Grade: A-

I realize that this is a high grade for a series that I believe has some serious flaws and in a way I am just another hypocrite falling in line with all of the other anime fans who like this series. I did find the other students to be worthy of my fandom and also enjoyed seeing them fail at all of their attempt to trip Sakamoto up or even discover his first name. I am just a weak as everyone else that has seen and enjoyed Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto.

As far as the animation, voice acting and overall production of the series, I would have to say that it was above average but not something to write home about. I could say there was any real standouts or major failure. That for me is a job well done and should be recognized for the effort put into the series to make it work a seamlessly as they did.

If you always wondered how the really cool kids managed to be really cool then don’t watch Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto because, it will only fool you to think they didn’t even try. If you want to watch a series and realize that you are just like all the other students then Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is just the medicine you need.

 

Mezzo Forte (anime review)

Title: Mezzo Forte

Director: Yasuome Umetsu

Studio: Arms / Green Bunny

U. S. Distributor: Softcell, Section 23

U. S. Re-release Date: Nov. 14th, 2017

Format: DVD / 2 episodes OVA / 60 Minutes

Genre: Action, Girls With Guns, Erotica, Sci Fi

Age Rating: 18+ (sex and violence)

Overall Personal Rating: C

Synopsis:

In Mezzo Forte, mob boss Momokichi Momoi has one way to deal with those who fail him: he kills them. Even when they’re not criminals, but simply people who work for his legitimate businesses, no one is safe. Needless to say, that kind of poor employee relations has earned Momokichi a lot of enemies, and someone has recruited the elite Danger Services Agency to take him out of the picture.

But the D.S.A., comprised of ex-cop Kurokawa, tech guru Harada, and the lovely but lethal Mikura, is going to have their hands (and other body parts) full handling this case. Because while Momokichi kills for profit, his daughter Momomi is even worse and kills because she gets off on it! Two ultimate bad girls face off as the blood and bullets fly in the adult-only anime classic that tops sex and violence… with a side helping of EXTRA violence: MEZZO FORTE!

Commentary:

I guess it has been a long time since the original Mezzo Forte was released in the U. S. and that release did not contain the pornographic footage. This release has it all along with the original edited version just incase you don’t care about the sex. I for one found the sex scenes to be distracting and pointless. I guess it was a way to show how good they are at animating sex scenes, but they ended up being more sexist and violent than anything.

The story was a little better but had a hard time defining itself. The Danger Services Agency is borderline criminal and at times straight up wrong. The only redeeming aspect was the humor that ran through most of the action sequences. There is a real tongue and cheek aspect to the violence and that is a positive in my mind.

Overall Grade: C

Mezzo Forte is a great look back at the Girls with Guns genre and also points out how much of these violent anime also have the propensity to be rather one sided in both the violence and in the pretrial of women and sex. In todays society anime like Mezzo Forte is a solid reminder of the work that is still needed to be done to get over the violence to and from women.

Other than that I guess I found the action to be rather fun and at time well animated. The sex or pornography was not my bag but I see how Mezzo Forte could make some fans very happy.

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Seasons 1 & 2 Complete Collection (anime review)

original reviews provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Season 1 & 2 on Blu-ray

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Author: Jukki Hanada

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: Nov. 7th, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Slice of Life

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Yuta Togashi has a huge problem. He is a former “chunibyo” (literal translation; Eighth Grade Syndrome) one of the thousands of Japanese students so desperate to stand out that they have literally convinced themselves that they have secret knowledge and hidden powers. However, since he is starting high school he is determined to put aside his delusions and face life head on.

The biggest problem is his upstairs neighbor, Rikka Takanashi. She is just a little bit chunibyo herself and she knows all about his hidden past. Yuta thought all his delusions were behind him and now he is not so sure. Will Yuta be able to hide his embarrassing past or will Rikka be the downfall of his normal high school career? You will have to watch Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! and find out!

Yuta Togashi thought he had problems dealing with one delusional girlfriend in the person of Rikka Takanashi, but now things are about to go totally insane as his former “one true soul mate” from when he was a chuni himself returns with a vengeance! How bad could Satone Shichimiya’s re-entry into Yuta’s chuni-verse likely to be? Let’s just say that she’s so epically off the deep end of the chuni-scale that she prefers to use the name Sophia Ring SP Saturn VII and that she’ll joyfully tear Yuta’s real world to pieces in order to get him back in her imaginary one!

Some girls just want to have fun and some want to break down the walls between their boyfriends and themselves. But when a girl’s idea of fun is breaking down the wall between their presumed boyfriend and reality, retreating into a fantasy world might just be Yuta’s best option. Especially since Satone knows where ALL the skeletons from his past are buried. Toss Rikka’s equally delusional friend Sanae into the mix and girl-crazy begins to take on a whole new meaning!

Commentary:

As a lot of us can attest, our teenage years were hard, and we all probably have embarrassing moments we would all want to forget about. Yuta is no exception, as he goes to extreme lengths to forget his previous life as the chunibyo, Dark Flame Master. He even goes as far as transferring to a school none of his previous classmates go to, and completely leaving his previous life, in hopes for a fresh start. Unfortunately is seems that chunibyo follows him like a bad curse. Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! The Complete Collection follows his new life as a ‘normal’ teenage high school student, if there is such a thing.

All is going well, as he looks forward to leaving his embarrassing past behind, until a cute girl in cosplay, and an eye patch, falls from the sky, or at least repels from the balcony above with a rope. Meet Rikka, a first year high school student, still very deep in her chunibyo. She catches Yuta, unbeknownst to him, in one final act of chunibyo before starting his new life. Much to his shock, he finds she is in his class. And now that she knows of his chunibyo, she instantly finds him as a possible ally in the battle against the dark organization known as the Invisible Boundary Line Administration Bureau. Not only is love blind, but in this case, it’s also stark raving mad.

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! The Complete Collection is a must for romcom fans. Every character is likable, well developed, and brings something to the story. Yuta, the former chunibyo, looking to get away from it and to being a normal teenager. Rikka, a fully fledged chunibyo, follower of the Wicked Lord Shingan. Dekomori, the pig tailed middle school student, servant to Rikka, and wielder of the Mjolnir Hammer. Nibutani, the seemingly popular girl, cheer leader, class president, and general fantasy of all the guys, that seems to be the oddball-out in this group. And Kumin, who just wants a club she can nap in. They all bring a high level of moe, and you will quickly fall in love with them all. Watch as imaginary fights come to life, with overactive imaginations of the chunibyo. Plus you get a taste of the fascinating martial art of cooking utensils. If that’s not enough for you, enter the comedy. Well thought out 4koma style gags, mocking of cultural clichés and overall random insanity assist the whole thing along. Need some drama? Well aren’t you demanding… Well guess what, it has that too. There is a lot of love in this story too, so you know. How can all this work together? They did a great job of combining it all together, and giving it a balance of reality, and the fantasy of escaping reality. They also included some cultural clichés than have transcended Japan, like capcom code, role playing, slapstick comedy, and issues more serious in nature like dealing with loss and the pains of growing up. Some of us may not understand that last one, since we never actually grew up, but that’s a story for another day.

Overall Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! The Complete Collection offers a lot, from a touching story, well developed characters, heartbreaking truths, emotions that everyone who has led a normal life can relate to, and with comedy and fantasy colliding in a massive accident, the ones you do not want to stare at, but you find you can’t look away. Some of the craziest weapons you can imagine from umbrellas, to cookware, to weights on the end of long hair. Even the music is catching. There is something for everyone or everything for that someone who wants it all in a good anime.

I really liked the first season and I was quite happy when Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions: Heart Throb was released but now I wish I would not have been so excited because I believe I had too high expectations for this season. The storyline was not as deep nor complex as Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions but it was still cute and funny. I really wish they would have progressed the romance between Yuta and Rikka in Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions: Heart Throb as I was looking forward to it after watching the first season. But instead, Yuta and Rikka are awkward and shy around each other even though they have been “dating” for six months. This is a slice-of-life series that is mainly episodic but some episodes to flow into the next one.

There was also a new character introduced, Satone Shichimiya. She is a childhood friend of Yuta and she takes chunibyo to a whole new level. She adds a large amount of drama between Yuta and Rikka that really was not necessary. Plus, she is kinda in love with Rikka and that makes Rikka jealous. But I think that would make anyone jealous. I really wish they would have given Nibutani some more attention but instead she was relegated to the background during the important scenes as a sort of cheerleader who pushes Yuta and Rikka forward because they are too childish to take that step themselves.

The animation was pretty and vivid. The colors jumped off the screen and the characters and backgrounds were well drawn. The music was catchy and enjoyable. I found myself humming along after a few episodes. The voice actors did a good job bringing the characters to life and made the series enjoyable.

Overall Grade: B
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! is an interesting and amazingly cute anime that is fun to watch.

While Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions: Heart Throb has some issues, it was still interesting to watch and it had some cute moments. I recommend this series if you have seen the first season and want to see what happens next.

The Dragon Dentist (anime review)

Title: The Dragon Dentist on Blu-ray

Directed By: Kazuya Tsurumaki

Produced By: Hideki Anno

Studio: Khara

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Oct. 31st, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 2 Part Special Film / 90 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Going into war against a dragon takes incredible courage, but even that danger pales in comparison to the hazards of young Nonoko’s job. As a Dragon Dentist, she’s charged with venturing into the jaws of the country’s dragon protector to keep its pearly canines free of plaque, decay, and other debris. One day, Nonoko discovers an unconscious soldier between her dragon’s teeth instead of a cavity, and she finds herself caught up in a series of events that have been foretold to bring disaster to her people! Get ready for an incredible brush with destiny that leads two young people through the mouth of hell and towards certain doom as the creators of the new EVANGELION feature films unleash an epic unlike anything you’ve seen before in THE DRAGON DENTIST!

Commentary:

It has been some time since I was introduced to a anime that took me by surprise. The Dragon Dentist is one very unexpected 2 part film. In some ways I am still not sure what to think. The plot and overall story is very unusual and at times almost was too surreal. At other times there was some rather profound moments that seem to give purpose to the storyline.

I am still not sold on the idea of Dragon Dentist and what their purpose really is. I get the fact that they take care of the dragon’s teeth, but I also see them as a metaphor for something very deep and meaningful. I just can’t make the complete connection.

The Dragon Dentist is full of some rather cliche connection and tropes, but just underneath the story is a rather poignant meaning of life anime that makes you ponder more than just what you are watching.

Overall Grade: A

I knew that it would be weird with Anno being the producer, but I never thought it would take me on a journey that would leave me confused and satisfied at the same time. The Dragon Dentist is a must see for anyone who enjoys a good mind game anime and if you liked Evangelion then you will love The Dragon Dentist.

The production and animation is also a bit different. I can’t say that it was beautiful like a Shinkai film or imaginative like Ping Pong. I would have to call it interesting and very suited for the story. It takes on a bit of a Post-Modernist viewpoint and artistic perspective and still provides plenty of visual interest to keep your eyes pealed to the screen. At first I was distracted by the break in the middle between the two episodes, but now that I think about it, I see the break as being rather clever. It provided time to stop and think about what you just watched and helps set you up for the second half. It also draws you to the point that makes you desire more.

The Dragon Dentist is a hit in my book and I think anyone who likes anime that makes you think will see it as a hit too.

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version (anime review)

review provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version on Blu-ray/DVD

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Author: Jukki Hanada

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: October 17, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pac / Movie / 96 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions and Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Heart Throb

 

REALITY, BE RENT! SYNAPSE, BREAK! VANISHMENT, THIS, WORLD!!!

 

Synopsis:

In Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version, it’s just so not fair! Sure, Rikka may be a “chunibyo” afflicted with a state where she’s convinced that she has hidden powers. Maybe she DOES think she has an evil eye that always has to be covered with a patch. But that does not mean that what she believes is not real to her, and Rikka knows in her twisted little heart that Yuta Togashi is much more than just another boy. So why is he always pulling away? At long last, here is the chance to see the world through Rikka’s eyes (or eye, technically, since the evil one is usually covered). Armed with your trusted parasol, you will deal with evil high priestess sisters, enchanted animals, and the scariest thing of all, going literally boy crazy!

 

Commentary:

Basically, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version is cut scenes from season one of the series in Rikka’s perspective. There is an awesome dream sequence in the beginning that I really hope they revisit in the next movie that is due out. I am having trouble seeing this as a movie as the only thing added was that dream sequence and I was quite disappointed when it was found to be a dream. They did pick good scenes from the first season and it did make me remember the first season better.

 

Every character is likable, well developed, and brings something to the story. Yuta, the former chunibyo, looking to get away from it and to being a normal teenager. Rikka, a fully fledged chunibyo, follower of the Wicked Lord Shingan. Dekomori, the pig tailed middle school student, servant to Rikka, and wielder of the Mjolnir Hammer. Nibutani, the seemingly popular girl, cheer leader, class president, and general fantasy of all the guys, that seems to be the oddball-out in this group. And Kumin, who just wants a club she can nap in. They all bring a high level of moe, and you will quickly fall in love with them all. Watch as imaginary fights come to life, with overactive imaginations of the chunibyo. Plus you get a taste of the fascinating martial art of cooking utensils. If that’s not enough for you, enter the comedy. Well thought out Yonkoma style gags, mocking of cultural clichés and overall random insanity assist the whole thing along. Need some drama? Well aren’t you demanding… Well guess what, it has that too. There is a lot of love in this story too, so you know. How can all this work together? They did a great job of combining it all together, and giving it a balance of reality, and the fantasy of escaping reality. They also included some cultural clichés than have transcended Japan, like capcom code, role playing, slapstick comedy, and issues more serious in nature like dealing with loss and the pains of growing up. Some of us may not understand that last one, since we never actually grew up, but that is a story for another day.

 

The animation was well done and the voice actors did a great job bringing the characters to life. The music was catching and the opening and closing was interesting. All-in-all, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version is a wonderful re-cap of the first season but I was wishing for something more.

 

Extras:

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version includes clean opening and closing animations, My Brother 2 short, and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This movie was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options. However, the My Brother 2 short is only in Japanese with English subtitles.

 

Overall Grade: B

Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection
Director: Yoshimasa Hiraike
Studio: AIC
Author: Noboru Kimura and Touko Machida
U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks/Section 23
U.S. Release Date: October 10, 2017
Format and Length: Blu-ray /37 Episodes + 2 OVA’s / 975Minutes
Genre: Drama, Romance, School Life
Industry Age Rating: 13 and up
Overall Personal Rating: C+
Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: KimiKiss: Pure Rouge, Hatsukoi Limited, Clannad, and Kanon (2006)

Synopsis:
Junichi Tachibana has never been lucky in love. Ever since his date stood him up on Christmas Eve two years ago, he has pretty much given up on the whole idea and spends his days inside his closet planetarium, going to school and hanging out with his friends Kaoru and Umehara. However, there are quite a few girls who would all make wonderful partners for Junichi if he would only open his eyes and his heart. Could he have struck up a meaningful relationship with any of them if he’d done the right things and said the right words?

Well, it is time to find out as Fate steps in and decides to see what would happen if Junichi were to snap out of his funk and take a chance. This is a whole new twist on the idea of love at sixth or seventh sight, and if one boy and a whole lot of different girlfriends-to-be sounds like a lot of wishful thinking… well, it is! But wishes have that weird habit of coming true and the statistical odds are definitely on Junichi’s side as the guy without a date’s luck with the ladies goes from bad to multi-verse! Will Junichi find his good ending with one of the ladies, or is he to be lonely for the rest of his life? Watch Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection and find out!

Commentary:
Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection is a series that follows Junichi Tachibana as he falls in love with six different girls at different times within the same time period; almost like Groundhog Day. Amagami SS is the first season and Amagami SS+ is the second season. I personally prefer the first season over the second but you will need to watch both and figure out which on you like better. This series is based off a PS2 dating game with the same idea. Each girl gets their own story arc of four episodes and we usually get a nice wrapped up story within those four episodes. Some arcs were better than others, but I enjoyed them all. I am a hopeless-romantic and I love a good romance if it is well done and Amagami SS: The Complete Collection is one of the good ones. I can see myself rewatching this series again.

Junichi’s character is very well developed and we get to see this development through the arcs. However, he is always slightly perverted no matter what, but eventually you accept it and just laugh at those moments. Haruka is the girl the first arc is about. She is a very unique and cheerful girl who loves puppies and other cute things. She is really loveable and her voice actress did an amazing job bringing her to life. Kaoru is a childhood friend of Junichi and the second arc is all about her. She is hard-working and has a cool personality. Sae is the girl in the third arc. She is a first year student at the school and is very shy. They actually make a very cute couple. Ai and Junichi meet up for the fourth arc. This arc has the most emotion and development. The ending was beautiful and really moving. I could not help but feel attached to Ai as her personality is just too cute. Rihoko is the fifth arc’s girl. However, she already loves Junichi but he does not love her. This arc felt very slow and drawn out. She is not a horrible character but this arc did not hold my interest very well. We finally meet Tsukasa in the final arc. She is the class volunteer for the Christmas festival at school and Junichi decides to help her out. Eventually they get closer and something beautiful happens at the end. Tsukasa is a wonderful and likable character.

In Amagami SS+, each girl is given two episodes to wrap up everything in a pretty bow. Personally, I think they could have cut it down to one episode each and made them into OVA episodes. They drew out the episodes by adding more drama than was necessary or by introducing characters that were not in the first season. If I had to pick a favorite arc for the second season I would have to say it was the Sae arc. It was cute but drawn out.

The opening and closing songs were well done and each arc has its own closing songs. There are two different opening songs and both are well done and catchy. Some of the closing songs are better than others but I think that has more to do with how you feel about the arc itself. The artwork was well done and the background pictures jumped off the screen.

Extras:
Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series only has Japanese with English subtitles as the language option.

Overall Grade: C+
Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection is a wonderful romance and I recommend it if you enjoy that genre of anime. It would have a higher grade if the second season was better.

 

Log Horizon Complete Collection (anime review)

Title: Log Horizon complete collection

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Oct. 24, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 1300 Minutes / 50 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Log Horizon Complete Collection contains episodes 1-25 of Season 1 and episodes 1-25 of Season 2.

Elder Tales has become a global phenomenon, immersing millions of players in its online fantasy world. However, something goes wrong with the twelfth expansion pack. Eight-year veteran Shiroe and 30,000 other players suddenly find themselves trapped in the game’s no-longer-fictional universe!

Except it’s not even exactly the game they knew: things are in different places, the portals don’t work, and if a gamer was playing an avatar who wasn’t a physical match for their real self… well, let’s just say that everyone who’s been playing is going to have to make some serious adjustments to their new world view.

On top of that, the former Non-Player-Characters are now self-aware and working towards their own ends. This collision of the Elder Tale people and players with seemingly impossible skills, abilities, and knowledge promises to be cataclysmic. Get ready for heroes to rise and new legends to be forged as Shiroe and fellow players Naotsugu and Akatsuki discover what happens when sword and sorcery becomes real!

Now, eight-year ET veteran Shiroe, his friend Naotsugu, the beautiful assassin Akatsuki, and 30,000 other players are faced with the daunting task of learning how to deal with an entirely new reality, one where the Non-Player Characters are actually alive, and the tips and tricks learned while playing with a keyboard no longer apply. Flesh and blood replace avatars and stat lists, and an entire world stands on the brink of Apocalypse in the ultimate LOG HORIZON SEASON 1 & SEASON 2 complete collection!

Commentary:

My first impression of Log Horizon was thinking “Oh, no not another gamer stuck in the game anime”. As I settled in and started watching the first episode I began to see something I really didn’t expect. I saw a series that take the gaming world and leans on the structure of the game more than giving us a bunch of teenagers who run around and battle things just because. Log Horizon takes the concept one step further and gives a feeling that the story is still in the game with a little more reality for the players.

I think that the concept is taking the right view and allowing the characters to develop as the also discover their new reality and what they can do in it. There is also the aspect that the ancillary game characters the are not players take on personas and are given life is a wonderful way to add depth to the show.  With each episode we get to see these characters grow and develop as they become more involved in the world around them. They also discover that they have limitations to what they can do and also what they can be, but this just adds to the richness of the series.

Overall Grade: A

Log Horizon has caught my attention with this first collection. I manages to paint the picture of a rich world that may be a prison for these players, but it also represents itself as a fully realized environment that can be both dangerous and rewarding. The show forces these new inhabitants to look at this reality differently and end up understanding that they have more and greater abilities than they thought. My trepidation that it would just be a ripoff of the popularity that Sword Art Online has is not founded and in fact I see this series as being superior in many ways to Sword Art Online. Too bad that it may never get the chance for the broader distribution that  would get in front of more people. If you haven’t see Sword Art Online yet and are interested by the concept of players getting trapped in the game then I would start with Log Horizon it is, in my opinion, a better series.

It is easy for me to grade Log Horizon an A because as it progresses the series moves in  another direction and continues to add factors that make it more than just good. Simply put, if you like trapped in the game series and haven’t seen Log Horizon then you are missing one of the best. Log Horizon will show you how how a great series should develop and continue to give the viewer something to think about and enjoy. I have a feeling that season 3 will be even better!