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Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle (anime review)

Title: Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle: Complete Collection

Director: Masaomi Ando

Anime Writer: Yuuko Kakihara

Music: Akito Matsuda

Studio: Lerche

US Distibuter: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

US Re-Release Date: Aug. 4th, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Fan Service, Action,, Mecha

Age Rating: MA 17+

Personal Overall Grade: B+

Synopsis:

The Royal Knight Academy was established to train the heirs and scions of the lands how to fight using the ancient mechanical dragons known as Drag-Rides. Those noble intentions, however, go royally astray when Lux, deposed prince of the Arcadia Empire, accidentally stumbles upon the Kingdom of Atismata’s new Princess Lisesharte in her royal bath and sees altogether more than he should have.

Challenged to a Drag-Ride duel when the Princess bares her anger, Lux finds himself thrust into a series of events that could ultimately expose the darkest secrets of both their royal families! Now, whether he wants to or not, Lux will be spending his time fighting monsters, corruption, and the attentions of his female classmates, both lethal and otherwise!

Commentary:

Well that genre that is all aboout sudo mecha anime that is really a simple harem has a new star. The Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has it all. A somewhat naive protagonist who is much more powerful than any expects and a full line of young women who fall in love with him. Honestly, I really like Lux, he his a lot more than the naive leed male character, he is a likeable guy who is placed in a awkward place where he has to do something very special and he manages to get us were we want to go.

Overall Grade: B+

Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle is a winner in my book. The only issue I really have is its narrow adherence to the mecha harem genre. I thought the writers did a great job of creating some characters you like and somewhat care about. Lux is by far the strenght to the series and it is great to see a leeding male character that is both solid and vulnerable at the same time. The rest of the female characters are also very strong and interesting.

So, if you are looking for a fun and entertaining harem mecha then Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle is for you,]. If you haven’t seen it then you should take the opporunity to sheck it out. Be sure to give it 4 to episodes to get the real feel of the serie.

RE: STAGE! Dream Days (anime review)

Title: RE: STAGE! Dream Days: Complete Collection

Director: Shin Katagai

Writer: Team Yoree

Music by: Kota Yamamoto

Studio: Yumeta Company Graphinica

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: June 23rd, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Girl Idols, Music, Comedy

Age Rating: TV 14+

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

When Mana Shikimiya joins her new school’s struggling Lyrical Tradition Dance club, she finds herself swept up in a dream shared by thousands of other middle school girls across Japan: To someday compete at the Prism Stage, where teams of young women battle in song and dance for the chance to become the next generation of top idol singers!

First, though, she’ll have to help save the club from being shut down, and then she and her new friends Sayu, Mizuhua, Kae, Kasumi and Minori will have to up their musical game in order to make it to the first level of competition. Because no matter how badly they want to win, there are hundreds of other girls who want it just as much… and those girls all have a head start!

Commentary:

In the over crowed world of girl idol anime there has to come a point were the story has a just lost its appeal. Re: Stage manages to do something unexpected. It finds a way to make you care about these girls and all of their quirkiness and awkward social habits. It all starts with Mana trying to get out from underneath the family shadow to Minori and her overbearing nature that makes this little series worth while. 

Living in the shadow of series like Love Live and Idolmaster you get the feeling that most of these girl idol series are out to capitalize on the enthusiasm for the genre. RE: Stage gives you just a little more and makes you want to continue to watch to see if this funny group of young ladies can make it work.

Overall Grading: B+

The production levels of the series are a little above par and the graphics program used manages to make the images smooth and easy to watch. The writing is by far the strong point with the series. It allows the viewer to actually care about the characters and watch them progress. The voice acting is very much what you would expect and at times a little over the top, but with these types of series you have to expect plenty of high pitch shrill in the voices.

Re: Stage just might be coming to this genre a little late, but I hope it finds a solid audience. It is much better than many of the series that have been released over the last couple years and deserves a chance. If, School Girl Idol anime is your preferred genre then you really need to give this one a chance. The characters are full of life and have enough personal idiosyncrasies that makes you want to really root for them. Check it out you just might like what you see.

To Love Ru Season 1 (anime review)

Title: To Love Ru Season 1 on Blu-ray

Director: Takao Kato

Anime Writer: Akatsuki Yamatoya

Studio: Xebec

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: March 31st, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 650 Minutes / 26 Episodes

Genre: Ecchi, Fantasy, Sci Fi, Comedy

Age Rating: 17+

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

To Love Ru Season 1 contains episodes 1-26 of the anime directed by Takao Kato and features a new English Dub.

What do you do when a naked princess from outer space suddenly appears in your bathtub? If you’re Rito Yuki, the confused teenager who’s rub-a-dubbing when the perky Princess Lala of Deviluke splashes down, you inexplicably find yourself engaged to her royal highness’ heavenly body, whether you want to marry her or not! Oh, and you’re ALSO now heir to the throne of the Planet Deviluke, as well as the target for an endless stream of intergalactic invaders, assassins, rival suitors, and an unbelievably long cosmic chorus line of gorgeous women who are all determined to wormhole their way into Rito’s heart and/or bed! And that, needless to say, is probably going to make getting together with the nice Japanese girl who Rito’s actually in love with just a wee bit more complicated!

Commentary:

Yes here it comes again with a new English Dub. To Love Ru, is one of those anime that just keeps on giving and with a very specific target audience the giving is oh so welcome. Funny thing is that I may not be part of that target audience and end up seeing the flaws that most viewers miss because they don’t care about things like writing or true character development. Now I will give it very high marks for staying true the Japanese formula of having a helpless shy embarrassed young man as the main protagonist and a buxom bouncy wouncy space princess as his kryptonite. Never-the-less, To Love Ru brings it all in your face and makes you either root for Rito or better yet root for Lala to crush his helpless existence. Either way there isn’t much hope for either.

I realize that this anime was first aired in 2008. There might be all kinds of reason why it really looked more like a late 1990’s production and why the writing is so shallow, but it was clearly popular enough in Japan to keep coming back for more. I guess that every shut in Otaku wished he was Rito. Of course there are moments I would have like to be Rito, but those are few and far between.

Overall Grade: B

As I mentioned, I found it strange that the animation production levels look old for a 2008 production and the character design was also outdated. This made it a little harder for me to watch it, but the most frustrating issue I had with the series is its writing and character development. I know what the series is meant to do and that is to titillate the viewer and this is where it excels. The characters are one demential and don’t give much reason to care about any of them.

Every episode is just a setup for the series to show off women’s bodies and in the end make young me want more. I wish this one could have been left on the shelve longer, it just left me feeling sorry for the guys who are going to line up to get them some To Love Ru. Of course, it is for this very reason that I give it a B and not a lower grade. The series does not try to hide what it is in fancy writing or over the top animation, it just is what it is and does have merit.

So, if you are looking for that classic Ecchi anime then you need look not further, To Love Ru is here for you.

Mysteria Friends Anime Review

Title: Mysteria Friends

Director: Hideki Okamoto

Writer: Hiroshi Yamaguchi

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: 3-10-20

Format: Blu-ray / 10 Episodes / 150 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C-

Synopsis:

The students come to Mysteria Academy to learn the art of magic. Anne is a princess as well as a top student, well gifted in magic. She has become friends with Grea, a princess from another realm, who is a half-human/half-dragon.

The regular things such as studying and test taking go on, and even the ever present beach episode. But it is a magic school and not everyone is human, so there are some unique things that go on.

The main focus of the series is the friendship of the two princesses. Grea lacks the confidence of Anne which causes dome difficulties. She really likes Anne and has quite a crush on her. Anne doesn’t seem to realize this, but still really likes Grea and wants to spend time with her. But as royals, duties can get in the way.

Commentary:

So, my big issue with Mysteria Friends is that I don’t even know who to recommend this for. The show doesn’t seem to have a clear audience in mind or what kind of anime it is. Episode one dives in with fan service and innuendos. I expected it since the back cover seems to boldly hint at that. Then it really drops off, so it is more like a magic high school drama show. Or yuri. But not really. There is a bit more fan service thorough out, but in the end, it gets pretty bland. So, the beginning seems like it is for adults but the end seems aimed at a younger audience. From fan service to blushful crushes. It would have been a fine show had they gone either way but it was muddled and usually seemed like a platform for random ideas the would be cool to do.

The characters of Anne and Grea are okay. Visually they are well designed and the personalities are fine. Nothing unique, even though Grea has a tail and wings, her personality is shy and self-conscious. True, as half dragon she has things to cope with that others don’t, but it really is important in one episode, and that doesn’t really need to be there for the story development. Anne is a high achiever, but as a princess who will one day lead her community, her royal duties are increasing. Unfortunately it is too much the same as the princess in tada never falls in Love which I recently watched. So, it seemed bland. Except for Anne’s sort of body guard, the other characters come and go randomly. Characters get thrown in and maybe are quirky or act in a certain way, but it goes nowhere as if they are no more than props.

The biggest part of the plot is the friendship of the two princesses. Grea really values her relationship with Anne and appears to have romantic feelings for her, sometimes. It’s not always consistent. Like when Anne seems to want a stronger relationship, Grea doesn’t seem to notice. Grea sure gets embarrassed a lot. Over and over. Over done.

The story really isn’t fleshed out. There is plenty of starts at things but they don’t develop are become part of the story, or things we might need to know just skipped over. Everything is rushed.The episodes are only 15 minutes long. Mostly it just moves onto to something else. One episodes introduces monsters of sort and then that’s it, nothing, no impact, no nothing.

We never get a sense of what their world is about. The setting is cool, especially as a Harry Potter fan, but that is’t utilized much. It’s as if it is only because it looks cool, but there is no reason for it. They go to the beach (of course) and swim among ruins, looks cool, but nothing else, no reason for it.

So, as a story, as a series, it lacks purpose and direction. Why? It’s based on a game! Mysteria Friends tries to tell a story with the elements and setting of a game. It stayed the bits and pieces.

Overall Grade: C-

Grimms’ Notes The Animation (anime review)

Title: Grimms’ Notes The Animation on Blu-ray

Director: Seiki Sugawara

Writer: Hiroshi Yamaguchi

Studio: Brain’s Base

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 3rd, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Game Derivative

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

The mystical Story Teller created a world where everyone is born with a book that dictates their life story in advance. Everyone, that is, except for a handful of individuals with books full of blank pages that allow them to cross from one prewritten storyline to another and act of their own free will. That ability turns out to be a fortunate thing, as rogue plotters called Chaos Tellers are introducing new and unexpected elements into the most popular storylines, fracturing the course of fairy tales and bedtime yarns into the stuff of nightmares. Can Ex, Reina, Shane and Tao undo the repercussions of aberrations like Little Red Riding Hood suddenly gaining the ability to manipulate fire? Things are looking mighty grim indeed when our heroes must fight to un-revise the revisions!

Commentary:

I am always a little cautious when it comes to anime made from games and in the case of Grimms’ Notes I am re-enforced in my learyness. Grimms’ Notes is a good looking anime and has its moments, but the overall retelling of some of the sories that have been a part of the western culture for such a long time leaves me with the strange feeling that these creators missed to point. To be honest I don’t always understand Japanese folk tales and historical mythology and different cultures see stories differently so, I guess that it is okay if they butcher a few European myths, ledgends and folk tales.

Overall Grade: B-

The real weakness with the series is the way they managed to wrap everything so easily. I thought the characters were solid enough and that the overall production values were right in line with the quality of work done by Brain’s Base. The writing on the other hand left me wanting for a lot more.

I believe that this series could have been a real winner and with a little stronger understanding of these stories that they infused the series with there would be a much more robust fan base for it. I now understand why Sentai did not spend the money on dubing this series.

Bottom line is that if you are a fan of the game then you will want to see this series. If you are not a fan of Grimms’ Notes the game then you might want to stick to someting less note worthy.

Food Wars: The Third Plate (anime review)

Title: Food Wars: The ThirdPlate on Blu-ray

Director:  Yoshitomo Yonetani

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: February 25th, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 24 Episodes / 600 Minutes

Genre: Comedy,  Food Battle,  Slice of Life, Harem

Age Rating: TV-MA

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Young Soma Yukihira – who has honed his cooking skills while working as an assistant at “Yukihira,” the family eatery – has successfully entered Tohtsuki Fine Dining Academy, a cooking school for the ultra elite. At the academy, he meets various chefs and develops his skills while striving to create his own unique brand of cooking. It is during the Lunar Feast, a time-honored Tohtsuki tradition, that Soma chooses to take on one of the members of The Ten, which comprises the academy’s most accomplished chefs.

Meanwhile, Azami Nakiri – the father of one of Soma’s fellow students – has worked behind the scenes to found Central, a pivotal organization dedicated to haute cuisine, yet has remained barred from cooking aside from select recipes taught in his lectures. Finding themselves at opposition with how Central operates, Soma and some of the other Tohtsuki students decide to stand and confront this threat head-on. As this is going on, Soma and the others will be faced with the Promotional Exam, referred to as one of the greatest hurdles at Tohtsuki. An even more heated battle is about to begin!

Commentary:

In my prior reviews of Food Wars I was very clear about how I felt regarding this series and the Third Plate has only reinforced this feeling. I was so afraid that it would fall into a overly formalaic series like Yu Yu Hakusho or Inu Yasha or even Bleach, but each season has managed to provide something new that keeps the viewer wanting more and at the same time loving every minute.

As the series develops there seems to be more and more character development and the very sincere effort to bond these characters in ways that will only make them stronger.

Overall Grade: A

Okay, I know that some of you might think that I have a bias for this series and I am not afraid to agree. I find so many positive elements in this series that makes it hard for me to find fault with some of the weaker aspects and some of the overused plot devices. I am sure that there are plenty of anime fans that do not see Food Wars the same way I do, but I also saw how Naruto and Bleach took so many deficiencies and overroad them with positive attributes that made the series long lasting favorites.

Food Wars: The Third Plate takes to a honest cliff-hanger to set up the fourth season to be some fun and action along with learning about how food and flavors work together.

If you want fun and loved Iron Chef then you really need to get you some Food Wars on.

Tsurune Anime Review

Title: Tsurune: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Original Work: Tsurune -Kazemai High School Japanese Archery Club by Kotoko Ayano

Director: Takuya Yamamura

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: January 28, 2020

Format: Blu-ray /14 Episodes / 350Minutes

Genre: Drama

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Tsurune is the sound of the bow string being released.

Kazemai high school has a new club, it’s the kyudo club. Kyudo is the Japanese martial art of archery. It has a stylized method that encompasses culture, beauty and spiritual components with the athletic skills.

At the same time Minato Narumiya has just started his first year at Kassemai High along with his friend Seiya Takehaya. Both had previous experience with kyudo and Seiya is eager to join the new club, but most importantly for him is that Minato also joins. But an unfortunate event has cause Minato to freeze up, called trigger panic, and he has given up his passion of kyudo. As things unfold, Minato is drawn back into the kyudo world as his life begins to finds its way back to the center of peace and purpose, all with the help of those around him.

Commentary:

I enjoyed watching Tsurune. It all centers around a small group of students at the beginning of the new kyudo club at their high school and focuses on Minato overcoming his challenges. Minato has withdrawn into himself, unable to participate in the things he had passion for before. Coming from a place of inaction, he only does the things expected of him. He doesn’t see the effect this has on the people around him, like his friend Seiya, who is commited to be there to help him through each step of the way and as long as it takes.

There is this basic plot of a person consumed by grief or guilt withdrawing from activities, losing intrest in passions or goals. There are plenty of anime with this running as a theme or element. Tada Nevers Falls in Love is one I recently watched. I find similarity in the two main character’s situations. What the big difference and what most contributed to making Tsurune enjoyable is the archery, specifically kyudo. This anime trys to delve into the sirtiual and deeper meaning of kyudo. The mind/body connection. The trational, cerimonial, cultural aspects. That made it awesome.

There is plenty to enjoy with Tsurune. I had not heard of kyudo before, and enjoyed learing about it. I’m not saying it was like an educational show or documentary but there were little ways the anime was informative, like Haikyu!! is with volleyball.

Visually, it was beautiful. The backgrounds were lush with color and dynamic design. Most notable were the nature images and the simple beauty of the kyudo doujo. The animation had some execellent moments. Special care seems to have been taken to animate the choreography and movement of the archery. I’d watch it again just for that.

The sound support was well done. This was a very important element, afterall, the title Tsurune is a sound itself. The music really help to set the tones and even build up the tension as necessary. Usually it was subtle and only after I was caught up in a moment did I realize how the music engaged me as a viewer.

The characters were all likeable enough, and we had begun to know thier stories. There was just not enough time to really get into all of them and thier motivation. Friendship and connection were really important in this series. Some was the passing of understanding from one generation to the next, and then there is the understanding of peers and friends and last, the understanding of oneself.

Tsurune is a gentle sort of anime. Interesting, yet calming. Natsume’s Book of Friends was like that. I found the anime definitely held my attention and looked forward to watching some more the next day.

Overall Grade: A

Space Brothers #0: The Movie (anime review)

Title: Space Brothers #0: The Movie

Director: Ayumu Watanabe

Studio: A-1 Pictures

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: feb. 18th, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 100 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Once, there were two very different brothers who conceived a dream: that someday they would go into space themselves. However, brothers being brothers, once younger sibling Hibito announced that he would go to the moon, older brother Mutta declared that HE would go to Mars. Unfortunately, Mutta’s adult life isn’t going the way that he had hoped. Despite his hard work, his situation at his job is deteriorating and he ultimately finds himself transferred back to Japan. To make things even more frustrating, luck has been kinder to Hibito, who has already begun training with JAXA to become an astronaut. But Mutta isn’t ready to quit just yet. Four years before the events of the epic TV series, a new space race begins as brother chases brother on the path to the stars.

Commentary:

Over the years I had the great fortune of getting to review the original Space Brothers Series and loved it. I was very easy to understand why it had a strong enough following to bring a full 99 episodes and now a movie. The movie was wonderful. It was not a simple telling of the brothers history before the series, it gives us a solid understanding of each of the brothers with a bit more of a look a Mutta before the infamous head-butt.

I still think that the writing and overall story telling is superior to most slice of life stories and adds just enough science / fiction to it to keep the Sci Fi fans glued to the set.

Overall Grade: A

There is no mistake, I think that Space Brothers is one of the best anime series I have ever seen and the Movie Space Brothers #0 is true to the series. It makes you feel sad, glad and even happy for the brothers as you watch their progression along their path.

The one important thing about this movie is that it will want you to check out the series and once you get started you will be hooked.

Real Girl (anime review)

Title: Real Girl: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Takashi Naoya

Studio: Hoods Entertainment

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 18th, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 24 Episodes / 600 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Romantic Comedy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Hikari Tsutsui has never been popular, his one real friend is an even worse otaku than he is, and the only girls he’s known are the two-dimensional women from his manga and video games. Until, that is, he’s sent to help clean the pool as punishment and is partnered with the school’s resident “bad girl”, the very real, very three-dimensional Iroha Igarashi.

Brash, beautiful, and known for her promiscuous behavior, Iroha is loathed by other girls but loved by the guys. And yet, inexplicably, she not only seems to be interested in Hikari, but proposes that they enter into a relationship! Unable to resist, Hikari agrees, but there’s one big catch – Iroha’s moving away in six months, so no matter what happens between them, in half a year Hikari’s guaranteed to lose his real girl!

Commentary:

The synopsis makes this sound like a very straight forward series, but of course they are just trying to get you interested. If, it peeks your interest in Real Girl then you should follow through. If for some reason it doesn’t sound interesting I suggest that you check it out anyway.

Right off the bat I did not like Hikari and felt rather sympathetic toward Iroha. He comes across rather pretentious and stuck up for an Otaku and Iroha comes across warm and rather comforting of a person even though her reputation painters her as something very different. I would say more but it would give just too much away.

Overall Grade: A-

The production values are better than many series I have seen in a while and the fact that Real Girl looks good makes it refreshing and wonderfully inviting. The story is nothing new, but what I found great about it was the way the characters were developed. The writing was solid and seemed honest enough to give you a reason to keep moving through the 24 episodes and please don’t give up if you get discouraged it is a solid series that ends up very satisfying in the end.

I for one would love to see more of these slice of life stories make it over to North America. I think they will open the doors to more viewer who think anime is rather 2 dimensional. Real Girl is a winner, check it out.

The Magnificent KOTOBUKI (anime review)

Title: The Magnificent KOTOBUKI: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Tsutomu Mizushima

Studio: GEMBA Digital Frontier (production co-operation), Wao World (2D animation)

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 2nd, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Action, Adventure, War Fair

Age Rating: T. V. 14

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis:

In a desolate world where the safest form of transporting cargo is by zeppelin; air pirates roam the sky, preying on aerial commerce and holding remote towns for ransom. Against these airborne marauders, the only defense is to hire high-flying protection of your own, and that’s where mercenary pilots like the girls of the Kotobuki Squadron come in.

Behind the joysticks of their lightweight Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa fighters, these lady falcons play a deadly game of escort, where a single mistake can end up in a fiery crash or mid-air collision. But for birds of prey like Kylie, Reona, Chika, Emma, Kate, and Zara, the danger is worth it for the chance to spread their wings and soar into the heavens. The wild blue yonder gets even wilder as every dogfight becomes a catfight!

Commentary:

Within the first 5 minutes I was asking myself how I was going to make it through The Magnificent KOTOBUKI because I was so put off by the unfortunate selection of Computer Generated (CG) production. It was almost impossible to look at the women with their hard edge CG that I just pushed through the first episode. By the time I got to the third episode I had become used to the poor production quality and was able to focus on the series.

I was able to connect with several of the characters and found the squadron to be likeable, but at times a little too flippant. Just like many of the sports anime these young women have their internal struggles and their own reasons to fly and fight. Some of the best moments is when they are all together drinking and eating. This is when you get to understand them the most. The arial battles entertaining enough, but the harsh CG really detracts from the overall enjoyment of the series.

Overall Grade: C+

The Magnificent KOTOBUKI has some fine writing and character development that helps to keep this series above water. If you are looking for some great ariel battle scenes then you might be a little disappointed. If you are in the market for a series that tell a decent story and gives you characters that have a story to tell then you will enjoy The Magnificent KOTOBUKI, just give the poor production value some time to not be an issue.