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Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory & Afterglow of Zeon Film: Complete series (anime review)

Title: Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory & Afterglow of Zeon Film on Blu-ray

Directors: Mitsuko Kase (eps. 1-5), Takashi Imanishi (eps. 2-13)

Writers: Fuyunori Gobu (eps. 1-4), Akinori Endo (eps. 5-6), Asahide Ookuma (eps. 7-8, 10, 12-13), Ryōsuke Takahashi (eps. 9, 11)

Studio: Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Right Stuf

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes & film / 444 Episodes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Drama

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 contains episodes 1-13 of Stardust Memory plus the Afterglow of Zeon compilation film.

Universal Century 0083. Having triumphed in the One-Year War, the Earth Federation has grown complacent, while the last remnants of Zeon forces have been planning one final stand. It all hinges on ace Zeon pilot Anavel Gato stealing one of the new prototype Gundams out from under the Federation’s nose. With a nuclear-equipped Gundam missing and their pride wounded, the Federation ship Albion and rookie pilot Kou Uraki set out in pursuit of the Zeon thieves and the stolen Gundam GP02A.

Special Features: The animation shorts “the Mayfly of Space 1” and “The Mayfly of Space 2”, Clean Openings, Clean Closings, and Japanese Promos.

Commentary:

In the Gundam franchise there are few series that I find above average and Stardust Memory is one of the few. There is still plenty of the over-the-top melodrama and one sided seriousness that I do have to cringe from time to time. Stardust Memory is fairly straight forward and clearly opens with the plot and development of the story.

Overall Grade: B

Without giving anything away I can honestly say that I believe that Gundam and non-Gundam fans will find this to be one of the best written series in the Universal Century saga. I can’t say that the age of the series will help bring people to the table because the animation shows it age and some of the dialogue is standard Gundam diatribe.

With all of the Gundam available I would suggest seeing Char’s Counter Attack before watching Stardust Memories (0083). You would at least have some understanding of what is really going on and maybe even have a little more appreciation of this series and Afterglow of Zeon.

I must admit that it great to see the Gundam universe come back to life.

Martian Successor Nadesico (anime review)

Title: Martian Successor Nadesico: Complete series plus Prince of Darkness on Blu-ray

Director: Tatsuo Sato

Studio: Xebec

U. S. Distributor: Nozomi, Lucky Penny

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray/26 Episodes & Feature Film / 740 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Sci Fi, Mecha, Harem

Age Rating: 13+

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

The Martian Successor Blu-ray contains all 26 episodes of the TV series and the Prince of Darkness movie across 4 Blu-rays PLUS an entire DVD of extras including the Gekigangar 3 OVA!

Tatsuo Sato’s Comedy Masterpiece Returns in High Definition!

The Earth, its moon and its Martian colonies are under alien attack, but the war against the “Jovian lizards” has, so far, been nothing short of a series of disasters.

Disgusted by the incompetence of Earth’s military, the independent arms manufacturer Nergal builds its own space battleship and plans to launch a desperate offensive to save humanity. But due to a shortage of trained soldiers, they’ve assembled the most unorthodox crew to ever launch into orbit! With a pacifist cook-turned-unwilling mecha pilot and a ditsy admiral’s daughter in command, can this unprecedented gathering of geeks, misfits and anime fans prevail against the Jovian menace?

Commentary:

In the long list of Mecha Harem series, Martian Successor Nadesico stands out as one of the top series for me. Although it may be beginning to show its age it still has plenty of laughs and mecha action to offer. The great thing about this series is that it pokes fun at all of the tropes and silly plot devices that many of the older mecha series used. The unwilling Akito Tenkawa is every young male mecha pilot that shows up in series like Gundam, Evangelion and many others that give us reasons to root for a anti-hero figure, but in Akito’s case he just wants to cook, but may be a better pilot than a chef.

The other great parody aspect to the series is the inclusion of their own anime series “Gekigangar III“. This is a focal point for much of the crew and they exhibit a funny Otaku tenancy that pokes fun at the fan base of the mecha universe of anime. I personally think series like Martian Successor Nadesico provide a glimpse at the anime world that a large number of fans should be required to watch. This series of fun and laughs takes a goofy look at the world it lives in and also makes a very pointed commentary about the obsession that sometimes follows the fandom around.

Overall Grade: A-

I am not sure if there was a good reason to release Martian Successor Nadesico in Blu-ray it is very possible that the quality of the series is about the same on DVD. I am happy to see it coming back out. I think it is a series that needs to be re-released every 5 to 6 years just so new fans can discover the greatness of it and be reminded that anime is just anime.

There are many great anime that hold the mirror up to the fandom and Martian Successor Nadesico stands at close to the very top of the list. The other thing that keeps this anime worthy of praise is the overall humor that comes across and the simplistic approach to telling the story. If you haven’t see Martian Successor Nadesico then you really have a reason to check it out. So, get busy!!!!

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood (anime review)

review provided by Andrew & Katie

Title: Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood on Blu-ray

Director: Risako Yoshida

Studio: Zexcs

Author: Hiroko Kusanagi

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 28, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 180 Minutes

Genre: Reverse Harem, School Life, Supernatural, Shoujo, Vampire

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: D

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Diabolik Lovers

Synopsis:

As the sole human living alone with six handsome vampires, beautiful young Yui Komori is slowly becoming used to being the constant focus of all of their attentions, both amorous and otherwise. However, if she was feeling pale and weak before, her ordeal is about to become even more emotionally draining as four new vampire brothers appear with the intention of making Yui their own permanent dinner guest.
Who are the Mukami brothers, and why are they so dead set on keeping Yui for themselves? Why do they keep referring to her as “Eve” and whose master plan are they following? How will the original six Sakamaki brothers react to having Yui stolen out of their clutches? Will the Sakamaki brothers get her back or will the Mukami brothers follow through with their master plan? You will have to watch Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood and find out.

Commentary:

I feel as if I need to add a few warnings to this series before I go any further: 1. Yui is treated like a blood bag and is not just bitten on the neck. 2. There is a religious theme to this season and that might turn you off of the series if that bothers you. 3. This has to be one of the worse reverse harem series I have ever watched.*

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood is the second season of Diabolik Lovers and honestly I cannot be more disappointed in the entire series. There are more plot holes than swiss cheese and just when you think they are actually going to explain what is going on, they end the series with the biggest cliff hanger ever! They rely heavily on the Adam and Eve story and you spend most of the series trying to figure out who is Adam and then they never say anything about it again.

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood has little to no character development and most of the characters are poorly designed with weak personalities that make the characters unlikable. The relationships between Yui and the brothers are terrible to say the least. They treat her like furniture and never have anything nice to say to her at all. I was really hoping that Yui would grow a backbone and tell the brothers off, but of course she cannot do that as their blood bag.

The animation was dark and tried to be gothic but did not get there. Since Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood is about vampires they really do not go out during the day and attend school at night. There really is not any change in the animation between the manor and the school. The voice actors did alright, nothing really stood out but I really did not expect anything to. The opening animation fit the general theme well and was enjoyable to listen to. The ending was nothing special but one out of two is not a bad deal.

Extras:

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood includes both 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: D

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood seems like it is geared more to the ecchi vampire crowd. The entire series is just about sucking tasty blood from a human. Not my thing.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (anime review)

Title: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? on Blu-ray

Director: Yōhei Suzuki

Writer:  Hideki Shirane

Music By: Keiji Inai

Studio: J.C.Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 28th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Harem, Fantasy, Romantic Comedy, Harem

Age Rating : MA

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Some adventurers delve into the sprawling labyrinths beneath the city of Orario to find fame and fortune. Others come to test their skills against the legions of monsters lurking in the darkness below. However, Bell Cranel’s grandfather told him a different reason: it’s a great place to rescue (and subsequently meet) girls! Now that Bell’s a dungeon delver himself, the ladies he’s encountering aren’t the helpless damsels in distress he’d imagined, and one of them, the beautiful swordswoman Ais Wallenstein, keeps rescuing Bell instead.

As embarrassing as that is, it’s nothing compared to what happens when goddesses get involved. Freya, Hephaistos, and Loki, with their powerful Familias, are intimidating enough, but there’s one goddess whose relationship with Bell is certain to spark trouble. After all, Bell is the ONLY member of the goddess Hestia’s Familia, and she’s not sure if she wants to share him with anyone!

Commentary:

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? hides no bones about what it is. It is a harem wrapped in a fantasy wrapped in a harem. This layering of a straight forward series may just be it’s saving grace. The real issue are the characters and just a few side characters but, both Bell and Hestia tend to bring the house down when they take up too much time. Hestia is a little silly and Bell is the standard anime archetype that is plain whinny. You know the Shinji Ikari whinny where you just want to slap him.

I wills that the series sets itself up for a second season but also makes it possible to end it right there. I thought is was very interesting how Bell did grow into a nice character and that Hestia did manage to become a more sympathetic goddess.

Overall Grade: B

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is about as classic of a harem as it could be. The odd thing was that Bell seemed to be very interested in one person yet in love with another. This confusion with Bells character does play out to be a negative against him. I wanted him to be solely connected to one of the women and let the others just lust for Bell in the typical harem fashion.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is a very easy anime to watch. It is clear right off the bat that the series is out to be a simple series that just entertains. The fan service is borderline which helps keep the male audience focused and also let the female audience watch without feeling to sexualized.

The animation is above average and easy to watch. I thought that many of the fight scenes were well choreographed and came across very smooth and natural even when you consider the amount of unnatural physics display and denial of gravity. The voice acting was good enough to not distract the action and development of the series.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is a series that will please many people and also create a wanting for more. If you are looking for a simple series with an easy to watch animation and character development then Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is for you, just don’t expect too much from it.

Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation (anime review)

Title: Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Keiichiro Kawaguchi

Studio: Telecom Animation Film

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

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

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Gaming, Harem, Comedy, Fantasy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Phantasy Star Online 2 is the most popular game on the web, and almost everyone at Seiga Academy is deeply immersed in it. When the school administration begins to worry that the game is causing more harm than good, student council president Rina Izumi sets out to prove PSO2’s virtual positives. To confirm her opinion, she recruits Itsuki Tachibana, one of the few students who isn’t already hooked, and instructs him to learn how to play so she can study the effects.

What at first seems like a brilliant and simple plan instead lifts the lid off a Pandora’s Box filled with unexpected complications. As Itsuki’s life undergoes a rapid transformation, it soon becomes clear that PSO2 may be much more than merely a game! In fact, a whole new world waits on the other side of the net!

Commentary:

Once again the popularity of a game pushes creators to make an anime for the chance to make more money. Phantasy Star Online 2 helps to prove the point that the game is always better, at least I would hope so.

The formula is simple one. Take a popular game and put in a school setting where we have the student council wanting to promote the positive aspects of a game and at the same time there is the romantic comedy and harem genres mixed in. I think that there is something wrong with the anime ideal when the main protagonist is on small step from being a simpleton and at the same time has the intuitiveness of a savant. He can read people for who they are but can’t ready a persons interest or intent when it comes to a romantic situation.

Overall Grade: B-

Phantasy Star Online 2 is not terrible or a total loss. The plot line is straight forward and somewhat entertaining. I am very glad it didn’t go past 12 episodes and fully understand why Sentai Filmworks didn’t provide a english dub.

I honestly liked most of the characters and thought that the simplistic development around their stores was sound and plenty for the short series. I guess that I would have like some deeper development of a couple of the main characters but it was fine for what it was.

If you are a gamer who like Phantasy Star Online 2 and want a little fun eye candy to go along with the game then I doubt if you will be disappointed. If you are looking for a series that brings home a solid plot and gives you a closer look into the world of gaming with an anime twist then maybe you should sit this one out.

Bottom line, if you are looking for some simple fun at a typical high school then Phantasy Star Online 2 is for you.

 

 

Amagi Brilliant Park (anime review)

Title: Amagi Brilliant Park: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Yasuhiro Takemoto

Studio: Kyoto Animation

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: February 28, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes + 1 OVA / 350 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romantic Comedy

Age Rating : TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

When new transfer student Isuzu asks Seiya Kanie out on a date at gunpoint, he knows something odd is going on. Especially since she wants to go to Amagi Brilliant Park, where the rides are either dangerous or mind-numbingly dull and the only costumed performers who aren’t rude or apathetic are the ones who didn’t show up for work.

So when Isuzu asks Seiya to take over as the park’s new manager, he knows she’s crazy. (Well, crazy-er, given the gunpoint thing.) But when Seiya learns that Amagi Brilliant Park is a REAL Magic Kingdom, that the costumed performers aren’t wearing costumes, that they live off the energy created by attendees, and that unless they can attract 250,000 attendees in three months, they’ll lose their jobs and homes… he goes a little crazy himself.

But, even with the aid of scantily clad fairies, giant mice and sniper-trained sheep, can anyone rescue a park that’s sunk so low that its own bus doesn’t stop there anymore? The race is on to get the turnstiles turning and save AMAGI BRILLIANT PARK!

Commentary:

Reading the synopsis I was ready to dislike this series and within the first 10 minutes I was telling myself this just might be very good. Of course, I wasn’t sure if it could sustain the simple enjoyment. After Amagi Brilliant Park gets over the initial weirdness it becomes a solid series with plenty of character development. There are a few characters that it takes some time to build out to their potential but each episode was able to move the story forward and help these odd characters begin to become a noticeable unit.

As for the romantic comedy aspect of the series I found that slower to develop. I also felt like Seiya comes across as too cold at first. I know that may have been necessary for the overall storyline but, it would have been nice to toss in some humanity to his character early on.

Overall Grade: B+

I loved the weirdness of Amagi Parks workforce and how they managed to deal with their odd predicament. I also loved the way the park represented more of the strange little amusement parks around the world. Not all of them can be the fake magical kingdoms that give everyone an overblown experience. I would love to attend a weird park like Amagi Brilliant Park.

The bottom line with Amagi Brilliant Park is that it is a lot of quirky fun and loaded with characters you want to like and some you would like to kick. The one thing I get a kick out of is when Isuzu pulls her guns, I had to stop and think about it for a while the after that every time I chuckled a little.

Amagi Brilliant Park is a worthy pick and I hope it finds a wide audience to have fun with it.

 

Kokoro Connect Complete Series (anime review)

Title: Kokoro Connect The Complete TV Series & OVA on Blu-ray

Director: Shinya Kawamo

Studio: Silver Link

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 14, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes + 4 OVA / 425 Minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Coming of Age, Romance, Drama, Seinen

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Grade: A

Synopsis:

The five members of the Cultural Study group that meets in class 401 have spent a lot of time wondering what it would be like to be in someone else’s shoes. But they’re about to learn that there’s a huge difference between thinking about it and literally BEING in someone else’s shoes! That’s exactly what happens when, suddenly and inexplicably, they each find themselves inside the body of the girl – or boy – next door!

What happens next? Well, besides bringing a whole new meaning to the term “exchange student” and the to-be-expected freaked-out runs to the bathroom, it’s not hard to do the math: take one wrestling geek, the resident cool girl, the class clown, the popular chick and one sultry maid of mystery, scramble thoroughly and divide, and you can bet that pretty soon they’ll be answering ALL of the questions they never wanted to know about the opposite sex in ways they never anticipated!

Commentary:

I always cringe a little when I hear that a show is about people swapping bodies. Kokoro Connect only made me cringe because it is so good and how it manages to hit some genuine nerves with respect to the human condition. I have not felt this strong about a series since AnoHana made to our market. Kokoro Connect goes straight for that dynamic of exploring our relationships and our own frailties.

The animation style reminds me of the simplistic intimacy the K-ON! delivers or many of the other straight forward slice of life series. The one major difference is the solid development of the characters and the superb writing that brings the series to life. Each one of these students have a plenty of experiences that have helped form who they are, but they are just discovering the people they have become and how to move forward. Each are full and rich with plenty to say and it is very easy to become sympathetic toward them and their world.

The one thing that hit me the hardest was the honesty that came from the writing and exposed itself through these characters. This is where it made me cringe because of the way that they allow these characters to expose themselves and the things that they confess. There are things said that I can honestly say I would never expect to hear from anyone, but seeing it in this format makes those comments seem even more honest and revealing.

Overall Grade: A

Kokoro Connect is not for everyone and because of some of the conversations that happen I would say that it should really be rated 16 +. That doesn’t take away from the quality of the series and in fact adds to its overall attractiveness. Don’t expect this to be a sexy romp through adolescence, but rather a honest view of humans at this age and the things that make us who we are. There is one area that the Japanese are great at and they are coming of age stories that tug at our heart strings and Kokoro Connect hits a home run and made it on to my to ten releases. Be sure to check this one out.

Kokoro Connect  found it’s way into a top pick of mine for the series releases and with the addition of the 4 episodes / OVAs it is clear that it is now more than deserving of that list. I loved the way the series explores relationships without turning it into a silly redundant body swapping series. With the added emotion swapping that goes on in these OVAs it gives us another level of complexity and asked the question “how do we hide our feelings from our friends”? Funny thing is that we have all gone through this but not at this level of stress. The way that it is approached is both interesting and painful, but at all times it still keeps us grounded in both the characters humanity and the humanity of the viewers. There are plenty of other series that explore relationships such as Anohana or even Clannad, but Kokoro Connect does something that even they don’t do and that is touch a nerve that is so universal and at the same time so personal that they almost never come up and are almost never discussed among friends. To place young coming of age kids in the position of having to experience what others feel and all the while be bonded together through both friendship and the fact that they are all placed in this position without their consent. These simple factors make the series powerful for what it is and with the added awkwardness of those highly personal secrets rolling out from time to time makes Kokoro Connect something very special.

If you are looking for a series that makes you look at yourself and your friends in a new light then Kokoro Connect should be high on the list.

Similar Anime:

AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day, K-ON! , Tari Tari and Hanasaku Iroha are all in line with Kokoro Connect. AnoHana does explore the aspects of relationships and the dark secrets that we all hold back from each other. K-On!, Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari follow a much simpler format of exploration of coming of age but they still deal directly with how we discover how to maintain relationships with those close to us as we age and life becomes more complicated. There are plenty of other series that take on relationships and if you want to feel something other than just a punch of adrenaline then you should be sure to pick one of these series up.

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz! (anime review)

review provided by Andrew & Katie

Title: Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection

Director: Shin Onuma and Masato Jinbo

Studio: Silver Link

Author: Kenji inoue and Hazuki Minase

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: January 31, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 10 Episodes / 250 Minutes

Genre: Action, Slice of Life, Comedy, Magic Girl, Fantasy

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya & Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei

Synopsis:

Illyasviel von Einzbern’s life has become ridiculously complicated since the Kaleidostick Ruby convinced her to become a magical girl and join the quest for collecting the seven Class Cards. Since then, almost every day has brought a new surprise, from gaining new friends and partners like Miyu Edelfelt, to encountering her own magical twin!

One would think Illya deserves a little time off, right? No such luck: a trip to the beach quickly turns into a magical quest, and Illya finds herself caught in a string of magical feuds, encounters with love potions, an excursion into the world of “boys love” comics (plus the women who read them), and half a dozen other delirious diversions.

However, that is only the warm-up for what might be her final mission: recovering the long-lost Eighth Card! It’s a mystical whirlwind of unexpected escapades and surprising new revelations as Illya’s saga continues in Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection!

Commentary:

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection picks up right where Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei left off and turns into a slice of life series for the first six episodes. During those six episodes everything seemed to drag, as nothing seemed to contribute to the plot of being a magical girl. There was not even one fight, or transformation scene. It took some time, but after finishing the series, I understand why they did that and it makes sense, however at the same time I wish they could have staged it out a little more. One thing they did well during that time was to advance the character development quite a bit, and also beyond Illya, Chloe(Kuro), and Miyu. They developed the characters of their group of friends, and the other normally background characters that are rarely seen more than one episode straight. Another thing that went way over the edge was the fan service. I like my fan service, but this got a little too unnatural and redundant after a while. I wish they would have toned down the fan service a bit. It started feeling forced and burdensome. Eventually, it added up and became too much and did take away from the story but the character development helped keep things moving along at a bearable pace.

Eventually after all the trips to the mall, the beach, the festival, the amusement park, and doing the all the summer homework (Basphamy!!!!) we finally are ready to be a magical girl again. As with all the other seasons the battle scenes continue to be very well done and exciting. As always its action packed and exciting. Even though the action was limited to the last four episodes, they did make up for the slowness of the first half. It even eventually explained, in a roundabout way, why they did it the way they did. By the end of last episode, everything is easily wrapped up tightly with a nice little bow. That is until the credits……..

Though this season was slow at first, the eventual payoff is well worth the investment of time. I normally am a fan of slice of life style animes, but for some reason this dragged to me at first. But once you get thru it and understand the reasons why, Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection is a must have continuation of this great series.

Extras:

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations Herz! Shorts, and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: B-

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection is the perfect follow-up to the entire series. Just make sure you watch them in order so you can understand the entire story.

Young Black Jack (anime review)

Title: Young Black Jack: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Mitsuko Kase

Studio: Tezuka Production

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 7th, 2007

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

The year is 1968, the war in Vietnam is approaching its zenith, and the counterculture movement that’s been sweeping the world is engulfing Japan. While others are in the streets protesting, one young medical student becomes embroiled in a different kind of battle.

As new medical technologies to save and extend lives come into play, the temptation for a surgeon to play God has never been so powerful. Even as he strives to prove his own skills to his colleagues, Hazama Kuroo begins to suspect that the potentials for abuse inherent in the medical system are already being exploited.

To attempt to change the system means risking his own promising career as a surgeon, and to move against the perpetrators will put his own life in danger. However, as a doctor, how can he not act when lives are on the line?

The diagnosis is murder as the origin of Osamu Tezuka’s legendary rogue surgeon Black Jack is finally revealed in YOUNG BLACK JACK!

Commentary:

In the world of manga / anime few names take on the cult status that Tezuka does. Even the great Myazaki concedes that Osuma Tezuka was a undeniable force in the 1960s. The one thing that Osuma Tezuka did not do was to give us the rich and dramatic early days of Black Jack. This series produced after the legend has passed is far above anything I expected and stands out as one of favorite characters and stories derived from the Tezuka legacy. Young Black Jack provides plenty of drama and a wonderful dose of excitement.

Overall Grade: A-

If I was on the design staff for this series I would have brought up the one glaring issues with the character development. It has to be the unevenness of the character design. I know that there will always be a group that want to stay true to the strange and somewhat silly character design that is trademark Tezuka, but for this series it would have made more sense to make them all look more contemporary than the silly bulbous headed people that show up in the series. There is an uneven mix of normal looking characters and the silly Tezuka people. All I can do is ask why, it looks silly and detracts from the solid aspects of the anime.

To be perfectly honest I see Young Black Jack as something more than a Tezuka product, but rather a drama that continues to prove that humanity may need to be saved and at the same time not saved. I felt this way with other series like Black Lagoon and Darker Than Black. It just seems that Young Black Jack highlights the futility in our world and that giving all of yourself still may not be enough.

All you Tezuka fans get ready to be overjoyed and everyone else please try to get over the poor character design and look at the series as a whole. You will be very surprised and discover the deeper thoughts that run many anime that relate to a very easter way of thinking. So, be sure to check out Young Black Jack you will be happy you did.

 

Comet Lucifer (anime review)

Title: Comet Lucifer: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directors: Yasuhito Kikuchi, Atsushi Nakayama

Writer: Yūichi Nomura

Studio: 8-Bit

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 14th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Mecha

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Sogo Amagi has spent a good portion of his young life looking for rare crystals in abandoned Giftdium mines, but it’s not until he’s lost in the ruins beneath his own home town that he and his friend Kaon make the most incredible discovery of all: a giant crystal with a girl trapped inside! Things only get wilder when the girl is unexpectedly freed.

Suddenly, the mines are invaded by giant robots controlled by a secret military organization, which is in turn fought off by a mysterious being made of crystal!

That leaves Sogo, Kaon, and their friends scrambling to figure out what to do with Felia, a red-eyed girl with strange powers who doesn’t even speak their language!

They need to figure everything out quickly, because unless they can unravel Felia’s secrets and learn why the military is after her, their whole planet may be in danger of complete annihilation in COMET LUCIFER!

Special Features: Garden Indig’s Train Shorts, Music Videos, Clean Opening and Closing Animation.

Commentary:

Within a few minutes I had a wave of other anime flood my memory. Comet Lucifer is a clear derivative of several there anime and in some ways it fails to live up to the standard that has been set before it. In other ways it manages to give us a story that entertains and intrigue. I understand why Sentai didn’t spend the money to dub Comet Lucifer and also understand why it didn’t take long to go from Crunchyroll to Blu-ray.

There is plenty of decent mystery and tension in Comet Lucifer. Although the area where it falls apart for me is in the character development and attempt to provide some comic relief. I did like the way Felia attached herself to Sogo and Kaon, but also felt like there was a weak attempt to create a real family between the three. It is not until late in the series that there seems to be a sense of connection. Even with that connection there are plenty of question that are left open.

Overall Grade: B-

As much as I wanted to really like Comet Lucifer and did enjoy some aspects of the series, but all in all I bound it to be forced and overly contrived. The series doesn’t have the feel of Fractle or even the odd the special connection that is found in Last Exile.

I tend to really enjoy these fanciful stories and love the way they tend to unfold. Comet Lucifer has much of the key aspects needed to be a fine series. In the end it does some things really well, but the total development of the characters leaves some things out which ends up hurting the overall strength of the series.

If you are a fan of fantasy anime that is a hidden love story the you should like Comet Lucifer just let it flow over you and do try to make it fit the trope it comes from.