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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.

Assassin’s Pride (anime review)

Title Assassin’s Pride: Complete Collection

Director: Kazuya Aiura

Screenplay Writer: Deko Akao

Music: MONACA

Studio: EMT Squared

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 24th, 2020

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magical Powers

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Against the savage monsters that lurk outside the glass walls of Flandore, the last remnants of humanity have only one defense: the mana magic wielded only by members of the Noble class. When Melida, heiress to House of Angel, fails to manifest her magic upon reaching majority, the half-vampire Kufa is sent with orders from her own Grandfather to resolve the issue… and if Melida cannot manifest mana, Kufa is to execute her for the crime of impure blood.

But when Melida fails the test, Kufa can’t bring himself to kill the spirited young woman whose only fault was to have an adulterous mother. And so, instead, he commits the crime of giving Melida some of his own mana. Now, bound by magic and a deadly secret, the two must work together in order to stay alive!

Commentary:

In the cacophony of magical romantic anime made over the years Assassin’s Pride doesn’t really stand out as a top series, but it does manage to come out on above average. There is a lot to take in with this series and in many ways the writer tried way to hard to make Melida a pitiful sympathetic creature. With Melida being plagued with a lifetime of disappointment and a family that fails to care except about appearance and power, she has the very typical lack of any self confidence and an over poor view of herself.

As the viewer you are set up right off the bat being expected to sympathize with Kufa and his plight. At first I wanted him to follow through with his job, but as the series progressed I began to care more about both Kufa and Melida. This change of heart made the series much more enjoyable.

Overall Grade: B+

Assassin’s Pride does find a way to make me want to follow along, but it did take several episodes for me to get there. I found the writing to be a little flat and overly simplistic at time, but in the end it managed to come through for me.

The overall animation production was solid and a tad above average for a small series like this. At least I understand why Sentai put the money up to have it dubbed. The voice action also managed to provide a reason to like the series even if it didn’t stand out as outstanding.

Once all the parts are put together Assassin’s Pride manages to get a B+ just for an overall solid series. There is my obvious weakness for these simple romantic series that takes a cold heart and helps it find humanity for the right reason.

Val X Love (anime review)

Title: Val X Love: Complete Collection

Director: Takashi Naoya

Screenplay Writer: Tatsuya Takahashi

Music: TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND

Studio: Hoods Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 17th, 2020

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Fan Service, Comedy, Harem

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis:

Takuma Akutsu is not an attractive guy. In fact, his hulking size and ugly face have earned him the nickname “demon”, which is ironic since all he really wants is to be left alone. But you know who never pays attention to what people want? The King of the Gods, Odin, who decides that Takuma is the one person who can save Earth from complete destruction.

As a result, Takuma finds his school, class and home all infiltrated by Odin’s nine luscious Valkyrie daughters and, in order to become the Army of One that Odin seeks, Takuma has to use love to forge the Valkyrie’s maidenly powers into the ultimate force for saving the world. Yeah, no pressure there, right? Can Takuma man up and ride all nine Valkyries to save the Earth?

Commentary:

As harem anime go this is as basic a series as you can find. The basis of the story is unremarkable and the execution is average at best. In the first episode I understood what was going to happen and with little exception I was not surprised. I understand who the audience is and why there is such a strong following for these harem series, but I fail to understand why there are so many average series made. It is as if the writers can’t think of anything that would make the story more interesting and the directors have no idea how to push the production and creation to higher levels.

I have become a little more jaded and think that series like Val X Love is only about a quick money grab. While watching the series I found myself reimagining it in so many different ways that I found myself distracted by my own thoughts. This discraction never bodes well for any show that wants to keep your attention.

Overall Grade: C+

The only strong point to the series is the overall production quality. I found the animation to be a little better than I would expect for a simple harem anime like Val X Love. The fact that it was so very clear what was about to expire once the first episode aired I just had a hard time keeping my focus and found the earlier episodes very tedious. It wasn’t until the later episodes that I was more entertained and thought that there was some real redemption.

If basic harem anime are your sweet spot then Val X Love is a winner for you. If you are looking for something that will give you something more than the simple story Val X Love provides then you should look elsewhere.

Val X Love is a textbook example of a harem anime and should be watched as something meant to provide the standard trope that goes along with that story line.

The Demon Girl Next Door (Anime Review)

Title: The Demon Girl Next Door complete collection

Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Original work written by: Izumo Ito

Studio: J. C. Staff

Director: Hiroaki Sakurai

U. S. Distributor: Sentai

U. S. Release Date: September 1, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, High school Magical Girl

Age Rating: TV 14+

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Yuko Yoshida may be an over the top dramatic and bumbling high school girl, but when she wakes up one morning having grown horns and a tail she can rise to the challenge… or not. Her mom tells her the family history, they are descendants of a dark clan and it is now Yuko’s task to restore the clans’s honor. The major requirement is to defeat a magical girl. And she has to figure out how to find one.

Ok, so in the modern world a girl still needs to go to school, horns or not. As fate would have it, on the way to school, another student, Momo Chiyoda, saves the day, because she is indeed a magical girl.

With the target defined, Yuko sets herself to accomplishing the task. But wow, is she gullible and Momo is patient and very good at the art of manipulation. Stuck together in the ancient journey, the line between competitors and friends might not be as clear as expected in their intertwined (twisted) fate.

Comentary:

The Demon Girl Next Door is a comedy all the way. There is plenty of attention played to multiple layers of humor, from word choices, music, situations, reactions, characters and more. Knowledge of anime, cultural and historical concepts are helpful and will make it all the funnier, but it is not totally necessary. After all, if you seen enough of magical girls, then you would understand the humor behind theory that the more skin is exposed in a transformation outfit, the stronger the power.

The anime commonly uses naive acceptance of bizarre situations to be funny. Dry humor mixed with enthusiasm. As a example, Yuko walks into school with horns for the first time and everyone thinks it’s cool or interesting. Or she admits she needs to “find and muderize a magical girl” without considering that it is weird. Yuko comes from an eternally upbeat family gone silly.

I really enjoyed the thoughtful music support. It was very well done and I encourage you to notice it now and then. It was entertaining on its own, varied and upbeat and blended with the multifarious sound effects. The piano work combined with the other instruments set the tones and scenes, and even described characters. It never fails to be a positive force in the anime.

Visually, it was also fun to watch. Plenty of color, nothing weird about the characters’ looks to be distracting. There were many techniques to keep everything interesting and clever, it never felt like a short cut was taken just to get it done. The special effects did their job well to illustrate emotions or altered physical states, one of the biggest pluses in anime story telling.

It was not the solid ending I was hoping for, it was open ended as if their future goes on. Still, it was a strong ending, kind of like hope that maybe there will be another season, but just as fine if there isn’t. Not everything needs to be resolved.

I found The Demon Girl Next Door to be a fun anime to watch with enough layers to make it a bit more than ordinary comedy.

Audio is English or Japanese.