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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!

Persona 4 The Animation Complete Collection Blu-Ray (anime review)

Title: Persona 4: The Animation Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Seiji Kishi

Studio: AIC ASTA & Animplex

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U. S. Release Date: October 10th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray, 12 episodes, 305 minutes

Genre: Game Derivative, Murder Mystery, Action / Adventure. Fantasy

Overall Personal Grade: B

Similar Titles: Persona Trinity Soul

Synopsis:

When Yu Narakami moves to the county form Tokyo he thinks his life will be dull and boring. Yu is about to find out that dull and boring are the furthest things from what he will find in the sleepy town of Inaba. Shortly after Yu arrives he begins to make friends and is told of a strange show that only comes on at midnight on rainy nights. It is called the Midnight Channel and is believes to show you who your true love is, but in reality it is showing who is going to be the next person to die.

Shortly after all the weirdness starts Yu discovers that he can enter the TV, so with his new friends they head to the local Mega Store, Junes, to find a TV large enough for them to enter. Yu and his two friends Yosuke Hanamura and Chie Satonaka journey off to the new world inside the TV. What they find is estrange place that is full of dark shadow creatures. They also manage to meet a new friend who is a strange looking bear, Teddy, that appears to be a hollow costly outfit. It doesn’t take long for them to run into a group of Show Monster and Yu discovers he has the power to control a fighter, or Persona. This large warrior takes on these shadows and does exactly what Yu tells him. Once they are all destroyed Teddy shows them how they can go home.

Now that they are intrigued about new world they discovered it becomes evident that it has something to do with the murders and they start on a journey to discover who the killer is. Along the way they gain new friends and also discover that they all have their own Persona. The only thing left is to sort out the mystery, can they do it?

Commentary:

It is never easy to create an anime based on a game without it becoming a long cut scene. Much of Person 4 felt just like that. The plot line seemed to carry the series well enough, but the involvement and character development lost its way somewhere midway though. In watching Persona 4 I thought back to Persona Trinity Soul which stood on its own and provided everything you needed for a solid series. I would have like to see the writing in Persona 4 to be as strong as it was in Trinity Soul.

I guess that the thing that stands out for me is the fact that P4 is not a game and forces the viewer to take more of a passive role. When ever that is required there better be some connection between the viewer and the characters on the screen. Persona 4 barely makes that connection and often looses it when the real mystery is in play.

Overall Grade: B

Persona 4 The Animation is a slick well crafted production that manages to be a solid cousin to the game. As an anime it falls short of the key elements needed to make a good anime even better. Weak characters, minor disconnects in the plot and a lackluster dramatic excuse for a reason to exists leaves me flat.

For all of the Persona 4 game fans this release is a must own, but for the rest of us it is a “maybe see”! It all depends on how curious you might be about the Persona franchise. If you want a solid anime, then seek out Persona Trinity Soul, if you want some light fun and action with a goofy Kuma then P4 is where it just might be at.

Hinako Anime Review

This is review is written by Larry.

Title: Hinako OVA

Publisher: Maiden Japan

U.S. Release Date: 10-3-17

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 3 Episodes / 105 Minutes

Genre: 4th wall, fan service, comedy

Industry Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis/Commentary:

Hinako is an anime geared toward young adult males. Since I don’t fit into that category, this review is written by my friend Larry who is exactly the intended audience.

I went into watching the anime thinking , “Oh. it might be a comedy”. I wasn’t wrong gut at the same time I wasn’t right. Hinako is only 3 episodes long and they are different than most OVAs. It began with the first episode, “Training with Hinako”. A Japanese girl was watching anime then suddenly she was pulled into the TV and was turned into a game character. The fourth wall is broken and while you are watching her, she sees you and introduces herself and suggests you hangout with her by doing what? Exercising through a repetitive full count of push ups, sit ups or squats. You are supposed to exercise with Hinako while getting fan service views and interesting camera angels. After the first 12 minutes you start to realize, Wow, I’m exercising!

After all the fun exercising, in episode 2, I moved on to sleeping with Hinako. (It’s not what you think.) It is bedtime in your and Hinako’s world. So, she changes into some revealing pajamas and then it’s time to sleep. She stares into your eyes and asks to hold your hand which proceeds to be another 40+ minutes of fan service angles while watching her sleep. She does have some dreams and gets out of bed to kiss you! However, watching her sleep got pretty boring.

Now onto the last episode, Bath Time. Yep, that’s right, time to bathe with an adorable 2-D girl, but first, bath exercising! After getting through those exercise, then a second character shows up and it was double girl bath time. The fan service really kicks in with the washing each other’s bodies and letting out pants and moans. After they wash one another, it leads to count up to get out of the bathtub. Once dried off, it’s time for.. after bath exercising! Once again, receptive fan service angles and counting. Whoooo! Then it wraps up with her asking you to please hang out with her more and then it is over.

Overall, if you are looking for an interactive anime that makes you feel like a relationship with a 2-D girl sounds great, then this anime is most likely for you. It is really repetitive but the cute things the girl says makes you want to keep watching. And, if you like fan service, this anime could help you out. I personally liked it for its unique approach to anime characters in anime worlds and what they do in their time off.  And made me feel lie I had a girlfriend.

 

Overall Grade: A-

Junjo Romantica 2 Anime Review

Title:  Junjo Romantica 2 on Blu-ray

Publisher: Nozomi/Lucky Penny

U. S. Release Date: August 1, 2017 (re-release)

Format: Blu-ray /12 episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Yaoi Romance

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis:

Juno Romantica 2  stays in the same story line as Season 1. The anime centers around Misaki, currently attending a local college, and the guy he lives with, Usami. They have been together long enough for an established relationship, but Misaki still is uncertain of his feelings and the whole guy-thing expectations. His constant uncertainty and often denial is wearing down his partner.

Now, the family Usami has distanced himself from, has made several appearances and are forcing their way back into his life. The corporate, do everything right, big brother and the controlling, yet getting a bit silly, father are meddling. All of this being new to Misaki as well as his being ever polite, he innocently falls for their manipulation.       Besides the familia stress, Misaki has also been allowed further into Usami’s life as a writer and the people that go with it.

With the other side couples, Nowaki and Hiroki struggle with communication and a true connection. Miyagi and Shinobu are in such different places in their lives, the difficulty is in merging the two.

 

Commentary:

Well, I was disappointed in Season 2 of Junjo Romantica. It felt too much like the same old anxieties of being in a relationship that was part of the set up and relationship building of Season 1. Much of it was uncomfortable for me to watch as the same anxiety cropped up over and over. Connection with Misaki was impossible, his low self esteem and distress becomes overwhelming, really, his face was flushed and sweaty most of the time as a result of the insecure embarrassment and denial.

Being the second season, I wanted the good things about a relationship, not the doubt and miscommunication, you know, the worst parts. The tiny bit of growth in the characters or relationships was not worth watching all the other stuff to get there. I had expected more. Even if a real relationship has to struggle repeatably with insecurities and selfishness, theses aren’t the good things that would feel good or be entertaining to watch. Sometimes it was so obvious in the set up and what was next, I did some fast forwarding.

The awkward intrusion of Usami’s family was a slight comic relief, but really slight, as it too came across as mostly uncomfortable. And unbelievable too. But, as an fictional romance that’s expected, right? Oh, romance needs to be mentioned also, maybe there was a small increase there but sex scenes (never explicit), those really seemed less prevalent in Season 2, so if that’s part of what made Junjo Romantica interesting, be prepared.

If you liked Season 1, this would be okay to watch, if you loved Season 1, then I’d still recommend these 12 episode to carry through.

Overall Grade: C+

 

Chihayafuru Season One (anime review)

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Chihayafuru Season One on Blu-ray

Director: Morio Asaka

Studio: Madhouse

Author: Sumino Kawashima

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 12, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes / 625 Minutes

Genre: Drama, School Life, Slice of Life, Sports, Card Game

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow

Synopsis:

Chihaya Ayase was a girl who never seemed to fit in. She never had much in common with the other kids, and her family was so obsessed with her older sister’s modeling career that, sometimes, it was like Chihaya was not even there. Everything changes when transfer student Arata gets Chihaya interested in the world of competitive Karuta, a unique card-based game that requires lightning fast reflexes, an exceptional memory, and a keen ear. Chihaya is a natural, and she has the skills to take her to the very top. Suddenly, Chihaya has found her goal: to become the best player in Japan! It will not be easy, but when a girl has a dream in her heart, nothing else matters! Will Chihaya become the Queen of Karuta? You will have to watch Chihayafuru and find out.

Commentary:

Chihayafuru is a series that starts off very slow but then it becomes something amazing. The character development is amazing and I truly believe that Chihayafuru loves its characters. Chihaya is the tom-boy who wanted nothing better than for her sister to become the top supermodel in Japan. That was her dream for her life. But thanks to Arata and Taichi, she finally realizes that she wants to be the Queen of Karuta. Taichi is from a wealthy family and he is quite the golden boy as he is smart, good looking, and mature. He also excels at nearly everything he does which is why he is the President of the Misusawa Karuta Club. He has a crush on Chihaya but is hesitant to do anything about it as he believes she only has eyes for Arata. Arata left after elementary school graduation to take care of his grandfather. His passion for Karuta is inspired by his grandfather who was a Meijin (master).

I will try and explain Karuta but it will not be short. Karuta is not to be compared with playing cards in the sense of the Western World. It is not Poker, Rummy or Skat. It would be most comparable to Memory. There are different types of Karuta that can be played. Uta-Garuta is played in Chihayafuru. The card game consists of 200 cards, 100 of which are called Yomifuda, this are the reading cards and 100 Torifuda, which are the cards that are use by the players itself. On the Yomifuda are the first three verses of a traditional Japanese poem. The Poetry comes from the Hyakunin Isshu (100 poems of 100 poets, each poet one poem). The Torifuda (game- or field-cards) contain the last two verses of the respective poem. The challenge consists in recognizing the poems during the reading and to catch the corresponding play card in front of the opponent. Karuta fulfills everything a sport should have, high concentration, excellent memory, lightning reflexes, strategic thinking, endurance, resilience, mental strength and a tremendous commitment to the long training for coordination and precession. The person who touches the right card on the field first gets the card, when you take a card from the opponents side you can give them one of yours, when your half of the playing field is empty you win.

It sounds simple and quite boring but it’s NOT. In order to touch the right card quickly, cards get flung of the playing field, people are sweating, thinking and reacting at full speed and crazy-eating chocolate in between these intense games. To really play Karuta at top level you need memorization skills, good hearing and senses, good posture, analytic and strategic skills, precision, strength, speed, perseverance, an emotional connection to the cards and so much more. As you can see, Karuta is very difficult to play but when it is played by people who love it, it is a beautiful thing.

The animation was so beautiful and colorful. They showed off backgrounds that will take your breath away and traditional Japanese clothing that is just amazing. The voice actors did a great job and I really enjoyed this series even if the first five to six episodes drag a bit.

Extras:

Chihayafuru includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as Special Features. This series was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A

Usher and Tora Complete Collection (anime review)

Title: Usher and Tora: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Satoshi Nishimura

Studio: MAPPA, Studio VOLN

U. S Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Aug. 29th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 39 Episodes / 975 Minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Shonen, Drama

Age Rating: MA

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Ushio always ignored his father’s crazy tales about the temple where they live. All that talk of restless souls and vicious monsters are nothing more than stories, right? However, Ushio quickly rethinks his position when he discovers a locked basement with an actual demon pinned to the wall by a spear! The tiger-striped demon threatens to eat Ushio if he doesn’t free him, so Ushio naturally chooses to ignore him. However, when the demon’s presence starts to attract others, Ushio is forced to remove the spear to save himself. To make a bad situation even worse, freeing the demon, Tora, also bonds Ushio to the cursed Beast Spear, sending him on a journey where unspeakable dangers await. The battle is only beginning for these unlikely partners!

Commentary:

In today’s environment to see so many older series being brought forward and rereleased and not being brought up-to-date makes Ushio and Tora a real unique entity. This series from the early 90’s has been given a new lease on life and even expanded. It is a major plus to see this revisiting of interesting series and even becoming a current hit for the strength of the story.

As for Ushio and Tora I found the story to be too episodic much the way Yu Yu Hakusho  seemed to be focus on simple battles. I think that is where Ushio and Tora looses me. The area it manages to keep me involved is the relationship that is developed between Ushio and Tora.

Overall Grade: B

I wish I could have given Ushio and Tora a higher grade, but I just got worn out by the simplicity of the story line. I do see it as a series that most seekers of action would like and the with it having 39 episodes manages to give everyone plenty to enjoy. The updated animation is strong and fluid enough to make it easy to watch and stay focused on the story and battles.

I realize that there are a great history of episodic series that are only about the battles and Ushio and Tora is not different except for the fact that it becomes a little more tiresome than some of the others. I don’t see it finding it’s way into the hearts and minds of the fan base like Yu Yu or Dragon Ball Z and that is because of the Mature Audiance rating. I think that if the violence would have been reduce down to a 13+ rating there might be a greater fan base to find and a way to secure a more sustained group of followers.

If you are looking for a solid battle anime then Ushio and Tora is one you need to pick up. It is great to see older series getting a true new lease on life.

Tamako love story Anime Review

Title: Tamako love story

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: 9/12/17

Format: Blu-ray / Movie/ 85  Minutes

Audio: Japanese or English

Genre: Comedy,  high school romance

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

It’s their senior year, and it is a season of change. Before it is too late, Mochizo wants to let Tamako know how he feels. But, fear of ruining the friendship he already has, defaulting to just being awkward seems to be the course of things. He should have seen the power of a jealous friend looming on the sidelines.

Mochizo’s family runs a mochi shop in the Usagiyama shopping district. They live above their shop, and directly across the street from his bedroom window is Tamako’s bedroom window. She lives with her family at their shop which also sells mochi. The two friends have grown up side by side their whole lives. Tamako had assumed she would work in the family shop and the Market area would stay the same…

“The bitterness of regret is proof you at least tried something.”

Commentary:

Tamako love story is a wonderfully sweet portrayal of friendship, transition and love. It takes place after the Tamako’s Market series but it isn’t necessary to have seen the show to enjoy the movie. If you did, there are some character backgrounds that give more depth to the people, and it would explain some “whys”, especially the quick flash to the tropical island with the talking bird. Just ignore that part, it doesn’t fit with the movie, but it was important to the series so I understand the desire to give it a cameo. This movie is lovely compliment to the series, and it really treated the characters beautifully.

As the series begins, there is an emphasis on the time for things to change, to take note and make memories now. For Tamako, most of this hadn’t occurred to her. She loves things, especially mochi, just the way they are. She doesn’t see the need for change- her dreams are all around her, but the others around her are talking about the end of high school and what is next. Mochizo feels the pull to pursue his dreams that are out there but is reluctant to leave what he had behind. Can he move forward and preserve the past? Regret taking a chance or regret not doing anything at all?

This anime had lots of good things going for it. I love this look of this animation style. The backgrounds were beautifully done and nicely detailed. The color saturation and choices was artfully done. The characters were well styled and expressed their personalities. There was a creative way of illustrating non visual things like time or feelings that adds a nice level to the movie. The story and pacing flowed well. The movement in the animation had a realistic yet enhanced movement, which is always a plus.

Overall Grade: A

Just over an hour an a half, Tamako love story was a really pleasant way to spend that time.