Archives for : Adventure

Flip Flappers: Complete Collection (anime review)

Title: Flip Flappers: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Kiyotaka Oshiyama

Writer: Yuniko Ayana

Music By: To-Mas

Studio: Studio 3Hz

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 27th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Magical Girl, Absurdity, Adventure, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A


As a middle school student, Cocona has been trying to decide what to do with her life. Magical Girl, however, wasn’t a career path that she’d ever considered. When suddenly a strange girl named Papika thrusts her into a secret organization called Flip Flap, Cocona’s outlook does a radical flip-flop. Her views start to change when she is dragged into an alternate dimension called Pure Illusion where she’s charged with gathering crystal shards and fighting strange creatures.

Now, between running missions and facing off against a rival organization, Cocona doesn’t have much time to consider alternate career choices. What are these shards, and why is gathering them so important? There’s a mystery to be solved and multiple worlds to be saved!


Flip Flappers is another great example of the direction anime has begun to explore as we see new creative teams finding the financing to create new and imaginative series. Only 13 episodes long there is a great deal of action, weirdness and story packed into Flip Flappers. Looking at the series as a whole I can say that I see Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Fooly Cooly, Puella Madoka Magica and even Space Dandy all rolled up into it. In fact I feel as though that the list is on the short side. I would consider Flip Flappers a true post modern production the way it takes the past and manages to deconstruct so many anime and reconstructs it into a crazy series that leaves you smiling and scratching your head at the same time.

Overall Grade: A

Just the animation for Flip Flappers makes it a winner for me. With some solid absurdity and plenty of surreal surroundings take the series over the top. There are a few weaknesses and I think the the character development of Cocona and Papika could have been drawn out a little better with more hints and story development earlier on. The real meat of the series doesn’t come into play until later in the story line and it would have been nice to give more glimpses of their past together before we get to episode 9/10.

I think Flip Flappers is a big surprise for the winter releases but I am afraid it will be over looked for other big name releases. So, if you are looking for a series that will keep you guessing and make you smile all the way down the rabbit hole then Flip Flappers is the series for you. It is not too often that we get treated to a new series that will blow your mind from the very beginning and keep blowing it all the way to end.

Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) Blu-Ray Collection (anime review)

Title:Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) Blu-Ray Collection

Director: Kazuhiro Furuhashi

Writer: Yasuyuki Muto

Music by: Hiroyuki Sawano

Studio: Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Right Stuf

U. S. Release Date: March 6th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 7 Episodes / 450 Minutes

Genre: Mecha, Sci Fi, Action, Adventure, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A-


Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) Blu-ray Collection contains episodes 1-7.

Universal Century 0096. Three years after the last conflict between Neo Zeon and the Earth Federation Forces, the tentative peace of the Earth Sphere is about to be shattered again. Cardeas Vist, the head of the powerful Vist Foundation, has decided to hand over “Laplace’s Box,” the secret of the Foundation’s prosperity, to the supposed enemy, Neo Zeon. Banagher Links, a student at the space colony Industrial 7, rescues a mysterious girl who calls herself Audrey Burne. Audrey is seeking to prevent a war, but it seems she has come too late. As Banagher’s home colony is devastated by the attacks of the enemy mobile suit Kshatriya, he finds his strange destiny and is forced to fight in the formidable weapon system known as the Unicorn Gundam.

Based on a bestselling novel by the famed writer Harutoshi Fukui and animated with theatrical quality, this new chapter in the Gundam saga is a cutting-edge anime series for all coming generations.

Special Features: The “Story So Far”, Episode EX “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, Episode Recaps, Episode 5 Ending with Lyrics, Trailers, Promotional Videos, Commercials, MS & Character Highlights, Episode 3 Textless Ending.


In the wide world of Mobile Suit Gundam there are few series that I find as well put together as Unicorn. This short but exceptional series does something that others did not manage to do. It makes the characters mostly likable and less melodramatic than most of the other series. Unicorn does play fast and loose with physics and makes some aspects a little hard to believe but it remains fun and entertaining. Maybe not as much fun as MS 08th Team or dramatic and hard hitting as Thunderbolt,  but it still hits most of the high points and leave little to disappoint.

The one thing that I felt was a little to tried and true for a Gundam series was the way Banagher was whinny and somewhat of a punk. This model of the anti-hero is something the Japanese love to have as the star protagonist. At least they toned it down somewhat and didn’t allow him to ruin the series the way Camille or even Amuro Ray for that matter. This whinny hero boy archetype is always the weak link in gundam and it is not surprise that most fans will levitate toward  Char or Full Frontal as the real favorite.

Overall grade: A-

One great benefit to being produced in the last 10 years is the quality of animation. Unicorn is top flight and it really does make a difference. Being easy to watch make all the difference in the world. I found it much easier to overlook the bad physics and melodramatic writing when the overall look is fluid and appealing.

Overall Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn is one of the best short series for Gundam, next to MS o8th Team. I know that this group of disc were out already, but the repackaging in a single group is much appreciated and I have a feeling that plenty of Gundam fans will be standing in line on March 6th to get their copy. I know I am glad to have mine.


KISSDUM-R Engage Planet

Title: KISSDUM-R Engage Planet on Blu-ray

Director: Yasuchika Nagaoka and Eiichi Satō

Writer: Yasuchika Nagaoka

Studio: Satelight

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 2nd, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes plus 4 OVA / 650 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Action/Adventure and Fantasy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+


KISSDUM-R Engage Planet the Complete Collection contains episodes 1-25 and OVA’s 1-4.

The destruction of a cruise ship leaves thousands dead, but the body count is only beginning. As researchers try to make sense of the strange new fish and insects appearing around the world, scientist Rurika Yuno and the N.I.D.F. attempt to track down the source of the mutation, a mysterious artifact called the Book of The Dead. When the Book is finally located, all Hell breaks loose. Literally. As swarms of hellspawned fireflies and giant unearthly creatures attack mercilessly across the planet, Rurika is forced to use the Book to resurrect her dead lover, fighter pilot Aiba Shu. But can even humanity’s last desperate line of defense – the Necrodiver – defeat an ancient evil whose only goal is to exterminate all mankind? The final war has begun!

Special Features: Japanese Commercials & Promos, Clean Opening Animation, and Clean Closing Animation.


Okay, Kissdum-R Engaged Planet is something of a real mystery for me. From the opening episode I was intrigued and began to get into many of the characters. A few episodes later I was a broken man and not sure what direction the series was going. As I stuck to the series I found myself hitting his and lows every few episodes. I just felt like I wasn’t sure about getting connected to any of the secondary characters. Shu Aiba was the only one that I could latch onto and begin to bond with his character. I did appreciate that he didn’t fall into the stereotypical male protagonist who wined more than anyone else. Shu was solid and followed through with what he needed to do and I appreciated it very much. Although, his character was a little one sided and felt like a simple shonen hero.

It did take a long time for the series to settle in and start making some progress with the plot line and as it began to solidify I began to warn to the simple nature of the story and action. I began to feel like it was one of those average series that just wanted to give you some action on a weekly basis and there is nothing wrong with that.

Overall Grade: B+

Kiss dun-R Engaged Planted falls under one of the many overlooked shonen series that take a simple story and manages to throw several curves at you right away but eventually settles into a rhythm that makes total sense. I found the animation to be slightly above average and much of the writing to hit the mark. I was somewhat confused in the first 6 to seven episodes as the overall cast changed so much, but one I got into the middle of the series I understood why things had to be that way.

My one disappointment was that Kissdum-R Engaged Planet fell into the battle of the week series and tended to forget the post and series progressing in the middle episodes which I found to be reassuring and somewhat of a letdown but not an overwhelming disappointment.

When it comes to new releases I honestly think that Kissdum-R Engaged Planet will be overlooked and it really shouldn’t be. It has every right to stand next to many of the big budget, heavly marketed series that are coming out.

So, if you are looking for a interesting action adventure series that mixes it up on you right off the bat then you should check out Kissdum-R Engaged Planet.



Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt December Sky

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt December Sky on Blu-ray

Director: Kō Matsuo

Writer: Kō Matsuo

Music by: Naruyoshi Kikuchi

U. S. Distributor: Sunrise, Right Stuf

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

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 70 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Action, Adventure, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A


Their war has not yet ended…

It is Universal Century 0079, at the end of the One Year War between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. The space colonies of Side 4, or Moore, were previously destroyed by a Zeon attack, and many colonists lost their lives. Side 4 became a shoal zone filled with the wreckage of destroyed colonies and warships, lit by constant flashes of lightning due to collisions between electrified debris. It soon came to be known as the “Thunderbolt Sector.”

The Moore Brotherhood, an Earth Federation Forces unit made up of surviving citizens from Moore, set out to exterminate the Zeon forces in the Thunderbolt Sector in order to reclaim their homeland. To halt the Federation advance, the Zeon forces deployed their own Living Dead Division, which was established to collect combat data on soldiers with prosthetic limbs.

Io Fleming, though part of the Moore Brotherhood, hates being tied down by his homeland and family history. Daryl Lorenz, having lost his legs in earlier battles, is now an ace sniper of the Living Dead Division. When they confront each other on the battlefield, they will reach a mutual realization. These two are destined to kill each other.


Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt December Sky is the type of anime film that proves if you keep doing a thing enough you will finally get it right. This film hits on several major points and leave3s you wanting for a lot more. From the opening sequence all the way to end ending montage I found December Sky to be a delight. It did manage to have some of the overly melodramatic elements that Gundam Universal Century calls for and at the same time uses music and lively characters to make this fast paced film something worth watching.

One thing is very clear and that is the fact that Kō Matsuo understood the import of making these characters complex and human enough to sympathize with on both sides. Funny thing, I found December Sky to be one of the most anti war Gundam produces yet.

Overall Grade: A

As you can tell, I really liked December Sky and will recommend it to all Gundam fans and all other Sci Fi fans who love music and action. I don’t really care if it doesn’t resolve anything I think that from the artistic stylings to the insane character development everyone can get a great idea of what this film is all about. So, I just want to tell Kō Matsuo thank you for proving us with 70 minutes of pure excitement.

Ajin: Demi-Human (anime review)

Title: Ajin on Blu-ray

Director: Hiroyuki Seshita, Hiroaki Andō

Writer: Hiroshi Seko

Studio: Polygon Pictures

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 16th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episode + Movie / 325 Minutes

Genre: Horror, Action, Adventure, Thriller, Supernatural

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-


When the truck slammed into Kei Nagai’s body, he should have died instantly. Instead, the high-school student finds himself resurrected, with all of his wounds somehow healed. However, Kei’s real problems are just starting. Now revealed to be an Ajin, one of a mysterious new breed of demi-human that have begun appearing around the world, he’s been marked with an international bounty, and in the eyes of the world’s governments, Kei is a specimen to be contained by any means possible.

Now he’s on the run, unable to trust anyone except his closest friend, and his only hope is to discover the terrifying secrets behind his new abilities before he’s forced to use them in battle! When you have an infinite number of lives ahead of you, death is only the beginning!


Well, well. Ajin manages to do something I wasn’t sure could be done in the current anime world. It manages to take a interesting story and animate it to almost a sad boring place. Polygon Pictures does a very poor job of animating this series and takes a solid story and almost makes it unwatchable. Fortunately that is where the failures end. The rest of the series is strong enough to give people a reason to watch. I am saying this even though this type of stress has been taken on in other series. Will Kei use his power to harm humans or not? Now I understand it is very common to see this issue in other anime and many of them did a much better job of presenting it. I think it is also very poignant that the real horror is produced by humans and that the Ajin are taught to hate the humans because of it, but of course there are plenty Ajin that are just down right evil.

Overall Grade: B-

Ajin may have found some notoriety by being an exclusive on one of the more notable streaming services, but I think it is great that the first half of the series along with a movie are presented as a set that could have a place in almost any anime collection. I realize that the animation is terrible and it appears as though Polygon still has some work to do with their use of their Computer Graphics program. I am not too sure that some students were given their first shot at animating this one. I realize that Polygon animated Knights of Sidonia and there were some issues with the quality of animation, but the art style and tone of Knights of Sidonia lent itself to this raw CG whereas Ajin really doesn’t.

The rest of the production and writing of Ajin save it and make it worth watching. The story is relatively straight forward, but once again there is enough interesting action and flavor to keep everyone interested.

Even with the poor animation I am still very interested in seeing the remainder of the series released.

Gatchaman Crowds insight (anime review)

814131016393_anime-gatchaman-crowds-insight-primaryTitle: Gatchaman Crowds Insight on blu-ray

Director: Kenji Nakamura

Studio: Tatsunoko Production

Writer: Toshiya Ono

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 22nd, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Action, Adventure, Super Hero

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B-


Gatchaman Crowds insight contains episodes 1-13 of season two of Gatchaman Crowds.

You can’t keep a good Gatchaman down, especially when a new organization called VAPE (short for Violent Ape) starts hijacking CROWDS technology.

The ensuing wave of “Red CROWDS” incidents targeting high profile targets like the Prime Minister make it clear that the good team needs to start recruiting; fast. Fortunately, help arrives quickly, and with a rather… loud entrance. The alien Gelsadra’s ship crashes in a rice paddy in Nijima!

Besides being generally peaceful, Gelsadra has a unique power involving comic-book-like speech bubbles that display a person’s inner feelings, rather like an emoji.

There’s also the fireworks enthusiast, Tsubasa, whose life becomes the focus of millions of viewers when she’s chosen as the newest Gatchaman – on nationwide live television!

As if that wasn’t enough pressure for a teenage girl to handle, she’s also assigned Hajime as her mentor!

Will she survive? Will the world survive? Things are about to get really wild and crazy in GATCHAMAN CROWDS INSIGHT!


Are you looking for a series that is colorful, cheerful and rather bizarre then you need to look no further than Gatcham Crowds insight. From the very opening sequence it is easy to tell that this one will keep your attention.

The story is rather simple with plenty of oddities thrown in. It at times leaves you wondering why you are watching it and at other time thinking that this is simply great. I’m not real sure that the switch between great and weak does the series any help in fact this change is a true reflection of the writing and if the writing is not consistent then the series suffers.

Overall Grade: B

Even though the series has some obvious flaw in the writing I still found it to be a enjoyable series that provides enough odd insight to be more than just average. Gatchaman Crowds insight takes the new animation style of bright and bold to a new level and makes sure you eyes are glued to the screen. This outrageous animation added to a strange story of hers and aliens that goes from sugar sweet to somewhat weird makes for entertainment.

I’m not sure Gatchaman Crowds insight is for everyone, but if you are looking for something different then this one is for you. You do not need to see the first season of Gatcham Crowds because for once there is a brief explanation of the prior season to open this part of the series. Also, if you just want wierd here you go.

Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 2 (anime review)

log-horizon-2-2Title: Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 2 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A


Having cleared the Abyssal Shaft, the members of the raiding party have returned to Akihabara to consider their next options.

First, though, there’s an unexpected lesson in history as the founder of the Debauchery Tea Party, the legendary Kanami, resurfaces with an extremely peculiar entourage and some even more stunning revelations about connections to the outside.

But the ramifications of this will have to wait. With new political situations brewing between the Guilds, Shiroe sets Isaac to the task of training Maihama’s knights while the younger members of Log Horizon are sent out on what should be a simple quest.

Collecting the materials required to make a magic bag, however, becomes much more difficult when ogres and nightshades get involved!

Fortunately, the junior team is about to get a jolt of fresh blood… in the form of a Vampire! The action escalates and the world gets even wilder in the second thundering collection of Log Horizon – 2!


Season 2 of Log Horizon is just as much fun as season 1 and in many ways becomes more complicated and intriguing. I was absorbed in the struggle to decide what they should do to protect themselves and maybe find a way home. With everything happening is was easy to get lost in the action, but the writing kept the series focused and on track. I was discussing Log Horizon with another anime fan and they commented that they did not like the series because it was slow and lacked the excitement of other series like Sword Art Online. I can see their point, but for me I think that is exactly what makes Log Horizon great.

The one thing that helped keep the series rolling was to include characters that had been eluded to earlier in the series. Meeting some of Shiroe’s former guild member is fun and opens the door to serious questions about the rest of the game and the servers that control and connect the players of the game.

Overall Grade: A

It is easy for me to grade Log Horizon season 2 part 2 an A because it took the series in another direction and continued to add factors that make it more than just good. Simply put, if you like trapped in the game series and haven’t seen Log Horizon then you are missing one of the best. Log Horizon will show you how how a great series should develop and continue to give the viewer something to think about and enjoy. Season 2 part 2 keeps the hits keep on coming and I have a feeling that season 3 will be even better!

Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 1 (anime review)

log-horizon-2-1Title: Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 1 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A


It’s been six months since the event that trapped thousands of players in the online game world of Elder Tales and the situation is far from secure. The People of the Land are engaged in open warfare against the Goblin armies of Zantleaf. Minami spies are infiltrating the populace. And even with the support and guidance of the Round Table Alliance, the cost of sustaining the city of Akihabara is causing the entire infrastructure to teeter on the brink of collapse. With winter coming, Shiroe and his companions are forced to consider their options. Should they stay in Akihabara and attempt to weather the oncoming storm? Or should they gamble on missions to other portions of the world in search of new sources of valuable treasure? The launch of another series of raids will test old alliances while new ones are forged, as the adventure continues in the second season of LOG HORIZON!


Over the last few months I have heard more and more people talking about Log Horizon. That is a great thing because the things I am hearing is what I have already said in the past and that is the fact that Log Horizon is one of the best anime to examine what would need to happen if you and others were trapped in a game. Although Sword Art Online is entertaining and very pretty it doesn’t come close to Log Horizon in story and plot driven writing.

The second season of Log Horizon brings with it new challenges and rewards and these first 13 episodes manage to setup a complicated plot line that is both mysterious and deeply intriguing. I thought that wrapping up one large quest and opening the door to a even bigger threat in this first collection is a great way to keep us coming back for more.

Overall Grade: A

Wow, in reality I wasn’t sure if this series could get any better and with the coming of the second season I was proven wrong. The action and complex strategy that is taking place is farm more than I could imagine. The flash backs to their real lives when dead was brilliant and it gave a solid grounding into who these people really are. There was no holding back when the reality was approached and also added meaning to who they had become in the game. It is a solid reminder of our own failures as a society to truly accept and include all people rather than ridicule and shun people for their introverted personalities and awkward social skills. Owning an anime store I meet people like this on a daily basis and make it point to let them know that they are welcome in my store and many of them have become friends over the years and my little store has become a safe haven for them to actually have a social life that is off line.

Getting off my soap box and back to Log Horizon. There is some thing else that made this collection step up to a solid A rating and that was the way it rolled out the plot. There was a steady pacing and flow of the story line that made it easy to watch and to walk away from each episode feeling as though you were provided something important. It also ended with a great cliff hanger that setup the the second half of the season.

If , for any reason you reading this and not familiar with Log Horizon then you really need to start from the beginning and get caught up. You will be very pleased that you dove in.


Black Lagoon Complete Series + OVA Premium Edition Blu-ray (anime review)

Black-Lagoon-Premium-EditionTitle: Black Lagoon Complete Series + OVA Premium Edition Blu-ray

Director: Sunao Katabuchi

Studio: Madhouse

Music: Edison

U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: November 17, 2015

Format: Blu-ray/ 29 Episodes / 600 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Action, Adventure, Crime Drama, Seinen

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A


Take a twisted trip to the city of your nightmares in this hard-boiled shootout inspired by masters of action like John Woo and Quentin Tarantino!

Rokuro was an ordinary Japanese business man. A suit hired to entertain corporate high rollers and serve as a whipping boy for the big bosses with the real juice. A mission to deliver a mysterious disk to the deadly waters East of China seemed like his big break, but some things just weren’t meant to be. A ruthless gang of mercenaries fronted by a gunslinging femme fatale in scandalously short shorts kidnapped Rokuro and held him for ransom. When his company refused to pay, he became their property. To survive, he was forced to reinvent himself as Rock, the brains behind the beauty and brawn of Black Lagoon: the most cutthroat crew of mercs ever to hustle the mean streets of Roanpur. A nightmare of a metropolis where the bad guys are really bad – and your friends might be even worse.

Contains episodes 1-12 of Black Lagoon, episodes 1-12 of Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, and episodes 1-5 of the OVA, Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail.


Black Lagoon is an action packed seinen title often with dark and depressing undertones. Taking place in the fictional modern-day city of Roanapur, Thailand, the anime centers around the life of Rokuro “Rock” Okajima as he is attacked out at sea by some pirates and is taken hostage. After being with them when one thing after another goes wrong possibly due to Stockholm syndrome. If so, Rock never regrets it, although he continues to use words over fighting. The Lagoon Company, the pirate-mercenaries Rock works with, all are much more jaded and his unwillingness to fully embrace the ideals, or lack thereof, of the darkest of the underworld and pick up a gun causes tension, especially for Rebecca “Revy”, the company’s main fighter and one of the deadliest around.
Black Lagoon  is a great example of existentialism with a myriad of examples. None of the major characters are at all flat and most of the secondary characters like Mr. Chang all have twisted and distorted pasts. All of the ones revealed make Rock’s past look kind of mild in comparison. The best two examples of this are third (episodes 8-10) and fifth (episodes 13-15) mini-arcs.
The third arc has the Lagoon Company transporting Garcia Lovelace for the Columbian mafia. En route to their destination, they discover there is more to the situation they weren’t told. Garcia is convinced that he will be saved by his maid, Rosarita “Roberta” Cisneros, a unbeknownst former FARC guerilla trained in assassination known formerly known as “Hellhound”. After Garcia saw Roberta in battle, he did not know what to think. However, as the arc went on her devotion to saving him and seeing her like that and comparing it to the happy memories of his past reminded him that he really cared for her, not a maid, but as family member. The arc ends on a happy note with Belilika, a former Soviet military officer who now works for the Russian mafia out of Hotel Moscow, helping out Garcia, Roberta and the Lagoon Company for Roberta’s unexpected aid in helping the Russian mafia and a sense of owing the  Lagoon Company help for their past dealings.

 Roberta’s Blood Trail is a continuation of this arc with the Lagoon Company thrown back into the mix trying to save Roberta from her own madness and Rock begins to become much more of the chess master which is a little out of character for him.

In contrast, the fifth arc does not have such a happy ending. It is about two twins, Hänsel and Gretel, who have dissociative identity disorder in which they can both reverse the role of  Hänsel and Gretel, but in such a way that those personalities are distinct from each other in both voice and mannerism. The twins were taped by the Russian mafia for guro pedophilic films and later were forced to kill other children in order to escape this kind of treatment. There is evidence to suggest they were based on the twins from Stephen King’s The Shining. It’s not known what gender either are, although it is implied that they are both females. In the anime they are hired by Verrocchio because of their ability to be overlooked. However after killing one of Belilika’s men, they decide to dispose of them. Before that happens, the twins realize this and slaughter Verrocchino. However, Belilika, pissed at the death of her comrade, hunts the twins down. After splitting up, Gretel contracts the Lagoon Company to save her and befriends Rock, the only person other than her “brother” she felt comfortable with since she could remember, she is shot in the back from the contact they went to who was paid by Hotel Moscow.
These two arcs, along with the final arc (episodes 19-24), show that outside Rock, Belilika is possibly the most complex character. Unlike Rock, she does not put her feelings above business and getting the job done, but also seems to have a side who would still like to see things have a happy ending when it doesn’t cause her problems. In the case of the twins, the death of her comrade by some of the most torturous means imaginable was too much as she considered all of her military comrades as family. This is also why she probably goes out of her way to find a reason to help Garcia and Roberta and praises Garcia for the way he acts in the end.
Overall Grade: A
Black Lagoon works on many levels. On the surface it is just another action anime with some comedic elements to break up the often bloody and intense atmosphere and could easily be mistaken for that just seeing one episode. However, the series really deals with the human condition and what would make someone turn their back on a normal life and seek a life in the underworld of crime. For Revy, that answer is simple; she never had a good life to begin with; Revy’s past was seen to be the worst for much of the series having never had a good life living in a crime filled neighborhood where she had to kill just to live. However, the fifth arc showed that there is always someone worse off.  For Rock, his life was going just fine, but when confronted with the choice he wanted the life of freedom. In spite of his weak-willed personality, he really enjoys the intense moments to the point that their boss, Dutch, fears the consequences should he really be pushed that far; instead he prefers him to work as the accountant and negotiator.
The series constantly has Revy and Rock arguing about idealism in this world. For Rock he wants to hold on to it because of his past and for Revy she never had it because of her past. She is constantly berating him for putting his morales first and causing him, and by extension her and the Lagoon Company, trouble. In the final arc he is confronted by another who also berates him for living within the twilight ― not wanting to live a normal life in Japan, but not wanting to fully embrace the life of the underworld and crime.

More than that though the series plays upon the general themes seen in such epics Paradise Lost by John Milton. In this all of the characters start out with great dreams and ideals hoping to make the world better or even just their family happy. However, each one is tempted after some incident and falls from grace to the underworld of crime or the like. Unlike the poem though, it wasn’t some incarnation of evil itself that caused these people to fall; instead, it was the betrayal of other humans they knew personally or the general abandonment by the rest of humanity as trash. Even then, they still long for their ideals; however, their eyes are opened and they knew ideals will never come to pass. Sometimes, like with Roberta, they could find a new ideal to live for, but for others, like the twins, it was too late.
In the end the only thing I am disapointed about the series is that it did not explore Rock’s persoanlity enough. Outside the first arc, he wasn’t really pushed to the edge and his ability as a skilled negotiator capable of resolving disputes without the need for bloodshed was only hinted at. As mentioned before, Rock still is one of the more idealistic members in the series and it seems clear he has not reached the level where he comfortable with what he’s become (and not criticizing those around him) while still maintaining his ideals.

If you enjoy hard hitting series and have not been introduced to one of the more thoughtful existentialist series then you need to check it out. It is a great reminder that if violence is needed then the story needs to say something other than kill, kill, kill and hey don’t forget we are humans. Black Lagoon shows us how easy it would be to turn someone into a heartless killer and how we are not as wonderful a species as we might think.

Mobile Suit Gundam Collection 1 on Blu-ray (anime review)

Mobile Suit Gundam Collection 1Title: Mobile Suit Gundam Collection 1 on Blu-ray

Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Studio: Nippon Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Sunrise

U. S. Re-Release Date: Nov. 3rd, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 21 Episodes / 525 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C+


Universal Century 0079. The rebel space colonies of the Principality of Zeon launch a war of independence against the Earth Federation, using humanoid fighting vehicles called mobile suits to overwhelm the Federation Forces and conquer half of Earth’s surface. Months later, the Federation has finally developed its own prototype mobile suits at a remote space colony. But when the colony suffers a Zeon surprise attack, these new weapons fall into the hands of a motley crew of civilians and cadets, and fate places a youth named Amuro Ray at the controls of the white mobile suit Gundam.


I am not sure how many times I have said this statement this year alone, but sometimes things are better off left in the imagination of the ones who love it. Mobile Suite Gundam Collection 1 is one of those things. The series, to put it quite simply, did not age very well. The one saving grace is that the Japanese language track is provided. I recall how I felt about Mobile Suite Gundam in my youth when it was something different in our anther simplistic world and now I can say that Mobile Suit Gundam has taken on the simplistic moniker. I find everything about it rather difficult to watch. I understand that it is being released to satisfy the hard core fans of the franchise because many of them see this particular series in the franchise as one of the best. I wish I could join that camp, but the story just doesn’t do it for me.

Overall Grade: C+

On a nostalgic level I found it fun to watch and Mobile Suite Gundam provided many laughs, most not intended. The animation reminded me of bad 70’s look that I didn’t even like back then and the choppy writing that tells the story but in a way that is sometimes hard to follow and other times too simplistic. Deep down inside I would have loved to see this re-made with a new writing staff and contemporary animation techniques. I know that won’t happen because it is too easy to just re-release it in its full original glory.

Of course I didn’t think it was all bad. I still believe that Mobile Suite Gundam and a few other series set the stage for the onslaught of great Mecha series that followed and there is also a marketing machine behind the Gundam franchise that needs to be recognized for its unequaled ability to own the ability to keep the fandom alive and growing. I can’t say that about other long live series. So, if you are looking for a trip down memory lane or just need to see where the craze all began then this is worth picking up or at least finding someone who dished out the cold cash and hang out at their place for a few days.