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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.

Seitokai Yakuindomo Anime Review

Title: Seitokai Yakuindomo: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Hiromitsu Kanazawa

Original Work: Tozen Ujiie

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: 12/10/19

Format: Blu-ray / 2 seasons plus movie on 5 discs / 26 Episodes / 710 Minutes

Genre: Fan Service Comedy

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Takatoshi Tsuda begins his first year in high school, choosing a campus convenient to his house. Ah, but what is different is that Ousai Private Academy was an all girls’ school and this was the first year for it to go co-ed. That made him an extreme minority – I’m talking 28 guys to more than 500 girls. Awesome for him, right? Uh no, the reality is not what he expected with Student Council President Shino Amakusa. She installs him in student council without giving him or anyone choice. But that’s just the beginning of her “defined” personality. She, along with other council members, the faculty advisor and other students are constantly making nearly everything about sex, and basically blaming him as a guy, representing all masculinity.

The school years progress through Season 1 and 2 of the series. All the regular high school issues and events happen ( yes it includes a trip to the beach) but everything is always sexually charged with the female characters. All innocent statements are subject to immediate, sometimes graphic, misinterpretation. Responses are frequently perverted.

Commentary:

It is a high school based anime, but high school is not what Seitokai Yakuindomo is about. This is a comedy that relies on what is avoided in polite society as its material. Not much is out of bounds. The main focus is indeed sexual humor… all the way. And, by using female characters, whether from being naive or perverted, it is somehow funnier or not crossing “the line”.

The humor never ended. Oh, sure, it maybe used puns more than once, but twisted them differently. I found that I didn’t like watching more than 2 episodes at a time, it began to feel tedious after that. So, spacing it out worked better for me.

The jokes and innuendos are both spoken and visual. They ranged from subtle to blatant. Even if you see the punchline coming, it was still funny, like you wrote that one yourself.

Sometimes there is a story line going on in an episode, and it will probably come up in a later episode. Many times there are short bits of scenes strung together that don’t really need to be in linear time. To me, this feels like the four panel comic that was the initial beginning of the source material for the anime.

The characters were good, well scripted for the material. Takatoshi Tsuda had to be the fall guy in the jokes, but he wasn’t a caricature, too often a guy character in a harem style situation is super goofy. He was a nice normal guy with lots of tolerance, a good work ethic and a strong ability to just let things go. The other characters of note were all female, and the humor came from them being naive, extra scientific, mischievously perverted… well, there were all sorts of ways. Shine Amakusa as Student Council president took the lead but we could see peeks into her character that made her likable. She was the aggressive comedic that drove the intent of the anime. It couldn’t be done without her.

The movie just seemed like a long episode, sometimes faster paced, some linear story but also the shorts mixed in. It gave a bit of closure to the series with some students graduating but that was nearly secondary. It’s still all about the humorous innuendos.

The set contains Japanese audio and with English subtitles.

I really didn’t intend any puns or innuendos in this review, but it was funny after reading it and having the show on my mind, what things may sound like, but here it is anyway.

Overall Grade: A-

I think what Seitokai Yakuindomo set out to do was achieved very well.

The Girl In Twilight (anime review)

Title: The Girl In Twilight: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directors: Jin Tamamura, Yūichi Abe

Writers: Shogo Yasukawa (screenplay), Kotaro Uchikoshi (concept)

Studio: Dandelion Animation, Studio Jūmonj

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 7th, 2020

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Action

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Every day, Asuka and her friends Nana, Mia, Yu and Chloe go to a certain temple to find out if an urban legend they heard is true: that if you set your radio to a random channel at 4:44 PM, and pray really hard, you can open a door into another dimension.

It’s a game, really, and the girls don’t take it too seriously. Until the day it works and they find themselves in another world where there are people who look suspiciously like them. But messing around with alternate realities is dangerous, and as the girls travel from one world to the next, they find themselves thrust into increasingly perilous situations. Will they all survive? Will they still be the people they were when they started? The revelations unfold along with the dimensions in The Girl in Twilight!

Commentary:

Wow, The Girl In Twilight really took me by surprise. Based on the synopsis I was prepared for a simple story of colliding multiverses, but it quickly became much more. The richness that was provided as we discovered each character and their own personalities along with the others selves in alternate universes was the real strength behind the series.

The plot was not as strong but the execution and delivery of the plot did make a positive impact on the series. although it is rather short with only 12 episodes it was able to tell a solid story and bring about a convincing ending. There are still plenty of question but none that require a second season to answer.

Overall Grade: A-

The animation production values are average with some skillful artistry at key moments. The overall look and feel of the series is very much imbedded in the classic anime look. The writing is solid and gives us plenty to take in regarding the plot and this group of young ladies. When everything is added together we get a solid anime that is really worth seeing. My only concern is that it is only one season and will not be able to catch much buzz or following the help it rise to the top. It will join the multitude of good anime that are left to be forgotten and left on the self to be rediscovered by the next generation of anime fans.

Bandai Shipment 1.10.20

Here is the list of items we just received from Bandai:

Super Saiyan Son Goku93′ “Dragon Ball”, Bandai Ichiban Figure

Νu Gundam Fin Funnel Effect Set “Char’s Counterattack”, Bandai Spirits RG 1/144

#9 Gundam Seltsam “Gundam Build Divers”, Bandai Spirits HGBD 1/144

Haro (Pink) “Gundam Seed”, Bandai Spirits Figure-Rise Mechanics

#57 Gundam Astray Blue Frame Second L “Gundam SEED Astray”, Bandai HG SEED

#27 Gundam Vidar “Gundam IBO”, Bandai HG IBO 1/144

#10 Black Tri-Stars Haro “Mobile Suit Gundam”, Bandai HaroPla

SOFVICS KAMEN RIDER GEIZ “Kamen Rider ZI-O”,  Bandai Ichiban Figure

Guren Type Special “Code Geass”, Bandai Robot Spirits

#39 Z’Gok-E “Gundam 0080”, Bandai HGUC

Musha Keroro Robo “Keroro”, Bandai Keroro Plamo Collection

Dororo Robo MK II “Keroro”, Bandai Keroro Plamo Collection

Sinanju Stein (Narrative Ver.) “Gundam NT”, Bandai MG 1/100

#217 Sinanju Stein (Narrative Ver.) “Gundam NT”, Bandai HGUC 1/144

GM Sniper II “Gundam 0080”, Bandai MG 1/100

Penguindrum (Manga Spotlight!)

Manga Spotlight!
Animeggroll will be starting a new thing this year where we highlight a manga title that isn’t part of the mainstream releases. We hope that you’ll discover something new!

We’re starting this off with a series that actually first appeared as an anime, and became one of our favorites. Then two years after the series completed, the manga was made, but it took 6 years to get a US release. Now it’s finally here!

Penguindrum

The Penguindrum anime originally aired in 2011 in Japan, and first appeared in the US in 2012. In 2013, Penguindrum the manga was made, and ran until 2017 (Japanese release). The manga finally got it’s US release on December 3, 2019.

The series was created by Kunihiko Ikuhara, who is most known for his work on Revolutionary Girl Utena, as the director. Penguindrum has similar tones of intrigue as Utena, but Ikuhara took it to a whole new level.

Penguindrum is about the Takakura family, two brothers and their sister, and their strange relationship with a hat designed after a penguin.

Himari (the youngest) has a terminal illness. She is sent home to spend time with her brothers and as a treat to their sister, Shoma and Kanba take her to the zoo to see the penguins. Shoma buys Himari a penguin hat, moments before Himari passes out.

Himari is pronounced dead at the hospital. The brothers are left alone with her, and as they discuss what just happened, when Himari sits up, shouting “Survival Tactic!” She’s wearing the penguin hat, and seems to have changed personalities. The brothers are stunned, Himari passes out, but this time she’s alive! She’s healthy and is discharged from hospital. While at home, a package is delivered with three large eggs. None of them know who sent it, but they bring them in. After a bit, the eggs hatch into three penguins! No one else can see them, but they help with stuff around the house.

Later Himari passes out, only to wake up wearing the penguin hat. The brothers suddenly find themselves kneeling and bound at the wrists. There’s a girl in an elaborate costume walking down some stairs telling them they must find the Penguindrum, or their sister will die.

Penguindrum is a fun series with mystery, moments of insanity, and some really wholesome characters. The anime has a wonderful art style and was well animated. The manga does a pretty nice job compensating for the omission of the color, sound, and movement, that was seen in the anime. Illustrated by Isuzu Shibata, who wasn’t part of the anime process, the manga looks and fells like it might have came first with almost matching character designs and scenery! The plot in the anime at times was confusing (like what actually is the Penguindrum?), but the manga clears some of that up, making it a read to recommend!

Penguindrum is rated TEEN, for it’s darker tone and crass humor at times, but contains little to no nudity, intense violence, or overly harsh language. We recommend it for readers 13+

Written By: Kunihiko Ikuhara (Revolutionary Girl Utena, Yurikuma Arashi)
Illustrated By: Isuzu Shibata (A Strange Journey of Me and Cursed Sorcerer)
Us Release: Vol. 1, Dec. 3rd, 2019.
Expected Volumes: 4 (Completed Japanese Release)
US Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment

Seven Senses of the Reunion (anime review)

Title: Seven Senses of the Reunion: Complete Collection

Director: Takao Yoshioka

Writer: Yoshito Nishouji

Studio: Lerche

Music: SUPA LOVE

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: December 2nd, 2019

Format: Blu-ray / 12 E3pisodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Stuck in the Game

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Six years ago, Asahi Kuga died while playing the incredibly popular MMORPG “Union” with her friends. Now, after a worldwide scandal that saw the game pulled from the net, a new re-engineered version is back online, and, to the shock of Asahi’s former teammate Haruto, so is Asahi!

As impossible as it seems, the virtual version of Asahi that Haruto finds trapped in a treasure chest has all of Asahi’s memories, but with no body to return to, she’s trapped in the game. And that’s not the only mysterious thing going on in Re’Union. Someone is manipulating the players, pitting them against each other and forcing them to develop the games special Sense skills. Who is literally playing with their lives and what is their agenda?

Commentary:

Well, well, well, another stuck in the game anime that also emulates the very popular Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. Seven Senses of the Reunion worried me at first. I had a very bad feeling that this was just going to rip-off Sword Art Online blended with Anohana. At first it was just what I thought but as the series developed I saw that the writers cared about what they were creating and made the story richer and more complex than just a ghost stuck in the game. The character development was lively which makes it easy to become attached to the story and the main characters.

The animation is very standard 2018 Computer Generated (CG) which detracted from the story at first, but with many anime once you get past the visuals it comes down to the writing and direction. In the case Seven Senses of the Reunion the directing and writing make all the difference.

Overall Grade: B+

If you loved Anohana like I did and are also a fan of Sword Art Online then you should check out Seven Senses of the Reunion. You will be glad you did.